IMPORTANT UPDATE: The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is now: 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline
The United States’ first nationwide three-digit mental health crisis hotline has gone live. It’s designed to be as easy to remember and use as 911, but instead of a dispatcher sending police, firefighters, or paramedics, 988 will connect callers with trained mental health counselors.
Eating Disorders are on the Rise
According to the American Journal of Clinical Nutrition, eating disorder prevalence increased from 3.4% to 7.8% globally between 2000 and 2018. And according to Johns Hopkins, 95% of people with eating disorders in the U.S. are between ages 12 and 25.
An eating disorder is a focus on food and bodyweight that causes a person to go to extremes when it comes to eating — everything from restriction to binging. They’re more common among teenage girls but can affect teenage boys, too. The earlier eating disorders are diagnosed and treated, the more likely the probability of complete recovery. However, many adolescents go undiagnosed and do not receive treatment until their eating disorder is at an advanced stage.
Teens with eating disorder often try to hide their behaviors from friends and family, so it’s important to look out for these signs that indicate symptoms of an eating disorder:
- Changes in what, when, and how much they eat
- Being restrictive or regimented about their eating
- Unusual weight fluctuations
- Expressing unhappiness with their body or their weight
- Exercising much more than usual
- Spending a lot of time in the bathroom
Prevention is key, and it begins with open communication. Talking to your children about the following will help them understand what it is to have a healthy relationship with food and body image.
- Encourage healthy-eating habits – Discuss how diet can affect your health, appearance, and energy level. Encourage your teen to eat when they are hungry. Eat together as a family.
- Discuss media message – Television programs, movies, and social media can send the message that only a certain body type is acceptable. Encourage your teen to question what they have seen or heard.
- Promote a healthy body image – Talk to your teen about their self-image and offer reassurance that healthy body shapes vary. Don’t make or allow hurtful nicknames, comments, or jokes based on a person’s physical characteristics, weight, or body shape.
- Foster self-esteem – Respect your teen’s accomplishments and support their goals. Listen when your teen speaks. Look for positive qualities in your teen, such as curiosity, generosity, and a sense of humor. Remind your teen that your love and acceptance are unconditional — not based on their weight or appearance.
- Share the dangers of dieting and emotional eating – Explain that dieting can compromise your teen’s nutrition, growth, and health, as well as lead to an eating disorder. Remind your teen that eating or controlling their diet isn’t a healthy way to cope with emotions. Instead, encourage your teen to talk to loved ones, friends or a counselor about problems they might be facing.
If you suspect your teen is experiencing disordered eating, talk with them and reach out to their pediatrician immediately. Visit National Eating Disorders (NEDA) for more information.
Are Collagen Supplements Effective?
If you’ve ever done a quick Google search on how to thicken your hair, improve your skin, or even help with arthritis pain, it’s likely that collagen supplements popped up.
Collagen, the most prevalent protein in the human body, forms a type of tissue that helps comprise bone, skin, muscles, tendons, and cartilage. It helps keep your joints healthy and your skin elastic.
The human body makes collagen naturally, but this production can decline with age. Collagen is also reduced by smoking, excess sun exposure and alcohol, and stress. Therefore, proponents of collagen supplements suggest the product will help your joints and skin.
While there are some limited studies that suggest collagen supplements may help with skin hydration and elasticity and joint pain, the body of research is simply not developed enough to promote collagen supplements. Problematically, many of these studies are sponsored by or tied to organizations that would financially benefit from positive study results. Overall, the FDA does not test supplements for safety, and one independent review found heavy metals present in a particular brand of supplement.
While the available research is inconclusive, it has not turned up evidence to deter anyone from taking collagen supplements. There are, however, steps you can take to boost your own collagen production. Eating foods like eggs, dairy products, legumes, fruits, some nuts, and vegetables will provide your body the building blocks to make collagen. Reducing stress, excess exposure, and caffeine and alcohol intake will help slow the loss of collagen you already have.
What to Know About Student Loan Debt
There is no doubt that the subject of student loan debt has become incredibly important over the last few years.
The U.S. Department of Education has extended a pause on student loan payments until Aug. 31, 2022, in light of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. Before we dive into ways to address student loan debt, let’s take a look at the big picture.
The average cost of full-time college at a four-year institution (tuition, fees, room, and board) in 1980 was $3,167 for one year, or $9,307 (adjusted to 2019-20 dollars). The average cost in 2019-20 was $25,281. See HERE for a further year-by-year breakdown, which also includes tables differentiating private and public institution costs.
Student loan debt in the US totals $1.747 trillion. In a regular year, the total debt grows 6 times faster than the nation’s economy (like everything else, the pandemic has affected this rate in 2020-22). The U.S. Department of Education holds 92% of outstanding student loan debt, totaling over $1.611 trillion.
43.4 million people have federal student loan debt. The average federal student loan debt balance is $37,113, or potentially as high as $40,904, including private loan debt. The average public university student borrows $30,030 to attain a bachelor’s degree. The average interest rate for federal student loans is 4.12%, and 5.8% when factoring in private loans.
It is projected that for 2021 graduates, it will take the average four-year undergraduate degree borrower 7-9 years to pay off their loans, and the average graduate degree borrower 13-18 years. The average doctoral degree borrower will take 13-38 years.
Unlike other kinds of loans, it is extremely difficult to have these loans discharged due to bankruptcy. The U.S. Student Aid website says one may have some or all of one’s loans forgiven only if paying them off will leave a borrower unable to maintain a minimal standard of living, among other qualifications.
It is possible to chip away at student debt over time. Consider enrolling in autopay to ensure your monthly payments are made. Check to see whether your company has any programs to help pay employees’ student loans. You can also refinance your loan to secure a lower interest rate (though note that this path may entail a shorter repayment period and bigger monthly payments). Click HERE for additional strategies to help pay off student debt more quickly.
Health and wellbeing matter to us at PPV. If you would like additional information on emotional and mental health, you can confidentially contact me at the information below.