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What We Can Learn From Declining Teen Self-Harm Rates in Denmark

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Teen self-harm: rates have dramatically decreased in Denmark – here’s what other countries can learn

by Sarah Steeg for The Conversation

DENMARK — Having better access to mental health support could be one reason for lower self-harm rates among Danish teens. Concern has been growing over rising rates of self-harm in teenagers.

In the UK and Ireland, increases began around the time of the 2008 economic crash and show no sign of slowing . One study of the UK found rates among teenage girls rose by two-thirds between 2011 and 2014.

But some surprising new findings suggest that stress caused by recession and financial uncertainty does not necessarily lead to rises in suicidal behavior. My colleagues and I examined rates of teenagers treated in hospital for self-harm in Denmark. Contrary to expectations, we found that rates of self-harm in Danish teenagers actually fell between 2008 and 2016.

Although Denmark experienced an economic recession, why didn’t rates of self-harm among teenagers see a similar spike as in other countries?

Our study analysed Danish national patient registers, which contain data on individuals treated in hospitals and outpatient departments in Denmark. Such population-level registers are unique to Scandinavian countries. The registers allowed us to look at the numbers of young people attending hospital or outpatient clinics after having self-harmed and compare them against all teenagers of the same age in Denmark.

We found that the rates of self-harm in young people living in Denmark aged between ten and 19 decreased each year between 2008 and 2016. The rate decreased by more than 40% from the beginning to the end of the study period. This pattern was seen in younger and older teenagers and in both girls and boys.

It has long been accepted that economic recession is associated with increases in suicide rates. Suicidal behavior is undoubtedly a highly personal experience, but the way that society can influence it has been recognised as early as the late 19th century. Following the most recent global recession in 2008, increased rates of suicide and self-harm were seen across Europe and North America.

In Ireland, rates of self-harm among teenagers increased by 22% between 2007 and 2016. In the UK, the government’s response to the recession was to impose austerity measures. This resulted in cuts to government spending on healthcare, unemployment benefits and social services, all of which have a proven negative impact on mental health and well-being.

But free universal healthcare, widespread access to unemployment programs and increased welfare spending during recession can soften the blow of financial hardship. In line with findings from the UK, we found that the highest rates of self-harm were among teenagers from the poorest households.

But our research found that, even for these teenagers, rates fell between 2008 and 2016. While we can only speculate about the causes of the fall in rates, Denmark appears to have protected its most vulnerable young people from rises experienced by other countries.

Of course, adolescents will be affected by economic recession – but, being less directly affected by the job market, they’re unlikely to experience it in the same way as adults. However, there are a number of other factors that are likely to exacerbate self-harming behaviors, such as pressure at school, difficulties at home, or mental health issues such as depression or anxiety – but certain measures can also protect teenagers’ mental health, which may be especially important during economic upheaval when populations are more vulnerable.

Social media pressures

While social media pressure may be particularly intense for teenagers, frequently voiced concerns that it might cause harm to mental health and well-being may be overstated. One study found that most social media content concerning self-harm was positive.

The study found that social media was mostly used as a platform to process difficult emotions creatively and share stories of recovery – rather than to promote self-harming behaviors. Social media also has the potential to increase awareness about seeking help for mental health problems – but this would only reduce self-harm rates if mental health support was available and accessible for young people.

Social media might actually provide much-needed support for teens. Grzegorz Placzek/ Shutterstock

More availability and better access to mental health support might be one reason for lower rates of self-harm in Denmark. Since 2007, suicide prevention clinics have been offering psychosocial therapy across Denmark for people at risk of suicide. The program was introduced gradually from 1992 and expanded to cover the whole country. These clinics have been found to have positive effects on reducing self-harm and suicide.

Yet, in many parts of the world, adolescents struggle to access mental health services. Evidence from the UK shows that teenagers from the most deprived neighborhoods are more likely to self-harm yet are less likely to receive mental health treatment.

Denmark has also taken steps to regulate sales of common painkillers to under-18s. In many parts of the world, including the UK, there’s been a sharp rise in the number of young adults who have overdosed on painkillers and antidepressants. Tougher regulations of these common painkillers might help to delay access – and research has shown that even a small delay in accessing a suicide method can be enough to halt the act.

Having access to health and welfare services, alongside good social connections within societies, can help reduce the prevalence of self-harm – especially during difficult economic times. Places that young people spend time in – such as schools, colleges, universities and health services – can also offer opportunities for social connection.

Social media that encourages social connections could also help young people build more resilience and better manage uncertainties such as a poor job market and financial insecurity. Better funding for mental health services may also be able to help protect younger populations from the harmful effects of economic turmoil and other stresses.

Sarah Steeg is a Presidential Research Fellow at the University of Manchester .

The Conversation publishes knowledge-based journalism that is responsible, ethical and supported by evidence from academics and researchers in order to inform public debate with facts, clarity and insight into society’s biggest problems.

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County Hospitals Receive 300 iPads for Patients to See Family

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LOS ANGELES – 300 iPads have been donated to Los Angeles County hospitals to facilitate patient-family communication during the COVID-19 pandemic. The gift is through a partnership with the Annenberg Foundation, Brilliant Corners, and the Los Angeles County Center for Strategic Partnerships.

“The engagement of loved ones during hospitalization has been shown to improve clinical outcomes,” said DHS Director, Dr. Christina Ghaly. “Clinical staff identified a role for virtual visiting through technology in order to facilitate this family involvement. The generous donations by the Annenberg Foundation and MobileDemand will help support this critical element of our patients’ care.” 

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, patient visitation by family and loved ones is limited at facilities in order to prevent exposure and the spread of disease. While there are some exceptions, such as the birth of a child or death of a patient, visitation is not permitted for the vast majority of patients and not allowed at all for COVID-19 patients. 

The donation provides 300 iPads to ensure patients and their families are able to connect, despite restrictions in access to the hospital. A second donation, by MobileDemand, provides rugged, protective healthcare iPad cases to protect against damage and loss. The rugged case also has an adjustable easel attached, providing effortless viewing for patients who are too weak to hold a tablet. Additionally, it frees health care staff from having to hold the device for patients.

“This is a wonderful example of how philanthropic organizations, nonprofits, government, and businesses can collaborate and meet an immediate need in our community,” said Wallis Annenberg, Chairman, President and CEO of the Annenberg Foundation. “Being able to offer an opportunity for comfort and connection to those suffering and to alleviate some of the stress from our frontline caregivers is of utmost importance.”

While social distancing has been successful in flattening the curve of the COVID-19 surge in Los Angeles County, it is anticipated that it will continue for several months. With this gift, physicians and nurses will be able to place an iPad in the room of COVID and other critically-ill patients for the duration of the admission and reduce potential exposure and use of personal protective equipment going in and out of the room. Having a stationary iPad helps relieve medical staff who would otherwise have to hold the phone for a patient or search for the person’s personal phone. It also will allow patients who do not have a personal mobile device to communicate and “visit” with their family.

The Los Angeles County Department of Health Services (DHS) is the second largest municipal health system in the nation. Through its integrated system of 26 health centers and four hospitals – LAC+USC Medical Center, Harbor-UCLA Medical Center, Olive View-UCLA Medical Center, and Rancho Los Amigos National Rehabilitation Center – and expanded network of community partner clinics, DHS annually provides direct care for 600,000 unique patients, employs over 22,000 staff, and has an annual budget of over $6 billion.

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Processions to Cedars Will Salute Healthcare Workers on National Nurses Day

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The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is putting a strain on essential workers such as first responders and healthcare workers who are on the frontlines in the effort to care for coronavirus patients so the City of West Hollywood is setting out to recognize them in a special way on May 6.

National Nurses Day is a day of recognition to celebrate and honor the contributions that nurses have made and continue to make in our communities and throughout the nation. National Nurses Day is celebrated annually on May 6, which marks the beginning of National Nurses Week, a week-long celebration to raise awareness of the value of nursing and educate the public on the role nurses play in meeting the healthcare needs of Americans. National Nurses Week concludes on May 12, the birthday of Florence Nightingale, or as she was more commonly known, “The Lady of the Lamp” and founder of modern nursing.

The West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department is coordinating two motorcades to honor healthcare workers on Wednesday, May 6, 2020, which is nationally recognized as National Nurses Day. The processions will begin at 9:45 a.m. and at 7:15 p.m. on Santa Monica Boulevard at La Cienega Boulevard and the motorcades will head west and then travel southbound on N. San Vicente Boulevard passing multiple medical center locations in West Hollywood en route to a destination outside the emergency room entrance of Cedars-Sinai Medical Center on Gracie Allen Drive. First responders will briefly stop, exit their vehicles and applaud healthcare workers while wearing face coverings and practicing appropriate social distancing.

“Our nurses and healthcare workers are nothing short of heroes,” said City of West Hollywood Mayor Pro Tempore Lindsey P. Horvath. “The coronavirus pandemic has reminded us just how critical their work is to our everyday health and safety. This National Nurses Day means so much more to all of us — the City of West Hollywood and our LA County Sheriff’s West Hollywood Station and LA County Fire Stations; the City of Beverly Hills and Beverly Hills Police and Fire; the City of Los Angeles and LAPD and LAFD; the California Highway Patrol, and more — and we will honor these heroes in a special way for the care that they provide, which often goes unseen and unrecognized, in carrying us through this crisis.”

“As the worldwide response to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) continues, the critical importance of nurses in our society has been brought sharply into focus,” said City of West Hollywood Councilmember John Heilman. “More often than not, when a coronavirus patient ends up in a hospital, it is the nurses at the frontlines who are responsible for their care and treatment, putting themselves at risk in the process. We can’t say ‘thank you’ strongly enough.”

The City of West Hollywood encourages residents and community members to participate during this day of celebration while still adhering to LA County Safer At Home Orders and social distancing requirements. Suggested forms of participation include amplifying posts on social media channels, making yard or window signs and banners, participating in a coordinated daily applause or shout out for nurses and healthcare workers, and donating to organizations that are addressing the emerging needs of nurses and healthcare workers during the coronavirus (COVID-19) health pandemic.

According to the American Nursing Association, nursing is the nation’s largest healthcare profession, with more than four million registered nurses in the United States. Registered nurses comprise one of the largest segments of the U.S. workforce and are the primary providers of hospital patient care, delivering most of the nation’s long-term care. In nursing, where workers are on the front lines of patient interactions, women make up more than 85 percent of the workforce. This year, with the onset of coronavirus, nurses have stepped up and shown the incredible impact they have on our healthcare system. It is more important than ever that we recognize National Nurses Day and celebrate the significance of nurses every day.

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Texas & California Wet Markets Show Full Extent of Vile Conditions

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Texas & California Wet Markets Show Full Extent of Vile Conditions

(TMZ) — It’s becoming more clear by the day that wet markets are NOT just a China problem — it’s an American problem too … just take a look at these latest clips from Texas and California.

TMZ has gotten a hold of even more graphic videos of two different live animal shops in TX and CA — where people pick out the animal, have it slaughtered on the spot and then sold to them right then and there — and you see the mixed-in livestock runs the gamut.

There are pigs in pens, goats and sheep hoarded together … and, of course, as we’ve seen in New York and elsewhere — chicken and rabbits cooped up in cages — all in the same area within earshot of each other, and all getting butchered.

Ya got pigs hanging from hooks out in the open, chicken beaks, feathers and guts all over the floor and in an exposed trash can — this while customers (including kids) come in and browse the freezer for whatever cuts of meat they want. It’s downright dirty and gross.

As we’ve been told by the experts, these one-stop-shop slaughterhouses/storefronts can be breeding grounds for disease — including new viruses, like COVID-19, which supposedly got started at a wet market in China.

We already know of lawmakers in Cali and New York working to get these things shut down, but it’s pretty apparent there needs to be federal legislation rolled out to address this. Can’t call the kettle black when we’re swimming in the freakin’ pot.

Tune in to TMZ on TV weekdays Monday through Friday (check syndicated/local listings)

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