Category : Health & Medicine

(CT) Ed Stetzer–The Church and Mental Health: What Do the Numbers Tell Us?

Most of us know someone who is in counseling, on medication, or has even taken his or her own life as a result of a mental illness. There are many difficult issues for Christians to talk about, and mental health would certainly be near the top of that list.

Yet, this is a conversation the Church needs to have. Suicide may be one of the most complex and demanding topics of all. Over the past few years, the discussion has felt forced, especially when the event is connected to high-profile suicides of prominent Christian leaders or their family members and close associates.

While the circumstances in these situations are varied, the question of mental health always comes up; and when we talk about mental illness and suicide, it immediately creates a unique challenge for believers. The question is “Why?” Why is it uniquely challenging for us to address issues often associated with mental illness?

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Mental Illness, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology, Uncategorized

([London) Times) Patients ‘expect GPs to heal their souls’ as the church’s role declines

Family doctors say that they are the “new clergy” and need to know what to do when patients come to them lacking meaning and purpose in life.

GPs are increasingly seeing patients with complex problems driven by social and emotional difficulties and are growing frustrated by having little to offer other than pills, a study has indicated. They are embarrassed to talk about “spiritual” questions and researchers argue that they need to be comfortable telling people about the importance of community.

Alistair Appleby, a GP who carried out the study of his colleagues’ attitude to spirituality, said: “There is an urgent need to recognise the value of community, connection and self-esteem and look at meaning and purpose in life.”

Dr Appleby said that Britain’s reluctance to talk about religion publicly had hampered discussion of deeper questions. He began the study because “I felt I was particularly bad at it. There were several occasions when I was with patients when it was fairly clear that I had not made the human connection that they hoped for.”

Read it all (requires subsciption).

Posted in England / UK, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture, Secularism

(AP) Medical marijuana push spreads to Utah, Oklahoma

Nathan Frodsham, a 45-year-old married Mormon father of three, is hoping the measure passes so he can get off opioids and back to using the vaporized form of marijuana that he used when he lived in Seattle after his doctor recommended trying for his painful osteoarthritis in his neck.

Frodsham wasn’t discouraged by the Mormon church statement, which he notes doesn’t go as far in opposition as when the church explicitly asked members to vote against full marijuana legalization in Arizona and Nevada. He said marijuana is a natural plant and that the religion’s health code doesn’t single out cannabis as being prohibited.

“I think there’s some room for interpretation on this,” said Frodsham.

The 4,500-member Utah Medical Association isn’t against the idea of legalized medical marijuana but has numerous concerns with an initiative it thinks is too broad and doesn’t include necessary regulatory measures, said Michelle McOmber, the group’s CEO.

“We want to be very careful about what we bring into our state,” McOmber said. “This is an addictive drug.”

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Mormons, Religion & Culture, State Government, Theology

(Healthline) Stanford Professor Jeffrey Pfeffer Is Sounding the Alarm on Our Toxic, Modern Workplace

Is the modern workplace at the center of a massive public health crisis?

Stanford University professor Jeffery Pfeffer explores that possibility in his new book, “Dying for a Paycheck.”

Pfeffer, the professor of organizational behavior at Stanford University’s business school, has been studying and writing about the modern workplace for years. But he’s now looking at how office life can be toxic for your health.

Pfeffer estimates that 120,000 deaths may be attributed to workplace conditions, which include work-family conflict, no health insurance, and unemployment. This would in theory make the modern workplace the sixth-leading cause of death in the United States.

Pfeffer found toxic workplace environments permeate all types of companies across multiple industries and in various countries. He found plenty of issues with both old and newer companies, including places like Salesforce, which is currently listed as Fortune’s “Best Place to Work.”

 

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Posted in Anthropology, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market

(Guardian) NHS appoints humanist to lead chaplaincy team

A humanist has been appointed to lead a team of NHS chaplains, in a move that reflects growing demand for emotional and spiritual support from people who do not identify with any organised religion.

Lindsay van Dijk will lead three Christian chaplains and a team of 24 volunteers, including a Catholic nun, a Buddhist and a Bahá’í, at the Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS trust. The world-renowned spinal injuries unit at Stoke Mandeville hospital is part of the trust.

Although there are two other humanists among the NHS’s paid chaplains, it is the first time that chaplains in hospitals and hospices will work under a non-religious leader.

Van Dijk, 28, told the Guardian: “A lot of people don’t have an organised faith, but still have spiritual and emotional needs at difficult times. Often people are trying to make sense of their lives and the situations they find themselves in.”

Read it all (my emphasis).

Posted in England / UK, Health & Medicine, Religion & Culture, Secularism

(NC Register) Hawaii becomes the seventh state to legalize physician-assisted suicide

“Nana, how is suicide okay for some people, but not for people like me?”

Eva Andrade’s teenage grandson, who had previously been hospitalized for suicidal ideation, had asked his grandmother that question recently: Hawaii became the seventh state to legalize physician-assisted suicide April 5, a year after a previous legislative attempt.

Proponents claimed the law would give people with terminal illnesses (and a diagnosis of less than six months to live) the personal autonomy to make that decision. The teenager did not see why the circumstances made a big difference for one group having the legal right to end life on their own terms, while others did not.

“This is a 15-year-old child making this connection on his own, just based on the conversations he was hearing,” Andrade said.

Andrade, spokeswoman for the Hawaii Catholic Conference, told the Register that the “Our Care, Our Choices Act,” which goes into effect Jan. 1, 2019, threatens negative social repercussions and will have a “very detrimental effect on our community.”

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Posted in Aging / the Elderly, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, State Government, Theology

(Church Times) Church in Salisbury to host ‘service of cleansing’ after the poisoning of the Skripals

A church in Salisbury will host a “service of cleansing and celebration” after the poisoning of the former Russian spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter, Yulia, in the city last month.

St Thomas’s, in the centre of Salisbury, will hold the service at 3 p.m. on Sunday, metres away from the site of the bench where the Skripals were found outside the Maltings shopping centre. The Rector of St Thomas’s, the Revd Kelvin Inglis, said that the service would end with a procession to the spot where the pair were found.

The Skripals are believed to have been poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok, and the fallout from the attack on them has resulted in the expulsion of Russian diplomats from the UK and its allies, since the Government concluded that it was “highly likely” that the blame lay with Moscow (News, 16 March23 March). More than 20 countries around the world expelled Russian diplomats: the UK required 23 to leave; and the United States, 60.

On Tuesday, it was reported that Ms Skripal had been discharged from hospital, and that Mr Skripal was also making good progress and would leave “in due course”.

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Posted in Church of England (CoE), England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Police/Fire, Russia

(BBC) UK Student suicide rates overtakes that of non-students

The suicide rate among UK students is higher than among the general population of their age group, say researchers.

A study from the Centre for Suicide Research and Prevention says it means for the first time students have a higher suicide rate than non-students.

The Hong Kong-based researchers say that female students were particularly likely to have a higher suicide rate.

Researcher Edward Pinkney says it shows a “real problem in higher education”.

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Posted in Education, England / UK, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Psychology, Suicide, Young Adults

(Atlantic) Victoria Sweet–It’s time to rethink the quest to control aging, death, and disease—and the fear of mortality that fuels it

I went to medical school, at least in part, to get to know death and perhaps to make my peace with it. So did many of my doctor friends, as I would find out. One day—usually when you’re young, though sometimes later—the thought hits you: You really are going to die. That moment is shocking, frightening, terrible. You try to pretend it hasn’t happened (it’s only a thought, after all), and you go about your business, worrying about this or that, until the day you put your hand to your neck—in the shower, say—and … What is that? Those hard lumps that you know, at first touch, should not be there? But there they are, and they mean death. Your death, and you can’t pretend anymore.

I never wanted to be surprised that way, and I thought that if I became a doctor and saw a lot of death, I might get used to it; it wouldn’t surprise me, and I could learn to live with it. My strategy worked pretty well. Over the decades, from all my patients, I learned that I would be well until I got sick and that although I could do some things to delay the inevitable a bit, whatever control I had was limited. I learned that I had to live as if I would die tomorrow and at the same time as if I would live forever. Meanwhile, I watched as what had been called “medical care”—that is, treating the sick—turned into “health care,” keeping people healthy, at an ever-rising cost.

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Posted in Anthropology, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Theology

(Independent) Marjuana linked to ‘unbearable’ sickness across US as use grows following legalisation

By the time Thomas Hodorowski made the connection between his marijuana habit and the bouts of pain and vomiting that left him incapacitated every few weeks, he had been to the emergency room dozens of times, tried anti-nausea drugs, anti-anxiety medications and antidepressants, endured an upper endoscopy procedure and two colonoscopies, seen a psychiatrist and had his appendix and gallbladder removed.

The only way to get relief for the nausea and pain was to take a hot shower.

He often stayed in the shower for hours at a time. When the hot water ran out, “the pain was unbearable, like somebody was wringing my stomach out like a washcloth”, said Hodorowski, 28, a production and shipping assistant who lives outside Chicago.

It was nearly 10 years before a doctor finally convinced him that the diagnosis was cannabinoid hyperemesis syndrome, a condition that causes cyclic vomiting in heavy marijuana users and can be cured by quitting marijuana.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Drugs/Drug Addiction, Health & Medicine

(NYT) Many People Taking Antidepressants Discover They Cannot Quit

“It has taken a long, long time to get anyone to pay attention to this issue and take it seriously,” said Luke Montagu, a media entrepreneur and co-founder of the London-based Council for Evidence-Based Psychiatry, which pushed for Britain’s review of prescription drug addiction and dependence.

“You’ve got this huge parallel community that’s emerged, largely online, in which people are supporting each other though withdrawal and developing best practices largely without the help of doctors,” he said.

Dr. Stockmann, the psychiatrist in East London, wasn’t entirely convinced withdrawal was a serious issue before he went through it himself. His microtapering strategy finally worked.

“There was a really significant moment,” he recalled. “I was walking down near my house, past a forest, and I suddenly realized I could feel the full range of emotions again. The birds were louder, the colors more vivid — I was happy.”

“I have seen lots of people — patients — not being believed, not taken seriously when they complained about this,” he added. “That has to stop.”

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Posted in Anthropology, Corporations/Corporate Life, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Theology

(Mercury News) Legal Marijuana on pace to match U.S. soda sales by 2030

Pot may be on its way to beating pop. (Editor’s note: Yes, we know it’s called “soda” out here on the West Coast, but we didn’t want to mess with this writer’s lead.)

The U.S. legal cannabis industry is expected to reach $75 billion in sales by 2030, according to research firm Cowen & Co. That’s almost as large as the North American carbonated soft drink market in 2017.

With the industries’ diverging trajectories, weed may be poised to take the mantle as the larger industry. Cannabis is growing rapidly as more states legalize the plant. Nine states and Washington, D.C. now allow for recreational pot use. That means more than one in five American adults can smoke, vape, eat or drink it however they please. Cowen previously predicted that the market, assuming federal legalization, would reach $50 billion by 2026. That seems small now, according to analyst Vivien Azer.

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Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, State Government, Theology

A Globe and Mail profile Story of the medically assisted suicide of a Couple Married 73 years, the Brickendens

The Brickendens are one of the few couples in Canada to receive a doctor-assisted death together, and the first to speak about it publicly.

They wanted to explain what it meant to them to die at a time and place of their choosing, as at least 2,149 Canadians and likely hundreds more have done since assisted dying became legal in this country.

The Brickendens are at the vanguard of patients and families who are creating new rituals around dying in Canada – the kind of rituals that are only possible when death comes at a previously appointed hour.

But cases like theirs also raise uncomfortable questions about whether the vague eligibility criteria in Canada’s assisted-dying law are sometimes being interpreted more broadly than the government intended.

One of the most controversial stipulations in the law is that a patient’s natural death must be “reasonably foreseeable,” – something that could plausibly be said of every nonagenarian. The law dictates other requirements, including intolerable suffering and irreversible decline, but those concepts can be elastic, too.

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Posted in Canada, Death / Burial / Funerals, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family

(Crux) Vatican stages UN event to protest ‘genocide’ against Down Syndrome

While the United Nations has a stated commitment to protecting and promoting the lives of those with Down Syndrome, the Holy See believes some in the international community are abetting what one Washington Post columnist recently termed a “genocide” against such individuals.

At a United Nations event on Tuesday in anticipation of World Down Syndrome Day on March 21, Archbishop Bernardito Auza, the apostolic nuncio to the United Nations, charged delegates with failing to uphold protections enshrined in international agreements to protect those with disabilities.

“Despite the commitments made in the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities to promote, protect and ensure the full and equal enjoyment of all human rights, including that of the right to life, by all persons with disabilities, so many members of the international community stand on the sidelines as the vast majority of those diagnosed with Trisomy-21 have their lives ended before they’re even born,” Auza said.

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Posted in Anthropology, Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Religion & Culture, Roman Catholic, Science & Technology, Theology

(WSJ) Deborah Gastfreund Schuss: Learning to Pray When Words Fail–Disorders like aphasia pose a challenge for adherents of speech-based faiths

Julie Shulman decided to study linguistics because she wanted to help people with speaking disorders. She never imagined how personal this mission would become. After graduating from Israel’s Bar-Ilan University in 2000, the Maine native headed to Massachusetts for a master’s degree and job in speech therapy. Her husband, Ayal Shulman, worked as a business-development manager for an Israeli startup in Brookline. They returned to Israel in 2009—with promising careers and three young children.

Two weeks after their return, Mr. Shulman, then 37, suffered a massive brain hemorrhage. Despite the initially grim prognosis, his cognitive function is intact. But his speech is limited to sentences of three or four words, and his reading and writing abilities are limited.

Along with Mr. Shulman, at least two million people in the U.S. live with aphasia, according to the National Aphasia Association. Some 180,000 acquire the disorder every year. The condition, which produces a disconnect between what the brain wants to convey and what is actually expressed, often strikes survivors of strokes or head trauma without affecting their intelligence. The incidence is growing because medical advancements enable people with such maladies to survive at higher rates. Yet cures for the ensuing handicaps remain elusive.

Ms. Shulman —an Orthodox Jew deeply immersed in her faith—wanted to enhance her husband’s practice of Judaism. Today she helps reintegrate others suffering from aphasia into communal religious participation.

 

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Posted in Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Judaism, Language, Pastoral Theology, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Theology