Wednesday, May 12, 2021

Just breathe: It's Mental Health Month

By ASHA MURPHY, MA, LPC-S, NCC | Office of Behavioral Health Staffer

It's May, and May is Mental Health Month! As a mental health professional, I often experience Mental Health Month as both validating and daunting. Thoughts pop up like, "Am I taking care of my own mental health enough?" "Am I more stressed than my clients seem to be?" "Am I self-caring enough?" 

Then, I pause, just breathe and ask myself if there is some audience I’m trying to win over. The answer is almost always, "Well, no." After this fundamental realization,  I remind myself that sometimes hairstylists have bad hair days, professional athletes get injured, some of the best authors get writer's block and farmers lose the occasional crop. Having expertise and/or receiving a paycheck for a job does not imply we are superhuman. Rather, it's simple: we cannot evade failure and that's OK.  

Brene' Brown says in her "The Gifts of Imperfection": "Healthy striving is self-focused: 'How can I improve?' Perfectionism is other-focused: 'What will they think?'" I believe we cannot fully support our clients, patients, spouses, children and friends without thoughtful insight into our own thoughts, feelings and lives. Here's to living this month with thoughts and actions related to self-fulfillment, giving ourselves grace and filling ourselves up.

Here are some helpful journal or thought prompts to help you care for your mental wellbeing (from Port St. Lucie hospital's page):

  • Talk about your day.
  • Identify things you're grateful for.
  • Write a list of your coping mechanisms.
  • Describe a goal.
  • Write about how different you were five years ago.
  • Write a letter to your body.
  • List and describe your emotions.
  • Write about how you'd describe yourself to a stranger.
  • Describe the best compliment you've ever received.
  • Write a message for yourself on bad days.

Friday, February 26, 2021

Louisiana Department of Health celebrates Black History Month


Each year during Black History Month, the Louisiana Department of Health reflects on the contributions of Black pioneers in medicine and the impact they have left on the industry and the country as a whole. Their work has been instrumental to advancing the well-being and improving the lives of many people.

Here are just a handful of the Black healthcare heroes who have left an indelible mark on the health of Louisianians.

Vivien Thomas

The life of Vivien Thomas is an inspiring story of an African-American pioneer who overcame the barriers imposed by a segregated society. With no formal medical training, he developed techniques and tools that would lead to today's modern heart surgery. In operating rooms all over the world, great surgeons who received their training from Vivien Thomas are performing life-saving surgical procedures.

Read more here (Source: Morehouse School of Medicine).

Dr. Sandra L. Robinson

Dr. Sandra L. Robinson served as the secretary and state public health officer of the Louisiana Department of Health, then known as the Louisiana Department of Health and Human Resources, from 1984 to 1988. Appointed by Governor Edwin W. Edwards, she was one of the first two Black women to serve as a Cabinet secretary in Louisiana.

Glennis Gray

Glennis Gray currently serves as the Department’s emergency operations incidence commander, operations program manager and strategic national stockpile coordinator for the state. In these roles, she leads the state in all chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear and explosive events, and coordinates and facilitates stockpile planning for all of its components.

She has been a registered nurse for over 26 years, with more than 26 years of experience in emergency nursing and 25 years in case management, education and nursing administration. She’s also a part-time emergency department nurse at Baton Rouge General Hospital.

Nikki Honore

Nikki Honore’ currently serves as the Department’s statewide nurse consultant for emergency preparedness. In this role, she provides programmatic supervision and training for healthcare professionals across the state of Louisiana who deliver medical support for multiple state-run medical operations. In addition, she develops strategies and identifies training opportunities to build capacity and resiliency in Louisiana communities during disasters.

She is a board certified family nurse practitioner with over 12 years of experience as a clinical practitioner, educator, consultant and nurse leader. She is also a pediatric clinical adjunct instructor at Southern University’s School of Nursing.

Dr. Mark Colomb

As director of Jackson State University, Lafayette-born Dr. Mark Colomb cultivated the development of the Mississippi Urban Research Center (MURC) where he served as project director/principal investigator for 13 federally- and state-funded projects from 1999 to 2003. He secured more than $9 million in grant funding, establishing Jackson State as a premier HIV/AIDS prevention training agency while serving as the lead entity for four regional organizations providing HIV/AIDS prevention training to African American community-based organizations throughout the U.S. and its territories. Dr. Colomb was also founder of National Black HIV/AIDS Awareness Day.

Dr. Colomb played an integral role in shaping state and national HIV/AIDS policy legislation, particularly on behalf of African Americans, by working with a variety of constituents from grassroots advocacy groups to national legislative bodies.





Tuesday, January 19, 2021

Let the good times roll (safely)!

Last year, Mardi Gras turned into a superspreader event for COVID-19. 

This year, there won't be any parades or the big public events that we love and cherish, but that doesn't mean we can't still let the good times roll! 

From king cakes and costumes to decorations and documentaries, there are still plenty of ways to celebrate the spirit of Carnival.

Tuesday, December 15, 2020

Share the flavors of the holidays with your loved ones

Baked Apples and Pears with Almonds (Source: American Heart Association)

By MINDY FACIANE | Public Information Officer, Bureau of Media and Communications

COVID-19 has brought many changes to our lives this year, and the holidays have certainly been no exception. Governor John Bel Edwards and the Department of Health strongly encourage families to host small celebrations at home with their own households and to consider reaching out to extended family through video platforms like Zoom or Facebook Rooms.

We know how hard it is to be apart from those we love during the most joyous season of the year. We’ll miss the friends and family who can’t be with us, but the best way to show them how much we care is to reduce the likelihood of giving them COVID-19.

So, while we can’t be together this holiday season, we can still find ways to create shared experiences together across the miles, whether they be few or many. This can be as simple as a dinner over video chat with the same scented candle burning in every household, a shared holiday music playlist and everyone making the same delicious dish as part of their spread. Well-Ahead Louisiana is providing these healthy recipes for you to share with your loved ones so everyone can settle on the same one to prepare in time for the big (distanced) meal.

Tuesday, December 1, 2020

Scratch-offs don't belong in Christmas stockings

(Note: This blog post was originally published in December 2018. We are sharing it again as Louisianans consider gifts for their loved ones for the holidays.)

Christmas is a time when the eyes of children are fixated firmly on what’s beneath the Christmas tree and in their stockings. While it may be tempting to gift them with something like a lottery ticket, the Louisiana Department of Health’s Office of Behavioral Health recommends against such gifts.

It is not too unusual for parents and relatives to gift children and youth with lottery tickets, scratch-offs and other gambling games. Such gifts are given with good intentions – they provide a little hope and fun, as well as dreams of winning something amazing. However, the odds of winning are small, especially when compared to the odds of developing a gambling addiction. Gambling games like these are meant for adults and are age restricted for a reason.

The Office of Behavioral Health released a report titled, 2018 Louisiana Caring Communities Youth Survey, that detailed 2018 gambling statistics among students in grades 6, 8 10 and 12. The survey revealed that over 40% of students reported gambling in the past year. The highest incidences of gambling were reported amongst 18% of 10th graders who reported betting on sporting events, and 16.8% of 8th graders surveyed reported that they had played the lottery or lottery scratch-off tickets.

Studies of adults with gambling problems have shown that the earlier a person begins to gamble, the more likely they are to develop a gambling problem, especially when scoring a big win at a young age. An article by Renee St-Pierre and Jeffrey Derevensky noted, “Disordered gambling among youths is frequently linked with…greater gambling expenditure, academic difficulties, poor or disrupted family relationships, both concurrent and later alcohol and substance abuse problems.”

“Giving a lottery ticket or scratch-off to a child may seem like a cheap, fun and harmless gift, but such gifts can increase risk factors for an addiction problem further down the road. That’s why we discourage the giving of such presents to children,” said Kenneth Saucier, Program Manager with the Office of Behavioral Health.

Louisiana provides problem gambling resources at no cost to residents. For more information on problem gambling or to set up an appointment to address a problem or concern, call the Louisiana Problem Gamblers Helpline at 1-877-770-STOP (7867). The helpline provides confidential support and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Help is also available online through the Office of Behavioral Health and the Louisiana Association for Compulsive Gambling.