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The Journey to Healthy Minds for Healthy Youth

Image of NIMHD Program Officer Dr. Xinzhi Zhang

Dr. Xinzhi Zhang

 

By Xinzhi Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.
Program Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Division of Scientific Programs

Too many stories point to the troubled minds and mental struggles of our youth with the tragic event in Parkland, Florida being one of the latest. Even more saddening, these children’s cries for help are often misunderstood or ignored.

Suicide is the second leading cause of death for children between the ages of 10–24 years old, accounting for 17.6% of deaths in this age group 1 The American Academy of Pediatrics recently updated their guidelines to include universal screening for adolescent depression (youth 12 years of age and older).2 According to the 2016 National Survey on Drug Use and Health, one in eight youth ages 12–17 years old has had a  major depressive episode in the past year, with 70% of them having severe impairment.3,4 Continue reading “The Journey to Healthy Minds for Healthy Youth”

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Partnerships, An Important Factor in Advancing Health Equity

By Eliseo J. Pérez-Stable, M.D.
Director, NIMHD

Director, NIMHDEach year in April, the Office of Minority Health at the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) leads our sister HHS agencies in commemorating National Minority Health Month. This year’s theme, “Partnering for Health Equity,” is a sustainable message which we not only recognize this month but also put into practice all year long through our research, training, and outreach programs and activities.

Over the last two and a half years, I have been leading this Institute in research to improve minority health and reduce health disparities in the U.S., as well as help guide other NIH Institutes and Centers on these issues. Our country is often described as a melting pot—representing people from all over the world. However, our research does not reflect the culture. We are continually trying to raise the bar.

Continue reading “Partnerships, An Important Factor in Advancing Health Equity”

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Guest Blog Post: Improving Diversity in Basic Biomedical Research

By Jon R. Lorsch, Ph.D.
Director, National Institute of General Medical Sciences

This is the first in a series of guest NIMHD Insights blog posts where NIH Institute and Center (IC) Directors highlight initiatives, resources and funding opportunities relevant to minority health and health disparities research and training at their Institutes. The goal of this guest blog series is to link NIMHD stakeholders to minority health and health disparities-related information and opportunities across NIH.

The inaugural post is from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS). With a $2.6 billion budget, NIGMS supports basic research that increases understanding of biological processes and lays the foundation for advances in disease diagnosis, treatment and prevention.  

Improving Diversity in Basic Biomedical Research

Photo of Director, National Institute of General Medical Sciences

Jon R. Lorsch, Ph.D. Director, NIGMS

Fostering a diverse and inclusive future workforce has long been a key priority for NIGMS. The Institute strongly believes that incorporating a full range of perspectives, skills, and experiences will benefit the biomedical research enterprise—and our society as a whole. This standpoint is one of the factors that attracted me to the NIGMS Director’s position.

During my tenure at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, one of my proudest achievements was launching a summer research program for Baltimore-area high school students. Many of the students came from groups underrepresented in the biomedical sciences. Most had never been exposed to a career in science. Continue reading “Guest Blog Post: Improving Diversity in Basic Biomedical Research”

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“Insights” on Simulation Modeling and Systems Science, New Research Funding Opportunity

By Xinzhi Zhang, M.D., Ph.D.
Program Director, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities, Division of Scientific Programs

There are many contributing factors to health, such as race, ethnicity, sex, sexual identity, age, disability, socioeconomic status, and geographic location. To help close health gaps, the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) spearheads scientific research at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to improve minority health and reduce health disparities.

NIMHD is leading a new Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA): Simulation Modeling and Systems Science (SMSS) to Address Health Disparities. To learn more about SMSS and this new funding opportunity, NIMHD Program Officer Dr. Xinzhi Zhang addresses a few questions for the Insights blog. Continue reading ““Insights” on Simulation Modeling and Systems Science, New Research Funding Opportunity”

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Breastfeeding Disparities in African American Women

By Regina Smith James, M.D.
Director, Clinical and Health Services Research
National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Photo of Dr. Regina Smith James

Dr. Regina Smith James

Some say the best things in life are free…but are they really? Well, when it comes to providing our babies with the best nutrition ever, breastfeeding is not only economical, but it has positive health effects for both baby and mom. Did you know that breast milk is uniquely suited to your baby’s nutritional needs, with immunologic and anti-inflammatory properties? Yes, it’s true! And the American Academy of Pediatrics recommends exclusive breastfeeding for the first 6 months, with gradual introduction of solid foods after 6 months while continuing to breastfeed up to 1 year.

What are some of the health benefits of breastfeeding? Breast milk not only offers a nutritionally balanced meal, but some studies suggest that breastfeeding may even reduce the risk for certain allergic diseases, asthma, and obesity in your baby, as well as type 2 diabetes in moms. Also, breastfeeding creates a close bond between mother and child. And from a financial standpoint, breastfeeding is economical. The United States Breastfeeding Committee noted that families who followed optimal breastfeeding practices could save approximately $1,500 that would have gone toward infant formula in the first year alone. Imagine what you could do with those extra dollars!

Continue reading “Breastfeeding Disparities in African American Women”

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Minorities and Mental Health: Moving Beyond Stigma

By Courtney Ferrell Aklin, Ph.D.
Chief of Staff, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

By Marcia M. Gómez, M.D.
Health Science Policy Analyst, National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities

Dr. Courtney Ferrell Aklin

   Dr. Courtney Ferrell Aklin

Demographic trends in the United States have continued to change rapidly. Projections indicate that within the next 30 years, the majority of the United States will be non-White.1 Among the racial and ethnic groups that will make up the majority, there is significant heterogeneity, making healthcare delivery even more challenging.

Mental illness is one of the most prevalent health problems in the United States and one of the most taxing on the healthcare system. In addition, mental illness carries the highest disease burden among all diseases, with devastating effects on daily functioning; personal, social, and occupational impairment; and premature death if left untreated.2 One in 10 children and one in five adults are affected by mental illness.3

Continue reading “Minorities and Mental Health: Moving Beyond Stigma”

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Improving the Health Status of African American Males

By Wayne T. Harris, Ph.D.
Project Director and Contact Principal Investigator
Hampton University Minority Men’s Health Initiative

Dr. Wayne T. Harris

Dr. Wayne T. Harris

It gives me great pleasure to contribute to the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD) blog, NIMHD Insights. While the health status of all groups in the United States has improved over the past century, significant gaps remain between the health status of African Americans and other minority groups, and that of the general population. For example, in 1950,1 the life expectancy of an African American male at birth was 59, while that of a Caucasian male was 68. In 2014,1 the life expectancy at birth for an African American male increased to 72.0 while that for a Caucasian male increased to 76.5. Similar gaps exist in the health status and health outcomes of minority populations using a variety of measures, and clearly more work needs to be done.

The Hampton University Minority Men’s Health Initiative (MMHI) exists to contribute to the achievement of one of the overarching goals of Healthy People 2020: “to achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups.” Research has consistently shown that disease management and prevention efforts related to chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer, and asthma lead to long-term improvement in outcomes.2 But these research findings have not been translated into sustainable, community-based programs. Furthermore, violence prevention efforts are clearly needed to reduce the significant loss of life due to homicide – the eighth leading cause of death among African Americans in 2014, and the fifth leading cause of death among African American males in 2014.1 MMHI is a program based on collaboration between selected regional Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to leverage resources in order to increase research into the causes and solutions for health disparities, increase community outreach and education, and promote effective prevention and/or treatment activities. As part of the National Institutes of Health and NIMHD’s efforts to advance engaged and transdisciplinary research, MMHI serves as a Transdisciplinary Collaborative Center (TCC) for research on minority men’s health.

Continue reading “Improving the Health Status of African American Males”

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Contradicting the Myth of the Model Minority Through a Population Health Equity Approach

By Chau Trinh-Shevrin, DrPH
Principal Investigator, NYU Center for the Study of Asian American Health
Associate Professor, Departments of Population Health and Medicine
Vice Chair for Research, Department of Population Health
Director, Section for Health Equity
NYU School of Medicine

Diabetes management class participants perform group exercises.

Diabetes management class participants perform group exercises.

Asian Americans do not need an apple a day to keep the doctor away. Research suggests that doctors are less likely to follow evidence-based guidelines and meet standards of care with their Asian American patients compared with other racial groups in preventing and managing chronic conditions.1,2 Asian Americans, however, face just as many health challenges, including an increasing rate of diabetes and certain cancers.

This neglect seems to be linked to the “model minority” stereotype of Asian Americans, promoted in American culture and media, which portrays them as uniformly hardworking, affluent, and healthy. Yet, Asian Americans are not all alike: There are substantial differences in language, migration, and social experiences across Asian subgroups whose ancestral heritages hail from East, South, and Southeast Asia, and health concerns and risks vary across and within these communities.3

Continue reading “Contradicting the Myth of the Model Minority Through a Population Health Equity Approach”

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Stroke Ready: Partnering to Increase Acute Stroke Treatment Rates in Flint, Michigan

By Lesli Skolarus, M.D., M.S.
Associate Professor, Neurology, University of Michigan

Sarah Bailey, M.A.
Executive Director, Bridges into the Future, Flint, MI

Dr. Leslie Skolarus (left) and Elder Sarah Bailey (right)

May is Stroke Awareness Month, and we would like to share some information about stroke and our research with you. Each year, about 800,000 people in the United States have a stroke. Disability is the greatest challenge facing survivors and their families. About two thirds of stroke survivors are left with a disability.

Post-stroke disability is substantially reduced by acute stroke treatments, which include intravenous tissue plasminogen activator (tPA) and intra-arterial treatment. Unfortunately, these treatments are underutilized—administered to less than 5 percent of U.S. stroke patients. Treatment with tPA must be given in the emergency department (ED) within 4.5 hours of the start of stroke symptoms. 1 The main reason stroke patients do not receive tPA is that they wait too long to call 911. 2 Think of tPA like Drano® for your brain: We want to get the plugged pipe—in the case of stroke, the plugged artery—open as soon as possible. The less time the artery is plugged, the lower the chance of brain damage, so it is extremely important that a person who is experiencing stroke symptoms calls 911 right away.

Continue reading “Stroke Ready: Partnering to Increase Acute Stroke Treatment Rates in Flint, Michigan”

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For the First Time, Healthy People Initiative Focuses on Social Determinants of Health

By Nancy Breen, Ph.D.
Economist, Office of Strategic Planning, Analysis and Reporting, NIMHD and NIMHD Representative to the Healthy People Social Determinants of Health Workgroup

Healthy People Background

The Healthy People initiative is a federal program that provides “science-based, 10-year national objectives for improving the health of all Americans.” For the past 40 years, Healthy People has monitored the health of Americans and set benchmarks for how we can all be healthier. You can read more about Healthy People online at www.healthypeople.gov.

Nancy Breen, Ph.D.

Nancy Breen, Ph.D.

Healthy People provides a national 10-year framework for health promotion and disease prevention, with measurable objectives and goals, and it invites states and localities to use the national framework and objectives for their own plans. While the focus has always been health promotion and disease prevention, the Healthy People 2020 agenda is the first to use social determinants of health (SDOH) to frame the conceptual understanding of health. For 2000, an overarching goal to “reduce health disparities” was introduced, partly in response to the 1985 Report of the Secretary’s Task Force Report on Black and Minority Health (often referred to as the “Heckler Report”).1 For 2010, that goal was strengthened to “eliminate health disparities.” For Healthy People 2020, one of the overarching goals is to “achieve health equity, eliminate disparities, and improve the health of all groups.”2 The graphic from Healthy People 2020 shows that the overarching goals emphasize the determinants of health.

Continue reading “For the First Time, Healthy People Initiative Focuses on Social Determinants of Health”

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