Back to School with myHealth

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Make sure those vaccine records are up to date!

 Did you know, shots aren’t just for kids! Teens need to get their shots, too.

 We all need shots (vaccines) to help protect us from serious diseases. This protection is called immunization. To help keep our community safe, myHealth For Teens & Young Adults is proudly participating in National Immunization Awareness Month.

Not only newborns and infants, but also your preteens and teens will need immunizations from time to time to protect your friends and family. In general, there are four vaccines suggested for teens to help save them from serious illnesses. One of them is the most popular flu vaccine, which should be administered every year. The other vaccines that are recommended for teens during their eleventh or twelfth year include:

  • Meningococcal conjugate vaccine to protect against meningitis and bloodstream infections (septicemia).
  • HPV (Human Papillomavirus) vaccine to protect against cancers caused by HPV.
  • Tdap vaccine to protect against tetanus, diphtheria and whooping cough (pertussis).

As most preteens get their shots before school starts, it could be difficult to get an appointment to meet your child’s doctor. Therefore, plan it well before and get an appointment at the earliest to avoid missing the shots. Always be sure to check with your doctor in order to make sure that your preteen is current with the vaccines. Remember, they may have to catch up with vaccines that they have missed while they were young.

Schedule your appointment today at myHealth to make sure your vaccines are up to date!

International Friendship Day!

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Did you know July 30th is International Friendship Day? You may be thinking to yourself, hmm there sure are a lot of international (fill in the blank) days, but this one has a special meaning. The United Nations proclaimed International Friendship Day in 2011. This day was created to celebrate the importance of friendship, its ability to inspire peace, and build bridges between communities. Research shows friendships have health benefits too1! The Mayo Clinic states friends can…

  • Increase your sense of belonging and purpose
  • Boost your happiness and reduce your stress
  • Improve your self-confidence and self-worth
  • Help you cope with stress and trauma
  • Encourage you to live a healthier lifestyle

We think this is pretty awesome! More and more studies are showing friendships are good for us. A 2010 study, which combined data from more than 308,000 people across 148 studies, found a strong connection between positive social relationships and increased life span2.

As you read this, we hope you are able to think of some of the great friends in your life. Unfortunately, we know friendships aren’t always so great. How do we know someone is a good friend? How do we find friends? How do we find people who like us for who we are? These are some of the questions young people ask when we are out in the community. Everyone deserves to have friends that will support them, encourage them, and appreciate them for who they are.

The myHealth education team teaches young people to navigate friendships and emphasizes these qualities and how they help create healthy friendships (or any relationships).

Emotional Safety: Both people can be themselves and know they will not be judged. They are secure and confident in the friendship. They can take risks, feel challenged in an exciting way that respects their boundaries.

Trust: Friends have confidence in each other, and know they can rely on them. Friends can feel safe to be who they are and share openly with each other.

Support: Friends encourage each other, they value each other’s opinions and listen non-judgmentally. They are there to cheer you on in good times, and be someone to lean on in the not so good times.

Communication: Friends can connect and share openly and honestly. When differences arise, friends can talk through problems cooperatively. Boundaries are respected.

Boundaries: Personal boundaries are guidelines, rules or limits that a person creates to identify reasonable, safe and permissible ways for other people to behave towards them. This could be emotionally, physically, or virtually. Friends respect each other’s boundaries.

Equality: One person does not have power or control over the other. Everyone in a friendship gets a part in the decisions being made, like where to eat, or what to do. If one person is more comfortable talking about their emotions, that doesn’t mean only that person talks openly and makes themselves vulnerable.

Think of your friendships, are these characteristics present? If you have a young person, do their friendships have these characteristics? Remember we should also be a good friend to ourselves. Do you treat yourself the way you would treat a friend? It is also important to recognize these qualities in the way we treat ourselves, and the way our young people treat themselves.

Whether you have a lot of friends, a few friends, or are still trying to find your people that’s okay! Take some time on International Friendship Day to celebrate the friendships in your life! Call an old friend and check in to see how they are doing. Meet up with friends and enjoy the summer weather. Attend an event in your community or join a new group to expand your (real-life) social network.  Friendships are a valuable part of our life and worth celebrating! Investing time in making friends and strengthening friendships can improve our health and give us a better sense of connectedness throughout our lives.

  1. The Health Benefits of Good Friends. (2016, September 28). Retrieved from https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/adult-health/in-depth/friendships/art-20044860
  2. Holt-Lunstad, J., Smith, T. B., & Layton, J. B. (2010). Social Relationships and Mortality Risk: A Meta-analytic Review. PLoS Medicine, 7(7), e1000316. http://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000316

Happy Pride!

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Happy Pride from your friends at myHealth. For many in the LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, plus) community, it is a time to recognize those that came before us, those that fought for human rights, freedom of choice, and for passing the laws that allow people to be with their families and those they love.

Pride is a way to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and other individuals have had on history locally, nationally, and internationally. Pride started in New York in 1970, a year after the Stonewall Riots in Greenwich Village which is recognized as the event that helped the LGBTQ+ movement gain momentum (read about Stonewall here https://www.britannica.com/event/Stonewall-riots). Pride is a way for communities to voice their demands for equal rights and protections. It is also a celebration of life and sexuality that brings communities together who are frequently discriminated against and left out of conversations.

The following leaders are only 3 of MANY who have been monumental in improving the lives of LGBTQ+ people everywhere. We celebrate the dedication and accomplishments of these folks and the MANY others who have had an impact throughout past, present, and future LGBTQ+ lives.

Barbara Gittings

Barbara Gittings was a prominent activist for LGBTQ+ equality. Her work includes, founding the New York Chapter of Daughters of Bilitis (DOB), picketing in one of the first gay rights protests in 1965, and getting the American Psychiatric Association to remove homosexuality from the list of mental illnesses in 1972. Barbara was instrumental in promoting positive literature about homosexuality in libraries through her work with the American Library Association’s Gay Task Force (known today as the Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual and Transgender Round Table).

“Equality means more than passing laws. The struggle is really won in the hearts and minds of the community, where it really counts.”

Andrea Jenkins

Andrea Jenkins is an American policy aide, politician, writer, performance artist, poet, and transgender activist. She serves on the Minneapolis City Council and is the first African American openly trans woman to be elected to office in the United States. She is currently curating the Transgender Oral History Project at the University of Minnesota; collecting stories of people and their experiences as transgender and gender nonconforming people.

“I’m really proud to have achieved that status, and I look forward to more trans people joining me in elected office, and all other kinds of leadership roles in our society.”

Sameer Jha

Sameer Jha is a 16-year-old high school student who identifies as a queer, gender-nonconforming. Semeer founded The Empathy Alliance, a nonprofit that works with students and educators to help make schools safer and more welcoming for LGBTQ+ students. As a first generation American, with parents who immigrated from India and Pakistan, Sameer also works to remove the stigma around being queer in South Asian communities.

“As a queer person of color who traces my heritage to a country in which homosexuality is punishable by death, I want to use my privilege as an American citizen with a supportive family to raise awareness and fight for the people who can’t.”

May is Masturbation Month!

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Think back to when you were a teen, maybe even a tween… What myths did you hear about masturbation? Someone who masturbated would lose their eyesight? Maybe you heard a person would grow hair on their palms…. Or it could cause infertility. But these myths are exactly that, MYTHS! Regardless of gender, masturbation is a normal, healthy part of someone’s sexuality!

Masturbation is a personal decision; many people do, others don’t and that’s okay! There are many different reasons why a person may masturbate. It may help release sexual tension, reduce stress, aid in sleep, or simply just for pleasure. Despite what you may have heard in middle school, there are no negative health effects to masturbation. Masturbation carries no risk of sexually transmitted infections or unplanned pregnancy. It can help a person discover their own sexual responses and learn how to communicate those with a partner.

 

When interacting with young people in the community, we leave a chance for anonymous questions about any topic. Some of the most common questions we get are about masturbation, including;

  1. Is masturbation bad?

Masturbation is a perfectly normal and healthy part of someone’s sexuality. There is research that shows healthy

  1. How much masturbation is too much?

There is no right or wrong amount someone masturbates. Some masturbate often, maybe every day or more than once a day, others masturbate less frequently and some will never masturbate at all and that’s okay. All of these are normal. Like anything, masturbation only becomes “too much” if it is taking away from daily activities. If someone notices themselves not hanging out with friends, not doing homework, or skipping out on other responsibilities to masturbate they may want to talk to a mental health counselor or therapist.

 

What messages are your young people getting about masturbation? What messages do you want them to receive? Talking with our young people about masturbation may be an awkward conversations but that’s okay! You can open the door to this conversation by sharing some of the myths you heard when you were a young person. Reassuring young people that masturbation is normal and healthy can help eliminate the fears, myths, and shame often associated with self-discovery.

Get more tips on how to talk to young people about masturbation here:

https://amaze.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/ConversationStarters_Masturbation.pdf

https://amaze.org/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/KeyMessageScripts_Masturbation.pdf

Kicking off the New Year

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When ringing in 2018, it can be helpful to pause, reflect, and put things into perspective.  We often go into a new year making resolutions of certain qualities and characteristics we want to FIX or CHANGE. While this can be a wonderful opportunity to better ourselves, don’t forget, you are already amazing! How often do you focus on the powerful attributes in your world and what makes you happy?

Stop and reflect with me for a minute… What was challenging for you in 2017? What did you ROCK AT? When did you feel the worst or when you weren’t reaching your potential? When did you feel the best and you gave it all you had?

As we travel through life, we have this little backpack we carry around. At times, our bag is filled (with activities, friends, family, school work, relationships, pressures) and contains a lot of weight and pulls us down. At other times, our bags are EXACTLY what we need; they fill us up and make us feel amazing and empowered. The New Year is not about CHANGING everything about ourselves. You are already amazing in your own way! We can however, take the time to decide where and how we want to spend our time and energy. If your bag is full of heavy, unnecessary items that don’t make you happy, NOW is a great time to readjust. Take that bag and dump it out! Look at exactly what you are carrying around, where your energy and thoughts are focused! Figure out what’s REALLY important in your life! If you don’t know where to start, think about who and what is worth your time and your energy?!  What do you need for your next adventure?

Once you’ve emptied and started re-packing your bag, LIST everything about yourself that is AMAZING! What are you good at? What skills and qualities make you, YOU. Those skills and qualities are the straps of the backpack; the foundation that will support you in all that you do! They can offer stability and comfort when needed. You are YOU! Those qualities that make you are what people see, the unique decorations, the strength of the straps, etc.

The backpack is there for you, whether you realize it or not. You get to fill it with whatever you want! As time passes, and the year speeds along, pause, reflect, evaluate and adjust as needed. Is the weight of the bag pulling you down and making those straps dig into your shoulders? Are you carrying too much for other people and not enough for you? What items need to be removed for you to feel empowered, invigorated, and amazing?! What and who is continuing to inspire you and the amazing person you are?!

After you’ve assessed your backpack, reflected on all the contents and all that it is, put it on! Here’s to your next adventure as you kick off 2018!