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7 Ways to Practice Body Neutrality

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You’ve heard of body positivity, but what about body neutrality? With nearly 4 out of 5 women and 1 out of 3 men expressing dissatisfaction with their bodies, it’s important to find strategies that help a wide variety of people. If one person finds it easy to be body positive, another may truly struggle to think positivity about a body image struggle they’ve had since they were young.

And unfortunately, body image struggles does tend to begin at a young age. In fact, 95% of people with eating disorders are between the ages of 12 and 25, which matches almost exactly the age range served by myHealth for Teens and Young Adults.

Body neutrality provides a framework to feel neutral or better about yourself on days where body image is a struggle. Body neutrality is all about removing guilt, respecting your body, and challenging negativity.

Let’s examine seven ways to practice body neutrality. And if these habits lead to positivity, that’s fantastic too!

1. Think Healthier, Not Skinnier

A lot of health plans focus on body shape and dieting, which can have undesired side effects:

  • Unrealistic body image
  • De-emphasizing health
  • Nutrition imbalances
  • Risk of developing eating disorders

Focusing on your health rather than your weight can improve both your physical and mental health. Find healthy habits that feel attainable and sustainable so that you can achieve many years of good health. After all, the goal of learning about health is to be healthy! What that looks like to an outside observer is going to vary from person to person.

Honor your body by finding a variety of foods that fuel it Talk to your health care provider about foods that you can add that could improve your quality of life.

Energize your body by moving it in ways that feel good. It’s important to talk to your health care provider about your activity levels, especially if you want to make a significant change in your activity levels. They can help you achieve your goals in a way that reduces the risk of injury.

2. Find Supportive People

We’re all in this together. Spend time with people who are supportive of your goals. On social media, make a point of following people that are body neutral/body positive. When you see a variety of people with a variety of body types, your perceptions will better align with what people actually look like in the real world! This can help produce body neutral feelings.

Don’t filter out different body types in your brain. Consider how different people might feel in their bodies and accept them the same way you would want them to accept you and your body.

3. Complement Others

There are qualities that your friends have that you really appreciate but you’ve never mentioned to them. Tell them! Sharing what you like about people can be a great way to strengthen your friendship. And don’t your friends deserve to feel good about themselves too?

But this isn’t just about them. When you see the beauty and value in others, you are better able to see the beauty and value in yourself too. Some of us are prone to unrealistically negative opinions about ourselves. Sharing a compliment about someone’s style or kindness opens your heart to see yourself more honestly too.

4. Practice Setting Boundaries

Sometimes people make unwelcome comments about you that make you feel uncomfortable. It is completely normal and healthy for you to set boundaries with people to limit those experiences.

Here are some examples of how you can set boundaries with people:

  • Tell someone a certain subject is off-limits. “My acne is a topic for me and my doctor.”
  • Remind people that a conversation needs to be respectful. “We can talk about my diet, but if things get too heated or disrespectful, we’ll need to end the conversation.”
  • Stick to your boundaries. “You know talking about my weight is a hard line for me. We can change the topic, or I’m going to have to leave.”

Some people won’t respect your boundaries, and you may choose to spend less time with them. But if any conversation gets stressful for you, it’s okay to take some time to yourself. (See item 6 below!)

5. Use Social Media Less

Studies show that social media use is correlated with negative thoughts and anxiety. And not just anyone’s studies: Instagram’s internal studies found that the app facilitates body image problems. Over 40 percent of young people who report feeling “unattractive” said the feelings started when using Instagram.

Social media is an experimental force in our society. You’re not wrong to want to keep its influence on the sideline. One way to do that is find 30 minutes you would usually spend on social media and replace it with something else like music, games, exercise, or meditation.

6. Do a Nice Thing for Your Body

Do something that says, “Hey body, thanks for sticking with me. Enjoy this one on me.”

Examples:

  • Sitting on the grass
  • Taking a bubble bath
  • Getting a massage
  • Listening to music (and just music)
  • Taking a nap
  • Doing deep breathing
  • Writing down what you’re thinking and feeling

Try a couple of these ideas or make up some healing routines of your own.

7. Practice Helpful Affirmations

Find some things you like about yourself, physical or non-physical. Remind yourself of those things in the morning. Set the tone of your day.

Each person consists of so many parts. Acknowledging your whole self is an important part of your mental health. This means acknowledging the parts of yourself that give you joy, yes, but also confronting areas that are tougher for you.

This is where body neutrality comes in. You don’t have to pretend things are different than they are. You don’t have to feel positive all the time. You can find a neutral place to start your day and find a respectful relationship with your body.

Here are some ideas for body neutral affirmations:

  • “I am grateful that my body keeps me going.”
  • “I deserve to wear clothes that I like.”
  • “I will respect my body.”
  • “I deserve to enjoy myself.”
  • “This is my body. I accept my body.”

Conclusion

While there’s no perfect solution to body image struggles, practicing body neutrality can help. If you find that a consistent practice of body neutrality is not relieving your symptoms of distress, it may be time to speak with a mental health counselor. You can call myHealth at 952-474-3251 to ask about counseling services. Our wonderful therapists are equipped to help!

How Old is Too Old to See a Pediatrician?

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At the beginning of life, a child has their health care needs met by a parent or guardian who brings them to a pediatrician. But as they age, a child may begin to feel differently about keeping the same doctor they saw when they were a toddler.

Many pediatrician’s offices are designed to make small children feel welcome. If you’re 14 years old and surrounded by decorations and toys for someone half your age, you may feel like you’re in the wrong place!

With each stage of life comes slightly different needs. As young people age into teenagers and experience puberty, they may want to keep some conversations with their doctor confidential.

When is it time to stop seeing a pediatrician?

If a young person wishes to remain with their pediatrician, they usually may do so until age 21; however, many young people begin to transition away from pediatricians after puberty.

One great option for those teens is an adolescent medicine specialist like myHealth for Teens and Young Adults. Adolescent specialty clinics are equipped not only to provide a welcoming environment, but know the challenges and needs unique to young people who are making the transition to adulthood.

Giving your child the tools to succeed

myHealth’s mission is to improve the health of our community by providing health services and information that support all teens and young adults in making responsible and well-informed decisions.

Here are some ways we help prepare young people for the world of adult medicine:

  • Client-first care that empowers young people feel in charge of their health
  • Easy scheduling by phone or online
  • Judgment-free services, whether in primary, reproductive, or mental health care
  • Comprehensive education on medication and lifestyle choices
  • Low cost to free care for clients not using insurance
  • Staff trained as MNsure Navigators can help young people apply for insurance

myHealth sees young people to ages 12 to 26. Everyone who ages out of services at myHealth is sent off with information about transitioning to adult medicine, time with a nurse, and an opportunity to apply for health insurance.

We believe in going above and beyond in the field of adolescent care. We understand that young people are trying to navigate the world on their own, and we do everything we can to make that experience not merely an effective one, but a positive one.

Just as important as giving health care to young people is preparing them to continue caring for themselves as they gain independence. myHealth is proud to be one of many clinics to share the goal of informing young people in a way that empowers them to seek the care that is right for them.

It’s Giving Tuesday!

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To our great Community,

As a friend of myHealth, you know the services we provide are unique and important:

  • myHealth is one of only three low-cost or no-cost clinics for adolescents in Minnesota and adolescents ages 18-23 are the single largest uninsured demographic. For more than 50 years, myHealth has ensured access to medical and dental services, mental health counseling, education outreach, parent services, and nurse home visits for pregnant and parenting teens.
  • myHealth never turns away anyone who is unable to pay for services and we are the only adolescent-focused community clinic in an area spanning 1,200 miles. Each year, myHealth provides free health care services to more than 300 young people.
  • The need for teen-centered mental health care has increased rapidly in the past few years. myHealth is the only adolescent clinic in our service area offering free and reduced fee mental health care, delivered by licensed therapists. myHealth screens each clinic client for mental health issues annually.
  • myHealth operates five days a week with both evening and Saturday hours to accommodate the needs of our clients and ensure easy access to care.

Each year, myHealth provides over 1,100 clients with low-cost medical services in over 4,200 visits. Our clients consistently report we meet their needs, and they feel welcomed and respected when seeing a myHealth healthcare provider.

Annually in the community, our health educators present to more than 15,000 young people, adults working with youth, parents, and community partners and provide information on a wide variety of health topics critical to the ages we serve.

Today, our greatest challenge continues to be meeting the demand for mental health care for the young people in our community. Nationwide shortages of licensed counselors and myHealth’s inability to pay competitive wages as a stand alone non-profit has extended the wait times for new clients. To recruit and retain qualified staff members, myHealth has increased compensation, but sadly there has been no increase in insurance reimbursement rates to offset the added expense of providing care.

As we close out this year, we ask that you consider a year-end gift to support the work that we are doing in this community.

Your donation will ensure that myHealth is able to continue to support the youth who are most vulnerable, who need access to confidential reproductive healthcare, who may have nowhere else to turn for mental healthcare, and who often feel marginalized by traditional healthcare providers.

Your gift will help us to one day see that all young people will be educated and empowered to make responsible decisions regarding their health and relationships.

With gratitude on behalf of our clients,

The Staff at myHealth for Teens & Young Adults

P.S. Have you seen our very own Connie on the news? We helped get out the vote and Channel 5 wanted to learn more about it! Check out the interview below:

Constituency and Making Your Voice Heard

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More times than not, people tend to feel powerless. It can be easier to think of the government as something large and beyond us. However, I tend to think differently. While at the end of the day, it is the government who can make legislative decisions, policy changes, and overall impact the way the country functions and prospers, there are individual steps that lie in the hands of constituents, that is the voters who elect the representatives both on a local and national level. 

It can be difficult to know where to start. How do you become an active participant in the decisions of the lives around you? How do you find a way to make your small but mighty voice heard amidst the major news outlets and sources? How can you educate yourself on your own community and the immediate issues around you? 

These are questions I don’t have all the answers to because I am learning too. Politics were never something on my radar, but during the past year, I have learned just how essential it is to understand what is going on today. Though much of what goes on within the world of politics can be foreign and completely unrelated to me individually, understanding politics and the division that exists in the United States today allows me to shape my belief systems. I have learned how valuable the vote is and that staying silent is never the answer to change. 

A great place to start is to ask this question: What are the causes and subjects that matter to me? In high school I knew I was passionate about accessible reproductive healthcare. Since I attended private school, the education I received in the classroom was insufficient in many ways. I became deeply passionate about ways in which healthcare can and ought to be more accessible to everyone. When I read current news, I keep an eye out for articles related to legislation and/or opinion pieces on healthcare, so I can better understand what is happening in different states and better establish my own stance and belief.

There is so much that remains deeply puzzling to me regarding politics. It seems like everytime I scroll through recent articles or turn on a news channel, I hear about an event or a topic that is new to me. It can be easy to get overwhelmed by the volumes of information available by a single click, but I think there is encouragement in that as well. With such a wide variety of concerns pressing our nation, there is bound to be something of interest to you. There is a cause out there with your name on it, and once you find it, you will feel the call to change. The things we care about are the things we fight for. 

So, where do you start? My first piece of advice to be an active constituent and voice in your community and/or on a federal level is to educate yourself. It sounds simple, but it can be extremely difficult to navigate the hundreds of news sources just for a little information on current events. When it comes to reading the news, I suggest reading multiple sources. No single source has it all, and there is a bias in most new outlets. 

Outside of understanding the day to day pressing concerns, it is equally important to understand current legislation. For the state of Minnesota, you can access this link to view all of the bills moving through both the House of Representatives and the Senate. To see what is happening in Washington D.C, you can view active legislation here. Progress can feel slow, but it is happening. Every day representatives, senators, and passionate individuals are working to make change happen, even if it is behind what seems to be closed doors. 

Pay attention to your own representatives. If you are unsure who your local legislators are, you can find out here. It is important to remember that the government is much more than a federal organization. It is a local body at work, influencing your everyday life. 

In high school, I cared deeply about making reproductive healthcare both accessible and safe. From that interest, I began to volunteer on the Youth Advisory Board for myHealth. It was an opportunity to stimulate my passions and work alongside similarly minded youth. In college, I am a part of a school organization that works to promote sexual health education on campus. 

Once you know what you are passionate about, the next step is to get involved and be outspoken. Knowing what you care about is important, but action is where things will change. Volunteer at organizations with the same passions as you, use your social media platform to raise awareness, and most importantly, take an interest because everyone is affected. 

Guest post by Morgan Hausback

People with Penises’ Health Blog

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Let’s talk about health care! It’s recommended that people schedule a visit to the doctors once a year, usually this is called an annual exam. At this visit they can talk about any concerns they have about their body, health, or activities. It is a chance for a doctor to provide preventative services and check to see if there are any concerns developing. There are a few things that happen during an annual, so let’s look into it!

The nurse will measure a person’s height and weight. In the office they will ask about medications to see if there are any changes. There will be a depression screening, and there will be questions about a person’s activities such as substance use and sexual activity. The nurse will also ask if the person has any questions or concerns they want addressed that day.

When it comes to the exam the nurse or doctor will ask to check various parts of a person’s body. They will typically check blood pressure, pulse, the heart, lungs, nose, ears, and, mouth. At myHealth, someone will have a physical exam of their genitals if the patient requests it or if there are things to address such as rashes, bumps, or other irregularities. 

Advocacy

This relationship between a doctor and their patient can be vulnerable and it is important a person feels comfortable with the doctor performing exams, asking about a person’s activities, and having conversations about a person’s health. A patient has the right to ask their doctor questions about the exam, treatment, recommendations, and any other part of the visit. If a person feels uncomfortable with their doctor it could be helpful to search for another provider. Many times clinics will have a small bio on the doctors that a person can use to see if they are a good fit. Doctors will list their focuses, passions, groups they have experiences with, and many times some identities are present in their pictures. Some might mention they are LGBTQ+ comprehensive, sports focused, and so much more.

Identity

A person can let their healthcare provider know how they would like to be addressed and what name they prefer. This can be added to the chart. A patient deserves to have their pronouns and name correctly used during their visit.

*Check out our blog on what happens at annuals for people with vulvas

People with Vulvas’ Health Blog

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Let’s talk about health care! It’s recommended that people schedule a visit to the doctors once a year, usually this is called an annual exam. At this visit they can talk about any concerns they have about their body, health, or activities. It is a chance for a doctor to provide preventative services and check to see if there are any concerns developing. There are a few things that happen during an annual, so let’s look into it!

The nurse will measure a person’s height and weight. In the office they will ask about medications to see if there are any changes. There will be a depression screening, and there will be questions about a person’s activities such as substance use and sexual activity. The nurse will also ask if the person has any questions or concerns they want addressed that day. During this visit there may be a discussion on contraception depending on the answers a person has about their sexual experiences. This is a great opportunity to ask about different types and the effects it could have on a person. 

When it comes to the exam the nurse or doctor will ask to check various parts of a person’s body. They will typically check blood pressure, pulse, the heart, lungs, nose, ears, and, mouth. At myHealth, someone will have a physical exam of their genitals if the patient requests it or if there are things to address such as rashes, discharge, or other irregularities. 

Pap Smears 

A doctor may recommend a breast exam and a vaginal exam (pap smear). Pap smears should be completed starting at age 21 and continue every 3 years if results are normal*. Sometimes a person is given a hospital gown to wear or a person will remove their bottoms and underwear, a paper cloth is given to place over a person’s lap. During a pap smear, a person will lay on the exam table and the doctor will sit on a stool for the exam. Usually, the doctor will let the patient know what they are doing and state when they are going to go into the vagina. A speculum and lubrication are used to go into the vagina. Sometimes it might feel slightly cold and there might be some pressure. There are different size speculums that a doctor can use so if there is some discomfort with the exam a person can ask for a smaller speculum.

For a pap smear, a small sample of tissue will be taken from the cervix. The doctor will look to check for cysts, discharge, and any other concerns a person might ask about. If a person has a history of trauma or anxiety around vaginal exams they can inform the doctor or nurse and different processes can be utilized to make sure the person feels safe and comfortable during the exam.

Advocacy

This relationship between a doctor and their patient can be vulnerable and it is important a person feels comfortable with the doctor performing exams, asking about a person’s activities, and having conversations about a person’s health. A patient has the right to ask their doctor questions about the exam, treatment, recommendations, and any other part of the visit. 

If a person feels uncomfortable with their doctor it could be helpful to search for another provider. Many times clinics will have a small bio on the doctors that a person can use to see if they are a good fit. Doctors will list their focuses, passions, groups they have experiences with, and many times some identities are present in their pictures. Some might mention they are LGBTQ+ comprehensive, sports focused, and so much more. 

Identity

A person can let their healthcare provider know how they would like to be addressed and what name they prefer. This can be added to the chart. A patient deserves to have their pronouns and name correctly used during their visit.

*If results are abnormal, the person should have a repeat pap in one year, not any earlier. Their doctor can explain the process more in-depth. 

**Check out our blog on what happens at annuals for people with penises

Navigating Sensitive Conversations with Your Doctor

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“Why me? Why now?” 

No matter how many revolutions happen in health care, the thought of visiting the doctor can be overwhelming. But it doesn’t have to be an obstacle to seeking the care that you need — and the care you deserve!

Our bodies are unique, ever-changing organisms. Don’t fall into the trap of assuming you are exactly like someone else, or like the worst-case scenario that pops up when you search for your symptoms.

Nothing they haven’t seen before

You may feel anxious, but remember you are one of many people who have felt just like you feel right now! There isn’t a question that hasn’t been asked before. 

Maybe you fear an HPV infection, and you’ve just booked your first cervical screening. Your doctor is only there to help, and it’s probably their 1875th screening (or so!). Doctors are people who understand what you’re feeling and how to help.

Addressing uncomfortable topics with your doctor

Anxiety-inducing questions vary by person. Here are some common ones:

  • Sex-related topics such as libido, erectile dysfunction, sexually transmitted infections
  • Poop stuff: IBS (irritable bowel syndrome), constipation
  • Mental health issues like anxiety, depression, and relationship struggles
  • Gender identity and sexual orientation
  • Bad breath
  • Body odor

You may be describing something that feels like a flaw, but health struggles do not determine your self-worth. No matter how silly or awkward the problem appears to be, dealing with it head-on prevents it from growing into something potentially more serious.

Let’s look at an example.

Bring your notes

Let’s say you need counseling, but you don’t know how to verbalize what and how you’re feeling. Just the thought of being asked what you need help with may conjure up scenes of awkward silence as you try to figure out what to say.

Write down your concerns down beforehand. Conduct a case study of your own. Don’t worry about your literary style—we’re not in school, and there are no grades. Make a note of your symptoms, whatever the problem may be. Your notes will spark a conversation with your doctor, who is trained to guide you and ask helpful followup questions. 

Try reading your notes out loud before your appointment to ease your nerves. No method is too silly when your health is at stake.

Fellowship hour

You and your doctor have the same goal and share the same interest: making you healthy and happy. Addressing uncomfortable topics with your doctor doesn’t have to be distressing. Give yourself space to establish a rapport with your doctor. 

Once you trust them, it becomes so much easier to open up about sensitive, private concerns about your body. Health care workers want you to be well; they just need you to give them information so they know how to help.

Honesty is your shield

Building trust with your doctor may start with blunt honesty. It can be as little as: “Hi, I’m nervous,” or “I’ve never shared this with anyone.”

This admission is your doctor’s cue to slow down and do everything in their power to make you feel comfortable before asking questions. It’s important to remember that they’ve seen, heard, and touched things beyond our wildest imagination. They are eager to help, and they will work around shyness and uncertainty to work toward a good outcome.

Tell it plainly

Sex, addiction, and mental health issues are common in adolescents and younger people. No matter how embarrassing or bad it feels to admit, you’re there because your problem needs fixing and you want to fix it. Sharing details about painful sex with your doctor sounds frightening, but it is a necessary step. Google isn’t a doctor; always remember that. 

Schools can support students going through recovery, too, so learning to be open and talking about it is the first step to getting better. If you’re struggling with addiction, don’t hesitate to reach out. Your whole future depends on whether you’re open to receiving the help you need. 

There is no shame in asking questions

As the conversation unfolds, you may feel overwhelmed by the exam, the advice, or the medical terms. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, or write things down on some paper or on your phone. If you’re there to get help regarding stress management, for example, just nodding through their advice won’t be nearly as beneficial!

Always remember that you’re not bothering your health care providers when you ask questions about your care. They want you to understand everything they are telling you. They want you to be able to take charge of your health. This is a partnership, not just the doctor curing you, or you wandering off on your own.

Don’t sweep it under the rug

You’d be surprised how easily some health issues can be fixed. Not addressing uncomfortable topics with your doctor and keeping it a secret will only prolong your discomfort and worry. Gather the courage and get help today!

pride flag

Pride in 2022

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Pride Month brings a celebratory atmosphere every year, but in 2022, Pride also reminds us that the fight for equality is ongoing. In the past year, over a dozen states have restricted the rights of trans youth, including unwarranted sports restrictions, bans on gender-affirming care, and the endorsement of Child Protective Services investigating families with trans minors.

The concerns felt by many in the LGBTQIA+ community in the United States are legitimate, and myHealth stands with the LGBTQIA+ community in calling for human rights for everyone. We are grateful that the Minnesota government has upheld rights for LGBTQIA+ people and we will continue to advocate for those rights.

Our education team, clinic staff, and counselors are proud to support LGBTQIA+ young people in their journeys, whether it’s by providing counseling, education, reproductive health care, insurance assistance, or referrals for gender-affirming care. We are always thinking of ways to keep myHealth a place where LGBTQIA+ people can feel accepted, safe, and free to be themselves.

Taking Pride

The term “Gay Pride” was coined just miles away from myHealth! In the early 70s, Minneapolis residents Michael McConnell and Jack Baker popularized the term after becoming the first gay couple to successfully apply for a marriage license in the United States.

Since the 70s, the idea of Gay Pride or LGBT Pride has come to cover a multitude of marginalized identities. All people deserve to take pride in who they are, and in their role in their community. 

This June, myHealth wishes you a Pride full of joy, love, and the defiance of hatred. Know that no matter what happens in the United States, there are countless people who support you and will fight for your right to be you. Together, we are stronger and happier.

Resources

Are you concerned about your general, mental, or sexual health? Call myHealth at 952-474-3251.

Are you seeking gender-affirming care? Our trusted community partner, Family Tree Clinic, can help you! 

Are you a young person ages 14 to 19 in need of emergency shelter? Contact our trusted community partner Hope House.

Celebrating 50 Years of myHealth!

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Please join us for an open house celebrating 50 years of myHealth! Since 1972, myHealth has sought to bring easily accessible high-quality care to the young people in the west metro. For our 50th anniversary, we want to celebrate our partnership with our wonderful community:

What Day: Saturday, June 4, 2022

What Time: 10am to 2pm

Where: 8th Avenue S, Hopkins, MN 55343

Celebration Details

Spread the word! Send people to myHealth’s website, or to the press release below.

View Press Release
Online appointment scheduling availableBook now
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