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10 heart-healthy foods you’ll want to keep in your house (infographic)


How to help a teen with depression (guest blog post)


Teens are notorious for being moody, but there’s a difference between typical teenage emotions and depression. In fact, the National Institute of Mental Health estimates that 2.6 million U.S. adolescents ages 12 to 17 had at least one major depressive episode in 2013. Depression in teens can lead to unhealthy coping behaviors, resulting in problems at school, drug and alcohol abuse, violence, self-harm, and reckless behavior. These issues are often a cry for help, and by knowing the signs of depression in teens; parents, teachers and other caregivers can identify teens who would benefit from professional attention.

Signs of depression in teens
Did you know that symptoms of depression can be different in teens than in adults? Be on the lookout for:

  • Irritable or angry mood for most days in a week, for at least two weeks. Outbursts of hostility are often the predominant mood in depressed teens, as opposed to sadness.
  • Unexplainable physical aches and pains. If a teen is complaining of symptoms such as headaches or stomachaches but a physical exam doesn’t show a cause, this could be a sign of depression.
  • Withdrawing and/or changing social groups. Unlike adults, often teens with depression will not isolate themselves completely, but may pull away from those that know them well and begin socializing with peers who don’t question the change in their behavior or mood.

Other signs of depression are more similar in both teens and adults. These include:

  • Lost of interest in things that used to be enjoyable.
  • Change in sleeping or eating habits.
  • Irrational fears or worries.
  • Very low energy and motivation.
  • Feelings of worthlessness, hopelessness or guilt.
  • Difficulty concentrating.
  • Thoughts of suicide.

If a teen is expressing thoughts of suicide, it is imperative that he or she be evaluated by a mental health professional immediately. If a teen is showing several of these signs, the best thing an adult can do is be supportive in getting him or her medical attention. Continue Reading »

Save a life with three simple letters: QPR


Community-based suicide prevention coalitions work to reduce suicides in our communities. The big question is, “By how much should we reduce our suicide rate?” Should we reduce our rates by 10 percent? Or perhaps 20 percent? The answer that many in this field would tell you is, “By 100 percent!” Our goal is to have a zero suicide community. Others have done it; so can we. But we need your help.

In order to achieve a zero suicide goal we need everyone in the community to realize that each resident can help save a life. Much like many have received CPR training, by exercising what the three letters in QPR stand for, someone in our community can save a life. After all, suicide affects everyone in our community.

QPR stands for Question, Persuade, Refer, and is the best practice training approach for suicide prevention (https://www.qprinstitute.com/). QPR is a program in which any individual can be trained to learn how to recognize signs of suicide and be able to intervene. Anyone can be trained in QPR and potentially save a life.

A free community QPR training (open to any community member age 18 or older) will be held on Monday, Sept. 28, 2015 from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at Chilton High School in Calumet County. Because space is limited we are asking interested individuals to register. To register, send an email to: registration@preventsuicidefoxcities.org or call (920) 931-2552 with questions. Continue Reading »

Fun Labor Day activities for the family


For many, Labor Day marks the official end of summer. Even though warm weather will likely carry on into September, Labor Day is often a last hurrah before students head back to school and routines get a bit more structured. Make the most of this three-day weekend with healthy, active ideas that the whole family can enjoy!

  • It’s state and county fair season, but you can skip the lines and deep-fried foods by having a backyard fair for your family. Set up tables in the backyard with healthy treats, games, a coloring contest and “livestock” exhibitions with pets or stuffed animals. Get out the washable paints for a face-painting booth, or host your own bake-off!
  • Another fun yard activity for a full free day is hosting lawn Olympics. Set up lawn darts, bag toss, badminton or other favorites and compete for the gold! Color in paper circles for the medals and hang them off of string or ribbon—you could even stack something safe to climb on for a podium for your closing ceremonies.
  • If you want to be active but don’t have yard space, check your local community calendar or do a search for 5K run/walks in your area.
  • Pack a snack, fill a water bottle or two and head to your nearest state or local park. This is a great opportunity to get outside and be active while enjoying nature.
  • Cool down by setting up a sprinkler or filling up water balloons.
  • Get some sidewalk chalk and have a Labor Day drawing contest. Make it more interesting with a patriotic theme or a recap of the other activities you’ve done that day!
  • Rainy Labor Days can still be fun! Have a Food Network-style cooking competition in your kitchen. Pick teams if you have enough people and choose one or two people to judge your culinary creations. Set up workstations just like they do in cook-offs on TV and have fun making dramatic commentary as you go.
  • See if your favorite local non-profit, church or other organization needs volunteers—the long weekend is a big fundraising time for some organizations but also a time when many volunteers are out of town or busy, making it a great time to get involved in a cause you care about.
  • When you’re tired out, set up camp in the backyard or living room! Grab your flashlights and set up a tent in the yard or a blanket fort in the living room. Snack on trail mix, grilled treats or s’mores (made over the fire or in the microwave!) and tell silly or scary stories or play music.

Does this seem like enough to fill a three-day weekend? Let us know what you plan to do in the comments, and if you try any of these ideas let us know how they turn out!

Volunteer opportunities at Mercy Medical Center

Volunteer Spotlight Jim & Prince 6-9-15Are you looking for ways to get involved in your community?

Good news – Mercy Medical Center has volunteer openings! Volunteers at Mercy enjoy directing visitors, transporting patients, running errands, and many other tasks including providing patients’ socialization rehab through animal therapy.

Two volunteers at Mercy Medical Center have been making a difference in patient rehab for the past five years. Jim Papenfuss is a pet therapy volunteer with his therapy dog, Prince, a four-year-old goldendoodle. Jim and Prince take pride in visiting patients, visitors and staff all around the hospital, including the behavioral health unit, intensive care waiting room, rehab unit and the cancer center.

Jim has been involved with pet therapy for the past 17 years. He and Prince enjoy interacting with others and cheering up those in need. Prince, also known as ‘Jim’s big ball of cotton candy,’ loves working with everyone at the hospital, exhibiting kindness and love.

Mercy Medical Center is fortunate enough to have this dynamic duo that are always bringing smiles and joy to everyone around them.

Volunteer Spotlight Jim+ prince 6-9-15

If you are interested in joining the volunteer team at Mercy, please visit our website http://www.affinityhealth.org/volunteer to apply online or contact Mercy Medical Center Volunteer Services at (920) 223-0225.

For those specifically interested in pet therapy, after applying online your dog must meet the standards set by Therapy Dog Inc., which includes being a friendly, well-behaved dog of at least one year of age. For more information on testing and qualifications, please contact therapydogsinc@qwestoffice.net.

Disclaimer: The information found on Affinity's blog is a general educational aid. Do not rely on this information or treat it as a substitute for personal medical or health care advice, or for diagnosis or treatment. Always consult your physician or other qualified health care provider as soon as possible about any medical or health-related question and do not wait for a response from our experts before such consultation. If you have a medical emergency, seek medical attention immediately.

The Affinity Health System blog contains opinions and views created by community members. Affinity does endorse the contributions of community members. You should not assume the information posted by community members is accurate and you should never disregard or delay seeking professional medical advice because of something you have read on this site.