Tuesday, February 13, 2018
I recently had my first EKG and echocardiogram following a occurrence of high blood pressure two weeks following the birth of my 3rd child. I consider myself lucky that I received the prognosis that my hypertension was likely temporary and that there is no underlying heart condition.
For others with a more concerning prognosis, they may be diagnosed with peripartum or postpartum cardiomyopathy. It is a rare type of heart disease that occurs during pregnancy or immediately after delivery. The condition weakens the heart muscle and causes the heart to become enlarged. As a result, the heart can’t pump blood properly to the rest of the body.
According to the American Heart Association, this heart condition affects about 1,000 to 1,300 women in the United States each year. Women usually receive a diagnosis during the last month of their pregnancies or within five months of delivery. Black women are particularly at risk.
A 2017 Report From the American Heart Association stated that among Americans, an average of one person dies from cardiovascular disease (CVD) every 40 seconds. Coronary heart disease (CHD) accounts for the majority of CVD deaths, followed by stroke and heart failure.
Additionally, the National Heart Association adds that heart disease is the leading killer for all Americans, but in African Americans, heart disease develops earlier and deaths from heart disease are higher than in white Americans. In recent years, the life expectancy of African Americans was 3.4 years shorter than that of whites (75.5 vs. 78.9 years, respectively), largely attributable to having a higher rate of heart attacks, sudden cardiac arrest, heart failure and strokes than white Americans.
Since learning that my heart was healthy, I have learned that several family members and friends of mine who were relatively young, died of heart-related illnesses. This saddens me.
It's our social responsibility to educate ourselves and others about our heart health. We can start by having yearly physical exams, regular exercise, good nutrition and providing advocacy for adequate culturally-competent care by healthcare providers.
Sunday, January 14, 2018
What do we do now?
Acknowledgements: The author would like to acknowledge Jennifer Malat, PhD, Farrah Jacquez, PhD, Elaina Johns-Wolfe, MA, and George Slavich, PhD, who are co-authors on the research article discussed.
Tuesday, November 28, 2017
Did you know that November is National Adoption Awareness Month?
By, Sarah Dreyer-Oren
Psychologists can help facilitate successful adoptions by becoming competent in their knowledge of the adoption experience for both adoptive parents and adopted youth. At a basic level, studies of parents in successful foster care placements have demonstrated that for adoptive parents, formal and informal social support and pre-adoption preparation are associated with successful adoption placements.
Another factor associated with positive adoption placement outcomes is adoption openness, which allows adoptees to maintain a connection to biological families (Liao, 2016; Oke, Rostill-Brookes, & Larkin, 2013). This factor might be especially important for older youth transitioning to adulthood, who sometimes struggle with issues of identity and loss (Chamberlin, 2005). Birth parents may also need adoption-related mental health care to process their loss. For adoptive parents, birth parents, and adopted children, finding a provider who has a background in adoption issues may facilitate the adoption and post-adoption process.
According to the Center for Adoption Support and Education, areas of adoption competency for psychologists include (CASE, 2016):
- Learn the theoretical framework and therapeutic approach of adoption competent mental health practice.
- Understand the legal and ethical issues that impact adoption.
- Develop clinical skills in working with birth families, children and prospective adoption parents in planning for adoption.
- Develop clinical skills in working with adopted children and youth and adoptive families on issues of loss, grief, separation, identity formation and attachment.
- Develop clinical skills in working with adopted children and youth and adoptive families on issues related to the impact of genetics and past experiences on adjustment and the psychological well-being of adopted children.
- Understand how trauma impacts adopted children and tools and techniques to support recovery from adverse beginnings.
- Develop an understanding of the racial, ethnic and cultural issues in adoption and how to work with transracial and transcultural families.
- Identify and utilize evidence-based and evidence-informed practices and interventions with individuals affected by adoption.
In addition, the following adoption resources may be useful:
General information about National Adoption Month: https://www.childwelfare.gov/topics/adoption/nam/about/
National Council for Adoption:
Resource for adoption mental health support and education: http://adoptionsupport.org/
Resource for adoption competency training form mental health professionals: http://adoptionsupport.org/adoption-competency-initiatives/training-for-adoption-competency-tac/about/
APA resource for psychologists on the influence of adoption on psychological practice: http://www.apa.org/monitor/dec05/adopting.aspx
Information for parents about selecting mental health providers competent in the area adoption: https://www.childwelfare.gov/pubPDFs/f_therapist.pdf
Chamberlin, J. (2005). Adopting a new American family. Monitor on Psychology, 36(11), 70-74.
Liao, M. (2016). Factors affecting post-permanency adjustment for children in adoption or guardianship placements: An ecological systems analysis. Children and Youth Services Review, 66, 131-143.
Oke, N., Rostill-Brookes, H., & Larkin, M. (2013). Against the odds: Foster carers’ perceptions of family, commitment and belonging in successful placements. Clinical child psychology and psychiatry, 18(1), 7-24.
Sass, D. A., & Henderson, D. B. (2000). Adoption issues: Preparation of psychologists and an evaluation of the need for continuing education. Journal of Social Distress and the Homeless, 9(4), 349-359.
Skinner-Drawz, B. A., Wrobel, G. M., Grotevant, H. D., & Von Korff, L. (2011). The role of adoption communicative openness in information seeking among adoptees from adolescence to emerging adulthood. Journal of family communication, 11(3), 181-197.