Protect yourself from the sun’s harmful rays

Memorial Day weekend traditionally kicks off the summer season for most Idaho families. We’ll be spending lots of time in the sun (we hope), and many of us won’t protect ourselves from its damaging rays. So I’m here to tell you that Friday is Don’t Fry Day, and it’s a good time to make a promise to yourself to be more responsible in the sun. Sunburns add up. Every time you get a sunburn, your risk for skin cancer increases.

If you’re outside for less than an hour, is it really necessary to take precautions?  

The sun’s ultraviolet rays can damage skin – especially fair skin — in as little as 15 minutes, but it can take up to 12 hours for the full effect of sun exposure to show up. Skin cancer is the most common cancer in the United States, with melanoma being the deadliest form. Idahoans have a higher rate of melanoma than the national average and the highest death rate in the nation. Continue reading

Memorial Day Weekend is the start of summer – let’s make it a safe one this year

DworshakCampIdaho experienced one of the harshest winters on record and this spring has been unseasonably soggy, but Memorial Day weekend has finally arrived as the unofficial start to the summer season. As you get ready to hit the road, pack coolers for picnics and camping trips, and enjoy the sun, water and great outdoors, here are some health and safety reminders so you and your family have an enjoyable summer.  Continue reading

A gift of generosity and recovery at State Hospital North for Mental Health Awareness Month

From IDHW’s Todd Hurt, administrator of State Hospital North

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IDHW State Hospital North Director Todd Hurt and NAMI far North President Virginia “Gini” Woodward with new donated Frisbee disc golf baskets on the grounds of State Hospital North.

OROFINO, Idaho – On a beautiful, blue-sky May day, there was a feeling of gratitude flowing through State Hospital North. The first reason for the gratitude was that it had been a long fall, cold winter and wet spring. The second is that patients were able to get out on the grounds during that beautiful day and play Frisbee disc golf. This disc golf was even more special given that we used new disc golf baskets donated to the hospital from NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) far North.

We have played disc golf for years at the hospital. It’s a great therapy tool that can be used for increasing mood, allowing for exercise, socialization, and joy. Continue reading

IDHW’s Mary Sheridan honored for empowering community-based rural health solutions for Idaho

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Watch the video

Idaho Bureau of Rural Health and Primary Care Director Mary Sheridan received the National Rural Health Association’s 2017 President’s Award May 9 during  the NRHA’s 40th annual Rural Health Conference in San Diego, where more than 800 rural health stakeholders from around the country gathered for the event.

According to the NRHA, “Sheridan exemplifies the dedication, resilience, and creativity of NRHA members, and works seamlessly with the teams she serves on to empower rural communities. She has shined in leadership and cooperative roles with the National Organization of State Offices of Rural Health, the Federal Office of Rural Health Policy, and the National Rural Recruitment and Retention Network. She always knows how to make the most of limited resources and boundless energy, and her encouragement and teamwork have had national and international impact.”  Continue reading

Wet spring may mean higher mosquito-borne virus risk – Fight the bite!

WNVLogo2007It seems like it’s just starting to warm up and feel like spring, so is it mosquito season already?

Mosquito abatement districts are surveying and treating for mosquitoes earlier than usual this year because spring has been so wet and there has been widespread flooding across Idaho. Now is a good time to go over the precautions you should take to protect yourself and your family from mosquito bites.

Other than an itchy bite mark, what’s the risk of getting bit by a mosquito?

Zika virus has been in the news a lot, but in Idaho and the rest of the United States, we worry the most about mosquitoes transmitting West Nile virus. This early in the season, we’ve had no reports of West Nile in mosquitoes, humans or horses. Last season in Idaho, West Nile virus was detected in nine symptomatic people, 10 horses, and a multitude of mosquitoes located across fifteen different counties. Fortunately, there were no deaths. Continue reading

Mental illness is normal in our society, and it’s also normal to have a life of recovery

Today (May 11, 2017) the Idaho Division of Behavioral Health hosted an event recognizing Mental Health Awareness month and several Idahoans who are working to support recovery and end the stigma about mental illness. So, let’s talk about the reality of mental health. 

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Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little presented the 2017 Mental Health Awareness month proclamation at a public event in the Idaho Statehouse May 11, 2017.

Millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition, which is challenging enough. Add to that the stigma associated with mental illness, and it can cause people to avoid help and treatment. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to talk about it and help put an end to the stigma about mental health issues.

How many people really are dealing with a mental illness?

Generally, 1 in 5 adults and children have a diagnosable mental illness. That makes mental illness more common than cancer, diabetes, or even heart disease, and yet we hear much more about those diseases than we do about mental health. That’s why this month is so important. About half of the adults in the U.S. will develop a mental illness at some point in their lives. Mental illness is normal in our society. It’s also normal to live a life of recovery. Continue reading

Voice of Idaho award winner Lisa Koller: “Today my life is to help people overcome the stigma”

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May is national Mental Health Awareness month, and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is joining with Idaho Regional Behavioral Health Boards around the state to commend individuals who have worked hard to reduce the stigma around mental health and volunteered in their communities to inspire hope, recovery and resiliency.

The winner of IDHW’s first-annual Voice of Idaho award, Lisa Koller, is one of those individuals. Part of her journey to recovery and dedicating her life to helping others with mental illness was inspired by receiving help from an Idaho peer support specialist after she graduated from Mental Health Court in 2007. Lisa now works as a peer support specialist and recovery coach at The Center for HOPE recovery center in Idaho Falls.

Read more below about Idaho’s program of certified peer support specialists from Idaho Division of Behaviorial Health Administrator Ross Edmunds, and Lisa Koller’s personal story of her struggles with substance use disorder and mental illness as recounted in her own words:   Continue reading