Survey: Mental health stigmas are shifting

April 25th, 2016

Mental health has a long-standing public perception problem, but the stigma appears to be shifting, at least in the United States, a new survey reveals. Results from a national online survey on mental health, anxiety and suicide indicate that 90% of Americans value mental and physical health equally.

“Progress is being made in how American adults view mental health, and the important role it plays in our everyday lives. People see connection between mental health and overall well-being, our ability to function at work and at home and how we view the world around us,” said Dr. Christine Moutier, chief medical officer of the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
The foundation commissioned a Harris Poll with the Anxiety and Depression Association of America and the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention to gauge public opinion on mental health, anxiety and suicide awareness.
In August, the Mental Health and Suicide Survey was emailed to a random sampling of individuals age 18 and older who live in the United States.
Despite recognizing a link between mental health and overall well-being, the majority of survey participants view access to mental health care inaccessible and costly. 150115175106-mental-health-exlarge-169

How Americans view mental health conditions

Although most people surveyed identified life circumstances, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and bipolar disorder as risk factors for suicide, more than half — 53% — did not know that people with anxiety disorders are also at risk for suicide, the survey found.
“The findings provide key insights into how Americans view mental health conditions, life circumstances, barriers for seeking help and their understanding of the risk factors for suicide,” said Dr. Doryn Chervin, executive secretary of the National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention.
Though psychiatrists say women are more likely than men to have suicidal thoughts, the survey indicates that women are also more likely than men to receive mental health treatment and more likely to report experiencing anxiety and depressive disorders.
Men, the survey reveals, are less likely to report anxiety and depressive disorders and more likely than women to report substance-related conditions.
Between 1999 and 2013, nationwide suicide rates have increased 19.9%, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. “Men are four times more likely than women to die from suicide and rates are especially higher for middle-aged, white, non-Hispanic men 35 to 65 years old,” said Dr. Alex Crosby, branch chief with the CDC’s Division of Violence Prevention.
Despite the statistics, nearly all survey respondents — 94% — think suicide is sometimes or often preventable.
“Effectively diagnosing and treating both anxiety disorders and depression, especially when they co-occur, are critical pathways to intervening and reducing the suicide crisis,” said Dr. Mark Pollack, president of the Anxiety and Depression Association of America.

Seeking care seen as a sign of strength

The survey also revealed that people ages 18 to 24 are becoming more comfortable with seeking medical help and are more likely to consider it a sign of strength to see a medical health professional, compared with older people.
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“There are many steps people can take to help if they know someone who is suicidal,” Moutier said. “Reach out to mental health providers, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1-800-273-TALK (8255) — and make sure the person is not alone until they can get help.
“Talking helps saves lives.”
While psychiatrists affiliated and not affiliated with the survey acknowledge the steady shift in people wanting to understand mental health better, many say more research needs to be done because a stigma still lingers.
“It’s a great step forward to see a public increase in awareness on mental health issues, but there are still limitations when it comes to gaining access to care,” said Dr. Ranna Parekh, director of the Division of Diversity and Health Equity at the American Psychiatric Association , which was not affiliated with the survey.
“There needs to be an increase in the number of trained mental health professionals, proper facilities and first-response support across the nation in order to treat all the patients who need the special care.”

“Small Penis Syndrome” All Inside Your Head

December 3rd, 2015

With the pervasiveness of internet porn, a lot of men today have the mistaken impression that a seven inch penis is the norm. In fact, it is a behemoth. Male porn actors are carefully selected for their size. In fact, the entire process of making a pornographic film is unnatural, from start to finish. This is not a very good source for learning about human sexuality, or the male anatomy.


Small penis syndrome for the vast majority of men is psychological, not physical. One British study found that of 63% of men interviewed about their penis size claimed to be inadequate. But when physically examined, researchers determined that each was within the average range. Average is considered between 5.5 and 6.2 inches in length and 4.7 to 5.1 inches in girth. Meanwhile, a survey of women on the subject found the vast majority, 85%, were satisfied with their partner’s size.

What about women, do they prefer a larger size? Men’s Health sexpert Debby Herbenick, Ph.D. said that when it comes to the physical act of love, a larger penis may be prohibitive to a woman’s orgasm, rather than helping it to occur. A man who is too large may even need to accept shallower penetration. Otherwise, he may hit her cervix which can cause pain and bring the entire episode to a screeching halt. Women generally orgasm due to clitoral stimulation—usually through oral or digital contact, or through the use of a sex toy such as a vibrator.

The aforementioned British study found that instead of length, women prefer wider penises. This is because it better stimulates the area of the lower vagina during intercourse. Those with a thin penis can overcome it using certain positions to increase stimulation. One way is by using a circular motion when thrusting, or by taking part in certain positions during intercourse. When she is on top, place a pillow under your bottom. Try taking her from behind. When in missionary, hold up one of her legs for deeper penetration. For those men who still believe they do not measure up, steer clear of supplements or devices found online. These have been found to be dangerous. Instead, be sure to seek out a medical professional, such as a doctor or urologist, for a reliable evaluation.

Sex-ed programs that address gender issues more effective

July 8th, 2015

By Heidi Stevens, Chicago Tribune

Sexual education programs that discuss gender balance within relationships are significantly more effective at preventing sexually transmitted infections and unintended pregnancies than programs that don’t, a new study finds.


The results are particularly compelling in light of Northwestern University researcher Alice Dreger’s live-tweeting of her son’s ninth grade sex-ed class, revealing a disheartening reliance on fear, shame and anecdotes about condom breakage.

The new study, published in International Perspectives on Sexual and Reproductive Health and authored by Nicole Haberland, a senior associate at the Population Council, spells out a more effective route.

After evaluating 22 sex-ed programs that took place from 1990 to 2012, Haberland found that programs that addressed gender and power were five times more effective.

“Fully 80 percent of them were associated with a significantly lower rate of STIs or unintended pregnancy,” she writes. “In contrast, among the programs that did not address gender or power, only 17 percent had such an association.”

What gives?

“Harmful gender norms have been correlated with a number of adverse sexual and reproductive health outcomes and risk behaviors, even after other variables have been controlled for,” Haberland writes. “Studies have found that individuals who adhere to harmful gender attitudes are significantly less likely than those who do not to use contraceptives or condoms. Also, compared with women and female adolescents’ reports of more equitable relationships, reports of low power in sexual relationships have been independently correlated with negative sexual and reproductive health outcomes, including higher rates of STIs and HIV infection. And women and female adolescents who have experienced intimate partner violence are significantly more likely than those who have not to have a host of adverse outcomes — from low rates of condom use to higher rates of pregnancy and STIs or HIV infection.”

But when adolescents and young adults are taught to consider and strive for gender equity, results improve.

“Some of the curriculums in Haberland’s study challenged young people’s thinking on gender roles by having them discuss the advantages and disadvantages of being male or female, or by analyzing media portrayals of men and women,” Julie Beck writes in the Atlantic. “They asked things like, ‘What is this ad saying to you about what a woman is supposed to look like and act like?’ Haberland says. ‘What are guys supposed to feel and act like?’”

Haberland continued: “Another thing people might do is use case studies,” she told the Atlantic. “Working with a class to critically analyze what is really going on between these two characters. Why is it that Jane isn’t able to use a condom? It’s not because she doesn’t want to, it’s because she can’t say it. He has the car, the money, and he doesn’t want to, and she’s afraid he’s going to leave her. Helping kids identify the inequality in those power dynamics and how it affects all of us in our relationships.”

Of the effective programs, Haberland writes in the study:

“They addressed gender and power explicitly, used participatory and learner-centered teaching approaches, facilitated critical thinking about gender and power in participants’ society, fostered personal reflection about how these concepts affect one’s own life and relationships, and helped participants value their own potential as individuals and as change agents.”

Sounds like a good road map for parents, too, as we tackle the complex topics of sexuality and gender with our own children. As with all things, equality should be at the heart.

Man’s Testosterone Level Drops after First Year of Marriage

May 26th, 2015

The seven year itch? The four year slump? What about the one year nosedive? The real test of a relationship, at least for the man, may come after just 12-months according to scientists. British researchers at Worcester University found that after one year of a relationship, a man’s testosterone levels drops significantly. During the first year of the couple being together, the man’s hormone level is high. He is ready to fend off competitors so to be the only one for his lady love. He may also be ready to engage in other sexual experiences early on, in case this relationship doesn’t work out. But after a 12-month period his testosterone level falls significantly. 75 male participants between the ages of 18 and 39 took part in this study. Each was queried about his relationship status and how long it had lasted. Then the men’s testosterone levels were measured. Those in new relationships saw their hormone levels sink after one year’s time, researcher’s discovered. For those in relationships for much longer, their testosterone level plummeted even further, by one-third.


Dr. Daniel Farrelly led the study. He is a psychologist at the university’s Institute of Health and Society. Farrelly believes this may be a biological sign of certain external cues that the couple is expected to remain in a committed relationship. Another reason could be that less testosterone would make a man less aggressive, and so better at raising children and other aspects of fatherhood. Whether a man was single or in a relationship didn’t affect his hormone level. Only when he reached the year mark or beyond did he see his level drop. This adaptation may have helped men switch gears into becoming husbands and fathers instead of fighting off would-be competitors or scoping the scene for other females. The study was published in in the journal Evolutionary Psychology.

Would you go to a Female Urologist?

May 26th, 2015

According to a WebMD poll only 8% of urologists operating today are female. That should not be a big surprise as women are making more inroads in what were considered traditional male occupations. Some male patients might be embarrassed at the thought of interacting with a female urologist. After all, examining penises is a big part of the job. Other conditions urologists treat include urinary tract, bladder and kidney problems. These tend to affect both sexes equally, hence the increase in women in the field. Dr. Leslie Rickey is the president of the Society for Women in Urology, an associate professor at the Yale School of Medicine and herself a practicing urologist. She says it isn’t just male genitals urologists’ deal with. In fact, a lot of her practice is helping women who have issues with leaking urine. The Society began in the 1980s, she said. At that time, few women were on the scene. Nowadays, there are a lot more. But there is still a great disparity in this and for many other specialists in the medical field.


The number of female urologists is growing. Currently, 25% of medical school graduates who are working toward becoming urologists are women. It has been a slow growth rate, however. Many men shudder and ask themselves if they would go to a female urologist. Some say since it’s a medical professional, it shouldn’t matter what their gender is. Instead, their background, expertise, professionalism, patient rapport and conscientiousness are what are important. In other cases however, male patients feel uncomfortable about opening up to a female urologist. But usually, one female urologist is part of a practice. She is there to deal with women’s issues. Lots of women are hesitant to go to a male urologist. So having one that is female within a practice is a good draw and benefits female patients as well. Though being examined by a female urologist isn’t common, it may become more so someday as gender roles in our society flatten and more women enter into the practice.