Healthy Minds and Bodies are the foundation of Healthy Learners!
So continues the winter (autumn) of our germ sharing....
A friendly reminder to everyone that sharing is not always caring. We're back into a building, hundreds of us together, sharing space. The custodians work hard to clean surfaces at day's end but during the day, we all use door handles, fountain handles, staircase railings, books, chairs, tables, staplers, hole punches, desks, writing implements etc. etc. etc.
We're already seeing some early coughs and colds starting the rounds.
Please, please, please - if you cough or sneeze:
- Cough or sneeze into your elbow!
- Use a tissue! (Used tissues go into the compost.)
- Wash your hands in warm, soapy water (long enough that you can sing yourself Happy Birthday without rushing it!)
IF you are sick and you cannot make it in to class, please be sure that a parent or guardian contacts the main office so that your absence is correctly recorded.
Don't Panic ... seriously.
- We have seen this pattern before - a new variation on the flu emerges, there are a number of people who get sick and act as vectors for the new version of the pathogen in part because of a lack of awareness, and then the international medical community moves into action.
- Medical scientists are already working on the vaccine for this variation of the corona virus.
- Awareness can and will help to limit the spread of the virus, and in the process remind us of the importance of basic hygiene in limiting the spread of all common viral infections.
- The flu is not and has never been a single virus. As with "the common cold" it is a series of related and ever-adapting/mutating viruses. This is why the flu vaccine is adapted each year to address the specific strains being observed in the population.
- "The regular" flu is/remains a deadly infection in Canada and around the world, and we don't panic about it every year, despite the fact that people die because of it every single year.
- When health organizations declare a state of emergency that doesn't equate to a need to panic - that declaration mobilizes programming and funding that allows the international medical community to move quickly to address a current change in the medical landscape. That does not mean we are in a state of imminent disaster.
- Bear in mind that we live in an age of the 24 hour news cycle. Radio, television, web and podcasts as well as websites and newspapers must constantly be generating content to keep audiences connected and hearing advertising messages that pay for production. As a result, media outlets can and will spin information to generate interest and attention. (If you look even at the articles below, the text says not to panic, but they use pictures designed to generate an emotional reaction of concern/anxiety/fear.) Keep in mind that the information we are provided is edited for consumption, regardless of the source, and do research to see where the common threads emerge.
Please be advised that while I'm making a point of only sharing resources from reputable health sources the best source of information is/are your health care professional(s). When in doubt, please seek professional assistance/advice.
Mental Health Care and Suicide Prevention
September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
...but taking care of your mental health is a year-round task.
(The symptoms below are sourced from the BYTE! Yukon page on Suicide Prevention).
Kids Help Phone
Canada Suicide Prevention Service
Mental Wellness Substance Use Services
Mental Health Association of Yukon
Energy Drinks: From the "Not just relevant during exams" File. Food for thought...
Caffeinated energy drinks altered the heart's electrical activity and raised blood pressure, according to a new study.
Smoke and vapour - leeching life from the lungs
Students caught with any of these materials will have them confiscated and will face consequences from the administration.
Any form of smoking, regardless of the method of delivery and substance involved is illegal on school and government property and subject to the related legal consequences.
This applies to students and adults.
In many ways, it seemed reminiscent of decades gone by when the cocaine in early variants of Coca-Cola brand soft drink was touted as a healthy energy aid and cigarettes were recommended by doctors as an energy booster and weight loss support. Those claims of beneficial effects and safety have been debunked. While many herbs and chemicals have legitimate health benefits when administered by a health care professional in a monitored situation and/or may risks that can be limited when used cautiously by adults with an appreciation for potential harm, very often kids, whose pre-fontal and frontal lobes are not yet fully formed have difficulty managing substance use and managing the potential for harm against long-term goals when they are responding to the immediate sensory input of pleasure and/or peer support/pressure.
As it turns out, we have within a few short years already begun to see severe health consequences for people who used e-cigarettes and similar products. Laws are already in the process of being changed, but many teens are already invested and addicted. Many people, youth and adults, have already done damage to their lungs.
So how to address what has become one of the most pressing health issues of our time?
Note that it is important to consider the source of your information when you seek data on the impacts of vaping. There are a LOT of infographics and sites that support vaping and what is referred to as "vape culture", which is perceived as both an attitude to life and even a form of artistic self-expression. Always be sure to take a close look at who produced the data, or who the experts are that are quoted. Are they medical professionals? People with experience treating addictions? Medical professionals who specialize in lung diseases and injury? Are they corporate sponsors, lobbyists, and/or vendors who get money from the sale or promotion of e-cigarettes and related products? Are they citing established studies that correlate with other studies?
For instance, there are infographics that refer to the issue of chemicals in the flavourings that are "safe" for human consumption and therefore safe in e-cigarettes. Well, as long as you are not lactose intolerant, it may be "safe" for you to consume milk, but that doesn't mean you should be inhaling it into your lungs. "Consuming" can happen through a variety of means, and HOW something enters and interacts with the bodies systems matters in terms of health repercussions. A substance that the stomach can digest and process through the digestive organs may well be something the lungs cannot process, nor can the circulatory system (how silly would it be for someone to claim that it's safe to inject milk into your veins because it's a liquid that is "safe" for humans?). Make sure you examine the purpose of the text (to persuade, entertain or inform) and what the vested interest of the person or organization who produced the text might be.
It is also important to keep in mind when reading promotions of vaping as a "healthy" alternative to other products that "possibly less dangerous" does not mean "safe". It is a highly UNregulated industry, and since in most places there are laws in effect to limit access to the e-cigarettes and related to products to young people, many kids end up getting a hold of less expensive, "black market" (more like grey market) knockoffs and products which can be highly inconsistent in terms of quality control of everything from "juice" ingredients to power sources.
Further, it is worth noting that we do have long established science describing the health damaging effects of ANY nicotine on the developing brain (in most people, the brain is still developing into the early to mid 20s).
Yes, it is true that there are legal but controlled substances available for sale in Canada, including 'regular' cigarettes, cigars, chewing tobacco, alcohol and marijuana. NONE of these are legal to have or to consume in any form on government or school property, and ALL of them have health risks that are unique to the developing brains and bodies of kids and teens. There is a reason that we have age restrictions on the purchase and use of these products and substances - and those reasons include the fact that the emotional dependence that people can come to have on these substances may cloud good judgement. Teens are still developing the areas of their brains that consider consequences, and those analytical thought processes can be easily overwhelmed by strong emotional reactions like stress (peer pressure), and pleasure seeking.
Please find some resources below, but as always, keep in mind that no resources posted here are intended in any way to substitute for the care and supervision of health care professionals. If you have concerns about the potential impact of vaping, questions about impacts that someone may already be experiencing because of having used e-cigarettes or need more information, please contact your health care provider.
Canadian information, sources, personal opinions from different age groups and explanations of the social psychology and chemical addiction issues involved in the prevalence of vaping among Canadian youth.
It is worth noting that the focus of this news piece is the personal narrative of the young woman and her family. The piece also, however, includes statistics from verifiable sources, and observations of medical experts including the pulmonologist (lung specialist) that worked directly on this young woman's medical case.