Employee Health and Burnout

During this employee health and fitness month, let’s talk about burnout at work. Work can be a source of pride, a social network, offer mental challenges, and so much more. It can also take a lot of time and energy causing people to sometimes experience what’s known as burnout – especially after the year we have all been through.

During a normal year, people can go through times of burnout from work. During 2020 (and into 2021), though, the additional stresses happening all around us likely worsened those feelings. We’ve all been through a lot and feeling overwhelmed or burned out is normal. But being normal doesn’t mean you should ignore it.

What is Burnout?

Job burnout is a type of work-related stress causing physical or emotional exhaustion that also involves a sense of reduced accomplishment and a loss of personal identity.

Throughout the pandemic, many people showed up (virtually or in person) every day, even when it was difficult. Beyond the virus itself, this past year has asked a lot of each of us, with virtual school, cancelled plans and holiday celebrations, career set-backs or job losses, illness, and sometimes even loss.

Expecting to power through like nothing else is going on isn’t realistic; of course it has been hard, and that is on top of nearly half of working adults who were feeling burned out before the pandemic began. According to an Indeed.com study, 52% of people report feelings of burnout from work which is up from 42% before the pandemic began.

Symptoms

“Burnout” isn’t a medical diagnosis, but it has distinct symptoms. Burnout can affect your physical and mental health. Some of the symptoms include:

  • Finding it difficult to concentrate
  • Lack of energy and productivity
  • Being critical or cynical at work
  • Change in sleep habits
  • Loss of satisfaction from work accomplishments
  • Being impatient with coworkers, customers, or patients
  • Using drugs or alcohol to feel better
  • Unexplained headaches
  • Stomach or bowel problems

Causes

Employee burnout is always around. It can come and go. But what everyone experienced during 2020 with the COVID-19 pandemic shifted employee stress and burnout. When the pandemic first began, the initial stress of the virus, possibility of a job loss, and shift to virtual working environments actually accelerated some people’s productivity. After months, though, the stress began to wear on people and the unknow factors of how long things would last, made it harder to manage.

With the causes of burnout listed below, it is easy to see how the COVID-19 pandemic enhanced these issues.

  • Lack of control. Unable to influence decisions that affect your job (schedule, assignments, or workload), and lack of resources to do your work.
  • Unclear job expectations. Being unsure about the authority you have or what others expect from you.
  • Extremes of activity. A job extremely monotonous or chaotic, or swings between the two, requires constant energy to remain focused and causes fatigue.
  • Work-life imbalance. When work takes up so much of your time and effort that you don’t have the energy for family and friends.
  • The imbalance was stretched even more because much of what people balance work with: seeing friends, traveling, visiting families, etc. were cancelled for almost a year. In addition, working from home also blurred the lines between work and home, and meant people needed to find ways to separate the two often with children learning from home as well.

If you are currently struggling, talk to a doctor or a mental health provider because these symptoms can be related to other health conditions. Contact NOAH to request an appointment today.

Skin Cancer Awareness Month

Skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in the U.S. However, it is also a cancer that can be prevented in some cases. For Skin Cancer Awareness Month, let’s dive into the types of skin cancer, the risk factors, and how to prevent or reduce your risk for skin cancer.

Types of Skin Cancer

There are seven different types of skin cancer, but three types are the most common.

  1. Basal cell carcinoma (BCC)

BCC is the most common and while anyone can get BCC, it is more common in people with fair skin. BCCs typically develop after years of repeated sun exposure or indoor tanning and looks like a small skin-colored or light pink growth or bump found most often on the head, neck, and arms where people usually get more sun exposure.

  • Squamous cell carcinoma (SCC)

The second most common form of skin cancer is SCC, which is also more common for people with fair skin but can happen to anyone. SCC looks like a firm red bump and is more common on the areas with more sun exposure, including face, ears, neck, chest, arms and back.

  • Melanoma

Known as the most serious, melanoma tends to spread. Melanoma is much less common than BCC or SCC, but it is also the deadliest type of skin cancer, which makes early detection even more important. Melanoma usually shows up as a dark spot, or a growth on an existing mole.

Risk Factors

Like with many cancers, the risks don’t follow a strict list of risk factors. But there some things that we do or don’t do that can have an impact.

  • Sun exposure, sun burns, and using indoor tanning beds can seriously increase your risk for skin cancer, as well as skin damage like premature aging and sunspots (also called age spots).
  • Skin tone and how your skin reacts to sun – like if you burn easily – matters. People with fair or light skin are more prone to sunburns and sun damage.
  • Some things, like genetics and family history can have an impact on someone’s risk of developing skin cancer. While you can’t change this risk factor, knowing means you and your doctor can be proactive.

Prevention

Overall, the best thing people can do to reduce their risk is reduce sun exposure and UV exposure (like indoor tanning beds) and get to know the moles and spots on your body, so you know if anything looks out of the ordinary.

Wearing protective clothing and sunscreen can provide a lot of protection. Wearing SPF 15 or higher when you go outside can decrease your risk of SCC and melanoma by 40% or more!

Having an annual skin exam can help spot any serious or potentially questionable spots or growths early. Your doctor should also know if you have had skin cancer in the past, if you have a family history, or are at a greater risk from overexposure to sun.

If you have any questions about spots on your skin, or if it’s been a while since your last skin exam, contact NOAH today and make an appointment.

Stroke Awareness Month

Do you know the signs of a stroke? The sooner someone with a stroke gets help, the better. People who are treated during the first few hours have a better chance of survival and less chance of having permanent disabilities from the stroke.

Signs of a Stroke

Knowing the signs can save a life. It happens every day. The signs are organized to the memorable acronym F.A.S.T.

F – Face drooping. The face can be drooping on one side or be numb. If you are unsure, ask the person to smile.

A – Arm weakness. Can the person raise both arms? Are they both the same height? Does one arm droop?

S – Speech problems. A speech issue could be the person having slurred speech, trouble talking, or is hard to understand.

T – Time to call! If the person is showing ANY of these symptoms, it is time to call 9-1-1 and get them to the hospital immediately.

These are not the only symptoms of a stroke, but they are the best immediate way to recognize one. Other signs that someone may be suffering from a stroke include numbness especially on one side of the body, confusion or trouble understanding things, vision trouble, dizziness and trouble walking, and a severe headache that comes on suddenly.

Risk Factors

There are things that make you or someone in your life at a higher risk of stroke. These risks include high blood pressure, smoking, diabetes, obesity, low physical activity, high cholesterol, heart disease, and having a previous stroke. Working with your healthcare team to improve some of these areas can reduce your risk of having a stroke.

Other risks are out of your control but knowing them is important to your ongoing medical care and wellness. Some of these factors are include gender because women have more strokes than men, age as risk increases with age, race, and family history.

Knowing your risk factors will help you manage your risk so talk to your NOAH provider today if you have any questions or concerns.

Stroke is one of the top causes of death and disability in America, so knowing the signs and what to do can save a life. Every minute counts during, so act F.A.S.T.!

Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month: More Than Postpartum Depression

By: Alyssa Fagan-Clark, LMSW |Behavioral Health Counselor

During May, we celebrate Mother’s Day and Maternal Mental Health Awareness month! We often think of new motherhood as a time of excitement, care giving, happiness, and a deep sense of love. And while it is often all these things, conditions like postpartum depression can also be a period of intense struggle and uncertainty for many mothers and their loved ones.

According to Postpartum Support International, perinatal mental health disorders are the number one childbirth complication. One out of every seven mothers will face some form of postpartum mental health disorder, and the number is much higher for women of color with one of every three mothers impacted.

According to the CDC, the rate of maternal depression diagnoses at delivery is increasing. In 2015, the rate had increased seven times from where it was in 2000! This is more than the slight emotional changes most women – around 80% – experience in the 3-5 days after childbirth known as the “Baby Blues” period.

The “Baby Blues” happens after childbirth, when a woman’s body undergoes extreme hormonal and physical changes, in addition to the added emotional stress of caring for a newborn. This period typically lasts 2 weeks or less. Symptoms of the “Baby Blues” usually include moodiness, tearfulness, feeling overwhelmed, and general tiredness. While these emotional changes are normal and expected for most women, significant mood changes occurring for moms past this two-week period are a sign that she likely needs additional mental health support. While postpartum depression is a term many people may be familiar with, there are many other types of mental health disorders new mothers face.

Perinatal mental health disorders can include:

  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Obsessive compulsive disorder
  • Post-traumatic stress disorder
  • And in rare cases, psychosis

Mothers who experience symptoms of these disorders may find themselves scared, uncertain, or even ashamed. Most mothers don’t expect complications like this during a time they thought they would be their happiest.

There are some risk factors for perinatal mental health disorders, including:

  • Personal or family history of mental illness
  • Economic stress
  • Having a baby who experienced a NICU stay
  • Experiencing an especially stressful or traumatic birth
  • Certain health diagnoses such as a thyroid issue or diabetes

A new mother’s best and most immediate source of help may be close friends and family members, who can recognize if she is struggling emotionally and assist her to get connected with professional support.

Luckily, the NOAH behavioral health team has mental health practitioners who are specially trained to work with new mothers (and fathers) who are struggling with mental health needs in this special time. If you or a parent you know needs care, please contact NOAH today.

Food Allergy Awareness Week

Food allergies are getting more attention in recent years – which is a good thing! Around 32 million Americans, including 5.6 million children, are living with a potentially life-threatening food allergy. The more we know about allergies, the better!

Food Allergy vs Food Sensitivity

First things first; food allergies and food sensitivities or intolerances aren’t the same thing. Food allergies are a serious medical condition where your body’s immune system reacts to a specific food protein. It can look like getting a rash or hives, swelling, dizziness, itching, and even anaphylaxis (a serious reaction that can affect breathing and blood pressure read more here).  

If someone thinks they or a family member may have a food allergy, a medical provider should be the one to test and diagnose the allergy.

Food sensitivities or intolerances do not involve the immune system. Things like lactose intolerance, gluten sensitivity, and others are in the digestive system. They can cause serious discomfort like bloating, constipation, cramping, and nausea, but they can’t be fatal. Read more about food sensitivities.

Most Common Food Allergies

People can be allergic to many different kinds of food. Common food allergies are:

  • Peanuts – One of the most common food allergies in children and adults, peanuts – a legume (different from a tree nut) – is usually a lifelong allergy.
  • Milk and Dairy Products – Cow’s milk is the most common allergy in infants and young children, though most outgrow it. It is also one of the most common adult food allergies too.
  • Eggs – A common food allergy for babies and children, many will outgrow it. Some adults remain allergic, and it can be to egg whites, or egg yolks since they contain different proteins.
  • Shellfish – Allergies to this type of seafood, including shrimp, prawns, lobster, and crayfish are typically lifelong, though most people don’t experience a reaction until they are an adult.
  • Soy – Most common in infants and young children, most outgrow a soy allergy. Soy is a legume like peanuts but being allergic to one doesn’t mean someone will be allergic to the other.
  • Wheat – This allergy affects children the most, but many outgrow it by age 10. This is not the same a celiac disease, wheat allergies are to the proteins found in wheat, not gluten.
  • Tree Nuts – Not the same as peanuts, tree nuts include almonds, cashews, walnuts, and more. An allergy to these nuts also includes things like nut butters and oils. Being allergic to one type of tree nut increases the risk of becoming allergic to other tree nuts.

What Next?

If you or a loved one is diagnosed with a food allergy, try not to feel overwhelmed. While it does mean you need to change what you eat, there are many resources and people and groups to support you, including NOAH’s Nutrition Services team.

Make sure you have a proper diagnosis with a medical provider. Discuss with them what the diagnosis means. Will the child outgrow it? What medications should you have? What does a severe reaction look like?

Finally, the most important thing to know is that the only way to prevent an allergic reaction to food is to avoid that food. Even a small amount can cause a reaction, but here are some tips. To get you started, check out our recipes with different ingredient options.

NEWS: NOAH to offer Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine for ages 12+

PHOENIX (May 12, 2021) – Neighborhood Outreach Access to Health (NOAH), a leading community health center in Maricopa county delivering comprehensive health services to the underserved, announced today that it will offer the COVID-19 vaccine to those ages 12 and above beginning on May 21.

NOAH began rolling out COVID-19 vaccines in February, already vaccinating more than 16,000 patients, including many underserved community members. Anyone can schedule their vaccine with NOAH if they are 12 and older, regardless of whether they are a patient.

“We prioritize healthcare for every member of our community, and throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, that has meant adjusting, adding, and enhancing what we are doing and remaining flexible to the realities of this virus,” said Wendy Armendariz, NOAH CEO. “We are excited to provide the Pfizer vaccine to individuals 12 and older, in addition to Moderna and Johnson & Johnson. The NOAH team is thrilled to be able to add this important layer of protection to families in our community.”

NOAH currently offers both the Moderna two-dose vaccine as well as the Johnson & Johnson one-dose vaccine at various NOAH health centers. The nonprofit health center will begin offering the Pfizer two-dose vaccine in addition to the others, with the second dose given 21 days after the first. There is no cost for any COVID-19 vaccine.

At this time, Pfizer is the only vaccine approved for individuals under age 18. Five of NOAH’s nine locations currently offer COVID-19 vaccines, with two of those beginning to provide the Pfizer vaccine to 12 and older:

  • Desert Mission Health Center at 9201 N 5th St, Phoenix
  • Palomino Health Center at 16251 N Cave Creek Rd, Phoenix

Anyone can schedule their vaccine with NOAH, regardless of whether they are a NOAH patient or not and regardless of immigration status. No insurance is required for the vaccine. NOAH has bilingual staff and can help individuals schedule at https://noahhelps.org/covid-vaccine/ or by calling 480-882-4545.

Mental Health: Types of Treatment

By: Mirna Pacheco, LPC

People are more comfortable seeking help for emotional challenges than ever before. The need continues to rise, particularly during COVID-19. But the good thing is that as the need for mental health services increases, so have the options for those services and how telehealth has increased access to services.

Knowing that help is available provides hope, but important questions like, “where do I go?” “what kind of services do I need?” remain. Thankfully, NOAH’s team has some answers.

This guide shares information about different types of mental health treatment. The type of treatment will always depend on each individual and situation. Learning about the different treatment options is important to address stigma around seeking professional help.

Here are the main types of treatment currently available in mental health: 

  • Outpatient Mental Health Treatment:

This is the most traditional level of care where individuals meet with a mental health provider either for psychiatric care and/or counseling services.  Patients meet anywhere from once a week, once a month, or as needed for care.  Outpatient treatment can include services like general mental health for adults, children, and groups; people with serious mental illnesses; specific programs for conditions like substance abuse and eating disorders. Treatment usually starts with a full assessment and creating an individualized treatment plan. This ensures someone gets the proper treatment and level of care.  Depending on the treatment setting, services could include mental health counseling, medication management, case management, and group therapy. 

  • Outpatient Intensive Programs:

Outpatient Intensive Program (IOP) usually refers to types of rehabilitation for individuals who suffer from addiction problems. But IOP can also help people who are facing different types of conditions like eating disorders and depression. This level of care allows people to continue an intensive treatment – typically between three to five days a week – while allowing them to go home, maintain a job, or engage in educational activities in-between treatments. IOP treatment includes group therapy often combined with individual counseling, case management, psychiatric care, and support groups.

  • Residential Mental Health Treatment:

This level of care focuses on a specific type of treatment for mental health. Some centers specialize in long term substance abuse programs while others may provide an intensive treatment for eating disorders.  These programs provide intensive treatment usually for 30 to 90 days and will help individuals learn skills for long term recovery.

  • Psychiatric Hospitalization or Inpatient Care:

This type of care and treatment is for individuals who might be experiencing severe emotional distress to the level of requiring close monitoring. Hospitalization or inpatient care can also be used to continually evaluate and properly diagnose people who need help with mood stabilization and medication adjustment.  Psychiatric hospitalization can be brief, typically 3 to 14 days. After that, the patient will get an evaluation and referral to a long-term level of care, IOP, or outpatient services.

No matter who you are or what you are going through, there is a treatment program and level of care that is right for you. Beyond what is listed above, there are also:

  • 24-hour crisis providers
  • Suicide prevention programs
  • Short-term or long-term residential programs for children with behavioral health conditions
  • Vocational rehabilitation programs for adults and adolescents
  • Different levels of care for substance addiction and eating disorders
  • Referrals to 12-step programs, support groups, and alternative treatments

Life will have challenges. Some days and life experiences will be more difficult than others. But now you know there are programs and support to help you overcome these challenges. One of the benefits of working with NOAH is the integrated approach to healthcare. By working with mental health providers to address those concerns, you will improve other areas of your health as well. Additionally, a medical doctor or nurse can make a simple referral for additional services throughout NOAH. Learn more or request an appointment today.

Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month

May is Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month. This time of year is one of the worst for most allergy and asthma sufferers – which is around 65 million Americans.

Asthma is the result of inflammation and narrowing of our airways. Symptoms of asthma attacks include difficulty breathing, chest pain, wheezing, and coughing. For some, symptoms are mild, while for others, it can seriously affect daily life.

Tips to prevent asthma attacks:  

  1. Know what triggers your asthma attacks is key. Keep a diary for several weeks to keep track of your symptoms and note the environments that triggered them. Asthma can also be triggered by emotional changes including stress and anxiety.
  2. Avoid smoke of any kind. Smoking has been linked to more severe symptoms and more frequent hospitalizations in asthmatics. Even secondhand smoke exposure can trigger symptoms, so avoid public places that allow smoking.
  3. Stay up to date on your vaccinations. Those with asthma are at greater risk to have complications from the flu or pneumonia and are more likely to be hospitalized from them. Age-appropriate and annual vaccinations (like the flu shot) as recommended by your doctor will protect you in many ways.
  4. Take asthma medications as prescribed. Long-term medications are meant to prevent symptoms, so take them even when you feel well. Always carry your medication with you to work, school, or when traveling. If you find yourself using short-term inhalers more often, your symptoms are not well-controlled, and you should talk to your doctor.
  5. Limit allergens at home. Dust can lead to inflammation and trigger an asthma attack, so changing bed linens and vacuuming often can be helpful. Using an air purifier can also help prevent buildup of dust mites.

Asthma is a chronic condition, and its symptoms can change over time. It is vital to get regular checkups, so if you are overdue, make an appointment today. While it can’t be cured, there are many medications to manage symptoms and help you breathe easy.