Finding Pride in Rural Healthcare

In a world where LGBTQ+ healthcare can be a struggle, especially in rural areas, Dr. Anthony Carney stands as a beacon of hope. This dedicated nurse practitioner provides affirming primary care for LGBTQ+ patients in a small town clinic at the University of Kentucky. We recently had the pleasure of speaking with Dr. Carney on the Life Support Podcast, and his insights are a must-read for anyone passionate about inclusive healthcare.

Following a Passion to Provide Care

Dr. Carney’s journey to becoming an affirming care provider wasn’t a straight line. It all began with his desire to focus on LGBTQ+ health during his graduate studies. This passion led him to connect with mentors and clinics that specialized in this area. Eventually, his skills and dedication landed him a position at a small-town clinic, allowing him to bring much-needed affirming care directly to a rural community.

What Makes Care Affirming?

But what exactly does affirming care look like? Dr. Carney explains it as recognizing and addressing the unique needs of LGBTQ+ patients. This can range from creating a welcoming and safe environment to using the correct pronouns and offering comprehensive sexual health screenings. Additionally, affirming care provides mental health services specifically tailored to those transitioning genders.

Challenges and Triumphs in Rural Communities

Dr. Carney sheds light on the challenges faced by LGBTQ+ individuals in rural areas. Limited access to affirming services and a constant fear for safety are just a few of the hurdles they encounter. However, Dr. Carney highlights the power of word-of-mouth referrals. By creating a safe space and providing exceptional care, his clinic has attracted patients through positive experiences shared within the community.

Learning Beyond Textbooks

Dr. Carney emphasizes the importance of real-world experience when providing affirming care. Textbooks offer valuable knowledge, but it’s the lived experiences of patients that truly shape a provider’s understanding. Dr. Carney stresses the need to be aware of the social determinants of health and the impact of violence on LGBTQ+ individuals. This allows him to provide holistic care that addresses not just medical issues, but also the social factors that influence well-being.

Making Affirming Care a Reality for All

The interview concludes with Dr. Carney offering valuable advice for healthcare providers who want to create more inclusive environments. He encourages them to:

  • Seek additional training on LGBTQ+ health
  • Utilize online resources
  • Prioritize creating a safe space for patients to express themselves freely

A Brighter Future for LGBTQ+ Healthcare

Dr. Carney’s vision for the future of LGBTQ+ care is one filled with hope. He dreams of a world where more healthcare providers are trained to offer affirming care, LGBTQ+ health topics are a standard part of medical education, and barriers to healthcare access for LGBTQ+ patients are broken down.

Dr. Carney’s dedication and passion are truly inspiring. By sharing his story and insights, he empowers others to advocate for change and create a healthcare system that welcomes and supports everyone, regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity. Let’s continue this conversation and work towards a future where LGBTQ+ healthcare thrives in all communities, big and small.

Life Support Podcast: Gender Affirming Practices in Rural Areas

Elise Winbrock joins Rachel Blanton in a talk with Dr. Anthony about his motivation for practicing LGBTQ+ affirming care in a small town, the importance of affirming care for individuals, and how to create LGBTQ+ friendly healthcare spaces.

Anthony LeonFinding Pride in Rural Healthcare

The Importance of Youth Mental Health

Mental health has become a constant topic of discussion in recent times, especially when it comes to youth mental health. The Surgeon General of the United States has stated that mental health challenges are the leading cause of disability and life outcomes for young people. Unfortunately, there has been a significant increase in certain mental health disorders in youth, including depression, anxiety, and suicidal ideation. This issue has been further amplified by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, the American Academy of Pediatrics, and the Children’s Hospital have declared the decline in child and adolescent mental health due to the pandemic as a national emergency. These leading health agencies are urging the rest of the country and the world to take immediate action.

The Impact of the Pandemic on Youth Mental Health

The pandemic has had a profound impact on the mental health of youth. According to the American Psychological Association, there has been a 25% increase in emergency room visits for mental health issues among children from March to October 2020. Additionally, a survey conducted among parents showed that over 70% of them believed that the pandemic had taken a toll on their children’s mental health. Approximately 69% of parents considered it to be the worst thing that had ever happened in their children’s lives.

The increase in mental health issues among youth is not limited to the pandemic alone. Even before the pandemic, CDC statistics showed that one in five adolescents would experience some form of mental health issue. However, only 20% of them were receiving treatment. The pandemic has only exacerbated this existing problem.

The Role of Mental Health Professionals

In order to address the increasing mental health needs of youth, mental health professionals must play a crucial role. Clinical and health psychologists, licensed clinical social workers, and other professionals have seen a significant increase in their workload. They have observed higher levels of depression, anxiety, and social isolation among their young patients.

One of the challenges in working with youth is that they require a different approach compared to adults. Mental health professionals need to consider the developmental context of children and adolescents. They must meet them where they are in terms of their cognitive, social, and emotional development. Additionally, the family context must also be taken into account, as it plays a vital role in a child’s mental health.

The Importance of Family Support

Parents and families have a crucial role in supporting the mental health of their children. One of the most important things parents can do is to listen to their children. By providing a safe space for children to express their feelings and concerns, parents can help them navigate the challenges they face.

Parents should also lead by example and provide positive role models for their children. By being open about their struggles and demonstrating healthy coping mechanisms, parents can instill hope and resilience in their children.

It is also important for parents to be aware of any changes in their child’s behavior or mood. If they notice any significant changes, such as sleep disturbances, irritability, or changes in academic performance, they should reach out for professional help. Early intervention can make a significant difference in a child’s mental well-being.

The Role of the Community

The community, including neighbors, friends, and other individuals, also has a responsibility to support youth mental health. One way to do this is by becoming a mentor to young individuals. Becoming a trusted adult in their lives can provide them with an additional support system outside of their immediate family.

Volunteering and getting involved in youth programs and organizations is another way to make a positive impact on the mental health of young individuals. By providing them with opportunities for engagement and connection, we can help them develop healthy relationships and interests.

For those who are not parents or mental health professionals, increasing awareness and education about youth mental health is essential. Understanding the signs and symptoms of mental health issues and knowing how to provide support can make a significant difference in a young person’s life.

The Role of Schools

Schools play a critical role in addressing youth mental health. They provide a unique opportunity to reach all children, as every child attends school. Schools can start by incorporating mental health education into their curriculum, teaching students about the importance of mental well-being and providing them with tools to cope with stress and emotions.

Schools can also integrate mental health professionals into their system, ensuring that students have access to the support they need. This includes school counselors, psychologists, and therapists. By providing on-site mental health services, schools can eliminate barriers to access and ensure that students receive timely and appropriate care.

Prevention is key when it comes to youth mental health. Schools can implement preventive measures by promoting healthy lifestyles, encouraging physical activity, and educating students about mental health from an early age. By fostering an environment that supports positive mental health, schools can create a foundation for lifelong well-being.

Addressing youth mental health is essential for the well-being of our future generations. By listening to children, providing support and resources, and creating a community that values mental health, we can make a significant impact on their lives. Mental health professionals, parents, schools, and the community must all work together to ensure that young individuals receive the care and support they need to thrive.

Remember, mental health is just as important as physical health. Let’s prioritize the mental well-being of our youth and create a world where everyone has the opportunity to live a happy and healthy life.

If you would like to help us support Idaho’s youth, you can donate to our Youth Mental Health Scholarship Fund. Your contribution will provide vital mental health support to young people facing challenges like anxiety and depression. Together, we can create a brighter future for Idaho’s youth.⁠

Life Support Podcast: Youth Mental Health and How Families Can Support It

Learn more about the importance of youth mental by listening to our Life Support Podcast episode with guests Amy Walters and Maria Torres. 

Anthony LeonThe Importance of Youth Mental Health

Pacing with Our Patients: Recovery & Opioid Use Disorder

Pacing with Our Patients: Recovery & Opioid Use Disorder

By Sabrina Sherwood, Pharmacy Consultant

I recently ran my first half marathon and have my first full marathon in one month. I wouldn’t call myself a “runner”, but I find myself like a moth drawn to flame of the running community. The grit, the perseverance, the preparation. After finishing a race, I like to sit at the finish line.

It’s easy to get caught up in cheering for the first-place finisher but I find the real awe in seeing how many people cross the finish line with grimacing eyes, subpar posture, and sweat stains that will take weeks to resolve.

These are the runners who run not to get first place, but to accomplish their goal of finishing – and the running community has stepped up to help the majority. How? Race pacers.  A race pacer is a runner that keeps a consistent pace throughout a run. These are usual veteran runners – experts who can easily maintain a run speed for a long duration of time. Often, large groups of runners will find their pacer at the start line and run alongside them for the entirety of the race to ensure they achieve the goal time they seek.

Healthcare teams are in a strategic position to pace with patients in many ways – but particularly as it relates to opioid use. Over 27 million people were reported to be suffering from opioid use disorder in 2016. Of those suffering, few have the resources to seek help, and even less are receiving treatment. Providers (including partners such as behavioral health specialists and pharmacists) are highly skilled members of the healthcare team. Pacers are experts of running, and similarly, our healthcare partners are experts in therapy management.   

Like a marathon, our patients with opioid use disorder are not looking to secure the single first-place title of “best sober person to exist”. They just want to cross the finish line. There are a few ways that we can pace with them:   

Visualize   

Helping our patients develop and adhere to a plan that will maximize potential to reach their goals. Patient with opioid use disorder may have competing psychosocial and health related needs that should be factored in before setting up a “training” plan. Let’s help them see the path of least resistance to their finish line.  

Bring them into the Network   

We do better together. Studies show that running persistence improves in those who have a running social network. Pacers bring encouragement and motivation to runners when they’re tempted to quit. Similarly we can support our patients by providing them with their own healthcare partner “pacer” and other resources.

Match the Cadence    

Let’s pace with our patients to meet them where they are at. As a provider, it is easy to sprint to the finish line and waiting for our patient to catch up. We are tempted to tell the patients exactly what needs to be done for them to improve their health and expect them to adhere to our plan. Our patients aren’t robots – they need water breaks, and they need time to tie their shoes occasionally. Let’s pace by continually assessing their progression and helping them move closer to their goal.   

  • pharmacy
  • opioids
  • opioid use disorder
  • recovery
  • opioid epidemic
  • substance use disorder
  • healthcare
Linda CardwellPacing with Our Patients: Recovery & Opioid Use Disorder

Project rEASON

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Author(s): C-WHO

Title: Project rEASON

Resource Type: Website

Format: Webpage

Reading Time: 5-10 minutes

URL: https://www.c-who.org/reason-3/

Sponsored by:

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Anthony LeonProject rEASON

Opioid Use Disorder Community Response

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Author(s): C-WHO

Title: Opioid Use Disorder Community Response

Resource Type: Website

Format: Webpage

Reading Time: 5-10 minutes

URL: https://www.c-who.org/opioid-use-disorder-community-response/

Sponsored by:

Keywords and Concepts:

Anthony LeonOpioid Use Disorder Community Response

Southwest District – Drug Overdose Prevention

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Author(s): Southwest District Health

Title: Drug Overdose Prevention Program

Resource Type: Website

Format: Webpage

Reading Time: 5-10 minutes

URL: https://swdh.id.gov/healthy-living/drug-overdose-prevention-program/

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Anthony LeonSouthwest District – Drug Overdose Prevention

PHINCD – Drug Overdose Prevention Program

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Author(s): Public Health Idaho North Central District

Title: Drug Overdose Prevention Program

Resource Type: Website

Format: Webpage

Reading Time: 5-10 minutes

URL: https://www.idahopublichealth.com/community/drug-overdose-prevention

Sponsored by:

Keywords and Concepts:

Anthony LeonPHINCD – Drug Overdose Prevention Program
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