July 30, 2007 - (Letter to the Editor) Gaining and losing weight to become healthier depend, at the most basic level, on what and how much we eat, and how often we are physically active. Because those factors reflect individual choices, health educators and policy-makers have focused largely on individual behaviors. Recent research, however, shows that where we live, the jobs we hold, the money we make, and the friends and family we have all play a part in the rising rates of obesity.
July 30, 2007 – System reform and record funding have significantly changed service delivery for the more than 200,000 people served each year by the Georgia Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases (MHDDAD). From the recent creation of Georgia’s first statewide crisis access line, to unprecedented funding for people with developmental disabilities, and new community and home-based services for children, Georgia’s behavioral heath care system is stronger today than in previous years.
July 30, 2007 – In Georgia, the elderly account for 20% of all suicides. Suicide among white males aged 85 and older is nearly six times the suicide rate in the U.S. As many as two million of the country’s thirty-five million seniors, age sixty-five and above, suffer from major depression, and five million have depressive symptoms according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Studies also show that that less than 3% of the elderly receive treatment from mental health professionals. Much like the general population, stigma is often a factor. The Georgia Crisis & Access Line, 1-800-715-4225, is one service that can make a difference.
July 27, 2007 – The Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health announces the addition of eight new Tobacco Free School systems, bringing the total of 100% Tobacco Free School systems in Georgia up to 10. In Georgia, 22% of adults smoke cigarettes, and approximately 80% of them started smoking before age 18. Nine percent of middle school students and 19% of high school students smoke cigarettes.
July 26, 2007 - Actress and best-selling author Victoria Rowell will speak to foster teens, foster parents and those interested in becoming foster parents at a breakfast Sunday, July 29 at 9:30 a.m. at the HJC Bowden Multipurpose Center in East Point. Rowell, perhaps best known for her popular role in the long-running daytime drama " The Young and the Restless," is lending her support and celebrity to an issue she knows much about – the need for more foster parents, mentors and community support for children in foster care.
July 26, 2007 – In observance of National Immunization Awareness Month in August, the Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Aging Services (DAS) is encouraging older adults to protect themselves from the flu this year by getting vaccinated with the flu vaccine. The flu season usually runs from late fall into March. On average, the flu is responsible for more than 200,000 hospitalizations and 36,000 deaths each year in the United States. Adults aged 50 and older are among those who are encouraged to get flu shots, starting in October and November.
July 26, 2007 – Because adults age 50 and older are more at risk of severe illnesses from mosquito-borne viruses such as Eastern Equine Encephalitis (EEE) and West Nile Virus (WNV), the Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Aging Services (DAS) is giving tips to older Georgians to protect themselves from mosquito bites throughout the summer and into the fall. State health officials recently confirmed that horses in Bibb and Lowndes counties have tested positive for EEE, and two pools of mosquitoes carrying WNV have been found in Fulton County.
July 24, 2007 –Surveillance data gathered by the Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Public Health confirms horses in Bibb and Lowndes counties have tested positive for Eastern Equine Encephalitis, and two pools of mosquitoes carrying West Nile Virus have been found in Fulton county.
July 23, 2007 – The Department of Human Resources’ "Promoting Safe and Stable Families" program (PSSF) designed to prevent child abuse and alleviate crises that lead children to foster care, is doing just that. The statewide initiative served nearly 24,000 families and children last year and 89 percent of the families that used PSSF’s services had no reports of child abuse or neglect.
July 23, 2007 – More aging parents of children with developmental disabilities are finding it easier to access services because "one-stop shopping" resource centers are established in two-thirds of the state. Now, 55 of Georgia’s 159 counties have resource centers to integrate long-term care options for seniors and people of all ages with developmental disabilities into a single coordinated system. The Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Aging Services now has five centers, which are operated by the Area Agencies on Aging (AAAs). They provide information, referrals, screening, assessment, crisis intervention, short-term case management until people are connected with services, and help with planning to meet people’s needs so they can continue living in their communities.
July 20, 2007 – Because it is easy to obtain and socially acceptable, alcohol is one of the most popular drugs chosen for self-medication. For many, it is also a common way to hide a mental illness. Yet, because alcohol is a depressant, it actually makes symptoms of depression worse. For those taking medications to treat depression, it can also intensify the sedative effects of those drugs. Self-medication is the process by which many may abuse substances to relieve problems such as anxiety, pain, sleeplessness or other symptoms of depression. It is estimated that 37% of people with alcoholism have mental illness.
July 20, 2007 – Walking and biking to school has decreased steadily since 1969, according to a recent study published in the American Journal of Preventive Medicine. Not only is it decreasing in the U.S., only 32 percent of Georgia’s middle school and high school students who live one mile or less from school walk to school. Traffic and safety are the most common barriers to walking or biking to school. Analysis performed for the study concludes ‘this trend represents a critical loss of everyday physical activity for youth and could be part of the complex explanation of the increase in childhood obesity in this country.’
July 20, 2007 – The Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) has announced that the city of Warner Robins will host the 2007 Georgia Golden Olympics (GGO) to be held September 26 through September 29, 2007. The GGO provides an opportunity for men and women 50 and over to compete in an assortment of sporting events and have fun. Eligibility to participate in the Games is determined by the age of the applicant on September 26, 2007. Registration must be received by August 1st in order to compete this year.
July 19, 2007 – Refugees from foreign lands and the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services may not sound like they go together. But for thousands of refugees who enter Georgia each year, the state agency focused on family self-sufficiency is the perfect match. They come from war-torn countries, countries that experience the horrors of genocide and countries where hunger is an ever-present companion. Many are victims of human trafficking. The Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) is their first step to self-sufficiency in a new land.
July 19, 2007 – Diabetes is a serious disease that doesn’t have a cure yet, but it can be managed by individuals taking an active role in their own health. There are over 170,000 adults over the age of 65 in Georgia with diagnosed diabetes. The Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Aging Services is providing tips to older adults on managing their diabetes.
July 18, 2007 – Research shows that individuals who are up-to-date on recommended vaccines increase protection against serious and life-threatening infections for themselves, their families, friends and their communities. Yet, each year thousands of people across the nation fail to get immunized for vaccine-preventable diseases such as measles and rubella. In honor of National Immunization Awareness Month, observed in August, the Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health reminds residents about the importance of vaccinations and encourages individuals to stay current with immunization schedules.
July 18, 2007 – The Georgia Department of Human Resources recently received a $34 million grant that will help approximately 14,000 people move out of institutions into community settings over the next five years. The funding, awarded by the Federal Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services, supports a national effort to remove barriers to community living and promote consumer choice for people with developmental disabilities and the elderly. Georgia, one of 13 states to receive the grant, has distinguished itself by electing to also include people with mental illness.
July 18, 2007 – The Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) announced today that its Cancer Screening Program, also known as the BreasTEST & MORE (BTM) program, has received a grant award in the amount of $355,000 from the Susan G. Komen for the Cure Foundation. The grant will provide more screening mammography and diagnostic follow-up in the Komen Foundation’s ten-county Metropolitan Atlanta service area between July and March 31st 2007. The Komen Foundation chose to fund the BTM because its goal of providing life-saving breast and cervical cancer services to the medically underserved, uninsured or underserved in our state, aligns with the mission of Komen’s grants program.
July 16, 2007 – The Office of Child Support Services (OCSS) is pleased to announce Tonia Jones of Griffin, Georgia has received the June "Hero of the Month" award. The award was created to recognize Child Support Services employees who exceed above and beyond their daily duties. Ms. Jones, an eight year veteran of OCSS was nominated by her coworkers as most deserving of this award and competed statewide among several nominees.
July 13, 2007 – The Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR), Division of Public Health invites interested parties to participate in a 60-day public comment period of Babies Can’t Wait (BCW), a statewide early intervention program for at-risk babies. During the public comment period, individuals have an opportunity to provide input that will be used to further improve the program. The public comment period will run from June 19, 2007 – August 20, 2007.
July 13, 2007 – The Board of Human Resources will hold its official monthly meeting at 10:00 a.m. on Wednesday, July 18, in room 29.250, Two Peachtree Street N.W. in Atlanta. In its official meeting the board will hear reports from Department of Human Resources (DHR) Commissioner B. J. Walker and Board Chair Dr. Mary Burns. The board will hear a budget committee report; a Physicians Credentials Committee report; as well as vote on the adoption of rules and regulations regarding the authorization of the State Properties Commission to sell bonds for various construction projects.
July 13, 2007 - What began as a weekend camp some 15 years ago has evolved into year-round, life-changing experiences, and children in foster care are all the better for it. Camp Horizon, which partners with departments of Family and Children Services in metropolitan Atlanta, is gearing up to give this year’s participants a week to remember.
July 13, 2007 - Georgia remains a national welfare-to-work model as it continues to steer more people off government assistance toward work. The state’s Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF), which provides assistance to poor families, recently instituted the Work Support Program to help working families once they leave TANF with ongoing employment intervention support services.
July 13, 2007 - Mental illness runs in families and usually close relatives of persons with mental illness are more likely to develop the disease than those who are not related to someone with the illness. For example, according to the National Institute of Mental Health, the risk of inheriting schizophrenia is 10% in individuals who have one immediate family member with the disease and 40% if the disease affects both parents or an identical twin. Schizophrenia, depression and bipolar disorder are among the nation’s top ten leading causes of disabilities. Other factors that play a role in mental illness include environmental stress, abnormalities in the brain, or chemical defects.
July 12, 2007 – After receiving statewide complaints from Medicare beneficiaries about Medicare Advantage (MA) plans, GeorgiaCares is encouraging Georgians to use caution, make informed healthcare decisions, and use the resources of GeorgiaCares. Beneficiaries are complaining that insurance agents are not making them fully aware of MA benefits and are not informing them that enrollment may require changing doctors, specialists or hospitals.
July 12, 2007 – The Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) wants you to remain active this summer. While it’s hot outside, take the opportunity to go for a cool refreshing swim. Not a swimmer? Take some lessons this summer; they’re available at most public pools, YMCA’s and other places.
July 11, 2007 -- There is now one single toll-free number that people can call to connect to Georgia’s Aging Network and services for seniors. The Georgia Department of Human Resources Division of Aging Services (DAS) launched the new statewide access line on July 1, 2007. The number, 1-866-55-Aging (1-866-552-4464), connects Georgians automatically to their local Area Agency on Aging (AAA) Gateway, GeorgiaCares, the Long-Term Care Ombudsman program, Adult Protective Services Central Intake, and the DAS state office.
July 9, 2007 – More than 130 local, state and federal child welfare officials will participate in a planning summit that has one collaborative goal on the agenda: continued improvement of the child welfare system in Georgia. The summit, held from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Tuesday, July 10 in Peachtree City at the Wyndham Peachtree Conference Center, will focus on the Child and Family Services Review’s (CFSR) preliminary report, and will use the report as the base to discuss an improvement plan for the state.
July 9, 2007 – The Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health recently opened the doors of the newly constructed Waycross Public Health Laboratory, a regional state facility that will provide screening, diagnostic and reference laboratory services to citizens of the state through county health departments, public health clinics, physicians, hospitals and state agencies.
July 6, 2007 – The Georgia Division of Mental Health, Developmental Disabilities and Addictive Diseases has been awarded $471,000 by the Federal Emergency Management Administration to continue Project CARE through March 31, 2008. The program is being delivered through Middle Flint Behavioral Healthcare to provide crisis counseling to the survivors of the March 2007 tornadoes in Sumter and Taylor counties. Crisis counseling information can be accessed at anytime by calling the survivor helpline at 1-800-342-7843.
July 6, 2007 – As temperatures rise, people become concerned about older persons and young children because they do not adjust well to sudden changes in temperature and are more prone to heat stress. Individuals who are 65 and older are more likely to have a chronic medical condition that affects their normal body responses to heat. Some of them take prescription medicines that impair the body’s ability to regulate its temperature or that stops perspiration. Approximately 175 Americans die from extreme heat each year.
July 5, 2007 – Although people with mental illness are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators, most people are reluctant to interact with them. The stigma associated with mental illness can be attributed to the link between mental illness and violence in the minds of the general public.
July 3, 2007 – The Division of Family and Children Services (DFCS) and private adoption agencies will sponsor "Building Connections: Enhancing the Lives of Teens," a day of discussion and activities for adults who are interested in learning more about becoming a mentor, foster parent, or an adoptive family to a teenager. The event, which is free and open to the public, will be held Saturday, July 14 from 8:30 a.m. – 3:00 p.m. at the Jim Huie Recreation & Aquatics Center, 9045 Tara Boulevard, in Jonesboro.
July 3, 2007 – Out of the twenty thousand state employees, working for the Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR), nearly 25 percent have initiated and completed the mandatory customer service training only thirty days after the program launched. Launched on June 1, 2007 this program focuses on enhancing the agency’s service delivery to the community. DHR’s first web-based Customer Service E-Course is leading this multi-functional agency towards continuous improvement through making its services faster, friendlier, and easier.
July 3, 2007 – People with Type 2 diabetes get heart disease about eight years earlier than people with different risk factors, and also lose about eight years from their expected life span, according to the findings that come from analyzing data of the Framingham Heart Study, that wealth of data from more than 5,000 men and women studied every two years since 1951. The good news, according to health officials at the Georgia Department of Resources (DHR), is that these effects can be lessened or even prevented in some cases.
July 2, 2007 – The Georgia Department of Human Resources, Division of Public Health, Office of Adolescent Health and Youth Development reports the decline of pregnancy rates among Georgia females between the ages of 15 and 17 exceeds the national average rate by four percent. In 2005, Georgia experienced a seven percent decline in rates compared to the state’s 2004 statistics. The national average rate of decline is three percent.
July 2, 2007 - School is out and the children are in. Now that summer is here, there will be more opportunities for children to be left home alone and more worry for parents who wonder if they should leave them without adult supervision. The Georgia Department of Human Resources urges caution and vigilance when leaving children home alone.
July 2, 2007 – With the Fourth of July holiday on the horizon, the Georgia Department of Human Resources (DHR) is encouraging all Georgians to take precautions to avoid sunburns, which can increase the risk of skin cancer. Using sunscreen that includes broad-spectrum ultraviolet-A (UVA) and Ultraviolet-B (UVB) protection is one of the most important things you can do to protect your skin.