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NOVEMBER 30, 2021

Alcohol Use During the COVID-19 Holiday Season
By Chandler Schelp & Samantha Moore

As the holiday season is drawing near, many people are still struggling with stress related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Many people may feel tempted to turn to alcohol to feel better during the hectic holiday season. The CDC noted that stress may contribute to increased alcohol intake and substance use. It can be easy to look for a quick fix to stress, but it is important to take care of your mental health and wellbeing. 

It is known that alcohol intake typically increases during the holiday season between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day. During these stressful times, people may also experience mental health concerns such as anxiety, depression, and insomnia. 

Though alcohol may be seen as a “quick fix,” there are healthier ways to cope. Some better ways to manage stress include exercise, meditation, or reaching out to friends and family. 

There are also resources to help those who struggle with addition. The Tennessee REDLINE, administered by Tennessee Association of Alcohol, Drug & other Addiction Services, provides important information covering addictions and disorders for those seeking out treatment. They may be reached at 800-889-9789. 

Click here for more information

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OCTOBER 22, 2021

Domestic Violence Awareness Month
By Evan Basting

October is recognized as National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. This designation serves to empower survivors, hold perpetrators accountable, and spread awareness about domestic violence to others. Domestic violence is also often called family violence or intimate partner violence, and it is a leading contributor to injury, health problems, and mental illness.

Anyone can experience domestic violence regardless of gender, age, education level, background, or walk of life. Domestic violence can occur in many forms, such as physical, verbal/emotional, stalking, cyber/electronic, sexual, and financial abuse. The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence list several warning signs of an abuser, which include extreme jealousy, substance misuse, a bad temper, and controlling behavior. Abusers often maintain power and control in relationships by instilling fear and placing blame on victims for anything bad that happens [1].

In the United States, nearly one in three men and women report experiencing sexual violence, physical violence, and/or stalking throughout their lifetime [2]. Survivors of domestic violence are at greater risk of reporting significant mental health concerns, such as post-traumatic stress disorder, and experience greater disruptions in work, school, and/or daily life functioning.

Abuse in relationships and families can occur in patterns and cycles, but these cycles can be broken. This starts with recognizing the signs and patterns of abuse. If you suspect that you or someone you know may be experiencing domestic violence, there are many national and local resources available to help. Survivors of domestic violence are encouraged, when they are ready, to call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-SAFE (7233) or visit www.thehotline.org to receive care and support in planning the appropriate next steps. The Knoxville Family Justice Center is a local resource that helps survivors of domestic violence identify signs of abuse and create a safety plan. For more information, visit their website: http://www.fjcknoxville.org/domestic-violence.html.

Here are some other resources for additional information:

Domestic Abuse and Addition: www.drugrehab.com/guides/domestic-abuse
Love is Respect: www.loveisrespect.org
Veto Violence (CDC): https://vetoviolence.cdc.gov/apps/main/home

[1] Source: https://ncadv.org/signs-of-abuse
[2] Source: https://www.cdc.gov/violenceprevention/pdf/2015data-brief508.pdf

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SEPTEMBER 30, 2021

September is Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month
By Rebecca Skadberg

Suicide is one of the second leading causes of death in adolescents and young adults and is often accompanied by depression or other mental illness. Warning signs may be different from adults in adolescents or children. The American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry has provided further guidance [1]
Young children may express feelings of sadness, confusion, anger, or attentional difficulties. Teens may experience stress, self-doubt, pressure to success, disappointment, or loss. Warning signs include saying “I wish I was dead” or “I won’t be a problem much longer”, changes in eating/sleep habits, increased sadness, withdrawal from others, physical health complaints (stomachaches, headaches, etc.), declining school performance, fascination with death/dying, giving away possessions, or inability to focus on the future. 
Risk factors include a family history of suicide attempts, exposure to violence, impulsivity or aggression, bullying, feeling helpless or hopeless, loss/rejection, and access to firearms.  
If you have concerns, it is important to ask about suicidal thoughts/strong emotions with the child or adolescent. 
Here are some local resources for additional support for questions or crisis management:  

• The Tennessee Statewide Crisis Line toll-free 24 hours, 7 days a week at 1-855-274-7471 or text 741741  

• The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)  

[1] Source: https://www.aacap.org/AACAP/Families_and_Youth/Facts_for_Families/FFF-Guide/Teen-Suicide-010.aspx 

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AUGUST 31, 2021

Back to School with COVID-19
By Alyssa Medenblik

With the exciting news that the Pfizer vaccine is now FDA approved, many people who were previously hesitant to receive a COVID-19 vaccination may be more comfortable doing so. While Pfizer is the only vaccine to date to receive this approval, the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson vaccines are still highly effective at reducing severe illness and death related to the virus. 
Pfizer’s vaccine receiving FDA approval is a important development in the efforts to increase vaccination rates across the country. However, anxiety about COVID-19 is still a major concern for many Americans, especially those who have children younger than twelve years old who are going to school in-person. Kids clearly benefit from in person learning and  being around other kids in a classroom, the Delta variant of COVID-19 is a new version of COVID-19 that it makes being in these classrooms higher risk for kids than in the past year and it has been shown to spread even in people who are vaccinated As a result of this new variant, the CDC is recommending that parents mask kids ages two and up when they are indoors, even if they are vaccinated.  The good news is that we have learned from experience last year that masks can greatly slow down and even prevent the spread of COVID and that vaccines still protect us from severe disease even with the Delta variant. More masking for everyone and more vaccinated teens and adults will help us all stamp out this variant and get everyone back to school safely.

Kids understandably might not want to wear a mask, even if you want them to.  This is a normal part of child development and you can address this as you would any other conflict about articles of clothing, like shoes and pants.  If you can calmly make it clear to your child that you expect them to wear a mask and that it is not a big deal, many kids’ resistance will eventually decrease and stop. You could also consider providing a reward for times they wear it without a fuss.  Another great approach is making it a game or explaining the positive aspects of wearing the mask so that it can appeal to your kids’ desire to be a helper. One story making the rounds is a father telling his child that superheroes wear masks and they do it to protect other people. 
With students returning to school this month and next, it is also important to acknowledge any Covid-19 related anxiety and to talk this through with people who are important to you. also may include communicating with your family, friends, and community members about your expectations and comfort levels regarding masking and distancing. If you are experiencing a great deal of stress and anxiety during this time, please speak to your healthcare provider or seek out resources! KnoxWell has resources for discussing COVID-19 with your children as well as resources for handling stress and anxiety. Check out these pages on our website and utilize these strategies during this difficult time!

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APRIL 15, 2021

COVID-19 Vaccine Anxiety

As more Tennessee residents become eligible to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, some may experience hesitation or stress related to receiving their first (or second) dose. Vaccine related anxiety is a valid emotion, and there are ways to help combat dealing with uncertainty.

It’s important to identify the source of your anxiety related to the vaccine. If your worry is about the safety of the vaccine, educate yourself through reliable resources about the way they were developed and how these vaccines work in the body. Here is a helpful guide from the CDC about common misconceptions. If you are concerned about side effects related to the vaccine, recognize that those are common, short-lived, and a sign of your body’s immunity at work!

It’s very common to have fears related to receiving a new vaccine, but it’s also important to recognize that the approved COVID-19 vaccines are the safest way to build protection from the virus. Vaccinations combined with continued masking and social distancing is the best way to protect yourself and reduce chance of spread to others. With these amazing tools, we may soon see a halt to this virus!

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