Mental Illness Awareness Week 2014 – Get informed!

Mental Illness Awareness Week 2014
Mental Illness Awareness Week 2014
Next week sees Mental Illness Awareness Week being celebrated around the world. Even though its origin is in America. We thought it would be useful to share a bit more information about the week so you can get involved.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) share “Oct. 5-11 is Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). It is an important opportunity to learn the symptoms of major depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other conditions. It also is an opportunity for conversations about mental health care, helping to end the silence that often exists. ”

They go on to say “One in four adults experiences a mental health problem ever year. One in five children and teens also experience serious emotional disorders. One-half of cases of chronic mental illness begin by the age of 14 and three-quarters by age 24.”

Highlighting the problem of diagnosis NAMI suggest “Early identification and treatment can make a big difference for successful management of an illness and; recovery. Yet only one-third of adults and less than one-half of children with mental illness receive treatment. One reason is that symptoms may not be immediately recognized. Another is that stigma –and silence–surrounding mental illness that discourages many people from seeking help. Still another is lack of access to mental health care.”

Please remember “No one should have to confront mental illness alone. Know where to find help in case it is ever needed. Most people start with their doctor, who may refer them to mental health professional.”

If you want more detailed background that this mental health factsheet will prove very useful.

Health Literacy Month – Why do Health Literacy Heroes matter?

Health Literacy Month
Health Literacy Month
I spent 30 seconds a couple of days ago reading an article on social media and something called social business. I gave up when I read the following line where they tell us that ” we’ve educated over 60,000 social media professionals and launched comprehensive onboarding for enterprises around the globe”. Now I have no idea what this means. I assume it has something to do with sailing but otherwise I’m at a loss. If you think you know please can you add a translation in the comments box.

What is even more confusing was that the article claimed to be about social marketing but used a terminology which , it strikes me, totally hides and meaning.

To be fair it really does not matter what sort of language people when they are selling thing like cell phones or online newspapers. But when it comes to health it really really does matter.

Which is why I was delighted to discover that this month is Health Literacy Month. Created by Ms Helen Osborne in 1999 who says “Health Literacy Month is a time for organizations and individuals to promote the importance of understandable health information.”

Ms Osborne continues “The theme for Health Literacy Month 2014 is “Be a Health Literacy Hero.” It’s about taking action and finding ways to improve health communication. Health Literacy Heroes are individuals, teams, or organizations who not only identify health literacy problems but also act to solve them. You can help by recognizing and cheering on those you consider as  Health Literacy Heroes. Click here for more information plus tools to help.”

As regular readers of this blog know health information and medical education is one of the big areas covered by this blog. And I often state how disappointed I am with massively funded organisations and their inability to produce anything a normal person can understand. Or they demonstrate a total lack of understanding of how digital information can be shared.

So part of the point of this blog is a cry from the heart asking people who write stuff about health to write so we can understand it. You are not writing for automatons with MBAs but for people like me.

Yo find out more about Health Literacy Month please check out their website here.

If you do have any suggestions for Health Literacy Heroes please share them in the comments section below and I will take sure that Ms Osborne sees them!

Thanks in advance!

Breast Cancer Awareness – October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Please like and share this graphic to spread awareness of the month!

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month.

Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2014
Breast Cancer Awareness Month 2014

Please like, share and tweet this brilliant breast cancer awareness butterfly!


#urticariaday2014 International Urticaria Day – find out more about hives and Urticaria to help us promote awareness

Wednesday October 1st , next week, sees International Urticaria Day. So we thought it would be a good opportunity to raise awareness of the condition here at PatientTalk.Org.

More and more people react to everyday situations with an itchy rash and wheals (swelling on the skin). This condition is called hives or urticaria.

International Urticaria Day was created by UNEV (the Urticaria Network e.V.) and the DAAB e.V., two organizations both based Germany. Both organisations aim to improve conditions for people with urticaria and other allergies. The purpose of International Urticaria Day is to raise awareness of this debilitating disease. Educational events for healthcare professionals, people with urticaria , the media and the public will be taking place in Germany and throughout the globe . To obtain more information about local events and to show support, visit and follow the chat on Twitter #urticariaday2014. The Twitter handle is @urticariaday so please follow for more information.

In fact, 1 in 4 people is affected by urticaria. Symptoms are typically present for a few days or weeks –this is called acute urticaria. However, the disease lasts longer in many individuals. In Germany alone, over 1% of the population suffer from chronic urticaria. Which is a very high prevalence. It should be noted that women are affected twice as often as men and the incidence in children requires more research. In some cases it may well be an allergic reaction.

The diagnosis and treatment of chronic urticaria is tough . Only some varieties of urticaria have a known cause. These often takes months to identify and treat appropriately. Regardless of the type of urticaria a person may have, the signs and symptoms are the same – namely itching, redness, hives and/or swelling of the skin (angioedema). Effective treatments are now available more are being investigated. Urticaria is, typically, treated by dermatologists and there are specialized centers that cater of those with severe forms of the disease.

If you have or currently suffer from urticaria it would be great to hear from you please feel free to share your story in the comments section below.

In particular we are interested in the following questions:-
a) What were you earliest symptoms of urticaria?
b) How long did they last for?
c) What treatments for urticaria did you receive? How effective were these treatments?
d) How easy was it to get diagnosed with urticaria?
e) What one bit of advice would you give to somebody who has just been diagnosed with urticaria?

Thanks very much in advance!

Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP) – September is ITP Awareness Month and September 26, 2014 is Sport Purple for Platelets Day. Read more to find out about ITP.

ITP Awareness Ribbon
ITP Awareness Ribbon
Way way back when I started working in healthcare research one of the first projects i worked on was to recruit parents of children with ITP.

You can of course image my response!

“What is ITP?”

And then an immediate rush over to Wikipedia. I then discovered it was a bleeding disorder.

So I am very happy to share with you some information from The Platelet Disorder Support Association which supports people with Immune Thrombocytopenia and other platelet disorders. They have a pretty useful web site which you can check out here.

“Imagine being told that your child cannot play on the playground with other kids, ride a bike, participate in normal
childhood activities or contact sports because a bump, cut, or impact to their head could lead to life-threatening bleeding.
Now imagine trying to get emergency help for your bleeding child and being accused of abuse because your child is
covered with bruises. As an adult, imagine waking up in the morning with a mouth full of blood blisters, heading off to
work with a nosebleed that won’t stop for hours, or going to bed at night with a headache and fearing you’re having a
brain hemorrage and won’t wake up in the morning. This is life for someone suffering with the bleeding disorder ITP.
Immune Thrombocytopenia (ITP) is a condition in which the blood has a lower number of platelets than normal. Platelets
are cells that help the blood clot. ITP is called an autoimmune disease since it is the result of the body’s immune system
attacking platelets as if they are foreign cells. A person with ITP is at a higher risk of bleeding. ITP is often accompanied
by fatigue and sometimes depression and has a profound impact on a person’s quality of life.

ITP affects almost 10 times as many people as hemophilia, yet most people know nothing about it. This lack of public
awareness leaves many ITP patients feeling isolated and alone, and is the main reason why there is so little support for
research on ITP and the lack of advancement in treatment. ITP is a growing but little understood health problem that most
people (including some medical professionals) have never heard of. It affects individuals of all ages, sexes, and ethnic

This September patients of all ages, along with family members and health care providers, will come together for National
ITP Awareness Month and Sport Purple for Platelets Day.”

So please share the image above on social media to show your support for people with IPP.

Thanks in advance

More information on ITP from The Platelet Disorder Support Association

“ITP, immune (idiopathic) thrombocytopenic purpura, is an autoimmune disease. In autoimmune diseases, the body mounts an immune attack toward one or more seemingly normal organ systems. In ITP, platelets are the target. They are marked as foreign by the immune system and eliminated in the spleen and sometimes, the liver. In addition to increased platelet destruction, some people with ITP also have impaired platelet production.

Platelets are relatively small, irregularly shaped components of our blood. They are required to maintain the integrity of our blood vessel walls and for blood to clot. Without a sufficient number of platelets, a person with ITP is subject to spontaneous bleeding or bruising.

People with ITP often have bruises or small purple spots on their skin (petechiae) where their blood has escaped from their veins or capillaries. Spontaneous bleeding can also occur in the mucus membranes on the inside of the mouth or in the gastro-intestinal tract. It is possible, with a decreased number of platelets, to have a spontaneous cerebral hemorrhage. ITP is often accompanied by fatigue and sometimes depression.

Normal platelet counts range from 150,000 to 400,000 per microliter of blood. People with platelet counts under 10,000 have a severe case of ITP. 30,000 is sufficient for many to prevent a catastrophic bleed. Individual reactions to low platelet counts differ. Determining a safe platelet count is a decision to be made in consultation with an experienced treating physician.

The number of individuals in the United States with ITP has been estimated to be approximately 200,000. Our survey indicates that ITP occurs more frequently in women than men during childbearing years. It is usually a chronic problem. ITP in children occurs at about the same rate in boys and girls. It is frequently self-correcting but may become chronic. Adolescent ITP has more of the characteristics of adult ITP.

While most cases of ITP are controlled, it can be fatal in a small percentage of ITP patients.”