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May, 2012 | Homewood Health EAP EFAP Healthy Workplaces Blog

World No Tobacco Day May 31

May 31…World No Tobacco Day!

The cam­paign will focus on the need to expose and counter the tobacco industry’s brazen and increas­ingly aggres­sive attempts to under­mine global tobacco con­trol efforts.

Some unfor­tu­nate statistics:

  • There are approx­i­mately 4.7-million smok­ers in Canada.
  • When sur­veyed, the major­ity (upwards of 90%) of smok­ers express a desire to quit.
  • This year, more than 37,000 Cana­di­ans will die pre­ma­turely as a result of tobacco use.
  • Tobacco use rep­re­sents a sub­stan­tial cost to the Cana­dian health care sys­tem, and to the Cana­dian economy.
  • Total direct health care costs linked to tobacco use are over $4.4 bil­lion per year.
  • When indi­rect cost (e.g. lost wages, pro­duc­tiv­ity, etc.) are included, the total annual eco­nomic cost of tobacco to the Cana­dian econ­omy is more than $17 billion.
  • Smok­ing is linked to 30% of all can­cer deaths in Canada.
  • Tobacco use is one of the lead­ing pre­ventable causes of death.
  • The global tobacco epi­demic kills nearly 6 mil­lion peo­ple each year, of which more than 600,000 are peo­ple exposed to second-hand smoke.
  • Unless we act, smok­ing will kill up to 8 mil­lion peo­ple by 2030, of which more than 80% will live in low– and middle-income countries.

Learn more from the World Health Orga­ni­za­tion here.


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Youth and young adults at greatest risk from mixing alcohol and caffeine

A new report from the Cana­dian Cen­tre on Sub­stance Abuse (CCSA) and the Cen­tre for Addic­tions Research of British Colum­bia (CARBC) exam­ines the trends and risks of alco­hol and caf­feine con­sump­tion, and pro­vides tar­geted rec­om­men­da­tions for pol­icy mak­ers, pub­lic health orga­ni­za­tions, health­care providers and researchers.

  • Youth and young adults drink caf­feinated alco­holic bev­er­ages at lev­els four times higher than the gen­eral pub­lic, par­tic­u­larly at uni­ver­si­ties, where the rate is almost dou­ble that of other young adults.
  • Youth and young adults pre­fer hand-mixed over pre-mixed drinks. This puts them at greater risk of dan­ger­ous side effects because hand-mixed alco­hol energy drinks typ­i­cally con­tain more caf­feine and alcohol.

Some of the use­ful resources pro­vided by the CCSA and CARBC:

  1. The full report and rec­om­men­da­tion: Caf­feinated Alco­holic Bev­er­ages in Canada: Preva­lence of Use, Risks and Rec­om­mended Pol­icy Responses.
  2. The pol­icy brief: Pol­icy Brief on Alco­hol and Caf­feine.
  3. Youth: Alco­hol and Caf­feine “A bad buzz”
  4. Parents: Alco­hol and Caf­feine “A bad buzz”

Also, see Canada’s Low Risk Drink­ing Alco­hol Guide­lines.


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Web app shines light on mental health clients’ moods

Fas­ci­nat­ing and prov­ing efficacious!

Using sim­ple text mes­sag­ing, the web app allows users to diarize what they are doing and how they are feel­ing, and helps to iden­tify and rein­force pos­i­tive behav­iours to aid their recov­ery. Their texts are then used to com­pile an online diary that records patients’ daily moods and activ­i­ties over a week or month.

A six-month eval­u­a­tion of the tool by researchers at South Lon­don and Maud­s­ley trust (UK) last year found a 40% increase in sat­is­fac­tion with ther­apy. Around 30% of respon­dents reported improve­ments in well-being, and there was a com­pli­ance rate of 76% in respond­ing to text mes­sages. The num­ber of therapy-no-shows also fell by 7%.

Read about the process of cre­at­ing “Buddy” here:

See Buddy here:

And an edi­to­r­ial review:

Thanks to the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion for bring­ing this web app our attention.


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Calendar of Health Promotion Days 2012


ALS Aware­ness Month (Lou Gehrig’s Disease)

Through­out the month peo­ple across Canada raise aware­ness for ALS, raise funds and don the blue corn­flower – the national emblem of ALS Canada.

Cana­dian Can­cer Soci­ety Relay for Life

Cana­dian Can­cer Soci­ety Relay For Life gives you and your com­mu­nity the oppor­tu­nity to cel­e­brate can­cer sur­vivors, remem­ber and hon­our loved ones lost to can­cer and fight back against all cancers.

Sun Aware­ness Pro­gram for the Pre­ven­tion of Skin Can­cer (June 4–10)

The Cana­dian Der­ma­tol­ogy Asso­ci­a­tion has orga­nized a nation­wide Sun Aware­ness Week since 1989. The pur­pose of the annual cam­paign is to edu­cate Cana­di­ans about the dan­gers of too much sun in order to stop the ris­ing inci­dence of skin can­cer in the coun­try. Der­ma­tol­o­gists around Canada will be involved in var­i­ous events designed to high­light sun safety mes­sages dur­ing National Sun Aware­ness Week and through the summer.

National Can­cer Sur­vivors Day (June 3)


Child­hood Can­cer Aware­ness Month

Can­cer in chil­dren is rare. Most Cana­dian chil­dren who develop it will sur­vive their dis­ease. The most com­mon can­cers diag­nosed in chil­dren (aged 0–19 years) are leukemia, brain and spinal tumours, and lym­phomas (Hodgkin and non-Hodgkin lymphomas).

Ovar­ian Can­cer Aware­ness Month

World Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Day (Sep­tem­ber 10)

World Sui­cide Pre­ven­tion Day on 10 Sep­tem­ber pro­motes world­wide com­mit­ment and action to pre­vent sui­cides. On aver­age, almost 3000 peo­ple com­mit sui­cide daily. For every per­son who com­pletes a sui­cide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives.

Men­tal Ill­ness Aware­ness Week (Sep­tem­ber 30 — Octo­ber 6)

Nearly one in five Cana­di­ans is affected by men­tal ill­ness, yet a per­sis­tent stigma pre­vents mil­lions from get­ting the help they need. The con­tin­u­ing theme of Men­tal Ill­ness Aware­ness Week — Face Men­tal Ill­ness — is designed to change that.

By shar­ing their sto­ries, the coura­geous “faces” of the “Faces of Men­tal Ill­ness” cam­paign are help­ing bring men­tal ill­ness out from the shad­ows. Their expe­ri­ences are proof that through proper diag­no­sis, treat­ment and aware­ness, peo­ple with men­tal ill­nesses can live pro­duc­tive and ful­fill­ing lives.


Breast Can­cer Aware­ness Month

Breast can­cer starts in the breast. Both women and men have breasts, but women have more breast tis­sue than men. A woman’s breast is mainly made up of milk-producing glands (called lob­ules) and tubes (called ducts), which are sur­rounded and pro­tected by fatty and con­nec­tive tissue.

It is esti­mated that 22,900 new cases of breast can­cer in women will be diag­nosed in Canada in 2012. Breast can­cer is the most com­monly diag­nosed can­cer in women.

Healthy Work­place Month


Lung Can­cer Aware­ness Month


World AIDS Day (Decem­ber 1)

World AIDS Day on 1 Decem­ber brings together peo­ple from around the world to raise aware­ness about HIV/AIDS and demon­strate inter­na­tional sol­i­dar­ity in the face of the pan­demic. The day is an oppor­tu­nity for pub­lic and pri­vate part­ners to spread aware­ness about the sta­tus of the pan­demic and encour­age progress in HIV/AIDS pre­ven­tion, treat­ment and care in high preva­lence coun­tries and around the world.


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Psychologists: Key ethical considerations for online activities

Con­sider these sce­nar­ios (adapted from Dr. Jeff Ashby’s May 2012 APA pre­sen­ta­tion “Pro­fes­sional Issues In The Infor­ma­tion Age”):

You have had a per­sonal Face­book page for some time that you do not mon­i­tor closely. You have typ­i­cally posted pic­tures of fam­ily gath­er­ings and occa­sional “likes” and “com­ments” on oth­ers’ pages. Because you do not mon­i­tor the page closely, you have always responded to friend requests by sim­ply accept­ing them. In check­ing your Face­book page for the first time in a week or two, you notice that a cur­rent client has posted on your wall. You quickly inves­ti­gate and real­ize that some months ago you accepted a friend request from this per­son along with sev­eral other peo­ple you either didn’t rec­og­nize – or only vaguely recalled.

A per­son who found you on LinkedIn indi­cates they also looked up your Face­book page and says that “you seem like the kind of per­son who could really help me” and wants to sched­ule an appoint­ment for ther­apy services.

Six months after the suc­cess­ful com­ple­tion of a two year coun­selling rela­tion­ship, a ther­a­pist agrees to “friend” his for­mer client on Face­book as a way of pro­vid­ing min­i­mal sup­port and encour­age­ment. The coun­sel­lor and past client engaged in lim­ited mes­sag­ing the ther­a­pist clearly saw as “benign” in con­tent. When the ther­a­pist went away on vaca­tion to a place with lim­ited inter­net access, the ther­a­pist was unable to read and respond to his for­mer client’s increas­ingly fre­quent, plain­tive, and even­tu­ally des­per­ate Face­book posts. The ther­a­pist returned from vaca­tion and, on check­ing his Face­book page, found a mes­sage from the client threat­en­ing sui­cide approx­i­mately 3 days old… and no other messages.

A client notes that she has recently read your blog posts. She indi­cates that in read­ing a recent post, she was struck by your dis­clos­ing con­fi­den­tial infor­ma­tion about her case. You recall the post and, specif­i­cally, that you spoke gen­er­ally in the blog and was not ref­er­enc­ing any client. You attempt to com­mu­ni­cate this to the client but she is increas­ingly dis­tressed by your unwill­ing­ness to acknowl­edge that you have bro­ken confidentiality.

What are the pri­mary issues for you to con­sider in these cases? How should you proceed?

All com­mu­ni­ca­tion is sub­ject to good eth­i­cal practices

In today’s age of e-mail, Face­book, Twit­ter and other social media, psy­chol­o­gists have to be more aware than ever of the eth­i­cal pit­falls they can fall into by using these types of com­mu­ni­ca­tion. Nei­ther the Cana­dian or Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tions have ethics codes that specif­i­cally address social media, but the codes are clear that they apply to all  psy­chol­o­gists’ pro­fes­sional activ­i­ties and to elec­tronic com­mu­ni­ca­tion, which of course social media is.

Con­sider this:

  • if you are com­mu­ni­cat­ing with your client via e-mail or text mes­sag­ing, are these com­mu­ni­ca­tions part of your client’s record? Who has access to these com­mu­ni­ca­tions (e.g. the inter­net ser­vice provider)?
  • is it appro­pri­ate to use social media to learn more about a client (e.g. search­ing the client’s Face­book pro­file or Twit­ter)? Is the client’s con­sent required?
  • is it appro­pri­ate to post per­sonal infor­ma­tion about your­self on a blog or web­site when that infor­ma­tion can be accessed by a cur­rent, or poten­tial, client?
  • do dif­fer­ent con­sid­er­a­tions need to be made if you are pro­vid­ing treat­ment for an indi­vid­ual, and e-mailing or tex­ting them on one or two occa­sions, ver­sus pro­vid­ing treat­ment solely through elec­tronic means (and never hav­ing met face-to-face)?

We are just begin­ning to under­stand what eth­i­cal issues the Inter­net is rais­ing,” says Stephen Behnke, ethics direc­tor for the Amer­i­can Psy­cho­log­i­cal Asso­ci­a­tion. “To write rules that allow our field to grow and develop and yet pre­vent [patient] harm at the same time: That’s the challenge.”

Issues that may cre­ate eth­i­cal challenges

  1. e-mailing and tex­ting clients (what staff mem­bers read and respond to emails? what are the bound­aries of appro­pri­ate mes­sage con­tent? when is it not appro­pri­ate to com­mu­ni­cate via email or text? are copies of cor­re­spon­dence a part of the client record?)
  2. shar­ing per­sonal infor­ma­tion online (what social pres­ence do you have: Face­book, LinkedIn, online vitae, arti­cles you’ve writ­ten online, blog­ging, YouTube videos?)
  3. friend­ing” (Face­book) or “fol­low­ing” (Twitter)
  4. tweet­ing and blogging
  5. con­sumer review sites

Inter­est­ingly, clients are search­ing for infor­ma­tion about therapists:

A sur­vey of 332 clients (Kolmes and Taube, 2011) revealed that 70% found per­sonal infor­ma­tion about their ther­a­pist on the internet.

Some tips for your social pres­ence online

  • learn about, and apply, the pri­vacy set­tings on your social media sites
  • search for infor­ma­tion about your­self online and cor­rect any misinformation
  • always con­sider the poten­tial impact of your online actions
  • be cog­nizant of the dis­tinc­tion between per­sonal and pro­fes­sional use of social net­work­ing sites
  • main­tain clear bound­aries with clients regard­ing poten­tial blended roles
  • be thought­ful about who you accept on your friends list, thereby grant­ing access to your per­sonal infor­ma­tion (Facebook)
  • be mind­ful that what­ever you share online will be avail­able to any­one and can­not be taken back
  • never access a client’s per­sonal infor­ma­tion online with­out their permission
  • uti­lize the pro­fes­sional ethics codes and con­sul­ta­tion with col­leagues and pro­fes­sional bod­ies for ques­tions of eth­i­cal decision-making
  • cre­ate a pol­icy for social net­work­ing and make this pol­icy avail­able to clients as part of the informed con­sent process

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What challenges does Facebook and other social media present employers?

With Facebook’s IPO this past week, the social media giant is top of mind for the invest­ment com­mu­nity. Employ­ers, too, are strug­gling to antic­i­pate the impact of social media on their work­forces, many not under­stand­ing what the term “social media” is; oth­ers, ready to cap­i­tal­ize on the power of social media for engage­ment, yet hav­ing no mod­els for how to proceed.

Andreas Kaplan and Michael Haelein’s research paper “Users of the word, unite! The chal­lenges and oppor­tu­ni­ties of social media” can pro­vide some guid­ance in this respect.

Sum­ma­riz­ing key points from their research, con­ducted in 2010 for the Kel­ley School of Busi­ness, Indi­ana University:

  • Social media is a group of inter-based appli­ca­tions that build on the ide­o­log­i­cal and tech­no­log­i­cal foun­da­tions of Web 2.0…platforms whereby con­tent is no longer cre­ated and pub­lished by indi­vid­u­als and orga­ni­za­tions but instead con­tin­u­ously mod­i­fied by any and all users in a par­tic­i­pa­tory and col­lab­o­ra­tive fashion.
  • Social media is so active and fast-moving that what may be up-to-date today could be irrel­e­vant tomor­row. Thus, com­pa­nies must have a set of guide­lines that can be applied to any form of social media.
  • Choos­ing the right social media appli­ca­tion from the hun­dreds avail­able depends on the tar­get group to be reached and the mes­sage to be communicated.
  • Many com­pa­nies are using blogs to update employ­ees, cus­tomers, and share­hold­ers on devel­op­ments they con­sider impor­tant. But risks pre­vail: any of the tar­get audi­ence may expressed dis­sat­is­fac­tion with the com­pany in a pub­lic protest by post­ing on these blogs.
  • Align your social media activ­i­ties. “…One goal of com­mu­ni­ca­tion is the res­o­lu­tion of ambi­gu­ity and reduc­tion of uncer­tainty, and noth­ing is more con­fus­ing than con­tra­dict­ing mes­sages across dif­fer­ent channels.”
  • Social media and tra­di­tional media are both part of your cor­po­rate image. Thus strate­gic and planned inte­gra­tion is key.

To read the full report and rec­om­men­da­tions, down­load the report by click­ing here.

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Databases for alcohol research

The National Insti­tute on Alco­hol Abuse and Alco­holism (NIAAA) has cre­ated a por­tal to sup­port researchers and prac­ti­tion­ers search­ing for infor­ma­tion related to alco­hol research. This page includes links to a num­ber of data­bases, jour­nals, and Web sites focused on alco­hol research and related top­ics. Also included is a link to the archived ETOH data­base, the pre­mier Alco­hol and Alco­hol Prob­lems Sci­ence Data­base, pro­duced by NIAAA from 1972 through Decem­ber 2003.

Both Cana­dian and Amer­i­can resources are listed.

Entry to the Alco­hol and Alco­hol Prob­lems main web­site. Click here.

Direct access to the resources list­ings. Click here.
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