A Wish for Our Graduates | Dean's Note

On November 30, 1900, in Room 16 of the Hôtel d’Alsace in Saint-Germain-des-Prés, Paris, Oscar Wilde died at age 46. His death was not sudden. The poet, novelist, and playwright had been in declining health for some time. While there is still debate over the exact nature of his final illness, it appears to have been some form of ear disease. Despite his diminished state, Wilde’s famous wit never left him. As he slipped away in his dingy room, he is said to have joked, “My wallpaper and I are fighting a duel to the death. One or the other of us must go.”

Wilde had been among the most celebrated figures of the 19th century. Works like The Importance of Being Earnest and The Picture of Dorian Gray sealed his reputation as a popular entertainer. His humor and charisma made him, for a time, the toast of high society. Yet in just a few short years, he fell from his position of influence into the poor health that would kill him.

A Wish for the Class of 2019: How graduates can make the world healthier. | Psychology Today

Be yourself; everyone else is already taken.”

Many of us have heard some variation of this at a graduation ceremony. It is the sort of advice we tend to give to students as they prepare for the next step in their lives, and which members of the class of 2019 will likely hear this weekend. Witty, yet profound, the quote has been attributed to Oscar Wilde. It speaks to the importance of finding one’s own identity and staying true to it in a world that offers many incentives for doing just the opposite. 

Read the full article on Psychology Today

The Public's Health: Veterans and Health Misconceptions | The Public Health Post

There are 200,000 new veterans each year, adding to the 20 million Americans who have served in the military. Nearly five decades since our military went all-volunteer, and after almost two decades of constant war, we continue to misunderstand the military. Novelists and moviemakers depict veterans who are disconnected and marginalized. That is largely not so. The military is solidly middle class and, in many ways, a select group. High physical and educational standards—a high school degree required—means that 71% of young adults would fail to qualify if they tried to enlist. The military is also an ever more diverse group. Women now make up one in six enlisted, and both sexes are more ethnically diverse than the civilian population. Veterans are more likely to vote, volunteer, give to charity, and attend town meetings than non-veterans. Female and black veterans experience a wage premium (2% and 7% respectively) over non-veterans.  

5 things we should talk about when we talk about health | Oxford University Press Blog

Americans spend more money on health than anyone else in the world, yet they live shorter, less healthy lives than citizens of other rich countries. The complex reason for this is the multiple factors that affect our health. The simple reason is the fact that people seldom talk about these factors. Here are five things that people should be talking about when they talk about health.

Humility Is the First Step toward a Healthier World | Scientific American

This month, the world saw the first-ever image of a black hole. The picture was captured by the Event Horizon Telescopea network of radio telescopes operated by a global team of scientists. The black hole is 53.49 million light-years away, at the center of the Messier 87 galaxy. Taking a picture of such a distant object was an immense feat of science and engineering. The roots of this achievement stretch from Einstein’s first theorizing about the existence of black holes, all the way to the creation of cutting-edge technology that allowed us to finally see one.

Such stories are reminders of why it sometimes feels like science can do anything, from exploring the cosmos, to peering into the distant past, to blurring the boundary between life and death. And that feeling often extends to the science that informs our health. On that front, the 20th century brought a host of major discoveries, from penicillin to the double helix. As the Digital Age ushers in new advances, it is as easy as it has ever been to imagine that science really can solve all our health problems one day.

Focus on the True Foundations of Health | U.S. News

The United States spends more on health than any other country in the world, yet we are far from the healthiest. In recent years, our life expectancy has lagged, even declined. We have fallen behind our peer countries on a range of key health indicators, including heart disease, infant mortality and HIV/AIDS. And we face acute health challenges – from obesity, to opioids, to gun violence.

Why is our health so mediocre? The answer is we are not spending on health. We are spending on health care. Health is more than the doctors and medicines we turn to when we are unwell. It is a product of the world around us – the social, economic, and environmental conditions in which we live. Health care helps us when we are sick, but whether or not we get sick in the first place is decided by factors like the air we breathe, the water we drink, our income, neighborhood, schooling and overall social capital. These are the true foundations of health.

A Reminder That Education Helps Us Live Healthier | Psychology Today

I am often asked, if I could choose just one policy intervention to improve health what would it be? The more I reflect on this question, the more convinced I am that the answer is to invest in quality education for all children, with special emphasis on education in early childhood. Education helps us live longer, think better, and be healthier. As graduation season is upon us, here are a few reflections on the central role of education in shaping our physical and mental health. 

Study after study has shown that the higher our education level, the longer we will potentially live and the healthier those years are likely to be. College graduates live almost nine years longer than those who did not graduate from high school. Those years of higher education can also lead to a range of health benefits, including a lower risk of diabetes, heart disease, and obesity. The health effects of education are also intergenerational—the infant mortality rate per 1,000 live births for mothers who did not graduate from high school is close to double that of women who earned college degrees. 

The Public's Health: Pain Drain | Public Health Post

We live in a country that is in pain. Approximately 20% of Americans suffer from chronic pain. Through lost work and often ineffective treatment, chronic pain costs us $600 billion annually, more than cancer and heart disease combined. The emotional and social toll is uncountable. 
Pain is lodged at the crossroads of the two epidemics that have distinguished this decade: opioid addiction and suicide. Pain and its mitigation were the rationale for the profligate (and deceptive) marketing of opioids when prescription pill sales quadrupled between 1999 and 2014. That widespread misuse and addiction followed was, perhaps, not surprising. Physical pain is sometimes at the root of psychic pain; sometimes isolation and despair produce another form of suffering, leading to suicide. Our two epidemics meet at a crisis of pain.