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College Degrees Lead to Better Health? Not So Fast, Says New Study

Black-College-GraduateBy Carmel Ferrer

Higher education and upward mobility are often touted as a ticket to better health. Yet a new study suggests that the positive health effects of a good education are felt less by blacks than by whites.

Consider this scenario: Four adults are sitting in a doctor’s office. Two are black and two are white. One black adult and one white adult have high school diplomas; the other two have college degrees.

You might reasonably expect that the two college graduates would be healthier than the ones who finished only high school, owing to the improved access to health insurance, fresh foods, and safe housing that higher education often brings. But the study shows that the health benefits of educational attainment for African Americans may in fact be offset by racial discrimination and other associated stresses.

Conducted over the course of 15 years, the data set—part of an ongoing longitudinal study—assessed subjects at age 30, and then again at age 45, for levels of inflammation in the body. Chronic inflammation has been shown to contribute to a greater incidence of diabetes and heart disease.

One of the study’s authors, Thomas Fuller-Rowell, PhD, puts it this way: “Among whites, the more educated you are, the better off you are in terms of inflammation across adulthood. Among African Americans, we found no health benefit to being more educated.”

Fuller-Rowell is a Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health & Society Scholar whose research examines how differences in race and social class affect health. “In order to solve the larger health disparities issue, we need to understand what it is about educational attainment that is more stressful for African Americans,” he explains.

As the study points out, stress is a prime suspect when it comes to poor immune function, slow healing, and infections. Long-term stress can cause chronic inflammation, which in turn contributes to a greater incidence of diabetes and heart disease.

“Upward mobility and education are put forward as the best way to improve health disparities, but these findings suggest that eliminating educational disparities will not be enough,” says Fuller-Rowell. “We have to address the differential stresses of getting a higher education along with issues relating to white-dominated workplaces.”

One of the study’s recommendations is to increase programs that not only encourage upward mobility among underrepresented groups, but also “acknowledge and seek to mitigate the challenges of navigating educational and workplace contexts that are often racially and culturally insensitive. “

According to Fuller-Rowell, “We need institutional and governmental programs that are designed to remedy group disparities so that we can address the legacy of racial inequity in the United States.” The study, he notes, defines rather than explains the problem.

“We’re now working on research that gets to the explanation,” he says.

 

 

 

 

Los Angeles Teen Organizes Concert To Benefit Those Struggling With Suicide and Depression

 Jacob Whitesides

Jacob Whitesides

The Internet has helped make stories available of young girls who are struggling with thoughts of suicide and depression. One local Los Angeles teen has set out to spread awareness and hope to those in need. Delila Brown, 14, an eighth-grader at Flintridge Preparatory School, has organized a concert featuring singer/songwriter Jacob Whitesides to benefit Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services, which provides quality mental health care and substance use disorder services in communities where stigma or poverty limit access. The event takes place on January 10that the school auditorium from 3p.m.-8p.m. There will be a “meet and greet” with Jacob for 200 people who purchase $100 VIP tickets. Location: Flintridge Preparatory School, 4345 Crown Avenue, La Canada Flintridge.

As to how Delila came to host the event and chose Didi Hirsh, she said, “I was thinking about what I should do for my 8th grade community service project. I didn’t want to just put out a collection box like a lot of other people I know. So I came up with the idea of having a benefit concert. My teacher helped me find some good charities. She knew about Didi Hirsch and what they do with suicide prevention. That sounded good to me. So we did some research to make sure it was a good organization. Then we had to find someone to do the concert. My dad builds stages and has a friend who is a concert promoter. He told me I should find someone who is not too famous, but up and coming, otherwise it would be hard to get the person to come. I found Jacob Whitesides on YouTube a few years ago and have been following him ever since. My dad’s friend helped me reach out to him through his manager (who happens to be his mom). He wanted to make sure it was a legitimate event and did his own research on Didi Hirsch before he told his manager he wanted to do it. He says he knows a lot of his fans have gone through depression and have been suicidal and he wants to help them.”

Jacob is a 17-year old Internet phenomenon who has six million+ views on YouTube and over one million followers on Twitter.

For more information about Delila, click here.

 

ABOUT DIDI HIRSCH MENTAL HEALTH SERVICES
Didi Hirsch Mental Health Services provides mental health, substance use disorder and wellness services to more than 74,000 children and adults in 11 locations throughout Los Angeles and Orange Counties each year. Our Suicide Prevention Center’s Crisis Line has English- and Spanish-speaking counselors available 24/7, is one of five centers nationwide to operate the Disaster Distress Helpline, and offers online emotional support, community training and bereavement support groups for those who have lost loved ones to suicide. Learn more atwww.didihirsch.org.

Alejandre Sworn In As San Bernardino County Superintendent

Alejandre taking Administration of Oath led by Mr Mark Sumpter, President, S B County Board of Education (Photo by John Coleman)

Alejandre taking Administration of Oath led by Mr Mark Sumpter, President, S B County Board of Education
(Photo by John Coleman)

SAN BERNARDINO, CA-Ted Alejandre took the oath of office becoming San Bernardino County’s 34th superintendent during a ceremony today at the National Orange Show. Alejandre pledged to form a team among educators, stakeholders, community members and education partners to further academic opportunities for the more than 411,000 students who attend public school in San Bernardino County.

“Together, we will transform lives through education in our county,” Alejandre said.

About 500 community members, family, staff and dignitaries attended the oath of office ceremony. Alejandre was sworn into office by Mark Sumpter, president of the County Board of Education. Starting his career with the San Bernardino County Superintendent of Schools office in 2008 as the assistant superintendent of Business Services, Alejandre brings more than 25 years of experience in public education to his new role as county superintendent. Alejandre is the first-ever Hispanic to serve in the position. Alejandre, who is a native of San Bernardino County, has worked in the Rialto, San Bernardino and Yucaipa-Calimesa school districts as a teacher, principal and administrator, prior to his stint with County Schools.