Health News Roundup

The mental health issues facing Asian American youth, and more in this week’s roundup

Shayla Love, Vice, September 10
The importance of maintaining “face” in Asian cultures goes back thousands of years. In the U.S., where Asian Americans also grapple with a rampant high-achiever stereotype, “the model minority myth,” people are suffering silently. The model minority myth says that all Asians are hardworking, non-disruptive, have strong family values, and raise kids that are preternaturally intelligent, excel at classical music, and go to Ivy League schools for engineering and medicine. This myth is problematic for many reasons. It generalizes a heterogeneous mix of people, it pits minorities against one another, and brushes aside the discrimination Asians do experience every day. And when it gets tangled up with “face”—which decrees that status be stringently upheld—it creates an intense pressure for young Asian Americans, contributing to an uptick in serious mental health issues as they try to maintain face’s high standards.
Rachel Corbett, The Atlantic, October 2019
The trouble began when Tawanda Rhodes’s mother started showing signs of Alzheimer’s disease. A guardian of the state admitted her mother into a nursing home and signed her up for the state’s Medicaid program, MassHealth. Rhodes soon learned that the Medicaid coverage wasn’t exactly free: When her mother died, she received a letter from the state, notifying her that it was seeking reimbursement from the estate for Medicaid payments on her behalf. Some Medicaid recipients over the age of 55 are expected to repay the government for certain medical expenses, such as nursing home care (the rules vary by state)—and states will seize houses and other assets after those recipients die in order to satisfy the debt. This estate recovery can strip property from people who stand to benefit from it the most, perpetuating cycles of poverty and pushing displaced families back into the welfare system. 

Colleen Shaddox, Connecticut Health Investigative Team, September 16
HUSKY members in a person-centered medical home (PCMH) practice are more likely to get recommended preventative health services and less likely to visit the emergency room, according to Department of Social Services data. A PCMH is a medical practice that provides comprehensive and coordinated care. That can mean helping a child get an appointment with a behavioral health clinician; making sure a patient’s apartment is free of asthma triggers; and many other services hard to get in time-crunched primary care offices.

A. Rochaun Meadows-Fernandez, Forbes, September 12
It isn’t always visible from the outside, but there’s no shortage of stressors in the lives of black women. Sexism and racism— and sometimes more— join forces to provide a one-two punch combo that can knockout even the most resilient of black women. The deeper we dig, the clearer it becomes that black women’s bodies are internalizing a large share of the forces, often with life-threatening consequences. A recently published medical study, found that hypertension affected 49% of young black women, versus 28% of their white counterparts. Even after adjusting for factors like age, marital status, annual income, and educational attainment, black women maintained a risk that was 74% greater than white women.
Josh Katz, Alicia Parlapiano and Margot Sanger-Katz, The New York Times, September 17
Two decades ago, nearly 10 million children did not live to see a 5th birthday. By 2017, that number — about 1 in every 16 children — was nearly cut in half, even as the world’s population increased by more than a billion people. The sharp decline in childhood mortality reflects work by governments and international aid groups to fight child poverty and the diseases that are most lethal to poor children: neonatal disorders, pneumonia, diarrhea and malaria. But the results are also highly imbalanced. In some places, children’s health has improved drastically. In others, many still die very early.