Tag Archives: wexner medical center

Getting Teens Thinking Healthy, Helping Them COPE

In a crowd-favorite presentation during the Global Diabetes Summit, Bernadette Melnyk said, we all know people don’t change behavior easily, which is why she has focused much of her career on helping teens making healthy behavior changes to help them live healthier with a focus on mental health.

17 percent of teens are obese or overweight, but one in four adolescents has a mental health problem and less than 25 percent receive any treatment. According to Melnyk, substantial studies that shows that in overweight teens, the more likely they are to have a mental health disorder. These mental health conditions make it hard for teens to picture themselves even living healthy lifestyles. And in many studies when behaviors have been modified in studies and short-term gains have been achieved in high-risk populations, teens gained the weight back.

Melnyk’s secret sauce to this problem is her COPE program, which focuses on thinking, emotion, exercise, nutrition in hopes of decreasing teen’s doubts and increasing their ability make changes. In other words, if you teach teens to think differently, they can act differently. 

In each session, after working on goal setting, emotional coping skills, behavior therapy and more, the teens get up and moving with a “wheel of fitness” where they learn various activities and movement, which are all designed to be done in the middle of the classroom. They also learn about nutrition like social eating, portion sizes and nutrition labels. In the final sessions of the after-school program, they integrate how to put all these together and help the teens make a lifestyle plan.

Melnyk’s study showed many positives results from a decrease in BMI to decreases in depressive and anxiety symptoms. The purpose of her current study is to evaluate the efficacy of COPE/Healthy Lifestyles TEEN (thinking, emotions, exercise and nutrition) program on the healthy lifestyle behaviors, BMI, mental health and academic outcomes of 779 high school 14-16 year old adolescents.   The key regarding many of these findings in implementation. So she said: why does this matter to schools and why should they enact the COPE program?

She is also measuring academic outcomes and found that because of the cognitive behavioral skills the teens learned, they can improve their academic skill level because of the confidence and coping skills they learn in the program.

The COPE program will be used as either a preventive or management intervention program for overweight/obesity in adolescents. The program is now being developed so that it can be implemented in schools across the country. Her work in also now ongoing to adapt the program for school-age child and college-age youth.

Has focusing on your mental health ever helped you through an illness? How can we get more teens to learn the importance of improving their mental health?


Football fans: Left speechless after a game?

Save your voice with these tips from Dr. Arick Forrest, Director of Voice and Swallowing Disorders Clinic at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

  • Drink water before and during the game to keep vocal cords moist.
  • Plan five to 10 minutes of “quiet time” during a game to rest your voice. If you feel your voice getting strained or if you hear a ‘pop,’ stop yelling immediately.
  • “Warm up” vocal cords first before screaming. Vocal cords are muscles and need to warm up; just as runners don’t go from sitting to sprinting without jogging first.
  • Practice “vocal hygiene,” such as drinking a lot of water and talking quietly, to help prevent long-term and permanent damage if a problem does occur.
  • Avoid whispering if you have vocal damage. Whispering is even worse than talking and causes more stress to the vocal cords than soft, conversational speaking.
  • Avoid talking, as much as possible, as well as caffeine, alcohol and cigarette smoke or other harmful chemicals, if your voice box is irritated.
  • Work with a speech therapist to learn proper breath support, particularly if you are a cheerleader or a serious sports fan.

For more information: ow.ly/cOYJK

Pups with Purpose


Since Bella has been a puppy, she has been training for a very specific purpose – to help heal the wounded and bring joy to the sick. She learned to be around large groups of people, be exposed to loud noises and sudden movements, and became an internationally certified therapy dog, all by the time she was one year old.

Now age 4, Bella is a social dog, very comfortable being around patients and their families. She takes patients for walks and helps them learn to regain balance. They talk to her and about her for cognitive therapy. Some patients who have pets at home relearn pet care, so they walk, feed and brush her. And patients in wheelchairs pet her as they get used to moving their arms and hands again, although sometimes this admittedly puts her right to sleep!

Bella is one of the two dogs that spend time in the Recreation Therapy Room at Dodd Hall – bringing smiles to patients and their families. Her owner, Morgan Mersey, is a Certified Therapeutic Recreational Specialist in Rehabilitation at The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center.

Morgan and Bella take a walk.

Does your pet help you live healthier? Do you go on walks together? Do they reduce your stress? Tell us your story.

Does Your Man Get an Annual Exam?

Most women are in the habit of getting a yearly physical exam – and men should too. Cholesterol screening, cardiac workup and testicular exam are just a few of the tests recommended to help men stay proactive in maintaining good health.

Men over age 40 should also talk with their family physician about a regular PSA check.  PSA, which stands for prostate-specific antigen, can be measured through a simple blood test by your family doctor. Low PSA levels typically signal that a man does not have prostate problems. As men age and the prostate enlarges, the PSA test can be a way to detect prostate cancer at an early stage, when it is most treatable.
Increased PSA levels don’t necessarily require treatment – in fact, many men live with increased PSA levels for years without experiencing any symptoms of prostate cancer. However, having a historical record of this information can help you and your doctor determine if further evaluation is needed and can help you stay healthy longer.

The U.S. Preventive Services Task Force recently updated PSA testing guidelines to indicate that the PSA test may result in unnecessary treatments. Every person is different, so it is important to work with your doctor to discuss how often you should have a PSA test. Your doctor can also help you understand the individual factors that determine whether you are at risk for developing prostate cancer.

To schedule an appointment, call 614-293-9253.

Pharmacy Program Celebrated

The May 2012 issue of Pharmacy Today, the official publication of the American Pharmacists Association, highlighted the successful collaboration of pharmacists and other healthcare team members at CarePoint Gahanna and CarePoint Lewis Center using the Patient-Centered Medical Home (PCMH) model. Working with physicians and medical assistants, pharmacists focus on helping patients within the primary care environment, assisting patients with chronic disease to optimize drug therapy, providing coaching and collaborating on patients’ care. To read more click: