Period Poverty and Menstrual Education

Thank you to Great Day Washington for highlighting this important issue.

March is Women’s History Month and there is much to celebrate. Throughout history, women have been some of the most influential change-makers. While women have made an immense impact on society, there is still work to be done, and there are countless trailblazing women continuing to strive towards equality, change, and ingenuity. One cause for concern that still plagues women worldwide and in our local communities is Period Poverty. According to a recent study published in January 2021, “The World Bank estimates that 500 million women and girls globally lack access to adequate facilities for menstrual hygiene management. They also lack access to menstrual products.”

Period Poverty is an issue that is often overlooked. Period poverty can be described as lacking access to menstrual products, puberty, and menstrual education, access to hygienic facilities, and proper waste management and disposal. 

Jillian Amodio, mental health advocate, and founder of Moms for Mental Health says that small actions can have a big impact on access to menstrual education and access to menstrual products. She says that no menstruating individual should lack access to the products they need to ensure a safe, sanitary, and comfortable period. During menstruation, many youths miss school because of a lack of access to menstrual hygiene products. Jillian and her group Moms for Mental Health are celebrating Women’s History Month by bringing awareness to period poverty through a Menstrual Hygiene Drive and they are encouraging others to do the same. Jillian says that education is just as important as access to products!

She has the following tips for tackling period poverty one step at a time. 

  1. Education is empowerment. Teach youth anatomically correct terms for their body and prepare them ahead of time for changes that will occur during various stages of life. 
  2. For young girls and those born biologically female, on their way to puberty, help them pack a period go bag that includes the items they might need to handle menstruation including pads, tampons, cleansing wipes, hand sanitizer, a mirror, and a change of clothes. If you are able to, pack enough to share with a friend in need. 
  3. Host a menstrual hygiene drive for your local schools, churches, community centers, libraries, doctors’ offices, or homeless shelters.
  4. In addition to canned goods and non-perishable items encourage your local food pantries to keep a section for menstrual hygiene products to be donated as well. 

Anxiety and Addiction Resource Guide

Please view this guide to anxiety and addiction, courtesy of Sunshine Behavioral Health.

In this guide you will find the following content:

What Is Normal Anxiety?
What Are Anxiety Disorders?
What Causes Anxiety Disorders?
How Does Anxiety Affect Us?
Anxiety and Addiction
Signs of Addiction
How to Manage Anxiety
Treating Anxiety and Addiction
Finding Help for Anxiety and Addiction

Read more about Sunshine Behavioral Health Below:

We believe that every person’s addiction story is different, which is why we equip our centers with licensed professionals for every unique treatment available. From holistic therapies to our faith-based counselors, and our 12 step or SMART Recovery programs, Sunshine aims to staff our facilities with the best of the best in all facets of addiction treatment.

At Sunshine we offer a comprehensive program from our inpatient rehab centers to intensive outpatient treatment (IOP) as well as sober living homes. Our addiction counselors work hard to develop unique aftercare programs for each patient we come across. Whether you live in the state of one of our centers or travel for treatment, we can find support groups, therapists and outpatient programs in any area our patients return home to.

We also employ a team of insurance experts who understand the ins and outs of healthcare law. Our insurance team knows how to handle insurance companies and maximize your healthcare benefits. We strive to obtain the highest quality of care for the smallest out of pocket expense. The leadership of Sunshine Behavioral Health believes that everybody should be able to receive the best addiction treatment without the fear of breaking the bank.

We want to be with you every step of the way during this difficult time in your or your love one’s life. Seeing the smiles on our patient’s faces and adding a little bit of sunshine and hope is what drives us day in and day out.

Affordable Health Insurance Tips For At Risk Youth

Jessica Lynn, Virtual Care Coordinator for AffordableHealthInsurance.com reached out to Moms for Mental Health to share tips and insight for youth looking for affordable insurance options.

The following advice and insight comes from their website,

What You Should Know About Health Insurance Options for At-risk, Homeless, and Vulnerable Youth

  • Low- or no-cost health coverage is available: If you’re not on a parent’s health insurance policy, you have options for coverage, including Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), and the Health Insurance Marketplace.
  • Navigators can help: Getting qualified for health care coverage may feel overwhelming, but health care navigators can help you identify options, apply, and use your coverage.
  • Essential care is covered: Health insurance through Medicaid, CHIP, and the Health Insurance Marketplace must conform to ACA standards to cover essential health services, including preventive care and pregnancy.

Can Vulnerable Youth Get Health Insurance?

If your access to health insurance is limited due to poverty, homelessness, or other challenging life circumstances, you are eligible for low-cost or no-cost coverage. However, getting access to health care can feel daunting.

“Determining eligibility for health insurance programs can be complicated,” acknowledges Meghan Kimmel, president of Portico Healthnet, a Minnesota-based organization that helps uninsured individuals and families access affordable coverage and care by navigating the health care system.

Considerations that impact youth eligibility for health care coverage include:

  • Age
  • Who you live with
  • How much money you or your parents make
  • Tax dependency status
  • Immigration status, if applicable

Are you not sure how to get connected with health insurance for homeless and at-risk youth? Ask for help. “The best option is to find a navigator to help with the options and the application,” Kimmel says.

Health insurance from a parent or guardian

Until you turn age 26, you can stay on your family’s health insurance plan. Staying on a family plan is possible even if:

  • You don’t stay in close contact
  • You don’t live at home
  • You’re pregnant or parenting
  • You have a job

If you cannot, for any reason, get health insurance from a parent’s plan, know you have options. You should and can access low-cost or no-cost coverage through Medicaid and CHIP through the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and the Health Insurance Marketplace.

Getting Health Insurance as a Vulnerable Youth

There are three main health insurance programs available for vulnerable young adults, including:

  • Medicaid
  • CHIP
  • Health Insurance Marketplace

“State and federal governments have established options for youth to access insurance,” Kimmel explains.

Medicaid and CHIP for At-risk Youth

Medicaid for at-risk youth offers essential health coverage to qualifying applicants, including preventive care, prescriptions, reproductive health, and mental health services. Medicaid is available if you’re an inmate of a public institution.

CHIP is the Medicaid program for uninsured families and children — including vulnerable and at-risk young adults — with limited financial resources who do not meet the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) or other qualifications Medicaid requires. It provides essential health coverage, including dental and vision.

Qualifying for Medicaid or CHIP

Qualification depends on age, income, household size, and state of residence. You can be eligible for Medicaid if you’re under the age of 19 and earn less than 133% of the Federal Poverty Level (FPL) annually.

If you exceed the Medicaid income level, you may qualify for CHIP depending on your state’s eligibility requirements. Like most health insurance coverage, eligibility varies by state. However, you can refer to the Medicaid and CHIP Eligibility Levels fact sheet for guidance or connect with a health insurance navigator near you who will walk you through the entire process.

If you’re age 19 or older, you can access Medicaid and CHIP in states with expanded coverage, or if you are under age 26, aged out of the foster system, and were enrolled in Medicaid while in foster care. Youth who are pregnant, parenting, or who have a disability also qualify for Medicaid coverage.

Applying for Medicaid or CHIP

You can apply for Medicaid or CHIP with a health insurance navigator or by visiting Healthcare.gov. When you fill out your income status, the marketplace automatically directs qualifying applicants to the state Medicaid agency. If you don’t have a permanent address, Medicaid advises using an assister’s — someone helping you fill out the application —, trusted friend’s, or service provider’s address.

You can enroll in Medicaid or CHIP at any time as there is no specified enrollment period.

Federal and State Health Insurance Marketplaces for At-risk Youth

The Health Insurance Marketplace is essentially a coverage aggregator where anyone can search for health insurance to suit their needs. Filling out the initial information at Healthccare.gov will direct you to Medicaid if your situation qualifies you for it or to low or no-cost coverages available through the marketplace with discounts or credits.

The Health Insurance Marketplace and state health insurance exchanges provide affordable coverage for vulnerable youth, including young adults:

  • Experiencing or at risk of homelessness
  • In the foster system currently or previously
  • Pregnant and parenting
  • Living significantly under the federal poverty level
  • With disabilities

You can get health insurance as a young person even if your parents or guardians do not have coverage.

Qualifying for a marketplace plan

If you don’t qualify for Medicaid or CHIP, you can still access low-cost coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace. You can get a subsidy that pays for some of your monthly health insurance premium through the marketplace if you have a household income between 100% and 400% of the FPL.

Applying for a marketplace plan

Visit Healthcare.gov to start an application. You’ll fill out personal information, including your name, age, Social Security number, and income. Once you apply, you’ll find out how much of a subsidy you qualify for and can compare and sign up for available plans.

“There are many options available to youth, often at no or low-cost to them or their families,” Kimmel says. “I urge anyone knowing or working with a vulnerable youth or their family to reach out to a navigator for help.”

What Do Health Insurance Programs for Vulnerable Youth Cover?

Health insurance coverage for at-risk youth depends on the state. Still, as Kimmel says, “All include the essential health benefits required through the Affordable Care Act, such as preventive care and prescription drugs.”

Specifically, the ACA requires that Marketplace plans offer “essential health benefits” that include:

  • Diagnostic tests
  • Hospital visits
  • Mental health and substance use disorder treatment
  • Prescription drugs
  • Preventive and wellness services, including reproductive health
  • Rehabilitative services
  • Surgical procedures
  • Traditional health and health services like primary care and specialist visits

Medicaid and CHIP benefits for at-risk youth are outlined in states’ program plans. However, there are some variances.

  • If you are under age 21, Medicaid is required to be “comprehensive” and include the above benefits. Otherwise, Medicaid and CHIP must include primary care and specialty visits, hospital and outpatient care, lab and X-ray services, family planning, and other services defined as mental health, prescription drugs, and substance abuse counseling.
  • If you are age 21 or older, those “other services” depend on the state in which you live and are not guaranteed.

What’s important to know is that even if you’re homeless, have a disability, or are pregnant, you can access the essential health care coverage you need.

Get Help Finding Health Insurance

Identifying programs, understanding eligibility, and applying for and using your health insurance can be difficult, especially if you’re not used to advocating for yourself. You can get help from a health insurance navigator: a trained individual or organization that helps you look for health insurance you can afford.

Navigators not only identify the coverage you can qualify for; they also help with the application process. Application support can be beneficial for removing barriers if you don’t have internet access. Navigators tend to be multilingual, so you can get assistance in your language if you do not speak English. A navigator can also help you understand how to utilize health insurance plans best and act as trusted advisers throughout the entire journey.

It’s free to work with a health insurance navigator. They are unbiased and not affiliated with agents or brokers, so they’re working in your best interest to find health coverage that works for you.

“[Health insurance navigators] are committed to increasing the number of people with health care coverage,” Kimmel explains, noting that navigators are industry experts and often compassionate individuals.

To find a health insurance navigator, you can visit LocalHelp.Healthcare.gov. Enter your city, state, or ZIP code to find results or call (800) 318-2596 or TTY at (855) 889-4325. Someone will pick up the phone 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

New Study Touts Benefits Of Plant Keeping On Mental Health

A new study by Trees.Com says plant-keeping boomed during the pandemic. They found that 88% of Americans say the hobby has improved their mental health. Trees.com Communications Manager Allison Carter says “In order to combat the worsening problem [mental health struggles], we created a comprehensive resource that features information about how owning house plants can help improve one’s mental health. Here are some insights that we found:


-64% picked up the hobby of plant keeping during the pandemic
-93% of older Americans (54 & older) say keeping plants helped their mental health during the pandemic
-90% of Americans expect to continue keeping plants after the pandemic ends

The full study can be viewed here.

Tips for Calming Anxiety when Talking To Kids About Current Events

It can be difficult for parents and caregivers to know where to start when it comes to talking to kids about current events. When the world around us seems to be in a state of turmoil, we may want to shelter our kids from it. But the reality is, kids are perceptive and they are going to hear about things whether we bring them up or not. Here are a few tips to help alleviate fear and anxiety when talking with youth about current events.

Expert Panel Q and A: COVID as Part of our Long Term Reality

A video recording of the MMH expert panel discussion on the topic of COVID as our long-term reality; how to cope with anxiety and fear, and tips to get back to living!

Tips from the experts about how we can deal with the sense of anxiety that accompanies the long-term reality of COVID, how to ease worry in children, and how to accept it as part of our daily lives for the foreseeable future without feeling depression or anger. Thank you to our experts, Dr. Wayne Pernell, Dr. Ron Elfenbein, and Marna Brickman LCSW-C

Marna Brickman: www.guidingtherapy.com

Ron Elfenbein: www.firstcallmc.com

Dr Wayne Pernell: www.WaynePernell.com

We Are Here If Women Need Support

What is occurring in Texas is an assault on Womens rights. It is an attempt at degrading a woman’s worth, dignity, and bodily autonomy. 

To those who uphold these events as victorious. What if I told you that your religious and personal views can live alongside the understanding that human rights are not to be robbed or revoked. What if I told you that you can be both personally opposed to a specific action while understanding that others have the right to choose for themselves? What if I told you, you can have your own moral compass and guidelines while honoring the fact your choices have no bearing on the rights of others. 

What if I told you that minds and hearts are not changed through judgment, coercion, abuse, manipulation, criminalization, shame, threats, and restricting options. 

What if I told you that minds are hearts are changed through compassionate understanding. And through viewing an individual through a lens that is wide in perspective rather than narrow in focus. 

A constrained choice, is not the same as a choice freely made. And when faced with the cruelty of a system that denies access to basic care, constrained choices will be made…and these choices will not save lives, they will cost lives. 

If you think this it is ok to hide behind your religious morality please check the savage nature of your beloved religion and ask yourself am I really being Christlike in my actions or am I being an enabler of violence and abuse. Vigilante “justice” has no place in a woman’s bodily autonomy.

A strong woman is only as strong as the sisters she uplifts along the way. Sisters, I am sorry, I am here for you.