Banner Up Ohio State Increases Awareness of Sexual Violence On Campus

Banner Up Ohio State

1 in 5 women and 1 in 16 men is a statistic that most students are undoubtedly familiar with. It does not take much to admit that rape and sexual assault are transnational problems, especially across college campuses. The question is, however, in what ways can this be stopped? Although it is down to the will of the individual, there is also accountability at a societal level; we must ask ourselves how as a society we may be fueling a certain problem. In this case, the problem is sexual violence.

Rape culture can take on obvious or discrete forms. It stems from an environmental rhetoric which directly or indirectly normalizes sexual violence by trivializing the issue and diverting blame from the perpetrator. It is prevalent through the media, dress codes, popular culture, and is even fueled by negligence to hold perpetrators legally accountable.

An example of the normalization of rape culture is the banners that are commonly hung on off- campus housing during welcome week. While welcome week is a fast-paced and exciting time for both new and returning students, it is also a time susceptible to incidents of sexual violence.
For instance, in 2015 a Virginia fraternity was suspended over a banner displayed with the phrase “Freshman Daughter Drop Off.” Needless to say, such banners are derogatory, offensive, and directly contribute to the normalization of rape culture on college campuses.

Banner Up Ohio State is an initiative brought to campus by Advocates for Women of the World, a student organization founded by seniors Nicole Haddad and Jenny Kim that champions local and global women’s rights. This organization pursues its mission through action-based efforts and awareness campaigns on a variety of issues, such as girls’ education, sexual violence, refugee rights, and much more. Inspired by an Indiana University IFC initiative, whose effort can be viewed here  this campaign was brought to Ohio State’s campus to fuel the counter culture. Participating Greek chapters and student organizations are given a banner displaying a message of support for survivors of sexual violence or a phrase depicting the importance of consent. The banners are then displayed on off-campus housing or chapter facilities for the first week of classes.

Advocates for Women of the World realizes that this campaign does not eliminate the overriding problem of sexual violence. We do not intend for it to be a mask for people to hide behind and subsequently ignore what is going on around them. Rather, we strive for it to be an educational and awareness tool, to offer an opportunity for individual self-reflection, and to emphasize that there is no sense of entitlement to other people’s bodies. Most importantly, we hope for this campaign to be an effective display of support for all survivors and to bring to the forefront a battle that so many people have endured. The more we can encourage visibility and conversation surrounding this issue, the more we can progress as a campus and a society.

On behalf of myself and the entire student organization, we sincerely appreciate the support this campaign has received. Between every single share, donation, and participating organization, every individual has been pivotal in bringing our initiative to life, and for that we are extremely grateful.

Karla Haddad is the VP  of Finance for Advocates for Women of the World.

Imagine Not Knowing…

Imagine Not Knowing … that there are 1.2 million people in the United States that are living with HIV.

Imagine Not Knowing …that 1 in 8 people living with HIV do not know their status.

Imagine Not Knowing…that YOU can make a difference in these numbers.


Project INK, or “Project: Imagine Not Knowing…” is a comprehensive HIV prevention program designed to educate, and provide access to care for the community. Project INK strives to enable the community through opportunities to receive testing, counseling, linkage to care services, and other resources for health. We use a peer advocacy strategy, in which community members are empowered to take charge of their status, their lives, and their health by sharing “role model stories”. These stories are disbursed through members of the focus community that we serve and through our various pages. Our specific focus is on testing men who have sex with other men between the ages of 17-39, as this community has the highest rates of HIV transmission disparities throughout the nation.

Project INK is a CDC funded and evidence-based program, which means these strategies have been proven to improve health outcomes for those who are HIV negative by increasing testing, linking to PrEP (the once daily pill that is over 90% effective at preventing HIV transmission), and has been proven to have positive, powerful impacts for those living with HIV by linking them to care, and increasing medical adherence.

Our program is just one of many avenues that people in Columbus can navigate to learn more about HIV and advocate for their health, and the health of those around them. Programs like this, make the end of HIV a foreseeable and realistic goal. However, in order to end HIV transmission we must continue to advocate for those who are living with HIV and continue to provide education and preventative measures to those most at risk. Even if you find yourself outside of the “high –risk” population there are still ways to support the movement; learning about HIV and HIV transmission helps reduce stigma, which plays a large part in the way our society interacts with HIV, and ending the stigma surrounding the virus plays an essential part in us finding a cure.

If you couldn’t “Imagine Not Knowing… the feeling of making a difference,” then help support Project INK. Showing support can be as simple as liking us on Facebook and Instagram. Or if you or anyone you know are interested in getting involved then email: projectinkcolumbus@equitashealth.com for more information.

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Facebook: www.facebook.com/projectinkcolumbus

IG: project_ink_columbus

 

#SuicidePreventionMonth – What You Need to Know

Suicide is the tenth leading cause of death in the United States (Drapeau & McIntosh, 2015), as well as one of the leading causes of death for college-age students (Suicide Prevention Resource Center, 2014).  In a representative year, over 42,000 people die by suicide, which equates to approximately 115 each day.  Not only is this a tragic loss of life, but research indicates that the ripple effect on campuses and communities can be equally devastating.  Consider that for every suicide there are approximately 147 people who are exposed to the death, including 18 who experience a major disruption as a result of the suicide (Drapeau & McIntosh, 2015).   When the impact of each suicide is considered in this way — approximately 750,000 people deeply impacted each year, as well as 6.3 million exposed in a year — it is no wonder why suicide is considered a significant public health problem among campuses and communities across the country.

In spite of the magnitude of this problem, suicide is preventable.  In fact, the state of Ohio recently invested in statewide prevention efforts beginning with House Bill 28, which requires all public institutions of higher education to provide suicide prevention programming on their campuses.  The best suicide prevention practices occur when campuses align strategies to identify at-risk students, increase help-seeking behavior, provide mental health services, promote social connectedness, and develop sound policies related to crisis management and restricting access to lethal means (The Jed Foundation, 2016).  When administrators, staff, faculty, and students possess a shared vision to prevent suicide by promoting mental health and eliminating stigma around help-seeking, the likelihood of preventing suicide increases markedly.

The Ohio State University is one of a select number of campuses nationwide to house a standalone suicide prevention program.  The OSU Suicide Prevention Program was originally founded through a grant from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and it is currently funded through a partnership between the College of Education and Human Ecology and the Office of Student Life.  The program works closely with other offices on campus to ensure that the mental health needs of our entire campus community are prioritized.  We have collaborated on initiatives to improve the mental health and well-being of groups with an elevated risk of suicide, including male students, graduate and professional students, international students, and student veterans.

We believe that preventing suicide is a responsibility shared by the entire campus community.  If you are interested in learning more about how to prevent suicide on campus and within our local community, consider attending a REACH training.  REACH is an educational training in which participants learn how to Recognize warning signs, Engage a distressed individual with empathy, Ask directly about suicide, Communicate hope, and Help the individual access mental health resources.  Nearly 10,000 individuals have been trained in REACH.  To sign up, visit reach.osu.edu.

To learn more about what we are doing at OSU, or if you would like to get involved in other ways, please visit our website (suicideprevention.osu.edu) or email us at osusuicideprevention@osu.edu.  You can also follow us on Twitter (@OSUREACH).


 

Matthew Fullen, M.A., M.Div., LPCC is an independently licensed counselor and doctoral candidate at The Ohio State University.  He serves as Program Manager of The Ohio State University Suicide Prevention Program, which is now in its 10th year.  Matthew has presented and published on community suicide prevention efforts for people of various ages.  He can be reached at fullen.33@osu.edu.

Let’s talk about (Sexual) Health, Baby

Did you know that half of all sexually active young people will get a sexually transmitted infection (STI) before their 25? Or if current HIV rates continue, about 1 in 2 black men who have sex with men (MSM) and 1 in 4 Latino MSM in the United States will be diagnosed with HIV during their lifetime? Ohio is absolutely not immune to these statistics. Since 2013, the number of cases of chlamydia, gonorrhea, and syphilis have continuously increased throughout the state.

At the Ohio HIV/STI Hotline, anyone can call or chat (http://ohiv.org/) with us about general sexual health, HIV, STIs, condoms, birth control, etc. As a fairly easy option to better protect against HIV and STIs, we often recommend using condoms in all sexual activity. Unfortunately, we frequently hear that people are uncomfortable buying condoms or taking them from a health center, don’t know where to get them, or don’t know what size they may need. This of course got us here at the Ohio HIV/STI Hotline thinking… how can we reduce as many barriers to this one safer sex tool as possible?

With much excitement, the Free Condom Project was launched in May 2016! A month’s supply of free condoms will be discreetly mailed to anyone in Ohio (aged 16+) who orders from the Ohio HIV/STI Hotline website. We currently have a great variety of condoms, including flavored, sensitive, colored, thin, and XL. Inside each package will also be information about nearby HIV/STI test sites, how to properly use a condom, and information about the Ohio HIV/STI Hotline and other local resources.

Our theory is that reducing barriers and increasing accessibility to safe sex products like condoms and dental dams will assist in decreasing in the incidence of STI, HIV, and unwanted pregnancy rates throughout Ohio. When other programs like this have been done on a much smaller scale, participants have reported that they were more likely to correctly use contraceptives. We feel confident that if people have easy access to condoms, they will use them. The Free Condom Project is the first to attempt this on a state level, and since its launch has distributed over 25,000 condoms across Ohio.

Since incidence data on HIV, STIs, and unwanted pregnancy won’t be available until next year, we have been measuring our success in community feedback. So far, it has been incredibly positive! Community feedback has highlighted a lot of things that we already knew: there still is a stigma surrounding sex especially for women and members of the LGBTQ community, condoms are expensive, people don’t always know where to go to get tested, etc. And a lot of other barriers came to our attention that our team hadn’t initially even thought of, like, the fear of being “outed” just from the act of buying/picking up condoms. Here at the Ohio HIV/STI Hotline, we feel like we have been succeeding in our main mission – to remove barriers that were preventing people from engaging in safer sex. We are looking forward to serving even more Ohioans and ensuring everyone has access to safer sex products.

If you or a friend are interested in ordering condoms, please visit the Ohio HIV/STI Hotline at www.ohiv.org to fill out the simple order form. A completely free variety pack of condoms will then be shipped to your desired address shortly!

FCP Variety Mix

The Ohio HIV/STI Hotline is a program of Equitas Health and is supported by funding from the Ohio Department of Health.


 

Editor’s Note:  Check out the Ohio HIV/STI Hotline’s calendar of events by clicking here.  If you need to talk to someone regarding HIV, STIs, sexual health, and more, call the Hotline at 800-332-2437.  They are here to help!

Know Your Biases: Behavioral Health across Cultures

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July is recognized as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and provides an opportunity to highlight the critical need to ensure diverse populations receive equitable behavioral health services. There is much improvement to be made in Ohio to reduce pervasive health disparities. Social determinants are crucial contributing factors, but an overall lack of cultural competence in the field is also to blame.

With innovative approaches such as the Affordable Care Act (ACA) aimed at improving access to care, the focus has now shifted to ensuring services are cognizant and respectful of cultural beliefs and practices. This is the foundation of providing culturally competent care. The catalyst for this change was the realization that disparities exist beyond socioeconomic status and are directly linked to racial, ethnic, and cultural background. For example, a child born to an African American woman in Ohio with a PhD is less likely to reach their first birthday than a child born to a Caucasian woman with no high school diploma.

Oftentimes it is assumed that a one size fits all approach is the most impartial; research on implicit bias has disproven this as it relates to health. Providers retain biases that impact their delivery of care resulting in disparate outcomes. In behavioral health, many providers have a higher propensity to diagnose diverse consumers as being schizophrenic or bipolar while their counterparts are thought to have a less severe anxiety disorders. Frequent misdiagnoses are also tied to prevalent over-prescribing tendencies that have afflicted minority communities.

Behavioral health services in Ohio must be tailored to meet the needs of all cultural and ethnic backgrounds. Franklin County continues to see significant growth in immigrant communities, namely the Somali and Bhutanese/Nepalese populations. Similarly, the Latino population is increasing in Northeast Ohio. New Americans face unique challenges related to behavioral health; many suffer disproportionately with trauma related disorders. The rapid diversification of the state underscores the urgency needed to implement practices rooted in cultural competence.

What are some actionable next steps? Conducting cultural audits and other self-assessments of systems and agencies must be the first step to improving the delivery of care to diverse communities. Implementation of the National Enhanced CLAS (Culturally and Linguistically Appropriate Service) Standards is also essential as they provide much needed framework. Standards listed under Theme II, Communication and Language Assistance, are federally mandated.

The Multiethnic Advocates for Cultural Competence (MACC) remains committed to providing the support necessary for behavioral health providers, agencies and systems to successfully incorporate best practices. Together with our partners and members across the state, MACC remains steadfast in the fruition of our mission- “Enhance the quality of care in Ohio’s health care system and incorporate culturally competent models of practice into the systems and organizations that provide services to Ohio’s diverse populations”.

Editor’s Note:  We encourage our readers to check out MACC’s upcoming 2016 Statewide Training Conference taking place October 6th and October 7th at the Columbus State Community College’s Center for Workforce Development.  For more information, please click here.


Simone Crawley currently serves as the Executive Director for the Multiethnic Advocates for Cultural Competence, Inc. (MACC). Throughout her career at The Ohio State University, Simone served as a Page in the Ohio House of Representatives. She earned her degree in Political Science. Expanding her public policy background, she served as an aide to Assistant Minority Leader Charleta B. Tavares for three years. During her time at the Ohio Senate, Simone was also elected President of the Ohio Young Black Democrats where she aided in the successful campaigns of several legislative candidates. In January 2015, Simone began working to ensure cultural proficiency and improved health outcomes in Ohio as the Program Coordinator for the Multiethnic Advocates for Cultural Competence, Inc (MACC). She has served as the Executive Director since March 2016.

Students Sow the Seeds of Food Security at #OhioState

Every person in America is aware of the growing costs of college tuition. It’s a common topic of political, social, and economic discussions. What many people are likely unaware of is exactly how much those costs have grown over time. According to data from the National Center for Education Statistics, tuition and fees have doubled in the last 30 years[1]. Those figures also do not take into the astronomical increase in textbook costs, up 1,041 percent since 1977 according to data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics[2]. With those massive financial undertakings now being forced upon the shoulders of college students, is it any surprise then that some students are struggling to afford feeding themselves?

When a few roommates and I learned about the growing issue of food insecurity on college campuses we immediately had a couple of big questions: 1) Is this a problem at Ohio State? and 2) If so, is something being done about it?

The answers we found were that, yes, it is an issue at OSU – 15 percent of students self-report low food security –, and there was nothing currently being done about it.

Thus, we created Buckeye Food Alliance in April 2014. We intended to start a food pantry specifically for students in need. Ideally, this would be a more convenient and more beneficial way to help those individuals, rather than having them go to another local food pantry.

Over the next two years; we worked closely with university administrators and faculty to determine the best way to bring this to fruition, sought advice and information from established food banks and pantries in the region, gained non-profit status from the IRS, and became one of many on the growing list of members of the College and University Food Bank Alliance.

All of the time, effort, and hard work has more than been worth it in seeing this project, once just an idea that five college kids had, turn into something real. The BFA food pantry officially opened its doors Wednesday, March 30th. In that short time, it has been immensely rewarding to provide help to those students in need, and even more rewarding to see the immense amount of support that the Ohio State and Columbus communities have given to our organization. In the past two weeks alone, we have received more than $1,000 in monetary and non-perishable food donations.

We look forward to being able to serve students in need for many years to come.

For those in need of BFA’s services: The food pantry is located in Suite 150 of Lincoln Tower and is open 6-9 p.m. Tuesdays and Wednesdays, as well as Sundays 5-8 p.m.

For those looking to support our organization or to learn more about it, instructions on how to donate and our contact information can be found on our website: www.buckeyefoodalliance.org.

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(Photo courtesy of  northjersey.com)

About the author: Alec Admonius is the treasurer and a co-founder of Buckeye Food Alliance. He is a third-year student majoring in Economics and Strategic Communication in the College of Arts & Sciences at The Ohio State University.

[1] Adjusted for inflation. https://nces.ed.gov/fastfacts/display.asp?id=76

[2] Not adjusted for inflation. http://www.nbcnews.com/feature/freshman-year/college-textbook-prices-have-risen-812-percent-1978-n399926