Penn State’s Counseling and Psychological Services (CAPS) is committed to helping students cope with and prevent mental illness. CAPS has recently added new resources to their website, http://studentaffairs.psu.edu/counseling/ . Click on the “wellness” section to get to online educational and screening tools. You can use the resources to learn more about common mental health issues and to see if you or a friend might need help from a professional.
The first resource is WellTrack, an online mental health resource to help students deal with stress, anxiety, and depression. You’ll complete an initial self-assessment and then work through modules to learn how to handle what causes you stress.
The second resource is a compilation of self-help videos on various health topics. These educational videos cover a wide range of topics such as mental health, common concerns for college students, and descriptions of services offered by CAPS. Each video is under 30 minutes.
The third resource is anonymous mental health screening tools. Each screening tool takes about 4 to 5 minutes to complete. You’ll receive immediate results that can be printed. The screening topics include depression, bipolar disorder, alcohol problems, eating disorders, generalized anxiety disorder, and PTSD.
Summer is about to begin and you may be tempted to get an early start on your tan. Here is “need to know” information about tanning salons that could help you avoid serious health risks down the road.
According to Spencer (1998) the ultraviolet radiation from the artificial light in tanning beds is linked to skin cancers and other types of skin damage. Indoor tanning beds are associated with a 50% increase in the risk of basal cell carcinoma (i. e., skin cancer). In fact, 90% of melanomas are estimated to be caused by ultraviolet (UV) exposure (1). “Tanning beds use fluorescent bulbs that emit mostly UVA. The UVA radiation is up to three times more intense than the UVA in natural sunlight”. (2)
The tanning bed industry often makes inaccurate claims about the benefits of artificial tanning. For example, the industry claims that indoor tanning promotes the production of vitamin D which is important for bone health and has been linked to reduced risk for cancer. The industry also claims that indoor tanning helps protect against sun burn. In reality, an indoor tan provides “the equivalent of a sunscreen rated SPF 4 or less”. (2) And you can obtain all the vitamin D that your body needs through a healthy diet.
Given the science behind the dangers of indoor tanning, you might be wondering why people still do it? Harrington and colleagues (2011) found that the ultraviolet radiation (UVR) from tanning beds stimulates areas of the brain associated with reward and, therefore, encourages excessive tanning. (3)
- Spencer, J. “Tanning beds and skin cancer: artificial sun old sol = real risk.” Clinics in Dermatology4 (1998): 487-501. Web.
- Harvard Women’s Health Watch – By the way, doctor: Is a tanning bed safer than sunlight?
- Harrington, C. R., Beswick, T. C., Graves, M., Jacobe, H. T., Harris, T. S., Kourosh, S., Devous Sr, M. D. and Adinoff, B. (2012), Activation of the mesostriatal reward pathway with exposure to ultraviolet radiation (UVR) vs. sham UVR in frequent tanners: a pilot study. Addiction Biology, 17: 680–686. doi:10.1111/j.1369-1600.2010.00312.x
As the weather warms up and everyone starts to head outside, we need to remember to be kind to our skin. One of the most important ways to take care of your skin is to protect it from the sun. While soaking up some rays can be good for the body, by increasing the amount of Vitamin D, excessive exposure can cause wrinkles and age spots, and can increase the risk of skin cancer (1). Research shows a strong dose-response relationship between UV exposure and skin cancer, the more time you spend tanning, the higher the risk of developing melanoma and other types of skin cancer (2).
Exposure to UV is not the only way source of irreparable damage to the skin. Tanning beds, which rely mainly on UVA light to create a tan, have been classified by The World Health Organization’s International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) as carcinogenic to humans (2). In fact, studies show that occasional use of tanning beds triples the risk of developing melanoma.
Fortunately, there are simple approaches to help protect from damaging UV rays. The best way to protect yourself from UVA exposure is to not use tanning beds. Tanning beds are dangerous, and offer virtually no positive health benefits.
Here are three ways to protect yourself from damage caused by excess exposure to the sun(1):
- Wear sunscreen when outdoors with at least 15 SPF and reapply every two hours. Regular daily use of a sunscreen with SPF 15 or higher reduces the risk of developing melanoma by 50 percent (3).
- Seek shade or shelter during from about 10 am to 2 pm when the sun’s rays are strongest.
- Wear protective clothing when you are outdoors for prolonged periods of time.
As you head outside this summer, remember to protect yourself to ensure that your skin, and your body, stays healthy and happy!
- Green AC, Williams GM, Logan V, Strutton GM. Reduced melanoma after regular sunscreen use: randomized trial follow-up. J Clin Oncol 2011; 29(3):257-263.
Join local instructors for a free, 1-hour, Yoga class on Wednesdays this summer. All equipment is provided, just show up! See you on the mat at 4 pm.
Self-Compassion is the concept of loving one’s self and being sympathetic to one’s mistakes. Practicing self-compassion can create positive wellbeing as well as decrease anxiety and depression.
Self-compassion and being nice are important because both of these things can actually improve your well-being. Kristin Neff, Associate Professor in Human Development and Culture at the University of Texas at Austin, explains the three layers of self-compassion: self-kindness, sense of common humanity, and mindfulness. If used together, all three can promote the strong sense of wellbeing that most of use desire. Learn more by watching Dr. Neff’s TED talk: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IvtZBUSplr4
 Elements of Self-Compassion. Web. 30 Mar 2017 http://self-compassion.org/