1_Mind & Body or Mind vs Body.

1. How exercise can help postpartum depression.

This article is written by Roma Van Der Walt, a member of “Well Rounded NY” and works to support mothers through the process of prenatal and postpartum. Her professional background gives us insight into what mental stresses mothers go through in the process of having offspring.

The article explores how mothers are affected during postpartum and how the body and the mind of the patient is going through after birth. For some woman the symptoms of postpartum can be a hormonal imbalance, as they have a drop in progesterone, estrogen and other hormones after delivery, but for other women this can be a trigger for postpartum anxiety and feelings of isolation, sadness, and failure. The causes of this can be returning to work, separation anxiety that the baby experiences, reintroduction of physical intimacy between their partners, there are a whole host of reasons that a mother can be triggered by after birth and can be supported to make a full recovery from the support of the community and family members.

The reason why I chose this article as one of articles to analyse is the interest I have with mental health and the effect it has on the body and visa versa. With more and more information being available to us, how do we “keep upto date” and sensitive to peoples needs without losing our resilience or coddling individuals that we just need to approached with respect and encouragement like any other person. These are the types of questions I want to ask about mental health in the new age of information and for my research task.

2. Loneliness is a modern curse – and it needs our children to lift it.

Loneliness has become more prevalent more connected we’ve become, the technologies that we have developed to increase our ability to stay in contact and bring us closer can be actually making us come undone. What about those who lives began when technology wasn’t so abundant? This is what James Bartholomew explores in this article with a quarter of people over 65 suffer from loneliness, but this isn’t a new phenomenon. For most of human history it was socially acceptable and encouraged to take care of the old and weak, they have always live with or near their grown-up children. Now, there has been a shift. Older people live in residential care, nursing homes or alone and it very uncommon to find a family that live together with their adult children.

Bartholomew (2016) view is that this is because of the shift towards the pursuit of “self-actualisation” and believes that true actualisation is when you sacrifice your time to honour your duty to your parents. After trying to search for more information on Bartholomew (which was to be found), I think that the credibility of his cause and solution was at best “half-baked”. I did still think the seed of the idea had merit in the need to look after the elderly needs just as highly as the young and perhaps finding roles in which they can play in the community that can keep them contributing towards society in the best way they can.

This returns me back to how much of our problems are mental and how much are they physical or are they so interlaced that it would be hard to separate the two without effecting the other? When is a persons body to aged to help their mental health? or is it matter of staying physically and mentally active to stay healthy and happy? Because I feel as though “self-actualisation” would help with ageing, however what about those who weren’t afforded such luxuries?

3. Online study could help migraine suffers reduce frequency of episodes.

The age of self help and self diagnosis is here. People curing themselves using home brewed remedies, self-actualisation and enlightenment through quotivation. It is truly amazing what we are able to accomplish as individuals with the abundance of resources around us. Queensland researchers have realised this and have taken advantage of these technologies to help reduce migraines through a online service. “Headache disorders and migraines are among the most common disorders of the nervous system and affect more than half the world’s population.” (Mitchell-Whittington, A. 2016). The researchers at Griffith University have created a way in which people can receive self-help from a ebook, that helps those affected the triggers and causes of migraines and tension headaches.

Access is one of the biggest issues for mental health help whether it is due to a restriction of time, availability or financial stability. Any barrier between the patient and the psychologist can deter a person from seeking out aid, this is why creating channels that can help people seek help is a step in the direction. This is my reasoning for selecting this article for analysis, if I understand the way in which people seek and get helped, this can in turn create a understanding of how you can apply similar practices to other areas of mental wellbeing. This case is also another example of how powerful the mind can be with affecting our physical state and how it can be employed to help fix a physical issue.

4. UK growth not being converted to increased wellbeing, says report.

Countries depend on economic growth to gauge how well they are progressing in relation to other nations. This increase in financial worth, however sometimes neglects to factor in other forms of wealth such as economic freedom, health and wellbeing. If ignored to a extreme it can lead to economic breakdown, a standstill of economic grow and national protest and is a good indicator for sustainable economic growth(As seen with Greece who are ranked lowest in wellbeing). The article compares UK with countries with the highest and lowest overall wellbeing score and the most and the least made progress on wellbeing from 2006 to 2014. Duncan (2016) interprets the sustainable economic development assessment (Seda) that uses measures such as “employment rates, economic stability, income equality and environment, to gives countries an overall score and a recent progress score, and compares their ability to convert wealth and growth into wellbeing.” (Duncan 2016) and comes to the understanding that the leaders of globalising countries need to make sure that growth as well as benefits are able to reach the people, which is hard to indicate using GDP along.

Now…how does growth of a nation effect mental health? This thought returns back to the questions of how much of our mental health is influenced by our thoughts vs how much of our mental health is influenced by our environment? If our mental health is effected greatly by our environment then it would make sense that a country with prolong poor living standards would lead to a poor performance in economic growth but not only that what happens if our economic growth which is great but the benefits are not directly translated to the individual level? The way in which a society performs economically is set by the governments standards, this could be through bank interest rates, housing affordability, government policy and spending. Now if a mental health was largely dependant on environmental factors then it would be in the best interest of government and corporations to work in favour of the individual. However, if the individuals health was largely influenced by the thoughts a individual was having then it would make sense to utilise more funds for the “greater good”. It’s a balancing act that the Govt. and large corporations have to manage everyday but it would be helpful to have a better understanding of what we can do to improve peoples mental health by rewarding them for their hard work.

5. How stress affects your brain – Madhumita Murgia

This animation style talk was adapted by Ted Ed from a lecture made by Madhumita Murgia explaining the way in which stress affects your brain and body. Stress can give you a quick burst of focus to a burst of energy to help you in situations in everyday life, however prolong exposure to stress can decrease brain size, function and change the structure of the brain. Prolong exposure to stress increases activity in the amydala (fear centre), which leads to decrease activity in the hippocampus (learning, memory and fear control).  A study in rats found that mothers who were nurturing developed more cortisol receptors making them less susceptible to stress where as mothers who are less nurturing became more stressed causing epigenetic changes (these are changes on the genetic level and that can be passed down to future generations), but these changes can be reversed if the mothers are swapped.

At the beginnings of my research I was interested in how a persons environment, genetics and understanding interacted with each other to see if there was one factor that was the most influential the health and wellbeing of our mental health and if there was there a way to combat the issue with a practical solution. Through the research it showed  instances that it was possible to change an environment to improve a individuals mental state and visa versa. It is ultimately about a balancing act that everyone must deal with and yes there can be major factors that sway you more into grey days (genetics,education level, social and economical status), but it is comforting to know that there is some control we have in changing the way in which we see the world and how it sees us, it is just about walking the line for ourselves and not for others to create the life that we would like for ourselves.

References

  1. Walt, R. 2016, ‘How Exercise can help postpartum depression’, The Huffington Post, July 19 2016, viewed 1 August 2016, http://www.huffingtonpost.com/well-rounded-ny/how-exercise-can-help-pos_b_11296486.html?utm_hp_ref=mental-health
  2. Bartholomew, J. 2016, ‘Loneliness is a modern curse – and it needs our children to lift it’, The Sydney Morning Herald, July 29 2016, viewed 1 August 2016, http://www.smh.com.au/comment/loneliness-is-a-modern-curse–and-it-needs-our-children-to-lift-it-20160728-gqga87.html
  3. Mitchell-Whittington, A. 2016, ‘Online study could help migraine suffers reduce frequency of episodes’, Sydney Morning Herald, July 26 2016, viewed 1 August 2016, http://www.smh.com.au/queensland/online-study-could-help-migraine-suffers-reduce-frequency-of-episodes-20160726-gqe0zc.html
  4. Duncan, P. 2016, ‘UK growth not being converted to increased wellbeing, says report’, The Guardian, July 21 2016, viewed 1 August 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/business/2016/jul/21/uk-economic-growth-not-converted-ncreased-wellbeing-seda-report
  5. Murgia, M. 2015, ‘How stress affects your brain – Madhumita Murgia’, TED-Ed, November 9 2015, viewed 1 August 2016, https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuyPuH9ojCE

Rhys James – Post 1: Issues and Ideas

 

Gender Equality and discrimination is an issue which remains highly relevant in today’s world however it is often dismissed and/or trivialised by those in the media, positions of power as well as the attitudes of the general public. It is an issue that many people hold very strong opinions about and manifests itself in many different contexts. Through the selection of articles I have analysed, I attempt to canvas the variety of different contexts in which gender equality remains a significant issue.

 

Young men oblivious to pay gap

This article makes heavy use of statistics and survey results to prove that, while men of all ages are aware of general gender bias, an incredibly small percentage of those believe that it directly affects their workplace. As someone who has always been acutely aware of the disadvantages and discrimination that women face in the workplace, as it was something that was often explained to me from an early age, it’s quite amazing how few men were aware. The suggestion of a ‘not in my backyard’ mentality is an interesting point and one that I hadn’t really considered previously. This suggests that it may not be an issue of broader awareness as such but rather that it may be an issue of making it clear to young men in particular that the problem exists everywhere and affects all workplaces.

An interesting point made at the end of the article is that women mistakenly assume that men are ambivalent towards the issue of gender equality. However, although a majority of men who responded to the survey acknowledged that there is an imbalance between the genders, it is another thing entirely to do something about it. The author is clear on her stance that she believes it is important to involve men in the discussions and problem-solving regarding gender equality, particularly in the workplace.

 

The Hack article

This article is written for triple j’s investigative program “Hack” and as such is tailored to triple j’s core, youth demographic. The article dissects the various levels of female representation within different sections of the music industry, from festival lineups to radio airplay, and overwhelmingly concludes that female artists are hugely underrepresented across all facets of the music industry. Interestingly, the article and its author Ange McCormack do not shy away from acknowledging that triple j are just as guilty as anyone else and does not suggest they are in any way leading by example, yet.

The article relies heavily on statistics and comparative figures which lends credibility to the argument especially as none of which suggest any particular bias towards triple j but are simply used as evidence to support the opinion of the author. This article is particularly significant to my choice of the topic as it was the discussion surrounding women on festival lineups, on triple j, that was a key topic that initially interested me. Though this article talks specifically of the music industry, again relating to triple j’s core demographic, it shows yet another par of the broader community and popular culture where male dominance remains the norm and gender inequality remains a real issue that needs to be addressed.

 

A man speaking on women’s behalf

This article was one I searched for specifically as it is perhaps the most relevant to my own investigations. I was raised by a staunchly feminist mother who made clear to me the casual sexism and pervasive discrimination in everyday life and our general culture and for this reason I have always had no hesitation in referring to myself as a feminist. Malala Yousafzai said in an interview with Emma Watson, feminism is another word for equality, something I have always personally believed. In this article written for the Daily Telegraph however, makes the point that too often there are men in positions of power speaking ‘for women and agitating on the behalf of women.’ Susie O’Brien makes a point of clarifying that she does believe it is important for men, particularly those in positions of power, to stand up for women’s rights and commends the man in question, David Morrison, for doing so.

The point made by O’Brien’s article is that while all men should support equality and the rights of women, it is indicative of the larger problem that it falls to a man to make the issue heard. The fact that it takes a man’s voice to make the issue heard is representative of the broader problem. The solution and conclusion that can be drawn from this particular article is not for men to stop fighting for women’s rights, but for more women to be appointed in positions of power to break the cycle of powerful white men rewarding other powerful white men.

This article highlights my own reservations in speaking as a white male about issues of gender equality, but although I strongly agree that it is women whose voices need to be heard, I also strongly believe that it is the attitudes of men, particularly those in power, which need to change and that everyone, regardless of gender, should be as educated as possible on the subject.

 

The problem with merit-based appointments

One of the most commonly heard arguments used to defend the imbalance between men and women in positions of power is the idea that appointments should be ‘merit-based.’ In an article written for independent website “The Conversation,” Lisa A Williams makes the argument that even supposedly merit-based appointments aren’t free from gender bias. Williams, a senior lecturer in psychology at UNSW, believes that gender-based stereotypes regarding the ‘roles’ men and women should occupy in society exist subconsciously in everyone which in turn has an effect on how merit is judged.

One of the most interesting points raised by this particular article refers to the fact that the entire idea of merit is based on how well an individual has performed in past roles and situations however this does not take into account the fact that often women may not have been afforded the same opportunities as men for those previous roles. It is this idea of subconscious gender bias driving a cyclical process that is perhaps the strongest argument against those who profess merit as the gold standard.

Williams outlines the key aspects to the reform process as “A hard look at our own thinking, the structure of our society and the metrics against which we evaluate others.” This position is consistent with those who support the application of quota systems to improve the proportion of female appointments however it doesn’t necessarily support quotas as the solution but rather suggests we take a more extensive look into the systems and metrics that we apply as a society.

 

Great Expectations and harsh reality

In an article for the Sydney Morning Herald, Judith Ireland tells the story of Julie Mckay, former executive director of UN Australia, using her opinions on the matter to support her own thoughts and theories. The overarching idea presented by the article is that while we have made encouraging progress in the move towards gender equality, there is still a long way to go.

Ireland references policies on paid parental leave and the shifting attitudes of businesses towards addressing some of the issues while making the point that a broader shift in attitudes within general society is required, stating “Until we, as a community, accept we’ve got a problem [with gender inequality], it’s very hard to solve.” The opinions and ideas proposed within the article are supported by statistics, particularly regarding parental leave, as well as links to quotes and policies from the treasurer and other government members. There is a clear sense that Ireland places the onus squarely upon those in power, alluding again to Mckay and their shared ideals saying, “McKay says there needs to be a radical reshaping of how we view leadership, power and success.”

As a journalist, Ireland carries no additional credibility compared to her peers that may write about the same topic, however, as a woman and, more significantly, by using the words of Julie Mckay, the statements made within this particular article are particularly credible. The support of an expert in the field, Mckay was in the role of UN women executive director for 9 years, takes what could be considered a simple opinion based article and lends it considerable credibility and resonance.

 

Conclusion

Having gone through this process of research and analysis, I have identified a plethora of sub-issues that would warrant further investigation however the 3 that interest me particularly are: “the role of men in reducing gender inequality,” “Gender Equality in the music industry” and “Why don’t people want to identify as feminists anymore?” I have identified these particular issues because they align with my own relationship to the issue as a man, a music lover and someone who would proudly use the term feminist.

 

 

References

Stewart, C. 2016, ‘Young men oblivious to gender pay gap: study,’ Australian Financial Review, viewed 29th July 2016, <http://www.afr.com/brand/100women/young-men-oblivious-to-gender-pay-gap-study-20160717-gq7fpy&gt;

McCormack, A. 2016, ‘By the numbers: women in the music industry,’ Triple J, viewed 29th July 2016, <http://www.abc.net.au/triplej/programs/hack/girls-to-the-front/7223798&gt;

O’Brien, S. 2016, ‘Women have a man speaking on their behalf. Again,’ The Daily Telegraph, viewed 29th July 2016, <http://www.dailytelegraph.com.au/rendezview/women-have-a-man-speaking-on-their-behalf-again/news-story/0a69b8074becf54db68e9265ff98f053&gt;

Williams, L.A. 2015, ‘The problem with merit-based appointments? They’re not free from gender bias either,’ The Conversation, viewed 29th July 2016, <https://theconversation.com/the-problem-with-merit-based-appointments-theyre-not-free-from-gender-bias-either-45364&gt;

Ireland, J. 2016, ‘Great expectations and harsh reality: Australia’s gender equality progress,’ Sydney Morning Herald, viewed 29th July 2016, <http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-opinion/great-expectations-and-harsh-reality-australias-gender-equality-progress-20160406-go0cju.html&gt;

Post. 9

 

The brainstorming session was very good as it provided and generating a lot of different ideas from different perspectives. It was interesting to see what other people were able to come up with as well as being very insightful on how they saw the subject matter. As a group, we were very open minded and productive in speaking and generating different ideas.

In writing the statements, I found that I knew what I wanted to based on my research but wording to suit a who, what, when, where and why it was really hard. These were some factors that I did not consider. This is the statement that I came up with:

In our modern society, the topic of prison rape is often used as a joke and not taken seriously.  This combined with the lack of services in turn makes it very hard for victims to come out for help as they are often ridiculed and turned away from.

In coming up with what interested us, I found it difficult at first as I did not know what certain terms meant such as data visualisation, generative systems and service design. However once we established what they meant, finding places around our problem to design a proposal became easier.

Time was another factor that took a toll on idea generation. Often we would have a snowball effect in coming up with ideas. Things would often start slow for each person but eventually get more and more insightful as time went by. This meant that by the time good ideas were rolling out, we would have to move onto the next person. I was very appreciative that I was in a group of four and not five.

 

 

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