Good mental health is important to achieving optimum 2015 lifestyles

Publicist, Author and Mental Health Advocate Terrie Williams.

Publicist, Author and Mental Health Advocate Terrie Williams.

By Carmen Glover

There is nothing as euphoric as the first light of a new year to make plans for improving in the areas of life in which we all fell short during the previous year. For 2015, it is natural for resolutions to be made, plans to be developed and promises devised, all in the name of ensuring a successful year.

Yet, while exercise regimens are established, gym memberships soar and resumes are freshened up, scant attention is typically paid to promoting optimum mental health. This can be a huge mistake that can shatter dreams, derail well-laid plans and cost lives. After all, without optimum emotional and mental well-being, it is difficult to navigate life’s challenges and stressors successfully.


American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino attempted to commit suicide in August 2010. Appearing on ABC News two weeks after being hospitalized she said : “I just wanted to get away f rom the noise.”

In the African-American community especially, mental health is not dealt with as part of preventive medical wellness checks. It’s not considered to be a routine part of a yearly physical and that oversight can lead to devastating results, most often, untreated mental illness resulting in suicides. For instance in August 2010, American Idol winner Fantasia Barrino tried to take her own life by overdosing on pills. After her hospitalization, she said of her suicide attempt:

“I just wanted to get away from the noise.” But Barrino is not alone, Don Cornelius, the genius who created Soul Train, shot himself to death with a firearm. Music executive with Violator Records Chris Lighty, Donny Hathaway and Phyllis Hyman were admired musical talents who committed suicide. Hathaway struggled with schizophrenia while Hyman was depressed and had bi-polar disorder. Hyman left a note stating “I’m tired. I’m tired.” Titi Branch, co-founder of Miss Jessie’s line of natural hair products took her own life in December 2014.

don cornelius shot himself to death.

Soul Train creator Don Cornelius shot himself to death.

The stigma that is associated with mental health challenges and the fear of being ostracized professionally and socially often causes African-Americans to justify longstanding failures to obtain routine mental health assessments and follow-up diligently with treatment if a diagnosis is made. One significant exception to that approach is media personality, mental health advocate and author Terrie Williams.

Williams received undergraduate and master’s degrees in social work from Columbia University in New York City. She worked in the social service field for years, where she ultimately met and treated musician Myles Davis, who encouraged her to purse a career in public relations. Williams launched her public relations agency, The Terrie Williams Agency and attracted an impressive client list that included Essence Communications and actors Eddie Murphy and Nia Long. Williams went on to write the public relations Bible: “The Personal Touch.” I met Williams in 1999 when I served as the editor for the business and professional magazine “The Network Journal,” based in lower Manhattan.

Phyllis Hyman commited suicide in 1995 leaving behind  note which said: "i'm tired. I'm tired."

Phyllis Hyman committed suicide in 1995 leaving behind note which said: “I’m tired. I’m tired.”

I’ve seen Williams over the years at different events but I was puzzled when she  retreated from the spotlight.  While attending a regional conference for the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) at the Associated Press (AP) headquarters in New York in October 2013, it was eye-opening to listen as Williams spoke passionately about the issue of mental health in the African-American community and her experience with the disease.

“I had a nervous breakdown,” Williams said candidly before urging journalists at the conference to “take time to love and care for yourselves.” She explained the fear that often consume African-Americans when they are confronted with mental health issues but she explained the importance of seeking help.


Symptoms of Depression, the main indicator that someone is in danger of committing suicide.

One of the myths of mental health awareness and treatment in the African-American society is the belief that seeking treatment means that the individual is “crazy.” There is nothing crazy about seeking help when it is needed. People from all walks of life experience a myriad of struggles, which sometimes include varying degrees of depression, which often leads to suicide.

It is prudent to seek preventive care before signs of discontent morph into symptoms of depression, which, if left untreated can deteriorate into severe or major depression that can lead to suicide.


The Suicide Prevention Hotline is an easily accessible resource if you feel overwhelmed and have suicidal ideation.

As the new year gets underway, one of the best things we can do for ourselves and loved ones is to be vigilant of mood swings and changes in routines so that issues that could lead to mental health illness are addressed before they are exacerbated. If necessary, make that important wellness call to 911 so that those who are experiencing crisis can get help before it is too late. It is unfortunate that as a community, African-Americans have lost many talented individuals whose battles with mental illness overwhelmed their lives.

Yet, the new year offers an opportunity for all of us to be more observant and aware so that preventive care is included in all resolutions and goal setting activities. That is the only way for 2015 to deliver optimum lifestyles for more people than was achieved in previous years.–

Legionnaires’ Disease, corruption and distrust engulf Co-op City (Part1)


Co-op City Father attends to his 29-year-old son, Ronald Hines, who was diagnosed with Legionnaires’ Disease in December 2014, spending 9 days in the Intensive Care Unit. He faces a long rehabilitation period to regain normal functioning.

By Carmen Glover

Feelings of rage emanated from frustrated Co-op City shareholders on Tuesday, January 13, during a town hall meeting which was convened in the community by New York City Health Department officials and Riverbay Corporation representatives. The meeting was held to address the outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease, since December 2014, in the cooling towers of the sprawling complex which contains 35 residential buildings that house over 50,000 residents.

‘We did find preliminary positives in the cooling towers. We are continuing to investigate and continue to test other sites,” Health Department expert Dr. Sharon Balter said at the town hall meeting. While stating that the disease is “easy to treat,” she explained that the bacteria “lives in water and people generally get it from breathing in mists of water that have it.” Balter was quick to point out that the legionella bacteria has been concentrated in the cooling towers, which are not connected to the water supply for drinking, cooking and bathing .

Co-op City has experienced an outbreak of Legionnaires' Disease.

Co-op City has experienced an outbreak of Legionnaires’ Disease.

Legionnaires’ is an infection caused by a type of bacteria called Legionella and the most severe form of the infection leads to pneumonia. The bacteria are found in water, whirlpool spas, hot tubs, large plumbing systems, cooling towers and evaporative condensers of large air-conditioning systems. The disease was named after an outbreak in Philadelphia in 1976 among people attending a state convention of the American Legion. Symptoms of the disease include fever, chills, cough, muscle aches, headaches, tiredness, loss of appetite, confusion and diarrhea. The elderly and people who smoke as well as those who have compromised immune and lung disease are most at risk of contracting the disease.

“The cooling towers are being cleaned and disinfected,” said Jeffrey Buss, Co-Op City’s General Counsel. “Public health and safety are our primary concern. We are doing everything possible to eliminate any risk that may exist.”

During the meeting, health officials delivered a Power Point presentation and promised to provide an updated report to the community within a week. According to the health officials, 12 cases of the disease have been identified in the Bronx, eight of which have been identified in Co-op City. The eight cases in Co-op City have been diagnosed in shareholders residing at 600 Baychester Avenue, 120 Benchley Place, 120 Casals Place, 100 Darrow Place, 140 Dekruif Place, 100 Elgar Place and 100 Erskine Place. In March 2014, two persons in Building 27 contracted the disease but it was kept quiet by Riverbay Corporation, which manages Co-op City.

Aerial shot of Co-op City

Aerial view of Co-op City, where an outbreak of Legionnaire’s Disease has been identified in the complex’s cooling towers.

But residents of the complex were skeptical as they listened to the officials downplay the dangers of the bacteria leading to a widespread outbreak, especially because the people who have contracted the disease do not reside near to the cooling towers.

“I do not believe a word of what you all are saying. You are all liars,” said outspoken community activist Frank Belcher, striding to the front of the room to offer his succinct and spicy assessment after the presentation by the city officials. “Who are you to tell me that my drinking water is safe?”

Belcher was not alone in expressing disdain. Indeed, many shareholders expressed a profound sense of betrayal, anger, fear and concern born out of disappointment that when the two original cases of the disease were discovered in the complex in 2012, they were kept secret by Marion Scott Real Estate Inc. (MSI). Eventually, Riverbay Vice President Daryl Johnson disclosed to the public that the two cases of Legionnaires’ existed, and a local newspaper carried the story.

MSI was unceremoniously booted from its lucrative role of managing Co-op City after a series of financial management, corruption and cronyism that has plunged the corporation into debt, attracted lawsuits and pending investigations, while the buildings stumbled into general disrepair. Meanwhile, shareholders find it difficult o accept any reassurances from the complex’s representatives as being entirely truthful.

Co-op City is home to more than 50,000 residents.

Co-op City is home to more than 50,000 residents.

Anguish tinged the voice of a concerned father, Mr. Hines, who described his once-healthy 29-year-old son, Ronald Hines, who was hospitalized for nine days in the Intensive Care Unit in  December 2014 after contracting the disease.

“My son has been through a lot, He lost mobility. He lost his speech. It’s horrible,” Mr. Hines said, while revealing that his once healthy son, who smokes, is still not able to function and perform routine activities of daily living. Discussing the outbreak on a recent newscast, ABC Medical Director Dr. Richard Besser was detailed.

“The bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ can live in the slime that can build up inside the cooling tower so if it’s not cleaned properly it can spray and spread.” That could explain why residents in different buildings are affected.

The distrust between the shareholders and the representatives from the Health Department and Riverbay Corporation is rooted in the corporation’s extensive history of corruption, which has systematically traveled with each new reincarnation of the Board of Directors. The complex is awash in lawsuits and investigations brought by various entities including the booted MSI and former employees.

In the meantime, Cleve Taylor, president of the Riverbay Board of Directors, has suggested that shareholders should brace for “carrying charge increases” to offset the cost of cleaning the cooling towers and satisfying the cost of settling an $8 million lawsuit filed by Riverbay employees who alleged that they were routinely robbed of overtime pay and given time off instead.

One constant in Co-op city is that without a doubt, there is always mismanagement, followed by elaborate explanations to justify hefty carrying charge increases that shareholders insist they can ill afford.–



NFLPA joins civic groups to highlight men’s health on January 24

A father enjoys quality time with his daughters.

A father enjoys quality time with his daughters.

On January 24, the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services and the National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse (NRFC) will team up with the NFL Players Association (NFLPA), Affordable Care Act (ACA) health care navigators, community agencies, and barbershops across the country to provide fathers with key tips, information and strategies that focuses on men’s health, encouraging fathers to “Take Time to be a Healthy Dad Today.”

The January 2015 Fatherhood Buzz: Men’s Health Matters will kick off on Friday, January 16, 2015 in Los Angeles, CA with the NFLPA. The kick-off event will set the stage for the national Fatherhood Buzz on Saturday, January 24, 2015. Barbershops and community partners nationwide, along with the NRFC, and Affordable Care Act (ACA) health navigators, will be partnering supporting father’s and families to learn more about health services in their communities.

A father reads with his children.

A father reads with his children.

The focus on men’s health is important because fathers who model a healthy lifestyle can have a powerful and positive impact on the development and health of their children. In fact, a number of studies have found that children who have actively engaged fathers are more likely to have good physical and emotional health, to achieve academically, and to avoid drugs, violence, and delinquent behavior.

This is also a significant time to talk about men’s health because of the new opportunities for health insurance coverage made available through the ACA. Millions of men will be eligible to be covered and receive access to preventative and care services that are critical for promoting and maintaining good health.

Two children shower their father with hugs and kisses.

Two children shower their father with hugs and kisses.

Get Involved by contacting Dial-in # (605) 562-0020>
Meeting ID: 623-401-964#

For more information email<> or call 1-877-4DAD411 [1-877-432-2411].

The National Responsible Fatherhood Clearinghouse is a service of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Administration for Children and Families, Office of Family Assistance.–




Medical tourism conference will highlight Caribbean contribution

Dr. Chandy Abraham

Dr. Chandy Abraham, facility director and head of Medical Services, Healthy City Cayman Islands, will participate in the medical tourism conference in Washington, D.C.

Cayman Islands: September 2014 – One of the Caribbean’s newest medical facilities will be introduced to the world as an excellent Caribbean contribution to the rapidly expanding medical tourism landscape at a major global meeting this month.

Health City Cayman Islands will be offered up as a center of excellence for medical tourism and destination healthcare at the World Medical Tourism and Global Healthcare Congress in Washington DC, September 20 to 24. Health City Cayman Islands, a leader and innovator in providing world-class, affordable, high quality health care in a compassionate, caring environment, will send a strong delegation to one of the most comprehensive international healthcare conferences and trade shows in the sector.

Dr. Chandy Abraham, Facility Director and Head of Medical Services, will introduce the special skills and capacities of the Caribbean’s state-of-the-art facility in his presentation to a Caribbean ministerial meeting.


“The networking value of these conferences is exceptional,” said Dr. Abraham, who added Health City Cayman Islands is looking forward to sharing its door-to-door concierge service and tropical atmosphere which promote a relaxing recovery.

Fielding questions and representing Health City at formal meetings will be Patient Care Relations Manager Joan Freedman; Marketing Director Shomari Scott; and Digital Marketing Specialist Aliya Dunstan.

“As the world’s population ages, non-communicable diseases continue to rise in frequency and healthcare costs inflate at an alarming rate. The issue of creating a healthcare destination that provides a high quality service for far less cost has never been more pressing,” said Scott.

The Health City Cayman Islands facility, he added, represented the Caribbean’s determination to step up to the burgeoning global medical tourism and travel market. Envisioned by Narayana Health’s storied Dr. Devi Shetty, a philanthropist and personal physician of the late Mother Teresa, Health City Cayman Islands opened its doors in February 2014. The state-of-the-art medical facility in the western Caribbean is one of 27 facilities operating under Dr. Shetty’s administration across the globe.

Health City Cayman Islands opened its first phase in early 2014, putting the Cayman Islands on the map as a healthcare destination, and offering patients a centre of excellence for cardiac surgery, cardiology, orthopaedics, paediatric endocrinology and pulmonology. Once completed, Health City Cayman Islands will have 2,000 beds, a dedicated medical research university, assisted living centre and become one of the largest healthcare centres of its kind in the world. Health City recently created Caribbean surgical history by installing an artificial heart pump (LVAD – Left Ventricular Assist Device) to give a Caymanian man facing advanced stage heart failure a new lease on life. For more information, visit


3 ways to rescue your fitness regimen in time for summer

Donna Richardson Joyner shares many fitness tips.

Donna Richardson Joyner, 57, shares many fitness tips online, in her books and on television.

By Carmen Glover

If you are like many folks who yearn to be fit and toned but struggle with the discipline required to achieve that goal, don’t be discouraged; getting into shape is more challenging than people tend to realize. It’s usually easy to decide, often on a whim or after seeing the doctor for a yearly physical, that something drastic needs to be done to lose weight, tone up and maintain a healthy lifestyle. But the work that it takes to achieve those lofty goals is arduous, tedious and just plan difficult for many people who are trying to balance parenting, working, paying bills and simply surviving.

Many people tackle the fitness agenda with great enthusiasm at the beginning of the year, only to lose focus, drive and discipline as the winter months drag on, battering their psyches with inclement weather and sheer exhaustion. But wait, there is hope. Here are three things you can do right away to restart your fitness engine. These tips were culled from information provided by experts including medical doctors, fitness professionals, nurses and nutritionists.

The Biggest Loser trainer also has a book and DVD set describing ways to lose weight the healthy way.

“The Biggest Loser” trainer Jillian Michaels, 40, also has a book and DVD set describing ways to lose weight the healthy way.

1. Take Little Steps Daily

Rather than becoming consumed with the desired end result, it is more practical and useful to commit to taking several small steps each day. The steps can include simple things such as five minutes of stretching, followed by five minutes of brisk walking from room to room in the home, combined with aerobic activities such as jumping jacks, jogging in place or outside if possible, working the abs and lifting some weights, using items around the home. Try to aim for 15 to 30 minutes each session and if you feel like breaking up the time into two or more sessions per day, do that. According to physicians, nutritionists and fitness experts, it’s the consistent routine that matters, not gym memberships or extensive, hours-long, workout sessions.

Dr. Ian Smith has written several books about losing weight the right way.

Dr. Ian Smith, 44, has written several books about losing weight the right way and keeping it off.

2. Consult a Personal Trainer, Read Books or Take Classes for Specific Goals

If you have specific goals to achieve and you fear that your motivation level is not as high as it should be, consult with a personal trainer who will be your official cheerleader and drill sergeant to keep you on schedule. If you thrive in a setting which offers camaraderie in numbers, look into classes. Zumba, yoga, step and boot camp classes are offered at most gyms. Other classes include spinning and strength training. It is also helpful to read books written by professionals who share their expertise on safe and effective weight loss strategies. Among those experts who are currently promoting fitness books are Donna Richardson Joyner, Jillian Michaels, Dr. Ian Smith and Dr. Travis Stork.

3. Increase Fruits, Vegetables and Water Intake, Reduce Sugars and Fat 

During the cold months of Winter, comfort foods serve a dual purpose of encouraging nesting while satisfying hunger. But with Spring comes the extended daytime hours, sunshine and the urge to get up and move. Experts recommend increasing intake of fruits, vegetables, water and protein while reducing the intake from carbohydrates, sugars and fat. Also, they recommend eating six times per day, to include three main meals and three snacks to boost the metabolic rate, which, in turn, burns calories. But avoid fast and processed foods and try to eat less, since experts state that people tend to eat more and exercise less than they usually care to admit.

Dr. Travis Stork of "The Doctors" recently released a book sharing his tips for safe weight loss.

Dr. Travis Stork, 42, of “The Doctors” recently released a book sharing his tips for safe weight loss.

By utilizing these measures as well as keeping a good record of what you eat each day, you will be in a good position to monitor all facets of your weight loss and fitness regimen such as your energy output, the food and calories consumed and the degree of activity that is included in your daily routine. The best mentality to have is that it takes a long period of time to gain excess weight, therefore expecting to shed enormous amounts of weight and become svelte and toned in a short period of time is not only unrealistic, it is dangerous.

Follow the experts and pace yourself, while trying to have fun along the way by indulging regularly in activities that you like whether it is dancing, jogging or using the treadmill or elliptical. Ask a friend or relative to join your quest so you can motivate each other. Don’t forget to incorporate regular household activities such as cleaning, which includes bending routines that often work the legs and arms while giving a good cardiovascular workout. The bottom line is that Summer is several months away so there is ample time to become focused, lose weight, become toned and achieve measurable results.

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Deadline for healthcare enrollment extended

President Barack Obama.

President Barack Obama.

By Carmen Glover

The White House announced yesterday that the deadline for people to enroll in healthcare plans and have coverage in place on January 1, 2014 has been extended by one day. As a result, people who are interested in obtaining healthcare coverage by January 1, have until midnight on Christmas Eve to sign up. The extension was deemed necessary because many people who tried to enroll in healthcare plans on Monday, December 23, the original deadline, were unsuccessful because the traffic to the site was so great. With the new extension, people have a little more time to take advantage of the enrollment process in order to have healthcare coverage on January 1, 2014.

The Affordable Care Act, often referred to as “Obamacare,” launched officially on October, 1, 2013, coinciding with the government shutdown in Congress. While millions of people flocked to the website to shop for appropriate coverage packages, many were unable to shop for health care plans because of technological problems which plagued the site at the time of its launch and for the entire month of October.

To get more information about signing up for healthcare coverage, a good place to start is the official government website, The site directs shoppers to the marketplace exchanges, including independent, state-run websites. The most attractive feature of the Affordable Care Act is that “It does not allow insurance companies to discriminate against people with pre-existing conditions,” President Obama has said repeatedly. One thing is clear: No one who needs healthcare coverage should go without, or incur a fine, without first exploring what is available and how that fits into the family’s budget. So go ahead, take your time and shop around for the coverage that best meets your family’s needs.–

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Earvin “Magic” Johnson provides insight about living with HIV

Earvin "Magic" Johnson talks to Oprah about his HIV diagnosis on World AIDS Day.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson talks to Oprah about his HIV diagnosis on World AIDS Day.

By Carmen Glover

A smiling Magic Johnson calmly described his life, 22 years after announcing that he was infected with the HIV virus, in a compelling interview with Oprah Winfrey in his Beverly Hills, California, home. The interview aired on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) on December 1, 2013, in honor of World AIDS Day. Crediting his wife, Cookie, who joined him for a portion of the interview, Johnson said he would not “be here today, if Cookie had left me,” when he disclosed his diagnosis two months after their wedding. At the time, Johnson said his wife was pregnant with their son, E.J., who recently declared that he is gay.
Johnson explained that he experienced periods of depression while coping with the disease, but he said he was never angry to have contracted the virus. Rather, he spoke honestly about the lifestyle that contributed to an environment in which he engaged in careless sexual activity, did not discriminate with his romantic partners, and refrained from using protection. Reflecting on his journey from star basketball player to a formidable entrepreneur, Johnson said he felt there was a lesson for him to learn from his circumstances: the importance of publicizing the disease and educating those infected so that they are aware of the many things they can achieve despite the diagnosis.
Earvin "Magic" Johnson and his wife, Cookie, share their journey of dealing with his HIV diagnosis in an interview with Oprah.

Earvin “Magic” Johnson and his wife, Cookie, share their journey of dealing with his HIV diagnosis in an interview with Oprah.

Johnson said his faith, and the love of his family have kept him strong over the years. Most importantly, however, he explained that he has been very disciplined in taking his medications, eating right and exercising. The conversation about the high incidence of HIV infection in the African-American community is a subject that deserves regular, ongoing attention. This is especially important since statistics continue to show that HIV infection rates for African-Americans far outpace the overall percentage of that community in the general population. Despite African-Americans accounting for 13 percent of the US population, that group represents over 44 percent of all new HIV infections. The increased HIV infection rates among African-Americans is alarming because many people resist learning their HIV status because they are immobilized by fear.

The greatest source of HIV infection in the African-American community is unprotected sex, with many teens and young adults feeling invincible while insisting that condom use is unnecessary. This is further compounded by more mature adults engaging in conduct that ignore the risks associated with participating in unprotected sexual contact even as they convince themselves that it is not necessary to take precautions that could save their lives. In the more than 30 years that HIV and AIDS have ravaged different communities across the globe, the importance of ongoing dialogue about protection and prevention cannot be over-emphasized. As another World AIDS Day ends activists have a huge task of convincing more people that preserving their lives should always take precedence over the fleeting pleasure that is often pursued, while safety and precaution take a back seat. Johnson’s life offers the opportunity to be viewed as a cautionary tale, for those who chose to take notice and internalize the message.–