Mental Illness Awareness Week

Mental Illness Awareness Week

This week on social media, we gave you some staggering facts and information on mental health for Mental Illness Awareness Week and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

  • 1 in 4 adults, 61.5 million Americans, experiences mental illness in a given year. One in 17, about 13.6 million, live with a serious illness such as schizophrenia, depression, or bipolar disorder. With statistics like those, you probably know someone suffering.
  • Approximately 20% of kids ages 13-18 experience severe mental disorders in a given year.
  • 70% of the youths in juvenile justice systems have at least one mental health condition, and 20% live with a severe mental illness.
  • Approximately 1.1% of American adults, or 6.1 million people, live with bipolar disorder.
  • Approximately 6.7% of American adults, or about 14.8 million people, live with major depression.
  • 18.1% of American adults, or 42 million people live with anxiety disorders such as panic disorder, OCD, PTSD, and phobias.
  • About 9.2 million adults have reoccurring mental health and addiction disorders.
  • 26% of homeless adults live with serious mental illness, and 46% live with severe mental illness and/or substance abuse disorders.
  • Approximately 20% of state prisoners and 21% of local jail prisoners have a “recent history” of mental health conditions.
  • Approximately 60% percent of adults and half the youth with a mental illness got no help for it in the last year.
  • Mood disorders like depression are the 3rd most common cause of hospitalization in the U.S. for both youths and adults.
  • Serious mental illness costs America $193.2 billion in lost earnings per year.
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S. above homicide, and the 3rd leading cause of death for ages 15 to 24.
  • Military members are less than 1% of the population, but vets represent 20% of suicide. Each day 22 vets die from suicide.

You can help, and you can get help.

Football Party

Healthy Football Party Food

This week in food on social media, we gave you healthy and satisfying takes on some classic appetizer recipes that are perfect for your next big football party.

We started the week with Ancho Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Avocado Cream, a delicious meal in the palm of your hand for just 319 calories a serving.

Ancho Chicken Tacos with Cilantro Slaw and Avocado Cream


Make these Crab Cake Sliders with Yogurt-Dill Sauce for a perfect combo of these classic dishes at just 387 calories per serving.

Crab Cake Sliders with Yogurt-Dill Sauce


Make these Healthy Grilled Sweet Potato Nachos for a tasty sharable plate this game day.

Healthy Grilled Sweet Potato Nachos


These Baked Brown Sugar Chicken Wings with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce satisfy your wing craving while cutting calories.

Baked Brown Sugar Chicken Wings with Roasted Red Pepper Cream Sauce


Also try them with this Creamy Ranch-Style Dip if you have to have that classic side.

Creamy Ranch-Style Dip


Baked Honey Lime Chicken Taquitos are an easy, scrumptious finger food you can make in advance of your big party, so you can enjoy the game without interference.

Baked Honey Lime Chicken Taquitos


Make these Turkey Zucchini Meatballs for a lighter take on a classic for your next football Sunday.


Turkey Zucchini Meatballs
Image and Recipe via Kim’s Healthy Eats


Cooking and Health Plans

Advice on Cooking, and on Health Plans

Patricia Kendall has always been a people person.

Known as “the fishlady,” Patricia, a Health Alliance Medicare member from Springfield, Illinois, has written cookbooks and taught fish-cooking classes to share her passion with family, friends, and people she’s never even met.

She’s loved fish since she was a little girl watching her dad catch them at her grandparents’ Minnesota cottage. And she managed her local Jewel-Osco fish department for almost two decades. She teaches in fish earrings and fish slippers and has self-published a series of books. She doesn’t just do it for herself, though. She loves helping and teaching others.

“I never had a publicist,” she says. “But I helped a lot of people, and that’s what I am grateful for.

Kind Words

While she doesn’t expect anything in return, Patricia recognizes helpful people. As a Health Alliance member since 2005 and a Health Alliance Medicare Advantage member for the past year, the fishlady applauds those who have helped her.

“In this day and age, when you have all these big insurance companies, the people at Health Alliance Medicare remain personable,” she says. “They help you without transferring you all around. When I call Member Services, I don’t have to go through endless recordings.

“After a while when you talk to them, you get to know them.”

Patricia knows a thing or two about being personable. She published her cookbooks on her own for eight years before getting help from a local publishing company, binding them on her kitchen table and getting the artwork from her brother. She admits to giving away more cookbooks than she sells and shares free cooking tips with anyone who asks.

‘A Sense of Family’

But even with her cheery outlook, Patricia’s life wasn’t always easy. Family is important to Patricia, and she and her husband of almost 45 years couldn’t have children of their own.

Even so, she worked to make others’ lives happier, healthier, and easier through her cookbooks and classes. Along the way, her niece from the Chicago area stayed with her in Springfield from time to time and brought a special person named Kimberly into Patricia’s life.

After age 5, Kimberly 
didn’t have parents. So the fishlady did what she
 does best and offered to help. Kimberly was 21 at the time.
“We wanted to give her a sense of family,” Patricia says. “We just thought about how people come and go from your life, so one day, we just asked her how she would like to have parents and a home no matter where she goes in the world.”

Patricia and her husband legally adopted Kimberly, giving her a true home and parents.

“She’s kind of a miracle,” Patricia says. “We couldn’t have raised a better girl.”

Patricia has faced other hardships. In 2011, she had an emergency cardiac ablation, a procedure that corrects heart rhythm problems.

She was worried and scared afterward, not knowing if Health Alliance would pay for the costly procedure. But after a quick call, the Health Alliance staff put Patricia’s mind at ease and took care of the claim.

Word of Mouth

Now, Patricia doesn’t just give tips about fish. She still tells her friends, and strangers, how easy and healthy it is to cook and serve her favorite food, but she also offers a tip or two about health insurance.

“I tell so many people about Health Alliance Medicare,” she says. “My advice to people if they are having anything done is to always call Health Alliance Medicare first. They just really come through for you.”

Enjoying the 19-Day Arm Challenge

My Healthy Journey: The End of a Challenge

It’s time to finish up the 19-Day Arm Challenge!

For Day 18 on the beginner’s track, you will do:

18 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and 16 Push-Ups.

For Day 19 on the beginner’s track, you will do:

20 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Shoulder Presses, and Push-Ups.

For Days 18 and 19 on the advanced track, you will do:

24 Bicep Curls, Overhead Tricep Extensions, Lateral Shoulder Raises, Front Shoulder Raises, Bent Over Rows, Push-Ups, and 20 Shoulder Presses.

And then, you’re done!

Devoted Bike Rider

Devoted Rider Gets Back on His Bike

“To me,

there’s nothing more exciting than when you’re in a pace line, all you’re hearing is the cranks going swoosh, swoosh, you’re doing 20 miles per hour on the flats, and you’re just cooking it!” says Fred Munson, 68, a Health Alliance Medicare member from Wenatchee.

Make no mistake, Fred loves to ride his bike. The former sheriff’s deputy and hospital security adviser couldn’t be more pleased that retirement gives him so much time to pedal. He rode more than 3,000 miles last year, according to the tiny computer on the handlebars of his custom-built metallic red racing bike, and he’s on track to cover even more this year. But one windy spring day last year, Fred ran into more excitement on his bike than he was after.

“Really, with biking, it’s not a matter of ‘if ’ you’re going to crash. It’s a matter of when,” he says.

Fred was out with friends doing his favorite thing, riding in a pace line. They were rolling along in tight formation, wheels just inches apart, taking turns cutting through the wind at the head of the line so the others could draft.

Just as a rider moved up to take the lead, a gust of wind knocked Fred’s front wheel sideways, and the bikes collided. His wheels caught in the deep grooves of the rumble strip. The rumble strip alerts drivers if they start to drift off the road, but it’s bad news for the thin wheels of a road bike.

“It happened so quick, you didn’t have time to brace for it or think about it,” recalls Fred.

The crash rammed the handlebars into his ribs and tossed him into the road, right into the path of a truck. Fred recalls thinking, “I’m going to get run over.”

A quick-thinking buddy grabbed his own bike and raised it over his head, making himself bigger for the truck driver to see, and the truck was able to stop in time. In fact, the driver gave Fred and his busted-up bike a ride to the local emergency room.

The doctor at Confluence Health, also a cyclist, told Fred he had no broken bones and no internal injuries. The bad news was Fred would miss the 100-mile Apple Century Bike Ride the next Saturday.

Fred ended up with deep bruising, a hole in his arm and some significant damage to the skin on his shoulders and knees. He also came away with a significant medical bill.

Fit and healthy, Fred never had a reason until then to use much of his Health Alliance Medicare coverage.

“They’re right here, and I can talk to them. They’ve been really helpful.”

“I got my bill, and it was over $4,200, and I thought, ‘Well, I guess now we’ll see how good the insurance is,’” he says.

Fred’s total out-of-pocket cost was $65.

“They did it all. I just got the statements to see the transactions happening,” says Fred.

He liked the care and attention he got during the process, face to face, from the staff at the Health Alliance Medicare office in his hometown.

“They’re right here, and I can talk to them. They’ve been really helpful,” Fred says.

Fred is back doing long rides with his friends and shorter trips along the Columbia River with his high school sweetheart and wife of 47 years, Carolyn.

When the snow comes, he’ll head to the YMCA for spin classes. Fred likes the SilverSneakers fitness program that’s part of his Health Alliance Medicare plan.

“That’s where it is, prevention!” says Fred, patting the handlebars of his bike. “This keeps me in good shape year-round.”

Making Fall Treats

Healthy Fall Treats

This week on social media in food, we brought you some fall treats that are perfect for the weather and won’t hurt your diet.

Don’t forget to follow us on Pinterest and look at our Healthy Desserts board for lots of healthy treats!

Our first recipe was a perfect substitute for the cinnamon-apple donut addict, especially for those of us close to Curtis Orchard in Champaign. Try making these Cinnamon Apple Rings with their apples once in a while instead and skip the dough.

Cinnamon Apple Rings

fryday: cinnamon apple rings


Try this Fresh Ginger Cake with Candied Citrus Glaze. This peppery twist on 7UP pound cake is just 284 calories a serving.

Fresh Ginger Cake with Candied Citrus Glaze


Try these Baked Apple Pie Fries for a delicious treat that’s a serving of fruit without the fat of piecrust.

Baked Apple Pie Fries
Image and Recipe via Averie Cooks


Use pantry staples and fresh vanilla bean to make these Vanilla Bean Shortbreads with just 101 calories a serving.

Vanilla Bean Shortbreads


Make this classic Swedish treat, Apple Kuchen, with just 251 calories per serving.

Apple Kuchen


Pumpkin lovers will love this Double-Ginger Pumpkin Flan. With just 224 calories, it won’t hurt to indulge this fall.

Double-Ginger Pumpkin Flan


Make this Maple-Walnut Apple Crisp for a yummy, comforting classic at just 208 calories a serving.

Maple-Walnut Apple Crisp


Getting Fit at the Grand Canyon

Women That Get Paid to Be Fit

This week on social media, we highlighted some jobs for women who get paid to be physically fit or athletic.

Aerial and underwater feats are just some of the ways acrobat Kelly McDonald performs in her 10 weekly Vegas performances.

Aerial Acrobat


Melanie Douglass works on development projects for fitness related products, a job behind everything from yoga mats and running shoes to treadmills.

Fitness Product Development


Rafting guide Tess McEnroe spends 150 days on the river each year leading people on trips through the Grand Canyon.

Rafting Guide


Gaëlle Cohen is a Hollywood stuntwoman with 16 years experience in the business, specializing in fight scenes.

Stunt-Woman Extraordinare


Sunny Corrigan is a professional ski patrol who watches the slopes at a Colorado resort.

Ski Patrol


Marine biologist Andrea Marshall, PhD spends her days deep sea exploring in the Indian Ocean.

Marine Biologist


Diane Branagan is a veteran animal trainer, for TV shows like True Blood, films, and commercials, who has two decade of experience.

Horse Trainer