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  • IMDB(NEW YORK) -- Black Panther signals a revolutionary moment –- not only in its implications for Black culture, but also for Black mental health.“At a very basic level, representation affects people's identity,” said Dr. Ruth Shim, Director of Cultural Psychiatry and Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at University of California, Davis. “Having positive representations and people reflecting the diversity of what they can be and experience can be protective against depression and anxiety stemming from negative images.”Indeed, Black representation in pop culture has expanded in recent years. Television shows such as "Insecure," "Empire" and "Black-ish" feature predominantly Black casts. Films like the comedy-horror "Get Out" satirize racial disparities, while "Hidden Figures" and "Moonlight" portray different Black realities. But "Black Panther" forms a category all its own: Black superheroes and superheroines in a sci-fi world.Take Wakanda, the fictional nation in which "Black Panther" is based. Wakanda is particularly evocative because it re-envisions reality. It asks not what is, but what could be. Imagine if racism, poverty, and chronic illness –- all risk factors for depression and anxiety disorders among Black Americans –- simply did not exist. They don’t in Wakanda.The world depicted in "Black Panther" brings with it an unstated question" “Would the rates of depression and anxiety among Black Americans change if reality were different?”Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide, and a serious medical illness that can cause specific mood, mental and physical symptoms. It is also associated with higher rates of chronic disease, increased need for health care, and difficulty functioning at work, at home and in social settings.A 2009-2012 survey by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) showed that Black people are significantly more likely to have depressive symptoms than whites – and those symptoms are more likely to be severe.“Sometimes we think of ourselves as weak, hopeless, that we don’t have that light. There’s a dark cloud that’s there,” said Stephanie Grimes, a depression and anxiety survivor who founded the Detroit-based mental health organization Hope360. “But with these superheroes, it shines a light and lets people know that we struggle with some things, but we can feel accomplished and have hope too,” she said. “Things can change. Things can get better.”Psychologists Kenneth and Mamie Clark affirmed the negative impact of racism on self-esteem in the 1940s through “The Doll Tests.” These series of experiments demonstrated that, regardless of race, children as early as 3 years old preferred the white doll to a Black one, and attributed positive characteristics to it, while attributing negative characteristics to the Black doll.“I feel like I just went through the largest therapy session in cinematic form,” said Dr. Italo Brown, a Jacobi and Montefiore Medical Center emergency medicine resident physician who wrote about why he wants to move to Wakanda to practice medicine. “It was group therapy with 100 people – everything from dressing the part, showing up with people you’re comfortable with, and being vulnerable. You saw a representation of what you’re capable of,” he said.While depression is most effectively treated with a combination of medication and therapy, only 33.6 percent of Black people with severe depression were in contact with a mental health professional within a year. Younger men of color who report daily feelings of depression or anxiety are also less likely to take medication or talk to a mental health professional compared to their white peers, according to the CDC.That could be because they can’t afford it, because of mental health stigma, or mistrust of a medical system that has a
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  • Courtesy Brittany Deane(NEW YORK) -- Two sets of identical twins are now planning a joint wedding after twin brothers proposed to twin sisters on February 2, or 2-2.Brittany and Briana Deane met Josh and Jeremy Salyers last August at The Twins Days Festival in Twinsburg, Ohio, which bills itself as the "largest annual gathering of twins (and other multiples) in the world," according to its website.Although the 31-year-old Deane twins have been trekking to the festival from their home in Virginia since 2011, for the 34-year-old Salyers' twins, it was their first time."When we got there it turned out better than we ever expected," Josh Salyers told ABC News, referring to his recent engagement.Brittany Deane recalled that she and her sister spotted the Salyers twins at one of the festival's welcoming events."We were sitting on the bleachers and I saw just these two amazingly handsome young men that looked to be about our age," she recalled to ABC News, "and they were walking across the gym floor below."Her sister Briana Deane recalls that her sister grabbed her by the wrist, "which we always do when we get excited about something," she said. And after a few moments, she too had spotted the brothers."They were stunning," Briana Deane said of her now-fiance and his twin brother.Sadly, the twin siblings didn't cross paths until the last day of the festival for it's closing night party. "They were there at the end of the hall," Briana Deane said. "They smiled at us and we all started talking."The Salyers twins sent the Deane twins a message via Facebook saying they couldn't wait to bump into them next year at the festival. But instead, the sisters asked, "Why wait?" The brothers then made a road trip out of it -- driving from their previous home in Clinton, Tennessee to visit the sisters in Virginia. After an amazing trip, the brothers said they knew immediately they'd propose one day."You know when you know," Jeremy Salyers said. "We’ve always known our whole life if we were going to be married that it was going to be with twins."The brothers, who now live in Hagerstown, Maryland, planned a proposal at the same location as their first date -- Twin Lakes State Park in Virginia. They told the sisters the wedding venue on-site wanted to feature the four in a commercial, so they all arrived in matching blue gowns and matching blue ties.What the Deane sisters didn't expect was for the Salyers brothers to drop down on one knee at the same time. It made it even more special for all of the pairs."We have done so much in life together. We’ve gone through ... having twin loves of our lives and to accept their marriage proposal at the same time made it that much more special," Brittany Deane said.Josh Salyers added, "We’ve always felt blessed to have each other and now we have two other twins who are just like us...but they also add their own contributions that we couldn’t have. Together we can accomplish anything."The couples now plan to have a double wedding this August at the Twins Days Festival in Ohio. And yes, if you're wondering, the brides will be in identical wedding dresses.
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  • Stockbyte/Thinkstock(PYEONGCHANG, South Korea) -- Just moments before Mikaela Shiffrin, the world’s top-ranked women’s skier, clipped into her bindings on Friday for the first run in her attempt to defend her Olympic gold medal in the slalom, she vomited.It was a dramatic physical reaction to the nerves that plague athletes at all levels of competition, but not so rare for Shiffrin. She has been open about the battle she is waging against those nerves with the help of sports psychologists.In a TV interview between races on Friday, Shiffrin suggested she might have caught a virus, but later acknowledged it was “just nerves again.”Sports psychologists say extreme performance anxiety like Shiffrin’s is more common than many people think among elite athletes.What is performance anxiety?“Performance anxiety is when the mind and the body says, ‘OK, it’s here, whatever we’ve done to prepare, there’s nothing else we can do now aside from try to be successful,” Dr. Neal Bowes, a former Premier League soccer player and sports psychologist who has prepared Olympians for the games, told ABC News. “And it’s more common than you think.”Amy Baltzell, who competed in the 1992 Barcelona Games as a rower and is now the president of the Association of Applied Sports Psychology (AASP), agrees. “Most athletes feel performance anxiety and as you get better and the results get more uncertain, that anxiety goes up,” Baltzell said.Shiffrin makes her nerves work for herWhat’s more uncommon is becoming physically ill as Shiffrin does, but from observing her perform and also talk about her struggles with nerves, Bowes -- who has never treated Shiffrin -- believes she uses it as a tool that tells her she is ready to compete.“She’s found a way to believe that getting ill is OK and fairly normal for her,” Bowes said. So when she gets sick, Bowes believes Shiffrin is able to tell herself, “This is normal for me, it’s happened, which means I can now go and ski well.”“She seems to be able to quickly process the fact that she’s gotten ill, accept as a sign she’s ready to perform and go out and compete,” he added.What can athletes do to control their nerves?Sports psychologists have different approaches for how they approach such anxiety among athletes, but all have the same goal.“You want the butterflies to fly, but we work to get them in formation and have them work for you, not against you,” said Kristen Dieffenbach, an executive board member with AASP and psychologist who has treated a wide range of athletes across disciplines and ages.Baltzell teaches athletes how to tolerate their anxiety and shift their attention back to the task at hand through mindfulness.“I have my athletes visualize themselves performing the part of their performance they most need to prepare for and feel the positive emotions that go with executing that part well,” Baltzell said. “It can be quite helpful for athletes struggling with anxiety.”Dieffenbach focuses on “controlling the controllables” -- helping athletes figure out their optimal pattern for warming up and preparing for a day of competition.Bowes recommends visualization and breathing exercises and tells athletes who struggle with nerves to be selective with what they eat.Another chance at goldAfter becoming ill, Shiffrin placed off the podium in fourth place Friday in the slalom. She said she was “disappointed,” adding “it just wasn’t there today to ski the aggressive way I need to be worthy of a medal.”Vomiting before the race may not have been the main cause for her finish, though. Shiffrin said, “It’s hard to put the blame on any one thing. There’s a lot of things that come together to make it.”Despite her struggles with nerves, Shiffrin already has that gold m
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  • Nakia Bowling(NEW YORK) -- Meet the 11-year-old philanthropist and entrepreneur who is collecting and donating dolls of color to little girls in need, telling ABC News that she wanted to "let little brown girls know that their image is beautiful."Zoe Terry, 11, and her mother, Nakia Bowling, launched the nonprofit "Zoe's Dolls" in 2011 when Zoe was just 5 years old. The group gives out dolls of color to young girls whose families may not otherwise be able to afford them."I started Zoe’s Dolls when I was 5 years old because at that time, I was bullied because the color of my skin and because my hair was so puffy," Zoe told ABC News."It really made me feel really bad," she added of the bullying. "It made me feel like I couldn’t do anything."Bowling, Zoe's mother, told ABC News that she tried to turn the bullying Zoe experienced into a teachable moment and encouraged her to be confident in her own skin."When she was bullied, she said, 'I’m not going to let this get me down. I’m going to do something positive about it,'" Bowling said. "She doesn’t let her situation determine her outcome, she determines her outcome."Zoe then decided to do something to help make sure no other little girls ever felt the same way she did."I really wanted to find a way where I can let little brown girls know that their image is beautiful no matter what anyone else says," Zoe said. "And I thought, 'Dolls in their image would be a great way to show them that.'""I think its important that everyone gets a doll that looks like them," Zoe added.Bowling told ABC News that Zoe will "be the first to tell you it’s not about me, it just has my name on it."Now a sixth-grader at the same school where she was initially bullied, Zoe is thriving.“Me and my girl our now friends and she donates to Zoe’s Dolls every year. I think how we came to that was that my school and my mom really helped me and the girl understand that our differences are what make us special and we should celebrate our differences,” Zoe said Friday on “GMA.”Her work has sparked an important conversation at her school."Not only does she spread a message of diversity and inclusion," Karen Davis, a teacher at Zoe's school said. "She really does feel that we are all beautiful."Zoe told ABC News that she wants "every little brown girl" to "know that nothing is impossible.""The word itself says I’m possible," she added.Zoe has already helped collect and distribute 20,000 dolls. In addition, she is creating her own line of "Simply Zoe" dolls, and she said her goal is that for every one sold, one will be given away to a family in need.Debbie Sterling, the founder and CEO of the toy company GoldieBlox, surprised Zoe on "Good Morning America" on Friday with the news that she was going to help Zoe launch her "Zoe's Dolls" line by donating 5,000 GoldieBlox dolls so that Zoe can spend her time focusing on launching her own line rather than collecting donations."I wouldn't have as much success today if I didn't have mentors along the way, so today I would like to sign up to be your mentor," Sterling told Zoe on Friday.In addition, Sterling announced that she would mentor Zoe as she worked to launch her doll line, and pledged that for every doll purchased in February on GoldieBlox's website, the company will donate another doll to Zoe.
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  • iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Though the counterculture “High Holiday” on April 20 at 4:20 pm is a play on the “420” police code for marijuana, new analysis found it might have some very serious effects.A research letter published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found a 12 percent relative increase in fatal crashes on April 20."Twelve percent may not sound like much, but if you consider that a small proportion of Americans celebrate 4/20," the study's author Dr. John Staples said, "it suggests that participation in 4/20 is fairly risky."He described the motivation for the research.“I’m a doctor and I work at a hospital near where a 4/20 festival is held,” the clinical assistant professor of medicine at University of British Columbia said. “Every year, we brace ourselves for a potential surge of patient volume related to the festival. This was a great natural experiment for which we could look at the effects of the festival.”Researchers are also looking at the effects of marijuana, as several states are considering marijuana legalization in 2018 and 61 percent of Americans support marijuana legalization, according to the Pew Research Center.Drivers appear to be using marijuana more, as well, according to the 2013-2014 National Roadside Survey of Alcohol and Drug Use by Drivers. The survey showed that THC, a psychoactive compound in cannabis, was elevated by 46.5 percent in blood and fluid levels between reports in 2007 and reports in 2013-14.Holidays are often associated with higher rates of car crashes. A 2003 research letter to the New England Journal of Medicine looked at 27 Super Bowls and found a 41 percent relative increase in fatal crashes after the telecast. A 1991 CDC report showed a 64 percent relative increase in fatal crashes on New Year’s Day, in a review of 10 years of research.And the 4/20 holiday is specifically connected to marijuana use. For either reason, experts say it may be wise to drive more carefully on April 20, especially for younger drivers."When we focused on a subgroup of drivers younger than 21 years old, they had a 38 percent higher risk on April 20," the study authors said. "This maps onto what we know of younger drivers being more vulnerable because of less experience and more risk taking behavior.”The study looked at the connection between fatal crashes and the holiday 4/20, which is a modern invention that many say was popularized in a High Times article published in 1991.Starting in 1992, researchers looked at 25 years of data from the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They focused on fatal crashes where at least one person died within 30 days of the crash. Then, they compared the time between 4:20p and 11:59p on April 20 of each year to “control days” one week earlier and one week later.What they found was the 12 percent increase in fatal crashes during the time period.However, the research does have some limitations. The results do not prove that cannabis is the culprit behind the bump in fatal crashes on April 20.Staples suggests several other possibilities -- participants may be ingesting other drugs or failing to wear their seatbelts, police may be emphasizing drug enforcement over traffic enforcement, and the festival could interrupt usual traffic flows, among other possibilities.While there is a strong relationship between blood alcohol levels and impairment, the same may not be true for most psychoactive drugs, cautioned authors of the 2013-2014 National Roadside Survey.“At the current time, specific drug concentration levels cannot be reliably equated with a specific degree of driver impairment,” the authors said.This new study provides some insight into the potential hazards of marijuana use on the 4/20 holiday for drivers, but the study authors say any drug use while driving is a concern.“My main message to the public is that impairment wit
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