#TogetherWeZoom: Get to Know Ebony Blackmon Humphrey, DNP

#TogetherWeZOOM: Get to Know Ebony Blackmon Humphrey, DNP

A lot has been said about our business model, our proprietary technology, and our innovative approach to care. But make no mistake: Our people are the most important component of our success. Always willing to go the extra mile for our patients, this big-hearted group of professionals is what makes us…well, zoom! Our monthly employee spotlight is dedicated to celebrating the incredible work our employees do inside of Zoom—and the lives they lead outside it.

In December 2019, a long-held goal of ours was finally realized: We launched ZOOM+Care Mental Health in Seattle.

Similarly to Oregon, patients seeking mental-health treatment in Washington can face long wait times and limited options. Our newly-opened Bellevue & 4th Street Clinic helps fill a critical need by providing quality, accessible mental healthcare to East Seattle residents.

Leading the charge at Bellevue & 4th is Dr. Ebony Blackmon Humphrey: An experienced Doctor of Nursing Practice and Psychiatric Mental Health NP. (Officially, her title is DNP ARNP PMHNP-BC. Say that tens times fast!)

Keep reading to learn more about Ebony’s passion for helping others, her advice for prospective ZOOM+Care candidates, and her proudest moment on the job so far.

What inspires you most about your work?

My spirituality is the deepest part of me. It is my internal motivation. It helps me give all of myself clinically to each person trusting me to make sense of their story. I value, metaphorically the books called “people” I have read and will continue to read on my journey. Their stories mean everything to me.

What advice do you have for prospective candidates?

Love what you do, as people from all walks of life are trusting you to make sense of their life’s artwork. Stare at their life’s painting and help them understand that all of the markings are not permanent. Some markings will fade away in conversation, others with medication, but most of them will become less meaningful with time.

What are three words you would use to describe ZOOM+Care?

Cutting-edge, daring, and impactful.

What is your favorite Thing about our approach to care?

Zoom’s presence inside local communities makes care local and accessible.

What is your proudest moment at ZOOM+Care?

Anytime a patient returns to tell me about what has changed in their life for the better.

Do you enjoy helping others on their journey to better health? We’re hiring!

New Year’s Resolution: Think Beyond the Fad Diet

Fad diet weight loss

Atkins. Alkaline. South Beach. Cabbage Soup. Carnivore. (?!) There are so many diets masquerading as a panacea for weight loss—a magic potion that will help you shed those pesky pounds. 

There’s just one problem: According to science, super-restrictive fad diets are not a long term solution for weight loss. Studies, both past and present, have shown time and time again that the weight loss from these plans is temporary at best. 

For example, in 2007, researchers from UCLA conducted a comprehensive analysis of 31 long-term diet studies. According to Traci Mann—Associate Professor of psychology at UCLA and lead author of the study—the results painted a “bleak picture” of the effectiveness of fad diets. 

“You can lose five to ten percent of your weight on any number of diets,” Mann writes in the study. “But then the weight comes back. We found that the majority of people regained all the weight, plus more. Sustained weight loss was found only in a small minority of participants.” 

A team of Harvard-affiliated researchers came to a similar conclusion in 2015. Their study looked at whether low-fat diets (in which 30 percent or fewer calories came from fat) worked better than those that are higher in fat (including low-carb options, such as Atkins). The conclusion was that all these diets seemed to be equally ineffective. 

According to their research, the average weight loss from fad diets was around seven pounds—an amount deemed insignificant by researchers. What’s more, they noted that most people regained the lost weight after only a year.  

The side effects of fad diets. 

Effectiveness aside, super-restrictive dieting can bring a host of harmful side effects. Perhaps unsurprisingly, crash diets have been linked to an increased risk of cardiovascular disease, Type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure. 

Fad diets can also have an alarming psychological impact. Research indicates dieters are prone to elevated cortisol (i.e., the stress hormone); another study found that dieting increased stress, which in turn triggered binge eating

It makes sense, too: When you’re on a super-restrictive diet, you’re essentially demonizing food. Suddenly, the fuel that feeds your life becomes a source of undue stress. 

If not fad diets, then what?

Add, don’t restrict.  

Oftentimes, dieters set themselves up for failure by picking a plan that’s overly restrictive—and, therefore, impossible to maintain.

“Most of the data indicates that the specific diet you use to achieve weight loss isn’t that important,” says Dr. Benjamin Burton, Doctor of Osteopathic Medicine here at ZOOM+Care. “Most diets have very similar success rates. The most important variable is your ability to stick with the diet plan you have chosen. So make it something you enjoy.” 

Rather than buying into the fad diet hype, look beyond restricting macronutrients, such as fat, protein, or carbohydrates. Instead, try incorporating healthy foods into your diet in a way you like (and can actually maintain). 

Instead of focusing on what you need to cut out of your diet, ask yourself, “what healthy foods can I add to my meals today?” Choose whole, unprocessed foods that you actually enjoy eating. Challenge yourself to add lots of veggies to your morning scrambled eggs, or eat a handful of antioxidant-packed berries with your oatmeal.  

You can also try substituting one pleasurable thing for another. Love eating something crunchy with your afternoon sandwich? Sub potato chips for carrots. Are you a fan of sodas and flavored lattes? Substitute syrupy beverages with something healthier, such as tea sweetened with Stevia. 

Tell yourself it’s okay to maintain.

“Another new idea in weight loss is a weight maintaining diet,” says Dr. Burton. “Many people achieve some success with a weight loss diet, but eventually find it harder and harder to stick with it. If your eating plan is causing diet fatigue, consider transitioning to a weight maintaining diet for a short time—something that still helps control food intake, but perhaps isn’t as restrictive. Continue with the weight maintaining diet until you are ready to dive in again full force to the weight loss plan.”  

Focus on wellness, not weight. 

Research shows that exercise and nutrition improve health—regardless of whether they lead to a dramatic change in weight. That means eating nutritionally-balanced food has inherent value. So does exercising regularly, getting enough sleep, and managing your stress. This year, why not embrace new habits that are good for whole-body health, and let trendy diets take a back seat? Your body will thank you. 

Want help making your New Year’s health resolutions a reality? We’re here. ZOOM+Care’s Internal Medicine team can offer expert guidance on your wellness journey. Schedule now. 

Want to Make Your Health Resolutions Stick? Be S.M.A.R.T.

Make SMART health resolutions

On January 1st, everything seems possible. Shedding forty pounds? Sure, why not! Eating a salad every darn day? Totally doable! Ditching cigarettes cold turkey? No prob! 

Fast-forward to February, and you’re lazing on the couch, hours deep into a Netflix binge, wearing a bag of chips as a glove. The last green thing you ate, (besides maybe a green M&M)? It’s but a distant memory. 

Trust us when we say: We’ve ALL been there. (A mere 8 percent of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions, while around 80 percent fail to keep them, according to research by the University of Scranton.) The real question is why our health resolutions fizzle.

In a word, they fail because they’re not S.M.A.R.T. (That’s capital S-M-A-R-T, an acronym meaning specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.)

A S.M.A.R.T. resolution has the following qualities: 

It’s Specific. 

Flippantly saying, “I want to lose weight” is not a goal—it’s a wish. To make it real, you need to add specificity. How much weight do you want to lose? When do you want to lose it by? What methods will you use to lose it? 

If you want to shed five pounds in two months, that’s 2.5 pounds a month. Your hyper-specific goal could be, “I want to lose .63 of a pound a week by exercising and following a dietician’s meal plan.” Numbers help you quantify your resolution, and break your big goal down into bite-sized steps. 

It’s Measurable. 

For your best shot at resolution success, create a goal with components you can track, such as duration or frequency. Resolving to exercise more? Make your objective measurable: “I will run for 30 minutes, three times a week.” Trying to get your blood pressure down? Decide how you’ll track your milestones: “I’ll check my blood pressure once a week using the same machine, and I’ll log my results on my calendar.” 

No matter your resolution, tracking your progress in a journal or app can remind you of how far you’ve come.

It’s Achievable. 

This doesn’t mean you can’t shoot for the stars. However, biting off a bigger resolution than you can chew leave you feeling defeated. Does a jog around the block make you wheeze and gasp? You may want to rethink running that resolution to run a marathon next month. A better goal might be to walk briskly for 30 minutes, five days a week—or to alternate between running and walking. Soon enough, that jog around the block will be a breeze, and training for a marathon won’t be such a lofty goal.

It’s Relevant. 

If you want your resolution to succeed, make sure it really, truly matters to you—and that you’re making it for the right reasons. Say your goal is to quit smoking: Are you doing it because your partner is nagging you? Or is it something you want to do for yourself? If you make resolutions out of a sense of obligation or (even self-hate), they probably won’t last long.

If you make resolutions with deep importance to you (rather than ones that are expected of you or things someone else wants), you’ll have a higher chance of making them stick. Think critically about what’s right for you and how your resolution can change your life for the better. Resolve to quit smoking to reduce your chances of cancer, heart attacks, heart disease, and stroke—or because you want to set a good example for your kids. With the right reasons behind you, you’re more likely to succeed. 

It’s Time-bound. 

The best “specific” and “measurable” resolutions are also time-bound. When making your goal, incorporate a realistic timeline towards reaching it. Set a limit that gives you enough time to accomplish your resolution—but not one so far off that you lose focus and forget about your goal.

It’s also helpful to create a timeline with lots of smaller, intermediate goals built-in. Focusing on the little wins will keep you on track as you make gradual progress towards your victory. It also helps you build a habit, which is something that can last you a lifetime. 

Looking for ultra achievable health resolutions?

Our Annual Wellness Exams exams are the perfect opportunity to get ahead of your health in the New Year. You can use your visit to check in about your lifestyle habits and get screened for health issues like depression, diabetes, and cancer. 

Schedule a 30-minute visit from your smartphone and get seen the same day. With zero wait time and meds-onsite, this is one resolution that’s too easy for excuses. 

Schedule Now

Holiday Blues Are Real—Here Are 5 Tips to Beat Them

Broken candy cane signifying the holiday blues

‘Tis the season of merry and bright, but what do you do when your mood doesn’t match the twinkling lights on your tree? 

First things first, don’t be too hard on yourself. Turns out, feeling like a lump of coal during the holidays is a pretty common phenomenon. 

Indeed, the “holiday blues”—feelings of loneliness, loss, or isolation that intensify during the holidays—are prevalent this time of year, and not just among those diagnosed with clinical depression. One survey by the American Psychological Association found that 38% percent of people experience increased stress during the holiday season.

And for those who do struggle with mental illness year-round, feelings of loneliness and depression can intensify during the holidays. According to a survey by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), 24% of people with a diagnosed mental illness find their condition gets “a lot” worse this time of year, and 40% “somewhat” worse.” 

Why do we feel sad in the season of cheer?

Let’s face it: There are hundreds of reasons to feel stressed, down, or just plain overwhelmed during the holidays. While pinpointing the exact cause of your blues can be difficult, possible factors include:

  • Stress. Constant crowds, Christmas carols on loop, and a jam-packed social calendar: Just a few of the things that make the holidays feel extra hectic. All that stress can interfere with feeling the holiday spirit. 
  • Financial strain. An overextended bank account—coupled with the pressure of buying gifts for family and friends—can create an undue burden. 
  • Family fractures. Your family is supposed to be your safe space—a source of encouragement and support. Sadly, that’s not always the case. Spending prolonged periods with relatives—particularly family members you don’t get along with—can be emotionally draining. 
  • Unrealistic expectations. Our society puts Christmas on a pedestal. It’s supposed to be the most wonderful time of the year, and it comes with a lot of unrealistic expectations for how we should feel. When the holidays don’t live up to these expectations, we can feel seriously down in the dumps.  
  • Feelings of loneliness. The holidays can be an isolating time of year, especially if you’re away from your loved ones and friends. 
  • Seasonal affective disorder, or SAD.
  • Some people’s depression during the winter is not holiday-related at all, but rather, has to do with the season itself. SAD is a condition that causes fatigue and feelings of depression during the winter months. If you’re experiencing symptoms of the disorder, talk to a doctor to find a treatment that works for you.  

What can you do to minimize the holiday blues?

#1. Set realistic expectations

Who wouldn’t want a perfect, Norman Rockwell-esque Christmas, like the ones you seen on the Hallmark Channel? However, fantasy-fueled expectations can set you up for some serious holiday disappointment. 

Instead of expecting a cookie-cutter Christmas where everything goes smoothly, remind yourself that even the best-laid plans go awry. Go into the holidays with an open-minded, flexible attitude. Tell yourself that yes, cats do knock over Christmas trees from time to time. Relatives can drink a little too much merlot and start arguing about politics—again. Sometimes, people hate their gifts and do a really poor job of hiding it. Take the good with the bad, and remind yourself that the “bad” moments don’t have to detract from the special ones.  

For some, a good Christmas means getting through the day with as little conflict as possible—and that’s totally okay! 

#2: Start saying “no.” 

During the holidays, there’s a lot of pressure to do everything―say yes to every holiday party, buy gifts for everyone, and go out of your way to make others happy. 

At the end of the day, do what’s best for you. Set clear limits on what you’re able and willing to give—whether it’s your time, money, or emotional energy. Sometimes that means saying no, declining social events, and setting strict limits on your spending. 

When it’s not possible to say no, make sure you’re taking time for yourself. Whether it’s listening to music, taking a bath, or doing yoga, carving out a little “you time” can work wonders for your stress.

#3: Find a support system.

Even if you’re away from family, there are small things you can do to ward off loneliness this holiday season. Try picking up the phone and calling an old friend, reaching out to a new acquaintance, volunteering your time at a local charity, or attending a community meetup or event. 

#4: Make new memories.

Did you love Christmas as a kid? Nostalgia for holidays past can leave you feeling blue.

Instead of mourning old traditions, start some new ones—either solo, or with loved ones. Try out a new cookie recipe, start a White Elephant exchange with friends, make hand-made ornaments with your niece, or dress your dog up like Santa Claus and have a photoshoot. Creating special rituals to look forward to will stop the ghosts of Christmas past from haunting your holidays.

#5: Practice moderation.

During the holidays, it’s important to practice self-care—which isn’t just bubble baths and cupcakes. Self-care also includes the tough stuff, like making sure you’re eating and drinking in moderation.

Because alcohol is a depressant, it can intensify negative feelings you may have around the holidays. Be aware of why you’re drinking. Don’t use alcohol to avoid feeling painful memories and emotions, and try your best to limit your consumption to one or two drinks per social function.

In addition to drinking, eating poorly can also exacerbate issues like stress, anxiety, and depression. Take care of yourself, and don’t slack on your regular exercise. Sticking to your routine can give you a sense of regularity and remind you that, hey—Christmas isn’t so different than any other time of year, and you’re going to get through it. 

While the holiday blues are usually temporary, it’s important to stay in tune with yourself and identify when your depression is no longer seasonal. If you or someone you know needs guidance this holiday season (and beyond), we’re here.

#TogetherWeZoom: Get to Know Mallory Bellissimo, PA-C

Nurse Practitioner at ZOOM+Care

From thought leaders to part-time yoga instructors to musicians-on-the-side, we have some incredibly talented (and intensely interesting!) folks working at ZOOM+Care. #TogetherWeZoom is our monthly employee spotlight, designed to celebrate these individuals. Through it, we hope to shine a light on the people behind the scenes, working hard to shape the future of healthcare. 

For this month’s #TogetherWeZoom, we spoke with the magnificent Mallory Bellissimo—a Board-Certified Physician’s Assistant (and secret adrenaline junkie) at our Queen Anne clinic in Seattle.

Mallory is a long-time Zoomer who has been with us for nearly five years. During her time here, she’s become a favorite of both patients and her fellow providers. Don’t just take our word for it, either—according to one of the (many!) positive reviews she’s received, Mallory is “always professional” and makes everyone “feel welcomed, very much listened to, and cared for.”

Read on to learn more about Mallory, what inspires her about her work, and what her favorite day on the job has been:

What inspires you most about your work at ZOOM+Care?

Hands down, the opportunity to impact someone’s health and well-being.  

What is your favorite ZOOM+Care perk or benefit?

I love that Zoom invests in their employees’ lives outside of work. I just booked a hotel reservation in Cabo using our LifeBalance vendor discount, and it was a great deal!   


What’s something most people don’t know about you?

I’ve gone skydiving—and loved it!  


What is your proudest moment at ZOOM+Care?

It’s right now.  I’m proud of the way we care for our patients.  Above all other healthcare organizations I have worked with, ZOOM+Care has always emphasized that the patient comes first—but has found ways to care for the well-being of their clinicians and staff as well.  I’m proud of that.  I’m proud that I work for a company that allows me to feel supported, engaged, and prepared to provide great care.  


What has been your favorite day on the job so far?

I love working Halloween in Queen Anne! SO many adorable kids go trick-or-treating down Queen Anne Ave.  


What have you learned while working here?

I’ve learned a lot! I have been fortunate to work with really great colleagues and SP’s in the 4+ years I’ve been here.  I’ve picked up different things from each of them.

Want a job that makes a difference? We’re always looking for talented, creative, and passionate people to help us fix healthcare. Explore open opportunities. 

It’s World AIDS Day—Let’s Talk About PrEP!

There are approximately 1.1 million people in the US living with HIV today. World AIDS Day, celebrated each December 1st, is an opportunity to increase awareness and knowledge about HIV, support those living with the virus, and champion efforts to prevent new infections.

One such effort? Pre-exposure prophylaxis, or PrEP: a once-a-day pill that prevents HIV-negative people from becoming infected.

PrEP is up to 99% effective at preventing HIV infection. When used as directed, it’s one of the most powerful tools for stopping the spread of AIDS— and yet, the drug is largely underutilized.

A myriad of barriers drives low usage rates: cost, accessibility, and—perhaps most unfortunately—stigma.

Even today, HIV is unfairly stigmatized by homophobia. Many—especially those in the queer community—are hesitant to seek out drugs like PrEP for fear of feeling judged.

Moreover, when you talk about HIV prevention, you have to talk about sex—which, let’s face it, can be uncomfortable. Many doctors and patients shy away from discussing PrEP due to feelings of embarrassment.

At Zoom, we want to eliminate factors that prevent people from seeking care. We encourage open, honest discussions about HIV risk; we strive to create a stigma-free environment where people can access screening and prevention options that are safe, effective, and meet their needs.

Talking openly about HIV screening and prevention confronts the stigma associated with the virus. It also helps normalize drugs like PrEP as a routine part of preventive healthcare, just like birth control. That’s why— in anticipation of World AIDS Day—we sat down with one of our providers, Allison Ehrlich, for a frank discussion about this life-saving drug. Read on:

Hi Allison! Thank you so much for sitting down to talk PrEP with us. First things first: What is PrEP?

PrEP, Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis, is the act of taking daily medications, such as Truvada, that can help prevent contracting HIV through sexual activity and IV drug use in combination with safer sex practices including using condoms and lube, talking with your partner about HIV status, and getting tested regularly for STIs. 

Why do we need new HIV prevention tools, like PrEP? Aren’t condoms enough?

We have come a long way in the medical field with testing, treating and preventing HIV with PrEP, Truvada being one of these medications. Condoms are a great tool when used with PrEP to help protect yourself from HIV in addition to other STIs, but are not enough alone. They can break, may not be used properly, or not provide adequate coverage to reduce the risk of transmission of an STI. 

Who is a good candidate for PrEP? How do I know if it’s right for me? 

PrEP is recommended for the following populations: men who have sex with men (MSM), sex with multiple partners, involved in an open relationship, engage in sexual activity with a partner who is HIV+, or uses IV drugs. 

PrEP might be right for you if you have the following risk factors:

  • Have one or more HIV+ or injection sexual partners
  • Having sex with someone in a sexual network where HIV is common
  • Having a prior STI
  • Participate in sex work
  • Using condoms inconsistently or never
  • Share injection equipment 

It is important to talk with your healthcare provider and be honest about your sexual and medical history and lifestyle risk factors. They can help determine if PrEP is right for you. 

How effective is PrEP, and how soon does PrEP become effective after you start it? 

Per the CDC: “Studies have shown that PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV from sex by about 99% when taken daily. Among people who inject drugs, PrEP reduces the risk of getting HIV by at least 74% when taken daily.”

PrEP when taken daily takes at least 7 days for maximum protection against HIV.

Are there any side effects?

Side effects in clinical trials included nausea or headaches, but usually subside over several weeks. 

If I’m taking PrEP, do I still need to get tested for STIs?

Yes, you need to get tested every 3 months for HIV, and every 6 months for other STIs—sooner if you have any concerns. 

I’m worried I’ve been exposed to HIV. Is PrEP a good option for me?

No, PrEP is pre-exposure prophylaxis and is used before you come into contact with HIV. If you are worried you have already been exposed to HIV, then you will need PEP, post-exposure prophylaxis. This is a month-long course of therapy that needs to be started within 72 hours of exposure. 

I’m nervous about talking to my doctor about PrEP. How should I bring it up?

ZOOM+Care is a great place to talk about PrEP, because we understand it can be a sensitive topic. It is important to be clear about wanting to start PrEP. We will need to discuss your medical and sexual history to help us determine your risk factors, if you are a good candidate for PrEP, and how to best assist you in getting Truvada.

Why does ZOOM+Care support the use of PrEP?

PrEP, in combination with safer sex practices and other prevention tools, is an amazing method to help protect yourself from becomming infected with HIV. ZOOM+Care is open 7 days a week, holidays, and have clinics open until midnight providing easy access to care. Our central pharmacy is happy to assist with Truvada for PrEP and discuss ways to reduce the monthly cost. You can go online at zoomcare.com or on the iOS app to schedule a visit.

Interested in HIV screening, education, or prevention? We’re here. Schedule an appointment today.

The Health Benefits of Counting Your Blessings

Gratitude journal

You’ve heard your grandma say it a thousand times: Count your blessings. The adage is annoyingly prevalent during the holiday season, but—as it turns out—granny was onto something. Burgeoning research shows that gratitude has tangible, positive effects on mental and physical health, including better sleep, reduced depression, and improved relationships.

Let’s back up a little—what is gratitude, anyways?

Robert Emmons (one of the leading scientific experts on this topic) defines gratitude as a “sense of wonder, thankfulness, and appreciation for life.”

If you’re feeling a little more Grinch than Cindy Lou, here are three science-backed reasons to start cultivating gratitude this Thanksgiving—and year-round, too:

1. Sweeter Sleep

After a long, stressful day, your head hits the pillow—and a compilation of your most embarrassing, cringe-worthy memories starts to play. Sound familiar?  

If you’re nodding your head “yes,” you might want to stop counting sheep and start counting blessings instead. According to a 2009 study, cultivating gratitude may help you doze off faster, sleep longer, and wake up feeling more refreshed.

The study linked gratitude to having more positive thoughts (and fewer negative ones) at bedtime. 

It seems obvious, but cultivating positive thoughts helps push pessimism and worry—the enemies of sleep—out of your mind. Rather than obsessing over a friend who forgot to text you back, you’re remembering the coworker who went out of their way to check in with you. Instead of stressing over an awkward social interaction, you’re thinking about that presentation you nailed at work.  

Better than a lullaby, right?

2. improved relationships

Turns out, gratitude is for lovers. 

According to research from the Journal of Theoretical Social Psychology, expressing gratefulness toward your partner can strengthen your bond, improve feelings of harmony, and boost overall satisfaction with your relationship.  

Couples who intentionally expressed gratitude for their significant other not only felt more positively towards them, but were more comfortable addressing concerns about their relationship, too. 

The study’s lead author, Dr. Sara Algoe, says, “Feelings of gratitude and generosity are helpful in solidifying our relationships with people we care about.” 

Want to put gratefulness to practice in your relationship? Here’s an easy tip: Find something you genuinely appreciate about your partner give them an authentic compliment.

3. Boosted physical health

The benefits of thankfulness go beyond the psychological—cultivating gratitude can improve your physical health as well. 

Perhaps unsurprisingly, giving thanks on a routine basis can motivate you to meet your diet and exercise goals—and cut down on unhealthy habits such as cigarette smoking and alcohol abuse. 

According to Robert Emmons’ 2003 study, participants who kept a daily gratitude journal exercised more, had more energy and reported fewer aches and pains. 

Emmons also found gratitude effectively increases happiness and reduces depression, which brings us to our next point…

4. Decreased depression levels

While research on gratitude is still in a fledgling state, many psychologists are exploring the relationship between thankfulness, mental health, and depression.  

A recent study in Current Psychology examined the link between gratitude and depression in university students in China. The discovery? Gratitude may “counteract the symptoms of depression by enhancing a state of peace of mind and reducing ruminative thinking.” (Rumination is repetitively going over a negative thought or a situation without moving into problem-solving.)

Anyone who’s struggled with depression knows how awful those persistent, cycling thoughts can be—so the notion that gratitude could help alleviate them is promising, indeed. 

gratitude is not a cure-all

We want to make one thing clear: there’s no evidence that gratitude can cure serious illnesses or depression. It’s not a panacea—and it’s not for everybody, either. 
What cultivating gratitude can do is help us focus on the positive things in our lives, which can help boost our mood more than we ever imagined. 

Ready to start practicing gratitude year-round?

Get started with the tried-and-true “three good things” exercise. Every night, write down three good things that happened during the day.

For some of us, “the most wonderful time of the year” is anything but. If you or someone you know needs mental health support through the holidays, we’re here.

Schedule Now

Why Men Don’t Like Going to the Doctor—and How ZOOM+Care Can Help

 

Movember men

This article is in celebration of the 2019 Movember campaign, “Changing the face of men’s health.” The Movember Foundation helps raise  awareness for prostate cancer, but also focuses on other aspects of men’s  mental—and overall—well-being.

As much as we hate (read: loathe, abhor) gender stereotypes, there’s one cliché that holds true: Men avoid the doctor like the plague.

Compared with women, self-identified males are half as likely to see a doctor over a two-year time period. Compounding this behavior, they frequently leave prescriptions unfilled and skip their recommended medical screenings. When men wind up in the hospital, it’s more likely to be from severe issues such as pneumonia, congestive heart failure, and diabetes—conditions that could easily be uncovered through routine, preventative care. 

Grimmer still? Compared to women, men die five years sooner, live with more years of bad health, and—according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention—are nearly four times more likely to complete suicide. 

Looking at the data, it’s abundantly clear that men don’t like going to the doctor. (So much, in fact, that 72 percent of them would rather clean a toilet then get a check-up.) The real question is why they hate it.

A 2016 survey commissioned by Orlando Health may hold some answers. According to the results, “I’m too busy” (22%) is the number one excuse men give for skipping the doctor. Other top answers include fear of finding out something that may be wrong (21%), followed by discomfort with specific physical exams, such as prostate checks (18%). 

Our societal view of masculinity may also be to blame.

Traditional gender roles dictate that men be strong and resilient; they’re taught to reject their weaknesses and hide their vulnerability. Pretty much everything about a doctor’s office is in opposition to masculine norms, and because of this, men’s anxieties about seeking care may be intensified. (An idea backed by research conducted at Rutgers University in 2016.)

How can ZOOM+Care help? 

 

Convenience is key. 

Sixty-one percent of men say they would be more likely to go to the doctor if it was convenient.  

By offering same-day, no-wait visits (both inside and outside of work hours), we make it easy for people of all genders to get care. Only have 30 minutes on your lunch break? No problem. We can get you in and out with time to spare—and meds in hand. 

Using tech to avoid embarrassment.

Beyond busyness, one of the biggest obstacles to men seeking treatment is that they’re embarrassed—or simply reluctant—to talk about their health issues.

Our ChatCare feature lets patients connect with a provider without setting foot in a doctor’s office—meaning they’re answering questions privately, rather than confessing uncomfortable facts face-to-face. 

While we can’t treat all concerns via ChatCare, our MDs, NDs, NPs, and PAs can diagnose and treat issues such as allergic rhinitis, sinus infections, asthma, low back pain, colds, coughs, diarrhea, fatigue, erectile dysfunction, fever, hypertension, insomnia, smoking cessation, UTIs, and more.

And because it’s easy to refill prescriptions through ChatCare, it can help address the issue of men skipping their meds, too. 

Stamping out stigma.

Up to 41% of adults forego treatment for mental health concerns due to stigma and fear of discrimination. For men—many of whom have been told to “man up” and “shake it off” their whole lives—accessing mental health resources can be particularly daunting, as it goes against cultural expectations. 

We want to make mental healthcare convenient and judgement-free—for men, and for anyone who is nervous about seeking help. Our philosophy is that mental illness is like any other medical illness—it’s no more shameful than a sore throat or a broken bone. As Dr. Erik Vanderlip, our Chief Medical Officer likes to say, “Just like you’d go to the doctor for a sprained ankle, you can see a Mental Health Care professional for an assessment.”

Integration is essential.

Due to growing demand, there’s been an increase in online health retailers and specialty clinics that focus on men’s health concerns—erectile dysfunction and low testosterone being the most common.  These conditions, however, are typically multifactorial. Psychological causes such as depression—and physical factors such as obesity and diabetes—can mimic the same symptoms. For the best treatment, it’s crucial to obtain a high-quality, comprehensive evaluation. 

At ZOOM+Care, we do it all—conveniently, and with discretion.

Do your part for Movember.

Men are our fathers, sons, partners, friends, uncles, and brothers. Let’s work together to create a cultural shift where they don’t find it difficult (or embarrassing) to seek out medical care. This month and every month, encourage men’s health initiatives, foster healthy discussions, and—most importantly—let the men in your life know that their health matters. 

Don’t postpone your care, dudes. Schedule a same-day, no-wait visit today!

#TogetherWeZoom: Get to Know Clinic Associate Kieran Doherty

#TogetherWeZoom is our monthly employee spotlight—a place to celebrate the work employees do inside of Zoom, and the lives they lead outside it. 

For this month’s #TogetherWeZoom, we talked to Kieran Doherty: a Clinic Associate at our East Burnside location. Kieran has been with Zoom for just over a year, and—during his time here—has had an undeniable impact our company. He always goes above and beyond for both patients and fellow co-workers—whether it’s putting in extra work to reorganize a clinic, or lending an empathetic ear to those around him. 

Read on to learn all about Kieran: what his (many!) hobbies are, what he loves most about his job, and what his proudest ZOOM+Care moment was.

What inspires you most about your work?

I think what inspires me most about working in medicine is making a real palpable change in patients’ lives, sometimes right then and there. Being that resource for someone when they are in need the most, is what helps me at the end of a long and arduous day look back and feel fulfilled from the day rather than drained. I love having the privilege of playing a role in helping someone feel better.

What is your favorite ZOOM+Care perk or benefit?

My favorite perk has to be the schedule, getting half the week off to be a normal human being is an absolute dream, especially in a medical job where burnout is far too prevalent. 

What has been your favorite project so far?

My favorite project so far, with the help of my lovely former clinic partner Miranda, was whipping the East Burnside clinic into shape. It was rather neglected since ZA’s were coming and going, but after reorganizing the space and re-doing everything from the ground up (batch cards, labels, lab area), I feel like EB is now back fighting shape and is a functional space for anyone to come in and use.

What’s something most people don’t know about you?

 Something most people don’t know about me is I have FAR too many passions that intrinsically motivate me. To name a few, music (both playing and traveling for events), the outdoors, a cooking youtube channel, film, and the list goes on. It got so out of hand my college mentor shortened my name from Kieran just to Ren (short for renaissance man).

What has been your proudest moment on the job?

One of my proudest moments at Zoom thus far has been sitting with a hysterical patient in the lobby, working with her to take deep breaths, and recompose herself so we could work on a 827 form together. I quickly realized it wasn’t the help with the process she needed but rather someone to give her a hug and hear out what was causing her so much distress (an abusive workplace environment). We were able to send her out of the clinic with a smile on her face when it was all said and done.

What have you learned from working at ZOOM+Care? 

I have learned so much from my time here at Zoom that I’ve actually started to keep a journal with info I want to retain from going over cases with providers. But one of the more big-picture takeaways I gleaned from my experiences here is about what really good patient care means and looks like. Some of the best providers I’ve worked with meet the patient wherever they are in life and work up from there together, rather than trying to get the patient up to speed with them. Always working with the patient as if you are co-pilots together, and the destination is their health and wellness, rather than being the captain of the ship.

Do you enjoy helping others on their journey to better health? Are you looking for an entryway into the exciting field of healthcare? We’re currently hiring for Clinic Associates! 

 

Burnout, Anxiety, and Depression Run Rampant in the Tech World

Let’s be real: Adulting is hard, and stressful workdays are inevitable. But for some employees, it’s not just an occasional case of the Mondays. Instead, crippling stress, long hours, and workplace pressure are daily realities.

While stress and burnout are issues in most American workplaces, they’re especially prevalent in the tech world, where regular overtime and high expectations for productivity are the norm. 

According to a survey from Blind, an anonymous workplace review service, a high percentage of tech workers suffer from job-related anxiety and burnout. (Burnout is defined as emotional, physical, and mental exhaustion caused by excessive, long-term stress.) The one-question survey had a simple “yes or no” query: “Are you currently suffering from job burnout?” Of the 11,487 users who responded, over half of respondents (57.16%, to be precise) replied “yes.” Frankly, it’s a mindblowing statistic. 

Even more concerning? Burnout, stress, overworking, and irregular work hours can increase a person’s chance of developing depression. “Generally, burnout is consolidated to work.  However, long-term work stress can lead to depression—burnout that’s extended to other domains in a person’s life,” says Zoom CMO Dr. Erik Vanderlip. 

In another Blind survey, users were asked to answer “true” or “false” to this statement: I believe I am depressed. Nearly 40% of the 10,081 tech workers who participated responded with “true.”

What causes employee stress and burnout?

Burnout, anxiety, and depression are hardly exclusive to tech companies. However, the prototypical startup culture may make employees more vulnerable to mental health issues.

Some of the top-cited factors leading to workplace-related mental health issues include unreasonable workload and too much overtime—virtual cornerstones of life at a tech company. 

Why employees’ mental health matters

It’s simple: When employees are happy, they’re more likely to thrive at work. When they’re suffering, their work suffers. According to the CDC, 200 million workdays are lost each year due to depression—which amounts to roughly $17 to $44 billion in lost productivity.  

Happier employees are more productive, but—beyond the financial consequences for companies—there’s a moral, humanitarian component to consider. People are important. Their health, including their mental health, is vitally important. 

Companies should care about their employees’ mental health because the ripple effect is far-reaching. Job-related anxiety and depression (and the ailments they cause) result in over 120,000 deaths each year, making them more deadly than diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, or influenza.

How ZOOM+Care can help 

Long wait times and limited availability are barriers to mental health treatment—and they’re especially difficult to overcome when you’re a busy, overworked tech professional. 

At Zoom, we offer ultra-accessible mental healthcare that fits into your busy schedule. Even if you only have 30 minutes during your lunch break, we can help. You can schedule a same-day ZOOM+Care visit directly from your phone, easily refill or manage medications, or simply to reach out for guidance. 

If you or someone you know has a pressing mental health concern, we’re here.

Schedule Now

Exciting news: ZOOM+Care Mental Health is now available in Bellevue! Never used ZOOM+Care before? Learn more about our unique approach to Mental Health.