Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Tip - Eat More Fiber For Heart Health

Healthy Cereal
Healthy Cereal

You probably know that fiber is good for your digestive heath. Did you know that dietary fiber can also help lower your risk of diabetes and heart disease? Here are some delicious ways to get more fiber in your daily meals.

At breakfast, reach for a dry cereal with at least 5 grams of fiber. Oatmeal is also a good choice. Sprinkle with berries or chopped fresh fruit.

Switch to whole-grain breads for your lunch sandwich, and pile on the veggies. Ever had a whole wheat sandwich with peanut butter and shredded carrots or raisins?

If you serve pasta for supper, use a whole-grain variety. Add fresh or frozen broccoli or other green veggies to pasta sauces.

If you prefer rice over pasta, try brown rice, barley, quinoa or bulgur instead of plain white rice.

Up your fiber intake and keep both your digestive system and your heart working properly.

Sunday, July 14, 2019

TIP – Four Steps Toward Increasing Your Activity Level


Do you get 150 minutes of moderate-intensity aerobic activity each week?  If you need to increase your activity level, take these simple steps:
  1. Schedule your activity. Exercise and movement need to become as much a priority in your day as doctor appointments, errands or work.
  2. Start with activities you find easy and fun. You want to avoid both injury and burnout early on.
  3. Increase both the intensity and duration of your activity gradually. Don’t overdo it.
  4. Set short term goals and keep track of your progress. Journal your workouts to keep yourself motivated as you improve.

Saturday, July 13, 2019

Healthy Eating at Ethnic Restaurants

Manti from Afghanistan
Manti from Afghanistan 
To keep sodium, calories, fat and cholesterol under control, follow these YES and NO tips for six popular ethnic cuisines, whether dining in or ordering takeout.


是 Shi (yes)
Hot and sour soups and steamed or stir-fried dishes are good menu choices. Select dishes with low-fat proteins (tofu, poultry, fish) and lots of veggies. Steamed white rice is OK, but brown rice is healthier if available.
不用, 谢谢 Bù yòng, xiè xiè (no, thank you)
Avoid fatty or fried items such as spareribs, egg rolls, wontons and fried rice. Request low-sodium soy sauce for the table, or ask for all sauces “on the side.” Remind the server that you would like your order prepared without added oil, salt or monosodium glutamate (MSG).


Request your salad with dressing on the side. Roasted poultry, steamed shellfish or poached fish are delicious healthy choices. Consider sauces made from a wine or tomato base. The terms to look for are “Bordelaise” or “à la Provençal.”
Many French sauces are high in fat: béarnaise, béchamel, hollandaise. For the same reason, avoid croissants, pâté, and dishes such as French onion soup that are covered with cheese.


ναι Nai
Greek salad is generally healthy. Poached or baked fish or chicken kebabs broiled on a spit are great choices when cooked with tomatoes, onions, peppers and garlic (“plaki”). “Psari plaki” is Greek-style baked fish.
όχι Ochi
Avoid high-sodium anchovies, feta cheese and olives. Some traditional Greek dishes are made with large amounts of butter or oil. There is a reason why “baba ghanoush” is supposed to have killed the sultan! Desserts such as “baklava” made with phyllo dough, butter, honey and nuts are also diet dangers.


Simple Italian fish and chicken dishes are good menu choices. You may also enjoy pasta with clam sauce, tomato sauce with garlic and onions (“marinara”), wine-based sauce (“Marsala”) or “primavera” with lots of fresh vegetables.
Veal “scaloppini” and “parmigiana” are both cooked with Parmesan cheese and contain added fat. You will want to avoid dishes with butter or cream sauces, and pastas stuffed with cheese or fatty meats.


はい Hai
Select from these healthy Japanese dishes: “kayaku gohan” (vegetables and rice), “shumai” (steamed dumplings), soba (buckwheat) or udon (thick wheat) noodles, steamed rice, “sukiyaki” (hot pot beef and vegetables), most tofu dishes, “yakisoba” (stir-fried noodles), and “yakitori” (skewered chicken teriyaki).
ノー Īe
These Japanese dishes are not as healthy: fried tofu, “tempura” (battered, deep-fried seafood or vegetables), “tonkatsu” (breaded deep-fried pork), “tori katsu” (panko chicken), or shrimp “agemono” (deep-fried).


Order grilled chicken, fish or shrimp with a salsa made of tomato, chilies and onion. Ask for soft, not fried, corn tortillas which are lower in both calories and fat than flour tortillas. Beans and rice are healthy side dishes.
That appetizer bowl of chips with guacamole adds many calories and large amounts of fat to your meal. Skip extra cheese and sour cream with the entree. Ask that your dishes be prepared without added lard or other fats.

Sunday, June 30, 2019

TIP: Why a sandwich is a great meal idea


 A sandwich is pretty much a perfect meal.  Sandwich ingredients come in a wide variety so you can make many different types of sandwiches that include whole grains, protein, and vegetables or fruits.   They also are automatically portion controlled, with one sandwich being a sensible amount for one meal.  Because sandwiches offer the three fundamentals of meal planning (balance of basic food types, variety within each food type, and moderation of amount), you might want to include more (and more types of) sandwiches in your meal planning.

Saturday, June 29, 2019

Making Decisions When Disability Affects Employment

More Than One Way

 Perhaps you acquired a sudden disability due to an accident or illness.  Or possibly a progressive disability has gotten to the point that it is affecting your capability at work.  Or maybe it’s a combination of aging and a chronic illness.

Whatever the reason, many of us will face complex and painful decisions about our employment status.

Disability symptoms that can impact employment include:
  • fatigue
  • pain
  • cognitive changes
  • vision changes
  • anxiety or depression
  • reduced mobility
Other factors to consider are a sense of decreasing quality of life or a work-life imbalance.

Your employer or supervisor may notice that you have high absenteeism, which can be due to an increased need for medical care or for symptoms that cannot be managed in the workplace.  You may also be getting less positive performance reviews or negative feedback about your work products.

Before making any changes in your employment status talk with your doctor about symptoms that affect your work.  It is possible that a change in your symptom management plan or your prescriptions can provide all the accommodation you will need to stay in the same position.

If not, you will next want to consult a vocational rehabilitation counselor who can evaluate how your symptoms are affecting your work and suggest options for accommodation.  You will probably want to check with your doctor and the vocational rehabilitation counselor before your employer or supervisor calls you in for “the talk.”

It may be possible to stay in your current position with modifications of your job as defined in the Americans with Disabilities Act.  This US legislation required employers with over 15 employees to provide “reasonable accommodations” for qualified employees whose disability impacts their work.

If you decide to invoke the ADA and ask for workplace accommodations, you will want to be sure that the accommodations provided do in fact improve your effectiveness at work.  If not, or if your symptoms continue to change and require additional accommodations, there may come a point where you feel you must give up your job.

In making this momentous life decision, be sure to do some careful financial planning.  Evaluate your health insurance coverage.  Will you need to work part time to maintain coverage under your employer’s plan?  Do you qualify for insurance under Medicare or Medicaid?  Do you have a disability insurance policy or long-term care policy?

Create a reasonable monthly budget based on your projected income from all sources (savings, spouse’s income, disability support, etc.) and your expenses.  You’ll probably need to think about ways to cut expenses.

You will also need to consider costs in the longer term.  What about the costs of modifying your home to make it more accessible as you age or become more disabled?  Would it be wiser to move now to a smaller, more affordable, more accessible place?

You will also want to think about the social and emotional impact of leaving your career.  Because adults tend to identify with our jobs, you may suffer grief at the thought of becoming “medically retired” (AKA, unemployed).  You may feel a loss of a sense of purpose.  You may feel that your family will suffer from your lack of income.  Your self-worth may be impacted since you are no longer a “contributing member of society.”

The change from career to non-working requires both adjustments and acceptance.  You will recognize that job-related social activities and friendships fade over time.  You will miss the weekday routine.  You may feel you are becoming isolated and depressed.

However, the emotional impacts of stopping work are not all negative, it’s important to remember.  Trying to achieve work goals that become increasingly difficult to meet creates harmful stress.  Leaving your job can offer you more time to spend with friends and family, and you may have more energy to accomplish household tasks or devote to your hobbies.

As part of your adjustment to your new non-employed status, be sure to involve your family members in deciding changes in roles and responsibilities in the home.  Reach out to your friends and support network.  Create some daily structure that will keep you active.

Your vocational rehabilitation counselor is also a good source of information about volunteer positions in the community.  Volunteering keeps you involved mentally and socially if you do have to stop being a paid employee.  It can also be a source of new friendships.

Always remember, if your disability is impeding your career, your life is unbalanced.  Sometimes the best way to obtain a quality life balance is to quit the job and move on to a new phase of your life.

Leap Of Faith for Better Opportunity

Monday, June 17, 2019

Cooking Meat Safely


1.  Proper meat cooking for safe results begins with purchasing the meat.
  • Purchase fresh meat and poultry last before checkout.
  • Meat should feel cold in the store. Any meat product that feels warm has not been properly stored and could be unhealthy.
  • Look for packages that are tightly wrapped with no tears or punctures in the wrapping. If the product is vacuum packed, be sure the seal has not been broken and the package is not leaking.
  • Avoid packages with excessive liquid around the fresh meat, or ice around frozen meat. This might mean it had been stored improperly.
  • Check the sell-by date on the package to ensure freshness. If you buy meat or poultry on or right before the sell-by date, be sure to freeze it as soon as you get home or prepare it that day.
  • Wrap the meat package in a plastic bag before you put it in the grocery cart to avoid leaking meat juices onto other food products.
  • If the grocery store is more than 30 minutes from home, transport purchased meat products in an ice chest or cooler.
2.  Store the meat carefully before preparation.
  • Refrigerate purchased meat and poultry as soon as you get home from the store.
  • Keep meat cold in the meat compartment or coldest part of the refrigerator to inhibit the growth of bacteria that cause spoilage. Be sure the temperature of your refrigerator is 40 degrees F (4 degrees C) or lower.
  • Keep refrigerated meat packages on a tray or in a plastic bag so the meat juices do not leak onto other food.
  • If you freeze meat or poultry for use within a week, do so in its original store wrapping. If you plan to keep the meat in the freezer for more than a week, it should be removed from the store wrapping and rewrapped securely in freezer paper or plastic freezer bags.
3.  During preparation, it is important to avoid contamination of meat and other foods.
  • Wash your hands carefully in hot soapy water before and after handling fresh meat and poultry.
  • Keep fresh meat and poultry and their juices away from other foods, both in the refrigerator and in the preparation area.
  • If the meat was frozen, the safest way to defrost it is by letting it sit in the refrigerator. Never defrost at room temperature, as that allows harmful bacteria to grow.
  • To defrost a package of meat more quickly in cold water, leave it in its original packaging or in a leak-proof bag if the packaging is not air-tight. Submerge the package completely in cold water. 
  • Change the water every 30 minutes so the meat stays cool while it thaws.
  • Some microwaves come with a defrost feature. This works quickly but can begin to cook the meat in random areas. These spots become warm enough for bacteria to grow, so microwave-defrosted meat and poultry should be cooked immediately.
  • As soon as meat and poultry has been prepared for cooking, wash all cutting surfaces, utensils and counter tops with hot soapy water. If possible, use a special dedicated cutting board only for fresh meat and poultry.
  • Never put cooked foods on the same board, tray or platter that was used for fresh meat or poultry before it was cooked. When grilling, use separate plates to transport fresh and cooked meats.
4.  Meat should be cooked to the correct internal temperature. This will kill harmful bacteria that might be in the fresh meat.
  • The best way to know if meat is cooked thoroughly is to use an instant-read or ovenproof meat thermometer, which can help you avoid both undercooking and overcooking. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the meat, but do not let it touch bone. If pieces of meat are irregular in size, check a few of them to be sure they are all cooked to the appropriate temperature.
  • Slow cookers or crockpots are very safe ways to cook fresh meat and poultry. These kitchen tools will keep meat and poultry at a safe temperature as long as they are operating.
  • Frozen meat and poultry may be safely cooked in the oven, grilled, or on the stove without defrosting, although the cooking time may be up to 50% longer for the meat to come to the correct internal temperature.
  • It is not safe to cook frozen meat and poultry in a slow cooker or crockpot.
5. After serving your meat dish, if there are leftovers to be used in a later meal, proper storage is again important.
  • Chill leftover meats quickly before storing in the refrigerator or freezer to hinder bacterial growth. Spread large amounts out in a shallow container or divide large quantities into several smaller portions.
  • Ensure proper airflow around leftover containers in the refrigerator or freezer. Do not pack them tightly. This helps maintain the proper temperature in the compartment.
  • Label the leftover container with the date it was put into the refrigerator or freezer. Cooked meat and poultry will be safe in the refrigerator for 3-4 days; it will last in the freezer up to 4 months. If you are unsure how long the cooked food has been stored, throw it out.

Sunday, June 9, 2019

Make Charitable Contributions Safely

When you donate money to a charity, you want to be sure that it ends up furthering the cause you intend to support. Here are six steps to take when donating to ensure the charity delivers on its promises.

1.    For your donation to be tax-deductible in the US, the charity must be a registered, qualified non-profit. Search for the organization’s name in the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) database of tax exempt organizations.

2.    Check out the organization’s website. Look for the organization’s mission statement, then find evidence of outcomes or impact of the organization’s work that align with its mission. Is the information updated and current?

Does the organization publish an annual report or other documentation of its claims of effective use of funds? Read accounts by persons served by the organization, but also look for statistics.

Check the staff’s contact information. Is it possible to identify actual persons you could call or email? Read their biographies to get a feel for the types of people intimately involved in the work of the organization.

3.    How do others feel about this organization? While you do not necessarily have to agree with people who offer either glowing testimonials or scathing negative reviews, it is useful to read both.

The Better Business Bureau (BBB) issues reports based on 20 Standards related to governance, finance, effectiveness, and informational materials about organizations for which they have received complaints. (Charities can also request a BBB evaluation. Those which meet all 20 Standards are then display the BBB National Charity Seal.)

Several independent organizations monitor the spending patterns of charities. It is felt that reasonable organizations spend no more than 30% of their income on running the business (salaries, office expenses, fundraising, and marketing). The charity should put at least 70% of donations toward the organization’s mission. Here are places to check how the charity you plan to donate to will use your dollars.

Charity Navigator shows the percentage of the organization’s budget spent on everything not related to its mission for organizations on their alphabetical listing. The website has a separate list of charities their experts have various levels of concerns about.

Charity Watch is like Charity Navigator but is organized by category rather than alphabetically. This can be helpful if you look for alternatives to the charity you were originally thinking of.

GiveWell is a VERY picky site. They create an annual short list of top global charities in the healthcare and poverty reduction arenas that are evidence-based and under-funded. This is useful if you want to donate where funding would be most effective.

GuideStar is perhaps the best-known source of information about charities. Free registration offers you tons of information on nonprofit organizations.

4.    From your research in steps 2 and 3, write a list of questions you would like answered about the organization.

Charity Navigator has a great list of questions that each organization should be able to answer, either through online documentation or by phone call or email.

5.    Contact a real person by phone or email and get answers to your questions. Follow up if you don’t understand an answer or need more depth.

6.    If you are planning to donate online, take these extra safety precautions.
·         Don’t ever consider giving your financial information through a website unless it is “secured.” You can identify a secured website by the letters in front of its URL. Secured websites begin with “https” where the “s” stands for “secured.”

·         Give directly to your desired charity instead of to a third party who is collecting donations “to be sent to” it.

·         Protect your personal information. Read the website privacy policy. Find out how the charity says it will use the information you provide. They should give you an “opt in” choice to allow them to disclose your information to other organizations. Find out if they place “cookies” on your hard drive.

·         Print out a paper record of the confirmation screen (or confirmation email) that your donation was received. Put this with your tax records.

Most charities are reputable and strive to improve the human condition. Don’t refrain from donating to charities. They need our support. Just be sure you donate safely.

Friday, June 7, 2019

Safe Gardening in June (and Every Other Month)

Gardening is a great hobby if done safely. It can provide both relaxation and exercise. Your garden might make your environment prettier or provide you with veggies and fruits for your meals. But you will want to follow these six tips to be sure that you are safe while working in your garden.

1. Get the best tools for gardening

Back and knee pain is the most common problem caused by gardening, so invest in a garden stool or knee pad to kneel on. If the handles of the tools you have are too short to use without stooping, you can get extensions to lengthen them. Or you can purchase new tools with longer handles with ergonomic easy grips on the ends.

The Arthritis Foundation asked accessibility experts to test various gardening products. The ones that work the best for persons with physical limitations are given their Ease of Use Commendation logo. Look for that symbol when shopping for gardening tools. Wear gloves to protect your hands and fingers. Any puncture or opening in the skin, no matter how tiny, offers a way for germs to get in and start an infection. Leather gloves will protect you from insect bites, thorns, and poison ivy.

2. Prepare the area where you will grow your garden

Remove all stones, debris, and unwanted plants from the area. You do not want any trip hazards for the gardener and the garden plants do not need competition.

Remember, a garden does not have to be at ground level. You can grow flowers and vegetables in container gardens or large pots, and herbs on the kitchen windowsill. You could make raised bed gardens which are great for gardeners who use wheelchairs and others who have trouble getting down to and up from ground level. It is even possible to garden in hanging baskets or on a vertical frame, if that works better for you.

3. Start small

Choose easy-to-grow plants that won’t need a lot of care. Try to limit the size of your garden to what you can care for in about a half hour, so you don’t expend more energy than you have available. Gardening is one hobby that is easy to make too big to handle!

4. Maintain good posture

Learn the proper technique for using a shovel. Use large muscle groups when possible since they are usually stronger. When lifting, bend your knees, grasp the object, hold it close to your body, and raise up using your leg muscles. Don’t bend over and lift through your back muscles. Get help with really heavy or awkward objects.
Twisting to shovel dirt or pull weeds can lead to problems with the spine and hips. Try to avoid twisting, and hinge straight forward from the hip joints (watch the video to find out what it means to “hinge”!).

5. Alternate activities and take rest breaks as needed

Keep your body safe while gardening. Avoid repetitive motion injuries by switching hands on tools and tasks.

Stretch before and after a gardening session. Stretching is a multi-purpose activity. It acts as a warm up for the muscles prior to a physical activity, a relaxation during the activity, and a cool down afterwards.

Pace yourself. Gardening can be done in short bursts rather than one long session.

Be sure to stay properly hydrated. It is generally recommended to drink a half liter or more of water each hour you work outdoors, but this amount will vary with temperature, activity level, and personal characteristics. Drink again when you are done gardening.

6. Keep your gardening tools clean and sharp

Wipe soil off tools and store them in a dry place to keep them from rusting. When the blades or edges of shovels, trowels and other digging tools get dull, sharpen them carefully or have them professionally sharpened. Sharp garden tools work better and will make your gardening less effortful. Take proper care of garden tools and they will help keep you safe while gardening.

Store garden chemicals like fertilizer and herbicides properly. Read the label and any warnings carefully before safely using these chemicals.

Here are some more tips and suggestions for safe gardening:

National Safety Month

Did you know that June is National Safety Month? This blog will celebrate by sharing tips and articles concerned with safety in all venues: at home, on the road and at work, online, financially, during storms, dealing with medical issues, and of course safety with regard to disabilities. We will share information, suggestions, and resources.

National Safety Month was initiated by the National Safety Council, which works to reduce the leading causes of injury and accidental death. They share many excellent resources on their website: https://www.nsc.org/work-safety/get-involved/national-safety-month.

Join Virtual Ability as we celebrate safety throughout the month of June. We hope our readers will improve their safety year round by being more aware of potential hazards and knowing how to deal with them.

Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Blogger Meet Up

By Marcel Mosswood, Virtual Ability community member

Writing is so much fun. And getting money from what I like to do is a blessing. That’s the reason why I like blogging. I’ve been blogging since 2007, but I’m not a blogging expert. Why? Because blogging is more than writing and publishing your writing. It is mainly about technology. About how you manage the technology to make your writing published in its best way.

Blogging is also about working together in teamwork. Brainstorming, collaborating, and supporting each other is how we work. We should collaborate with other bloggers to maintain a significant position in the search engine.

Based on this thought, I want to invite bloggers in the SL to brainstorm, collaborate, and support each other to make our blogging activity more fun. The meet up will be on Thursday, May 23, 5 PM SLT and will repeat every month on the 4th Thursday. Here is the SLURL:

Monday, May 13, 2019

Put Your Phone in a Sleeping Bag and Unplug for a Day

Ms. Fatemeh Rezaee, PhD student at Seoul National University, presented on March 26 at Virtual Ability’s Mental Health Symposium. During her presentation, she mentioned the National Day of Unplugging, which this year had been held March 1-2. Several audience members asked for further information about this, recognizing that they spend an increasing amount of non-quality time engaged with their phones. They seemed particularly intrigued by the idea of a “cell phone sleeping bag” to cut off some of the electronic device’s allure.

Ms. Rezaee sends along a couple of web links that are related to the concept of purposeful unplugging from your cellphone.

The National Day of Unplugging organization has a great deal of information on how to get involved. This page shows their Cell Phone Sleeping Bag: https://www.nationaldayofunplugging.com/sign-up. The page also links to a resource toolkit of activities you or your organization can use to promote the need to unplug once in a while.

Another company that makes cell phone sleeping bags is Bagby: https://bagby.co/collections/all.

Of course, if you are crafty, you don’t need to purchase one of these products. You may be able to knit, crochet, or sew a cover for your phone. One enterprising community member stated that if the one she plans to make for herself works well, then she will think about starting a home business!

Thank you Ms. Rezaee for introducing our audience to this important simple tool we can use to reclaim our lives.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

Asperger's Are Us - Comedy About Not Asperger's

By Orange Planer

I recently ran across an article in The Boston Globe regarding a comedy troupe named Asperger’s Are Us.  The members of the group are Noah Britton, New Michael Ingemi, Ethan Finlan, and Jack Hanke.  They met at a summer camp in 2005 where Britton, who had recently been diagnosed with Asperger’s, was a counselor (which makes him older than the others).  They got along well enough that four years later they created their troupe which specializes in absurdist comedy and clever wordplay.

Since then they’ve been touring and have generated an HBO six-part series called “On Tour With Asperger’s Are Us.”  They don’t make a secret of the fact that all of them have been diagnosed with Asperger’s Syndrome. Initially they were seen as “the Asperger’s comedy team,” but they firmly reject that idea.  They formed the group to make people laugh: they just happen to have Asperger’s and do not bring attention to syndrome in any way. In fact, they’re so adamant about it that Britton says he has a response ready for the next time someone takes a patronizing approach at a show.

“Next time someone in the audience says it’s so inspiring what we’re doing, overcoming challenges, I’m going to ask, ‘What do you do?,’ ” Britton says. “Then I’ll say, ‘It’s really inspiring that you have that job, period, rather than that you’re bad or good at it. I won’t comment on that, just that it’s inspiring that you go to work as a secretary.’ Hopefully, then, they’ll sit down.” (Quote courtesy of The Boston Globe.)

I find their sense of humor brainy, multi-leveled, fun, and satirical.  I hope you get a chance to check out the article in The Boston Globe (email address required, no password) and to view their website (both linked above).

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Join the Mental Health Symposium on YouTube Live Stream

By Gentle Heron

Ever wondered how to attend a conference in Second Life if you don’t have a virtual world avatar?

Will you be at work during the conference time, unable to justify having a virtual world open on your computer screen, but willing to listen in to the speakers?

What can you do other than attend the Mental Health Symposium as an avatar?

You can watch it live as it is streamed from Second Life through YouTube.

The best thing to do is to subscribe to the Virtual Ability, Inc. YouTube Channel. Then tune in at 8:30 am Pacific time on Friday, April 26, to view all the conference proceedings.

Or just follow this link at 8:30 am Pacific time on Friday, April 26.

So even if you’re not able to sit in the Sojourner Auditorium on Virtual Ability island, you will be able to hear and see the full conference.

Please do join us.

Sunday, April 21, 2019

How do you relate to your avatar?

By Dr. Nicholas Bowman
Dr. Nicholas Bowman
Dr. Nicholas Bowman
Users of virtual environments interact with the environment and with other users through an avatar that is under their control. The avatar is distinct from, but related to, the user. This creates a complex relationship which the audience members at the Mental Health Symposium will be experiencing during the conference.

Dr. Nicholas Bowman will speak about this relationship from noon to 12:45pm Pacific, Friday April 26. The title of his talk is “How do I relate to me? The emotional demands of our online personae.”

Dr. Bowman is an associate professor at the Interaction Lab of the Department of Communication Studies, West Virginia University (US). He views entertainment technology as a place for learning and community discourse. He researches how communication technology such as video games and social media affects the way we interact.

Dr. Bowman will discuss different mechanisms by which users associate with and understand their on-screen avatars. These different mechanisms might have very different emotional components and outcomes. During the presentation, audience members will be asked to actively share their thoughts and experiences with their own avatars.

For more information about the Mental Health Symposium and the full schedule of sessions:

Virtual Worlds Serve Military Mental Health Needs

By Dr. Kevin Holloway
Dr. Kevin Holloway
Dr. Kevin Holloway

A Center for Deployment Psychology Training Facility
A Center for Deployment Psychology Training Facility

Members of the military, both veterans and those in service, and their family members deserve the most effective treatments for deployment- and combat-related PTSD, sleep disorders, depression and suicidal ideation. The Center for Deployment Psychology (CDP) at the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, MD (US) has piloted virtual-worlds based training programs for mental health providers serving this population.

Dr. Kevin Holloway is the Director of Training and Education at the Center for Deployment Psychology. A licensed clinical psychologist, he is particularly interested in technology solutions, including using virtual worlds to improve access to and quality of professional training. Dr. Holloway’s presentation at the Mental Health Symposium, “Virtual World Training for Mental Health Providers,” will be held from 2-3:30pm Pacific on Friday April 26. He will discuss CDP's synchronous and asynchronous Second Life training models and environments, and preliminary outcomes data regarding effectiveness.

Following Q&A will be an opportunity for the audience to tour two of CDP’s Second Life facilities, the Snoozeum and Operation AVATAR. These sites augment live, instructor-led, virtual training workshops for mental health providers learning evidence-based psychotherapies (EBPs) for insomnia and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

For more information about the Mental Health Symposium and the full schedule of sessions:

Video games, the pluses and minuses

By Dr. Michelle Colder Carras
Dr. Michelle Colder Carras
Dr. Michelle Colder Carras

The Entertainment Software Association’s 2018 Essential Facts About the Computer and Video Game Industry reports that over 150 million Americans play video games, 60% of them playing daily. Video game play has been shown to provide cognitive benefits, improving basic mental abilities such as attention and executive functioning.

However, there is also a negative side to video gaming. In 2018, the World Health Organization (WHO) identified “gaming disorder” in the 11th Revision of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD-11).

Dr. Michelle Colder Carras’s presentation, titled “Video games, social interactions, and mental health: Benefits and problems,” will be the 1-1:45pm (Pacific time) session on Friday, April 26 at Virtual Ability’s annual Mental Health Symposium. Dr. Colder Carras is a public mental health researcher and informaticist who specializes in healthy and problematic media and technology use. Her most recent work has focused on how commercial video games can be useful for suicide prevention and improved mental health.

Dr. Colder Carras will discuss the importance of determining the context of game play in deciding if it is helpful or harmful. She will examine both online and offline social interactions by video gamers, and will discuss both potential therapeutic benefits and problematic issues related to gaming.

For more information about the Mental Health Symposium and the full schedule of sessions: