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Clinton Health Matters Conference Returns

Focus on prescription drug abuse and physical inactivity

By Lauren Del Sarto

The 3rd annual Clinton Health Matters Conference will return to the Coachella Valley January 13 – 15. As part of the foundation’s Health Matter Initiative (CHMI) and the Alliance for a Healthier Generation, the conference will unite corporate, non-profit, sports and media leaders to discuss partnerships and action steps to address two key issues: prescription drug abuse on college campuses, and physical inactivity amongst our youth.

“Prescription drug misuse is one of the leading causes of accidental deaths,” said Rain Henderson, Deputy Director of the CHMI, who notes that the issue is epidemic at colleges and universities. “We want to reduce the number of deaths by ten thousand in five years.” To accomplish this goal, the CHMI is recruiting the experience of the Jed Foundation, a nonprofit organization committed to promoting emotional health and preventing suicide among college students. To help generate awareness, partnerships include MTV and Facebook.

“One in every two college students is given the opportunity to take prescription drugs,” states Henderson.  The program is designed to help colleges assess mental health, substance abuse and prevention programming against recommended practices, and aims to broaden resources, to provide alternatives for mitigating student stress, and to help students make the better choice.

MTV and Facebook will further assist by enhancing awareness to the community which plays a critical role in helping those who are struggling with suicidal thoughts and others who may be at risk. “Suicide prevention is one of our big commitments heading into 2014,” says Facebook’s Matt Steinfeld, “making sure we’re connecting those in need with the resources and people who can help them best.”

The CHMI’s efforts to address childhood obesity will focus on physical inactivity. “One of the goals is to equally distribute the opportunity to be active,” said Ginny Ehrlich, CEO of the CHMI, “and we know that sport is a powerful element in that equation.” Partnerships for this segment will include ESPN, The Aspen Institute, and Nike; panel discussions at the conference will feature athletes and influencers including President Clinton and Kobe Bryant.

Other activities around the conference include the CHMI’s fourth Codeathon event taking place at Palm Spring’s Ace Hotel January 11-12. Playing off the format of ‘Hackathon’ the event gives developers and designers a healthy environment to build technology products that can solve challenging social problems. Codeathon aims to demonstrate to youth how valuable their technology skills can be in transforming the health of our nation.

On Monday, January 13, Chelsea Clinton will be hosting a Day of Action in partnership with the City of Coachella. (Visit Desert Health’s Facebook page for updates on this activity.)

The Clinton Health Matters Conference is presented nationally by Tenet Healthcare, whose local hospitals include Desert Regional Medical Center and JFK Memorial Hospital. The conference is held annually in conjunction with the Humana Challenge and aims to shine a light on the innovations and opportunities available to make a difference in the lives and health of our nation. The Clinton Health Matters Initiative is an on-going, local effort which first launched in the Coachella Valley and is now taking place in numerous communities across the country.

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