Inclusivity in Focus: Commemorating LGBTQIA+ Pride Month

Coming out for people who are LGBTQ+ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer/questioning, nonbinary, and other gender and sexually expansive identities) can bring relief and joy as they continue to learn who they are and find support within the LGBTQ+ community. While being part of the LGBTQ+ community can be a source of strength, it also can present challenges. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, members of the LGBTQ+ community are at a higher risk for mental health conditions, especially anxiety and depression.* That’s why it’s important to be aware of these challenges and learn what you can do to help.

How to support the LGBTQ+ community

Supporting LGBTQ+ family members, friends, and co-workers is vital to helping them feel comfortable and accepted for who they are, which also bolsters their mental health. Being an ally also helps others grow in understanding and knowledge. Here’s what you can do:

Create an atmosphere of acceptance

  • Be open and approachable, and consistently show you are supportive of LGBTQ+ concerns.
  • Be sensitive and respectful to all gender orientations and sexualities. Don’t assume that all people are heterosexual and/or cisgender, meaning their gender identity matches the sex they were assigned at birth.
  • Use inclusive language and correct pronouns.

Listen and be willing to engage in conversation

  • Offer empathy and support by validating concerns, experiences, and feelings.
  • Spend time with your LGBTQ+ family members, friends, or co-workers. Be present and aware.
  • Ask how you can be supportive yet be sensitive about the type of questions you ask.

Speak up in a caring way

  • Always show respect through your words and actions.
  • Say something if someone makes an insensitive comment or joke. Silence can be viewed as acceptance.
  • Normalize that there are a variety of sexual orientations and gender identities.

Expand your knowledge

  • Seek out information and resources to grow your understanding. Three good sources are the Gay-Straight Alliance Network at org, It Gets Better at itgetsbetter.org, and The Trevor Project at thetrevorproject.org.

 

Your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) offers resources and support* too:

  • Online resources: Go to anthem.com/eap to log in. You’ll find helpful videos, podcasts, and articles.•
  • Professional counseling: Connect with a licensed professional for confidential online or in-person sessions by going to the EAP website.
  • For 24/7 emergency help, call 988 to reach the National Suicide Prevention Hotline.

Acknowledging the profound importance of supporting LGBTQIA+ employees underscores the need for ongoing, substantive efforts to uphold this commitment. By embracing such strategies, we cultivate an inclusive and respectful workplace culture and reaffirm our dedication to creating environments where every individual feels valued, respected, and empowered.

Participate in Pride Month in Henrico County 2024

As we celebrate Pride Month and reassert our dedication to fostering inclusivity within our workplace, we are excited to spotlight the diverse range of initiatives across the county to champion equality and support our LGBTQ+ employees. From engaging community events to enlightening discussions, there’s something for everyone to participate in:

Love is Love at Belmont (4 pm, All ages): Join us in commemorating LGBTQ+ Pride month with a delightful assortment of activities. From arts & crafts to games and access to the community game room, there’s fun for all! Visit page 7 of the Summer Program Guide to find more information about this event.

Victorian Flower Language and the LGBTQ+ Community at The Parsons Center (2 pm, All ages): Explore the intriguing history of courting and dating in the Victorian Era, where flowers were used to convey romantic intentions. Discover how the LGBTQ+ community of that time adapted these floral exchanges to express their own romantic interests. Visit page 7 of the Summer Program Guide to find more information about this event.

Hands-On History: LGBTQIA+ Virginia: Delve into the rich history of LGBTQIA+ life in Virginia from 1970-2003 with University of Richmond Professor Dr. Pippa Holloway. Following the lecture, unleash your creativity with a hands-on craft session, crafting Pride pins to take home. Visit the HCPL events calendar to find more information about this event.

Libbie Mill LGBTQIA+ Book Discussion: Join in on a thought-provoking discussion of “True Biz” by Sara Nović, centered around students and faculty at the River Valley School for the Deaf as they navigate personal and political crises, celebrating language, Deaf community, and human connection. Visit the HCPL events calendar to find more information about this event.

We encourage you to maintain your engagement, involvement, and activity by taking the opportunity to explore the rich resources available on Henrico County’s Multicultural Community Engagement website and dedicated LGBTQIA+ page. Your continued presence and participation not only contribute to the ongoing celebration of inclusivity and diversity but also serve as a testament to our collective commitment to creating a more welcoming and supportive environment for all.

Sources:
U.S. Census Bureau: LGBT Adults Report Anxiety, Depression at All Ages (December 14, 2022): census.gov.
American Psychiatry Association: Five Ways To Support LGBTQ+ Mental Health (June 26, 2023): psychiatry.org.
The Trevor Project: Friends & Family Support Systems for LGBTQ Youth (August 20, 2021): thetrevorproject.org.
EAP products are offered by Anthem Life Insurance Company. In New York, Anthem EAP products are offered by Anthem Life & Disability Insurance Company. In California, Anthem EAP products are offered by Blue Cross of California using the trade name Anthem Blue Cross. ANTHEM is a registered trademark. Use of the Anthem EAP website constitutes your agreement with our Terms of Use.
Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield is the trade name of: In Colorado: Rocky Mountain Hospital and Medical Service, Inc. HMO products underwritten by HMO Colorado, Inc. In Connecticut: Anthem Health Plans, Inc. In Indiana: Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc. In Georgia: Blue Cross Blue Shield Healthcare Plan of Georgia, Inc. and Community Care Health Plan of Georgia, Inc. In Kentucky: Anthem Health Plans of Kentucky, Inc. In Maine: Anthem Health Plans of Maine, Inc. In Missouri (excluding 30 counties in the Kansas City area): RightCHOICE® Managed Care, Inc. (RIT), Healthy Alliance® Life Insurance Company (HALIC), and HMO Missouri, Inc. RIT and certain affiliates administer non-HMO benefits underwritten by HALIC and HMO benefits underwritten by HMO Missouri, Inc. RIT and certain affiliates only provide administrative services for self-funded plans and do not underwrite benefits. In Nevada: Rocky Mountain Hospital and Medical Service, Inc. HMO products underwritten by HMO Colorado, Inc., dba HMO Nevada. In New Hampshire: Anthem Health Plans of New Hampshire, Inc. HMO plans are administered by Anthem Health Plans of New Hampshire, Inc. and underwritten by Matthew Thornton Health Plan, Inc. In 17 southeastern counties of New York: Anthem HealthChoice Assurance, Inc., and Anthem HealthChoice HMO, Inc. In these same counties Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield HP is the trade name of Anthem HP, LLC. In Ohio: Community Insurance Company. In Virginia: Anthem Health Plans of Virginia, Inc. trades as Anthem Blue Cross and Blue Shield, and its affiliate HealthKeepers, Inc. trades as Anthem HealthKeepers providing HMO coverage, and their service area is all of Virginia except for the City of Fairfax, the Town of Vienna, and the area east of State Route 123. In Wisconsin: Blue Cross Blue Shield of Wisconsin (BCBSWI) underwrites or administers PPO and indemnity policies and underwrites the out-of-network benefits in POS policies offered by Compcare Health Services Insurance Corporation (Compcare) or Wisconsin Collaborative Insurance Corporation (WCIC). Compcare underwrites or administers HMO or POS policies; WCIC underwrites or administers Well Priority HMO or POS policies. Independent licensees of the Blue Cross and Blue Shield Association. Anthem is a registered trademark of Anthem Insurance Companies, Inc.

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Adventure Begins at Your Library

Whether your summer adventures take you inside or out, be sure to make lots of room for the 2024 Summer Reading Challenge, Adventure Begins at your Library, with Henrico County Public Library. This year, we’ve made it super easy to focus on the things that really matter: Books, reading, and library fun! Visit our website HCPL – Summer Reading (henricolibrary.org) for information about how to sign up via Beanstack starting June 1. 

All locations will have lots of programs for all ages to keep the fun going all summer. By reading books and attending these activities, you can earn points to win cool prizes, as well as opportunities to earn entries for our grand prizes. Visit your local library branch for even more adventures and ways to win. You can also follow along with us on social media to participate in our Where’s the Sloth challenge and watch Scooter the Sloth, our Summer Reading mascot, have adventures throughout the county. We look forward to seeing you at the library this summer! This program is made possible by the Friends of Henrico County Public Library and all of our readers.

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Respiratory Virus Guidance from Employee Health

Respiratory viruses, including the viruses responsible for influenza and COVID-19, cause millions of illnesses in the United States every year. While there are many types of viral respiratory illnesses, there are steps you can take to help protect yourself and others from increased risk and associated health complications.

Did you know that the CDC has recently updated its guidelines on respiratory illnesses? (While Henrico County does not currently have any required protocol, we recommend that employees follow the directions provided by medical professionals, their primary care physician, and the CDC.) A notable change is that you are now advised to stay home and isolate yourself from others until you are fever-free (without the use of fever-reducing medications) for at least 24 hours and your symptoms have improved. After this time, you may return to work but should continue to take standard precautions such as social distancing, frequent hand washing and wearing a mask if applicable for the next five days.

In all cases, preventing the spread of respiratory illnesses can be key. Core prevention strategies include proper hand hygiene, physical distancing, staying up to date on immunizations, prompt treatment, wearing a mask and staying home to prevent the spread.

It is important to stay informed and follow the recommended precautions to protect yourself and others. If you have any specific questions or need more information, feel free to call Employee Health Services at 804-501-1600.

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The 8th Battle for the Fittest Public Safety Division of the Year

From the first hour through the last, the 2024 Public Safety Games truly revealed the heart and character of both sworn and civilian employees within the Police Division, Division of Fire, and the Sheriff’s Office. The 8th annual friendly, fitness competition for the Fittest Public Safety Division of the year turned out to be the greatest yet. This year the Human Resources Department’s Division of Fitness and Wellness provided mobility fitness tools as an incentive to the first 30 registered participants and for all challenge winners.  For five weeks (April 8 to May 10) over 120 different individuals from three public safety agencies participated in various events:

The “Command Staff Challenge” kickoff.  A team from each agency command staff worked together to complete an accuracy “Free Throw Challenge,” a communication “Blinded Maze Challenge,” and a synergy “Tangram Challenge.” The energy from the camaraderie amongst the teams established the atmosphere for the rest of the competition.  Each team enjoyed the challenges, and the Division of Fire led the way with a 132-point lead.

The “Team Challenge”.  Over the 4-week time period of qualifying events, teams of 2 competitors whether male, female, or coed competed against one another in the endurance “Double Deuce” challenge, the work capacity “Yard Work” Challenge, and the strength “Tetrathlon” challenge.  The top ranked teams were then qualified to go head-to-head in a final obstacle course challenge. 

The “Individual Challenge.” Over the same four-week time period, individual competitors in the masters (>45 yo) or youngsters (<45 yo) male or female divisions also completed in one or more of the endurance, work capacity and relative strength challenges. Both Police and Fire earned six 1st place medals between all of the events, including 3 athletes that were recognized as All-Around for placing 1st after completing all 3 events.

The “Mini Events.” We continued the mini events from the 2023 Public Safety Games which included 10 different honor-system challenges designed to boost the agency’s totals without the intimidation of competition. Police produced nearly double the number of points than Fire during this portion this year.

The Final Event & Rally Event. The 2024 Public Safety Games Final event began by recognizing all our amazing athletes who participated and giving medals to those who won first place in their event.  Simultaneously, two different events happened on the final day of the Public Safety Games:

  • This year two coed teams, each from Police and Fire, including Police Officer Scottie Shoemaker & Detective Ninamarie Elliott and Firefighter Wayne Clevert & Lt. Julie Jennings, respectively, faced off in the “Conquer the Hill” challenge for the 2024 bragging rights. After another tough final event was accomplished by both sides, the Division of Fire team Wayne Clevert & Julie Jennings finished first with a time of 28:24. The Division of Police team, Scottie Shoemaker & Ninamarie Elliott finished just a few short minutes after. Congratulations to the Division of Fire for claiming the top team for the sixth time!
  • Our newest addition was the Rally Event! During the rally event we invited all civilian public safety personnel to come out and join their sworn teammates to earn as many points as possible by completing ten different challenges as many times as they could. Many folks from both Police and Fire came out to support their division and each added over 19,000 points! After all the events and the points were tallied, the Division of Fire claimed the title of “The Fittest Public Safety Division” of the year for the 6th time in our Public Safety Games history!

Congratulations to the Division of Fire, and thank you to all of our athletes, civilians, and supporters who came out and made this event the best we ever had.

To view the leaderboard and all the photos from this year’s Public Safety Games, please visit the Fitness and Wellness SharePoint site!

The 2025 Public Safety Games are closer than you think. Our new design will soon be launched with the goal of a yearlong format including various challenges throughout.  More details coming soon!

If you are sworn public safety personnel and are interested in either the Public Safety Games or joining any of our sworn only fitness programs please contact Joshua Gaskins at [email protected] or 501-7218.

For more information about our programs, please view the Fitness and Wellness Division SharePoint or contact any of our trainers!

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Henrico Libraries helps Change a Child’s Story

 Henrico CASA and the Henrico County Public Library have discovered an affinity, their affection for stories. You may think of the library’s fondness for stories in the form of books. But their mission extends to not only promote reading, but to enrich community life. CASA’s devotion to story is different. Their work focuses on the stories of individual children who have experienced abuse or neglect. They can’t change the past for these children, but they can change their futures by advocating for their needs in the present.

This April, the Library hosted one of CASA’s Home for Good® playhouses at their Libbie Mill branch. Barbara F. Weedman, Director of the Henrico County Public Library, said, “Henrico County Public Library is honored to be a part of this wonderful project in support of CASA and Henrico’s children. What better, natural fit than “A Magic Treehouse” playhouse with a storybook theme created by youth at CTE at Henrico County Public Schools, for library visitors and families to see at Libbie Mill Library! We love being a part of this collaboration and hope it is of great benefit to CASA, kids, and the community.”  

And a great benefit it was! Through the Home for Good® event, Henrico CASA expects to meet its goal of raising $150,000, which funds court advocacy for 100 additional children this year. This funding is crucial because 223 children have already been appointed to CASA by Henrico’s judges in 2024. This is a 10% increase over last year and is expected to continue to grow as a result of challenges facing families in our community. The success of Home for Good® in terms of raising funds and recruiting volunteers allows CASA to meet these rising needs. Together we can ensure every child in Henrico County has a safe, healthy home.

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Henrico County Employee Health: Cold vs Allergies

With flu season coming to an end, many are looking forward to warmer weather and less sick days. But we are often surprised when cold symptoms appear during the spring and summer months. The

all-too-familiar symptoms of cough, congestion, runny nose, and sore throat often threaten to ruin our summer plans. So how do you know when you are sick or when you have allergies? A cold is caused by a virus and may involve symptoms such as fever, body aches, fatigue, and green or yellow mucus. If you believe that you have a cold, you may choose to seek medical care or consultation. Treatment options will vary based on severity, but symptoms will typically resolve within 7-10 days. It is important to remember that if you are feeling unwell and have a fever, you should stay home to avoid spreading the virus to others around you. If you are experiencing allergy symptoms, you may also speak with a healthcare provider to discuss individualized treatment options. This may include over-the-counter medications for allergy relief such as Claritin, Zyrtec, or Allegra. Avoiding common allergens altogether might also be helpful in reducing the severity of symptoms. For example, wearing a mask while cutting grass may lessen the symptoms for someone who experiences outdoor seasonal allergies. Whether it is allergies or the common cold, Henrico County Employee Health Services are here to support you! We offer same day appointments for colds and seasonal allergies. Give us a call at 804-501-1600 to make an appointment or to speak with a qualified medical professional today.

Cold vs. Allergies

Seasonal allergies, also known as allergic rhinitis, can mimic cold symptoms but there are ways to tell them apart. Here are some questions you can ask yourself before heading to your medical provider or employee healthcare clinic.

  1. When did my symptoms begin? Allergy symptoms have an abrupt onset, while cold symptoms develop gradually over a few days.
  2. How long have I been feeling this way? If symptoms have persisted longer than ten days, then it might be allergies.
  3. What symptoms am I experiencing? Itchy, watery eyes and a runny nose are likely allergies, while aches, pains, and FEVER suggest a cold.

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Five Tips to De-Stress

Are you experiencing too much stress in your life? Is it affecting your health, emotional wellness, or quality of life?

It is normal to experience the ups and downs of stress, and stress can even help us to learn and grow. But if our stress is greater than our ability to handle it, meaning that our stress starts to affect our mental, emotional, or physical wellbeing, it can be considered chronic stress and is something that we might want to address.

If you are experiencing chronic stress, there are likely many reasons, from social and environmental factors (like financial stress, employment issues, relationship stressors, or stressful living conditions) to personal factors (like physical, emotional, mental, or spiritual reasons). It can be important to acknowledge that many of our reasons for chronic stress may come from situations we have little control over, and have had little to no part in creating, like the current state of society or of the natural environment. 

When our world is out of balance, we become affected by it. And while changing the larger state of our world or society takes time and collective action, there is so much that we can do in the meantime within our own personal lives to help to reduce our stress and increase our happiness and quality of life.

Don’t have much time? Don’t have much money? Here are things you can do that don’t take a lot of time or money to help with chronic stress:

  1. Take care of your body. Go for a daily walk. Even if it’s for 10 minutes, just walk, get some air, give your body some light movement, and your mind a rest. If possible, choose a place to walk with some nature or some beauty. Try this guided walking meditation today.
  2. Breathe. Sighing releases stress and tension. Try taking some deep breaths throughout the day, followed by a long, deep, audible sigh. It helps! Really want to take it deeper? Try sighing repeatedly until it makes you yawn. This is a great thing to do while lying in bed before sleep! Here’s a short video on breathing to calm stress and anxiety.
  3. Meditate. Taking 5 minutes out of your day for a simple meditation is a great way to destress. Try this podcast for an easy and effective place to start!
  4. Go to bed at a decent time. According to traditional Chinese medicine (my personal expertise), not only is having enough sleep important, but the times we sleep can make a big difference as well. Being in deep sleep between the hours of 11pm and 1am is important for getting deep restoration and repair. Here are our resource picks for better sleep.
  5. Release your day every night. Spend some time before you go to sleep every night reviewing and letting go of your day. When you are sitting in bed, or lying down, let your day come into your awareness. Is there anything that stands out, anything that is still causing you stress? Breath in, being present with the experience that’s causing you stress. As you breath out, visualize the experience drifting farther and farther away from you, until it disappears into the distance. Do this a few times, with whatever feels stressful for you, until your day feels neutral. Then, enjoy a restful sleep!

For even more resources, check out our list of stress relief resources.

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