Friday, September 08, 2017

September 10th is World Suicide Prevention Day

Every year, more than 800,000 people die by suicide and up to 25 times as many make a suicide attempt. Behind these statistics are the individual stories of those who have, for many different reasons, questioned the value of their own lives.
Each one of these individuals is part of a community. Some may be well linked in to this community, and have a network of family, friends and work colleagues or school mates. Others may be less well connected, and some may be quite isolated. Regardless of the circumstances, communities have an important role to play in supporting those who are vulnerable.
This sentiment is reflected in the theme of the 2017 World Suicide Prevention Day:Take a minute, change a life.’ As members of communities, it is our responsibility to look out for those who may be struggling, check in with them, and encourage them to tell their story in their own way and at their own pace. Offering a gentle word of support and listening in a non-judgemental way can make all the difference.
World Suicide Prevention Day is September 10th sponsored by The International Association for Suicide Prevention, The World Health Organization, The United Nations and many more grass root health organizations and agencies world-wide. This year's theme is "Connect, Communicate, Care" - three words that are at the heart of suicide prevention.

To learn about the warning signs for suicidal behavior go here 

For suicide resources in the USA use go here 

For global resources go here. 

There's always someone ready to talk to you any day, any time at 1 800 273 TALK

Thursday, August 31, 2017

What to Say When Calling 911 for a Mental Health Emergency

Mental health emergencies that are critical require immediate intervention. When self-harm, suicidal risk or violence is evident, calling 911 is THE best intervention. Often, I'm asked what kinds of things to say when calling 911. Here are some tips that are recommended by the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

When calling 911, try to remain calm and make the call out of earshot from your loved one. As the call connects, identify who you are, and then the location of the emergency. Give the street address, cross streets. "My name is John Smith. I'm at 10 Oak Street. Closest cross street is Acorn."

Describe the nature of the mental health emergency to the dispatcher. This way, the dispatcher can alert the appropriate emergency teams to the scene. Start with a short description. "My brother, Dan, is threatening suicide. He's in his room. And it's locked."

Be ready to give more information about the emergency. The dispatcher will likely ask you for your loved one's name, gender, height, weight, race, clothing being worn or any other identifying data.  You might be asked if there are any weapons in the house. If medication is prescribed or if other lethal means have been accessed. 

Also, you should also identify yourself and your relationship to your loved one to the dispatcher. This includes whether you're a friend or family member. Answering the dispatchers questions will help determine which emergency response team is needed for the crisis. Often, communities have Crisis Intervention Teams to respond to a situation like this.

Finally, be prepared to stay on the phone with the dispatcher while an emergency team makes it's way to your loved one. 

Thursday, July 20, 2017

Stigma and Mental Illness

There are five levels of stigma that can affect your daily living experiences if you have a mental health disorder. 
Stigmatizing beliefs occur on a personal level, in the general public, within professions, via labels and by associative connections.
1. Self Stigma is the self-blame you attach to your identity as being someone who has depression. Whether it's your personal or professional identity, you attach negative self-beliefs about your abilities or worthiness. These pessimistic beliefs can become such a part of your thinking style that you become passive and accepting of their power. In truth, the self-stigma you've assigned yourself is not based in reality. To combat this experience, you need to educate yourself about that mental illness is a REAL illness. Disorders are largely neurobiological issues, not a result of laziness or weak character. Try using these more positive affirmations:
  • "Depression is a real medical illness."
  • "I am much more than my mental illness."
  • "Living with a mental illness offers me greater insight and compassion."
2. Public stigma is the experience where myths and misinformation keep the general public fearful about mental illness. Commercials that make fun of someone with depression or anxiety might sell a product, but we'd all agree it perpetuates stigma. Movies, television shows, newscasts and jokes that use mental illness as a tool for ridicule worsens public stigma. Just like self-stigma, educating the public is the key here. Be it writing a letter, firing off an email, or talking to someone directly, taking on a public stigmatizing experience can become a teachable moment.
3. Professional Stigma occurs when stigmatizing views of mental illness go beyond the general public to the so-called educated levels of professionals. Studies have shown that well-trained professionals from an array of health fields stereotype psychological disorders. To combat professional stigma, don't be afraid to educate. Take your personal knowledge of mental health disorders and help others learn what it's really about. Just because a person is a professional, does not necessarily mean they are truly educated.
4Label Stigma occurs with the use of diagnostic labels. It's important to note that diagnosis is a meaningful way to identify illness. However, the language of diagnosis can make having a mental illness stigmatizing. For example, "He's schizophrenic" feels more negative as a descriptor than "He is a person who has schizophrenia". Again, put yourself out there and correct the misuses of labels or language that dehumanize.
5. Stigma by Association is the experience of being stigmatized because you know someone who has a mental illness. If you are a family member, friend, coworker, or neighbor of someone who has mental illness, you have the potential for finding yourself socially disqualified from others. Sometimes called courtesy stigma or associative stigma, stigma by association devalues your status because you share an affiliation with a child or adult who has mental illness. If you are someone who has a mental illness, talk to your family and friends and teach them about the stigma by association. Give them permission to address stigma should they feel the need to do so. For example, if your spouse can educate a misinformed person about a mental illness , three things happen. First, your loved one confirms your importance and value. Second, your loved one minimizes stigma by teaching about the realities of mental illness, and third, the stigmatizing person learns a valuable lesson.
Now that you understand how the psychosocial cycle of stigma presses on you, it's time to shift the focus of shame off of your shoulders. As you continue to educate yourself, make the leap to teaching others so that the myths of mental illness can be addressed. 

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. 

This awareness day was named after mental health activist and author Bebe Moore Campbell - and focuses on building awareness about the importance of mental wellness and effective mental health care for minorities. 

According to research, minorities are less likely to receive a mental health diagnosis, less likely to receive treatment for mental illness, have less access to and availability of mental health services and often receive a poorer quality of mental health care. More specifically:

  • The percentage of Black and Latino children who use mental health care services is less than half that of Caucasian children (4­–5% & 10%, respectively)
  • 88% of Latino children with mental health issues have unmet needs
  • More than 25% of African American youth exposed to violence have been shown to be at high risk for post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Adolescent Native Americans experience the highest rates of suicide of any population in the United States—at least three to five times the national average
  • In the Asian American youth population, suicide ideation and suicide rates continue to increase
To learn more about the needs of mental health services for diverse populations, or for where can find local activities celebrating this month, please go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness

Monday, June 26, 2017

June is Men's Health Month

The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to increase the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. 

This awareness month encourages health care providers, public policy makers, the media, and individuals to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury. 

Take a look at statistics on physical aspects of health for men and link here for mental health facts.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

June is Post Traumatic Stress Awareness Month

In order to bring greater awareness to the issue of posttraumatic stress disorder, June has been designated as PTSD Awareness Month by the National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD). And the United States Senate has designated June 27th as National PTSD Awareness Day

PTSD is a mental health problem that can occur after an adult or child has been exposed to a traumatic event(s) such as sexual or physical assault, natural or man-made disaster, and war-related combat stress. 

Symptoms of PTSD include persistent intrusive thoughts and distressing dreams about the traumatic event, triggered emotional responses to reminders of the trauma, efforts to avoid thinking or talking about the trauma, and persistent hypervigilance for cues that indicate additional danger or trauma may occur.

PTSD is a treatable disorder. If you are struggling with symptoms, link here to find out how to access professional mental health.