Wednesday, August 07, 2019

Sometimes When I'm Sad - A Children's Picture Book

Preliminary cover art for my forthcoming children's picture book from Free Spirit Publishing.

The subject is pediatric depression.

More to come....

Tuesday, July 02, 2019

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month - a campaign that shines a light on the unique struggles of underrepresented cultures with regard to mental illness. 
Good Therapy has excellent suggestions for therapists on deepening cultural diversity in treatment practices. 

  • Spend time educating yourself on multicultural and diversity issues nationally and locally. Read books about racism by authors such as Derald Sue, Michelle Alexander, and Tim Wise. Look for seminars on diversity and cultural competence and attend whenever possible.
  • Check your own unconscious biases. Harvard has a wonderful resource at Project Implicit that can help you identify your biases so you can begin to work on eliminating or mitigating them.
  • Make a conscious effort to reflect your community. Is your practice or agency diverse or are the majority of practitioners homogenous? Minorities are less likely to seek care in an environment where they don’t feel represented or where they believe clinicians cannot understand their unique needs. Do the work to make your environment more diverse—and not simply for diversity’s sake. Rather than bringing minorities onto your staff because it is encouraged, do so to genuinely empower and to make therapy more accessible to more people.
  • Actively engage with your community and with diverse communities. Make an effort to reach out beyond your comfort zone to engage with populations who may not normally come through your door.
  • If you use social media, make it a point to share facts about mental health awareness in a non-stigmatizing manner. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, offers some prewritten posts on its website that you can use.
  • Get involved with advocacy efforts in local and national politics. It doesn’t take much time to call your representatives and have your voice heard.

For more on Minority Mental Health Awareness Month link here. 

Monday, June 24, 2019

June is PTSD Awareness Month

June is PTSD Awareness Month.  

Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) can occur in children and adults who've experienced or witnessed a traumatic event. This can include a natural disaster, accident, physical/sexual/emotional abuse, terrorist act, war/combat, rape or other types of violent personal assaults.

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a treatable mental health disorder. 

Symptoms of PTSD
  • Intrusive memories: Upsetting dreams or reoccurring flashbacks about the event.
  • Avoidance: Avoiding the memory of the event, or places and people that remind you of the event.
  • Negative changes in thinking or mood: Feeling numb or sad, having low self-esteem, and feeling hopeless about the future.
  • Changes in emotional reactions: Irritable, angry outbursts, feeling guilty or ashamed, and/or being easily frightened.
  • Reliance on substances such as alcohol or drugs

Facts About PTSD

  • An estimated 70% of adults in the United States have experienced a traumatic event at least once in their lives.
  • Upwards of 40% of girls and boys experience at least one trauma as a child or adolescent. 
  • Among people who are experience or witness a severe traumatic experience,  60 – 80% will develop PTSD.
  • An estimated 1 out of 10 women will get PTSD at some time in their lives. 
  • Studies estimate that 1 in every 5 military personnel experiences PTSD.
  • PTSD increases the risk for suicide, especially if it is undiagnosed or untreated.

Link here for PTSD tools and resources.

Wednesday, May 01, 2019

May is Maternal Mental Health Awareness Month

2 in 10 women will struggle with a maternal mental health disorder in the United States and only fifteen percent of women will receive treatment for a maternal mental health disorder.
Unrealistic expectations and myths about what it means to be a good mom often prevent mothers from getting treatment postpartum mental health disorders. 

Here are some of the most common ones:

  • To be a good mom you have to love being a mom all the time.
  • Moms never need help.
  • If I don't breastfeed, I'm not a good mother.  
  • I am not a good mom because my baby’s birth didn’t go well – or my body failed.
  • I had to go back to work too early and that makes me a bad mom.
  • I had to take an antidepressant after I had my baby and that makes me a bad mother.
  • Other mothers are better moms because they look like they have it all together.   

None of these are true. 

Increasing awareness about postpartum mental health disorders reduces stigma and improves the quality of care for women. Encouraging new moms to talk about their experiences and truly listen to how she is feeling. 

Link here to get your own downloadable New Mom Mental Health Checklist

Link to Postpartum Support International for more resources.

Friday, April 19, 2019

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month

Sexual Assault Awareness Month is observed in April in the United States, and is dedicated to making a concerted effort to raise awareness about and prevent sexual violence. In the time it takes to read this paragraph, 3 individuals somewhere in the United States will have become a victim of sexual violence. 

The first observation of Sexual Assault Awareness Month occurred in 2001, where the National Sexual Violence Resource Center provided resources to advocates nationwide to help get the word out about sexual assault. 

This awareness day has gained momentum over the years, especially at high school and college campuses. Research states that prevention programs and awareness days help educate the public about sexual assault and sexual violence. 

For those who want more information, link here

Monday, April 01, 2019

April Is Autism Awareness Month

April is Autism Awareness Month. 
Every day, the millions people living with autism and their families face unique and daunting challenges that many of us will never fully appreciate. During National Autism Awareness Month, we renew our commitment to better understand autism spectrum disorder (ASD) and improve the lives of individuals living with it.
A recent report by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that 1 in 68 children in the United States has been identified with ASD. This latest estimate makes it clear that autism affects the lives of millions of Americans – our friends, neighbors, colleagues and family members.
ASD is a developmental disability characterized, in varying degrees, by persistent difficulties in social communication and restrictive and repetitive behaviors, interests, or activities. We know that early screening and intervention at younger ages helps children get the most effective treatments earlier in life.

Friday, March 08, 2019

Spring Ahead - Daylight Savings Time and Your Health

Sunday, March 12th we time travel forward one hour for Daylight Saving Time. This means the sun will rise later in our day and daylight will stream a bit longer into our evenings. 
DST was first proposed in 1895 by New Zealand entomologist George Hudson, based on his theory that doing so would maximize the use of the sun’s light. Canada was the first to use DST in 1908, followed by Germany and Austria in 1916 and then in 1918 in the United States.
Research on Daylight Saving Time
Daylight Saving Time (DST) was used as a tool to conserve energy. However, research on the effects of DST on energy savings has shown no significant results. As such, some countries have continued to remain on Standard Time, forgoing DST altogether. In fact, several states and US territories choose not to practice DST—with more considering a halt to the time shifting.
Daylight Saving Time has been shown to affect our health, both mental and physical. Studies report that falling back to gain one hour of daylight in the autumn months causes reductions in sleep and increases rates of cardiac issuesstroke, cortisol production, and vehicular accidents. The good news is that these issues are worst within the first three weeks of Daylight Saving Time. As our body’s circadian rhythm adjusts to the time change, the risk of these adverse experiences greatly reduces.
However, one of the most salient findings regarding DST is the negative effect it has on mood and well-being, particularly in the northern latitudes of the earth. As we spring ahead, keep the following in mind.

Self-Care Tips for Daylight Saving Time
  1. Learn about your circadian rhythm. This is the internal biochemical cycle we all have that regulates our body with respect to sleeping, feeding, and well-being. Circadian rhythms are greatly affected by shifting of daytime sunlight. 
  2. To help reset your body clock, consider a dawn-to-dusk alarm to help you adjust to DST. 
  3. Speaking of your body clock, ditch the technology a few hours before bedtime. Blue Light Syndrome interferes with melatonin production, the sleep hormone that makes for good, restful sleep. 
  4. Keep a set sleep schedule. No sleeping in late or going to bed too early. And watch those naps. Too many in a day or taking too-long a nap is a no-nos. 
  5. Always start the day with a healthy breakfast. Food fuels your body for the day.

Monday, February 11, 2019

"Psych Up Live" Segment on Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression is suffered by 20% of women; but it is misunderstood and overlooked by many new mothers who suffer, as well as those who love them.

In this episode, Dr. Deborah Serani, psychologist, author and renowned expert in Depressive Disorders, clarifies Postpartum Depression in both a professional and personal way.

She discusses the causes of Postpartum Depression, the difference in symptoms between “ Baby Blues” and the other types of Postpartum Mental Health Disorders - and the reasons they are so often overlooked. She addresses the physical and psychological impact on the new mother and draws upon her own experience with Postpartum Depression to underscore the reality of the suffering and the reality that it can be treated.

Dr. Serani considers the value of medication, a wide range of evidenced-based treatments and the importance of many holistic approaches. She even considers Postpartum impact on the new dad, adoptive parents and same sex partners,  and the family and ways they can support the new mom.

Listen by clicking the arrow above.