Posts Tagged ‘mental health care’

September is Suicide Prevention Month

September 13, 2016

September is Suicide Prevention Month

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. 42,773 people on average die by suicide each year and 117 people die by suicide each day. Suicide is tragic and devastating, but it is often preventable. Knowing the risk factors for suicide and who is at risk can help reduce the suicide rate and keep your loved ones safe.

“When you get into a tight place and everything goes against you, till it seems as though you could not hang on a minute longer, never give up then, for that is just the place and time that the tide will turn.” – Harriet Beecher Stowe

Contact a mental health professional or the hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) if you hear or see someone exhibiting one or more of these behaviors.

  • Hopelessness
  • Rage, uncontrolled anger, seeking revenge
  • Acting reckless or engaging in risky activities, seemingly without thinking
  • Feeling trapped like there’s no way out
  • Increased alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from friends, family & society
  • Anxiety, agitation, unable to sleep or sleeping all the time
  • Dramatic mood changes

In some cases it may be too late for help from a suicide hotline and the person may be on the brink of a suicide attempt. Call 911 if you see or hear the following:

  • Someone threatening to hurt or kill him/herself, or talking of wanting to hurt or kill him/herself.
  • Someone looking for ways to kill him/herself by seeking access to firearms, available pills, or other means.
  • Someone talking or writing about death, dying or suicide, when these actions are out of the ordinary for the person.

If you or someone you know is suicidal, we want you to know that help is available and recovery is possible. Learn the warning signs, and do whatever you can to get yourself or someone you care about to the help they need so that they can return to living mentally well. For more information on suicide prevention, please visit:

Stress Self-Assessment

March 14, 2016

Feeling stressed? While everyone reacts differently to stress, your body, brain, and emotions have a unique stress response. Understanding these reactions can help you fine-tune your stress-reducing strategies.

  • Pain – Stress can bring on immediate or chronic pain, such as back pain, headaches, nausea, jaw or fist clenching, muscle tension, etc.
  • Depression – Extreme amounts of stress can lead to symptoms of depression, including feeling hopeless, worthless, or guilty.
  • Anger – Arguing and feeling short-fused with coworkers or loved ones is a common reaction when under stress.
  • Anxiety – Stress can trigger you to feel anxious, worrying or fearing the worst possible scenario.
  • Substance Use – Smoking, drinking excessively and drug use are all unhealthy ways of self-medicating your anxiety.
  • Eating – Overeating, skipping meals, and eating junk food with little nutrition are all ways people change their eating habits when under extreme stress.

Ask yourself the following questions to understand how you’re managing your stress load.

  • Do you have a support network in place?
  • Are there activities you enjoy?
  • Do you regularly get enough sleep?
  • Are there responsibilities you can delegate?
  • Do you practice relaxation exercises such as mindfulness, yoga, or meditation?
  • Do you have access to professionals who can help you?

After you’ve evaluated coping methods, here are a few action steps you can take.

  • Address physical concerns – See your physician to assess any immediate physical concerns or questions you might have. Seek their recommendations for changes in your diet, exercise, or other habits.
  • Start small – Start with simple tasks, such as turning off screens or electronics earlier before bed or taking five minutes for deep breathing.
  • Recruit a friend – Accountability is key, so choose a friend or family member to encourage you on the path to positive changes in your life.
  • Take notes – Everyone responds differently to relaxation techniques or organizational tools. Keep a journal or use an app to track the strategies working for you. Seeing your progress can be just the motivation needed to continue good self-care.

A Guide to Finding Help with Mental Health

November 26, 2013

Sometimes we need help with problems beyond what family and friends can provide. Substance abuse, anxiety, depression and other mental disorders are conditions best addressed by professionals who have the specialized knowledge to handle them.

But whom do you all for what and how can you tell if the professional is qualified to handle a particular problem? It can save time and minimize confusion to ask for guidance and referrals.

Many people can serve as guides. Your employer may have an employee assistance program which can put you in touch with an employee assistance professional. These people are trained to assess a problem, help when it’s possible and to refer employees to other helping professionals when needed. A school’s student assistance counselor can do the same for young people. Other sources for help or referrals to help are clergy, hospitals and community-based mental health clinics.

When asking for referrals to mental health professionals, be specific about the nature of the problem as you know it. For example, if you know or suspect that substance abuse it the problem, don’t be shy about saying it. Helping professionals do not judge. They understand that we all have problems sometimes. Specific information can help them get you to the person who can most quickly and knowledgeably help you.

This is an important point. Various types of mental health professionals are trained in a general way to help people of all ages with a variety of problems. But many of them continue their training by focusing on a particular area of knowledge. For example, a therapist or counselor also may be a certified addiction counselor (CAC), which means s/he has developed additional expertise in substance abuse problems. This person may further specialize by working with adolescents who have substance abuse issues or people who relapse frequently.

When you select someone to call, ask questions. If you don’t understand something, ask the professional to explain it to you until it’s clear. This is a good way to get a feel for how the person interacts with you. You’ll want to feel comfortable with this person and with entrusting your health to him or her.

A word about insurance: Call your insurance company to find out what mental health services are covered and for how long or how many visits. Be sure to ask the professional or agency which insurance plans they accept before scheduling an appointment.

It may take time and several calls or an introductory visit or two to find the person who can best help. Stick with it even though it’s a difficult time in your life.

Questions to Ask – Knowing the answers to these questions can help you determine who can best help you.

  1. How many years have you been in practice?
  2. What are your professional credentials? (Write down the acronyms (letters) and names so you can ask for an explanation of any terms or letters with which you are not familiar.)
  3. Do you specialize or have a special interest in a particular area of mental health or behavioral health, such as substance abuse?
  4. Will your services be covered by my health plan? (Have your health plan information handy.)

Positive Thinking Can Bring Good Health

August 22, 2013

Positive thoughts can motivate healthy behaviors, such as eating right, being active, and feeling good about yourself. It sounds so simple, but it is very true. unfortunately, the reverse is also true. Your thoughts can be defeating. “I’m already overweight, so it doesn’t matter if I eat a second piece of cake.” Or, “I only have 10 minutes, I’ll never get this assignment done.” Negative thoughts, often called negative self-talk, may sabotage your good intentions.

“I think I can”

Studies have measured the success of positive-thinkers and found that those who think they can lose weight or increase their physical activity, do! These people are more successful than people with less faith in themselves.

How to Stay Positive

Positive thinkers admit when they feel frustrated or depressed. They don’t ignore it. But they also don’t blame themselves. Instead, they try to understand the negative thoughts and feelings and counter them with more positive ones.

So how do you stay positive, maintain momentum and sustain healthy behaviors? here are some tips:

Look for a good role model. There is always someone who seems to be doing just what you want to be doing. Learn from a successful friend, family member or colleague.

Try some positive self-talk and avoid negative-talk. Take a minute to give yourself an ego boost. Repeat some motivational words out loud or to yourself. Negative talk, “I can’t do it,” “I’m fat,” is dangerous for your well-being.

When Anger Strikes

July 11, 2013

Steps to defusing another person’s anger.

Listen. When someone expresses his/her anger, your first reaction may be to defend yourself or to try to calm the person with your words. But doing so may easily escalate the situation. Remain calm and silent as the person vents – unless you feel as though the person might become physical, in which case you should seek safety immediately.

Maintain a neutral stance. Keep your face and posture relaxed and open. Expressing any tension or aggressiveness may make the person angrier.

Keep a level voice. An excited or loud voice also may increase the person’s anger. Speak slowly and with a low voice.

Use reflective listening. When the moment permits, restate what the person is saying, using your own words. Begin with, “If I understand you correctly, you’re saying….” This is called reflective listening.

Use the person’s name when you speak. This makes your speech personal and friendly.

Use calming statements. “[The situation] must have really been uncomfortable for you” or “I’m sorry this has happened to you” are good calming statements.

Problem solve. “How can the situation be made better?” or “What can be done about this?” are questions that may lead to a solution.

Use numbers. An angry person is operating from the emotional right side of the brain. To move the person to the logical left side of the brain, list items using numbers. “Let’s see, one, you didn’t get A, which, two, led you to feeling B, which, three, made you do C….” Getting the person to switch sides of the brain in this way may calm him/her down.

What To Do When Depression Enters A Relationship

June 26, 2013

The pressure of being in a relationship can feel overwhelming to someone living with depression. When you’re struggling with an illness that makes you tired, sad, and generally disinterested in life, often the last thing on your mind is the needs of others. Equally frustrating and emotionally draining is trying to maintain a relationship with someone who’s depressed. It’s hurtful and confusing when loved ones increasingly isolate themselves, pull away, and reject others’ efforts to help.

All of these feelings and reactions can damage relationships, whether they’re with spouses, partners, children, or friends. It can test even the most secure of relationships. The good news is that depression is very treatable, and by taking the appropriate steps to combat the illness, your relationship can survive.

Steps to Overcome Depression and Keep Your Relationship Healthy

The most important step toward successful recovery is to seek treatment. With the appropriate combination of “talk” therapy and medication, people with depression can achieve remission (virtual elimination) of symptoms and reconnect with life and with relationships.

If You Are Experiencing Symptoms Of Depression: Share your feelings with others as much as possible. Your reluctance to talk about how you feel only creates distance between you and your loved ones. It’s especially important to keep the lines of communication open during trying times. Let your partner know that you still find him or her attractive. An affectionate touch and a few reassuring words can mean a lot, even if you don’t feel inclined toward more intimate relations.

Consider couples or family counseling. Your willingness to talk about your relationship and how it may be affected by depression speaks volumes to family members and loved ones about their importance in your life.

Keep working toward recovery. Today’s treatment options make that more realistic than ever.

To resolve all your symptoms, a combination of medication and “talk” therapy may be recommended. Your physician will help you determine the right levels of medication and how long you should stay on it.

If You Are In A Relationship With Someone Experiencing Depression: Remember, your role is to offer support and encourage your loved one to seek professional help. Encourage your partner not to settle for partial improvement and explain that with the right treatment, people with depression can regain their lives.

Although you may be prepared to do anything and everything to help, don’t try to take over the life of someone who is depressed. Your loved one may seem overwhelmed, incapable, or frustrated, but you can’t reconstruct his or her life.

Remember that depression is a real illness that should be taken seriously. Don’t belittle the person by saying things such as, “snap out of it,” “get over it” or “everyone feels down now and then.” Try your best to understand the illness.

Recognize that depression is not rational. It is painful to be rejected, scorned, or ignored, but this may be how your loved one responds to your efforts to help.

For more information contact Soundside Wellness Consultants.

Twelve Traits of Healthy Couples

June 17, 2013

Only 10% to 15% of couples who have been together for more than five years report that they’re in the relationship they always wanted. Researchers studied these satisfied couples and found the following 12 traits common among them.

Priorities – Healthy couples list quality time together at the top of their priorities.

Time – Instead of just saying it’s a priority, however, these couples make time to be together and pay a lot of attention to each other.

Recovery From Arguments – All couples argue, but these couples practice methods that help them quickly recover from arguments and hurt feelings. They also can set aside their arguing to focus on other things, then resume ironing out differences later.

Touch – These couples also do a lot of touching – hand holding, snuggling, hugging, kissing.

Romancing – These couples also know the importance of surprise, tenderness, compliments and special little gifts – the stuff of romance.

Anticipation – Healthy couples look forward to being with each other. They build excitement and anticipation in their relationship by planning short getaways or special dates.

Playfulness – Healthy couples value playfulness, spontaneity and humor, and they use these devices to help overcome life’s hardships.

Communication – These couples are honest and open with each other. They also freely talk about the things that attract them most to their partner.

Sharing – Healthy couples share their fears and dreams with each other. Sharing their deepest thoughts brings them closer together.

Parenting – These couples are committed to their children, yet minimize the negative impact children can have on the partnership, particularly with respect to time.

Equality – healthy couples value each other as equals. No partner shoulders more responsibility than the other.

Conflict Resolution – Healthy couples resolve conflicts in healthy ways. They express their feelings, pay attention to their partner’s feelings and downplay their differences.

Source: University of Cincinnati Psychological Services Center

What Is Mental Illness?

June 7, 2013

Mental illness is a disease that causes mild to severe disturbances in thinking, perception, and behavior. If these disturbances significantly impair a person’s ability to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines, then he or she should immediately seek proper treatment with a mental health professional. With the proper care and treatment, a person can recover and resume normal activities.

Many mental illnesses are believed to have biological causes, just like  cancer, diabetes and heart disease, but some mental disorders are caused by a person’s environment and experiences.

Common Misconceptions About Mental Illness:

  • Myth: “Young people and children don’t suffer from mental health problems.”
  • Fact: It is estimated that more than six million young people in America may suffer from a mental health disorder that severely disrupts their ability to function at home, in school, or in their community.
  • Myth: “People who need psychiatric care should be locked away in institutions.”
  • Fact: Today most people can lead productive lives within their communities thanks to a variety of supports, programs, and/or medications.
  • Myth: “A person who has had a mental illness can never be normal.”
  • Fact: People with mental illnesses can recover and resume normal activities.
  • Myth: “Mentally ill people are dangerous.”
  • Fact: The vast majority of people with mental illnesses are not violent. In the cases when violence does occur, the incidents typically result from the same reasons as with the general public, such as feeling threatened or excessive use of alcohol and/or drugs.
  • Myth: “People with mental illnesses can work low-level jobs but aren’t suited for really important or responsible positions.”
  • Fact: People with mental illnesses, like everyone else, have the potential to work at any level depending on their own abilities, experience and motivation.

Mood Swings Can Affect Relationships

April 30, 2013

Bipolar disorder, sometimes called manic depression, is characterized by mood swings so severe that a person’s relationships, occupation, and overall ability to function can be severely compromised.

The US National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) says symptoms typically include episodes of extreme euphoria, followed by episodes of extreme sadness, depression or anger – but often with temperate periods in between. Other signs of bipolar disorder include insomnia or sleeping too much, drastic weight loss or gain, difficulty concentrating, anxiousness, and thoughts of suicide.

The disorder usually can be controlled with prescription medications – frequently lithium – that minimize the emotional swings. Treatments are most effective if they are taken continuously, not intermittently, the NIMH says.

What Are the Symptoms of Bipolar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder is often difficult to recognize because its symptoms may appear to be part of another illness or attributed to other problems such as substance abuse, poor school performance, or trouble int he workplace. Here are some of the common symptoms of mania and depression.

Some Symptoms of Mania – The symptoms of mania, which can last up to three months if untreated include:

  • excessive energy, activity, restlessness, racing thoughts, and rapid talking.
  • extreme “high” or euphoric feelings – a person may feel “on top of the world” and nothing, including bad news or tragic events, can change this “happiness”.
  • unrealistic beliefs in one’s ability and powers. A person may experience feelings of exaggerated confidence or unwarranted optimism. This can lead to over ambitious work plans.

Some Symptoms of Depression – Some people experience periods of normal mood and behavior following a manic phase; however, the depressive phase will eventually appear. Symptoms of depression include:

  • persistent sad, anxious, or empty mood.
  • sleeping too much or too little, middle-of-the night or early morning waking.
  • reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain.
  • fatigue or loss of energy, feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless.

If you or a family member are experiencing severe mood swings or any of the aforementioned symptoms, please seek help from a psychological healthcare professional right away.

Serenity. How to get it, keep it and have it always.

April 11, 2013

Anyone who has ever attended a 12-step support group is probably familiar with the Serenity Prayer (see below). Feeling serene is important for people recovering from a compulsion, addiction or bad relationship.

But everyone, not just recovering people, can benefit from serenity. That’s because everyone has experienced stress, hardship and pain, and many of us have felt empty or yearned for fulfillment.

Researchers have identified some practices that can lead to serenity.

Find an inner haven. Each of us deserves a place where we feel safe and unconditionally accepted. To have such a place inside ourselves brings us that much closer to serenity. To make this inner haven, try using visualization: Prepare yourself as you would for meditation, then picture yourself in a tranquil, serene, safe space. A version of this is called “guided imagery.” There are a number of books and recordings available with guided imagery exercises. A professional therapist can also help. Eventually, your inner haven will be so calming and familiar to you, you’ll go to it whenever life’s pressures become overwhelming.

Detach. In the context of finding serenity, to detach means to let go of cravings and never-ending wants, such as addictive or compulsive behaviors. Therapists recommend two ways to practice detaching. One is through meditation, a technique described in a number of books and articles. People who meditate comment on the serene feeling it gives them. Another way to practice detaching is to practice distinguishing your needs from your wants based upon your values. For example, while you may want another cigarette, you need to be there for your partner or children, and continuing to smoke could jeopardize that.

Practice acceptance. Acceptance is a major theme in the Serenity Prayer. To help you accept situations beyond your control, therapists advise focusing on things that are within your control – your attitude, emotions and actions. Instead of trying to control someone else, practice self-control. Therapists also advise practicing self-acceptance. Build yourself up, celebrate your worthiness and remind yourself often that you are your best friend for life, period. Not only is this good self-care. It will bring you that much closer to serenity.

Practice forgiveness. Resentment over a traumatic experience can lead to self-defeating behaviors that can “poison” your chance to reach serenity, writes one author. Make peace with your past through forgiveness. Once way to do so is to write a letter forgiving the offending person, then destroy the letter as a way of cleansing yourself of the experience and regaining mastery over your life.

Let go and live in the present. Taken together, all of these techniques – find an inner haven, detach, practice acceptance and forgiveness – should help a person accomplish another technique for reaching serenity: living in the present. The serene moment is the present moment, unencumbered by past regrets or mistakes and unpolluted by worries or fears of the future. Writes one author, “Living in the here and now is a powerful way to be.” Focus on the richness of the present and have serenity.

Source: Connors, G.J., Radka, T.T. and Tonigan, J.S. Serenity: Integrating Spirituality Into Treatment: Resources for Practitioners. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association.

The Serenity Prayer

Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

Living one dat at a time, enjoying one moment at a time, accepting hardship as a pathway to peace, taking this world as it is, not as I would have it. ~Anonymous