Honor World Mental Health Day

By Cody Randel

World Mental Health Day is October 10th, to both raise awareness and to mobilize support for this important issue. This year, however, the World Health Organization (WHO) will host its advocacy event online due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Big Event for Mental Health brings together world leaders, celebrities, and advocates from all over the world. The focus will be on the serious need for widespread resources, a problem worsened by the pandemic. The event is free and will be broadcast on WHO’s Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube, and TikTok channels from 7 – 9:30 a.m.  

Big Event Highlights 

  • How can we better invest in mental health? A look at individual, national, and global levels and the actions needed to scale up resources. 
  • The event will include several short films that focus on the work of WHO and their partners’ initiatives around the globe. 
  • WHO’s event will ultimately highlight a variety of ways to improve mental health, spread more awareness, and share the benefits of investment that go beyond public health. 

Mental Illness Facts

  • Approximately 1 billion people worldwide live with a mental disorder 
  • 3 million people die every year from harmful alcohol use worldwide 
  • 1 person dies every 40 seconds from suicide across the world 
  • COVID-19 has impacted billions of people’s lives worldwide, and subsequently affected people’s mental health

One of greatest obstacles we all face is the social and internalized stigma associated with seeking help for these health issues. Programs like World Mental Health Day are important to not only bringing awareness to these issues, but also continuing to make it a mainstream topic which helps people around the world. Get involved in changing negative views about mental health issues by organizing events to raise awareness, or by simply listening to an individual who is suffering. We all have the power to change a life with even the smallest gestures. 

If you want to speak with someone about any challenges or concerns you are living with, request an appointment today.

Mental Illness Awareness Week – Mental Illness in Youth

By Katelyn Millinor, LPC

Mental health problems or disorders are surprisingly common in youth and children. The National Institute of Mental Health (NAMI) reports that 50% of all lifetime mental illnesses develop by age 14. However, differentiating the difference between expected behaviors and a mental illness can be tricky. In younger children, symptoms are typically behavioral as they are still learning how to deal with big emotions. Children can also have a hard time explaining how they feel or why they are behaving a certain way. Whether you are a parent, coach, teacher, religious leader, or just a trusted adult, you may be able to spot warning signs that a youth may need support or services.

Some common signs of mental illness in youth include:

  • Sudden changes in behavior (for example: has an active child becoming withdrawn and quiet or a good student starting to get poor grades)
  • Sudden change in feelings (for example: mood swings, lack of feelings)
  • Avoiding places or situations that have not been routinely avoided
  • New complaints of physical problems like headaches, stomach aches, problems eating or sleeping, or lack of energy
  • Suddenly keeping to themselves or increased shyness
  • Low self esteem
  • Frequent outbursts, tantrums, or meltdowns
  • Substance abuse
  • New physical harm to self, others, or property
  • Inattention or poor focus
  • Refusing to go to school
  • Difficulty with transitions within or between school, home, or social activities
  • Thoughts of death or dying

This list is not a complete list of symptoms. It is important to seek a complete medical exam to rule out any medical issues. Diagnosing mental illness in children may take some time and involve questionnaires or assessments. Psychotherapy can be helpful to assist the youth and the guardian or family members in treating symptoms and learning new skills. Mediation may also be helpful in specific situations.

NOAH has a team of trained clinicians such as doctors, counselors, and psychiatrists to help on this journey. No family or child has to navigate this alone.

Suicide Prevention Month

By Cody Randel, PA-C

September is suicide prevention month, an important time to share resources and experiences to try and bring attention to a highly stigmatized topic. This month is when we reach out to those affected by suicide, raise awareness, and connect people with suicidal ideation to treatment and other services. It is also necessary to involve friends and family in the conversation and to make sure everyone has access to the resources they need to talk about suicide prevention.

When people seek professional help for depression, anxiety, and/or helplessness, they are far too often met with challenges like affordability, geographical access, privacy and safety, and not knowing what resources are available to them.

Most people who die by suicide had a diagnosable mental health condition.

Suicide Warning Signs

  1. Talking about – experiencing unbearable pain, feeling trapped, killing themselves, having no reason to live, being a burden to others.
  2. Behavior – Withdrawing from activities, acting recklessly, visiting or calling people to say goodbye, increased use of drugs and/or alcohol, isolating from friends and family, aggression, giving away possessions, researching suicide methods.
  3. Mood – Depression, rage, irritability, anxiety, lack of interest, humiliation.

Suicide Prevention Resources

Find a Mental Health Provider:
– findtreatment.samhsa.gov
– mentalhealthamerica.net/finding-help
– Text TALK to 741741; text with a trained crisis counselor from the Crisis Text Line 24/7

Visit:
– Your Primary Care Provider. If you don’t have one, NOAH can help.
– Your Mental Health Professional
– Walk-in Clinic
– Emergency Department
– Urgent Care Center

Call:
– National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
– 911 for Emergencies
– National Suicide Helpline: 800-273-8255
– Trans Lifeline: 877-565-8860
– The Trevor Project: 866-488-7386
– RAINN: 800-656-4673

Suicide prevention is a critical issue every day of the year. If you or someone you know is struggling, this is not something to face alone. Reach out to the NOAH team to learn more about our services.

*sources: NAMI, afsp.org/respources, American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, TWLOHA

National Youth Suicide Prevention Week

By Katelyn Millinor, LPC

Did you know that suicide is the second leading cause of death for individuals aged 10-24? Youth suicide statistics cannot be ignored as they have greatly increased over the last decade. Ten teenagers out of 100,000 decide to commit suicide. Females attempt suicide at a rate of nearly 3x that of males. However, males died by suicide at a rate of nearly 3x that of females. Suicide prevention is a critical health topic for young people in the U.S.

What youth are more likely to die by suicide?

Adverse Childhood Experiences (also known as ACES) can include neglect, abuse, experiencing violence, substance abuse, divorce, incarceration of a family member, or poverty. Experiencing ACES has been shown to negatively affect one’s health and mental health over time and can occur across generations. This is particularly troublesome for youth who have had limited access to health care or mental health care. Youth who have one or more ACES are at higher risk for suicide. Populations are at a higher risk of experiencing ACES include minority groups, low socio-economic groups, and LGBT groups. Native American and Alaskan Indians have the highest rates of suicide by ethnic group.

What are the warning signs?

It is not always possible to notice the warning signs in an those thinking about suicide. Some common signs to look out for include: 

  • Talking or writing about death
  • Expressing hopelessness about the future
  • Withdrawing from family or friends
  • Increased drug/alcohol use
  • Giving away personal possessions
  • Engaging in self-harming behaviors
  • Doing dangerous activities
  • Significant change in mood or behavior

How to support a youth who is experiencing suicidal thoughts:

  1. Talk with the youth about their suicidal thoughts as it can help them process through their emotions. 
  2. Try to acknowledge their feelings, fears, sadness, or pain.
  3. Provide reassurance but do not dismiss the problem. You may ask the youth if they are thinking about hurting themselves or taking their own life, and if they have a plan.
  4. Be sure the youth does not have access to any lethal weapons or medications and immediately inform adults or caregivers. 
  5. Try to avoid panicking or offering too much advice. 
  6. Provide the crisis line(s) and assist them to call if necessary. 

Professionals such as the counselors or psychiatrists at NOAH are great resources for ongoing support and safety planning.

If you are in crisis, call the toll-free National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. The service is available to anyone. All calls are confidential. http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

Crisis Text Line (text HOME to 741741)
Maricopa County Crisis Line: 602-222-9444
Teen Life Line (Call or Text): 602-248-TEEN (8336)

Should I Enroll in Counseling? by Andres Jaramillo, LPC

“TV, movies and social media often portray only certain people going to meet with a mental health professional leading people to think they have to experience some kind of crisis, be on the edge of a breakdown or feel “crazy,” to get yourself into counseling but that is just not true.”

Andres Jaramillo, LPC

It is unacceptable that we think counseling is just for those extreme cases and need to remember that practicing good mental health habits is just as important as taking care of your physical health. One often overlooked way to take care of your mental health, is to reach out for help.

Adapted from an article published in “Psychology Today”, here are five signs to help you decide if you should seek counseling: 

  1. Feeling “not yourself” – We all have times where our mood is “off,” and we turn to things that help us feel better but when we begin to think, “this isn’t like me,” you may need to take a closer look. Sometimes we feel sad, angry or annoyed with things that happen but when it gets to a point where you conclude that this is out of your ordinary, it could be something more than just everyday emotions.
  2. You can’t do the things you like to do – Having hobbies or activities that you love to do can be a great way to balance your mental health, but it is important to look for signs that the way you are feeling is making it difficult or impossible to do them anymore. Again, if it is unlike you and you find it more and more difficult to get out, have fun or be social then you should reach out to get screened or assessed for possible mental health concerns.
  3. Using drugs, alcohol, food or sex to feel better – Just like having hobbies that can help us feel better, sometimes we engage in unhealthy habits to do the same thing and that is never a good idea. If you find yourself using drugs, alcohol, food or sex to feel better, have the desire to cut back, or it is impacting your daily life then beginning counseling could be helpful to make sure you reduce the long term negative effects.
  4. You’ve lost someone or something important to you – Perhaps your family or culture has certain rituals, traditions or expectations when it comes to the death of a loved one. Human beings adapt very well and sometimes your natural supports are all you need to get through loss, but other times, it could be a good idea to reach out for counseling for support with adjusting to the unexpected change. Remember, loss isn’t just about death. It could be a separation or break up, moving, or losing your job.
  5. Something traumatic has happened – Trauma can be any event that you thought was awful, scary or threatening like an accident, injury, sudden death, abuse, violence or natural disaster. Experiencing events like these are linked to a higher risk of substance use, chronic health problems, and mental health disorders like depression or anxiety. The sooner you reach out for help to get through events like these the better you will be, but remember it is never too late.

If you, or anyone has thoughts or feelings of wanting to hurt themselves please reach out as quickly as you can. Remember, through reaching out for help you are just taking care of your mental health, and taking care of your mental health is just as essential as taking care of your physical health.

National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month by Cody Randall, PA-C Psychiatric Services

Disparities in access to healthcare exist across all specialties. This proves to be especially true when it comes to mental healthcare, and even more so among minority populations.

A number of barriers exist for patients seeking mental health services including healthcare worker shortage, disparity of access to appropriate medical insurance coverage, stigma of receiving mental healthcare and the fragmented relationship of medical and mental health services. Healthcare providers/organizations can take practical steps to improve patient access by:

  • Making mental health screenings a staple component of primary medical care.
  • Recognizing the social/cultural aspects of a patient population that may impact a patient’s medical and mental health.
  • Medical organizations can conduct community health needs assessments (CHNA) in their patient communities to identify specific needs and limitations among the minority populations that they serve. In identifying these needs of their communities organizations and individual medical providers can help to ensure that patients of minority populations receive quality and affordable mental health services.
  • Working towards a more collaborative approach between medical and mental health practices/providers to reduce barriers to care.

A patient’s care is often more than just medication. The greatest care cannot help unless a patient has support/resources in place to provide them with access to this care and fundamental life necessities. 

For more information on National Mental Health Awareness Month as well as information on general mental health visit the Nation Awareness on Mental Illness (NAMI) at https://www.nami.org/home.

PTSD Awareness Month by Katelyn Millinor, LPC

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (known as PTSD) is when a person has difficulty recovering after experiencing or witnessing a terrifying or traumatic event. Most people experience short term symptoms associated with PTSD such as trouble sleeping and flashbacks. This is known as an acute stress reaction and these symptoms will typically subside within a few weeks. However, in some individuals these symptoms can last much longer, even years. 

Long term symptoms of PTSD include:

  • Reliving aspects of the event that happened.
  • Feeling on edge or overly alert.
  • Avoiding memories or feelings and difficult beliefs.
  • Experience hyper vigilance.
  • Nightmares.
  • Physical symptoms.
  • Difficulty with relationships, education, or employment.

A wide range of events can lead to symptoms of PTSD such as:

  • Car crash.
  • Assault or abuse.
  • The death of a loved one.
  • War.
  • Surviving a natural disaster.
  • Diagnosis of a life-changing medical condition or any other event where you fear for your life.

If you are an individual that may be experiencing PTSD, consider the following strategies: 

  • Get to know your triggers.
  • Confide in a friend, family member, or professional when you are ready.
  • Try peer support groups online or in person.
  • Keep up with your physical health.
  • Find specialist support such as a counselor or psychiatrist.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol to cope with difficulty feelings.

There are many behavioral health treatments available for individuals experiencing PTSD or PTSD symptoms such as trauma-focused cognitive behavioral therapy and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR). A behavioral health professional can help an individual process trauma in a healthy and effective way. There are also medication options to assist in alleviating symptoms. You and your behavioral health team can work together to decide which treatment will work best for you. NOAH has a team of medical and behavioral health professionals to support you on your journey to healing.

Mental Health Awareness Toolkit

Signs and Symptoms of Poor Emotional Health

Mental and emotional illness does not discriminate. It does not care how much money you have, where you live, your age, or the color of your skin. It effects all shapes and sizes of people all over the globe. Do not hesitate to reach out to our team in the event that you or your child are struggling. We are here to help!

Please reach out to us if you or your child experience:

  • Consistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • More than usual irritability, anger, aggression or hostility
  • Tearfulness or frequent crying
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in activities that you used to love
  • Changes in eating and sleeping habits
  • Unusual restlessness and agitation
  • Feelings of worthlessness and guilt
  • Excessive fatigue or lack of energy
  • Difficulty concentrating due to racing thoughts
  • Thoughts of death or suicide
  • Self-Mutilation (e.g. cutting / burns)
  • Declining grades in school or performance at work
  • Substance abuse, including alcohol and drug (illegal and legal drugs) use
  • Neglect in hygiene and other matters of personal appearance
  • Emotional distress which brings on physical complaints (aches, fatigues, migraines, etc.)
  • Risk taking behaviors
  • Suddenly giving away favorite belongings or promising them to friends and family members
  • Extreme cheerfulness following periods of depression
  • Expression of bizarre or unsettling thoughts

At NOAH, we offer behavioral health consulting and traditional outpatient counseling programs and services where these highly skilled and trained behavioral health staff work alongside our medical and dental teams to assess, diagnose and effectively treat the core-symptoms of our patients.

The World Seems Scary – Coping with Anxiety by Andres Jaramillo, LPC

We all have things that make us feel anxious like giving a presentation or having a job interview but it may seem like in our daily life more and more we encounter extreme, awful, or scary things. It makes it easier for our minds to come up with negative, worst case scenarios that end up turning up the volume on anxiety.

What is anxiety?
It is a normal feeling we experience when we predict that something bad could happen.

Living in today’s constantly connected world, the possibility of something scary, awful, or threatening can pop in our head by just turning on the news or driving our kids to school.

Try these 3 things to turn down anxious feelings so you can continue doing the things you want to do.

1 – Relaxed body is tied to relaxed mind. Even seeing or hearing about awful, scary things – perhaps the news on the latest epidemic – can cause the “fight or flight” response to turn on. Our body makes physical changes like increased heart rate, sweating or tense muscles so it can be prepared to fight or run away from the danger.

When we do activities to purposely deactivate our fight or flight response, or relax our body, our mind plays follows the leader.

Try this, notice: 

  • 5 things you can see – notice shapes, colors, brightness, shadows.
  • 4 things you can hear – notice pitches, volumes, tone.
  • 3 things you can feel/touch – notice textures.
  • 2 things you can smell – notice hints of sweetness, bitterness, pungent, etc.
  • 1 thing you can taste – notice hits of spicy, sweet, sour, etc.

Notice and observe things you have never paid attention to before. Maybe say what you observe out loud, or just to yourself. You can mix it up anyway you like, perhaps you are at a restaurant and you can taste 5 things, or smell 5 things. It is just about using your senses in a purposeful, intentional way. By getting out of your head and engaging your body in a slow, mindful activity it is pretty much impossible to focus on the image that turned anxiety up in the first place.

2 – Remind yourself: What you feel is not always true. I feel like I am going crazy! Perhaps you’ve said something like this to yourself and if we are going to turn down the volume on anxiety, we need to challenge how our feelings “prove” that something is going to happen.
A quick peek at your latest social media feed and you see a story about a family who had a burglar break in their house and murder three people. Quickly shock, fear, horror, or sadness fills your experience. It is valid that you may feel that way but the mind, in its amazing abilities, will use those emotions as proof to make a conclusion that may not be true.
I feel scared so that means something bad is going to happen!

Try this:

  •  Take a few deep breaths – deep enough to see your stomach area expand and contract.
  • Acknowledge you are feeling scared – is it a knot in your stomach? Is it racing thoughts?.
  • Take a few more deep breaths.
  • Focus on the facts.

Facts themselves don’t increase anxiety, the perception that it could be a threat does. By placing time and breathing between what you saw/heard and making any decisions, you allow the intensity of the anxiety to subside like the tide on a beach. You will have a better chance to be calm and focus on the facts not the “coulds.”

3 – Accepting the unpredictable but be prepared. You can’t really know if someone will break in to your house, or use a gun in a violent way, or if you will catch the new virus going around but perhaps we can be prepared the best we know how.

If you have noticed that the news, your social media, or stories you heard from friends have increased your anxiety, you went through 1 and 2 above and you still feel uneasy, then maybe prepared action is the next step.
We have active shooter drills, we get trained in CPR, and we wear our seat belt with the mindset of accepting that we will never know IF something bad could happen and just being prepared anyway.

Have a plan:

  • Create a plan for what you and your family would do if [insert awful situation] happened.
  • Talk with your workplace to double check emergency plans.
  • Have a chat with your children’s school to understand what plans they have.
  • Talk with your doctor about your health concerns.
  • Join a neighborhood watch group.
  • Take a self-defense class.

By moving your focus from “What if’s” to accepting that life is unpredictable and doing your best to be prepared will increase your confidence and readiness just like when we plan and study for what we will say in a presentation or practice for our job interview. If we feel confident and ready, there is no room for anxiety.

Everyone experiences anxiety and yes, it is normal. If we have certain tools, like the three above, we can get through any situation that raises our anxiety and be ok even in today’s hectic, scary world.

An important note: Daily, normal anxiety is different than having an anxiety disorder.

If the anxiety you feel is unmanageable, has been going on for more than two weeks, and it is interfering with your daily life or relationships than perhaps you can think about visiting with a mental health professional and figuring out a best course of action.