Posts

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.

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)

Physical and Mental Benefits of Being Kind

By Jessica Heintz, DO

In a world focused on getting ahead and moving faster, perhaps the solution to many problems is to simply slow down and be nice to someone – including ourselves! Kindness is a trait that everyone is capable of but far fewer demonstrate. At the same time, people stop and take notice when they see a truly kind act demonstrated by another. Described as a “habit of giving,” kindness can produce physical, social, and psychological benefits. It puts a smile on our faces while at the same time making the world a better, brighter place. Learn about the “why” and “how” of practicing kindness in our everyday lives.

 “There are three ways to ultimate success: The first way is to be kind. The second way is to be kind. The third way is to be kind.” 

Mr. Rogers

The physical and mental benefits of kindness are tangible. Kind actions signal our brains to release the natural chemicals of serotonin and dopamine. Essentially, these are the “feel good” hormones. When they are low, people can experience symptoms of anxiety and depression. Helping increase the levels of serotonin and dopamine by practicing kindness can help lessen these feelings and create a “helper’s high”. Positive emotions can subsequently help reduce stress. Depending on the action, kindness can even encourage physical activity. Raking your neighbor’s leaves will not only make your neighbor smile, but it will also help you burn a few extra calories!

Kindness produces psychological benefits as well. Practicing kindness often provides perspective on life and distracts us from our own problems. It helps foster gratitude, empathy, and compassion in our minds and hearts. Kindness helps form a positive and supportive environment as well as bonds with others, thus reducing isolation and loneliness. For those struggling with mental health, as many of us do, this is an invaluable part of any mental health recovery journey. Finally, kindness allows us to engage in meaningful activities, and it can provide a sense of purpose and context in the world.

How can you start to develop this habit of giving in in your own life? It is easy. Start with yourself, then move on to others. We cannot give of ourselves if there is no excess to draw from. Always begin with self care and being kind to yourself. Do something you enjoy and learn to set limits in your life. Keep a gratitude journal, take a bubble bath, practice your golf game, watch the sunset, exercise, enjoy a glass of good wine, sleep in late (or at the very least, go to bed early). Then, try to be kind to others. The opportunities are endless. You can volunteer, mentor, or become involved in supporting a charitable cause. Practice random acts of kindness by holding a door for someone, buying a stranger’s coffee, or even simply making eye contact with another person and smiling as they walk by.

These sorts of actions may seem trickier to do in our current COVID world, but I challenge you to get creative. Write a letter to a friend, call a grandparent, leave snacks out for delivery drivers, or cook a meal for a neighbor in need to drop off at the door. Kindness to animals counts too – consider taking your dog for an extra walk. Remember, it is the intention behind an action that matters rather than the size of the gesture. When the world slowly emerges from COVID quarantine, refocusing on the value of connection to and interaction with our fellow man through kindness cannot be understated- even if it is from 6 feet apart! It feels good to do good. Now, go out and be kind!

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.

Improving Self Esteem by Zach Clay, LMFT

Let’s face it, we are our own best critics. Most everybody has some sort of area in their life in which they doubt themselves. If you’re saying “no I don’t” or “I’m perfect,” then you can stop reading here. LOL. The rest of us have some measure of self-worth. Self-affirmations are a great way to trick your brain into truly recognizing those things that make you unique.
Positive self-affirmations are a way to strengthen aspects of ourselves that have constantly been playing on constant negative beliefs which are seemingly on a loop in our heads, typically from an early age. Short, positive messages can combat these long-held beliefs. These new, positive messages can be rewritten to rewrite your new life story.

Here are just a few simple positive self-affirmation techniques for you to try at home:

  • Write index cards or post-it notes you can put in an area that you frequently look at (ex. a mirror, refrigerator, or on your car dashboard).
  • Write a daily journal to be more aware in those positive aspects and personality traits which can boost your self-esteem (see ‘Self-Esteem Journal’ handout below for a printable copy you can use).
  • For those who enjoy a poetic method to increase awareness of your ‘good-stuff,’ you can fill in the blanks on the printable “I Am” poem below and put it where you can see it or better yet, take a cell picture to look at daily from anywhere you are.
  •  Sing these self-affirming messages to one of your favorite songs.
  • Say these positive messages out loud, in your head silently or record them on your phone to play back later.
  • Identify some common personality traits which most of us aspire to achieving.

These short, positive statements benefit:

  • Physical health.
  • Improve success and wealth.
  • Challenge self-defeating behaviors.
  • Aid and heal emotional pain or trauma.

Try them! What do you have to lose?

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.

Phone Apps to Use for Mental Health by Katelyn Millinor, LPC

In recent months, there’s been quite a few mental health apps available to smart phone users. These, most often free apps, offer a wealth of resources at your fingertips. Our behavioral health expert, Katelyn Millinor, LPC, recommends the following apps for you to try out at home.

Anxiety/Depression

  • Happify – help reduce stress, overcome negative thoughts.
  • What’s Up – utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy and acceptance commitment therapy to cope with anxiety, stress, and depression.
  • Sanvello – teaches cognitive behavioral therapy through journeys that combine videos, audio exercises, mood and health tracking.
  • Mood Kit – utilizes cognitive behavioral therapy for mood improving activities.
  • Worry Kit – short (under 2 minute) activities designed for those in between moments in life where you need to reset your brain.
  •  MoodFit – create/track daily goals, understand relationship between mood and lifestyle factors, gratitude journal, mindfulness.
  • Mind Shift – designed for teens and young adults with anxiety that focuses on riding out intense emotions and facing challenging situations.
  • IMoodJournal – record everything from mood symptoms, sleep, medications, and energy.
  • Panic Relief – better manage and move through panic attacks.
  • Breathe2Relax – teaches breathing techniques to manage stress.

Meditation

  • Calm – guided meditations, sleep stories, breathing programs, and relaxing music.
  • Headspace – meditation and mindfulness.

Other

  • Quit That! – help users beat habits or addictions (drinking, smoking, drugs).
  • eMoods – designed for people with bipolar disorder to track symptoms.
  • notOK – suicide prevention app that users can add trusted contacts and let them know they are not okay.
  • PTSD Coach – education, assessing, and offering easy to understand tips to manage common symptoms.

Ten Basic Rules for Emotional Health

In light of May being deemed Mental Health Awareness Month in the U.S., here are some keys to creating and maintaining emotional wellness.

  1. Take care of yourself. Take time to relax, exercise, eat well, spend time with people you enjoy and activities which you find pleasurable.
  2. Choose to find the positives in life experiences instead of focusing on the negatives. Most clouds have a silver lining and offer opportunities for personal understanding and growth. When you accept that things are sometimes difficult, and just do what you need to do, then it doesn’t seem so hard.
  3. Let go of the past. If you can’t change it, and you have no control over it, then let it go. Don’t waste your energy on things that cannot benefit you. Forgive yourself and others.
  4. Be respectful and responsible.
  5. Acknowledge and take credit for your successes and accomplishments.
  6. Take the time to develop one or two close relationships in which you can be honest about your feelings.
  7. Talk positively about yourself and about others.
  8. Remove yourself from hurtful or damaging situations. Temporarily walk away from a situation that is getting out of control.
  9. Accept that life is about choices and is always bringing change to you. Accept that change also requires personal adjustment.
  10. Have a plan for the future. Develop long range goals for yourself, but work on them one day at a time—or even one minute at a time.

We know these things aren’t always as easy as they seem. We are here for you on your journey to wellness!