Category Archives: Mental Health

“Experts say early preparation aids in aging well” – The Tribune-Democrat

health matters“Rita Mizak (top left), YMCA aquatics instructor, leads a water walking class Friday May 18, 2018, for local retired professikonals who have been taking the class for 30 years.” – photo by Thomas Slusser – The Tribune-Democrat

by Randy Griffith

“It’s not your grandparents’ old age.

“With access to clean water, vaccinations, waste removal, electricity and refrigerators, people are not only surviving to live longer, they are remaining active and living better in their senior years.

“As the late George Burns famously said: ‘You can’t help getting older, but you don’t have to get old.’

“Some are calling it the longevity revolution.

“Based on current life expectancy and average health quality, the World Health Organizations suggests that people in developed nations are ‘young’ until they are 65, ‘middle aged’ up to 79 and ‘elderly’ until they hit 100. Then they are ‘long-lived elderly.’”

Read this Tribune-Democrat article in its entirety, click here.

“One in Five Americans Report Always or Often Feeling Lonely or Socially Isolated, Frequently With Physical, Mental, and Financial Consequences” – KFF/Economist Survey


One in five Americans (22%) say they always or often feel lonely or socially isolated, frequently with serious consequences, finds a new Kaiser Family Foundation/Economist three-country survey examining loneliness and social isolation.

Americans who feel lonely or socially isolated often report negative impacts on their mental (58%) and physical (55%) health, their personal relationships (49%) and ability to do their job (33%). Some also say it has led them to think about harming themselves (31%) or committing a violent act (15%).

The survey also finds that while most Americans (58%) view the increased use of technology as a major reason why people feel lonely and socially isolated, those who report feeling lonely or socially isolated are divided on the impact of social media in particular. About as many say using social media such as Facebook, Snapchat and Twitter has made their feelings of loneliness better (31%) and worse (27%).

The survey takes a comprehensive look at the prevalence, causes and consequences of loneliness and social isolation in the United States, the United Kingdom and Japan at a time when aging societies and increasing use of technology is generating concerns about the effects of loneliness on health. Findings appear in The Economist’s Sept. 1 issue and in a separate KFF report that looks at people’s views and experiences with loneliness across the three countries.

Reports of always or often feeling lonely or socially isolated are similar in the U.S. (22%) and U.K. (23%), compared to 9 percent in Japan.

Other findings include:

  • Loneliness appears to be closely tied to real life problems and circumstances, with at least six in 10 of those experiencing it across the three countries citing a specific cause, most often the death of a loved one. Those who feel lonely are much more likely to report a negative change in financial status, a change in living situation, a serious injury or illness personally, or loss of a job in the past two years than those who don’t report feeling lonely across the three countries.
  • In the United States, those most likely to experience loneliness include people who report having a mental health condition (47% report loneliness) or a debilitating health condition (45%). That’s roughly three times the rates for those who don’t have such conditions.
  • Similarly, Americans who are single, divorced, widowed or separated are more than twice as likely to report feeling lonely or socially isolated than those who are married or living with a partner (33% compared to 13%). The pattern is similar in the U.K. and Japan.
  • Half of Americans (51%) say they’ve heard “a lot” or “some” about the problems of loneliness and social isolation – fewer than say the same in the United Kingdom (67%), where a minister for loneliness was appointed earlier this year.
  • Across countries, large majorities of people say individuals and families should play a major role in helping to reduce loneliness and social isolation in society today. However, just about a quarter of Americans (27%) say the government should play a major role, less than half the shares who say the same in the U.K. and Japan. Most Americans (61%) also see a major role for churches and other religious institutions.

The three-country survey is part of a polling partnership between KFF and The Economist. The poll was designed and analyzed by survey researchers at KFF in collaboration with The Economist. Each organization is solely responsible for the content it publishes based on the survey.

The poll was conducted by telephone from April through June 2018 among random digit dial telephone (landline and cell phone) samples of adults in the U.S. (1,003), the U.K. (1,002) and Japan (1,000), including at least 200 adults in each country who report always or often feeling lonely or socially isolated.

The margin of sampling error is plus or minus 3 percentage points for the U.S. results and plus or minus 4 percentage points for results for the U.K. and Japan. For results based on subgroups, the margin of sampling error may be higher.

“The 17th Century Guide to Sleep” -History Today

“Despite the modern obsession with a good night’s rest, more of us are sleeping less. Perhaps we should pay attention to the advice of early modern doctors.”14.40.611“Detail from A Maid Asleep by Johannes Vermeer, c.1656–57.”

by Katharine A. Craik

Sleep is an urgent topic for neuroscientists and now more than ever is known about its crucial importance for concentration and memory formation. Despite all this, the western world spends fewer and fewer hours asleep. With human interaction increasingly taking place in timeless virtual spaces, our time spent asleep is shortening and our working days are lengthening, with profound implications for the quality of the lives we lead. In particular, the impact of light-emitting screens upon the circadian rhythms, so essential to well-being, are only just becoming apparent. A similar debate took place during the Enlightenment when artificial lighting offered many people the novel opportunity to manipulate their hours of wakeful productivity. But the origins of sleep science lie centuries earlier, in Renaissance theories about the body’s sensitivity to light and darkness.

“The science of sleep was developing rapidly in the 17th century, when rest was regarded as one of the core factors for maintaining good health, along with other essential ‘non-naturals’ such as air, food and drink. Most writers agreed that the optimum quantity of sleep lay somewhere between seven and nine hours and that its health-giving benefits were many and varied. The medical literature of the time however suggests that people – then as now – were often plagued by slumber’s elusiveness.”

Click here to read this article in its entirety at History Today.


“Educating and Registering Voters at Your Organization”


This important message is from The National Council for Behavioral Health.

“In political advocacy, the first and most important step is deciding who will represent you and your community in Washington, D.C. The National Council is committed to helping increase voter engagement among Americans living with mental illness and addiction and their families. We are calling on you, our members, to get out the vote by running Voter Registration drives in your organizations this summer and fall. Join National Council’s Policy and Advocacy staff for a 1-hour webinar on August 15, at 2:30 p.m. ET to learn more. Download this toolkit to get a jumpstart!



“Despair and anxiety: Puerto Rico’s ‘living emergency’ as a mental health crisis unfolds” – The Guardian

pr mh“Shaina kisses her son Keydiel, five, in the yard of the school he attends in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico.” Photograph: Angel Valentin for the Guardian

by Amanda Holpuch

“For the first 36 hours after Hurricane Maria, five-year-old Keydiel and his mother Shaina were trapped by the toppled trees that blocked the doors to their home in Yabucoa, Puerto Rico.

“Eventually, neighbors cleared the sturdy tamarind trees, cutting by hand because there was no electricity. The mother and son emerged to find an island devoured by 155mph winds and harsh rains.

“Their immediate concerns were physical – finding food and water – but bubbling below were anxieties and trauma that would endure for months.”

Continue reading this article at The Guardian, click here.

“Climate Change May Cause 26,000 More U.S. Suicides by 2050” – The Atlantic

“Unusually hot days have profound effects on mental health and human physiology.”

A surfer pulls off a wave as the sun sets in Cardiff during what local media reported to be a record breaking heat wave in Southern Californiasurfer cools off during a heat wave in southern California in October 2017MIKE BLAKE / REUTERS”

by Robinson Meyer

“For almost two centuries now, scientists have noticed a place’s suicide rate bears troubling links to the changing of the seasons and the friendliness of its climate.

“In 1881the Italian physician Enrico Morselli noted that suicide rates peak in the summer, deeming the effect “too great for it to be attributed to chance of the human will.” Two decades later, the French sociologist Emile Durkheim noticed the same effect—though he also found the suicide rate was higher in Scandinavian countries.

“Even today, CDC data confirms that suicides peak in the United States in the early summer.”

Read this article in its entirety, click here.

“Is a suicide epidemic hiding under the drug overdose epidemic?”

As the US continues to grapple with a deadly opioid crisis, a growing number of experts are concerned that overdose deaths are masking a larger suicide crisis.


The background is this: Suicide rates in the US rose 30% between 2000 and 2016, according to estimates. But the real numbers are undoubtedly higher, partly because of the opioid epidemic.

According to a recent study, suicide by drug overdose is “profoundly underreported” in the US. On top of that, depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder affect more than half of people with drug use disorders.

Here’s the thing: The official numbers say that less than 4% of the 44,000 fatal opioid overdoses in 2016 were suicides. However, experts say that data from teen deaths points to a much higher suicide rate — perhaps 13.5% of all opioid deaths. One addiction expert put it like this: “We should be very concerned that many overdoses are unrecognized suicide attempts.”

The reason this matters, as a mental health and suicide expert described, is that if people were more aware of the overlap, focusing on treating some drug users for depression would offer them a better chance of getting off drugs and not dying.

SOURCE: BuzzFeedNews

September 7, 2018 – SAVE THE DATE | 6th Annual Lebanon Veterans Affairs Medical Center Community Mental Health Summit

VA mh summit save the date

Community HealthChoices “delivery of service coordination”

chc delivery of services.jpg

Though the counties in Service Area 13 — Berks, Lancaster, Lebanon — are not impacted until January 2019, we wanted to share this information.

REMINDER: Many of our partners in Service Area 13’s footprint will be attending the special Community HealthChoices seminar on June 18.

In preparation for the launch of Community HealthChoices (CHC) in the Southeast region, the above CHC Fact Sheet explains the delivery of service coordination through the program. Under CHC, service coordination is a function of the managed care organizations (MCOs). A service coordinator is the MCO’s designated, accountable point-of-contact for each participant receiving long-term care services, their person-centered service plan, and service coordination. Therefore, the Office of Long-Term Living sees the service coordinators as part of the MCO under CHC.

Trainings | In addition to the fact sheets, the department has developed short, easily digestible overview trainings on CHC that can be found here. We encourage everyone to take the time to review the training and increase their knowledge in anticipation of the Southeast rollout and to familiarize themselves with the program.

Additional resources | To assist stakeholders in finding answers to questions more quickly, we recently consolidated all FAQs into a single CHC Questions and Answers Document.  The new document is in searchable PDF format and contains a table of contents that allows the user to easily move to different sections within the document.

The CHC Questions and Answers Document can be found on both the Participant and Provider sections of the CHC website by clicking on “View CHC Publications” or by following this link:

Please note: | The individual FAQ documents have been removed from the CHC website.  All questions and answers are now on one document.

CONTACT:  If you have any questions, please visit or submit comments electronically to

A listserv has been established for ongoing updates on the CHC program. It is titled OLTL-COMMUNITY-HEALTHCHOICES, please visit the ListServ Archives page at to update or register your email address.

Please share with other members of your organization as appropriate. Also, it is imperative that you notify the Office of Long-Term Living for changes that would affect your provider file, such as addresses and telephone numbers. Mail to/pay to addresses, email addresses, and phone numbers may be updated electronically through ePEAP, which can be accessed through the PROMISe™ provider portal. For any other provider file changes please notify the Bureau of Quality and Provider Management Enrollment and Certification Section at 1-800-932-0939 Option #1.

To ensure you receive email communications distributed from the Office of Long-Term Living, please visit the ListServ Archives page at to update or register your email address.

“Suicide nation: What’s behind the need to numb and to seek a final escape?” – The Conversation

suicide rate

“Suicide rates in the U.S. have increased nearly 30 percent in less than 20 years, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported June 7. These mind-numbing statistics were released the same week two very famous, successful and beloved people committed suicide – Kate Spade, a tremendous entrepreneur, trendsetter and fashion icon, and Anthony Bourdain, a distinguished chef and world traveler who took us on gastronomic journeys to all corners of the world through his TV shows.

Their tragic deaths, and others like them, have brought new awareness to the rapidly growing public health problem of suicide in the U.S. These deaths have renewed the country’s conversation about the scope of the problem. The sad truth is that suicide is the 10th leading cause of death among all Americans, and among youth and young adults, suicide is the third leading cause of death.

Read this article at The Conversation in its entirety, click here.