Category Archives: Mental Health

SAVE THE DATE (October 9, 2020) – Hope, Healing & Recovery | a Lebanon Veterans Affairs Medical Center event!

VA mental health event

“Depression, anxiety spike amid outbreak and turbulent times” – Associated Press

covid depression“FILE – In this Monday, June 1, 2020 file photo, a woman looks through a window at a near-empty terminal at an airport in Atlanta. Anxiety and depression are rising among Americans compared with before the pandemic, research suggests. Half of those surveyed in a study released on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020, reported at least some signs of depression.” – (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

by Lindsey Tanner

“Mental health therapists’ caseloads are bulging. Waiting lists for appointments are growing. And anxiety and depression are rising among Americans amid the coronavirus crisis, research suggests.

“In the latest study to suggest an uptick, half of U.S. adults surveyed reported at least some signs of depression, such as hopelessness, feeling like a failure or getting little pleasure from doing things. That’s double the rate from a different survey two years ago, Boston University researchers said Wednesday in the medical journal JAMA Network Open.

“The study did not ask about any diagnosis they might have received, and for many people, the problem is mostly angst rather than full-blown psychiatric illness. But experts say the feeling is genuine and deserving of professional help.”

Read this AP article in its entirety, click here.

“Calvin and Hobbes and quarantine” – Polygon

Admit it. There’s a bit of Calvin in each of us.

calvin hobbes

“Image: Bill Watterson/Andrews McMeel Publishing”

by Chuck Wendig

When I think of Calvin, that glorious little menace, I first remember the depth of his imagination. His was an external life born explicitly of the internal: distant planets, bed monsters, mutant snowscapes, gravity-defying wagon rides, crass Transmogrifications, and of course, one tuna-loving tiger BFF.

“But the second thing I remember was exactly why the kid had such a big imagination to begin with: Calvin was looking for a way out. He was trying to escape.

“He didn’t like school, so he fled it as Spaceman Spiff. Bathtime, a nightmare for small children, saw Calvin turning into a tub shark or being attacked by a bubble-bath elemental. He escaped the corporeal form of a kid’s (arguably limited) body with the Transmogrifier, and most importantly of all, escaped loneliness by befriending a stuffed tiger who Calvin knew was actually real. A tiger who listened to him, who challenged him, and who ultimately loved him.

“Because that’s the thing, isn’t it? Calvin went to school, had a loving family, but even still, he felt alone. And his imagination gave him a way not to feel that anymore.

“In lockdown, we’re all Calvin.”

Seriously, click here to read this article at Polygon in its entirety.

 

“Staying Strong During Lockdown Means Reaching Out — And Working Your Mind, Too” – NPR

staying strongAnnelise Capossela for NPR

by April Fulton

“It can be tempting, as the pandemic wears on, to shut down — to escape into TV binging, social media and other inadequate ways of blocking out the stress and fears of illness or economic disaster.

“Dr. Maryland Pao, the clinical director of the National Institutes of Mental Health Intramural Research Program and a psychiatrist who regularly sees children with life-threatening illnesses, says she’s seen striking similarities between the ways her young patients deal with their diagnoses, and how lots of people are responding as we roll past month 5 of the pandemic.

“We all tend to default to two styles of coping, Pao explains: ‘You can be an active coper or you can be a passive coper.’

‘The active copers — the ones who pick up hobbies or take an interest in others and the world around them — generally have better mental health outcomes, Pao notes.”

Click here to read this article at NPR in its entirety.

 

The Joy of Animals – in and out of COVID-19. | REMINDER, too, register for the “Joy of Animals” Webinar on Monday, August 31.

animals“Above right, Lincoln Fuller: My wingman, Bear. Above left, Charlotte Wells of Pendleton, Ore.: Mr. Fish was rescued 8 years ago following the death of our beloved Mr. Felix (our 2nd rescue). Fish had been returned twice to the adoption agency, most likely because he behaves like a toddler, opening doors and drawers, dragging things out of the wastebasket, and biting. We’ve cured him of the biting, but the curiosity remains! If he could talk, his favorite word would be, “why?” (as in, why is the candy paper crunchy? why can’t I have my own bar of string cheese?)

These are some of the pets and pet comments that readers sent to Teresa Hanafin at the Boston Globe. Ms. Hanafin is the editor of The Boston Globe‘s newsletter, Fast Forward.

MEB: My rescue dog, Daniel, is a loving, devoted, funny, caring companion. He is the best thing that happened to me since my kids were born 51 and 48 years ago.

Alison, Eric, and Cole Zetterquist: Our endless devotion to Pikachu, our kitty who still loves us even though we named her after a big yellow mouse.

Emily Harting: Found on the sidewalk in August 2017, on a block of junkyards in Brooklyn; we’re coming up on our 3-year gotcha-versary. Lhasa/Shih-Tzu/Maltese mix (we had his DNA done but this is to point out not a big or strong dog, but a lap dog), so badly matted you could not find his face. So badly matted I didn’t know if it was male or female. I thought it was a cocker spaniel, that’s how large it was.

I wished to name him Fenway. My (sorry to say it) Yankees fan partner said absolutely not. BUT since the dog was small and clearly scrappy, that we could name him after Dustin Pedroia, hence Petey.

Love of my life. Greatest dog ever. He came with impeccable manners and so well-trained which is good b/c he had every right to be an [expletive!] and we probably would have kept him anyway.

Betsy G: Tarra (rhymes with CAR) or like the black stuff on the road! English black Lab – 12 years old. My empty nest child that still wants to come home!

Steffen W. Schmidt of Iowa: My pet dog Mad Donna got bitten by some bees, was crying and in pain. It made me nervous and freaked out. The Vet prescribed some medication. I take 4 a day and feel better.

Right now Mad Donna is chasing some chip monks by the composter. They are running away from her laughing but tripping over their Rosaries. They work for the California Highway Patrol (CHIP) as grief counselors.

Alice McCarthy: Stella, ❤️my bull terrier,❤️ makes me laugh out loud EVERY DAY! ‘Nuff said.

Karen Tarr: Our beloved cat, Hobo, passed away last summer at the age of 16. A life well-lived, but we were devastated. In June, my sister-in-law told me she knew someone who had taken a tiny, four-week-old kitten from its feral mom in an effort to control a feral colony of cats, and the kitten was in need of a home.

Little Rusty needed a lot of care in the beginning, but is now 13 weeks old and bouncing around our house like he owns the place. I’ve been working from home during COVID, but today I am back in the office for the first time since March and I am worrying about my kitten. I will still be a stay-at-home-kitten-mom most of the time! My vet said I got a “Corona Pet!”

Colleen Evans: I have 3 small dogs; 2 are rescues from Louisiana. Until last Friday, I also had 2 cats. I had to put my beautiful Coon cat Rosie to sleep. She was 18 and very frail. I also have a black former feral cat. Love all my fur babies. They keep us anchored and give unconditional love. 🐶🐯


Animals can be wonderful companions and take our minds off the stress, anxiety, trauma and uncertainty that abounds during this pandemic period of our lives. If you love animals and want to see how animals can provide soothing, calming and relaxing vibes for you — whether or not you are a pet owner, you’ll want to register for an hour and a half break pandemic to meet several Link partners as they introduce you to their special friends: animals who are making differences in the lives of so many.

joy of animals2 draft

When: Aug 31, 2020 01:00 PM Eastern Time (US and Canada)
Topic: The Joy of Animals – Return engagement

Register in advance for this webinar:
https://us02web.zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_AKkdy2jXRAiCk1k1J9deuw

After registering, you will receive a confirmation email containing information about joining the webinar.

Beat It: an 8-week Veterans Group beginning Sepember 3

BEAT it Group Flyer

Breathe Again Counseling Services, LLC and Take Heart Counseling and Equine Assisted Therapy announce this opportunity for veterans who need help, to get help. We are running a therapeutic group starting Thursday September 3rd for 8 weeks. Charlene Shutika will be co-facilitating the two hour long group along with Take Heart’s very own, Dr. David Brant, LPC, PsyD. Dr. Brant’s interest in the veteran population comes not from serving, but from his first hand experiences with the draft for Vietnam. The group will only run for 1.5 hours. The last half hour will be a time to gather around the pavilion and eat a meal together. We will be addressing proper reintegration because being home is harder than being deployed, emotion regulation because emotions were not allowed so we don’t know how to have them, the effects of trauma on the physical body (IBS, pain, the trauma brain), effective communication skills and knowing that you can have an opinion, and whatever else comes up. We will be using the theory of Natural Lifemanship or Trauma-Focused Equine-Assisted-Psychotherapy (TF-EAP) to guide the group through mounted and unmounted activities which have been shown to be beneficial for in the moment experiential learning versus traditional talk therapy alone.

The goal of the group is to build skills to handle the things that get thrown at them in civilian life and a lasting community for those veterans so if they fall on hard times or start to have suicidal thoughts, they have someone they can trust to call. It’s also so that veterans don’t feel alone.

Breathe Again Counseling Services, LLC – Call 484.205.9887 – Being a veteran gives me a unique perspective and helps me build a stronger relationship to help veterans through various trials in their life so they can breathe again. Being trauma informed and working towards becoming Trauma Certified guides the focus of my practice, but helping veterans is my priority so whether you have PTSD, Anxiety or Depression, or going through a life change, please feel free to contact me. Breathe again offers individual counseling services in-person or via telehealth and will be starting group services up in January 2020. For rates and more information please visit https://www.breatheagaincounselingservices.com/ 

Take Heart Counseling & Equine Assisted Therapy – Take Heart’s mission is to empower individuals and families to find hope, healing, and wholeness through therapeutic work with horses. They integrate principles of Christian counseling, trauma-informed psychotherapy, and natural horsemanship in experiential sessions designed to bring deep healing and insight to mind, body, and soul. The outdoor farm environment is peaceful and authentic, bringing a different, down-to-earth feel to counseling sessions. No horse experience necessary – the horses are gentle and intuitive partners in healing. Contact us.

“What Seniors Can Expect as Their New Normal in a Post-Vaccine World” – Kaiser Health News

senior changes

by Bruce Horowitz

“Imagine this scenario, perhaps a year or two in the future: An effective COVID-19 vaccine is routinely available and the world is moving forward. Life, however, will likely never be the same — particularly for people over 60.

That is the conclusion of geriatric medical doctors, aging experts, futurists and industry specialists. Experts say that in the aftermath of the pandemic, everything will change, from the way older folks receive health care to how they travel and shop. Also overturned: their work life and relationships with one another.

“’In the past few months, the entire world has had a near-death experience,’ said Ken Dychtwald, CEO of Age Wave, a think tank on aging around the world. ‘We’ve been forced to stop and think: I could die or someone I love could die. When those events happen, people think about what matters and what they will do differently.’

“Older adults are uniquely vulnerable because their immune systems tend to deteriorate with age, making it so much harder for them to battle not just COVID-19 but all infectious diseases. They are also more likely to suffer other health conditions, like heart and respiratory diseases, that make it tougher to fight or recover from illness. So it’s no surprise that even in the future, when a COVID-19 vaccine is widely available — and widely used — most seniors will be taking additional precautions.”

Click here to continue reading this article at Kaiser Health News.

“How to Ask if Everything Is OK When It’s Clearly Not” – The New York Times

OKLauren Martin

by Anna Goldfarb

“In a perfect world, when you’re checking in with someone who’s struggling, you’d have your conversation together in a calm, private setting. Phones and devices would be silenced and stashed out of sight. Food and drinks tend to put people at ease, so you’d nosh on snacks or sip a beverage together, too.

“But this, of course, isn’t a perfect world, and we’re still in the throes of a pandemic, so this idyllic social scenario may not be possible anytime soon. So it’s even more important you choose the right moment to check in, as it will determine the quality of the interaction you have.

“While we may not be able to be physically present when we approach a troubled friend, we can create an atmosphere — and cultivate the right mind-set within ourselves — so the other person will feel comfortable opening up when they need support most.

“When you chat with a friend, … “

Continue reading this article at The New York Times,click here.

“New State Fact Sheets Highlight Key Data About Mental Health and Substance Use Needs and Capacity” – Kaiser Family Foundation

The COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic downturn are taking a toll on mental health for many Americans, with large shares of the public saying that related worry and stress is having a negative effect on their mental health.

KFF analysis and series of state fact sheets examine mental health and substance use disorder needs in the states and capacity to meet residents’ needs prior to the pandemic, which is expected to place additional strains on the system. Average weekly data for June 2020 found that 36.5% of adults in the U.S. report symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder, up from 11.0% in 2019. Louisiana (42.9%), Florida (41.5%) and Oregon (41.3%) have the highest shares reporting such symptoms, while Wisconsin (27.2%), Minnesota (30.5%) and Nebraska (30.6%) have the lowest.

The analysis highlights the wide range of needs and resources across states. For example:

  • The share of adults with any diagnosable mental, behavioral or emotional disorder ranged from a high of 25.3% in Utah to a low of 16.1% in New Jersey in 2017-2018. Utah also has the highest prevalence of adults with serious mental illness (6.4%), while New Jersey has the lowest (3.6%).
  • Nationally, more than a third (34.3%) of adults with serious mental illness did not receive treatment. This includes about half of those in Alaska, Louisiana and Georgia, and less than a quarter of those living in Tennessee, Vermont, South Dakota and Washington State.
  • Suicide is one of the top 10 causes of death in the U.S. and has increased in almost every state over time. Age-adjusted suicide rates are about three times as high in New Mexico, Montana and Wyoming as they are in the New York, New Jersey and the District of Columbia.
  • Deaths due to drug overdose increased nearly fourfold nationally from 1999 to 2018. West Virginia and Delaware have the highest age-adjusted overdose death rates – more than five times the rate in South Dakota and Nebraska, which have the lowest rates.

The state fact sheets compile key information on mental illness prevalence; substance abuse and related deaths; suicide; mental health workforce; unmet need and barriers to care; private insurance coverage and costs; and Medicaid benefits.

They are designed to allow policymakers, health care professionals, patient groups and journalists to quickly assess the mental health and substance use landscape in each of the 50 states and the District of Columbia.

The fact sheets draw on dozens of indicators in KFF’s State Health Facts data collection related to mental health and substance use disorder. The data collection allows quick comparisons across states and allows for the creation of custom reports for select states and indicators.

This work was supported in part by Well Being Trust. We value our funders. KFF maintains full editorial control over all of its policy analysis, polling and journalism activities.

Filling the need for trusted information on national health issues, KFF (Kaiser Family Foundation) is a nonprofit organization based in San Francisco, California.

“‘It just weighs on your psyche’: Black Americans on mental health, trauma, and resilience” – STAT: Daily Recap

wears on youCRYSTAL MILNER/STAT

Photos and interviews by Crystal Milner

I’m feeling it, my friends and family are feeling it: the weight of this moment is immeasurable. Black Americans have been disproportionately affected by the coronavirus pandemic. This has been compounded by the tragic deaths of Black men and women — lives cut short at the hands of police and vigilantes.

“Ahmaud Arbery shot while jogging. Breonna Taylor killed in her home. George Floyd suffocated as the world watched. Rayshard Brooks asleep in a Wendy’s parking lot. Robert Fuller found hung from a tree in Palmdale, Calif. We lament the Black lives lost, past and present.

“Repeated trauma and stress have real effects on health, both physical and mental. Though the dialogue surrounding mental health is changing, it’s often considered a taboo subject in the Black community. Navigating the intersections of Black identity has always been layered and complex. With these ideas in mind, I photographed family, friends, and others in my community of Southern California and spoke with them about how being Black in the U.S. affects them, especially right now. Here are their stories and portraits.”

Click here to read this article in its entirety.