“During the coronavirus challenge, it’s important for populations at higher risk – older people especially those with underlying health issues – to practice ‘social distancing’ – but a scaled down social life doesn’t have to be a lonely one. Using the Internet can connect us with the people we care about and can bring us in touch with a wider world – both of which make us feel less isolated and lonely.
Recent statistics show that seniors are rapidly entering the social networks arena. Sign up for a network, connect with friends (you might even discover some old friends) and enjoy the results.
Click here to read this article in its entirety at Senior Planet.
“Finding the Right Words About COVID-19 | A playbook of tips for health care workers in extraordinary times” – California Health Care Foundation
by Kate Meyers
“Health care organizations in California and around the US are working incredibly hard to prepare for or respond to a surge of patients suffering from symptoms related to COVID-19. Appropriately, preparation has focused on trying to ensure adequate numbers of health care professionals and sufficient supplies and equipment in the right places at the right times as the demand grows.
“That focus on numbers and logistics is essential. Also important but perhaps less widely acknowledged is the need to prepare our clinical workforce for the types of circumstances found in Washington and Italy and now emerging in New York, California, and other hot spots we read about every day. Clinicians and staff — in skilled nursing facilities, hospitals, and beyond — face the prospect of caring for increasing numbers of very sick people, some of whom will not recover. Talking with these patients and their loved ones with compassion and clarity about what is happening, what to expect, and what their options are is extremely important. To many clinicians, it is a daunting prospect.”
Continue reading this article,click here.
Governor Tom Wolf introduced an online form for Pennsylvanians to provide feedback on mental health barriers, services and how the state can better support people’s mental health needs. The creation of the form is on the heels of the governor’s Jan. 2 announcement of Reach Out PA: Your Mental Health Matters initiative to reduce stigma and increase access to mental health and well-being services and supports.
“Having a way for all voices to be heard is critical to our goal of increasing access to mental health services, breaking down barriers, and detailing the ways we can meet the mental health needs of all,” Gov. Wolf said. “I encourage every Pennsylvanian to reach out via this online form to let us know their thoughts and suggestions.”
Of note is the first message on the form, which advises site visitors, “If you are in crisis, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, or text PA to 741741.”
“It’s critical that people in crisis have a way to get immediate help, which is why we included the suicide prevention lifeline first,” Gov. Wolf said. “Our form is intended for feedback and suggestions for the commonwealth as we move forward with breaking down barriers, improving services and reducing mental health stigmas.”
The commonwealth will not share any identifying information without permission of those who submit information. Comments and suggestions will be compiled and reviewed to determine next steps in program and service development or redesign, as well to convey pertinent information to state agencies involved in the initiative. Forms may be submitted anonymously.
“You can help improve the state of mental health in Pennsylvania,” Gov. Wolf said. “Completing this form and sharing your thoughts and ideas is another step in the right direction to make mental health a priority for all.”
The online form is available now.
Maria Fabrizio for NPR
by Sasa Woodruff
“Ryan ‘China’ McCarney has played sports his entire life, but sometimes he has to force himself to show up on the field to play pick-up soccer with his friends.
“‘I’m dreading and I’m anticipating the worst. But I do it anyway. And then, it’s a euphoric sensation when you’re done with it because you end up having a great time,’ says McCarney.
“McCarney was just 22 when he had his first panic attack. As a college and professional baseball player, he says getting help was stigmatized. It took him six years to get professional support. He still struggles with depression and social anxiety, but says exercising helps him — especially when it’s with his teammates.”
by Jane Eleey, for The Inquirer
“Loneliness may have the same impact on mortality as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, making it even more dangerous to health than obesity. Recent nationwide studies highlight the close relationship between social isolation and loneliness and serious health problems — memory loss, depression, self-neglect, changes in blood pressure, medication errors, decline in functional status, poor management of everyday living tasks — as well as greater mortality.
“Social ties provide support during illness, encourage people to maintain better health habits, and have positive effects on the immune system. Isolation from others contributes heavily to illness burden and premature death in at-risk populations.”
“I grew up thinking of my grandfather as a drunk. His spiral into self-destruction left a legacy of bitterness and addiction that will haunt our family for generations to come. But only recently have I begun to realize how much of that legacy is rooted in the war.” – Adam Linehan
Photo illustration by Jesse Draxler
by Adam Linehan
“My friend Paul Critchlow fought in Vietnam, earning a Purple Heart and a Bronze Star with valor. Then he returned home to Omaha, Neb., and nobody wanted to talk about it. So he did what many combat vets did after the war: He kept his head down and drove on, built a career, raised a family, avoided anything that reminded him of Vietnam, compartmentalized the trauma, drank heavily and abused drugs. He did as his old coach once advised after he broke his leg playing college football: “You’ve got to play above the pain, Critchlow.” It was a productive approach.
“He eventually landed on Wall Street and rose to become head of communications for Merrill Lynch. But then one morning in 1994, he woke up and couldn’t get out of bed. As hard as he tried, he couldn’t find the will to move. The doctors told him he had clinical depression. In Critchlow’s mind, however, it was much more specific than that: a hill in the Central Highlands of Vietnam that the Army numbered 102. Many of his close comrades died there during the battle in which he was wounded. He blamed himself.
“There were fewer than 200 American soldiers on Hill 102 when it came under siege by the entire Second North Vietnamese Army Division on the afternoon of Aug. 19, 1969. Critchlow was a 23-year-old forward observer for Charlie Company, responsible for calling in airstrikes and artillery barrages. As the Vietnamese troops advanced farther up the hill, the grunts dug in along the perimeter shouted over the radio to Critchlow for more and more bombs. The battle raged through the evening, and once it got dark, Critchlow lay on his back in a roofless French plantation house and used a strobe light to guide an AC-47 Spooky gunship to its targets. Just before midnight, a lone figure appeared in Critchlow’s periphery. He was armed with a rocket-propelled-grenade launcher, and Critchlow knew he was an NVA soldier by the shape of his helmet. The explosion lifted Critchlow off the ground, and suddenly he was immersed in brilliant white light, spinning slowly through the air, certain he was dead. Five hours later, he was tossed onto a helicopter packed with bodies, and bullets pierced the fuselage as the bird lifted off the ground. Critchlow begged God not to let him die after all he had just survived. He prayed to go home. But as soon as he got there, he wanted to turn back around. He felt as if he had abandoned his men. ‘By putting myself in harm’s way, I left them behind,’ he recalled thinking after waking up in a hospital in Danang.”
This New York Times Magazine long read (below) is so important to gain insight into what warriors grapple with after returning from hostile actions in other nations.
I was convinced the deaths of my friends in combat were my fault. It took me years to realize this feeling had a name: survivor guilt.
Capital Area Behavioral Health Collaborative (CABHC) is reintroducing a Peer Support scholarship initiative. CABHC will cover the cost to enroll in the Peer Support training class and have secured slots at each training session in Lebanon, PA. Qualified individuals who are interested in applying to receive a scholarship to attend the 10-day Peer Support training class in Lebanon, PA, should visit www.cabhc.org. Please see attached flyer for more information. Thank you.
There are many medications that can be used to treat mood disorders. But finding the right one can be a lengthy process, and the choice can be more complicated than you might imagine. Just because a particular drug worked for a friend doesn’t mean it will work for you. Psychiatrists and doctors who prescribe antidepressants choose a particular drug and dosage based on many factors, including the following:
- Diagnosis. Certain drugs are a better choice for specific symptoms and types of depression. For example, an antidepressant that makes you sleepy may be better when insomnia is an issue. The severity of your illness or the presence of anxiety, obsessions, or compulsions may also dictate the choice of one drug over another.
- Side effects. You may first want to choose a drug based on which side effect you most want to avoid. Medications vary in the likelihood they will cause such problems as sexual effects, weight gain, or sedation.
- Age. As you age, your body tends to break down drugs more slowly. Thus, older people may need a lower dose. For children, only a few medications have been studied carefully.
- Health. If you have certain health problems, it’s best to avoid certain drugs. For example, your doctor will want to consider factors such as heart disease or neurological illnesses when recommending a drug. For this reason, it’s important to discuss medical problems with a primary care doctor or psychiatrist before starting an antidepressant.
- Medications, supplements, and diet. When combined with certain drugs or substances, antidepressants may not work as well, or they may have worrisome or dangerous side effects. For example, combining an SSRI or another antidepressant with the herbal remedy St. John’s wort can boost serotonin to dangerous and, in rare cases, fatal levels. Mixing St. John’s wort with other drugs—including certain drugs to control HIV infection, cancer medications, and birth control pills—might lower their effectiveness. Women receiving tamoxifen for breast cancer should take an antidepressant that does not interfere with tamoxifen’s effectiveness. Eating certain foods, such as aged cheeses and cured meats, while taking an MAOI can cause a dangerous rise in blood pressure.
- Alcohol or drugs. Alcohol and other substances can cause depression and make antidepressants less effective. Doctors often treat alcohol or drug addiction first if they believe either is causing the depression. In many instances, simultaneous treatment for addiction and depression is warranted.
- Personal and family mental health and medication history. If you or a member of your family has had a good response to a medication in the past, that information may guide your choice. Depending on the nature and course of your depression (for example, if your depression is long-lasting or difficult to treat), you may need a higher dose or a combination of drugs. This may also be true if an antidepressant has stopped working for you, which may occur after you’ve used it for some time or after you’ve stopped and restarted treatment with it.
- Cost. Since all antidepressants are roughly equivalent in their effectiveness, you won’t lose anything by trying a generic version first.
- Your preference. Once you have learned as much as you can about the treatment options, your doctor will want to know what approach makes most sense given your lifestyle, your interests, and your judgment.
For more on diagnosing and finding the right treatment on the different types of depression, read Understanding Depression, a Special Health Report from Harvard Medical School.
SOURCE: Harvard Medical School