Being a teenager has never been easy. Maybe you are facing puberty and changing hormones, having difficulty with social acceptance or rejection. Maybe you are learning who you are and who you want to be. Mix in social media and technology and you are now adding new difficulties to what was already a challenging time. Did you know that approx 1 in 5 adolescents have been impacted by or are currently dealing with a mental illness? Here are some of the common mental health issues that impact adolescents: • ADHD • Anxiety • Depression • Disruptive Behaviors (Oppositional Defiant Disorder or Conduct Disorder) • Eating Disorders • Grief • PTSD • Self-Harm • Substance Abuse So, 1 in 5. That’s about 20% of our adolescent population. In a classroom of let’s say 30 kids, 6 of them are currently dealing with a mental illness. Then, according to the Office of Adolescent Health (part of the US Department of Health and Human Services) only half of kids with a mental illness are getting the help and care that they need. Half. Why are these youth not getting the help they need? One piece of the puzzle is that ugly word we keep hearing – stigma. Being a teen can be hard enough without “labels” that make kids feel different from those around them. Both teens and their family members can fear this stigma. Another large piece of that puzzle is that we don’t always recognize the symptoms of mental illness in our adolescents. Common symptoms can include irritability, anger, withdrawing or isolating, changes in appetite or sleep, risky behaviors, substance... read more
A client recently asked me: “What is involved in mindfulness and how do you implement?” “Mindfulness is a state of consciousness…a quality of being,” I said helpfully. My client stared at me blankly. Okay, let me try again. “My favorite definition of mindfulness comes from Jon Kabat-Zinn, the founder of Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction. He says that mindfulness is, ‘paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally, to the unfolding of experience moment to moment.’ Now do you understand?” I said expectantly. This time, I was met with a slow shake of the head, a furrowed brow and a slight glazing over in the eyes. I took a deep breath. Okay, let’s break it down. “When you are practicing Mindfulness (I’ll explain ‘practicing ‘in a minute, I thought) you are: non-conceptual, present-centered, nonjudgmental, and intentional. Non-conceptual means that you can be aware of a thought, feeling or behavior without becoming absorbed in the thought, feeling, or behavior. In other words, you can be aware of the ride without going on it. Present centered is pretty straightforward. You are in the present moment and work at staying in the present moment. The nonjudgmental part is my personal favorite. There is no need to try to make it anything other than what it is. There is no need for judgment…good or bad. And finally, the intentional part means that you have made a decision to place your attention where you want it to go, not where that hijacking amygdala might want it to go. (Oh great! Now, I’m going to have to explain the amygdala! How much time do we... read more
I recently mentioned “grieving” to a client who is going through a divorce. The client responded “I thought grieving happens when someone dies”. When many of us hear the term “grief” or “grieving”, we usually think of death. However, grieving is best defined as a natural response to the loss of a cherished idea (dream), a person, or thing. Throughout life, we may experience many losses other than death. Losses may include: divorce, relocation, retirement, loss of a relationship, a career change, loss of health, or children leaving for college. I will never forget the morning after losing my closest friend or the morning after leaving a job of more than 14 years. Although the two losses were completely different, these mornings had something in common. They were mornings when I realized life was no longer “as I knew it.” Everyone experiences loss differently. For some, it can be unbearable in which they may become withdrawn and depressed having difficulty functioning in everyday activities. Others may deal with loss by pushing forward and staying busy never to look at their own feelings. I have listed below some of the common reactions to grief and loss. These reactions were first identified as “Stages of Grief”. You may or may not experience all of these reactions, and you may experience them more than once. Common Reactions to Grief and Loss Denial – “This can’t be happening to me”. People refuse to believe that something so horrible has happened. By denying it to themselves, they hope to keep the loss from becoming their reality. Anger – “Why is this happening? Who is... read more
Hardly an hour goes by on television commercials where one experiences an advertisement for psychotropic medication in the form of anti-depressants, mood stabilizers,bipolar medications, or to contact an attorney if you’ve been damaged by a psychotropic medication. Do I take the medications my doctor has prescribed and “risk the chance of experiencing harmful side effects” or do I just ignore my diagnostic features altogether and continue down the path I’ve been walking? I find many hurting people who are confused about which direction is best to find the needed relief. If I’m depressed do I automatically require medication to combat my depressive features? Over the years I’ve observed three basic types of depression: Environmental, Situational, and Clinical Depression. Environmental depression is a term I’ve applied to one’s situation which may reflect what occurs within the environment of the person. What are the surroundings? Situational depression is based on depressive features resulting from a specific situation. Is the individual in a bad relationship, experienced a break-up, illness of a family member, poor work environment or unpleasant job satisfaction. The list is not exclusive so other types of situations could easily be added which produce a sense of being overwhelmed, irritability, poor sleep or appetite, depressed mood, fatigue, poor energy, or other depressive features. Situational depression can be resolved by outpatient services by finding a qualified therapist to help identify the situation, develop a plan to address the situation, walk with the individual through the implementation process, then empower the individual to continue in the newfound freedom they’ve experienced. Research has shown Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is an evidenced based treatment modality... read more
September 8, 2014 marks the first day of National Suicide Prevention Week 2014, with World Suicide Prevention Day falling on September 10th. This year also marks the 40th anniversary of National Suicide Prevention Week. In honor of this week, I decided to make an informative post, full of facts and myths about suicide, warning signs, how to assess for suicide, and resources. Suicide Facts: • Every 13.3 minutes, somebody in the USA dies by suicide. • Every 40 seconds, somebody in the world dies by suicide. • Suicide is currently the 10th leading cause of death in the USA. • Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death for college students. • Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death for individuals aged 15-24. • Alaska has the highest suicide rate of any state in the USA. • More people die by suicide each year than homicide. • Males are more likely to complete suicide than females, but female are more likely to attempt it. Suicide Myths: Myth: Nobody can stop a suicide, it is inevitable.
Fact: If people in crisis get the help they need, a suicide can be prevented. Myth: Confronting a persona about suicide will only make them angry and increase the risk of suicide.
Fact: Asking someone directly about suicidal intent often lowers anxiety, opens up communication, and lowers the risk of an impulsive act. Myth: Only experts can prevent suicide.
Fact: Suicide prevention is everybody’s business and anyone can help prevent suicide. Myth: Suicidal people keep their plans to themselves.
Fact: Most suicidal people communicate their intent during the week preceding their attempt. Myth: Those who talk about suicide don’t do it.
Fact: People who talk about suicide may... read more
We have all heard statements like “the glass is half full” or “He wears rose colored glasses” or “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” Can a concept this simple change a person’s life? If I think it true, is it really true? Why is it then, that there are times I cannot seem to let go of something negative; or lean toward thinking the worst of a person or a situation? Why, if someone insults me, Can I play it over and over again in my head, but if I hear a compliment about myself I can dismiss it before it stops ringing in the air? Are human beings hard wired to think and believe the worst? This is my pursuit; Not only for happiness for myself, but my professional pursuit of empowering others to attract happiness into their own lives as well. Positive Psychology, by definition, is the scientific study of the strengths and virtues that enable individuals and communities to thrive. The field is founded on the belief that people want to lead meaningful and fulfilling lives, to cultivate what is best within themselves, and to enhance their experiences of love, work, and play. Positive Psychology is a movement in psychology pioneered by Martin Seligman of University of Pennsylvania. It is, in the most basic of terms, focusing on what is right as opposed to what is wrong. This does not mean that we pretend problems do not exist; or that we avoid finding solutions to problems; It simply means that we pay close attention to what is right and find a way to learn or... read more
Excerpt from the Avenues November Newsletter: Our Wednesday meeting last week included Lynn Motley as our featured guest speaker. Lynn’s career specialty has been to help organizations and individuals with their total wellbeing; physical health as well as psychological health. Lynn’s presentation was much different than what I expected. And, my “take-away” was that we all need to slow down and just let go of the stress and busy-ness in our lives regularly. She led us through a process and had us all participate in a stress- reduction exercise. This was a timely topic. The end-of-year holiday period is already being blasted at us by the media and in the TV, radio, and newspaper commercials. Do take time to take care of you, while you run about over the next many weeks trying to take care of everybody else! Click here to see the newsletter:... read more