Mental Health Awareness Month #5

Autism

Autism is a neurodevelopmental disorder that manifests itself in children.  Traits of autism include delayed language development, hindered social skills, persistent fixation of physical objects, and overall problems with communication.  Asperger’s is a sub-category of autism.

Postpartum Depression

Postpartum Depression affects women who have just given birth.  it can range from moderate to severe.  Giving birth brings about all sorts of new changes and emotions, and many women experience the blues, but diagnosed Postpartum depression is more intense and full-blown.

Recognizing Early Warning Signs of Mental Illnesses.

Serve mental illnesses such a schizophrenia or bipolar disorder rarely emerge out of the blue.  Instead, family, friends, teachers, co-workers, or the individuals themselves start to notice that something is not quite right gradually.

Signs and Symptoms to Be Careful About.

Problems with concentration, memory, or  logical thought and speech that you haven’t experienced in the past.

Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, or smells as well as an overwhelming feeling to avoidance of over-stimulating situations.

When should treatment begin?

As soon as possible!  There are clinics that specialize in mental health disorders around the country, testing is normally scheduled relatedly quickly.

Mental Illness and Suicide.

Mental health studies conclude that people with poor mental health are 10 times more likely to attempt suicide.  Every year in the United States, more than 36,000 individuals die by suicide while hundreds of thousands more attempt it.  More often than not, these occurrences are due to chemical imbalances in the brain.  Here are some tips for dealing with suicidal thoughts:

KNOW that help is always there.  Seek the help of a counselor or call a suicide help-line.  Death is not the answer and will not solve your problems.  There is hope for you.

ALWAYS take your medication.  Individuals who are prescribed antipsychotic medications should under no circumstances stop their medication unless otherwise directed by a physician.

 

 

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Mental Illness Awareness Month #4

Bullying and Mental Health

Children that experience bullying may experience serious emotional and mental disabilities.  Bullying may interfere with social development, and self-esteem.  Children who have been bullied are also at increased risk for problems with anxiety and depression.

What can I do as a parent?  Help your child to understand what bullying is and teach them how to safely stand up for themselves and others.

Always communicate.  Check with your children often.  Listen to them.  Know who their friends are, ask questions about school, understand, and listen to their concerns.

Child Abuse and Mental Illness

Child abuse is becoming an epidemic, and studies show that it can change how the brain functions.  These changes appear to be significant enough to cause psychological and emotional problems that extend into adulthood.

Prevent Abuse.  If you suspect a child is being abused, immediately report your suspicions to the proper authorities.  Do not remain silent; a child’s well-being may be in your hands.

Be An Advocate.  Let children know that it is okay to go to you or another adult if they are having problems or are worried about something.  Ensure them that what is going on is not their fault.  Encourage them to speak out if they themselves or anyone they know is being mistreated.

 

Mental Health Awareness Month #3

Scientific studies have repeatedly shown that stress can in fact contribute to mental illnesses.  Job related stress can affect you emotionally and mentally.  Luckily, there are steps that you can take to limit stress.

Get enough sleep. Not only can stress and worry cause a lack of sleep but, it can also leave you vulnerable to even more stress.  When you are well-rested, it is much easier to keep an emotional balance, which is key to dealing with job and workplace related stress.

Prioritize and organize.  Leave early in the morning.  5-10 minutes can make the difference between frantically hurrying to your desk and having time to slowly ease into your day.  Running late will only increase your stress levels.  Break projects and tasks into small steps.  If a project seems to be overwhelming, make a step-by-step plan.  Focus on one small task at a time, rather than taking on everything at once.

Does your mental health affect your relationships?

All mental health professionals will tell you the answer is a ABSOLUTELY!

Your mental state contributes immensely  to your ability to form close bonds with others.  Many people with mental health problems lack the skills needed to create or sustain vital relationships, whether it be with a spouse, family members or friends.

Try not to be concerned about the small things. People with mental illness (particularly depression) often focus on their faults.  Seek to look at the big picture, including the things that you are doing well.

Express yourself.  Express your feelings; I cannot stress this enough!  Keeping your feelings inside (Whether good or bad) if never a great idea.  Talk it out, release your thoughts, worries, and concerns.  Holding your emotions will eventually cause bad feelings to accumulate and further damage your mental state.  This can be done in a respectfully way.

 

Mental Health Awareness Month, #2

Depression is one of the most common mental health problems today.  While medications can be effective in helping you feel better, there are other things that you can do to ease depression.

Do not sleep too often.  Staying in bed or taking naps throughout the day will only worsen depression and make it much harder to cope with.  Try your hardest to wake up at the same time each morning and go to sleep at the same time every night.  This may be difficult, but it will become easier once you get into a routine.

Eat well.  A healthy and balanced diet will not only help the way you feel, but will also improve your thought patterns.  Eat regularly and aim to eat 3 balanced meals each day.  Quality food is vital in order for your mind and body to work properly.

Be kind to yourself.  Treat yourself to things that are calming and improve your mood.  Scented candles, bubble baths, and tranquil environment can help you feel better.  Find relaxing activities that help you unwind.  Listening to music or reading are a few examples.  Allowing yourself even just 15 minutes of downtime can make all the difference.

Practice self-acceptance.  Do not let others define you.  Accept yourself for who you are; not who others would like you to be.  There is not a single person in this world that is perfect, everyone possesses good qualities as well as bad qualities.  Many different qualities, including personality, background, and character make us who we are.  Everyone in this world has something to offer, and everyone is entitled to respect.

An Exceptional Person in So Many Ways

Katrina is a friendly and outgoing 20 year young athlete participating in Special Olympics sports such as: volleyball, track, bowling, basketball, and softball.   She’s an active camper with Camp Re-creation and in her free time she enjoys hanging out with her friends, going to movies, and watching Aaron Rodgers play football for the Green Bay Packers, Katrina’s favorite team. Katrina credits much of her support and encouragement to be more outgoing to her involvement with Special Olympics in Dickinson. She shares they are “like a second family to me.” When a person first meets Katrina, you will be greeted with a warm smile and might not notice when Katrina turns to stand face to face with you, so she can read your lips to better understand your words. Don’t be alarmed when she might ask you to “please speak up”, so she can hear the conversation more clearly, as Katrina has a hearing impairment, which might go unnoticed at times.

Katrina was only 3 months old when she got sick and began to lose her hearing. At 1 year of age, Katrina’s parents were told she was going to be deaf.  Katrina, her parents, and her brothers learned sign language together. This is a skill that Katrina and her family will always have.

In April of 2016 Katrina received her first cochlear implant and shared it has been, “helpful, but scary at the same time, since I have been without hearing for 19 years.” Katrina’s initial reaction when her cochlear implant was turned on was, “my mom sounds like Mickey Mouse!” Katrina is working with her doctor in Bismarck making plans to receive her second cochlear implant.

A few of the barriers Katrina has overcome and is most proud of are: living independently in her own apartment, having fair opportunities at work, using assistive technology such as: bed shaker alarm clock, doorbell light and motion detector, a cell phone that will light up and vibrate when it rings, and having a NOAH weather radio that lights up when there is an alert. Katrina would like to see more teachers who are trained to work with children who are deaf or have hearing loss, in the schools. This was an ongoing challenge for Katrina as she graduated out of elementary school and into junior high and high school.

Katrina’s mom, Jennifer, is on the Board for Hands and Voices ND which is a non-profit agency that works with families and individuals who have hearing loss or challenges. Hands and Voices ND also provides mentoring and support services to families who have a newly diagnosed member who is experiencing hearing loss or is without hearing.

Katrina shared that “overall, her school has been supportive” and she will graduate in May 2018 and plans to enter the workforce full time. Katrina would like to work with children in a preschool or daycare setting. Katrina would like everyone to know that “You can do anything you put your mind to.”  Thanks Katrina for the excellent advice.

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. I am going to give you a few ideas on how to protect your mental health, which is extremely important for us to do with all the changes and challenges that we see around us daily.  I will add a few new ideas throughout the month, so come back and check it out.

  1. In order to maintain both your mental and emotional health, it is vital to stay aware of your own needs and feelings. Never allow your stress and emotions to build up. Attempt to maintain a good balance between your normal responsibilities and the things that you enjoy.  Do things that positively impact others.  Being useful to others and being valued for what you can help build self-esteem.  Practice self-discipline as self-discipline leads to a sense of happiness and accomplishment, which can help you overcome feelings of helplessness and other negative thoughts.
  2. Depression is one of the most common mental health problems today. Statics show that this affects approximately 1.5 percent of the U.S. population age 18 and older in a given year. While medications can be effective in helping you feel better, there are other things you can do to ease Depression.
  • Do not sleep too often. Staying in bed or taking naps throughout the day will only worsen depression and make it much harder to cope with. Try your hardest to wake up at the same time each morning and go to sleep at the same time every night. This may be difficult, but it will become easier once you get into a routine.
  • Eat well. A healthy and balanced diet will not only help the way you feel, but will also improve your thought patterns. Eat regularly and aim to eat 3 balanced meals each day. Quality food is vital in order for your mind and body to work properly.
  • Be kind to yourself. Treat yourself to things that are calming and improve your mood. Scented candles, bubble baths, and tranquil environment can help you feel better. Find relaxing activities that help you unwind. Listening to music or reading are a few examples. Allowing yourself even just 15 minutes of downtime can make all the difference.
  • Practice self-acceptance. Do NOT let others define you. Accept yourself for who you are; not who others would like you to be. There is not a single person in this world that is perfect, everyone possesses good qualities as well as bad qualities. Many different qualities, including personality, background, character and sexuality make us who we are. Everyone in this world has something to offer, and everyone is entitled to respect. If any two of us were alike, one of us would be unnecessary.                                                                                                                            More on this to come….

Engage at Every Age

By Lance Robertson, ACL Administrator and Assistant Secretary for Aging

May is Older Americans Month, a time when we recognize the contributions of older Americans and think about how we as Americans work together to support and value people over age 65. Our theme this year for Older Americans Month is “Engage at Every Age.”

According to our just-released 2017 Profile of Older Americans, one in seven Americans are 65 or older, and just two years from now, this fast-growing segment of the population will number more than 56 million people. In this increasingly diverse and vital group are treasured family members, expert craftspeople, skilled professionals, seasoned adventurers, and wise advisors. They are our connections to history, and our guides for the future.

Research suggests that seniors who are socially engaged also are healthier, mentally and physically. That’s why ACL is committed to supporting older adults with the tools and services they need to continue to engage in their communities throughout their lives. Through the national Aging Network, which includes thousands of agencies and organizations in every state, and with the help of advocates and partners from both the public and private sectors, ACL is working to connect older Americans and their families to the systems of services and supports available to help them remain healthy, live independently, prevent abuse and neglect, and support caregivers. We’re also working together to expand employment opportunities for older adults who wish to work.

Of course, the experience of aging—whether you’re doing it yourself or accompanying a loved one or neighbor on that journey—is very personal. Everyone goes through the process a little differently, with different joys, reflections, challenges, and accomplishments.

And the ways we choose to engage are very personal, too. People engage to help others, by volunteering at their church, mentoring younger people, or helping to raise grandchildren, for example. They engage to stay healthy – maybe they learn to dance or to better manage chronic diseases. They engage to age in place – taking action to modify their homes with things like safety bars in the shower.

Everyone has their own story. And telling those stories is an outstanding way to engage with other people. It’s how we pass wisdom to others, get to know each other, learn about the past and advocate for a brighter future. Everyone – young and old alike – enjoys hearing a good story.  And there are lots of important stories to tell about older Americans.

I encourage Americans young and old – and, best of all, young with old! – to take a moment this month to share your stories. By sharing the stories of aging and older Americans, we celebrate our triumphs, share our wisdom, advocate for each other, and build stronger communities for all of us.

One easy way you can share your story is through the Older Americans Month Selfie Challenge. Show us how you “Engage at Every Age” by posting a selfie (or groupie) of you participating in activities that improve your well-being using the hashtag #OAM18. Looking for other ideas? The Older Americans Month website can help!

However best works for you, at whatever age you are, I hope you will find at least one new way to engage during Older Americans Month this year, and that you will continue to engage – at every age – throughout life!