Monday, December 24, 2012

Effective Mental Health Care

Hello, Today I received an email update from NAMI. I was so happy to see that Michael J. Fitzpatrick has laid out a plan that may help prevent crisis's like the one that occurred in Newtown Connecticut. The more people that advocate the better. I included the Presidents address if you have something you want to advocate for in the Mental Health system as well.
Thanks for visiting,
Janet :)

December 20, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20501

Dear Mr. President:
NAMI joins with you and the nation in mourning the senseless and tragic loss of young and innocent lives in Newtown, Conn. We also join the nation in calling for action to address the mental health crisis that exists in this country. It should not have taken a national tragedy to recognize this crisis when one considers how many personal tragedies occur daily for Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. In your remarks in Newtown last Sunday, you pledged to use “whatever power this office holds to engage my fellow citizens, from law enforcement to mental health professionals to parents and educators, in an effort to prevent more tragedies.”

NAMI represents individuals who actually live with mental illness. We represent parents and family members. We have a long track record of working with law enforcement, educators and mental health professionals. We stand ready to work with you.

The following six issues must be addressed in order to improve access to effective mental health care.
1. Improve early identification and intervention in mental health care. Too often, what in hindsight are clear signs of the need for mental health care are not identified until after a crisis happens. It is well documented that timely mental health treatment can prevent crises and foster recovery. The Medicaid Early Periodic Screening, Diagnosis and Treatment (EPSDT) mandate has not been effectively implemented in most states for young people with mental health conditions. Similarly private insurance policies often do not support early identification and intervention services. Routine mental health screening should become part of standard practice so mental health conditions are identified early when they can most effectively be treated

2. Provide training to school personnel, law enforcement, families and members of the community on how to identify and respond to youth and adults experiencing mental health crises. Too often, those in a position to help do not know what to do when a child or adult manifests the early signs and symptoms of mental illness. Education and training for school personnel, law enforcement professionals, families and other community members exist, including Mental Health First Aid, NAMI’s Parents and Teachers as Allies, NAMI’s Family-to-Family, Crisis Intervention Team (CIT) programs for law enforcement and more. Implementing these programs on a national level represents significant progress in promoting increased awareness and capacity to help those living with mental illnesses. The unfortunate reality is that mental illness and how to respond to it remains a taboo subject for many and we need leadership to help change
that. One immediate step that can be taken is enactment of the Mental Health First Aid Higher Education
Act (S. 3325/HR 5966)

3. Implement school based mental health services and supports. Drop-out rates among students classified as Emotionally Disturbed (ED) under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) are alarmingly high, over 50 percent. We are clearly not addressing the needs of students struggling with mental health
conditions in many of our nation’s schools. With effective school-based mental health services and supports and coordination with the community mental health system, many of these students could stay in school and earn an academic degree and a more promising future. Yet, school-based mental health services continue to be cut in far too many schools. Enactment of the Mental Health in Schools Act (HR751) would represent a positive first step.

4. Increase the qualified mental health workforce. Throughout the nation, there are critical shortages in the availability of qualified mental health professionals. In many communities, children and adults are placed on long waiting lists to access mental health services. Many county and regional mental health agencies have sharply narrowed their criteria for service eligibility because of the lack of qualified mental health professionals. The costs to our nation in increased emergency room use, commitment to inpatient facilities, and incarceration in juvenile and criminal justice facilities are enormous. Strategies for increasing the number of qualified mental health professionals, including providers of peer and family support
services, must be an integral part of fixing our nation’s broken mental health system

5. Fully implement key provisions of the Affordable Care Act, including mental health and addictions parity requirements. Passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) was a seminal achievement in improving health and mental health care in this country. We are grateful for your leadership on health care and urge continued leadership in ensuring full and effective implementation of the ACA. One critical step for
improving mental health care in America is to issue final regulations defining the scope of the Wellstone and Domenici Mental Health and Addictions Parity Act. Without final regulations, there is a lack of clarity on the requirements for a number of the most complex provisions included in the mental health parity law which threatens to undermine the intent of the law

6. Protect federal funding of Medicaid. Youth and adults with mental illnesses are among the largest, most important class of Medicaid beneficiaries. Forty-eight percent of all public mental health services in America are funded through Medicaid. Reductions in federal funding of Medicaid would have a devastating impact on people with mental illnesses, many of whom rely on this vital safety net program in
both maintaining and working toward recovery and independence. Mr. President, NAMI appreciates your leadership and stands ready to work with you and your staff on the goal of improving mental health care in America.
Michael J. Fitzpatrick, MSW

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Petition 26

Hello, I hope you are doing well, Today I am sharing a Petition I started in Memory of the Shooting Victims in Newtown Connecticut. I know it will not solve or stop random acts of violence on it's own, but I feel Mental Health First Aid is an important part of what we need to do to help possibly prevent such tragedies as last Friday. We need to educate the public school system on how to recognize and help someone who is suffering from Mental Illness and is in Crisis . With education, comes awareness and hopefully prevention of self harm or harm to others. I was not able to get an embeded code for the petition, but I included the link below. Please take 30 seconds of your time and sign this petition, you may just help save someone who is in desperate need.
Thank you,
Janet :)

If you mention first aid, most people think of CPR, the Heimlich maneuver, or stopping bleeding. But what about mental crises? One in four adults has a mental disorder. Many Americans are trained in CPR and first aid, but are unprepared for handling a mental health issue. According to Clare Miller of the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, two thirds of people suffering do not seek help.

Mental Health First Aid hopes to alleviate this. It is coordinated by the National Council for Community Behavioral Healthcare, the Maryland Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, and the Missouri Department of Mental Health. They have training to certify instructors to deliver the 12 hour meal Health First Aid course in communities across the country. Their program teaches people how to respond to emotional emergencies. The course teaches people how to look for signs and symptoms. Mental Health First Aid is for anyone who comes in contact with the general public. Mental Health First Aid doesn’t teach how to diagnose or treat mental illness — like regular first aid, it helps a person until they get professional help

Mental Health First Aid Role Play
They teach the pneumonic ALGEE. A — Assess for the risk of suicide or harm, L — Listen non-judgmentally, G — Give reassurance and information, E — Encourage appropriate action, and E — encourage self-help and other support strategies. They also advise that if someone is behaving dangerously or has a weapon to call 911.

The Mental Health First Aid USA course has provided benefits to a range of professions and audiences to include:
Young people
Faith communities
The general public
Nursing home staff
State policymakers
Mental health authorities
Primary care professionals
Employers and business leaders
School personnel and educators
State police and corrections officers

Check the Mental Health First Aid website for more classes in your area and webinars —

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Distress Helpline

Hello, In light of the recent tragedy in Newtown Connecticut I thought I would share this information for anyone who is in distress by this situation or any situation in their life. Please click on the link below for even more information such as, how to talk to children about these kind of events.
Thanks for visiting,


Disaster Distress Helpline:
Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms
are common reactions after any natural or human-caused disaster.

Call 1-800-985-5990 It's Free, It's Confidential

Are you experiencing signs of distress as a result of a disaster?

Signs of distress may include any of the following physical and
emotional reactions:
Sleeping too much or too little
Stomachaches or headaches
Anger, feeling edgy or lashing out at others
Overwhelming sadness
Worrying a lot of the time; feeling guilty but not sure why
Feeling like you have to keep busy
Lack of energy or always feeling tired
Drinking alcohol, smoking or using tobacco more than usual; using illegal drugs
Eating too much or too little
Not connecting with others
Feeling like you won't ever be happy again
Rejecting of help.

You may be suffering more than you need to. We can help!
The Disaster Distress Helpline provides 24/7, year-round
crisis counseling and support.

The Helpline is staffed by trained counselors from a network of crisis call centers located across the United States, all of whom provide:
Crisis counseling for those who are in emotional distress related to any natural or human-caused disaster
Information on how to recognize distress and its effects on individuals and families
Tips for healthy coping
Referrals to local crisis call centers or 2-1-1 call centers for additional follow-up care & support.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

New Normal

Hello, I hope your all doing well this Holiday season. As the holiday's are approaching this year I wanted to write about what many people are going through at this time of year. As we all know, depression rises throughout the holidays. The main reason people experience some depression at the Holidays is because they are experiencing the pain of a lost loved one, be it through death, or a broken relationship. The first time I felt any type of depression at the Holiday's was when my Father passed away in 1987. I didn't realize it back then, but through those feelings of depression at the holiday, I was learning to live with what they call a "New Normal". And once again, my normal was shifted three years ago when my mother passed away and my siblings and I began to grow apart. So through my own experiences, I have learned that life has many different types of losses that can affect you on many different levels. Here are some of ways that have helped me to transition to my life's ever changing normal, especially during the holiday season, and hopefully they will help any of you who need it at this time of year as well.
Thanks for visiting,
Janet :)


1) Acknowledge all types of loss

2) Allow yourself to feel the loss, cry if you need
to, simply get it out, it will help you to heal and
move on

3) Allow yourself to go through the stages of
grief when it comes to a death. Don't let anyone
tell you you need to get over it already. We
all grieve in our way and in our own time

4) If you are having problems getting over the
loss of a relationship, it could stem from allowing
that relationship to have power over you. Realize
no one is worth having any power over you

5) Learn that those lost relationships
are not all your fault. Some of the people
we allow to hurt us have their own issues,
and it is really not about us

6) If your left with anger from any relationship,
it can turn into depression. One way to get rid
of that anger is write it out in a letter or a
journal. If it is in a letter, wait before sending
it out to that person to see if the situation changes

7) Exercise to release depression and anger,
even if it is just a short walk each day

8) Keep your focus on the good relationships in your life

9) Cherish the good memories of your loved ones that
have passed on. The happy times that I chose to remember
help keep my love for them alive and ease the pain of
their loss

10) Talk it out with others, find support where you can!

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Generation Of Stress

Hello, I hope your doing well. The issue of Stress On College Campuses was recently featured on a local program in my area. I thought of my son, who will be starting college in a few weeks. It made me think of how much more I have to be aware of then his grades and social life there. Realizing this myself, I had to share this information with any of you out there who may have a child in College, or if you are a student yourself. I feel the stresses of starting their lives are going to be even greater for this generation, with a tough job market they have to come out to, and possibly big student loans to pay. I can't help but wonder too, if there is a link between the stress of college and Schizophrenia. I have read so many stories of a student leaving college and being diagnosed with the disorder. In all the stories I read, they seem to only imply that the onset of the disorder is due to their age, not the stress of college. Schizophrenia is a biological condition, but I also believe it can be an environmental condition, you know like they say, nature or nurture? This article is geared towards students with a Mental Illness as they enter college, but I feel it should be for all students to help cope with such an important and sometimes scary transition in their lives. Being aware and being proactive are always the best keys to preventing mental health issues.
Thanks for visiting,
Janet :)

Certain levels of stress are inherent in the life of a student. Stress can be a good thing when the body reacts by focusing energy to maintain balance, order, and motivation. For many students, however, particularly those living with a mental illness, stress can loom larger and present problems that may threaten to derail recovery and set them up for academic failure.

"Staying disciplined to keep up with my studies, classes, my work schedule, and my social life has been a problem for me," said Jason, who is studying computer animation at a technical school. "The way I have coped with stress this first year of my studies has not always been the best for my grades. I am learning to get better at understanding how overwhelming everything can be and to simplify in the ways that I can, such as keeping a set work schedule from week to week and better managing my bipolar disorder."

Considering the daily difficulties that students living with mental illness often encounter, experts agree that recognizing and responding to early warning signs of overload is the best way to prevent a spiral that may counteract a consumer’s recovery.

What are some ways to manage stress? Students, including those living with mental illness, offer the following suggestions:

Get the right information at the start of the semester or term. Purchase and use a calendar to create a realistic timetable. List the deadlines and exam dates and work backwards. When you receive an assignment, estimate how long it will take and add some extra time to your estimate. Schedule regular, short-term appointments with yourself to review the course or class assignments and to work a little each day or week to keep from procrastinating and creating an impossible deadline that has grown into a monster.

Maintain healthy eating habits. Avoid junk food and too much caffeine, and plan regular times for meals. When you are anxious, particularly during deadline and exam times, preparing your own food may feel like a daunting task. Scheduling meals at easy-to-reach locales, choosing healthier options from fast-food restaurants, and keeping healthy snacks handy will help.

Get organized. Mapping out your workload and integrating it with the rest of your daily life can be very beneficial. Ask for help in this area if you need it. Create a realistic daily schedule that includes time for sleeping, eating, playing, studying, working, and socializing.

Identify and access peer support. Having regular therapy, counselor, and doctor appointments is important, but the informal, easy-to-reach support of a peer can make the difference between managing a particularly stressful time and letting it manage you. If you feel stressed, talking to someone who is in a similar situation—a friend, student, or peer—can be a tremendous help.

Give yourself a break. Plan for and take “mini-breaks,” regardless of the clock. Take a walk, listen to music, or watch the clouds. Taking breaks may distract you from your problems and put potentially negative thinking and overwhelming thoughts into perspective.

Exercise. Develop a regular exercise program to help manage the effects of stress and provide social opportunities. The physical benefits are an added bonus.
Anticipate school problems and build remedies early. If you know you have a hard time concentrating when deadlines and exams near, arrange to have someone from your class take notes for you. In addition, arrange for a study partner or join a study group to help you keep your focus. If you anticipate exam anxiety that may derail your entire semester’s efforts in a class, negotiate flexible testing times and alternative testing venues with your instructor in advance.

Develop a recovery network. In addition to your family, doctor, and counselor, your recovery network can include support and education groups that may be offered through your local NAMI chapter or elsewhere in your community, either on or off campus. Exploring strategies to decrease anxiety and enhance coping skills, securing assistance with financial aid and admission forms, obtaining support for managing financial difficulties, enhancing communication skills, and accessing education about mental illnesses can all help alleviate stress.

Dana Lefko, director of Education and Communication at NAMI Maryland and a graduate student in health administration, agrees that creating a balance between school and other activities is vital. “It is important to be involved in school and in life in ways that you enjoy and to stay involved in some activities that are leisurely to keep your mind clear and to bring perspective,” she says. "As a student, I have come to understand that we all need some stress. Facing a challenge and learning to manage stress is an accomplishment at the end of the day, and we all need those."
by Katrina Gay, Chief of Field Operations, NAMI National