Tag Archives: mental health

SAMHSA’s 8 Dimensions of Wellness

20 Aug

From samhsa.gov:

A Holistic Guide to Whole-Person Wellness

For people with mental health and substance use conditions, wellness is not the absence of disease, illness or stress, but the presence of purpose in life, active involvement in satisfying work and play, joyful relationships, a healthy body and living environment, and happiness.

Wellness means overall well-being. It incorporates the mental, emotional, physical, occupational, intellectual, and spiritual aspects of a person’s life. Each aspect of wellness can affect overall quality of life, so it is important to consider all aspects of health. This is especially important for people with mental health and substance use conditions because wellness directly relates to the quality and longevity of your life.

That’s why SAMHSA’s Wellness Initiative encourages you to incorporate the Eight Dimensions of Wellness in your life:

Emotional—Coping effectively with life and creating satisfying relationships

Environmental—Good health by occupying pleasant, stimulating environments that support well-being

Financial–Satisfaction with current and future financial situations

Intellectual—Recognizing creative abilities and finding ways to expand knowledge and skills

Occupational—Personal satisfaction and enrichment from one’s work

Physical—Recognizing the need for physical activity, healthy foods and sleep

Social—Developing a sense of connection, belonging, and a well-developed support system

Spiritual—Expanding our sense of purpose and meaning in life

 

8dimensions2

 

 

“Top Ten Mental Health Apps” by Sandra Kiume

17 Aug

From Psych Central:

With so many apps on the market, it’s hard to know which are useful.

Many are designed by software developers instead of psychologists, without scientific testing. They range from beneficial, to harmless but useless, to bordering on fraudulent.

The apps selected for this list make no hucksterish claims and are based on established treatments. Progressive Muscle Relaxation, for example, has been used for a century and is likely just as effective in this new medium. Knowledge from Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Dialectical Behavior Therapy enrich two apps on this list. Others mix solid information with ingenuity.

Don’t forget to download the free PsychCentral app to keep up with the latest mental health information.

1. BellyBio

Free app that teaches a deep breathing technique useful in fighting anxiety and stress. A simple interface uses biofeedback to monitor your breathing. Sounds cascade with the movements of your belly, in rhythms reminiscent of waves on a beach. Charts also let you know how you’re doing. A great tool when you need to slow down and breathe.

2. Operation Reach Out

Literally a lifesaving app, this free intervention tool helps people who are having suicidal thoughts to reassess their thinking and get help. Recommended by followers of @unsuicide, who report that this app has helped in suicidal crises. Developed by the military, but useful to all. Worth a download even if you’re not suicidal. You never know if you might need it.

3. eCBT Calm

Provides a set of tools to help you evaluate personal stress and anxiety, challenge distorted thoughts, and learn relaxation skills that have been scientifically validated in research on Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT). Lots of background and useful information along with step-by-step guides.

4. Deep Sleep with Andrew Johnson

Getting enough sleep is one of the foundations of mental health. A personal favorite I listen to all the time, this straightforward app features a warm, gentle voice guiding listeners through a Progressive Muscle Relaxation (PMR) session and into sleep. Features long or short induction options, and an alarm.

5. WhatsMyM3

A three minute depression and anxiety screen. Validated questionnaires assess symptoms of depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, and PTSD, and combine into a score that indicates whether or not your life is impacted significantly by a mood disorder, recommending a course of action. The app keeps a history of test results, to help you track your progress.

6. DBT Diary Card and Skills Coach

Based on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) developed by psychologist Marsha Linehan, this app is a rich resource of self-help skills, reminders of the therapy principles, and coaching tools for coping. Created by a therapist with years of experience in the practice, this app is not intended to replace a professional but helps people reinforce their treatment.

7. Optimism

Track your moods, keep a journal, and chart your recovery progress with this comprehensive tool for depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety disorders. One of the most popular mood tracking apps available, with plenty of features. Free.

8. iSleepEasy

A calm female voice helps you quell anxieties and take the time to relax and sleep, in an array of guided meditations. Separately controlled voice and music tracks, flexible lengths, and an alarm. Includes a special wee hours rescue track, and tips for falling asleep. Developed by Meditation Oasis, who offer an great line of relaxation apps.

9. Magic Window – Living Pictures

Not technically a mental health app, it makes no miraculous claims about curbing anxiety. However, there is independent research indicating that taking breaks and getting exposure to nature, even in videos, can reduce stress. This app offers an assortment of peaceful, ambient nature scenes from beautiful spots around the world.

10. Relax Melodies

A popular free relaxation sound and music app. Mix and match nature sounds with new age music; it’s lovely to listen to birds in the rain while a piano softly plays.

 

http://psychcentral.com/blog/archives/2013/01/16/top-10-mental-health-apps/

“What Can the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Do to Improve America’s Mental Health System?” by Michael Cahill

1 Jul

Reblogged from Bipolar Burble:

Since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, America has put funding for mental health treatment on the back burner. Consequently, mental health services and facilities nationwide have suffered.

In the wake of tragedies like Aurora and Sandy Hook, the government is now determined to address the issue of mental health policy in the United States, which will be no easy task.

What will surely go a long way towards helping those suffering from a mental illness will be getting them access to treatment and making that treatment affordable. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the high cost of mental health care is the number one culprit for people not getting treatment. Even those with health insurance often have significant limitations on their access to mental health services.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), sometimes more commonly referred to as Obamacare, has great potential to improve access to mental health treatment and make it affordable. Here are five ways it can do it:

1. Minimum requirements will include mental health coverage.

Starting in 2014, all health insurance plans are required to cover medical services in ten “essential health benefits” categories as mandated by the ACA. This includes treatment for mental health, behavioral disorders, drug addiction, and alcohol abuse.

No doubt this is a big improvement over previous years when nearly 20 percent of people who bought health insurance on their own did not have mental health coverage. A further third had no coverage for substance abuse treatment, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

2. Patient rights will be protected.

Insurers can no longer discriminate based on a customer’s medical history. That means you cannot be denied coverage or charged extra because of any pre-existing condition.

The new law also gets rid of lifetime and annual caps on spending for your health benefits. This is great news for people who suffer from mental health disorders who would normally rack up thousands of dollars in bills every year from their treatment.

3. Health insurance exchanges will make it easier to purchase health insurance.

The creation of health insurance exchanges is also a mandated measure under the ACA. These exchanges are the new marketplaces where health insurance companies will present their plans to potential customers. Each state will have its own exchange with enrolment starting later this year on Oct. 1, 2013 for coverage rolling out on Jan. 1, 2014.

Those who suffer from mental health illness will have an easier time comparing plans and purchasing the one that suits them. Four different levels of plans with varying degrees of coverage will be available in the exchanges. All of them will include mental health benefits.

Low income Individuals and families can also find out at the exchanges if they qualify for government subsidies through the exchanges. Those who earn between 133 and 400 percent of the federal poverty line will not spend more than 9.5 percent of their income on health insurance. The 9.5 percent is also a sliding number, so those earning less will pay less for coverage.

4. Medicaid coverage will be expanded.

A study conducted by the National Alliance for Mental Illness, found that the planned Medicaid expansion that’s part of the ACA will extend coverage to more than 2.7 million uninsured Americans with mental health disorders.

Those who are qualified will receive a 100 percent subsidy for the first three years and at least a 90 percent subsidy for the next seven years. Those who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line will be included in the expansion.

Unfortunately, the Medicaid expansion will not be available everywhere. Fourteen states have rejected the expansion while twenty states and the District of Columbia have signed up to implement it.

5. Quality and availability of service will be improved.

The Affordable Care Act also includes measures that will help to improve the quality and delivery of healthcare services.

Treating mental illness is an expensive and complex endeavour, and response to treatment varies among patients. Mental health practitioners often see patients going in and out of treatment.

Monitoring and re-evaluating the delivery of care is important to improve mental health coverage. Affordable Care Act has mandated the creation of the National Strategy for Quality Improvement which aims to improve healthcare delivery across the country. It will prioritize high-cost chronic diseases such as mental illness.

The Care Act will also establish the Centers for Excellence in Depression. Its goal is to develop coordinated and integrated care, encourage positive health behaviors and outcomes, and promote interdisciplinary training of mental health professionals.

http://natashatracy.com/mental-illness-issues/affordable-care-act-obamacare-improve-americas-mental-health-system/

SAMHSA Mental Health Treatment Facility Locator

23 Jun

Use this handy-dandy website to find behavioral health services in your area. You can adjust the distance from your location and search by street address or zip code. Neat.

Keep in mind that this site does not locate educational or peer support resources. It’s great for finding counseling and medication management services, but if you’re looking for classes or support groups, your best bet is to contact NAMI or a like-minded advocacy group such as the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA).

http://findtreatment.samhsa.gov/MHTreatmentLocator

“Providing Mental Health Care Lowers Arrest Rates, Saves Money”

14 Jun

http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/261744.php

From Medical News Today‘s website, reblogged from Trauma’s Labyrinth :

Research from North Carolina State University, the Research Triangle Institute (RTI) and the University of South Florida shows that outpatient treatment of mental illness significantly reduces arrest rates for people with mental health problems and saves taxpayers money.

“This study shows that providing mental health care is not only in the best interest of people with mental illness, but in the best interests of society,” says Dr. Sarah Desmarais, an assistant professor of psychology at NC State and co-author of a paper describing the research.

The researchers wanted to determine the extent to which treating mental illness can keep people with mental health problems out of trouble with the law. It is well established that people with mental health problems, such as schizophrenia or bipolar disorder, make up a disproportionate percentage of defendants, inmates and others who come into contact with the criminal justice system.

The researchers identified 4,056 people who had been hospitalized for mental illness in 2004 or 2005 and then tracked them from 2005 to 2012. The researchers were able to determine which individuals were receiving government-subsidized medication and which were receiving government-subsidized outpatient services, such as therapy. The researchers were also able to determine who was arrested during the seven-year study period.

“Our research shows that people receiving medication were significantly less likely to be arrested,” Desmarais says. “Outpatient services also resulted in a decreased likelihood of arrest.”

The researchers also compared criminal justice costs with mental health treatment costs. Individuals who were arrested received less treatment and each cost the government approximately $95,000 during the study period. Individuals who were not arrested received more treatment and each cost the government approximately $68,000 during the study period.

“It costs about $10 less per day to provide treatment and prevent crime. That’s a good investment,” Desmarais says.

“Effects of Outpatient Treatment on Risk of Arrest of Adults With Serious Mental Illness and Associated Costs”

Abstract: Objective: This study examined whether possession of psychotropic medication and receipt of outpatient services reduce the likelihood of posthospitalization arrest among adults with serious mental illness. A secondary aim was to compare service system costs for individuals who were involved with the justice system and those who were not. Methods: Claims data for prescriptions and treatments were used to describe patterns and costs of outpatient services between 2005 and 2012 for 4,056 adult Florida Medicaid enrollees with schizophrenia or bipolar disorder after discharge from an index hospitalization. Multivariable time-series analysis tested the effects of medication and outpatient services on arrest (any, felony, or misdemeanor) in subsequent 30-day periods. Results: A total of 1,263 participants (31%) were arrested at least once during follow-up. Monthly medication possession and receipt of outpatient services reduced the likelihood of any arrests (misdemeanor or felony) and of misdemeanor arrests. Possession of medications for 90 days after hospital discharge also reduced the likelihood of arrest. Prior justice involvement, minority racial-ethnic status, and male sex increased the risk of arrest, whereas older age decreased it. Criminal justice and behavioral health system costs were significantly higher for the justice-involved group than for the group with no justice involvement. Conclusions: Routine outpatient treatment, including medication and outpatient services, may reduce the likelihood of arrest among adults with serious mental illness. Medication possession over a 90-day period after hospitalization appears to confer additional protection. Overall, costs were lower for those who were not arrested, even when they used more outpatient services.

Free Online Course: “The Social Context of Mental Health”

12 Jun

This is a free, 6-week course offered by the University of Toronto. Register for it here:

https://www.coursera.org/course/mentalhealth

From coursera.org:



About the Course

Mental health and mental illness used to be something that people didn’t talk about, but now it seems every time we open a newspaper we are hearing about the importance of mental health, or the consequences of mental illness. At this point in our history we understand mental illness and mental health to be largely influenced by biological factors, specifically, workings of the brain. At the same time, we have always known that social factors play a very strong role in promoting mental health and can make big differences in who gets mentally ill, who gets treated for mental illness, and how people can achieve good quality of life after a mental health diagnosis.

This course is an opportunity to explore how social practices and ideas contribute to the ways in which society, families and individuals are affected by mental health and mental illness. We will look at issues like why some people think mental illness is a myth, how people think about mental health and illness in different cultures, who gets mentally ill and why, how families are affected by mental illness and what interventions are available to treat mental illness and promote mental health.



Course Syllabus

Week One: A brief history of madness
Week Two: What is mental health and what causes mental illness?
Week Three: The social context of diagnosis and treatment of mental illnesses
Week Four: Culture, mental health and mental illness
Week Five: Families, caregiving and mental illness
Week Six: Society, communities and mental health



Recommended Background

A basic background in introductory psychology is recommended.



Suggested Readings

Although the class is designed to be self-contained, students wanting to expand their knowledge beyond what we can cover in six weeks can find a much more extensive coverage of this topic in the books listed below. Please note: These books are not required for completion of the course.

Mental Health Social Work Practice in Canada by Cheryl Regehr and Graham D. Glancy, published by Oxford University Press.

Mad Travelers: Reflections on the Reality of Transient Mental Illnesses by Ian Hacking, published by University Press of Virginia

A Sociology of Mental Health and Illness by Ann Rogers and David Pilgrim, published by McGraw-Hill Ryerson

The Provincial Asylum In Toronto: Reflections on Social and Architectural History edited by Edna Hudson, published by The Toronto Region Architectural Conservancy.

Mental Health, Race and Culture by Suman Fernando, published by Palgrave MacMillan

 

Course Format

The class will consist of lecture videos, which are between 8 and 12 minutes in length. These contain 1-2 integrated quiz questions per video. There will also be standalone homework assignments that are not part of video lectures, and a final exam.



FAQ

Will I get a certificate after completing this class?

Yes. Students who successfully complete the class will receive a certificate signed by the instructor.

What is the coolest thing I’ll learn if I take this class?

Mental health plays a role in every facet of life and if you know more about it, you can do more to keep yourself and the people you care about mentally healthy.

 

About the Instructor

Charmaine Williams, University of Toronto


Policing the Mentally Ill, Part 2

7 Mar

On March 4th, the Portland Police killed a veteran with PTSD. It was the second fatal shooting by the police this year. His name was Santiago Cisneros. He was thirty-two years old and had served in Iraq from 2002 to 2005.  In an interview with a Seattle TV station in 2009, Santiago said, “I fought a war over there in Iraq. I didn’t know I was going to have to fight a war back here in the United States within myself” and “it took awhile to realize I was dealing with PTSD because I didn’t know what post-traumatic stress disorder was.” I don’t know what precipitated his confrontation with the police. All the Oregonian reported was that he shot at the officers first, and they returned fire. He’d been speaking to his mother on his cellphone directly before the police arrived. She was still on the line when the shooting started.

http://www.kgw.com/news/local/Armed-man-killed-by-Portland-police-was-Iraq-vet-195543251.html

The first man killed by the Portland PD this year was named Merle Hatch. His mother said he had a terrible drug habit and that neither she nor his father had seen in him in more than ten years. The police shot him a few weeks ago in the parking lot of the hospital where I attend my bipolar recovery group meetings.

http://www.oregonlive.com/portland/index.ssf/2013/02/federal_fugitive_merle_hatch_h.html

I was at the hospital roughly two hours before Merle died. I stood in that parking lot chatting with fellow members of the recovery group as we wandered out to our cars. It’s a strange and sobering juxtaposition.

In both cases, the police had no other option. Merle threatened to shoot them with what turned out to be a black phone receiver. He taunted them and told them he was going to kill them. The term for it is “suicide by cop.” Santiago started shooting when he saw the police. It’s possible that he also chose that route.

The parallels between Santiago’s mother and Jay Swift’s mother are heartbreaking. I cannot even begin to imagine the pain that woman is feeling. I don’t want to imagine how many parents can empathize with her suffering. BTW, here’s an account of the shooting Jay’s mother posted in response to the media coverage of her son’s death:

http://samanthabeaudette.com/jasonswift/

In a previous post about this subject, I called out the police for their use of excessive force and tendency to shoot first and ask questions later when they respond to a call involving a person with mental health issues. It’s a serious problem and it’s the responsibility of law enforcement to address it. But I cannot deny the fact that this wouldn’t be happening nearly as often if there were adequate resources and treatment for people who have mental illness, particularly when those people are in crisis.

For a good overview of the problem, check out this article from the Charlotte Observer:

http://www.charlotteobserver.com/2013/03/09/3904455/when-a-mental-health-emergency.html

I wish I could drum up some optimism about this, but quite frankly I can’t. Cut after cut has been made to programs that would avert these kinds of tragedies. Our economy might be in for another recession and the sequester is set to decimate these programs even more. I do know that I see the imperative now more than ever to become an advocate and an activist. We are facing a spike in fear and stigma because of last year’s mass shooting in Newtown CT and the fear-mongering groups like the NRA engage in because they want people to blame us instead of guns. Resources for treatment and management grow scarcer with each financial crisis, and given the current state of our federal government I’m not holding my breath for things to improve on that front any time soon.

But we do have advocacy groups, and the Internet grants us access to information and means to mobilize. We must educate ourselves and others. We must make our voices heard in our communities and seats of government. And we must do it now, not only for ourselves but for our family members who also suffer from mental illness and the loved ones whose lives are ruined because a person they love can’t get the help they need. We must do it for the people with mental illness and the police who die when this broken system of ours engenders yet another avoidable crisis. This is literally a life-or-death issue.

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