ADAA and SAVE are proud to announce the release of a new collaborative Suicide Prevention infographic. People who kill themselves exhibit one or more warning signs, either through what they say or do. The more warning signs, the greater the risk. This infographic provides a "quick glance" of tips to help determine if someone is suicidal by understanding the warning signs, knowing the questions to ask, the "do's and don'ts," and how to find help. SAVE (Suicide Awareness Voices of Education) has been the leading suicide prevention organization working to prevent suicide through public awareness and education for nearly 30 years. SAVE's expertise and capacity includes having developed state of the art suicide prevention programming for youth, adults and communities, including an NREPP Evidence-Based Program and research on public awareness that has shaped the field, while also providing leadership around the nation and throughout the world. SAVE works tirelessly to reduce the stigma of suicide, serve as a resource to survivors of loss, and engage those with lived experiences. To learn more about SAVE, visit www.save.org.  Click here to visit ADAA's suicide prevention website page for additional suicide prevention resources.
Since 1949, May has been known as Mental Health Awareness Month.  Each year, when May is over, I wonder why we’re not encouraged to be aware of our mental health all year, every year, just as we are for our so-called physical health. Given all we know about the effects of anxiety and depression on our bodies and immune systems, this question is vital.  As Harvard Health pointed out in 2008, “Anxiety has now been implicated in several chronic physical illnesses, including heart disease, chronic respiratory disorders, and gastrointestinal conditions.” These conditions are no joke, so why don’t we take mental health more seriously?
"Mom and Dad, I am so, so, so sorry for this. Please don’t blame yourself for this but I have decided to take my own life. This has nothing to do with anyone. It is completely my choice. I have had no joy in life for some time now and I feel terrible for being a disappointment to you. I don’t like who I am." These words haunted Mike for months. His 16 year-old son - his bright, athletic, kind, strong boy - had taken his own life. Mike’s son was gone and a part of him died with his boy. A tough-as-nails welder, Mike cried the day he found his son hanging from the rafters of their garage, screamed at God for taking his boy, and railed against himself for somehow letting this happen. But Mike showed his tears to no one, and kept his anger, sorrow, grief, and sense of guilt to himself.
My friend Peter Conrad published a remarkable paper in 1985 entitled The Meaning of Medications: Another look at compliance. Peter is a Professor of Sociology at Brandeis University who is interested in social aspects of health. In his paper, he was trying to understand why people with epilepsy took or did not take their medications. What were their reasons and what were they trying to achieve? In contrast to prior theories of compliance which focused on the doctor-patient relationship, Peter was trying to understand the patient’s experience of taking medication – and he called this “medication practice”, i.e. how did the patient approach the daily practice of taking medication? “Medical practice offers a patient-centered perspective of how people manage their medication, focusing on the meaning and the use of medications”. In other words, he was interested in the relationship between a patient and their medications. Recall that Peter was interested in people with epilepsy. One could imagine that people with epilepsy would, of course, take their medication religiously since their medication would reduce or eliminate their seizures – and who would want to have seizures if they could be avoided? But Peter found something much more interesting.
Looking for relief from anxiety, depression or stress? If you live in one of the 80 million U.S. households with a pet, you may be able to find help right at home in the form of a wet nose or a wagging tail. You can call it the pet effect. Any pet owner will tell you that living with a pet comes with many benefits, including constant companionship, love and affection. It’s also no surprise that 98% of pet owners consider their pet to be a member of the family. Not only are people happier in the presence of animals, they’re also healthier. In a survey of pet owners, 74% of pet owners reported mental health improvements from pet ownership, and 75% of pet owners reported a friend’s or family member’s mental health has improved from pet ownership.
Mental health is an integral part of children’s overall health. However, strong mental health starts prior to stepping into a therapist’s office. Children who practice mental health skills regularly could reduce their risk for mental illness and relapse.
Research is no longer solely the province of the lab coat-wearing scientist. People diagnosed with mental illnesses, their family caregivers, healthcare providers, and social workers all can play a role in the research that affects the treatment of mental health. The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute, or PCORI, is spearheading efforts to ensure the meaningful involvement of patients and other healthcare stakeholders throughout the research process. In the area of mental health, a patient-centered approach is critical.
In my first meeting with new patients who struggle with OCD and anxiety, I explain that the type of psychotherapy I practice, Exposure and Response Prevention, involves encouraging them to feel uncomfortable. It’s a type of therapy that they will not particularly “enjoy,” but it’s a therapy that will hopefully get them back to enjoying their lives.
Many people wonder if their therapy is really helping them overcome their problem. Why? They often have therapists who tell them that they are doing well, but their therapist does not make clear to them what they mean by making progress. Does it mean facing your emotions, being able to talk about difficult things, or does it mean that you feel better and function better? Many people also like their therapist’s kindness and empathy, but feel guilty about questioning the outcome because their therapist is so nice even though they are not getting better. Unless you clarify with your therapist what a good outcome is at the start of therapy by mentioning your goals and agree what recovery looks like, then you may be likely to go to therapy for years without any noticeable improvement in your daily life. So, here are some hot tips for questions to ask to determine is your therapist is really helpful.
Everyone has bad days when things just aren’t going well and we just feel off. This can be in response to some bad news like getting a grade that is less than stellar or your friends are too busy to hang out. Sometimes when we find our bad day seems to last day after day, then that may mean something else is going on. Depression is a term that covers a great deal of meanings and references. In economics, depression refers to a “sustained, long-term, downturn in economic activity in one or more economies.” In kinesiology, depression is “an anatomical term of motion that refers to downward movement, the opposite of elevation.” In weather, depression refers to “an area of low atmospheric pressure characterized by rain and unstable weather.” In terms of mood, depression refers to a sustained mood that is low, sad, down, blue. When the mood continues for two weeks or more and occurs for most of the day that may indicate an illness called major depression. Read more.