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Monthly Archives: April 2013

News Reports of Mass Shootings May Worsen Mental Illness Stigma

The recent shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary left the nation with lots of questions such as why and how such a tragedy could occur, and what could have been done to prevent it. A recent study examined how media coverage of these events affected opinions of those with mental illness. According to a Psych Central article, widespread news coverage of mass shootings where the perpetrator was known to have been affected by mental illness ignited negative public sentiment toward mental illness in general.

According to lead study author, Emma (Beth) E. McGinty, M.S., mass shootingslike the one occurring in Newton, Connecticut are often taken as an opportunity to raise support for anti-gun violence legislation. Researchers at Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health also uncovered that negative attitudes toward individuals with severe mental disorders are worsened by news reports of such events, especially when a person with mental illness is involved.

Researchers sampled nearly 1,800 Americans and compared the reactions of people who had read a media account of a mass shooting against those who had not read the report. What they found was that 54 percent of study participants who read the account of the mass shooting felt that those with mental illness were more dangerous than the general population. Only 40 percent of the control group felt the same way.

However, data indicates that the majority of individuals with severe mental illness are non-violent. Oftentimes the connection with gun violence is related to outside factors such as drug and alcohol abuse. This fact coupled with societal stigma prevents those who need help from seeking treatment.

Family Guidance Center serves as a local resource for improving the diagnoses and treatment of individuals with mental disorders. Most types of mental illness are highly treatable and individuals can, in many cases, create a treatment plan that includes both therapy and medication for long-term quality of life. With professional help, those living with mental illness can move forward with a very full and productive life while managing symptoms. To learn more about help for children and adults with symptoms of mental illness, contact the Family Guidance Center.

Rx Drug Abuse Exceeds 22 Million in U.S.

Addiction 2It’s no secret that America has a widespread battle with the misuse of prescription drugs. In fact, the problem has been coined the prescription drug epidemic. With prescription drug abuse becoming a major public health concern, experts say it is ever more important that communities and governments band together to jointly tackle the issue that threatens the health and safety of so many residents.

According to a recent report in Science Daily, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) estimates that since 2002, close to 22 million Americans have used prescription drugs in a manner inconsistent with the way they were prescribed.

According to Pamela S. Hyde, Administrator for SAMHSA, labors at reducing misuse have had inconsistent results across the country. Gil Kerlikowske who serves as the Director of National Drug Control Policy says that there needs to be joint effort of prevention at both the federal and state level. He encourages people to learn more about the dangers in their own medicine cabinets and advises that any unused, expired, or unnecessary medications be disposed of in a proper manner.

Among other SAMHSA report findings was that data from 2010 to 2011 showed a rate of prescription abuse among those at least 12 years of age to be in the neighborhood of 3.6 to 6.4 percent, depending on the state. Hyde says that SAMHSA’s report is valuable for developing a more targeted approach for prevention and treatment. She adds that the public needs to be advised of the serious health risks associated with prescription drug abuse. Some of the states that topped the list for highest rates of painkiller abuse included Colorado, Nevada, New Mexico, Arizona, Washington, Oregon, and Idaho.

Abusing prescription medications is only preceded by marijuana as America’s most common battle with unlawful drug use. Learn the truth about prescription drug abuse. Contact the Family Guidance Center for more information about prevention and treatment programs available.

Know the Warning Signs: When to Seek Professional Help

Mental Health 5For many people, it’s hard to admit the need for help. But throughout the course of life, everyone at some point could use some help. Certainly not every problem warrants professional help. How then do you differentiate between issues that could be improved from mental health treatment and those which could subside on their own?

An article found at Psychology Today provides some insight into when to seek the help of a mental health professional. Here are a few signs that may indicate a need for assistance:

Experiencing trauma In the midst of a traumatic situation, the body’s fight or flight response takes over and helps us self-preserve. It isn’t until after-the-fact that the presence and symptoms of trauma are noticeable, in many cases. If your history includes neglect, abuse, witnessing a horrific event, or if you were a victim of an incident yourself, there is healing in recognizing the presence and impact of trauma with a professional and moving toward healthy coping strategies.

Coping with personal loss Situations like losing a loved one or going through a divorce can literally take the life and energy out of a person. Even losing a job can severely impact personal self-esteem and the will to move forward. Grief from these types of situations can continue for extended periods of time and impact other relationships as well.

Using drugs or alcohol to avoid dealing with problems Relying on drugs or alcohol only serves to make problematic situations worse. If you have trouble giving up substance use despite a desire to do so, or continue to use substances even though doing so yields negative consequences, this could be a sign of an addictive or compulsive disorder that merits further attention.

Warning signs usually start with a person feeling unlike themselves. Perpetual sadness, anger or despair, or continued problems eating or sleeping, should not be ignored. Other signs warranting expert help include loss of interest in things that were once important, a withdrawal from loved ones, or suicidal thoughts. Family Guidance Center is a source of professional help and support and offers services to all income levels. Most mental health problems can be greatly improved with proper diagnosis and treatment. Contact the Family Guidance Center for more information about first steps toward getting help from an experienced mental health professional.

Alcoholism is a Family Disease

Alcoholism 2Parents with issues of alcoholism don’t cope with the disease alone. Alcoholism is a condition that impacts every member of the family from spouses to children. Children are especially vulnerable as they may feel partially responsible for alcohol-related problems, failing to comprehend the complications related to addiction.

According to a Livestrong article, children whose parents are affected by alcoholism have healthcare costs that are nearly a third higher than children of non-alcoholic parents. The risk of child abuse and childhood mental and physical health problems also rises when children have one or more parent living with alcoholism.

Expectant mothers are warned of the dangers of drinking during gestation as it can lead to fetal alcohol syndrome, developmental abnormalities, and termination of the pregnancy. Prenatal alcohol consumption has also been tied to the onset of learning disabilities.

Alcohol related difficulties often weigh heavily on families. According to ProjectKnow.com, the development of poor self-esteem, shame, guilt, fear, or depression in children could stem from parental levels of alcohol abuse. Kids may even struggle in school or have trouble forming relationships because of such problems at home. These children may feel that they are somehow to blame for household arguments and are forced to grow up much more quickly than normal. Worse, they may repeat the cycle and live with addiction themselves as adults.

In fact, figures from the National Clearinghouse for Alcohol and Drug Information (NCADI) shows that children of alcoholics are at quadruple the risk of other children of having problematic drinking patterns. They are also more likely to marry others whose families have histories of alcoholism. Additional complications from alcohol can result in broken communication, divorce and even violence.

Family members wishing to get help for alcohol-related problems should contact the Family Guidance Center. Mental health professionals at the Family Guidance Center offer confidential support and programs to assist families living with addiction so that they can resume healthy, productive lives.