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Monthly Archives: December 2013

Improving Mental Healthcare Access, One Step at a Time

Happy 1During the past year, government leaders responded to national events by promising better funding and more attention to mental health care in general. Recently, a few leaders took steps toward living up to those promises.

On the federal level, Vice President Biden announced that $100 million would be earmarked for improving access to mental healthcare services. Community-based mental health centers and services for rural areas were particularly noted as in line for better funding.

In Congress, Tim Murphy of Pennsylvania recently proposed a bill to create revenue for better mental health care services. The Congressman encouraged all professionals affected by mental health care (first responders, teachers, doctors etc.) to speak with their local representatives to let them know how important investing in mental health care is to them.

Ron Hoberg, Director of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says that less than one half of those living with a serious mental disorder have access to needed treatment. He also points out that, at the same time, states have lost $4 billion in mental health care funding as a result of the nation’s great recession.

According to NAMI, 36 states, plus the District of Columbia, have voted to spend more on mental health care. Those funds have gone toward things like promoting school-based instruction on recognizing signs of mental illness. Past monies were mainly allocated toward those well enough to seek out services. Now, after seeing that people with mental illness are often not in treatment, the nation is pushing for increased accessibility and improved numbers of mentally ill individuals receiving appropriate treatment.

If someone you care about is struggling with mental illness, it’s important that they receive much needed support and care. Mental illness, like other physical illnesses, deserves attention and treatment. With proper diagnosis and symptom management, many return to a quality of life. Contact the St Joseph Family Guidance Center to take the first step today.

Celebrating the New Year When You’re in Recovery

During the New Year season it can feel like the whole world is celebrating. A person living in recovery from alcohol dependency or alcohol addiction may feel strong temptation to have just one drink on this one special night because they don’t want to feel so alone.

The truth is that not everyone is drinking on New Year’s Eve and a person with alcohol dependency or addiction can rarely stop with just one drink. Instead, all the memories of past New Year’s celebrations will tempt them to re-live the pleasures of years gone by.

It’s important for the person in recovery to deal with this ahead of time. There may be fun memories, but that is not the whole story. It’s vital to not romanticize past drinking. It is also important to develop a plan before you attend a New Year’s Eve party.

Recovery 2Parties often mean mingling with people who drink, and perhaps even those who used to participate with you. Old friends who still consume alcohol may try to pressure the one in recovery to be part of the gang once more. A firm and repeated “no” is usually all that is needed, but it’s important to be prepared. This is a time to make use of a sponsor or sober companion. Take that person with you if you must go to a party where alcohol will be served.

It can be helpful to attend extra support group meetings around New Year’s. Staying focused on the prize of freedom from alcohol addiction or dependence can be the motivation for making better decisions. Family Guidance Center offers professional help at Addiction Treatment Services, including group and individual help on a flexible schedule. Call them and become part of a group now before the season gets in full swing.

And remember, there are plenty of people who will be celebrating the start of the New Year without alcohol. Join with them to ring in the New Year and maintain your focus on a high-quality, addiction-free life.

Helping Those You Love who are Living with Depression at the Holidays

When someone you love is depressed, it sometimes feels as though no matter what you do, itDepression 2 can’t help. This struggle is part of what makes depression such a difficult disease. As much as the person with depression may seem like they are shutting you out or pushing you away, the truth is – they need your support. And they may need it most of all during the holidays when they feel so out of step with the rest of the world.

It isn’t that you can’t talk with your friend or loved one, there are just some things to keep in mind which can help you communicate the love and care that you feel.

1. Even though the season is hectic, make time to just be there.
Holding hands or making time to sit with the person communicates love. If you want to say something, try statements like “I always love you” or “You are an important person in my life”. True statements about your positive feelings are comforting.

2. Words are so powerful.
Avoid critical statements or words that tell the person how to feel better. You may think you know just what will get them over the hump, but instead of telling them what you think, ask them “What can I do for you?”

3. Small things mean a lot.
Make time for face-to-face visits, but supplement those times with little reminders that you are thinking of them. Stay in contact with cards, text messages and emails. Bring them a meal. Stop by just to say hello.

4. Try not to minimize what they are feeling.
Depression is not just in their head. They aren’t just being overly-sensitive. They wish that they could re-focus onto others, but depression is a disease with symptoms. Listen to them, affirm your love for them and let them know that no matter how long it takes to get past this, you are for them and with them.

For more ideas on how to help your loved one, talk with the professionals at Family Guidance Center. They are available all through the year as your loved one manages the symptoms of living with depression.

Stigma For Mental Illness May Extend to Members of the Family

Mental Health 12Dealing with a physical or mental illness can lead someone to feel isolated; and what about the people closest to them? Do family members also feel alone when a loved one is suffering with medical or emotional illness? That was the question recently addressed in a large scale study by researchers from Spain.

The Spanish researchers used World Health Organization (W.H.O.) surveys given in 28 countries. The surveys were intended to learn what health conditions were in each country and how those illnesses impacted people’s lives.

Surveys were then evaluated to determine the degree of stigma the family experienced when a loved one was struggling with alcoholism, a mental health condition or substance abuse compared to how the family felt when the person had a medical illness.

Researchers learned that family members feel a social backlash regardless of the cause of their loved one’s illness. The isolation and rejection felt by the patient extended to family members. Investigation showed, however, that families whose loved one was dealing with a form of mental illness felt the isolation more intensely.

This was an important finding since prior studies have focused on the patient’s personal sense of stigma. This is a first-ever large scale examination of the impact on family members.

Those with mental illness continue to face isolating discrimination in many forms. Many face an uphill battle in terms of education, housing and employment. Family Guidance Center of St. Joseph understands the stigma which an individual with mental illness may face. They also understand that mental illness impacts the entire family.

They have professional mental health services aiimed at helping individuals and their families overcome the hurdles of discrimination and isolation. If you have a loved one with mental illness, you don’t have to walk this road alone, contact Family Guidance Center today.

Anxiety and Substance Abuse Show up Together and Should be Treated Together

Anxiety 1When your life is a steady buzz of anxiety, it can be quite tempting to self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. A glass of wine or a joint smoked in the evening can make you feel more at ease and free of the constant worry and tension. Unfortunately, dealing with anxiety in this way tends to only create another problem – substance abuse. These two problems frequently show up together and when the person is at last ready to deal with one of these issues, they actually need to tackle both in order to find true recovery.

The habit of easing anxiety with substances is fraught with peril, because dulling the anxiety is paramount. Over time, the body develops tolerance for the substance –whether alcohol or drugs- and pretty soon, it take more than a single glass of wine or just one joint to feel relaxed. Before the person realizes it, they are drinking more alcohol or using more of the drug just to maintain the same level of calm.

The two problems of anxiety disorder and substance abuse frequently go hand in hand. In fact, it can go the other direction too. Individuals with an alcohol or drug dependency may wind up developing an anxiety problem, because these substances can actually cause anxiety and panic attacks. For this reason, once the person decides to deal with one issue, they really need to address both.

At first, anxiety symptoms may worsen as the person gives up substance use, but eventually the anxiety levels will go down. Since pharmaceutical-based therapies can themselves be addicting, most experts suggest non-pharmacy treatments like cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) along with a support group. The CBT will be useful in learning healthy strategies for managing anxiety while the support group will give ongoing encouragement throughout the recovery from substances.

If you are a person who struggles with anxiety, don’t try to handle the problem on your own and definitely not with dulling substances like drugs and alcohol. Instead, call a professional who knows how to guide you in managing anxiety and overcoming substance use. The Family Guidance Center of St Joseph knows all about how these two issues are interrelated and they can help you find relief.