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Monthly Archives: June 2015

Mental Illness in the Workplace

What Employers Can do to Encourage Getting Treatment for Mental Illness

mental illnessA recent article in The Wall Street Journal reported that employers can expect to have 20 percent of their office staff dealing with some form of mental illness at any given point in time. While employers or co-workers may be comfortable encouraging someone to seek treatment for other kinds of illness, when the problem is mental illness, people can be hesitant to speak up. This reticence could be because of mistaken beliefs about mental illness.

The media has been peppered in recent years with stories of violence occurring in a situation where an individual has a mental illness condition. This, unfortunately feeds the stigma that many mental health patients are prone to violence. The fact is that the cases which wind up on the news are a miniscule representation of patients and often are for persons who never got treatment for their illness.

Even if the misperception does not have to do with myths about mental illness, there may be persistent worries that persons with mental illness will perform sporadically at work or become undependable in other ways. It is true that major depression can lead to missed workdays, but this is the case most often when someone is not being treated.

Employees may be hesitant to speak up about their mental illness or to look for help because they worry about losing a job or being stigmatized by co-workers. Offices can defuse these concerns by going over what insurance plans will cover and encouraging employees to make use of coverage. Talking openly about mental illness as a regular health issue can put to rest concerns about getting help.

As an employer, if you feel that an employee may be struggling with a mental health issue, you can quietly pull the person aside and encourage them to get a mental health screening. Reassurance about confidence in the person and the hope of treatment are needed. If you need a place to refer employees, call us at Family Guidance Center. We can help your employee with the treatment they need.

Prescription Drug Abuse in the United States Continues to Rise

More Americans Die from Prescription Drug Abuse Than Cocaine and Heroin Put Together

Prescription drug abuse remains our nation’s leading drug problem. The Drug Enforcement Agency has just completed a nation-widepresecription drug abuse offensive intended to disrupt the illegal distribution of pharmaceuticals in an effort to stem the plague. Prescription drug abuse is claiming more lives than the use of Heroin and Cocaine combined.

The National Institute on Drug Abuse has published data which shows the overdose rates by year for these three drugs (prescription drugs, heroin, cocaine). What you see when you look at those charts is that abuse of prescription medications and heroin has gone up each year since 2001. Cocaine use peaked in 2006 but has now dropped back to rates similar to those in 2001. But prescription drug overdose claims more American lives than the total of heroin and cocaine put together, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

The most affected by the increases is white males. In the year 2000, older black males were the leading demographic for heroin overdose. But in 2013 young to middle aged white males were most represented. Similarly, in 1999 1.6 white males per 100,000 overdosed on prescription drugs but by 2013 the figure had grown to 6.8 white males per 100,000 who overdosed.

The overdose figures for 2013 were as follows: over 50 percent of the 43,982 overdose fatalities were prescription drug induced, 8,257 were caused by heroin and 4,944 were linked to cocaine use. Each number represents a precious life cut short. If you are engaged in illicit drug use, don’t wait to get help.

Perhaps you’ve tried to break your prescription drug abuse habit but were unsuccessful. That doesn’t mean you can’t do it – only that for breaking the abuse cycle it is important that you seek professional help. Contact us at Family Guidance Center. We can help you begin your journey to recovery.

What Triggers Alcohol Abuse as a Coping Mechanism for Some People?

Research Suggests Alcohol Abuse May be Linked to Adverse Childhood

alcohol abuseFor many people drinking is used as a way to cope with stresses in their life. Too often, this leads to over-consumption. It may be problems at work or problems at home that feel unmanageable but, whichever it may be, alcohol abuse is not a healthy answer. What scientists don’t yet understand is why similar situations do not create similar stress responses in different people.

Some people with difficult marriages, stressful jobs or other challenges (health, financial) are able to find ways to cope which don’t involve excessive drinking. For other people, these same circumstances feel beyond control and alcohol abuse provides the escape they crave. What makes the difference?

Researchers hypothesize that part of the answer could reach back into a person’s early childhood. Numerous animal studies show a link between the lack of close parental bonding during infancy and greater alcohol consumption later on. The thought is that long-term stress in childhood could change the way a person’s stress responses operate throughout life. This would leave some individuals more stress-sensitive and therefore, perhaps, more susceptible to later alcohol abuse.

Risk factors are not determiners. Just because a person experiences a stressful childhood doesn’t guarantee that they will abuse alcohol. If they learn healthy coping skills or possess a strong social support network, then alcohol abuse is not a foregone conclusion.

The good news is that it is never too late to learn healthy coping skills. At Family Guidance Center our mental health professionals can help you learn positive ways of dealing with stress in your life. There is no way to remove stress from life, but there are healthy ways to handle stress. Whatever your current stresses may be, let us help you learn to deal with them in a way that will make you feel healthier and stronger.

Learn More About PTSD: What it Looks Like and What Can be Done

June 27 is National PTSD Awareness Day – Do Your Part and Become Informed

When a person experiences a traumatic event, the human body becomes stressed. Stress reactions could be disturbing memories, difficultyPTSD with sleeping or feeling jittery. For some people, these symptoms will begin to dissipate within a few weeks or months, depending upon the intensity and duration of the trauma. For other people, however, the negative reactions don’t resolve – instead they deepen. In the first instance the person is experiencing a normal response to a traumatizing event. In the second instance, the person could be experiencing post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

The perception that your life was in danger and you had no control over the situation if difficult for most people. However, at some point, the reactions to stress can themselves become a disruption to everyday living. If you find yourself frequently reliving the trauma (while awake or asleep) and intentionally avoid people or environments which remind you of the event, PTSD could be the cause. If you also find that your emotions are regularly tense or on edge, it’s time to talk to someone about PTSD treatment.

Many people with PTSD don’t want to relive the memories and feelings and certainly don’t want to talk about them. However, talking with a trained mental health professional is often the very thing that can help to lessen the intensity of what you have been carrying around inside of you. Living through a dire situation can actually change the way you think and process information. But a mental health professional can help you to find where those changes have occurred and you can retake control of thoughts – which tends to produce a cascade effect in your behavior and emotions.

At Family Guidance Center we will be giving special attention to PTSD during the month of June and particularly on June 27 – the National PTSD Awareness Day. This month would be an ideal time to take control of your emotional health. Make an appointment today. If you don’t have signs of PTSD yourself, we encourage you to learn what you can about the condition and help correct persistent beliefs about what it looks like and how it can be treated.

Mental Health Struggles on College Campuses Are on the Rise

Anxiety a Growing Mental Health Issue for College Students

mental healthIn addition to the recreational facility, the library and the mental health clinic, many college campuses also provide mental health services. Nation-wide studies are showing that more college students are availing themselves of these services than ever before, and more often than not, for anxiety concerns.

At one time depression was the leading mental health issue affecting students at college, and it remains a growing problem. These days, though, anxiety earns the top spot. Campus mental health clinic surveys show that over 50 percent of student visits are anxiety-related. Furthermore, the American College Health Association reports that one of every six students has either received an anxiety diagnosis or been treated for anxiety within the past year.

Researchers and mental health professionals say they cannot directly account for the growing anxiety problem among students. Students themselves blame academic stress and pressure starting in high school. It could also be connected to chronic social media use among other prevalent trends with young adults today.

The stigma which once kept people away from treatment appears to be improving – at least on campus. Studies show that 50 percent of those who visit the college mental health clinic have prior experience with a counselor, over 30 percent have been prescribed psychiatric medicines and 25 percent have engaged in self-harm. More students are coming in and most college clinics don’t have adequate staff to meet the need.

Experts say that college-age anxiety is normal. It is part of the process of learning to become self-reliant, responsible and self-confident. One counselor estimated that 80 percent of students are helped with a short-term intervention. If you are a college student and the pressure feels like it’s building, you can find help meeting with a mental health professional. Family Guidance Center can help you address anxiety, depression or any other mental health concern. You’re not alone.