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Tag Archives: St. Joseph Missouri

New Studies Link Mental Illness to Food Insecurity

Lack of Access to Nutritious Meals Associated With Greater Risks of Mental Illness

mental illnessA lack of access to nutritious food, or food insecurity, is not a small issue. Not only does the lack of steady, nutritious meals negatively affect physical health and development, but new research is starting to link food insecurity with mental illness as well. Negative mental health risks among the food insecure have been shown to be notably higher than among the food secure.

Single mothers are among those who experience food insecurity. As a result, these moms face a tripled risk for depression according to one study. Other studies have found that mental illness for single moms increases as food scarcity continues. Mothers unable to provide regular, healthy meals were shown to experience a greater prevalence of major depression or anxiety compared to moms without that pressure. Kids in these homes also showed negative outcomes. They exhibited more behavior problems, mood disorder or substance abuse the longer food scarcity persisted.

Single mothers and their children are not the only ones who must deal with food insecurity and therefore are not the only ones affected. A study involving 3,500 low income men and women found a definite association between food insecurity and higher risks for depression and even suicidal ideation. Anyone living with food uncertainty may experience a heightened risk for mental illness.

More research is needed, but in the meantime, as a community there are ways we can help. First, we can come together and focus on addressing issues of food insecurity. Second, mental health services need to be made available to low income community members. At Family Guidance Center our doors are open to all the members of our community. If economic pressures are getting you down, we’re here to help. Please stop by and make an appointment. We can help give you the tools to cope in healthy ways.

First Lady Speaks up for More Attention, Less Stigma on Issues of Mental Health

White House 1First lady Michelle Obama has spoken up about her passion for healthier eating in our country. Now she has used her position to draw attention to the issue of mental health.

First lady Obama was a highlighted speaker at the recent summit on mental health which served as a launch pad for a new campaign entitled Change Direction. The summit drew participants from several key areas: not-for-profit organizations, government and private business. The impetus for the initiative was a White House discussion on mental health following the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in 2013.

Mrs. Obama made note of the fact that mental health is an integral part of overall health and affects over 40 million of us, our family members, neighbors and co-workers. There is no excuse, she said, for stigmatizing a health issue comparable to a host of other health issues. When something is touching the lives of one in five American adults, it deserves compassionate attention, not prejudice.

The Change Direction campaign will urge all Americans to keep an eye on mental health just as they would on things like heart health, diet and nutrition, and other health factors. The campaign aims to draw attention to five recognized signs of emotional duress so that people will more readily recognize the symptoms. Those five signs are:

Personality changes
Personal care changes
Withdrawal from others

At Family Guidance we know that mental health conditions like anxiety and depression affect many more people than ever reach out for help. We salute Mrs. Obama’s call for more attention and less stigma. If you notice several of the five signs listed in yourself or someone you love, call us and make an appointment. Mental health is treatable and manageable.

Watching for Mental Health Distress in Adolescence

Mental Health 11During the years of adolescence everything, it seems, is in a state of upheaval for the young person. There are outward changes in size, stature and shape. There are inward changes in thinking, feeling and relating. This personal storm can be traumatic enough on its own, but if it combines with other stressors adolescents may experience some form of a mental health disorder as a result.

What to Watch For
Since there is so much changing in an adolescent’s life, how can parents know if their child is in trouble? With teens it will usually mean keeping an eye on the degree of change. Most of the mental health warning signs could be considered normal adolescent changes in one degree but become flags of concern at a greater degree. Some common things to keep an eye (or ear) on are:

Sleep changes – many adolescents love to sleep, but excessive sleep can be a symptom of depression
Low self-worth – most teens struggle with their self-image, but in excess it is problematic
Sudden academic struggles and problems at school
Anger or aggressiveness – adolescents often have more family conflict but unexplained outbursts are not normal
Eating changes – this can be more or less, but markedly less could flag an eating disorder.

What Parents Can Do
The most common mental health disorders faced by adolescents are depression, substance abuse and eating disorders – all of which are treatable. Parents should do their best to be approachable and keep lines of communication open. It is helpful to offer meaningful and frequent encouragement and reassurance about the pressures and fears that go along with adolescence. The stormy period is less frightening if they know that most people have a bumpy passage. Finally, don’t hesitate to bring an adolescent in to Family Guidance for evaluation or treatment. A stormy youth is normal, but mental health should be monitored and cared for just like physical health.

SATOP Works to Increase Driver Awareness, Lower Substance Use by Drivers

Reports reveal that nearly one-third of traffic accidents are directly related to alcohol use. If drug use were factored in, the percentage would bump up even higher. Here in Missouri, 280 lives were lost on the highway because of drivers who had been consuming alcohol in 2012.

An Intervention Program
One effort to combat this deadly reality has been the institution of court-ordered driver education which focuses particularly on the dangers associated with impaired driving, through a program known
SATOP 2 as SATOP – Substance Abuse Traffic Offenders Program.

Changing a Person’s Perspective
The goal of SATOP is to awaken drivers to the tremendous dangers posed by substance use in terms of driver responsiveness and decision-making. The program also aims to increase interest in community responsibility when it comes to using substances and driving. Once a person gets behind the wheel of a vehicle, substance use is no longer a private decision with only personal consequences. Hopefully, when drivers are confronted with their previous choices set in the context of a wider community, personal changes will result.

Two Tracks of Intervention
SATOP is offered at various levels of intervention. First time offenders who pose a low risk may be assigned to a 10 week education course. High-risk first offenders or repeat offenders may be assigned an intensive weekend intervention program. When determining the level of the program to be assigned, authorities may look at the person’s blood alcohol content (BAC), their past driving record, recommendation from a substance abuse professional and/or an online assessment.

At Family Guidance Center we understand how deceptive substance use can be. Often individuals who abuse substances have trouble seeing how their choices affect others. You don’t have to wait until you are pulled over on the road for a traffic violation. You can get help today, before anyone gets hurt. Contact us and find out how we can help. We participate in SATOP at our St Joseph, Cameron and Maryville offices.

September 2014 Marks 25th Annual National Recovery Month

Mental health 18National Recovery Month is a month-long push toward greater community awareness on issues of behavioral health. Mental health is a key component in a person’s overall health. It is nearly impossible to divide physical well-being and positive mental health. Ignore your mental wellness and physical as well as psychological conditions may worsen.

However, the flip side is also true: care for your behavioral health and you can reap positive benefits in all areas of living. During September, behavioral health providers across the country share some of their many stories of prevention, treatment and recovery success.

This year, National Recovery Month celebrates 25 years of shared successes. Behavioral health providers want more community members to be aware that their services are available to all. Individuals who have overcome substance use are certainly worth recognizing and celebrating, but Recovery Month encompasses recovery on a broader scale.

People overcome struggles with depression and anxiety every day because they took the time to seek out help. Other chronic conditions can be successfully managed so that individuals may live full and satisfying lives. Treatment works. In many instances, preventive care can help people avoid some of these struggles altogether.

The national Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) wants Americans to know that you can take charge of your mental health in the same way as you do your physical health. Pay attention to symptoms and get help if you suspect something isn’t as it should be. For those who already struggle, treatment can lead to the freedom of recovery.

Here in St Joseph, Family Guidance Center opens its doors day after day to community members concerned about a wide selection of behavioral health issues. Whether you have been unable to shake feelings of sadness and hopelessness for several weeks or have been struggling with addiction to substances for months or even years, hope is there. Treatment works. Call today. We have 25 years of success stories to share with you.