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Monthly Archives: November 2014

Changes in Delivery of Mental Health Care Affects Patients

The statin drugs used to lower cholesterol are now the most commonly prescribed medications in America.Get-Help-Now3 But right behind them are antidepressants. Doctors wrote 254 million prescriptions for antidepressants last year and Americans spend around $10 billion annually buying them. Mental health experts suggest this is largely due to some changes in the way healthcare is delivered.

Integrated Healthcare
Over the past dozen years there has been many changes in the way Americans receive their healthcare. One positive change has been the improved integration of behavioral health and primary health care. Mental health is no longer viewed solely as a sub-specialty but has been incorporated into the mainstream of well-care.

Today, primary care physicians write seven percent of all antidepressant prescriptions. It sounds like a small number, but it represents millions of prescriptions. And if estimates are correct, depression affects around 10 percent of the general population. It seems as though primary care providers are more aware of depression and are doing a better job of treating the condition. Yet, not all of the news is rosy.

Mental Health Shares Physical Health Care Delivery Challenges
One of the downsides to greater integration is that mental health now shares some of the very same challenges that are troubling physical health care. A visit to a psychiatrist, for instance, averages 30 minutes while most primary care consults last a mere 13 minutes. And while the psychiatric visit is focused entirely on mental health issues, the primary care visit will spend only a portion of the time focused on mental health concerns. Thus, most of those antidepressant prescriptions written by the primary care doctor are unconnected to any kind of specific diagnosis.

It is a good thing when patients are able to get help for mental health issues. However, if they are asking the primary care provider for treatment because their insurance doesn’t cover mental health care or because there is no psychiatrist in the area, they probably aren’t receiving adequate mental health care. At Family Guidance we work hand-in-hand with primary care providers to make sure that patients have a correct diagnosis and supportive treatment and not just a prescription for antidepressants. Call us and see how we can help.

The Truth About Suicide That Gets Lost in the Hype

Anger 2Suicide is an important public health issue. It is something that affects most of us in some way. According to the World Health Organization, 1 million individuals worldwide end their own lives each year. Here in the U.S. suicide is the number two cause of death among young people ages 15-24, claims the lives of 22 military veterans every day and is responsible for more deaths among active duty military service men and women than combat.

Nonetheless, there is a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to this most serious subject. While uninformed bystanders may view threats of suicide as a desperate attempt to gain attention, the reality is that, for most people, suicide is a frightening choice that is only made when they feel they are out of options. People who commit suicide lack hope that things will get better and feel that the pain they are experiencing has become intolerable.

Common Untruths

1. Suicide Happens Only if You Are Mentally Ill
People who attempt suicide are not necessarily mentally ill. Grief, depression and extreme upset can lead a person to act in an extreme way.

2. A Person Determined to End their Life Can’t be Stopped
In fact, most people who contemplate suicide are deeply conflicted about doing so. If the warning signs are seen, suicide intervention can be successful.

3. Talking About Suicide Will Deepen Their Resolve
This is a dangerous misconception since it robs people of the help and intervention which could save them. Talking about suicide and the pain behind it can be helpful. Suicide attempt survivors say it is hugely helpful to have someone ask “what is wrong?” and “how can I help?”

Suicide can be prevented, but it requires intervention. You may need to step in and ask some pretty direct questions. Don’t judge or try to make them feel guilty, but do show genuine concern. Finding a door out of their present pain can make a huge difference. Family Guidance provides counseling for people looking for a reason to hope again and a crisis hotline for more immediate intervention. Lives depend on knowing where to go for help.

Helping Your Child Enjoy a Successful Holiday Season With ADHD

As the winter holidays approach, parents with a child who has attention deficit hyperactivity disorderADHD 15 (ADHD) may feel a bit apprehensive. Family travel, family gatherings and a general sense of havoc are sometimes the order of the day during this time of year. Your child needs routine and predictability in order to feel and behave his best. Yet you can strategize ways to help you child navigate the chaotic holiday months. Here are some ideas to consider.

1. Stay in Your Own Space
Although sleeping over at Grandma’s or a cousin’s home may be how everyone else spends the holidays, it could be a good idea to book a hotel room for your family. If you are at someone else’s house have a separate part of the house where your child can have alone time. This will give your child a place to escape the constant stimulation and somewhere to breathe and decompress.

2. Plan Child-Centered Activities
While adults enjoy the long conversations around the holiday table, these can be tortuous for a child with ADHD. Having to sit still and be quiet for extended time spans is a real test. Talk with your child ahead of time and plan some ways for him to get through these stretches. Breathing techniques can help. It also helps to make sure that these times are balanced against times of freedom and playfulness.

3. Take a Stroll
If, despite your best efforts, you see that your child is starting to come unglued, lovingly take him by the hand and go outside for a walk. It will give you both time to recalibrate. Exercise and fresh air will help you both.

4. Praise as Often as Possible
Give your child plenty of positive feedback when the schedule has flown out the window. Every time you see your child make a good choice or exercise restraint, heap him with words of affirmation. Thanks, praise and recognition are powerful motivators.

Some recommend extra medication during this time. Talk with your doctor about this option. It can also help to talk with a counselor before family gatherings. At Family Guidance we provide counseling to children with ADHD and their parents. Holidays can be joyful despite your child’s challenges. Take action to make them so, call us today.

Developing Your Relationship with Someone Who Has a Mental Illness

Mental health 18Every relationship requires some personal investment. Usually, the greater the investment, the stronger the relationship. When the other person has a mental illness it requires some specific kinds of investment if your relationship is to weather the ups and downs that come with chronic illness. Here are some ways to build a strong and healthy relationship with a loved one with a mental illness.

1. Be Knowledgeable
Learn all that you can about your loved one’s condition. Knowing what is going on inside of them and what to expect usually breeds greater understanding and realistic expectations.

2. Be Trustworthy
Everyone needs someone safe to talk with and in whom to confide. Be the kind of person that can be trusted with personal information. Having said that, if you fear that the other person may engage in self-harm, you need to be prepared to call for help in protecting that loved one’s safety.

3. Be Healthy
Being in a relationship with a person who has a mental illness can be emotionally taxing so do all you can to stay strong and healthy yourself. This includes getting regular exercise and regular sleep. It also means that you develop your own support network for those times when you need encouragement.

4. Be Human
Your loved one doesn’t need you to be superhuman – you can’t be anyway. Being human means that there will be times that you can’t take a phone call or drop everything to meet. It means that sometimes you need a break or a little space. Be the best you can be for your loved one – but remind them, and yourself, that you are human.

Family Guidance can be a support to you and your loved one. We also offer support groups to loved ones caring for someone with mental illness. We want to help you both forge a relationship that will stand the test of time and illness, because it can be done.

The Importance of Catching Undiagnosed Mental Illness in Youth

It’s been estimated that 20 percent of kids have an undiagnosed mental illness. Yet the number of kids receiving treatment for a mental illness is not that high. That means that a large number of children and youth are dealing with a genuine health condition without getting professional help for that condition.
One reason that undiagnosed mental illness persists could be that there is much misunderstandingMental Health 19 surrounding mental health. The presence of mental illness in no way corresponds to a person’s age, intelligence, race or income bracket. Neither is it the result of weak character. Such prejudicial thinking can prevent parents from being willing to acknowledge that their child is experiencing a mental health struggle.

Yet, undiagnosed mental illness has wide ranging effects for the person involved. Young people with undiagnosed, and therefore untreated, mental illness are vulnerable to several negative outcomes. These youth are more likely to leave school without a diploma, abuse substances or wind up in jail. Close to 50 percent of all young people in jail are living with an undiagnosed mental illness.

Approximately one half of all mental illnesses start to manifest during the early teen years (14 years). The sooner the illness is identified and addressed, the better the outcome. As it is, 70 percent of those who are diagnosed and treated see positive results.
If your child or teen has experienced two or three of the following symptoms, it is good to schedule a mental health assessment.

  • Sleep changes
  • Mood changes
  • Appetite changes
  • Drop in school performance
  • New signs of fear or anxiety
  • Problems in several areas of life

If you suspect your child might have an undiagnosed mental illness, don’t put off looking for help. Call us at Family Guidance today. Don’t ignore the problem and wind up as just another statistic. Get help and watch how things can turn around.