Mental Health Infograph of Children and Teens

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Click on the image above to magnify the information in the graphic.

 

Children & teens susceptible to experiencing anxiety, depression, and suicidal thoughts that intersect with various areas of their lives. Some areas of a child’s/teen’s life that are impacted by mental illness include their school (academic performance, academic attainment), family dynamics, conflicts in the home, socially (disruptions in interpersonal relationships with peers), and personally in how one relates to themselves (i.e., low self-esteem, poor body image, etc).

It is important to keep in mind that the way in which mental illnesses, such as depression and anxiety, are exhibited in a child/teen’s behavior may differ from how an adult experiences similar symptoms. For instance, a depressed child of nine years old may demonstrate higher levels of irritability or externalized/aggressive behavior, in comparison to a depressed adult who may miss days of work due to being unable to get out of bed.

Luckily, mental illness symptoms can be identified early (in childhood or adolescents) in order to prevent long-term debilitation and struggle. There is hope.

Thank you National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for creating this informative graphic. http://www.nami.org.

“Depression, the Secret we Share” by Andrew Solomon; a TedTalk

“The opposite of depression is not happiness; it’s vitality”- Andrew Solomon

This is an amazing video about depression, both the humanistic experiences of depressive symptoms and the medical/psychiatric realms that interact with the mental illness.

While you watch this, please keep in mind that Solomon’s descriptions of depression are his subjective experiences of living with the illness. However, the stories he shares about what other people have experienced and the research he mentions can be generalized as a way to provide hope and to remind ourselves about the courage that exists in all of us.

Speak out about how Mental illness has impacted your life: Here’s How

How has mental illness impacted your family? Whether are you have the diagnosis personally or if you are a family member and friend of someone who does, you are still impacted, in some way, by mental illness. A wonderful friend of mine, brought these amazing resources to my attention. I would like to share them with you and provide you with the opportunity, as well, to become involved and share your story.

I highly encourage EVERYONE to participate in sharing their story regarding mental illness. Even if you have not been a diagnosis, just sharing your challenges with others can provide a feeling of camaraderie with those who share similar experiences. We can begin to understand the immense of strength that we own by hearing others’ stories & sharing our own.

The first opportunity is sharing your story on the radio:
If you would like to share your story with 89.3 KPCC, a radio station, please click on this link: http://www.scpr.org/network/questions/mi. After clicking on this link, there will be text boxes for you to share your story with the world. A KPCC radio journalist will respond to you by email.

The second opportunity is to participate in a campaign called “I Will Listen” (iwilllisten.org). The campaign is based in New York by NAMI, but has sent ripples throughout the country. By visiting this site, viewers will be able to watch hundreds of videos of ordinary people and celebrities share their stories of how mental illness has impacted their lives.

A link for the NY Times newspaper article about the “I Will Listen” campaign: http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/02/business/media/a-campaign-urges-listening-to-those-torn-by-mental-illness.html

The way we get rid of the stigma is coming together and sharing our courageous stories about how we are impacted my mental illness. Mental illness is an issue that we are all experiencing on some level, every day of our lives. Luckily, you don’t have to experience it alone.

SHARE YOUR STORY

Social Workers.. Should Not, what?

Social Workers.. Should Not, what?

This quote hits the core of social work in a minimal way, in my opinion. As the governmental shutdown continues and the number of vulnerable individuals increase, (due to the amount of poverty, oppression, and covert discrimination that is embedded within our society’s systematic functioning), we, as social workers, become even more critical in providing empowerment and hope to those we interact with daily. However, changing peoples’ lives also occurs by advocating for individuals on a community and macro level. The part of this quote that I disagree with is, “When we are no LONGER able to change a situation…”. As social workers, we CAN change situations by effectively touching the lives of our clients and advocating for, and with, our clients at a communal and legislative level. Social workers SHOULD NOT allow our society’s current financial and political situation impinge our ability to remain effective. Social workers SHOULD NOT accept the current situations of their clients or the system that perpetuates a person’s unfortunate circumstances. We, social workers, have the skills and capability to change not only the lives of our clients, but also remain influential in the communities and greater environments of our clients.

Was the suicide a nightmare or real life: a True Story

A few years ago, I woke up and was unable to differentiate between fantasy and reality. Since it is September and this month is recognized as Suicide Prevention Month, I thought this would be a wonderful time to share this story with you.

The story goes like this:

One night I went to bed after a long day during my undergraduate years. I woke up sleepily from my cell phone ringing.

“Hello?”, I said.

“Hi, Brittany. I am calling to say bye.” Someone I hold very close to my heart was on the other line.

“What are you talking about? What do you mean by ‘bye’? Where are you going?”, I said from disbelief.

The other person stated, “I am going to kill myself. I can’t live like this anymore. I am sorry I have let you down”.

Tears began to stream down my face uncontrollably.

“What? What are you saying? You promised me you wouldn’t. Wait… Please DON’T!”

“I have to.” The phone hung up. My mouth remained open in shock. My heart felt like it stopped beating and time stopped.

The next moment I remember is waking up drenched in sweat and hearing myself scream. What just happened? Did I cry myself back to sleep after that phone call or was that phone call only a dream? A nightmare? It had to be a nightmare!

To make sure what happened was truly a nightmare, I called the person’s cell phone. The next five seconds seemed like eternity. The phone was not being answered fast enough. It must have been…

“Hello, Brittany.”

Oh my God! I heard the person say my name!

“Hello! Is that you?”

“Yes, are you okay? Are you crying? What’s wrong?” I attempted to explain for the next ten minutes what just happened as my tears of happiness overcame me. I then heard, “That will never happen. I promised you that I wouldn’t do that. And I plan to follow through with that promise”.

I began to cry again. “You promise?”

“Yes, I promise”.

 

Luckily, that phone call I experienced was only a nightmare. Unfortunately, some people’s nightmares do really happen in real life. Talking about suicide or discussing one’s thoughts about suicide is nothing to be ashamed of. Discussing the signs and concerns about a loved one or a friend is what can be done to prevent suicide from happening in the first place. For support, for either you, a family member, or a friend, please call:

The National Suicide Hotline at 1-800-SUICIDE or 1-800-273-TALK
The Youth America Hotline: Counseling for Teens by Teens at 1-877-YOUTHLINE
The Trevor Project: Crisis Intervention & Suicide Prevention for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender & Questioning (LGBTQ) Youth at 1-866-488-7386.

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Two Mental Health Resources to Check Out

Mental health is a topic that isn’t going to go away.

The needs for mental health services will not disappear; nor will they be silenced by the stigma that is prevalent in our society.

I was to bring attention to two resources that encourage the sharing of personal stories about mental illness and mental health. The two resources are OK2Talk (ok2talk.org) in California, USA and Walk In My Shoes (walkinmyshoes.ie) in Ireland.

Ok2Talk is a resource for pre-teens, adolescents, and transitional age youth (18-26 years old) that provides the opportunity for them to share their stories and experiences of mental illness with the world. Reading the stories, you will notice the strength, resiliency, and courage of these young people. This site is a wonderful example of the implementation of the Recovery Model that I have discussed in previous blog entries. Hope is threaded throughout all, if not most, of the stories shared. The knowledge that one is not alone in the battle they are facing with symptoms of mental illness, or even the daily struggles of a young/emerging adult, creates a sense of community among the writers. OK2Talk also provides access to immediate counseling services through their hotline 1-800-273-TALK and providing a link to MentalHealth.gov. MentalHealth.gov provides a larger database of hotlines and resources for those seeking help.

The agencies that are supporting this amazing resource of recovery for our current and younger generations are The National Association of Broadcasters (NBA), Mental Health America, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), California’s Mental Health Movement: Each Mind Matters, Bring Change to Mind (bringchange2mind.org), Active Minds, and The Entertainment Industries Council, Inc.

The second resource is Walk In My Shoes in Ireland. Even though this resource isn’t based here in the United States, the site reminds us that the prevalence of mental illness is an international issue. Similar to OK2Talk, people can submit their personal stories of living with and managing a mental illness. This resource includes stories that are from youth and adults. In addition to sharing stories and fostering a sense of community, as does OK2Talk, Walk in My Shoes also raises awareness about hearing and learning about others’ experiences with mental illness by encouraging people to walk in shoes that are not necessary theirs; hence, walking in someone’s shoes.

Regardless of age, socioeconomic status, sex, gender, or race, mental health issues and one’s path towards recovery is a universal experience. Begin and continue the discussion about mental health and mental illness.