Tag Archives: #lincolncountyoregonmentalhealth

Mental Illness Crisis in America’s Jails…Stepping Up Initiative… A long anticipated solution in Lincoln County Oregon…

Mental Illness Crisis in America’s Jails.  Find out more about the solution, Stepping Up Initiative in Lincoln County Oregon USA Click the highlighted text for more…

Steve Sparks…Click here to listen in… Lincoln County Connections with Casey Miller, KNPC Radio, January 16, 2017

Also take a listen to this video clip from a recent talk at the Oregon Coast Learning Institute (OCLI), Salashan, Oregon…

 

Pain Killers and OPIOIDS Kill! Estimated 28,000 People Die Annually in America! Look at Lincoln County Oregon!

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Chandler Davis, Musician, Community Activist, Mental Health Champion, and member, Lincoln County Oregon Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC)

Lincoln County Oregon

From Chandler Davis…Lincoln County Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC)

HOW BAD IS IT? Here are some brand new statistics that the Lincoln County Addiction Prevention Recovery Committee (APARC) requested and has just received this month from the Oregon Health Authority (and which we have forwarded to the Lincoln County Department of Health & Human Services):
At this time the OHA data is only specific to the Medicaid population, but they show that in Lincoln County:
….20.2% of young adults ages 18-25 NEED addiction or substance use disorder (SUD) treatment — only 1 to 2% are GETTING any treatment!
….7.5% of youth ages 12-17 NEED SUD treatment. — fewer than 1% are RECEIVING it!
….7.2% of adults over 26 NEED treatment. — only 1.5% to 3.3% are RECEIVING treatment!
According to the Oregon Health Authority: There is “lots of work to be done in your county and across the state for outreach and engagement into treatment especially in the transitional age group 18-25.”
Oh yeah, and the LEADING CAUSE OF DEATH, in Oregon and Lincoln County, according to the Oregon Health Authority, is OPIOID OVERDOSE!
That bad.

Read more…

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Substance Abuse Statistics…click image for larger view…

Prescription Drug Overdose Guidance Measures…

The United States is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic.

Opioids (including prescription opioid pain relievers  and heroin) killed more than 28,000 people in 2014, more than any year on record. At least half of all opioid overdose deaths involve a prescription opioid.

Pentagon getting serious about Apparent over-prescription of anti-psychotic drugs

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Stan and Shirley White of W.Va., whose son Andrew, a Marine, suffered from PTSD. When he died in 2008 at 23, they blamed a “lethal cocktail” of drugs. They were in Phila. fighting the use of antipsychotics for service people. DAVID SELL / Staff

Combat veterans are especially at risk… click here for more…

“During about 300 missions, Andrew had a steady diet of death and destruction.
A combat engineer, Andrew cleared mines and improvised explosive devices from roads before they blew up his fellow Marines, soldiers, and civilians. After nine months, White was sent home and eventually received a medical discharge for PTSD.
“It changed him,” Stan White said of combat. “He became a recluse. In the last four months of his life, he ate two meals with the family. He would take his food to his room.”
On Feb. 12, 2008, when Andrew had failed to meet her for a planned lunch at a restaurant, Shirley White went home. She found him dead in his bed. He was 23.”

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The above quote from the referenced website article is becoming an all too common tragedy by combat veterans who suffer from the symptoms of PTSD.  Since the illness is invisible and soldiers will not even talk about their pain, they become a suicide risk without loved ones getting any warning.  The diet of prescription drugs and use of alcohol as well can cause a person to lose hope and no longer have a desire to live.  I know from my own experience that the side effects of medications can cause psychotic episodes that put you and others at risk.  I remain hopeful that the continued monitoring and research of anti psychotic drugs, especially mixing with other prescription medications, including alcohol will help mitigate a troubling trend.

Pain killers came into my life after decades of using alcohol for self-medication.  Physical health challenges hit me like a baseball bat once entering mid-life, especially in my 50’s.  My doctor was very stern with me about the risk of mixing prescription medications or opioids with alcohol.  I drank too much back then anyway, but my ego and self-talk rationalized a determination to start on pain killers and continue my self-medication ways of the past.  After just 12-18 months on this new regimen of pain, sleep, and anxiety medications along with alcohol, I was a total basket case to say the least.

At age 55 with strong support from my family, doctors, and own hyper-vigilance, I stopped drinking, period!  But what I didn’t do is curtail or manage effectively the use of prescription drugs.  I became addicted and kept taking prescription drugs as long as recovery from multiple surgeries to replace joints and fix a severe arthritic condition with chronic pain.  It took me until my mid 60’s to finally get off of pain medications and other opioids, only to discover then the many alternatives of non-narcotic medications and mindfulness exercises.  Now at almost age 70, my life is completely free of narcotic based medications for pain, sleep, and anxiety challenges.

And what a gift in life it has been not to take anything related to narcotics or alcohol!  I feel very lucky to still have a relatively healthy body and mind for the coming golden years of new opportunities and adventures in life.  I’m thankful for my wife and soul-mate who has been so supportive and loving for all of our 32 years of marriage.  I treasure the many years of happiness together.  But without a close friendship and dedication to working together confronting our life challenges, there would not be a future of hope and joy in these later years.

My passion to give back and help others who suffer from post-trauma stress has been strengthened by my own life experience.  I know we can save lives through building awareness and in advancing the conversation of post-traumatic growth that literally saves the lives of so many children and families in life after trauma.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2…Click the highlighted text for my author page to order books and other stuff…from Amazon.com.

Steve2016

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate, and member, Lincoln County Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC)

Jails and Prisons were Never Built to Warehouse People with Mental Health Illnesses! The “Stepping Up Initiative” provides hope for change in America…

Stepping Up Initiative

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Each year, there are an estimated 2 million people with serious mental illnesses admitted to jails across the nation. That’s equivalent to the populations of Vermont and New Hampshire—combined. Almost three-quarters of these adults also have drug and alcohol use problems. Once incarcerated, individuals with mental illnesses tend to stay longer in jail and upon release are at a higher risk of returning to incarceration than those without these illnesses.

Stepping Up: A National Initiative to Reduce the Number of People with Mental Illnesses in Jails

The Stepping Up Initiative  Click here for this important message…a short video clip.

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I want to recognize the heroic, passionate, and tireless work of our law enforcement, emergency services, and public health community in Lincoln County Oregon, and elsewhere in America!  It is an honor to know the top professionals who work each and every day on our behalf who have done so much for so long to create better conditions for the care of those in need who risk ending up on the wrong side of the law.  Please thank those in uniform for their service each time you see them.

I had the opportunity as a citizen of Lincoln County Oregon to visit our County Jail in Newport Oregon to see for myself what is considered a crisis in America that we must fix.  In our beautiful coastal community of Newport, Oregon, we warehouse people, upwards of 35% of jail population, with a variety of mental health and substance abuse illnesses. This unfortunate circumstance started to evolve way back during my childhood when we were closing down institutions for the mentally ill, forcing the challenge and responsibility back to our local communities, as we well should.  But the only place to send these troubled and challenged souls in our community has been to jail, period!  We were never prepared to provide adequate and humane treatment, transitional services or housing to help those who are sick to return to a healthy, responsible, and productive quality of life.  Lincoln County Oregon is a small rural county among 4000+ counties in the United States of America.  A crisis now exist at a critical mass that is completely unacceptable in America by our own well established moral obligations as well as constitutional rights.  

The law enforcement community has been screaming about this for many years to little or no avail until now…  The Stepping Up Initiative was formally launched during a summit in Washington D.C. this past April 2016.  Each and every county in America is in the process of launching the Stepping Up Initiative, including Lincoln County Oregon.

I’m proud and honored to have been invited to join the Lincoln County Oregon Board of Commissioners team, as a project consultant, to help guide the County in building a community wide collaborative strategy and implementation plan to launch the Stepping Up Initiative.  This effort is a true call to action by all citizens and stakeholders of Lincoln County Oregon and for all counties in Oregon and across America.  

I plan to provide updates on our progress in the County using this website as a platform for outreach on this important topic.  Mental Health affects children and families everywhere. Some families suffer for a lifetime without treatment or care.  We must build the capacity to take back our innately human responsibility to care for our citizens who are not able to care for themselves.  We must help our fellow citizens and neighbors get back on their feet so that they have the same opportunities in life to realize dreams of good health, happiness, and success as the rest of us. We can no longer ignore the inhumane conditions in our jails and prisons that we most often do not even see for ourselves, so we do not know.  I know now after a profoundly meaningful and emotional visit to our own Lincoln County Oregon Jail in Newport Oregon.

Please feel free to engage with me as I go on this new journey of public service in Lincoln County Oregon. You can do your part by sharing this blog post on your own social media networks.  Start the conversation with friends and neighbors to reform jails and prisons…it is our duty to fix.  You can also help directly as volunteers in your own community to make a difference at the local level.

Steve Sparks click here for my author page…

Steve2016

Author, Blogger, Child Advocate, and member, Lincoln County Oregon Mental Health Advisory Committee

Why Talking About Mental Health Matters…to me…

Matters

Mental Health Matters…to all of us!


The Guardian…quoting…

“I wonder if he really knew what he was doing that day. Did he realize then just how much his death would haunt me? How I’d carry the weight of him with me every day, wondering why he did it, trying to decipher the few tear-stained words in the inadequate note he left, wondering if there’s any reason in the world good enough to leave your two young daughters without a dad? Did he realize I’d spend my life listening to his favorite songs, watching the one existing video of him to remember his voice, crying on Father’s Day or his birthday or any random day, because it suddenly hit me all over again that he was never coming back? Would it stop him?”

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Regional Health Assessment, Linn, Benton, & Lincoln Counties, Oregon Download pdf from this link.

From my perspective the single most pressing challenge presented in the Regional Health Assessment is “awareness and understanding.”  The good news is we are finally making favorable progress, but we have so much more to do to help create broader and focused awareness.  My community has been slow at mental health awareness in the 11 years we have lived in Lincoln County, Oregon.  As a mental health advocate, I hear the conversation on public health issues, especially mental health, improve significantly over the past 5 years.

A measure of how far we have to go is that folks, by and large, do not like to admit having mental health challenges in front of others in a conversational setting.  With around 30 citizens, health care professionals, civic leaders, and educators attending this important conference, I was the only person in the room who indicated a personal and family history of mental health struggles.  Of course, when there is an opening to talk about other physical or medical health issues, most people are very open and conversational in just about any setting.  Until mental health is a completely open discussion in any setting, especially in a public heath professional forum, it will take much longer than my limited time on the planet to make optimum progress on the regional goals outlined in the Public Health Assessment.  The goals include the following…

Assessment Goals and Objectives for Linn, Benton, and Lincoln County Regional Health Assessment (RHA):

  • Identifies and gathers health status indicators in order to determine the current health status of the community
  • Describes areas for potential future health improvement while building upon ongoing community knowledge and efforts
  • Identifies common strengths and challenges facing the region in regard to health status
  • Recognizes and highlights the need for more detailed local data
  • Is a collaborative process that incorporates a broad range of community voices

With reference to the Guardian quote above, the worst case scenario is the life long emotional pain carried by loved ones who suffer as a consequence from secondary mental health challenges. The young lady was 5 years old when her father took his life.  Her pain has lived with her for 25 years, and is at times worse with aging.  This is not an uncommon result of a severe traumatic life event for a child.  So, it is not just the loss of a loved one, it is the exponential emotional damage and mental health risk carried forward by loved ones and family members.  If we are not honest and open about the generational implications of trauma in our lives and fail to see the global picture, progress in achieving the goals above will take more time, money and frustration.

My take away from the conference was a feeling of encouragement that we are moving in the right direction. In the list of goals above, it is in the “collaborative process that incorporates a broad range of community voices”  that will lead us to success as a community.  I believe strong leadership is needed to build new collaborative efforts and partnerships through out Lincoln County Oregon.

Talking about mental health matters to all of us!

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 1&2…

Steve2016

Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate, and member, Lincoln County Oregon Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC)