Tag Archives: Mental Health 1st Aid Teaches You

Pat Neal…2011 Oregon Rural Health Hero of the Year! A selfless community service leader and trailblazer for mental health…

 

Mental Illness is a Medical Problem, by Patricia Neal, Mental Health Advocate, Lincoln County Oregon…Newport News-Times, Viewpoint, Wednesday, March 9, 2016

We have heard a great deal about people with mental illness in connection with mass shootings and sometimes when police are trying to deal with the mentally ill. Many people know very little about mental illness and because of the stigma associated with mental illness there may be a reluctance to learn about it or discuss it. There was a time when parents were blamed for raising their kids wrong and causing mental illness. In the 1970’s a few of the medications used for mental illness were in use and we knew mental illness was a medical problem. The early medications did not work for everyone and although many more medications have been developed there still are people who are not well served by the existing medications. Medications sometimes seem to be more effective if given as a shot rather than a pill. More research is being done to develop medications and to better understand how the brain works and what affects the development of the brain.

Emphasis is now beginning to integrate treatment for mental illness with primary care. Physicians are not normally trained to work with mental illness and efforts are now being made to provide them with training on the subject.

We hear of schizophrenia frequently in connection with police involvement. It affects people differently. Some can’t sleep, get agitated and angry, may hear things that are not real and others may go into a catatonic state. My nephew stood in front of the refrigerator and did not move for three hours. He said his mind was going so fast that he could not make a decision to move. Paranoia may be part of schizophrenia and they think everyone is watching them, threatening them, or trying to do things to them.

Many of the medications have undesirable side effects. Weight gain and type two diabetes are two “side effects”. The medications also may leave them perpetually ’tired’ and slow to wake up in the morning. .

There is a program now being taught here and elsewhere in the country called Mental Health First Aid. It is used with first responders, physicians and other medical providers, and parents. There is a version for students and that is very important because mental illness frequently strikes during the high school years. (It can be found online—use a well-known website like Mayo Clinic or some universities for medical information. Wikipedia is not necessarily reliable.)

Mental illness—depression, bipolar (once called manic depressive because of the mood swings) and schizophrenia frequently start in the high school or puberty years. As young people begin to have symptoms they may not understand what is happening and self-medicate with alcohol or drugs. Then when they are diagnosed with mental illness they have two problems.

Recent research seems to indicate that Gluten (associated with Celiac Disease) may attack the brain rather than the digestive system and cause schizophrenia and perhaps other mental problems. Both Celiac Disease and Schizophrenia are inherited diseases. Type 1 diabetes is also frequently found with Celiac Disease.

Mental illness has a physical medical association or medications would not help deal with the illness. We need to recognize it as a medical problem, remove the stigma associated with it and begin to learn about it and deal with it.

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I’m so pleased and honored to have Pat Neal as a guest blogger, especially on the topic of mental health.  She has been making a huge difference in Lincoln County for over 20 years since her retirement.  Pat’s life experience and family circumstances fuels a passion to make a difference.  Pat and I are now teaming up serving on the Lincoln County Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC). Pat Neal really cares!  I can only hope that my work in post trauma growth can help carry her significant contributions and passion forward.  She intends to stay engaged and active in the community for as long as possible.  I feel lucky to know her as a friend and neighbor.  Thank you, Pat Neal, for all you do!

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

My Post-Trauma Growth project and workbook, “I Worry About the Kids,” for parents, teachers, mentors, and others.  Please click the highlighted text and for the project video clip.  Support and backing as a donation and sharing is most appreciated.  Thank You!

 

 

Mitigating PTSD Trauma Informed Care…Children & Families in Life After Trauma…

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Trauma Informed Care…

Dear Kindred Spirits:

As an author, blogger, and child advocate, my great passion in life during my retirement years is to help stop the stigma connected with mental health, especially as it relates to the painful tragedy of children growing up in toxic homes where parents suffer with post traumatic stress. Kids inhale the pain of parents and often suffer in silence while exposed to anger, depression, and anxiety over extended periods of time. Children make adjustments and are resilient, but eventually leave home carrying all the emotional baggage with them. Parents, mentors, and teachers can make a huge difference in mitigating the toxic circumstances and longer term emotional damage to children, by becoming sensitive to how youngsters are affected at very early ages. Family members often take on the same symptoms of post traumatic stress if exposed daily to a life of toxic behaviors from adults.

I write in my most recent book, My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 2, how children can be saved from the emotional damage of growing up in a toxic home. I also write in my blog, 
www.survivethriveptsd.com about the same topic along with a focus on K-12 education. I served on the board of www.neighborsforkids.org, an after-school program in Depoe Bay, Oregon. I also have had the honor to serve the citizens of Depoe Bay, Oregon as City Councilor.

I advocate for children because my childhood was consumed by the challenges of growing up with parents who suffered severe emotional damage following WWII and Korean War. My awareness of the symptoms of PTSD was very limited for most of my adult life until deciding to confront my own demons when researching and writing my first book Reconciliation: A Son’s Story. We live in in world where generations of wars have torn apart families, leaving them ignorant of the long term damage of PTSD on children who carry forward the emotional pain and symptoms that can linger for a lifetime without treatment. It is never too late to break the cycle of pain and to begin the journey of healing. I waited until age 64, and now live with an high level of awareness, providing a peace of mind never before achieved. But treating the symptoms of PTSD and keeping the pain at a safe distance is a work in progress. For this reason, I continue to push forward making a difference for others by writing and speaking about post trauma stress, including the toxic circumstances and painful outcomes, which can be mitigated with open and honest communications. Stopping the stigma and denial of this painful and life threatening disease is the first step in healing. We now have the awareness and tools to provide “trauma informed care” and delivered at a local level to more quickly recognize mental health symptoms and identify alternative treatment strategies for those who suffer.

Please feel free to contact me with your questions and conversation. You can use my blog, author page, and purchase my books to learn more. My only disclaimer is that my background and experience is that of a trauma survivor who thrives…and not a mental health professional. 

With best wishes for your good health and happiness…

Steve Sparks

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Steve Sparks, Author, Blogger, Child Advocate

 

Mental Health and the “Trauma Informed Care” Solution…How does it work?

 

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Mental Health: Redirecting from Law Enforcement to Social Programs… A Trauma Informed Response that saves lives…  Quote from this link…

“CAHOOTS was formed in 1989 as a collaborative project of White Bird Clinic and the city of Eugene public safety system to help address the needs of marginalized and alienated populations, specifically the homeless and those suffering from addiction or severe and persistent mental illness. Each team consists of a certified medic and a trained mental health crisis worker.”

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The 90th Annual League of Oregon Cities Conference in Bend, Oregon

I was honored to represent the City of Depoe Bay at the 90th Annual League of Oregon Cities Conference in Bend, Oregon.  This was one of the most robust learning opportunities for me since being elected City Councilor, Depoe Bay, Oregon.  The focus of the conference was to show elected and non-elected officials from city government how to use resources effectively to build a 21st Century sustainable community.  I write about the entire conference in in separate report in a pdf format with rich hyperlink references, which can be requested from www.cityofdepoebay.org or contact info@cityofdepoebay.org.

Much of the discussion during the Mental Health concurrent session referenced in this link, was about the need for “Trauma Informed Care” and different levels of response so that we are NOT sending citizens with mental health challenges directly to jail, and potentially making matters much worse.  We are learning that there are essentially three levels of care evolving, and these include:  1.  Education and Mental Health 1st Aid.  2.  The “Cahoots” model in Eugene, Oregon, to help address the needs of marginalized and alienated populations.  3.  Finally, the 911 Public Safety Emergency response, where it is apparent that lives are in danger.  The three levels work collaboratively and successfully in many communities right now.

Check out this excellent reference link with a powerful video clip…What is “Trauma Informed Care?”

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Trauma Informed Schools–An Essential for Student & Staff Success

“In my experience, plus the 30 years my colleagues have worked in public schools, we have learned that student misbehavior and “acting out” are often indicators of trauma. Poverty, sexual abuse, domestic violence, parental drug use, incarceration, or mental illness are just some of the issues that contribute to traumatic experiences that have a profound impact on a child’s developing brain and body. Through our team’s professional experiences, and research supports our findings, we have found that children living in poor neighborhoods are more likely to suffer traumatic incidents, such as witnessing or being the victims of violence. They also struggle with pernicious daily stressors, including food or housing insecurity, living in overcrowded households with overworked or underemployed, and stressed-out parents.”

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From my own experience as a trauma survivor, non-fiction author and blogger related to post trauma recovery, it is the early life of children during the years up to age 6, when we can have the most impact in helping the fabric of our society heal and mitigate the painful symptoms and damage of the effects of severe trauma, including life long mental health implications.  But we must stop the stigma of mental health…“Mental Health and Stigma” by Graham C. L. Davey, PhD.  The consequences of long term stigma and lack of awareness in our culture is life threatening and terribly dangerous as we have observed too many times over the years, including last week in Roseburg, Oregon when 9 innocent students and educators were killed at Umpqua Community College.  Many others sustained severe injuries, and will no doubt suffer from post traumatic stress and need extended treatment to recover.

As a society we continue to be at risk at 1000’s of soft targets, including schools, movie theaters, open spaces, and in toxic homes, where mentally challenged and potentially dangerous citizens will hurt or kill innocent people.  We can change this pattern going forward and some progress is apparent; but we must be more vigilant, compassionate, and empathetic as a society.  We must talk about mental health in our schools, institutions of learning, and public places.  We must be aggressive in teaching others mental health 1st aid, and trauma informed care.  If we don’t become more serious and have the will to mitigate and treat the symptoms of mental health behaviors early, we stand by and wait for the next mass shooting or tragedy.  Mental Health: “Can’t we do better?”  I know we can!

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…

Mental Health Awareness Month of May… Take advantage of Mental Health First Aid training in your local community…

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May is Mental Heath Awareness Month…  Quote from this website…

For more than 60 years, May has been nationally recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month.

“Mental wellness is essential for peak cognitive and physical performance and ensures the readiness of our service members. This month the Military Health System (MHS) focuses on the mental wellness of service members, their families, retirees, and DoD civilians. We will highlight the tools and resources available for the prevention and treatment of the DoD community’s overall mental wellness.”

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I am pleased to share that Mental Health First Aid training has arrived in Lincoln County Oregon!  I was happy to take the lead to bring the Mental Health 1st Aid training to our City of Depoe Bay, Oregon with the help of Lincoln County Health & Human Services.  We are scheduling an overview introduction to the Depoe Bay City Council, and to the Neighbors for Kids (NFK) Board of Directors during this month.  Near future training for selected staff in both organizations will be schedule.  Following are a few highlights of the training quoted from the website…

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Mental Health First Aid

is an in-person training that teaches you how to help people developing a mental illness or in a crisis.

Mental Health First Aid teaches you:

  •  Signs of addictions and mental illnesses
  •  5-step action plan to assess a situation and help 
  •  Impact of mental and substance use disorders
  •  Local resources and where to turn for help

The State of Oregon is making mental health a top priority going forward with a campaign  slogan, “Can’t We Do More?”  It is the responsibility of local and county government, private, and public leadership to take advantage of this training.  Lincoln County Mental Health offers the availability of two highly trained staff members to conduct training on a selected basis.  I have written previously in this blog about the need to do more in rural communities for mental health awareness... click on highlighted text for more…

You can make a difference during the month of May and all year by taking a look at the Mental Health First Aid program for your own needs as a business, school or public service organization.  Please review the references and resources available and take action.  Mental Health 1st Aid is just as critical as getting training for first-aid best practices in general.  Lives are saved through a higher level of awareness of all health and wellness challenges in local communities everywhere.

Steve Sparks, Author, Reconciliation: A Son’s Story and My Journey of Healing in Life after Trauma, Part 1…  Click highlighted text for my author page…

Vice Chair, Neighbors for Kids & Depoe Bay City Councilor