Tag Archives: #ptsdchat.org

Mental Health Stigma…Children & Families in Life After Trauma…

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Mental Health First Aid USA… ALGEE Bear…Assess, Listen, Give, Encourage, and Encourage…learn more…

Dear Kindred Spirits:

As an author, blogger, child advocate, and mental health champion, my great passion in life during these most valueable retirement years is to help stop the stigma connected with mental health. This goal is especially critical 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 write in my blog with a focus on Children and Families in Life After Trauma.  I also have the honor to serve on the Lincoln County Oregon Mental Health Advisory Committee (MHAC}.  In this past year, my work has been extended to a much wider audience as a contributor and radio host for www.ptsdchat.org.  With a more recent professional engagement connected to the Lincoln County Oregon Stepping Up Initiative, my heart and soul will be full of good works and positive energy in 2017.  I’ll be writing and speaking about these topics and more going forward.

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 a 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 Mental Health First Aid USA delivered at a local level to more quickly recognize mental health symptoms and identify alternative treatment strategies for those who suffer.

My only disclaimer is that my background and experience is that of a trauma survivor, researcher, and author who thrives…and not a mental health professional.  Consistent with my training as a Mental Health First Aid USA Adult Trainer, I encourage appropriate professional help and self-help resources.

With best wishes for your good health and happiness!  Happy New Year!

Mental Health 1st Aid Comes to Oregon! Why do we need mental health 1st aid training?

MentalHealth1stAidOregon

Mental Health 1st Aid Saves Lives!

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When we started doing an exercise during a community Mental Health 1st Aid workshop to demonstrate how it feels to experience auditory hallucintations, I had not a clue what this term meant.  When my fellow student, Winnie, started to talk to me, I was hearing a voice in the background, acted out by another student, Bill, who used a rolled up paper to say weird stuff to me.  The questions included, Why are you talking to her? Don’t trust her.  Is she looking at you? Why would she want to talk to you?  Bill, had this rolled up piece of paper in my ear yelling at me.  I started whacking at the bull horn and looking around at him in distress because I could not hear or concentrate on anything Winnie was saying to me.  It was at this moment I realized how a person suffering from a psychotic episode must feel.  I then realized why so many of us do not know how to respond or what to do when we see a person struggling outwardly from the nagging, disruptive, and painful voices in their head.  It was then it hit me like a good slap in the face why Mental Health 1st Aid training must be mandatory in our society as a integral part of America’s First Aid Training.

I highly recommend to everyone to make it a personal goal in the coming weeks and months to take the Mental Health 1st Aid one day training in your community.  You will receive a certificate of completion to hang up in your office or home that shows you have completed the 8 hour course. It is critical to let others know that you have the awareness, compassion, and empathy for those who struggle with mental health challenges.  The workshop will provide the tools to help friends and family, even strangers, in several ways. As part of the class students also receive an easy to read, and well done reference and workbook entitled, Mental Health First Aid USA, First Edition, to keep on hand. Following is the action plan learned from the workshop.

What You Learn Click for more from Mental Health First Aid USA…

Just as CPR helps you assist an individual having a heart attack, Mental Health First Aid helps you assist someone experiencing a mental health or substance use-related crisis. In the Mental Health First Aid course, you learn risk factors and warning signs for mental health and addiction concerns, strategies for how to help someone in both crisis and non-crisis situations, and where to turn for help.

En Español


Topics Covered

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  • Depression and mood disorders
  • Anxiety disorders
  • Trauma
  • Psychosis
  • Substance Use disorders

Mental Health First Aid teaches about recovery and resiliency – the belief that individuals experiencing these challenges can and do get better, and use their strengths to stay well.


 The Mental Health First Aid Action Plan…ALGEE

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen nonjudgmentally
  • Give reassurance and Information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

ALGEE, the Mental Health First Aid mascot

ALGEE, the Mental Health First Aid mascot, and mnemonic for the 5-step action plan

Interventions Learned

When you take a course, you learn how to apply the Mental Health First Aid action plan in a variety of situations, including when someone is experiencing:

    • Panic attacks
    • Suicidal thoughts or behaviors
    • Nonsuicidal self-injury
    • Acute psychosis (e.g., hallucinations or delusions)
    • Overdose or withdrawal from alcohol or drug use
    • Reaction to a traumatic event

The opportunity to practice — through role plays, scenarios, and activities — makes it easier to apply these skills in a real-life situation.

You don’t want to miss Mental Health First Aid training when it comes to your community!  I feel much better equipped now to help friends and family, and even strangers, who are struggling.

Steve2016

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

Books by Steve Sparks: Reconciliation: A Son’s Story, 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.

“Advice for Family Members” Steve Sparks and Kate Gallie on PtsdChat.org Radio…

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PTSDchat.org Radio Podcast… BlogTalkRadio, HEALTH…Advice for Family Members, Hosted by Steve Sparks and Kate Gallie on June 8, 2016…

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“Advice for Family Members” is my first in-depth and heartfelt radio interview on the topic of children and families in life after trauma… I discuss my own story as a post WWII and Korean War military child growing up in the 1950’s and early 1960’s during a time when there was no awareness of post-traumatic stress and treatment strategies for individuals and families.  Your comments and questions would be most appreciated.  Thank you!

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 my books and other stuff…

Steve2016

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

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My Journey of Healing in Life After Trauma, Part 2… Saving your children, family and loved ones from inter-generational Post Traumatic Stress (PTS)…Download ebook $3.99 here… or free Kindle Unlimited.