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If you are experiencing a mental health medical emergency, call 911 or go immediately to the closest emergency room.

    • Crisis Response in Maryland:
      • Maryland Crisis Hotline 800-422-0009 / TDD line 410-531-5086
      • Calvert County Crisis Hotline 410-535-1121
      • Charles County Crisis Hotline 301-645-3336
      • Prince George's Crisis Services 301-429-2185
      • Maryland Youth Crisis Hotline 800-422-0009

  • Protective Services:

    • Child Protective Services
      • Calvert County 443-550-6969  / 800-787-9428(toll free)
      • Charles County 301-392-6739 / 301-932-2222 (after hours –
      • Sheriff’s Dept.)
      • Prince George’s County 301-909-2450 / 301-699-8605 (after hours)
      • St. Mary’s County 240-895-7016 / 301-475-8016 (after hours)
      • Washington County 240-420 -2222 


Past articles and information of interest: 

Ways to cope with stress and anxiety as delta variant cases increase

"A lot of what I'm seeing is kind of a mix of anxiety, worry, uncertainty and then anger is a predominant emotion"

Author: Justina Coronel (KSDK)
Photo: Hart Van Denburg, CPR News

The surge of the delta variant of COVID-19 is causing many people to be anxious and uncertain about the future.

The mental health strain of the back and forth can impact all of us.

Since March 2020, anger, hopelessness, loss and frustration came up for many. Then the vaccine came out offering some hope.

By now, many of us thought, we'd be in a better position.

Yet that's not the case, and these previous emotions are starting to creep back in once again.

Dr. Tim Bono is a Washington University psychologist and studies the science of happiness. 

"It can easily feel like things are spiraling out of control," he said. "It can evoke a lot of the anxiety, distress, and despair that many of us experienced that we thought was behind us and now we could be facing again."

For more than a year, we've carried heavy emotions. Changes, tragedies and downfalls have been weighing on us.

Many are just exhausted.

"It’s like on the 20th mile of the marathon, you have a lot of left behind you, but you still have a ways to go. But we don’t know how long this marathon is going to last. That sense of exhaustion can be compounding a lot of the stress and anxiety we’re experiencing," Dr. Bono said.

Dr. Jessi Gold is a Washington University psychiatrist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital. 

Dr. Gold said it's OK to feel all of these emotions, even if they don't feel great. 

"A lot of what I'm seeing is kind of a mix of anxiety, worry, uncertainty and then anger is a predominant emotion. It's not necessarily a bad thing to feel angry. I'm one of those people who would say, any feelings that you have are valid and normal," she said. 

For some, she said, they may feel like all of these feelings are compounded. 

"It sort of feels compounded because we never really got a chance to take a breath. So it was like it was going up and we are feeling like we were doing a little bit better and then right at that moment, you never really got a chance to digest it and breathe. I think it could just compound it because you never really got a break from it at all," Dr. Gold adds.

Dr. Gold said whatever you're feeling, feel them completely. 

"It's really important to put them out there and say, I feel that and it's OK, and it give space to talk about it," she said.

At times, it's hard to see the light.

That's where these WashU doctors come in to shine light on some strategies to cope.

"One of the best ways to cope with that is to direct our attention to things that are in our control," Dr. Bono said. "The things that we can control is like the practice of gratitude, taking care of ourselves, working as hard as we can with our work and jobs now."

Dr. Gold suggests creating a to-do list and being able to check off tasks you've done. 

"I'm a big fan of picking whatever coping mechanism works for you," she said.

She proposes trying several methods out like journaling, going for a walk, or practicing mindfulness. From there, pick what works for you. 

Having a trusted friend or family member to be vulnerable can be useful too.

If you need further assistance, it's OK to ask for professional help.

"You're allowed to ask for help because it's just like any other thing you're asking for help for and it's not a weakness it's a strength," Dr. Gold said. 

For Maryland behavioral health assistance:
  • Maryland Crisis Hotline 800-422-0009 / TDD line 410-531-5086
  • Calvert County Crisis Hotline 410-535-1121
  • Charles County Crisis Hotline 301-645-3336
  • Prince George's Crisis Services 301-429-2185
  • Maryland Youth Crisis Hotline 800-422-0009


National PTSD Awareness Month is observed annually in June. The month is dedicated to raising awareness about the condition and how to access treatment. June 27th is also National PTSD Awareness Day.

 According to the National Center for PTSD, between 7 and 8 percent of the population will experience Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) during their lifetime.

Men, women, and children can experience PTSD as a result of trauma in their lives. Events due to combat, accidents, disasters, and abuse are just a few of the causes of PSTD. No matter the reason, PTSD is treatable, but not everyone seeks treatment. There are resources available to help diagnosis PTSD and get help. There is no shame in seeking assistance.

The History Of PTSD Awareness Month

In 2010, Senator Kent Conrad pushed to get official recognition of PTSD via a “day of awareness” in tribute to a North Dakota National Guard member who took his life following two tours in Iraq (S. Res. 541).

Staff Sergeant Joe Biel died in 2007 after suffering from PTSD; Biel committed suicide after his return from duty to his home state. SSgt. Biel’s birthday, June 27, was selected as the official PTSD Awareness Day, which is now observed every year.

In 2014, the Senate designated the full month of June for “National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month” (S. Res. 481). 
Whereas the designation of a National Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month will raise public awareness about issues related to PTSD, reduce the stigma associated with PTSD, and help ensure that those suffering from the invisible wounds of war receive proper treatment. S. RES. 481

Get Treatment For PTSD

Those who experience symptoms of PTSD or PTSD-like issues should seek help immediately. Department of Veterans Affairs medical facilities, private care providers, counselors, and therapists can all be helpful in establishing an initial care regimen or refer those suffering from PTSD to a qualified care provider.

The Department of Veterans Affairs has more information on help for PTSD on its’ official site including help finding a therapist.

Read more:
https://militarybenefits.info/ptsd-awareness-month/#ixzz6x8VqgT3H

Information gathered from the US Department of Veterans Affairs and the American Psychological Association.


Frontline Wellness

When you encounter chronic stress, trauma and the negative effects of shiftwork as a part of your daily work life, an added source of stress like COVID-19 can feel overwhelming. With concerns about passing the virus to family and friends, protective equipment shortages, exposure to financial pressures and long hours — you need support now more than ever.

For many frontline professionals, the pandemic has taken a toll on their mental wellness. And if you are struggling, you are not alone.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is pleased to join the #FirstRespondersFirst initiative to support frontline health care and public safety professionals facing the adverse mental health effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. This community-centered initiative is called NAMI Frontline Wellness.

Your bravery and selflessness protect the health and safety of everyone. We want you to know that your mental health and wellness matter, and we are here to lean on for support.

Resources include: confidential and professional support, peer support, techniques to build resilience, support for family members, and information on how to identify signs of a potential mental health emergency.


Quick Links:
Image: NAMI


Mental Health Challenges in Immigrant Communities

By Katherine Ponte, BA, JD, MBA, CPRP
Reposted from NAMI 7/22/2019

My parents immigrated from Portugal to Canada, where I was born and raised in a large Portuguese immigrant community. I now have been living in the U.S. for 20 years.
 
The phenomenal work ethic of my community was a great source of pride. It inspired me to work as hard as I could, as my parents did. I became a lawyer and earned an MBA. My spouse is also of Portuguese descent and was born and raised in the U.S. His background is exemplary of the same immigrant values and motivations.
 
My spouse and I were able to accomplish our goals, despite the fact that our parents came from very modest backgrounds. None of them graduated from high school or even spoke English at the time of their immigration. It is a common story, shared by so many immigrant children. 
 
I was able to grasp the opportunities my parents worked so hard to provide. However, my quintessential hard-working immigrant success story still does not address a very important factor: I live with bipolar disorder. The mental health challenges that immigrants face are the part of this story that need to be addressed. 

Immigrant Community Challenges
Immigrant communities encounter many challenges including discrimination such as being told to “go back to your own country,” language difficulties as many immigrants don’t speak English upon their arrival, lower access to healthcare due to lower paying jobs without benefits and visa issues as some immigrants are undocumented, among many others. There is also the added challenge of isolation from the larger national community. Many immigrant families live within or very close to their immigrant community, which may reinforce a sense of separation.
 
Coping with these challenges can lead to mental health issues or mental illness, particularly for those with a pre-existing biological vulnerability to a mental illness. 

Insufficient Mental Health Treatment 
At the time of my parent’s immigration, mental health education in their homeland was non-existent. There was rarely any discussion of mental health. When they arrived in Canada, they could not speak English. There were no Portuguese-speaking mental health care providers. And the few Portuguese-speaking doctors there had very heavy patient loads and did not address mental health during their short consultations. 

In some immigrant communities, mental health concerns are actively ignored and people are discouraged from seeking help. Their reluctance is often out of fear that others might find out or due to high treatment costs. Some cultures also have alternative treatment approaches to mental health care such as herbal remedies or spiritual practices. For example, some communities use culturally rooted practices of mindfulness and meditations or religious practices such as prayer.

Stigma In The Community 
In the Portuguese community where I grew up, mental illness was highly stigmatized. Women and men were reluctant to speak about it. If and when women expressed emotional concerns, they were quickly dismissed. Men never talked about emotional concerns since community perception was that strong men should not be emotional. Talking about mental health outside the home was prohibited. Family members also heavily gossiped in our close-knit community, causing people to be guarded or secretive. 

Growing up, I never heard anyone in the Portuguese community talk about mental health, including my parents. I was shocked to be diagnosed with a mental illness many years later. Upon reflection, I think I showed signs of mental health issues as early as high school, but neither I nor my parents knew how to identify it, much less how to seek help. Parents can play an important role in the mental health literacy of their children, but often immigrant parents are not in a position to help.

Stereotypes
Common stereotypes of immigrants—that we are less educated, more blue-collar, more conservative—can adversely impact our mental health. To avoid these perceptions, we sometimes disassociate ourselves from our immigrant community. This may lead to a loss of network support, which is another risk factor for mental health issues.

Missing The Sense Of Belonging 
We may feel that we’re not accepted here in the U.S., but in our parents’ homes, we’re also regarded as foreign or “American.” So we don’t have a clear identity of who we are. This can be troublesome for our mental health. The greatest sense of belonging I ever felt was with descendants of other Portuguese immigrants. A sense of belonging can be critical to good mental health, and at many times we lack it. 

A Lack Of Cultural Competency
As an adult, I have been treated by several doctors and therapists for my mental illness. I have never been asked about my cultural background by any of my therapists. When I have raised my cultural upbringing and experiences, they have been minimized, misunderstood and dismissed so many times that I don’t even try to explain it anymore. 
 
The challenges are even greater for those who cannot speak English. If and when they see a therapist, it can be incredibly difficult to express emotions in their non-native language. Translation can help, but a therapist might need stronger understanding for cultural context to really help a patient. Different dialects can also complicate translation. Many immigrants are far less likely to seek treatment or trust health care providers due to a lack of cultural understanding and competency. 

Shortage Of Mental Health Education For Faith Leaders 
In the depths of my depression, I believed that God was angry at me, punishing me. It was at these times that my suicidal ideation was greatest. It would have really helped to speak to a faith leader who could have reassured me that I was wrong, but I didn’t know who to turn to, as many faith leaders do not discuss mental health. I don't recall a single sermon in my many years of weekly Sunday masses that discussed mental illness. And some faith leaders, when presented with emotional concerns, guide their followers to prayer or to “pray it away.” 

Opportunities To Improve Mental Health
We, the mental health community, can improve the mental health of immigrant communities by meeting them where they are. 
 
We can nurture relationships with faith leaders, who can play a tremendous role in immigrant mental health. Many people in immigrant communities turn to their faith leader first, before a health care provider when experiencing emotional distress. And houses of faith can be a great forum to spread information on mental health information and resources.
 
We can develop more informational campaigns in partnership with local community foreign language media. We could also make more foreign language mental health information available in places immigrants frequent, such as popular restaurants and social clubs. 
 
We can encourage immigrants and their descendants to enter mental health professions and continue to encourage mental health professionals to prioritize cultural competency. 

We can promote greater understanding and compassion of the unique challenges immigrants and their children face. It is indisputable that immigrants make tremendous contributions to our adopted country, and they—and their mental health—should be acknowledged, respected and valued. 

 
Author's note: I would like to dedicate this blog post to Hispanic immigrants and their children and Hispanic migrants. I have been profoundly saddened by current events, especially the treatment of children. I pray for them.
 
Katherine Ponte is a mental health advocate, writer and entrepreneur. She is the founder of ForLikeMinds, the first online peer-based support community dedicated to people living with or supporting someone with mental illness, and Bipolar Thriving, a recovery coaching service for caregivers and their loved ones affected by bipolar disorder. She is also the creator of the Psych Ward Greeting Cards program in which she personally shares her recovery experiences and distributes donated greeting cards to patients in psychiatric units. She is in recovery from severe bipolar I disorder with psychosis. She is also on the board of NAMI New York City. 

Image: Time

Vaccine Anxiety: Tips for handling the latest COVID fatigue

News about COVID-19 vaccines seems to change daily. Who can get them? Where are they given? Who do I ask? How do I get in line? Are there enough? Who’s in charge? 

Planning regular check-ins with state and county health websites can help ease a sense of having no control about getting your vaccine.  Planning regular check-ins with state and county health websites can help ease a sense of having no control about getting your vaccine.
On and on. 

“There is an awful lot of anxiety everywhere about how to get the vaccine,” said UC Davis Health clinical psychologist Kaye Hermanson. “And it’s valid. There are real reasons to be anxious – we’re in a pandemic, we’re uncertain where and when we’re going to get our vaccine, and the information seems to be in flux. Who wouldn’t be anxious?” 

So Hermanson’s first bit of advice for dealing with this Vaccine Anxiety chapter of COVID Fatigue is this: Understand that your exhaustion and uncertainty are rational. Then take a deep breath. Remind yourself that we are moving in the right direction. 

“Positive thoughts really can help in uncertain times,” she said. “We all need to hang in there. We have more hopeful days ahead, we just can’t rush them.” 

Click here for more from UC Davis Health.

44 Mental Health Resources for Black People Trying to Survive in This Country 

By Zahra Barnes at Self.com
Image: D'Ara Nazaryan

Black lives matter. Black bodies matter. Black mental health matters. This latest string of rampant and wanton brutality against Black people flies in the face of these indisputable truths. As a Black woman myself, I’ve spent years trying to process the violence and racism that are part and parcel of living in this country in this skin. But I’ve never had to do it during a pandemic that, of course, is decimating Black lives, health, and communities the most.

In my years as a mental health reporter and editor, I’ve been heartened to slowly see the collection of mental health resources for Black people start to grow. It’s still not where it needs to be, but there is solidarity and support out there if you need help processing what’s happening (and there’s nothing weak about needing it, either). Here’s a list of resources that may help if you’re looking for mental health support that validates and celebrates your Blackness.

It starts with people to follow on Instagram who regularly drop mental health gems, then goes into groups and organizations that do the same, followed by directories and networks for finding a Black mental health practitioner. Lastly, I’ve added a few tips to keep in mind when seeking out this kind of mental health support, especially right now.





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