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


News, articles & information of interest:

Celebrate Women’s History Month by Prioritizing Your Mental Health

By: SAMSHA & Office of Behavioral Health Equity

Image: Texas A&M

As we celebrate Women’s History Month, we want to take time to celebrate the diverse, brilliant women across this nation who keep everything going at home and work, within community organizations and faith institutions, and in every aspect of life. We celebrate the women from our history who have helped to shape us as individuals and as a nation. We hope this note speaks in a positive way to every woman who reads or is served by this message.

During this month, celebrate the women in your life and ask them to prioritize their own mental health. Acknowledge and support women at whatever age or stage they are in life. Check on the women in your life to make sure they are doing okay. Let them know that it is okay to not always be okay. Make sure they know that they have a safe place to go if they are struggling with their mental health and offer your help in connecting them to a behavioral health professional. If you are a woman, consider taking the time to celebrate your own accomplishments and do a mental health self-care check-up this month. If you find that you need additional help, reach out to your physician or a behavioral health provider. SAMHSA offers a Behavioral Health Treatment Services Locator that can help you identify providers in your area.

Women are often the caregivers to their families and friends, yet often overlook giving themselves the care they need. Mental health is essential to well-being and women must prioritize their own mental health to ensure that they remain healthy. Being mentally healthy has an impact on the legacies and history of women. Ensure the women in your life have the tools to be mentally and physically healthy starting with these tips below.

·         Take time for yourself to do something you want or nothing at all

·         Get a good night's rest every night, 7-9 hours per night is recommended for adults

·         Participate in regular exercise, 150 minutes per week of moderate-intensity aerobic physical activity is recommended for adults

·         Get outside and get some sunshine whenever possible

·         Try relaxation techniques like meditation, mindfulness, or prayer

·         Tell a trusted family member or friend if you are struggling with your mental health

·         Consider talking to a mental health professional

·         If you or someone you know is in a crisis please use the resource provided below for help

o    National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

o    Ayuda en español: 1-888-628-9454

·         If you know someone who needs immediate crisis counseling related to disasters

o    Disaster Distress Helpline

o    1-800-985-5990

·         For free and confidential treatment referral and information about mental health and/or substance use disorders in English and Spanish, 24/7

o    SAMHSA’s National Helpline

o    1-800-662-HELP (4357)

For more resources about mental health, visit Store.SAMHSA.gov.

Understanding Mental Health Over a Woman’s Lifetime

Many mental health conditions impact women differently at different stages in life: It’s about time we talked about it

One of the most pressing issues in health care today is mental health. Unique issues related to the mental health of girls and women are of particular importance.

Understanding women’s mental health is a twofold approach. There are mental health issues that only appear in women. There are also mental health issues in all genders that impact women differently.

A better lens to examine women’s mental health is by looking at it across their life spans.

Keep Reading to Learn

  • Why—and how—mental health can impact women differently than men
  • How mental health conditions change—and which appear—over the life span of a woman
  • The causes, effects, and treatment of women-only mental health conditions
Click here for more from McLean Hospital, a Harvard Medical School Affiliate.

Image: Freepik

Black History Month-Black Mental Health

February is Black History Month and the new year is moving quickly. Aside from the foolish world that we’re a part of, let’s take a moment to recognize and celebrate the significant role of African Americans and their outstanding contributions to the United States throughout past and present-day history.

Did you know? In 1926, African American historian and author Carter G. Woodson initiated the celebration of Black History Week, which, unsurprisingly, coincided with the birthdays of abolitionist Frederick Douglass and Civil War President Abraham Lincoln.

In 1976, the year of the nation’s bicentennial, the week grew to encompass the entire month. Since then, every U.S. president has officially declared February as Black History Month.

The Significance Of February
Many key events in African American history took place in February. Here are just a few:

W. E. B. Du Bois, civil rights leader and co-founder of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), was born on Feb. 23, 1868.

The 15th Amendment was passed on Feb. 3, 1870.

The first African American senator, Hiram R. Revels took his oath of office on February 25, 1870.

The NAACP was founded on Feb. 12, 1909.

After being refused service, a group of African American college students remained in their seats at a Woolworth’s lunch counter in Greensboro, N.C., on Feb. 1, 1960.

Malcolm X, a prominent Black Nationalism leader, was assassinated on Feb. 21, 1965.

While six points in history are far from capturing the African American struggle for freedom and justice, they are a snapshot of events and people, both known and anonymous, that helped transformed this nation. The process they established continues to challenge our nation’s perception of equality and social progress. Hence, the significance of Black History Month lies in looking back and understanding how far we have come to draw the strength and wisdom necessary to move forward.

The Case Of Mental Illness
Mental illness, without any further distinction, affects one in four Americans. However, experiences of mental illness vary across cultures and there is a need for improved cultural awareness and corresponding competence in the health care and mental health workforce.

Social circumstances often serve as an indicator for the likelihood of developing a mental illness. African Americans are disproportionately more likely to experience these social circumstances. African Americans are often at a socioeconomic disadvantage in terms of accessing both medical and mental health care.

Culture biases against mental health professionals and health care professionals in general prevent many African Americans from accessing care, due to prior experiences with historical misdiagnoses, inadequate treatment and a lack of cultural understanding.

African Americans tend to rely on family, religious and social communities for emotional support rather than turning to health care professionals, even though the latter may at times be necessary. Furthermore, the health care providers they seek may not be aware of this important aspect of African American culture.

The health system does not bear blame alone. Too many mentally ill African-Americans have been told to pray away mental illness, by well-meaning loved ones. African-Americans have always relied on religion as a survival strategy to cope with unspeakable injustice. But that can be maladaptive, causing further harm. We are not possessed by unseen forces. The irony is the first psychiatric hospitals were founded by African Muslims and Christians. We need to reclaim those traditions and educate our religious communities.

Mental illness is frequently stigmatized and misunderstood in the African American community. African Americans are much more likely to seek help though their primary care doctors as opposed to accessing specialty care.

Sensitivity to African American cultural differences, their unique views of mental illness and propensity towards developing certain mental illnesses, can improve African Americans’ treatment experiences and increase their utilization of mental health care services.

Other survival tactics involve “strong Black woman and mammy mythology,” which teaches Black girls and women to take care of everyone they know instead of attending to their own pain. Both philosophies are rooted in American slave culture. It is 2019. We must learn to engage in self-care, to build communities of recovery.

So, what can we ALL do now? “It takes a village,” as the old African proverb states. This is not a Black problem. Everybody hurts when any member of our society suffers. We all benefit when we design a health culture that operates from margin to center. We must mobilize for social justice to end racism. We must creatively invest in urban communities to create jobs, build infrastructure, protect affordable housing and design supportive schools.

We must advocate for systemic transformation in public health that incorporates more comprehensive research; prevention; early intervention; universal health coverage; training for healthcare professionals; and MORE CLUBHOUSES, especially in poor neighborhoods.

We must implement mental health education programs across Black communities. Finally, African-Americans must be willing to share our testimony to advocate for change. We must become peer workers, social workers, therapists and psycho-pharmacologists.

There can be no change if we don’t take our seats at the decision-making table.

By Antonio P.D. Carriere, MPA, President – NAMI Louisiana

Ask An Expert: How to Protect Your Mental Health During the Omicron Surge

By Sarah Simon 
Published on January 04, 2022
Fact checked by Angela Underwood
Image: Health Share of Oregon



Key Takeaways
  • It's normal, even expected, to struggle during a massive global strategy like the current pandemic.
  • This latest Omicron, winter surge will likely stir complicated feelings.
  • Thoroughly acknowledging how you're feeling and talking to someone about it can help.
Just as we enter the depths of the winter season, a new surge in cases is beginning to unfold. The most recently identified COVID variant, Omicron, has only been known about for a little over a month, yet it's already accounting for the highest rate of new cases since the start of the pandemic in the U.S.

Jeremy Lormis, PhD, LPC, lead faculty advisor of the clinical mental health counseling program at the University of Phoenix, told Verywell that just the week before Christmas, he'd learned of a couple of clients who had their holiday plans upended due to the virus.

"A whole part of their family wound up contracting COVID, so then other family members were just frightened, and now there's this buildup," he said. "[People are wondering if] every four to six months, this is what life is going to be. Are we just going to have one new variant after the other?"

Researchers are gathering data to better understand Omicron, but it has been found to spread more easily than the original virus, as well as be able to cause infection regardless of vaccination status.1 Still, the vaccines are protecting against severe illness, hospitalizations, and deaths.

Regardless of how Omicron works, the mental health consequences are certain. COVID whiplash, a diminishing sense of hope, and seasonal depression are all colliding to create the perfect storm for many people. As Lormis said, the seemingly unending nature of the pandemic may be particularly difficult to deal with in the coming months.

The Pandemic Raised Mental Health Awareness. Will It Last?
Although vaccines, boosters, and pills are giving us tools to deal with and prevent further suffering, it's perfectly reasonable to struggle during a massive global tragedy. If and when you have time, Lormis suggested a few activities you can work into your days in order to cope and feel better.

What This Means For You
You can find a COVID-19 vaccine near you by going to vaccines.gov. To find mental health treatment organizations like SAMHSA, Better Help, and Crisis Text Line can point you in the right direction.

How will this surge possibly impact mental health?
Lormis: I think there's a lot of building anxiety. People are just unsure of what the future is going to hold. Maybe they're not able to be with family when they would like to be, or maybe they're reminded of losses. All of those things can compound. And then you add to that seasonal effect and fatigue. This could be a very challenging time.

What are some ways people can cope if they're struggling?
Lormis: I don't think there's any single recipe that works for everybody. Some of it is just understanding ourselves and what works. Self-awareness begins by recognizing, "Hey, I'm just feeling really anxious about this in a way that I haven't, or I'm just feeling really sad in a way that I haven't." Then pause long enough to do some self-evaluation and acknowledge it. Sometimes we tend to pretend it doesn't exist.

There's a large percentage of people in the United States who, when they start to feel some sort of physical symptom or internal pain, think that if they ignore it long enough it'll go away. We tend to do that with mental health, too.

How Did COVID Change Addiction Treatment?
The tendency is to think, "Maybe I'm feeling a little anxious or a little sad, but I'll just ignore it and it'll go away." Sometimes it does work that way, but there are times when it doesn't. Just being aware of it can help. We can try to be honest with ourselves and say, "You know what? I am kind of sad, anxious, worried, or lonely right now."

The next step goes hand in hand with acknowledging it. Self-awareness involves not being afraid to talk to somebody about it. That somebody can be a close friend or a family member who you can trust. Just talking about it can sometimes help. You can say, "This latest version of the coronavirus is now starting to impinge on our ability to interact with friends and be involved in social settings. I'm just really getting tired of it. I'm frustrated and worried if life is ever going to be like it was before."

So first acknowledging what's going on inside, then talking about it with somebody who you trust. What comes next?
Lormis: You need to make sure you're not neglecting taking care of yourself. That could be as simple as going out and being outside on a sunny day. Even if it's cold, if the sun is shining, go outside. If you can go for a walk, any sort of exercise is good. Exercise provides a very natural formula for a mood boost due to the endorphins that are released. You don't have to do an extreme workout. Just a simple walk can help produce that.

So if you start to think, "I'm really isolated and lonely. I'm really sad," it might be a good time just to open the door, go outside, go for a walk, and see the world around you.

Will We Wear Face Masks Forever?
You should also engage in some self-care more broadly. What do you like to do? Are you doing the things that make you happy? In the wintertime, people lose their rhythm because they become more sedentary. It might be time to think about an indoor hobby. Engaging in hobbies, learning a new skill, learning some new thing can be helpful.

I read an interesting article yesterday about Martha Stewart—one of the things that helped her while she was in prison was learning how to knit. And I thought, whenever we're in an environment where we can't be out and doing the things that we like to do, we can learn a new skill. We can engage. Not that I'm going to do crocheting, but somebody might want to pick that up.

There's also finding creative ways to stay socially connected. This is a theme we've been hearing since the beginning: How can you still creatively connect with friends and family?

How to Protect Yourself Against COVID-19 During the Winter Surge
I mentioned earlier that there was a client I've worked with. This week, their Christmas plans completely fell apart at the last minute. And so I asked, "How can you rebuild it in a different way?" She has a couple of roommates and they're all stuck together, so I suggested that they maybe start a new tradition with friends. It's not what Christmas normally looks like for them, because they're not with their families in the way that they would like to be, but they could still connect. They could still enjoy the day.

It's not one recipe for everybody. If you try something and it doesn't help, go do something else. And then there may come a time when we do want to reach out for therapy.

At what point should someone consider turning to therapy?
Lormis: If you're in a place where you seem to be really anxious, the anxiety is increasing, and it's interfering with your ability to complete your work-related tasks or relationships, it might be time to reach out to a therapist. If your sadness just isn't going away, reach out. It doesn't have to be the first step you take, but it is an option and it can prove to be very helpful and beneficial.
Omicron Is Spreading Quickly. What Can We Expect in the New Year?

There are great treatment options out there that are proven to be very helpful and very effective. And it's not like you have to be in therapy for the rest of your life. Sometimes just getting four, five, or eight sessions is sufficient to give you a little boost.

The information in this article is current as of the date listed, which means newer information may be available when you read this. For the most recent updates on COVID-19, visit our verywell coronavirus news page.

Whether teleworking or in the office, QCI put on the purple for World Prematurity Day.


Preterm birth and its complications are the largest contributors to infant death in the United States and globally. This urgent health crisis is significantly fueled by the health equity gap in our health care system today.

On November 17, World Prematurity Day, March of Dimes raises awareness of the global crisis of prematurity. You can join us to take action by:

Donating to support lifesaving research, advocacy and programs to improve the health of mom and babies.
Demanding #BlanketChange for policies that put moms and babies first.
Lighting it purple, including your office, lobby or the outside of your workplace or home. If you can wear it, make it purple, too.

Celebrate Movember!


QCI staff celebrated No Shave November in the office to show support for Men’s Health Awareness Month. We enjoyed wearing our mustache masks and bringing attention to men’s well-being. 

Men’s Health Awareness Month and Movember bring awareness to and support for those tackling prostate cancer, testicular cancer, mental health, and suicide. No Shave November, was created with a goal in mind to raise awareness about different kinds of cancer and to donate the money someone would typically spend on a haircut or facial groom to cancer research charities. 

November is Men's Health Awareness Month: The Complete Guide to Mental Health Care for Men



Article: Reprinted from Healthline. Adam England is a freelance writer and journalist. His work has appeared in publications including The Guardian, Euronews, and VICE UK. 
Image: Ashtabula County Mental Health & Recovery Services Board

Mental health conditions don’t discriminate. People of all genders can experience depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions. But they may look different in men.

Gender stereotypes and stigma can also make it harder for both men and their healthcare professionals to recognize when they might need mental health support.

Here’s the lowdown on all things related to men’s mental health, from identifying symptoms to finding the right kind of therapy.

Types of mental health conditions

Men can experience a wide range of mental health conditions, but some common ones include:

depression
generalized anxiety disorder
social anxiety disorder
obsessive-compulsive disorder
post-traumatic stress disorder
bipolar disorder
schizophrenia

Are men less likely to experience mental health conditions?

There’s a common assumption that women are more likely to have mental health conditions than men, especially when it comes to depression. But that doesn’t mean men aren’t affected.

In fact, in 2019, men in the United States died by suicide at a rate 3.7 times greater than that of women.

Experts are increasingly acknowledging the complex factors at play when it comes to differences in how men and women experience mental health issues.

While biological factors, like hormone differences, can certainly play a role, they don’t tell the whole story. Internalized gender stereotypes, coping assumptions about who experiences mental health conditions — not to mention *how* they experience them, which we’ll get into in a moment.

Men’s mental health symptoms to watch for

Men and women can sometimes experience the same mental health condition in different ways due to a mix of biological and social factors.
Mental health symptoms in men might include:

anger and aggressiveness
irritability
frustration
substance misuse
trouble concentrating
persistent feelings of worry
engagement in high-risk activities
unusual behavior that concerns others or gets in the way of daily life
thoughts of suicide

Some mental health conditions, including anxiety and depression, can also have physical symptoms that people might ignore.
These include:

changes in appetite and energy
new aches and pains
digestive issues
trouble sleeping
sleeping more than usual

Often, friends and family may be the first ones to notice the symptoms, as it can be difficult to recognize them when you’re experiencing them.

Why men are hesitant to reach out

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, men are less likely to have received mental health treatment than women in the past year.
This doesn’t mean men don’t need or benefit from treatment.
Rather, “men can find it more difficult being open about their mental health and seeking support because it’s likely to go against the kinds of messages they received growing up,” explains Dr. Elena Touroni, a consultant psychologist and co-founder of The Chelsea Psychology Clinic.

She goes on to note that many cultures have strong cultural stereotypes around how men should behave, especially around managing their emotions and appearing “strong.”

Plus, men who don’t (or feel that they can’t) speak openly about their feelings might have a harder time recognizing the symptoms of mental health conditions in themselves.

Getting help with your mental health

If you’re thinking about reaching out for help but aren’t sure where to start, you have a few options.

Talk with your doctor

If you already regularly see a healthcare professional, they can be a good starting point. Depending on their background, they’ll likely refer you to someone who specializes in mental health, like a psychiatrist or psychologist.
Search online

You can also search through directories online.

For example, the American Psychological Association offers a psychologist locator tool that allows you to search for therapists in your area. Directories are especially helpful if you’re looking for a particular type of therapy or prefer a male therapist, because the tools allow you to filter your search.
HeadsUpGuys also offers a therapist finder that includes professionals who specialize in working with men.

A few other databases to consider:

Medicare.gov’s healthcare provider tool (to find local professionals who accept Medicare)

Make some calls (or send some emails)

Before scheduling an appointment, reach out to therapists you’re interested in seeing.

Give them some basic background on what you’d like to address, as well as anything you’re looking for in a therapist. Do you want someone who’s available for night or weekend appointments? What about text support in between sessions? Are you interested in trying teletherapy, or would you prefer in-person sessions?

If you have health insurance, this is a good time to ask about that, too. Therapy isn’t always covered, but some therapists will provide documentation you can submit to your insurance provider for reimbursement.

During the appointment

Your therapist will likely spend the first session or two getting to know you. This is also an opportunity for you to get to know their approach, so don’t hesitate to ask any questions around what you can expect from future sessions.

It’s important you feel comfortable talking with the expert you choose. If you feel like you aren’t “clicking” with your therapist after a few sessions, you can always explore other options. Plenty of people have to see a few therapists before they find someone who’s a good fit.

Depending on your symptoms, your therapist might refer you to a psychiatrist to explore medication, including antidepressants.

Keep in mind that medication isn’t necessarily something you’ll need to take for the rest of your life. Sometimes, it just provides a temporary lift to help you start working through the underlying causes of your symptoms. A psychiatrist can also help you navigate any side effects you might experience.

If you need help now

Reach out to a trained counselor at any time, any day of the year, for free confidential support:

Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255.
Reach the Crisis Text Line by texting HOME to 741741.

Crisis counselors can listen with compassion, help you explore in-the-moment coping strategies, and offer more resources for support.

You’ll find more crisis helpline numbers and suicide prevention resources here.

Coping with mental health symptoms

Everyone can benefit from self-care, including men. While working with a mental health professional can be a big help, there are plenty of things you can do to support yourself between sessions.

Touroni highlights diet, sleep, and exercise as factors, but explains that “we also need to make sure we’re looking after our emotional well-being.”
And sometimes, that means being “able to acknowledge and stay with feelings — especially the uncomfortable ones — instead of pushing them away or denying them.”

Sitting with uncomfortable feelings is easier said than done, and that can make it easy to fall into unhelpful coping mechanisms, like substance use or ignoring emotions.

While both of these might offer some short-term benefits, they won’t offer long-lasting relief. In some cases, they might even create long-term issues.
The next time you find yourself experiencing an uncomfortable feeling or emotion, try:

doing a quick body scan meditation
writing out what you’re feeling
practicing some simple breathing techniques

As you navigate different ways of managing your emotions, be gentle with yourself. If you don’t reach for the “perfect” coping mechanisms on a bad day, for example, don’t beat yourself up. There will always be another opportunity to practice new strategies.

Learn how to make your own self-care checklist that meets your needs.

Opening up to friends
Talking about what you’re going through with a friend can also be a big help, but that may be difficult if your friends are also men who might have a hard time opening up. But starting that conversation might end up being beneficial for both of you.

Mark Meier, the executive director of the Face It Foundation, says it’s important for men to “learn to understand the nuances of emotion” and recognize that negative emotions are “normal and recurring emotions throughout life.”

He recommends “finding someone that you can speak openly with about your personal challenges and open yourself up to growing more in-depth relationships with others.”

Your therapist can certainly be that person, but you might also find it helpful to open up to a peer.

You can try starting the conversation with something like, “I’ve been going through a lot. Do you have time to catch up later this week?”

If you feel up for it, you can also make yourself available to a friend in need with a simple, “I noticed you’ve seemed kind of down lately. Just want you to know I’m always available to talk if you need it.”

The bottom line

Mental health can be hard to think about. And identifying that you’re finding it difficult or that you might need help isn’t always easy — particularly for men.

However, it’s best to speak out. Whether you open up to a friend or family member or consult your doctor, there’s help out there, and ways to help manage your mental health yourself, too.

Why Mental Health Improved for Many Adults After Their 1st COVID-19 Shot



Partial Article: healthline.com
Photo credit: Getty Images

COVID-19 vaccinations helped to improve mental health for many by reducing concerns about developing the disease. 

A new study reports that people who received the first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine had improved mental health.

However, those who had yet not received it felt even more mental distress.

Experts say the vaccines provided people with hope for an end to the pandemic.

They also counteracted feelings of powerlessness against the disease.

When you received your first dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, did you feel a sense of relief? A new study published in the journal PLOS ONE suggests that this was a common feeling for many people in the United States.

Survey participants reported feeling less depression and anxiety after receiving their initial dose of a vaccine.

However, those who had not yet received their first dose actually reported feeling even more mental distress.

Vaccines restore hope after a stressful time

Jennifer A. King, DSW, LISW, assistant professor and co-director of the Center on Trauma and Adversity at Case Western Reserve University, said she feels that improvements were seen in people’s mental health because the vaccines offered people hope.

“Across demographics, we’ve seen increases in anxiety symptoms, depression symptoms, and, most notably, staggeringly high rates of trauma-related symptoms,” she said.

“Add to that the grief incurred by major losses (death, economic loss, loss of control, loss of identity), the forced isolation of lockdown and quarantines, and the sustained high levels of stress that are related to all of this, and it is easy to see why many, many of us are not OK.”

King said that after months of uncertainly and unpredictability, the vaccines brought hope because an end to the pandemic appeared to be in sight.

King also noted that anxiety is often related to a lack of control and a sense of powerlessness.

Taking action, such as getting a vaccine, is an antidote to powerlessness, she explained.

Study lead author Francisco Perez-Arce, PhD, an economist with the Center for Economic and Social Research (CESR) agreed that the availability of vaccines made people feel more optimistic about the course of the disease.

“Results from the Understanding Coronavirus in America Study show very steep rises in mental distress at the very beginning of the pandemic (from March to April 2020),” he said.

He noted that since then, there has been recovery as people have adapted to the pandemic.

“This study shows that after they became available, vaccinations helped to improve mental health further by reducing concerns about getting the disease,” Perez-Arce said.

He further noted that receiving the vaccine may improve people’s economic outlook and enable people to resume their previous activities, such as socializing and returning to in-person work, which have also been sources of depression and anxiety during the pandemic.

King added that it’s important to realize that all responses to the stress of COVID-19 are valid.

“There is nothing wrong with you if you’re feeling more worried or more scared or sadder or angrier,” she said. “You are responding normally to abnormal circumstances. Be gentle with yourselves and with each other.”
 

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


PTSD

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
Image: Time
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. 


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

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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