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April is Stress Awareness Month

April is recognized as National Stress Awareness Month to bring attention to the negative impact of stress. Managing stress is an essential component of a healthy lifestyle. Knowing how to manage stress can improve mental and physical well-being as well as minimize exacerbation of health-related issues.

It’s critical to recognize what stress and anxiety look like, take steps to build resilience, and know where to go for help. The Mental Health American (MHA) provides some tips on how to reduce your stress by utilizing a Stress Screener. Also, take some time to visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website and familiarize yourself with strategies for stress management.

Please see the resources below available to effectively cope with stress:

June is PTSD Awareness Month - June 2024

What is PTSD?

Posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a psychiatric disorder that may occur in people who have experienced or witnessed a traumatic event, series of events or set of circumstances. An individual may experience this as emotionally or physically harmful or life-threatening and may affect mental, physical, social, and/or spiritual well-being. Examples include natural disasters, serious accidents, terrorist acts, war/combat, rape/sexual assault, historical trauma, intimate partner violence and bullying,

PTSD has been known by many names in the past, such as “shell shock” during the years of World War I and “combat fatigue” after World War II, but PTSD does not just happen to combat veterans. PTSD can occur in all people, of any ethnicity, nationality or culture, and at any age. PTSD affects approximately 3.5 percent of U.S. adults every year. The lifetime prevalence of PTSD in adolescents ages 13 -18 is 8%. An estimated one in 11 people will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime. Women are twice as likely as men to have PTSD. Three ethnic groups – U.S. Latinos, African Americans, and Native Americans/Alaska Natives – are disproportionately affected and have higher rates of PTSD than non-Latino whites.

People with PTSD have intense, disturbing thoughts and feelings related to their experience that last long after the traumatic event has ended. They may relive the event through flashbacks or nightmares; they may feel sadness, fear or anger; and they may feel detached or estranged from other people. People with PTSD may avoid situations or people that remind them of the traumatic event, and they may have strong negative reactions to something as ordinary as a loud noise or an accidental touch.


What Are the Symptoms of PTSD?

PTSD symptoms usually start soon after the traumatic event, but they may not appear until months or years later. They also may come and go over many years. If the symptoms last longer than 4 weeks, cause you great distress, or interfere with your work or home life, you might have PTSD.

There are 4 types of PTSD symptoms. To be diagnosed with PTSD, you need to have each type. That said, everyone experiences symptoms in their own way.

To learn more, visit the U.S. Dept. of Veterans Affairs:

The above information is excepted from the National Center for PTSD.

Pride and Mental Health - June 2024

Pride Month is a time for LGBTQ+ folks to gather and celebrate their freedom to live authentically. The LGBTQ+ community deserves affirmed, safe, supported, joyful, and mentally healthy lives.

Anti-trans legislation, hate-based crimes, and discrimination shouldn't overshadow Pride, but they can't be ignored. We hope those struggling with their identity or living in unsupportive environments find these resources helpful to living a life of well-being and resilience.

Click here to learn more from Mental Health America's LGBTQ+ Mental Health Resource Center.

Mental Health Awareness Month 2024 - May 2024

Mental illnesses affect 19% of the adult population, 46% of teenagers and 13% of children each year. People struggling with their mental health may be in your family, live next door, teach your children, work in the next cubicle or sit in the same church pew.

However, only half of those affected receive treatment, often because of the stigma attached to mental health. Untreated, mental illness can contribute to higher medical expenses, poorer performance at school and work, fewer employment opportunities and increased risk of suicide.

What Exactly is a Mental Illness

A mental illness is a physical illness of the brain that causes disturbances in thinking, behavior, energy or emotion that make it difficult to cope with the ordinary demands of life. Research is starting to uncover the complicated causes of these diseases which can include genetics, brain chemistry, brain structure, experiencing trauma and/or having another medical condition, like heart disease.

The two most common mental health conditions are:

Anxiety Disorders

More than 19% of adults each year struggle with some type of anxiety disorder, including: post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder (panic attacks), generalized anxiety disorder and specific phobias.

Mood Disorders

Mood disorders, such as depression and bipolar depression, affect nearly 10% of adults each year and are characterized by difficulties in regulating one’s mood.

What You Can Do to Help

Although the general perception of mental illness has improved over the past decades, studies show that stigma against mental illness is still powerful, largely due to media stereotypes and lack of education, and that people tend to attach negative stigmas to mental health conditions at a far higher rate than to other diseases and disabilities, such as cancer, diabetes or heart disease.

Stigma affects not only the number seeking treatment, but also the number of resources available for proper treatment. Stigma and misinformation can feel like overwhelming obstacles for someone who is struggling with a mental health condition. Here a few powerful things you can do to help:


Great sources for mental health news and information include:


Problem Gambling  - April 2024

What is gambling addiction and problem gambling?

Gambling problems can happen to anyone from any walk of life. Your gambling goes from a fun, harmless diversion to an unhealthy obsession with serious consequences. Whether you bet on sports, scratch cards, roulette, poker, or slots—in a casino, at the track, or online—a gambling problem can strain your relationships, interfere with work, and lead to financial disaster. You may even do things you never thought you would, like running up huge debts or even stealing money to gamble.

 Gambling addiction—also known as pathological gambling, compulsive gambling or gambling disorder—is an impulse-control disorder. If you're a compulsive gambler, you can't control the impulse to gamble, even when it has negative consequences for you or your loved ones. You'll gamble whether you're up or down, broke or flush, and you'll keep gambling regardless of the consequences—even when you know that the odds are against you or you can't afford to lose.

 Of course, you can also have a gambling problem without being totally out of control. Problem gambling is any gambling behavior that disrupts your life. If you're preoccupied with gambling, spending more and more time and money on it, chasing losses, or gambling despite serious consequences in your life, you have a gambling problem.

 A gambling addiction or problem is often associated with other behavior or mood disorders. Many problem gamblers also suffer with substance abuse issues, unmanaged ADHD, stress, depression, anxiety, or bipolar disorder. To overcome your gambling problems, you'll also need to address these and any other underlying causes as well.

 Although it may feel like you’re powerless to stop gambling, there are plenty of things you can do to overcome the problem, repair your relationships and finances, and finally regain control of your life.

The first step is to separate the myths from the facts about gambling problems:

 Myths and Facts about Gambling Problems

Fact:  Problems caused by excessive gambling are not just financial. Too much time spent on gambling can also lead to relationship and legal problems, job loss, mental health problems including depression and anxiety, and even suicide.

Fact:  Problem gamblers often try to rationalize their behavior. Blaming others is one way to avoid taking responsibility for their actions, including what is needed to overcome the problem.

 Fact:  Quick fix solutions may appear to be the right thing to do. However, bailing the gambler out of debt may actually make matters worse by enabling their gambling problems to continue.

 Gambling addiction signs and symptoms

Gambling addiction is sometimes referred to as a “hidden illness” because there are no obvious physical signs or symptoms like there are in drug or alcohol addiction. Problem gamblers also typically deny or minimize the problem—even to themselves. However, you may have a gambling problem if you:

 How to Get Help

More Than Just the Winter Blues?  - January 2024
Learn how to recognize and take control of SAD

Sunsets at 5p.m, erratic temperatures, snow and ice are not for the faint of heart. And winter is far worse for people with the winter blues and seasonal affective disorder (commonly known as SAD).

Is it the winter blues or SAD?

The winter blues are very common, with many of us experiencing a mood shift during the colder, darker days of winter. You may find yourself feeling more lethargic and down overall. Although you may feel more gloomy than usual, the winter blues typically don't hinder your ability to enjoy life.

But if your winter blues start permeating all aspects of your life — from work to relationships — you may be facing SAD. SAD is a recurrent type of depression associated with the change in seasons. It typically starts in the fall and persists through the winter months.

SAD is more complicated than wanting to hunker down and stay in for the night. It's more than simply cursing another blizzard. And it's more than longing for those first days of spring. Basically, it's much more than the winter blues.

"SAD can be debilitating for some people," says Joyce Corsica, PhD, a clinical psychologist at RUSH. "And if you're suffering from it, it's important to get help."

Sun power

The primary culprit of both the winter blues and SAD is the lower level of natural sunlight we are exposed to in the fall and winter. Less natural light can cause the following problems:

Dips in serotonin, a neurotransmitter that regulates mood

Disruptions in circadian rhythms (your body’s internal clock), which help control sleep-wake cycles

Alterations in melatonin, a hormone associated with both mood and sleep

"All of these factors can have a direct impact on your mood," Corsica says. "And if you're having mood difficulties, other things can start to fall apart too. You may find less enjoyment in your life, your work performance may suffer and you may start struggling with your relationships. None of this happens in a vacuum."

Here are four ways to get a leg up on the winter blues and SAD:

1. Recognize the signs

The most common symptoms of the winter blues are general sadness and a lack of energy. Other symptoms of the winter blues include the following:

Difficulty sleeping

Feeling less social than usual

Difficulty taking initiative

The hallmarks of SAD are sleep too much and overeating. Other common SAD symptoms include the following:

Mood that is down or depressed most of the day, nearly every day

Loss of interest in activities you typically enjoy

Withdrawing and isolating yourself from friends and family

Struggling to focus and perform at work or home

Feeling constantly fatigued and lethargic

Feeling hopeless about the future

Having suicidal thoughts

Often people with the winter blues or SAD first [see a doctor] because they aren't feeling well — they're lethargic, easily fatigued and aren't feeling like themselves."

2. Don't ignore your symptoms

If you're experiencing depressive symptoms — even mild ones associated with the winter blues — it is important to talk to your primary care doctor or a psychologist to discuss your options.

Often people with the winter blues or SAD first go to their primary care doctor because they aren't feeling well — they're lethargic, easily fatigued and aren't feeling like themselves. They think there is something wrong physically.

Diagnostic tests, such as a blood test to check your vitamin D levels or a complete blood count, can rule out other causes of these symptoms.

After that, your clinicians will ask you some questions to help determine if you're facing the winter blues or SAD. According to Corsica, the most telling question is: Do your symptoms interfere with your function at home, work and/or relationships?

If they do, it's time to take action.

3. Find a treatment that works for you

While symptoms of the winter blues and, to some extent, symptoms of SAD may dissipate in the spring, you shouldn't suffer silently, Corsica says.

The good news about both the winter blues and SAD is there are a number of evidence-based treatments that can be quite effective in alleviating your symptoms. Discuss the following treatments with your clinician:

Sunlight: It's important to get outside whenever the sun is out during these darker days. Take a walk during your lunch break, play with your kids in the snow or try an outdoor winter activity like snowshoeing, skiing or ice-skating. Exposing yourself to natural light will help boost serotonin production and your overall mood.

Light therapy: As the current standard of care for SAD, light therapy replicates natural light with light boxes, which use white fluorescent bulbs to mimic sunlight. Light therapy can be particularly helpful in regulating the release of melatonin, which increases when the sun goes down. When undergoing light therapy, you will spend a prescribed amount of time looking at the light box each day. It is important to follow your clinician's orders to ensure you are using an appropriate "dose." This will help the treatment be most effective, while also lowering your risk for side effects (e.g., agitation and headaches).

Exercise: Research consistently shows a strong exercise-mental health connection, particularly for those with depression and anxiety. That's why experts often refer to exercise as nature's antidepressant. Exercise can increase serotonin and endorphins, which both affect mood. Moderate exercise of at least 30 minutes most days of the week may provide the biggest mood boost.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy: A recent study in the American Journal of Psychiatry suggests that cognitive-behavioral therapy can actually be a more effective long-term treatment for SAD than light therapy. While more research is needed in this area, cognitive-behavioral therapy is clinically proven to be extremely beneficial for all types of depression.

Medication: If more conservative treatments are not providing adequate relief, you may need antidepressants to regulate the chemical imbalances associated with the winter blues and SAD. While you may be able to taper off the medication as you head into spring, it is important to talk to your prescribing doctor before making any changes to your medication or dosage.

4. Embrace a healthy lifestyle

Maintaining a regular schedule during the winter months can help keep your hormones in balance and regulate your mood — whether you suffer with the winter blues or SAD. Follow these tips to help manage your winter mood:

Go to sleep and wake up at the same time every day to help normalize your circadian rhythms.

Structure your eating patterns by eating three meals a day, around the same time every day.

Avoid the common urge in the winter to overindulge in simple carbohydrates, such as starchy or sweet foods; eat a balanced diet of proteins, fruits and vegetables, and whole grains (e.g., brown rice, quinoa).

Make (and keep) plans with friends and families to help you stay connected to your loved ones.

Take time for yourself and engage in activities you enjoy.

Excerpted from Rush University Medical Center

Mental Health During the Holidays: Five Tips to Ease the Struggle - December 2023

Healthy Holidays & Self Care

The holiday season is often a time of year for social activities, holiday shopping, and quality time with loved ones. This year, however, COVID-19 threatens to make those activities more difficult.

Keeping up with activities, staying positive and — especially in 2020 — safely socializing can be overwhelming.

In addition, 40% of U.S. adults face a mental health or substance use challenge, making a complicated holiday season even more difficult time for many people. Regardless of whether you are living with a mental health challenge or know someone who is, you can take steps to prepare for the holidays and prioritize your mental health in the coming weeks.

Use these tips to get started:

Manage your expectations. Remember that this year is different and may not feel like the holiday season we are used to. Whether you are sharing a meal over Zoom or sending well wishes to family across the country, managing your expectations for yourself and others will help you stay positive. Give yourself and those around you some grace – none of us have been through a time like this before, and we’re all trying to balance staying safe with feeling “normal.”

Pull back when you need to. If, at any point, you feel overwhelmed or anxious, know that it’s perfectly fine to take a step back. Healthy boundaries are necessary for your mental health. Practicing self-care can also help soothe feelings of anxiety or stress. Take a walk, watch a funny movie, or meditate.

Reach out to loved ones. In times like this, living in a digital age can feel like a saving grace. Stay connected with your loved ones via text, social media, video or phone. Make yourself available for those you cannot see in person and offer your support to loved ones who may be struggling — a simple text or email can make a difference.

Monitor your moods. The “holiday blues” are real, so it is important to stay in tune with how you’re feeling. It can be easy to put others before yourself during the holiday season but remember that how you’re feeling matters too. Practicing mindfulness, journaling, or even rating how you feel every day can help you better understand your emotions. Pay attention to what makes you happy and incorporate it into your daily life. And remember: It’s OK to not be OK, and you’re not alone.

Ask for help. If the holidays become more than you can handle, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask for help. Talk to a loved one, trusted peer, or even your primary care physician about how you’re feeling. If you notice a family member or loved one having a difficult time, encourage them to seek help too.

Even though this year’s holiday season may not look like it has in the past, you can still make it special and comfortable by prioritizing your mental health and well-being. Take it one day at a time and #BetheDifference for yourself.

Excerpted from Mental Health First Aid

Men's Health: Cancer and the Role of Stigma - November 2023

During Men’s Health Month in June, team members from the IHS Division of Clinical and Community Services Dion Reid, Andrew Yu, Alberta Becenti and Michelle Archuleta are collaborating to highlight the topic of cancer and the role of stigma. Even though no one deserves a cancer diagnosis, some patients feel stigmatized upon hearing the news, especially if the cancer is affecting parts of the body that are uncomfortable to talk about. 

Aside from skin cancer, prostate cancer remains the most common cancer among men, followed by lung and colorectal cancer. Roughly one in eight men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer during their lifetime. The American Cancer Society recommends that men at average risk for colorectal cancer should start regular screening at age 45.

Stigma can result in care avoidance, isolation and feelings of shame, which lower life quality and worsen health outcomes. It can also result in emotional stress and a detrimental effect on mental health. Men who experience stigma may put off getting regular check-ups and seeking care for cancer-related symptoms. Men frequently feel more uncomfortable discussing their concerns out loud when seeking care, which may prevent patients from receiving necessary screening and treatment in a timely manner.

Kevin Gaines, MD, chief medical officer with the Navajo Area Indian Health Service, has worked extensively with patients with cancer diagnoses and shares his perspectives on how to provide care and destigmatize cancer as part of raising awareness with men's health. We sat down with Dr. Gaines to add a provider’s outlook on the following topic areas:

Case management:

Various clinicians and experts collaborate to create a care plan following a cancer diagnosis. The patient's emotional health is considered in addition to biomedical interventions. Depending on the severity of disease, this may include a primary care physician, an oncologist, additional specialists, social work, nursing and nutrition.

What role does case management play in taking care of people with cancer?

Coordinating a patient's care across all of their providers is made possible by case management. Often, patients receive radiology and laboratory tests from various locations while seeing two or three doctors. Care coordination, communication and patient-centered care are all synchronized by effective case management. Case management can also address stigma by designing interventions emphasizing social support and coping mechanisms.

Family and support systems:

Providing good, compassionate care to cancer patients is not a simple algorithm. Providing compassionate and quality care is best done by incorporating the patient’s family and support resources into their visits.

What role do family and support systems play?

Upon receiving the news of a cancer diagnosis, having a good support system during treatment can be helpful, especially for both the patient and caregiver. Peer support, or people who have had similar experiences with cancer, is another means to reinforce emotional wellness and positive outlooks on care.

Community role:

A cancer diagnosis can be a stressful and overwhelming experience, but community support can provide emotional and practical assistance to those facing this challenge.

How can community support help improve cancer outcomes?

Community members can raise awareness about the importance of cancer screening and early detection, advocate for policy changes related to cancer prevention and treatment, and provide resources such as transportation, financial assistance and access to health care.

Mental health:

The discovery that one has cancer can result in anxiety, depression, fear and future uncertainty. Additionally, the physical changes brought on by cancer treatment, such as hair loss, fatigue, and weight changes, can impact one's self-esteem and body image.

What are some best practices to help manage mental health?

Joining a support group, practicing relaxation techniques, leading a healthy lifestyle and getting professional counseling or therapy are some of the best ways to manage mental health. Sharing your feelings with loved ones can help you feel less stressed and anxious after a cancer diagnosis.


With proper support and self-care, individuals can cope with the challenges of a cancer diagnosis and treatment and maintain a positive outlook on their future. Individuals must seek support from family, friends and mental health professionals to help cope with these challenges. It is essential to break down the stigma surrounding men’s health and cancer by promoting early detection and treatment. Raising awareness and addressing the stigma surrounding men’s health and cancer can improve health outcomes and save lives.

Excerpted from Division of Clinical and Community Services Staff, Office of Clinical and Preventive Services, Indian Health Service - June 13, 2023

How Breast Cancer Can Affect Mental Health - October 2023

A breast cancer diagnosis can make you feel anxious, scared, or depressed and may make you remember past trauma. Knowing how breast cancer can affect your mental health can help you get the support you need.

Nearly one in every four people diagnosed with breast cancer experience depression, according to the American Cancer Society (ACS). People who are diagnosed with breast cancer also are more likely to experience at least one or more of the following:

Taking care of your mental health and well-being after being diagnosed with breast cancer can help improve your quality of life — especially if you’re not feeling like yourself anymore. It may be helpful to consider mental health support services if you experience any of the following symptoms: 

Click here to read more from

Excerpted from information provided by
Written by Carolyn Sayre

The Mental Health Impact of Bullying on Kids and Teens - October 2023

When people hear the word “bully,” they may think of a child being pushed around by another kid. Or they may think of someone being insulted by a peer, whether face-to-face or online.

Regardless of its shape and form, these experiences can be incredibly serious and often have lifelong effects. And while everyone cannot be forced to get along, there are steps we can all take to reduce bullying and make everyone feel more welcome.

What Is Bullying?

First, it’s important to recognize the difference between bullying and fighting, as they can sometimes look very similar. Fighting occurs between two people that have equal power, whether it’s strength, size, or intellect.

Bullying happens between someone who has more power and is more aggressive than their targeted person. A bully uses that power—whether it’s physical strength, being more popular, or knowing embarrassing information—to hurt or control the person they’re bullying.

The person who is being bullied may find it hard to defend themselves and may feel increasingly powerless against the person bullying them.

It can be difficult for parents or people in authoritative roles (teachers, coaches, bosses) to identify if someone is being bullied—or bullying someone else—because it often occurs out of their sight. That’s why it’s helpful for peers to know when and how to help if they see that someone’s being bullied.

Data shows that bullying comes in many forms, can happen anytime, and can take place online. Some of the most common forms of bullying include:

Physical bullying:

-Hitting or striking someone
-Kicking someone
-Shoving someone
-Intentionally tripping someone, causing them to fall (especially if they are carrying several items)
-Spitting on someone

Verbal bullying:

-Threats of physical harm
-Name-calling, which can include racist, homophobic, or other offensive language

Although verbal bullying does not leave bruises, scrapes, or marks, it can still have a significant impact on someone’s mental health.

Bullying can also be based on impacting relationships with the recipient:

-Starting rumors about someone
-Intentionally excluding someone from an activity
-Giving the silent treatment

Relationship bullying may be especially harmful to children, as it can impair their social development, but all types of bullying can have adverse effects on mental health.

Unfortunately, Bullying Is Common

The National Center for Education Statistics and the Bureau of Justice Statistics and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have published recent statistics, including:

One out of every five students between the ages of 12 and 18 has experienced bullying at some point
Students who reported being bullied stated it had an impact on how other students treated them
Many children are bullied by peers who are larger or stronger than they are
Some children are bullied because they have less money than their peers
Fewer than half of all students who experienced bullying in school report it to authorities

Click here to read the full article.

Excepted from Mass General Brigham McLean

July is Disability Pride Month: The Mental Health of People with Disabilities  - July 2023

In the United States, 1 in 4 adults—61 million—have a disability. Many people will experience a disability at some point during their lives. Disabilities limit how a child or adult functions. These limitations may include difficulty walking or climbing stairs; hearing; seeing; or concentrating, remembering, or making decisions.

Although “people with disabilities” sometimes refers to a single population, this is a diverse group of people with a wide range of needs. Two people with the same type of disability can be affected in very different ways. Some disabilities may be hidden or not easy to see.

Many Adults with Disabilities Report Frequent Mental Distress

Adults with disabilities report frequent mental distress almost 5 times as often as adults without disabilities. 

A recent study found that adults with disabilities report experiencing more mental distress than those without disabilities. In 2018, an estimated 17.4 million (32.9%) adults with disabilities experienced frequent mental distress, defined as 14 or more reported mentally unhealthy days in the past 30 days. Frequent mental distress is associated with poor health behaviors, increased use of health services, mental disorders, chronic disease, and limitations in daily life.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, isolation, disconnect, disrupted routines, and diminished health services have greatly impacted the lives and mental well-being of people with disabilities.

It’s Okay Not to Feel Okay

Everyone reacts differently to stressful situations. How you respond to stressful situations, such as the COVID-19 pandemic, can depend on your background, your support systems (e.g. family or friends), your financial situation, your health and emotional background, the community you live in, and many other factors.

Click here for the complete article from the CDC.

Recognizing Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month - July 2023

"Once my loved ones accepted the diagnosis, healing began for the entire family, but it took too long. It took years. Can't we, as a nation, begin to speed up that process? We need a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, especially one targeted toward African Americans...It's not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible."

– Bebe Moore Campbell, 2005

In 2008, Congress passed a resolution that established the month of July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. This month highlights the following aims:

Moore Campbell (1950-2006) was a New York Times bestselling author and a strong advocate for mental health. Her tireless efforts to bring public awareness to minority mental health stemmed from her personal experiences with a family member. She recognized the unique challenges minorities face in addressing stigma and in accessing needed care and treatments. She was one of the founding members of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Urban Los Angeles. Established by African-American women supporting each another through seemingly insurmountable circumstances, this NAMI affiliate was one of the first created with a primary mission of addressing the needs of communities of color – communities that are all too often overlooked and underserved.

Two of Moore Campbell’s published works, Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry, a children’s book, and 72 Hour Hold, a novel, tackle the emotions and experiences of relating to and coping with bipolar disorder. In her interviews, she described mental illness as a form of slavery and once said: “We won't always have to hide and run and do our work in the dark. The day is coming when people with brain diseases won't be written off or warehoused, when everyone will know that recovery is possible."

July offers us an opportunity to shed light on mental illness among racial and ethnic minorities. The disparities that persist for these groups are well-established. Storytelling is a vital component to eliminating disparities and improving the lives of those who have been disenfranchised by social factors.

Stories are told. Overcoming stigma takes courage and tireless advocacy for oneself and others. Facing mental health disorders can be especially difficult for individuals when seeking treatment conflicts with their cultural values or cultural identity. Strength Over Silence: Stories of Courage, Culture and Community is a three-part docuseries that explores mental health from the perspective of African-American and Latino communities. Through the retelling of their lived experiences, these advocates share their stories of resilience and recovery.

Stories are heard. Historically, the health care system has at times dismissed, overlooked or misdiagnosed individuals from certain racial and ethnic minority groups. Effective treatments should not only be tailored to the individual, but also be culturally informed to best serve groups made vulnerable by injustices. Think Cultural Health features information, continuing education and resources for health care professionals to learn about culturally and linguistically appropriate services (CLAS). This program is sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health.

Stories are shared. Mental health awareness requires both outreach and support. Outreach should include efforts to give voice to those who are unable to speak for themselves and those who have been silenced. Storytelling at its core is a shared experience; shared in the sense that it builds a connection and also shared in the sense that these experiences are common and universal. The Brother, You’re on My Mind toolkit provides materials to educate Omega Psi Phi fraternity brothers and their community partners on the effects of depression and stress on black men. It was developed by the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities.

By Steven Starks, M.D.
APA Assembly Representative for the Black Psychiatrists Caucus

This Pride Month, NAMI's 'Mental Health Without Conditions' - Gives Voice to the LGBTQ+ Community and Addresses Inequity, Disparities - June 2023

The Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning Plus (LGBTQ+) community represents a diverse range of identities and expressions of gender and sexual orientation. In addition to these identities, members of the community are diverse in terms of race, religion, ethnicity, nationality and socioeconomic class. This intersectionality — the combined and overlapping aspects of a persons’s identity — brings diversity of thought, perspective, understanding and experience. This complexity is important to understand as a unique and valuable aspect of the LGBTQ+ community that can result in a strong sense of pride and resiliency.

While belonging to the LGBTQ+ community can be a source of strength, it also brings unique challenges. For those who identify as LGBTQ+, it’s important to recognize how your experience of sexual orientation and gender identity relates to your mental health.

Although the full range of LGBTQ+ identities are not commonly included in large-scale studies of mental health, there is strong evidence from recent research that members of this community are at a higher risk for experiencing mental health conditions — especially depression and anxiety disorders. LGB adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition. Transgender individuals are nearly four times as likely as cisgender individuals (people whose gender identity corresponds with their birth sex) individuals to experience a mental health condition.

LGB youth also experience greater risk for mental health conditions and suicidality. LGB youth are more than twice as likely to report experiencing persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness than their heterosexual peers. Transgender youth face further disparities as they are twice as likely to experience depressive symptoms, seriously consider suicide, and attempt suicide compared to cisgender lesbian, gay, bisexual, queer and questioning youth.

For many LGBTQ+ people, socioeconomic and cultural conditions negatively impact mental health conditions. Many in the LGBTQ+ community face discrimination, prejudice, denial of civil and human rights, harassment and family rejection, which can lead to new or worsened symptoms, particularly for those with intersecting racial or socioeconomic identities.

LGBTQ: The Survival Guide for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender and Questioning Teens  - June 2023

by Kelly Huegel Madrone

Subject: Fully revised and updated guide with frank, sensitive information for LGBTQ teens, their families, and their allies.

An indispensable resource for lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, and questioning teens—and their allies. This fully revised and updated third edition includes current information on LGBTQ terminology, evolving understandings of gender identity and sexual identity, LGBTQ rights, and much more. Other advice covers topics such as coming out, confronting prejudice, getting support, making healthy choices, and thriving in school and beyond.

This all-encompassing resource guide is one of those books that should be in every mental health center, library, and school to assist LGBTQ+ teens seeking to understand their bodies and autonomy. It covers cultural and political history, understanding human rights, and the exploration of gender and sexuality as an individual experience. For teenagers moving through these stages, parents who want to support their children, and educators who are passionate about creating a safe space for their students, Madrone’s book is an essential tool to help make that possible.

It is a great comfort for young people to know there is a volume that gives them a starting point for all the elements of the queer identity they may want to dive into safely.

Click here for additional information.

You’re not alone: CNN Heroes share advice for Mental Health Awareness Month - May 2023
By Gabriel Kinder, CNN
Published 8:14 AM EDT, Fri May 5, 2023

Editor’s Note: If you or someone you know is struggling with suicidal thoughts or mental health matters, please call or text the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline to connect with a trained counselor or visit the Lifeline site.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and this year it seems to coincide with a flurry of violent headlines. For many, this constant bad news adds to the stress of everyday life, which may already feel overwhelming.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, each year in the US, one in five adults experience mental illness and one in six children aged 6 to 17 experience a mental health disorder. That’s millions of people. In 2021, less than half of adults received treatment.

America’s mental health crisis is having a widespread impact that touches everyone.

Click here to read the full article.

Spring cleaning showing increased mental health benefits  - April 2023
- excerpted from article by Erica Mokaym, CBS Pittsburgh 

The warm weather has many of us itching to get outside, and it's also leading to spring cleaning for some.

Not only can cleaning make your environment look better, but spring cleaning can also benefit your mental health.

"Spring cleaning can be beneficial for a number of different reasons. In general, cleaning can restore a sense of control. So, when things are feeling out of control, people often like to take control in ways that they can – like taking control of their environment," said Dr. Dawn Potter of Cleveland Clinic. "It can also be beneficial because a lot of people find clutter distracting, so engaging in some spring cleaning can help you refocus on your other goals."

Dr. Potter said the spring sunshine tends to give us a boost of energy – making it a great time to tackle some cleaning or other projects we put off in the winter.

Checking off items on our to-do lists can provide a sense of accomplishment and mark a fresh start to complement the season change.

To get started, Dr. Potter recommends writing down some tasks and coming up with a reasonable timeline to complete them. She said people should work at a comfortable pace and not be afraid to ask someone else for help if needed.

If you decide to take on the task of spring cleaning, make sure it's because you want to.

"When you're taking this on, do it for you. Don't do it to meet other people's expectations. So, if you're feeling stressed or overwhelmed, ask yourself, 'Is this what I want to do? Is this the right time for me to do it?' So, I think spring is a great time, but if it's not the right time for you, don't feel pressured. Just do what you want to the level that you feel good about," Dr. Potter added.

Dr. Potter said people should see professional help if they feel depression, anxiety, or if another mental health disorder is stopping them from doing everyday tasks like cleaning.

1 Thing You Must Do At Work During National Stress Awareness Month  - April 2023
by Bryan Robinson, Ph.D., Contributor, Forbes

April is National Stress Awareness Month with the goal of raising awareness of the impacts of stress. According to the American Psychiatric Association, 26% of respondents anticipate they will be more stressed in 2023 and their mental health will be worse. Two out of five adults ranked their mental health from “fair” to “poor.” When you have fewer stressors, you have increased emotional stability, better moods and overall superior health. This month is a time to pay special attention to how you can remain stress-free throughout your workday, and you can do that in very simple ways. You don’t have to quit your day job or even work fewer hours. You can continue your daily work routines while practicing stress reducers at the same time. The one thing you must do is have a stress awareness plan that you can practice at work.

Click here to read more.

6 Female Mental Health Heroes You Should Know - March 2023
By Julie McClung Peck . Excerpted from

When you think of pioneers in the field of mental health, who do you think of? The first face that jumps into my head is that of Sigmund Freud, father of psychoanalysis and many a slip. Countless women, including Freud’s own daughter, have made equally important contributions in this arena as well, and I thought as we ease into Women’s History Month, it might be nice to have a little refresher on a few of the sheroes of mental health.

Click here for the full article. Resources - March 2023

National Nutrition Month® is an annual campaign created 50 years ago in 1973 by the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. During the month of March, everyone is invited to learn about making informed food choices and developing healthful eating and physical activity habits.

This year's theme is "Fuel for the Future." Eating with sustainability in mind is a tasty way to nourish ourselves during every phase of life and protect the environment. A Registered Dietitian Nutritionist can help you create healthy habits that are sustainable and celebrate your unique needs. 

Click here for helpful resources including tips and games and here to learn more.

Black Pioneers in Mental Health  - February 2023

Black Americans' contributions to the field of mental health have been long overlooked. Check out the trailblazers below and click here to read more from Mental Health America.

Bebe Moore Campbell was an American author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate who worked tirelessly to shed light on the mental health needs of the Black community and other underrepresented communities. She founded NAMI-Inglewood in a predominantly Black neighborhood to create a space that was safe for Black people to talk about mental health concerns. Throughout her time as an advocate, Campbell made her way to DC. On June 2, 2008, Congress formally recognized Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to bring awareness to the unique struggles that underrepresented groups face regarding mental illness in the US. 

Herman George Canady, Ph.D., was a prominent Black clinical and social psychologist. He is credited with being the first psychologist to study the influence of rapport between an IQ test proctor and the subject, specifically researching how the race of a test proctor can create bias in IQ testing. He also helped to provide an understanding of testing environments that were suitable to help Black students succeed.

New Year's resolutions to improve your mental health and wellbeing  - January 2023

Source: Priority - United Kingdom

After the busy festive period, the New Year can be an excellent time for a fresh start, and a chance to begin the year with a healthy mind-set. You may already have some ideas for New Year’s resolutions – you may be planning on joining a gym, spending more time with family, looking for a new job or career path, or cutting back on the amount of junk food that you eat.

You may also be looking for ways in which you can improve your mental health in 2020. Here, we provide five top tips on how you can focus on your psychological wellbeing in the New Year, resulting in long-lasting benefits.

1. Cut down on drinking and avoid drugs

You may have been drinking more than usual during the party season, and may even have taken drugs during this time. However, these substances are incredibly harmful to both your physical and mental health. It’s well-known that alcohol is a depressant, which can negatively affect your mood, making you feel low and anxious. Depending on which drugs you misuse, the effects on your mental health can range from anything from depression, anxiety and euphoria, to long-term psychosis, hallucinations and delusions.

Alcohol and drugs can also lead to you developing a harmful addiction to these substances, whereby you become both physically and psychologically dependent on drinking or taking drugs in order to function effectively in your day-to-day life.

There’s a whole host of benefits associated with giving up these substances. This is why it’s so important to take steps to cut back on your drinking (or stop altogether), and avoid drugs completely, as a means of improving your mental wellbeing.

If you think you have a problem with alcohol or drug misuse, it’s crucial that you seek specialist support to help you to overcome your addiction. Priory offers a free, no obligation addiction assessment, providing you with the opportunity to explore your individual challenges, view our exceptional addiction treatment environments, and learn about the journey that you can take towards achieving abstinence and recovery.

2. Look after yourself physically, to feel better mentally

Your physical health and mental wellbeing are linked, and as such, there are lots of positive changes you can make to improve your physical wellbeing that will also result in psychological benefits.

Exercise regularly

Exercise boosts the ‘happy chemicals’ in the brain, known as endorphins, which ultimately improve your mood and sense of wellbeing. Try and make the effort to engage in some form of exercise every day, even if this is just going for a short walk, and it’s likely that you’ll feel better as a result, both physically and mentally.

Eat healthily

It’s important to make a conscious effort to eat more healthily in the New Year, and try not to overeat. Not only does this have obvious physical health benefits, but a healthy diet that’s full of vitamins and nutrients can also have positive effects on your mental wellbeing. Research suggests that foods that are rich in folic acid (such as avocado and spinach), and omega-3 acids (such as salmon and tuna), can improve your mood and lower stress and anxiety.

It’s so easy when we’re feeling stressed or low to reach for the junk food, but you can help to alleviate some of these negative feelings by simply eating well.

Get plenty of sleep

It can be hard during our busy modern lives to get the right amount of sleep every night, particularly for individuals who work shifts, or for those with young children. However, the act of sleeping helps us to recuperate both physically and mentally, resulting in alertness and a positive mood the next day.

The average adult needs around eight hours of sleep a night to be fully rested. The following steps can help you to achieve this as often as possible:

Try to go to bed and wake up at the same time each day. Instead of lying in at the weekend, try to get in the habit of waking up at the same time that you do during the week. This can help to establish a consistent and healthy sleep routine

Try to avoid napping during the day, as this can mean that you struggle to get to sleep at night, and can have a negative impact on your routine.

Limit caffeine, sugar and alcohol before bed. These substances can make you feel anxious and jittery at night, and can prevent you from getting to sleep and staying asleep. You could also try and limit the amount of liquids you drink before bed, so you don’t keep waking up needing the toilet and then find it difficult to get back to sleep again

Avoid electronic devices such as computers, mobiles and tablets within 30-60 minutes of your target bedtime. These devices give off light which can be overly stimulating and keep you awake. If you want to read before bed, make sure you read from an actual book or magazine, as opposed to a screen. Again, these steps can improve the quality of your sleep.

3. Get yourself 'out there'

For many, January in particular can be a miserable month – Christmas is over, you may be eagerly waiting for your next payslip, and the dark nights and poor weather can mean that all you want to do is stay at home. However, staying indoors and potentially isolating yourself, can have a negative impact on your mental health.

Therefore, it’s a good idea to actively look for ways to get yourself ‘out there’ in the New Year. You could try joining some form of group or club, based on something you enjoy or something you’ve always wanted to try. For example, you could join a book club, a sports team or try volunteering. Not only will this help you to get out of the house and tackle the ‘January Blues’, but you may end up making new friends, increasing your confidence, and finding a positive hobby that you can continue all year round, thus improving your overall mental health and wellbeing.

4. Practise self-care

It’s so important to practise self-care as a means of improving your mental health. It can be easy to focus on the needs of other people in your life at the expense of your own needs, but taking just a small amount of time for yourself can be hugely beneficial to your psychological health.

Plan time for yourself

Try and plan some time for yourself as often as possible. Even just doing small things that you enjoy such as having a hot bath, reading a magazine or book, or listening to your favourite music, can help you to ‘re-charge’ and improve your mood. Set time aside for this each day, or a few times a week, so these activities are something that you can look forward to.

Discover what makes you happy

Develop an understanding of the places, people and activities that make you happy and bring enjoyment to your life. Then try to include as many of these as possible within your daily life, in order to boost your mood and wellbeing. You could even write these things down and refer to your list whenever you’re feeling low, anxious or stressed, as a reminder of all of the positive things in your life.

Stop being so hard on yourself

It’s so easy for us to be self-critical and hard on ourselves, which can have a negative impact on our levels of resilience, self-esteem and wellbeing. If you find that you beat yourself up over small things, and engage in negative self-talk, ask yourself whether you’d say the same things to another person. If the answer is ‘no’, then why would you say them to yourself? Instead, try to re-frame your negative thoughts so they’re helpful and conducive to positive mental health.

5. Consider taking a break from social media

There’s no doubt that social media has interconnected much of the world and can be a great way to keep in touch with friends and family. However, with increasing use, social media has the potential to have a negative effect on mental health.

Social media sites such as Facebook and Instagram can increase stress levels and have a detrimental impact on mood due to the fact that they encourage us to compare our lives to the lives of other people. Therefore, when you see others’ seemingly ‘perfect’ day-to-day lives, this can lead you to feel inadequate that you’re not able to match them.

As a way of starting off the New Year on a positive note, you could try logging out of your social media accounts and evaluating the impact that this has on your general mood, stress and anxiety levels and overall wellbeing. You might find that you’re much happier without having a constant insight into other people’s lives. In addition, without the incessant scrolling on your phone or tablet, you may find that you’re able to spend an increasing amount of quality time with your family and enjoy your leisure time more than ever.

If you find that you are struggling with a mental health problem, it’s important to recognise that specialist mental health support is available. 

Holiday Survival Kit - December 2022

Source: Mental Health America

Although the holidays are supposed to be a time full of joy, good cheer and optimistic hopes for a new year, many people struggle during the holiday season when expectations are high and disrupted routines can feel overwhelming. However, some mental preparations and planning can help everyone cope with the season -- and even enjoy it.

Self-care. Pay special attention to your eating, sleeping, and downtime. It might be OK to skimp on a few hours of sleep just before a relaxing weekend, but think again if that weekend will include the stress of traveling, visiting or other activities out of your normal routine. Don’t forget to factor in downtime, too. Planning every hour of your time off can seem like a great idea, until you realize there is no time left to unwind.

Fun, not perfection. Resist the urge to do everything you can to make the season perfect for everyone. Just have as much fun as you can and don’t expect it to be perfect.

Anticipate stress. Plan ahead of time what your strategy will be when times get stressful. Is it possible to take a walk outside for 15 minutes when a family gathering gets stressful? How about a trip to your favorite store if your schedule gets you down?

Coping with Stress During the Holidays

Holiday Bill of Rights

You have the right to...

The Complete Guide to Mental Health Care for Men - November 2022

Excerpted from

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:

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 strategies, and clinical bias, among other things, may also impactTrusted Source 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:


These include: 

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 HealthTrusted Source, 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:

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:



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:

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.

Breast Cancer & Depression - October 2022
This information is provided by

When feelings of sadness or hopelessness last for weeks and begin to interfere with your daily life, it may be a sign of depression.  It’s normal to feel sad, blue, or let down from time to time, especially after a breast cancer diagnosis. It’s also normal to feel overwhelmed about having to adjust to all the ways breast cancer can disrupt daily life. These feelings usually pass after some time. When feelings of sadness or hopelessness last for weeks and begin to interfere with your daily life, it may be a sign of depression. A person may feel symptoms of depression at any time before, during, or after breast cancer treatment.  

Symptoms of depression can include: 

Depression can also cause physical symptoms such as: 

Certain cancer treatments, such as chemotherapy, steroid medicines, and hormonal therapies, can increase the risk of depression — either directly or indirectly because of the following side effects: 

There are some factors that can increase the risk of depression, such as: 

Certain breast cancer-related factors can also increase the risk of depression, such as: 

Click here to read more:

Mental Health and Sickle Cell Disease
Editorial Team,
By Editorial Team November 23, 2020

Complications of sickle cell disease (SCD) can cause a large emotional burden. Pain, fatigue, and sleep disturbance are linked to depression for people with SCD. Depression can worsen SCD complications and lead to substance abuse.

Preventing and treating depression can improve health outcomes and quality of life for people with SCD. One way to do this is to talk to a therapist or counselor. They can help you learn how to cope with and prepare for challenges caused by SCD.

Why is depression common among people with sickle cell disease?

Depression is a prolonged sad mood that interferes with normal daily life. About 1 in 6 adults experience depression during their lives. Anxiety is often connected to depression. People with anxiety have intense feelings of fear, worry, or nervousness.1,2

About 1 in 3 people with SCD experience depression. It often goes undiagnosed and untreated because symptoms are similar to other SCD complications. The major causes of depression in people with SCD are pain and fatigue. However, other aspects of SCD can affect self-esteem and lead to mental health issues. Additional factors are:

Click here to read the full article.

Helping a Loved One Cope with Mental Illness
From the American Psychiatric Association

Learn about what you can do to help a loved one cope with a mental illness

It can be very difficult and heart-wrenching to see a loved one struggling with symptoms of mental illness. And often it can be hard to know how to best help and support your loved one.

Every individual is different and situations vary greatly. The person may have a specific diagnosis, or you may just have concerns about the way a person has been talking and behaving. You know your loved one and may have an understanding of what approach or support will be most helpful. However, below are a few tips and things to consider when you are trying to help a loved one.

Know the Warning Signs of Mental Health Problems
For example, withdrawal from social interaction, unusual problems functioning at school, work or social activities or dramatic changes in sleep and appetite are possible signs. See more on Warning Signs of Mental Illness. Someone exhibiting these signs or having these experiences does not necessarily mean the person has a mental health problem, the symptoms could also be related to other issues or problems. But following up with an evaluation from a medical professional could help address any problems and prevent more serious symptoms from developing.

Getting Started, Approaching the Issue
One of the hardest and most important steps may be just starting the conversation. You do not have to be an expert or to have the answers. Express your concern and willingness to listen and be there for the person. Don't be afraid to talk about it. Reassure them that you care about them and are there for them. Use "I" statements. For example, use "I am worried about you…," "I would like you to consider talking with a counselor…." rather than "You are…." or "You should…."

Try to show patience and caring and try not to be judgmental of their thoughts and actions. Listen; don't disregard or challenge the person's feelings.

Encourage them to talk with a mental health care provider or with their primary care provider if that would be more comfortable for them. For some people, it may be helpful to compare the situation to a physical health concerns and how they would respond. For example, if there was a concern about diabetes or high blood pressure would they be likely to seek medical care?

Remind them that seeking help is a sign of strength.

Learn about Mental Health Conditions and Treatments
Educate yourself. The more you understand about conditions, symptoms, possible treatments and what to expect, the better you will be able to support your loved one.

However, carefully consider sources of information online. As with any topic, the quality of information available online varies a great deal. (See resource list at the right.)

Help Address Potential Barriers
Try to anticipate and help address any potential barriers to the person seeking help. For example, find out about local resources available to help. For example, make it easier for the individual by researching potential therapists, hours, locations and insurance related issues. If you think they might be barriers, address possible issues with transportation, childcare, strategies for communicating with an employer, etc.

Seek Support for Yourself
While you're focusing on helping your loved one, it's also important to take care of yourself – physically and emotionally. Reach out for help for yourself if you need it. Recognize and acknowledge the limits of what you can give.

Blogger Victoria Maxwell writes: "When my mother was ill with the swings of severe depression, mania, and anxiety, I was worried as well as angry. I needed someone outside the family to freely discuss my frustrations and hurt without the fear of upsetting her. A qualified therapist offers clarity, objectivity, solutions not previously seen and a place to safely deal with the emotions rising from such difficult circumstances."

Support groups for family members such as those through the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) and Mental Health America can be valuable sources of information and mutual support and understanding. NAMI offers both a training program for families (Family to-Family) and ongoing peer-led support groups for family members.

NAMI Family-to-Family is a free, 12-session educational program for family and friends of people living with mental illness. It is an evidenced-based program taught by NAMI-trained family members who have been there. Find a NAMI Family-to-Family class near you here.

NAMI Family Support Group is a peer-led support group for family members, caregivers and loved ones of individuals living with mental illness. They are free and confidential. Find a NAMI Family Support Group near you here.

Expectations and Collaboration
It is important to have realistic expectations. Recovery is generally not a straight-forward process, there will be likely be improvements and setbacks along the way. With permission of your family member you can work with their treatment team to help provide support.

Even if you feel your support and actions are not making a difference, they are likely making a difference for your friend or family member. You loved one may be hurting and not clearly recognize what you're doing or may not be able to express appreciation. But knowing you are there for them can be important in helping their recovery.

If you feel your loved one is at risk of hurting themselves or others, contact the National Suicide Prevention Line 800-273-TALK (8255).

Families and Caregivers
From the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)

When a friend or family member develops a mental health condition, it's important to know that you're not alone. Family members and caregivers often play a large role in helping and supporting the millions of people in the U.S. who experience mental health conditions each year. Many family members and caregivers experience the same thoughts and questions you might be having now.

You may be trying to help a family member who doesn't have access to care or doesn't want help. Or you may want to learn how to support and encourage someone who has been hospitalized or experienced a similar mental health crisis.

We realize that the challenges of mental illness do not only affect an individual's family members but also friends, teachers, neighbors, coworkers and others in the community. Here we use the terms family member and caregiver interchangeably to refer to someone giving emotional, financial or practical support to a person with a mental health condition. Whether you're providing a lot of assistance or very little, the information here can help you better understand the issues that you might face.

Click here for video & to read more about:

Mom shares story of teen daughter's suicide — and why it's important to speak up
How Jenny Morales is hoping her grief will help others advocate for loved ones with mental illness.

This story discusses suicide. If you or someone you know is at risk of suicide please call the U.S. National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 800-273-8255, text TALK to 741741 or go to for additional resources.

“I want people to understand how important it is to speak up — to be a voice you need help,” Jenny Morales said. “I want parents to start the conversation.”

“I want people to understand how important it is to speak up — to be a voice you need help,” Jenny Morales said. “I want parents to start the conversation.”

Tiera Hopkins loved to dance. The fun-loving vibrant teen started dancing at 7 and it was “pretty much her life,” said her mother, Jenny Morales, 47, a client advocate at an insurance company in Elgin, South Carolina. Five days a week, Tiera practiced. When she wasn’t dancing she was hanging out with her tight group of friends or younger brothers. Morales said Tiera was a delight.

“She always kept you smiling — she was always smiling,” Morales told TODAY. “But unfortunately she kept a lot of things to herself. She wasn’t very vocal about her feelings.”

Tiera always smiled and seemed upbeat and happy. Little did anyone know she was struggling. 

Tiera always smiled and seemed upbeat and happy. Little did anyone know she was struggling. Courtesy Jenny Morales

In 2012, at the age of 16, Tiera died of suicide. Morales’ grief still feels overwhelming, but she has become an advocate for destigmatizing mental health in teenagers and encouraging parents and teens to talk about mental health.

“It starts with teaching them communication — teaching them how to break that stigma. It’s OK to not be OK,” Morales said. “I want teens not only to speak up for themselves but also to speak up for others.”

From vibrant and happy to loss
From the first class, Tiera fell in love with dance.

“It’s just what she enjoyed — and of course, she was wonderful at it. She was a beautiful, beautiful dancer,” Morales said.

Tiera also had a close group of friends that had been inseparable since they met in third grade and she loved being an older sister to her younger brothers.

“She was a very caring young lady,” Morales said.

Tiera loved dancing and spent about five days a week at the studio practicing. 

Tiera loved dancing and spent about five days a week at the studio practicing. Courtesy Jenny Morales

While Tiera was a good student and never got into trouble at school, about a month before her death, her grades slipped. At the time Morales thought her daughter was overwhelmed with new dance classes and high school.

“We actually had the discussion (that) maybe it is too much for you because your grades are dropping and we cut back on dance,” Morales recalled. "She pretty much lost it. She was like, ‘No, no, that’s my life. You can’t take it away from me.’”

She later learned from Tiera’s friends that Tiera confided in them that she was struggling and she told them she had thoughts of suicide. But they did not realize she was being serious. That’s one reason why Morales has become a mental health advocate. She wants parents and teens to be able to talk about mental health and suicide openly.

“It’s teaching them how to communicate and be a voice for themselves — their friends,” she said. “If they notice something is not right especially if their friend has been forthright, and actually says, ‘My life is worthless’ or ‘I have no purpose,’ or if you just notice a huge or drastic change in your friend, you have to say something.”

Jenny Morales wished she would have talked with her daughter, Tiera, more about her mental health. Since Tiera's death by suicide at age 16, Morales has been trying to encourage others to talk with their loved ones about mental health. 

Jenny Morales wished she would have talked with her daughter, Tiera, more about her mental health. Since Tiera's death by suicide at age 16, Morales has been trying to encourage others to talk with their loved ones about mental health. Courtesy Jenny Morales

But Morales hopes that parents will also talk to their children about mental health and suicide, even if it feels scary or difficult.

July 16, 2020, 1:51 PM EDT / Source: TODAY By Meghan Holohan