I started running when I was 8. This was right around the time that my parents divorced and my world changed in numerous ways.
I was having anxiety attacks and battling depression. I was having trouble concentrating at school. When I started running, I couldn’t tell you why I was doing it, I just felt compelled. When an anxiety attack surfaced, I put on my shoes and headed out the door.
I know when some people see that July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, they may ask themselves why such a thing is even necessary.
Why talk about minorities specifically? Why can’t we focus on mental health issues generally? The answer is that mental health issues do not discriminate, but societal inputs can make identifying and treating mental health issues in minorities even more difficult than in the population at large.
Last week, Beacon Lens’ blog post explored the latest developments around Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) in honor of June as PTSD Awareness Month.
However, there is an element to PTSD that doesn’t get its due: Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) which, in brief, is any positive change that results from a life-altering or traumatic event.
Since the dawn of time, humankind has realized that there were negative consequences to experiencing overwhelming stressful situations.
For example, reactions to wartime trauma have many names: soldier’s heart, shell shock, combat fatigue and, since the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-III, 1980), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
It’s not always easy to look in the mirror, especially at my age when the blemishes of experience start to crop up as brown spots and fine (or not-so-fine) lines.
However, my age has also taught me that the real difficulty of looking in the mirror is beyond a skin-deep reflection. I had an experience recently on my way to a hair appointment that forced a look beyond the fine lines.
I love Prince. My first job was at a movie theater that played Purple Rain for months.
I saw that movie hundreds of times, in five-minute bursts while I left the ticket booth unattended. My first concert was the Purple Rain tour – at the Capital Centre, outside of Washington, DC; one of the first albums I bought with my own money was Dirty Mind, on cassette, no less.
It turns out that almost everything I was taught about suicide during my clinical training is not true.
Contrary to what most clinicians are taught, there is clinical protocol we can follow to prevent suicide attempts – apart from locking people up. Very little of this new knowledge about detecting and treating suicidality has translated into practice.
It is frustrating as a retired Army infantry officer to see people assume that veterans, particularly combat vets, live with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Most do not.
This perception is unfair to veterans, perpetuates a larger misunderstanding of PTSD, and diverts attention away from a larger population in need. Illustrating this problem, a combat vet recently told me about an ill-informed supervisor who replied, “I don’t need you going all PTSD on them…”
It should have been a call forgotten without hesitation.
The daycare director called my office to let me know my 18-month-old daughter, Lilly, had eaten sand on the playground. She just wanted to let me know. I mentioned the call to a coworker, and she acted like it wasn’t unusual at all. “Kids test out the world one bite at a time,” I recall her saying. Yet, I didn’t forget the call and probably never will.
Why do some people visit the emergency room more than others? Further, what can clinicians, specifically, and the community, generally, do about it?
These are questions a Beacon Health Options (Beacon) pilot program at its Connecticut Behavioral Health Partnership wants to answer. Through my work as an intensive care manager (ICM) in the Hartford area, I can suggest some solutions.