How to fix the critical shortage of Mental Health professionals- 1 example within our own community

chrostowskiThe American Psychological Association reports alarming concerns about the critical shortage of mental health professionals.Access to mental health care is worse than other types of medical services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimated in 2010 that the country had 156,300 mental health counselors. Access to mental health professionals is worse than for other types of doctors: 89.3 million Americans live in federally-designated Mental Health Professional Shortage Areas, compared to 55.3 million Americans living in similarly-designated primary-care shortage areas and 44.6 million in dental health shortage areas. According to the National Institute on Health nearly one in five counties (18%) in the nation had unmet need for non-prescribers and nearly every county (96%) had unmet need for prescribers.  Learn what Aurora Behavioral Health Services is doing to help.

The Counseling Psychology program at Marquette University educates and trains Master’s level counseling psychologists and Doctoral level counseling psychologists. The College of Education at Marquette University annually recognizes a community partner who has had a significant impact on the training of their students. Aurora Behavioral Health Services (ABHS) was named as the Human Service Partner Award recipient for 2014 for the outstanding training provided to Marquette students in the Counseling Psychology program.

The Human Services/Foundation Partner Award recognizes collaborative community partners with whom we share the resources, rewards, and risks associated with serving the community and advancing the field of education and mental health.

Jay Chrostowski, PsyD, Director of the student placements at Aurora Behavioral Health Services describes the collaboration. “We are helping to develop the next generation of behavioral health providers. We have had students placed in the eating disorder program, mental health partial hospital program, mental health intensive outpatient program, and in the addictions programs at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital, and at the Neuropsychology Service at Aurora St. Lukes’s Medical Center. Our relationship with this program began over 10 years ago at the behavioral health outpatient health center at Aurora Sinai Medical Center, where we established an affiliation agreement with Marquette University’s Counseling Psychology program. Our first placements were with child/adolescent group therapy services at Aurora Sinai, and we expanded our training opportunities in following years. The relationship is especially successful for the substance abuse programs because the students obtain hours towards a State of WI certification in substance abuse.  It has been a very good relationship promoting workforce development.”

Aurora Behavioral Health is able to provide excellent real-life training/educational experiences for the students, and frequently Aurora Behavioral Health Services hires former students after they graduate.  This allows us to get to know the skills, work ethic, and values of each student prior to hiring, which is part of why ABHS has such an excellent staff.

The award was presented as part of a larger award ceremony honoring students, faculty, and community agencies on Tuesday, April 22nd.

How can you contribute to National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week?

childrens mental health awarenessThe National Federation of Families recognizes May as National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week, and Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) identifies National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. The purpose of the awareness events is to support children with behavioral health challenges, debunk myths, spread awareness and promote positive mental health for all children. Mental health is important to overall health. Mental disorders are chronic health conditions that can continue through the lifespan. Without early diagnosis and treatment, children with mental disorders can have problems at home, in school, and in forming friendships. This can also interfere with their healthy development, and these problems can continue into adulthood.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s data shows that approximately 13 –20 percent of children living in the United States (up to 1 out of 5 children) experience a mental disorder in a given year. Data collected from a variety of data sources between the years 2005-2011 show:

Children aged 3-17 years currently had:

• ADHD (6.8%)
• Behavioral or conduct problems (3.5%)
• Anxiety (3.0%)
• Depression (2.1%)
• Autism spectrum disorders (1.1%)
• Tourette syndrome (0.2%) (among children aged 6–17 years)

Adolescents aged 12–17 years had:

• Illicit drug use disorder in the past year (4.7%)
• Alcohol use disorder in the past year (4.2%)
• Cigarette dependence in the past month (2.8%)

How can you contribute to National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week?

• Read our newsletter: How to help children & adolescents with behavioral health problems
Pediatricians should include screening for mental health concerns
• Help children access treatment options for mental health concerns

Hank the Ballpark Pup

HankHank’s popularity has taken off. He has been featured on television news stories, front page of newspapers, in InTouch and People Magazine and even has his own hashtag –  #BallparkPup.

Once a homeless stray in Maryvale, Hank has become the darling mascot of the Milwaukee Brewers. So why is the public so taken with Hank?

  • Dogs get your attention: According to the most recent American Humane Association, 62% of U.S. households own a pet, and dogs top the list as the most common household pet. So a majority of people connect to Hank’s story, and are interested in learning more.
  • Dogs = Trust: Everyone knows the unconditional love provided by a dog. They accept you, flaws and all – no judgment.
  • Dogs engage emotion:  Unconditional love makes people feel accepted, reduces loneliness and improves mood.

The reasons Hank has become so popular (and so quickly) are much the same reasons dogs are so effective in pet therapy. They have outstanding ability to sense human emotions – and find ways to subtly comfort in times of sadness. Initially used in a mental health facility in the 1700s, and then again by the American Red Cross in military convalescent care after World War II, pets as therapeutic partners is a valued approach today in both the physical and psychosocial arenas.

Research has demonstrated that pets lower anxiety and blood pressure levels and can elevate levels of serotonin and dopamine, which calm and relax,  Aurora Psychiatric Hospital has incorporated pet visits very successfully. The pet visits open doors and reach patients in ways humans sometimes can’t.  Currently 9 pet teams visit with patients 4 times each week, reaching over 200 patients every month. Most of the teams include certified therapy dogs, but there is even a certified therapy bunny, Betsy. Patients’ reactions are quite positive and they look forward to the pet visits. Benefits to patients and staff are numerous. Withdrawn patients open up. Happy memories are re-lived. Depression lessens. Self esteem increases. Patients get better.

Hank represents much more than the story of a rescued dog. He is a connection to our hearts.

For more information about pet visits at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital, read our blog.

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options, provided by highly trained professionals in a caring, confidential manner to meet individual and family needs. If you or someone you know needs help, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.

Teen Dating Violence – Has It Ever Happened to You?

While many people may be familiar with crisis of domestic violence in our nation, awareness of dating violence in teen relationships is not as prevalent.  Understanding, identifying and breaking the pattern of teen dating violence have crucial implications for a teen’s future.  Experiencing dating violence as a teen places a teen at significant risk for abusive relationships in adulthood.

In a study conducted by the Center for Disease Control, 1 in 5 adult women and approximately 1 in 7 adult men who experienced rape, physical violence or stalking by an intimate partner report that they first experienced some form of partner abuse between the ages of 11 and 17.  Per the US Department of Justice, 1 in 3 teens experience some kind of abuse in their romantic relationships, but only 33% of teens tell anyone about it.

Equally shocking is parental lack of awareness of what their teen is suffering.  For example, a study by the U.S. Department of Justice found that 82% of parents whose teen was receiving 10 – 30 harrassing texts per hour from their romantic partner were not aware this was occurring.  Teen dating violence occurs within every socioeconomic status, race and culture, with the abuser and victim being of either or the same gender.  However, for the purpose of this article the victim will be identified by female pronouns and the abuser by male pronouns.

Violence in dating relationship can take the form of emotional, physical, sexual abuse or stalking.  Examples include:

  • Emotional:  Criticizing, insulting, shaming, and belittling comments. Yelling and name-calling.  Dictating what she can wear, music to listen to, whether or not she can get a job, and if so, what kind.   Continuous, unfounded accusations or interrogation of what she does and with whom she spends time.  This may result in her spending less time with friends and family to avoid his rages and questioning.   The boyfriend blames her for his problems, and for being a problem to him.  Tells her no one will love or want her if she breaks up with him, or, he may threaten to kill himself and/or her if she leaves him.
  • Physical:  hitting, pinching, hair-pulling, punching, burning choking, kicking, being hit by thrown objects.
  • Sexual:  Rape.  Being  forced to perform unwanted sexual acts with him, or with his friends.  Forced to have sex without use of protection.  Makes her watch him have sex with another girl.
  • Stalking:  emailing, calling or texting her incessantly (10 or more times an hour) to check on her whereabouts or to justify what she is doing.   Showing up unexpectedly when she is out with other friends.  Leaving threatening notes in her school locker or on the windshield of her car.

The abused teen may not admit to being abused or even realize she is in an abusive relationship.  When meeting with a teen and/or her parents/caregivers, it is recommended to assess for the following as these could possibly indicate the teen is in an abusive relationship:

  • multiple, recurring and unexplained bruises or marks
  • decline in academic performance
  • increasing isolation from family and other friends
  • numerous somatic complaints such as headaches and stomaches
  • significant change in bathing, dressing and other self-care habits
  • stops doing enjoyed activities to spend time with her boyfriend
  • she is afraid of being around her boyfriend and equally afraid not to be around him because she knows how upset he becomes
  • she makes excuses or apologizes for her boyfriend’s mood and behavior to her friends and family
  • she is having more arguments and fights with her parents
  • she feels like she must watch everything she does or says when with him and will do anything to please him to avoid angering him
  • she believes him when he says that she is responsible for how he treats her

Caregivers may feel guilty about not knowing their teen is being abused, or they may blame the teen for not telling them what occurred when the abuse is finally revealed.  Such feelings are best addressed and processed by the therapist with the parents only.  It’s important to let the parents know that sharing their feelings of guilt or blame with the teen is not helpful, and may dissuade her from openly communicating with the parents about any other abusive incidents or contact with the boyfriend that might occur in the future.  Parents should encourage and support her involvement in extracurricular activities and contact with friends.

Laura Mirhoseini, Psy.D.  is a psychologist at Aurora Behavioral Health Center-Burlington.

If you or someone you know may be experiencing teen dating violence, contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223,  visit our web site, or access the National Teen  Dating Abuse Hotline 1-866-331-9474, 1-866-331-8453 TTY or Text “loveis” to 77054 (Peer advocates are available to talk, text, or chat online 24/7)

The Role of Psychology in Bariatric Surgery at Aurora Health Care

Betsy-Blair

Betsy Blair, PsyD

Psychology is an important element in Bariatric Surgery Programs.  Prospective patients attend an information seminar as their first step in the process.  The seminar reviews the process and preparation for surgery, including segments on psychological and nutritional preparation, as well as insurance requirements.  One or both of our surgeons speak as well, describing the various available procedures. Finally, a number of successful bariatric surgery patients talk and share their own experiences.

The prospective patient then makes initial appointments with one of our Registered Dieticians and the Psychologist.  The psychological evaluation consists of a depression and eating disorder screening and an in-depth clinical interview.

The three main components of the psychological evaluation are:

  1. Active versus passive sense of control.  If a patient presents saying “I have no self-control, I need surgery to make me stop eating the wrong foods,” they have a lot of preparation ahead of them. They will need to implement active strategies prior to being approved for surgery.  Motivation and confidence are also assessed.
  2. Emotional eating.  When some describes food as “my friend,” “my reward,” or “my comfort or distraction”, a referral for psychotherapy is usually warranted.
  3. Social support.  Unfortunately, many people will describe partners and families as being threatened by the person’s attempts to improve their physical health. We often discuss food from a family-systems perspective, as well as the role of envy or insecurity in relationships.

Levels of readiness:  The majority of patients evaluated are seen only once by the psychologist. Progress is monitored as they work with the Registered Dietician (RD), typically over a six month period.  There is a segment of patients that return for follow-up visits with the program psychologist, most often to help integrate and implement goals developed with the RD.  People who are resistant to a referral to psychotherapy are often followed in this manner.  Patients with a significant psychiatric history, untreated symptoms, those with chaotic and unstable support systems, emotional eating, or history of eating disorders are referred to psychotherapy. The psychological evaluation outlines goals for treatment when a patient is referred.

Case Conference:  The entire team (RD’s, psychologist, RN manager, insurance specialist and surgeon) meet weekly.  Every patient is reviewed and progress is evaluated.  When a patient has met all goals with their RD and psychologist (often based upon feedback from outside providers) then they are considered “cleared” and move on to meet with the surgeon, and have surgery scheduled.

Post-op follow-up

Follow-up with the Registered Dietician and psychologist are standard elements of the program. The patient meets with the RD frequently during the first 12 months following surgery. All postop patients meet with the psychologist six months following surgery. For many patients, this is a time when they are at risk of resuming old habits. For some patients, the 6 month mark is the moment to point out to the patient they are not yet successful with weight loss (eg someone may lose only 10# in the first six months.) In that case the psychologist will try to explore and enhance motivation, identify barriers to weight loss, or recommend more focused treatment.

Support group

ASMC Bariatric Surgery program has operated a monthly support group for close to ten years. A typical group has a scheduled speaker for 45 minutes. The large group breaks into smaller groups by surgery type, or dates of surgery. The group is very well attended, often including up to 30 participants, both pre and postop. The group is facilitated by trained support group facilitators, an RN and an RD. Feedback from the group indicates a high level of engagement and meaningful benefit to all participants.

The Bariatric Surgery Program, a Center of Excellence, has been active at Aurora Sinai Medical Center since 2002. Elizabeth Blair, PsyD is a clinical psychologist at Aurora Behavioral Health Services, and provides psychological evaluation for the ASMC Bariatric Program.

Do you know a survivor of suicide?

“Before today, I didn’t realize that there are others out there who feel exactly the way I feel.”   – Survivor from Alberta, Canada

“If telling my story can comfort another survivor, then I will continue to tell it. – Laurell Reussow, survivor

International-Survivors-of-Suicide-DaySaturday, November 23, 2013 is the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s 15th Annual International Survivors of Suicide Day.

Thousands of survivors of suicide loss gather together around the world on this day for mutual support & practical guidance on coping with grief.  Survivor conferences will be held in cities throughout the U.S. and abroad, offering speakers, workshops, and sharing sessions.

Survivors of Suicide Day- Milwaukee Event

Individuals are encouraged to experience International Survivors of Suicide Day in person. It is a rare opportunity to be able to look around a room and know that every person there inherently understands part of what you are going through. A local event, sponsored by Mental Health American and Aurora Behavioral Health Services, will be held at Aurora St Luke’s Medical Center on November 23 from 9am – 1pm. Click here for details.

Watch Online at AFSP.org

You can visit the AFSP website on Saturday, November 23 to watch our program online from 1:00–2:30 p.m. Eastern Standard Time along with thousands of other survivors around the world.  Then connect with your fellow survivors of suicide loss and discuss issues brought up during the program by joining our live online chat starting at 2:30 P.M. EST on November 23rd. Karyl Chastain Beal will moderate the chat. Karyl is the long-time facilitator of the Parents of Suicide (POS) and Friends and Families of Suicide (FFOS) Internet support communities and a member of AFSP’s Survivor Council.

If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, or thoughts of suicide visit the web site for Aurora Psychiatric Hospital or contact us at 414-454-6777.

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options, provided by highly trained professionals in a caring, confidential manner to meet individual and family needs.  If you or someone you know needs help, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.

Sleep and Insomnia

Dr. Lisa Cottrell is a clinical psychologist at the Aurora Behavioral Health Center in Wauwatosa.

Dr. Lisa Cottrell is a clinical psychologist at the Aurora Behavioral Health Center in Wauwatosa.

National Sleep Awareness Week , March 2-9, 2014., is a public education and awareness campaign to promote the importance of sleep. Dr. Lisa Cottrell Ph.D., CBSM. Licensed Psychologist, Board Certified in Behavioral Sleep Medicine, explains that there is effective treatment for insomnia.

How much sleep do we need?

Sleep need varies among individuals, but it generally changes as we age. The National Sleep Foundation suggests that school-age children (5-10 years) need 10-11 hours of sleep nightly, teens (10-17 years) need 8.5-9 hours and adults need 7-9 hours. According to data from the National Health Interview Survey, nearly 30% of adults reported an average of 6 hours or less of sleep per night in 2005-2007.

What is Insomnia?

Insomnia, which is Latin for “no sleep,” is the inability to fall asleep or remain asleep. Insomnia is also used to describe the condition of waking up not feeling restored or refreshed. Insomnia is the most common sleep problem among Americans. According to the National Center for Sleep Disorders research at the National Institutes of Health, in any given year, 30 – 40% of adults have some symptoms of insomnia and 10 – 15% of adults report that they have chronic insomnia.

What causes Insomnia?

Insomnia may be caused by a variety of reasons: illnesses or underlying medical conditions; stress, anxiety or depression; certain medications; sleep disorders or issues related to sleep hygiene.

What are the effects of Insomnia?

The lack of sleep can be harmful to living a healthy life. Insufficient sleep can cause difficulty concentrating, lower your ability to learn, and impair performance of daily tasks. Sleep deficiency has been linked to motor vehicle crashes, industrial disasters, and medical and other occupational errors. Persons experiencing sleep insufficiency are also more likely to suffer from chronic diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, depression, and obesity, as well as from cancer, increased mortality, and reduced quality of life and productivity. When an underlying medical condition is causing insomnia, the insomnia can exacerbate the condition and health and sleep problems further deteriorate.

How is Insomnia treated?

Insomnia can be treated successfully. While there are medications available to treat difficulty falling and staying asleep, there is also an evidence-based approach to treat insomnia that does not require the use of medication.

Cognitive-behavioral treatment of insomnia (CBTI) is a short-term psychotherapy that is based on scientific knowledge about sleep. CBTI has been shown in research to be as effective as medication to treat insomnia in the short-term and more effective than medication in the long-term. However, you do not need to stop other treatment or medication while participating in CBTI.

CBTI involves meeting with a psychologist trained in the method. It is a short-term (6-10 sessions) treatment approach that includes monitoring sleep patterns, changing sleep-related behaviors, managing the sleep environment and learning strategies to cope effectively with thoughts or worries that interfere with sleep. People who engage in CBTI report high satisfaction with the method and significant improvements in sleep.

If you or someone you know is experiencing problems with sleep contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services

Dr. Lisa Cottrell Ph.D., CBSM. Licensed Psychologist, Board Certified in Behavioral Sleep Medicine is a clinical psychologist at Aurora Behavioral Health Center in Grafton, specializing in the behavioral and psychological treatment of sleep disorders. 

Screening for Depression: do you know someone who needs treatment?

Mental Illness Awareness Week, Oct. 6-12, 2013

National Depression Screening Day, Oct. 10, 2013

Aurora Behavioral Health Services

Aurora Behavioral Health Services

In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first full week of October as Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) in recognition of NAMI’s efforts to raise mental illness awareness. Since then, mental health advocates across the country have joined with others in their communities to sponsor activities, large or small, for public education about mental illness.

MIAW coincides with the National Depression Screening Day. National Depression Screening Day raises awareness and screens people for depression and anxiety disorders. NDSD is the nation’s oldest voluntary, community-based screening program that gives access to a validated screening questionnaire and provides referral information for treatment. More than half a million people each year have been screened for depression since 1991.

Know the signs of depression

On-line depression screening tool

Screening for depression is critical in getting individuals the treatment they need. Fortunately, recovery is possible-treatment works! The Intensive Outpatient and Partial Hospital programs for depression and anxiety at Aurora Behavioral Health Services offer hope for recovery. Programs are offered at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital, Aurora Sheboygan Memorial Medical Center and Aurora St Lukes  South Shore Hospital.

The Partial Hospitalization Programs provide intensive treatment six days per week, from 9 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. Programming uses cognitive behavioral therapy to develop better coping mechanisms, improve management of symptoms, and promote healthy-living skills. This comprehensive approach to patient care incorporates group education and therapy, individual and family therapy, psychiatric evaluation, and medication management. This multidisciplinary team consists of psychiatrists, nurses, psychotherapists and case managers.

The Intensive Outpatient Program provides an alternative for individuals in need of longer and more frequent treatment sessions than can be provided with once-a-week individual outpatient therapy. The program is especially helpful for those struggling with severe depression or anxiety and who are using impulsive or avoidant coping strategies. A variety of program schedules offer flexibility for patients.

Watch a video about the Partial Hospital program for anxiety and depression

Watch a video about the Intensive Outpatient program for anxiety and depression

If you or someone you know is experiencing depression or anxiety issues, please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options, provided by highly trained professionals in a caring, confidential manner to meet individual and family needs.  If you or someone you know needs help, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.

Aurora Offers Primary Care Physician Training on Behavioral Health

Identifying Mental Illness

  • Parents of a teenage son visit their primary care physician to find out why he is suddenly failing classes
  • A new mother sees her obstetrician because she has been sleeping all the time and has lost her appetite.
  • A man and his wife seek advice from the physician to find out why he is absent from work so frequently due to illness
  • A young woman makes a suicide attempt several days after seeing her physician for feeling lethargic and down

woman-in-crowdPeople with mental illness or addictions often seek help for physical symptoms. People with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder or addictions typically are seen in primary care more than any other setting.  In a recent NAMI survey, 89 percent of families responded that they had discussed mental health concerns with their child’s primary care physician. Addiction, depression and other mental health problems can go undiagnosed  and untreated.  Primary care physicians can play a critical role in identifying a mental health or substance abuse issue and making appropriate treatment referrals.

Nearly one in 10 Americans 18 and older is depressed, according to a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study in the Oct. 1 Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report. One in four adults has a diagnosable mental disorder in any given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Primary care providers have significant opportunities to identify behavioral health problems early and intervene in a manner that prevents further deterioration and avoids significant future costs. Screening and early intervention are priorities that may not only improve outcomes for individuals but also, over time, provide savings to the system.

In the primary care setting, physicians should look for signs of mental health problems, such as trouble sleeping and eating, experts say. In children, doctors should look for atypical behavior that begins suddenly, such as irritability or a drop in grades with a good student. Physicians should incorporate behavioral health screenings into wellness check ups for all patients, and routinely screen for depression, particularly with pregnant and perinatal women.

Mental Health America (MHA) believes that primary health care providers should be encouraged to identify signs of mental health or substance use issues at the earliest possible time. This position is also endorsed by the American Academy of Pediatrics and (for depression) the United States Preventive Services Task Force.

Training for Primary Care Providers

Aurora Behavioral Health Services, in partnership with Kubly Foundation, is offering on-line CME modules for primary care providers on the following behavioral health related topics:

If you or someone you know would benefit from addiction treatment or mental health services, please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services.

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options, provided by highly trained professionals in a caring, confidential manner to meet individual and family needs.  If you or someone you know needs help, contact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.

Athletes and Eating Disorders; what parents and coaches need to know…

Elizabeth Hunkins is a therapist at Aurora Behavioral Health Center in Summit

Elizabeth Hunkins is a therapist at Aurora Behavioral Health Center in Summit

Sport activities offer such an array of benefits for individuals from improved confidence, self-esteem, social skills and healthy activity.  But when does having “fun” cross the line that places an individual at risk for possible eating disorder?

Competition in athletics can be a factor that leads to psychological stress, which increases risk factors for disordered eating patterns in males and females.  A study in 1992 found that 62 percent of females in sports suffered from eating disorders (mirror-mirror.org).  It is believed that since that study was completed that eating disorders among athletes continue to be on the rise.  Many parents, coaches and even physicians fail to recognize the signs of eating disorders in these individuals.  Athletes are at a greater risk of medical complication due to the demands they place on their body.

There are too many stories of athletes that have suffered from this disease. In July of 1994, top US gymnast, Christy Henrich died of multiple organ failure after a US judge told her she was “too fat and needed to lose weight to make the team”, and subsequently dropped to 47 pounds. She resorted to anorexia and bulimia, which eventually took her life.  Cathy Rigby, another Olympian suffered with this disease for 12 years and went into cardiac arrest two different times (mirror-mirror.org).  Not only is this happening on the elite level, it is happening on every level of competition in sports.

What are some early warning signs of an eating disorder in an athlete?

  • Rapid weight loss
  • Going to bathroom after meals
  • No breaks in weekly training (should have 1-2 days off per week)
  • Increased concern about body fat/calorie intake
  • Rigid behavior around food (refuses food groups, eating fat free/eating in isolation)
  • Social withdrawal from family and peers
  • Preoccupied with training/exercise and becomes upset if unable to workout
  • Will continue to workout even when ill/sick
  • Other areas in life becomes unmanageable (relationships, work, school)
  • Loss or irregular menses

Coaches need to educate themselves on the dangers of eating disorders and recognize early warning signs and intervene.  Education needs to be provided on healthy nutrition, and proper refueling.  Coaches need to be positive, encouraging and motivating; not harsh, negative and critical to athletes.  Parents should attend a training session to observe their child and the coach’s training.  A parent should not witness a coach pressuring their child to “WIN at any cost”.

Coaches should encourage athletes to develop a healthy routine with adequate emphasis on eating, hydration and life balance. Coaches should praise their efforts and their achievements.  If there are negative comments about an athlete’s appearance/weight and performance, then it is time to change coaches/programs for the well-being of the individual and seek assistance from a professional.

Liz Hunkins, LCSW is a therapist at Aurora Behavioral Health Center in Summit

If you or someone you know may be struggling with an eating disorder, please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services