Join Ryan Grant at the 2012 NAMI Walk on May 19

Join Ryan Grant, star running back for the Green Bay Packers, for  the 2012 Milwaukee NAMI Walk on May 19. Ryan Grant was the Honorary Chair of the 2011 NAMI Walk and will once again support this event in 2012.  Watch this video from 2011 showing why he feels so strongly about this event.

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raising awareness and building a community of hope for all of those in need.

From its inception in 1979, NAMI has been dedicated to improving the lives of individuals and families affected by mental illness.  Fundraising allows NAMI to offer an array of programs, initiatives and activities in support of the NAMI mission. The annual NAMI WALK is one of the ways this organization raises the funds needed to support their mission. The goals of the NAMIWalks program are: to fight the stigma that surrounds mental illness, to build awareness of the fact that the mental health system in this country needs to be improved, and to raise funds for NAMI so that they can continue their mission.

We would like to invite you to walk with the Aurora Behavioral Health Services TEAM. If you can’t walk, donate to support Aurora Behavioral Health Services’ participation. Donating online is fast and secure.

To register to walk, or to make a donation to sponsor the ABHS team, visit the ABHS TEAM WEB SITE. Or you may contact team captains:

NAMI is a 501(c)3 charity and any donation you make to support my participation in this event is tax deductible. NAMI has been rated by Worth magazine as among the top 100 charities “most likely to save the world” and has been given an “A” rating by The American Institute of Philanthropy for efficient and effective use of charitable dollars.


Date: May 19, 2012
Location: Veterans’ Park – on Lincoln Memorial Drive, Milwaukee, WI
Distance: 3 MI
Check-in: 9:30 am
Start Time: 11 am

If you or someone you know is struggling with mental illness, contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.


Addiction: why can’t you just stop?

Many people believe overcoming an addiction is simply a matter of will power. You can stop using drugs or alcohol if you really want to. Jennifer Johnston, LCSW, a psychotherapist at Aurora Behavioral Health Services helps explain why recovery is not that easy.

This is quite possibly one of the most common questions I’ve come across in treating individuals and families who struggle with addictions. Some ask it of themselves and others ask it of their loved ones out of anger, disappointment, frustration, and so on. What many people don’t realize is that recovering from an addiction is a process which often requires hard work and many other deliberate changes in order to sustain one’s sobriety. Listed below are some factors that, if not addressed, can make it difficult (but not by any means impossible) to “just stop.”

Physical Dependence

Repeated exposure to a substance of abuse can cause the body to adapt to its presence, altering the body’s physiological constructs, eventually causing the body to expect the substance in order to function according to its new “normal.” Chronic use tricks the brain into thinking it is producing a chemical that is artificially being fed to it, thus altering the brain’s natural production and output of mood regulating chemicals.  When use is stopped, especially abruptly, the system can go into somewhat of a shock causing physical withdrawal symptoms (nausea, vomiting, tremors, seizures, etc.), urging the person to use again in order to stop the withdrawal symptoms.

Psychological Dependence

With continued use, people can condition themselves to rely on their substance of choice as a way to cope with mental and emotional discomfort, and each time relief is provided (real or perceived, regardless of how temporary), the use is reinforced. For instance, if one uses each time he or she is anxious in order to relax, anxiety can become a trigger due to the association between the use and relief from anxiety. This also brings up the topic of co-morbidity, or having more than one disorder at the same time, such as alcoholism and depression. Since substances of abuse can both mask and mimic symptoms of other mental health diagnoses it can be difficult to differentiate what came first and can perpetuate a self-destructive cycle of self-medication.

Lifestyle Changes

Once enslaved to physical and/or psychological dependence, many alter their lifestyles in order to make room for and protect the addiction, preventing physical withdrawal and/or mental and emotional discomfort. For example, someone who may have always been an honest and outgoing person may begin deceiving family or friends, and isolating in order to prevent getting caught and having to face judgment or potential ultimatums. In extreme cases, this can alter a person’s belief system as well as his or her way of thinking and behaving. Even if use is stopped, if people struggling with an addiction do not address the altered lifestyle, they run the risk of becoming a “dry drunk.”

If you or someone you know is struggling with an addiction, there IS hope for successful recovery. Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers many forms of treatment to help people safely address physical withdrawal (medically monitored inpatient detoxification) and to rehabilitate the psychological and lifestyle factors that typically perpetuate addictions (residential, partial hospitalization and intensive outpatient programs as well as outpatient therapy).

If you or someone you know is battling addiction, contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.

Are you sleep deprived?

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.

Sleep is a commodity that is often unappreciated. While adults need 7 ½ – 8 hours of sleep a night, the average sleep time in the U.S. is now 6.8 hours. When sleep-related problems develop, the value of sleep becomes more apparent. Sleep disruption and sleep deprivation often result in problems with focus and concentration during the day, irritable or depressed mood, fatigue, daytime sleepiness and many other consequences in the short-term as well as long-term. Sleep problems may include medical syndromes, such as sleep apnea, restless legs syndrome and narcolepsy. Sleep deficits may also involve insomnia.

Insomnia can be defined as difficulty falling asleep, difficulty staying asleep, waking up too early or chronically experiencing nonrestorative or poor quality sleep.  According to the National Sleep Foundation, insomnia is the most common sleep problem among Americans. National Institutes of Health data indicate that, within any given year, 30 – 40% of adults have some symptoms of insomnia and 10 – 15% of adults report that they have chronic insomnia.

Insomnia may be caused by stress and anxiety; it may also be caused by a variety of medications, illnesses and medical conditions. When there is an underlying condition, the insomnia can exacerbate the condition and a cycle of worsening health and increasing sleep problems can develop. 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) 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. In fact, CBTI is a first-line treatment of choice endorsed by the American Academy of Sleep medicine.

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 us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.  

I think my friend may have an eating disorder. What would you say to them?

I think my friend has an eating disorder, but I don’t know what to say. Talking to someone about an eating disorder is one of the most difficult conversations you can have.

These ideas, adapted from the National Eating Disorder Association, can help.

• Set up a time to talk, and have your discussion in a private and relaxed setting

• Express your concerns openly and honestly, in a loving, supportive and non-confrontational way

• Talk in a calm and caring way and explain the specific things you have seen or felt that have caused you to worry, and that you think these things may indicate that there could be a problem that needs professional attention

• Ask your friend if they would be willing to explore these concerns with a professional. If you are both comfortable, you can help make an appointment with a counselor, nutritionist or doctor, and go with your friend.

• Avoid conflicts or a battle of the wills with your friend if they refuse to acknowledge that there is a problem, or any reason for you to be concerned. Think of this initial conversation as a starting point. Your friend may be initially defensive, but hopefully will think about what you said. Be sure to share that you are available as a supportive listener.

• Avoid critical or accusatory statements that place shame, blame, or guilt on your friend regarding their actions or attitudes. Do not use accusatory “you” statements like, “You just need to eat.” Or, “You are acting irresponsibly.” Instead, use “I” statements. For example: “I’m concerned about you because you refuse to eat breakfast or lunch.” Or, “It makes me afraid to hear you vomiting.” • Avoid giving simple solutions. For example, “If you’d just stop, then everything would be fine!” Express your continued support. Remind your friend that you care and want your friend to be healthy and happy.

• After talking with your friend, if you are still concerned with their health and safety, find a trusted adult or medical professional to talk to. This is probably a challenging time for both of you. It could be helpful for you, as well as your friend, to discuss your concerns and seek assistance and support from a professional.

National Eating Disorders Awareness week goes through March 3. Access an Eating Disorders Screening Tool, or learn about the Eating Disorder Program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital.

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.