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.

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Support all those effected by suicide on International Survivors of Suicide Day

Every 40 seconds someone in the world dies by suicide. Every 41 seconds someone is left to make sense of it.

The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention sponsors International Survivors of Suicide Day, an annual event for fellow survivors to come together for support, healing, information and empowerment. On November 17 this year, survivor conferences will be held in cities throughout the U.S. and abroad, offering speakers, workshops, and sharing sessions.

In addition to their local programming, all of the conference sites watch a 90-minute AFSP broadcast that includes “experienced” survivors and mental health professionals addressing the questions that so many survivors face: Why did this happen? How do I cope? Where can I find support? Since many survivors also find it helpful to understand something about the science of suicide prevention and bereavement, the program also includes a brief presentation of what scientific research has revealed about the psychiatric illnesses associated with suicide.

Survivors of Suicide Day- Milwaukee Event: A local event, sponsored by Mental Health American and Aurora Behavioral Health Services, will be held at Aurora St Luke’s Medical Center. Click here for details.

If you or someone you know is experiencing anxiety, feelings of hopelessness, or thoughts of suicide visit the web site for Aurora Psychiatric Hospital

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.

Would you know the signs of depression in a friend or family member?

National Depression Screening Day is October 11

  • National Depression Screening Day  10/11/12
  • Mental Health Awareness Week 10/7/12 – 10/13/12
  • National Day of Prayer for Mental Illness Recovery and Understanding 10/9/12

Would you know the signs of depression in a friend or family member? Symptoms of depression include:

  • Persistent feelings of sadness, anxiety, or emptiness
  • Hopelessness
  • Feeling guilty, worthless, or helpless
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Loss of interest in sex
  • Feeling tired
  • Trouble concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Trouble sleeping, waking up too early, or oversleeping
  • Eating more or less than usual
  • Weight gain or weight loss
  • Thoughts of death or suicide with or without suicide attempts
  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Physical symptoms that defy standard diagnosis and do not respond well to medical treatments

Click here for a free, confidential, on-line depression screening tool

In 1990, the U.S. Congress established the first Mental Illness Awareness Week. Held annually during Mental Illness Awareness Week in October, National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) raises awareness and screens people for depression and related mood and anxiety disorders. More than half a million people each year have been screened for depression since it began.

Less than one-third of adults and less than one-half of children with a diagnosed mental illness receive treatment. National Depression Screening Day raises awareness and screens people for depression and related mood and anxiety disorders. The more people know, the better they can help themselves or help their loved ones get the help and support they need.

For more information about National Depression Screening Day, visit these web sites:

NAMI

NDSD

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

How are your children affected by traumatic events in the media?

Events reported in the media can very traumatic for all of us. And the impact of trauma on children can be particularly devastating to their development. Left untreated, all but the mildest of childhood trauma can have an impact on the child.

Trauma is defined as an “event outside normal human experience”. These events are generally emotionally painful and distressing, and overwhelm a person’s ability to cope, The person’s response involves intense fear, helplessness, or horror.

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry identifies 2 types of trauma: One-episode Trauma, and Repeated Trauma. One-episode trauma is the result of a specific “event”.

Repeated trauma can include situations of chronic traumatic stress such as repeated neglect, abuse and maltreatment, including physical violence, sexual abuse, repeated verbal abuse and poor early childhood care.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration reports
• More than 60% of youth age 17 and younger have been exposed to crime, violence and abuse either directly or indirectly.
• Young children exposed to 5 or more significant adversities in the first 3 years of childhood face a 76 percent likelihood of having one or more delays in their cognitive, language, or emotional development.
• As the number of traumatic events experienced during childhood increases, the risk for the following health problems in adulthood increases: depression; alcoholism; drug abuse; suicide attempts; heart and liver diseases; pregnancy problems; high stress; uncontrollable anger; and family, financial, and job problems.

According to the Attachment & Trauma Network Inc, parenting a traumatized child is very challenging and requires a more focused, trained approach than parenting emotionally healthy children. Traumatized children frequently show signs of emotional delay, often acting much younger than their chronological age. Behaviors can range from being withdrawn and non-responsive to aggressive and violent. Responses to typical parenting techniques, such as time out or removal of privileges are often surprising, and parents’ frustration to the child’s opposition can inadvertently cause the behaviors to escalate.

In a 2006 report on Trauma Informed Care, the National Association for State Mental Health Program Directors indicates long term effects of trauma on a child vary, depending upon many factors:
• Characteristics of the child- age, past trauma experiences
• Characteristics of the trauma-type of trauma, severity, chronicity
• Post-trauma factors: early intervention, social support & symptom resolution

Early intervention in childhood psychic trauma is important. Families that offer support, understanding, and a sense of safety as close to the time of the traumatic event as possible can effectively limit the effects of trauma on a child. Munther Barakat, PsyD, a licensed clinical psychologist who works with children, provides tips for parents on dealing with trauma.  It is also a good idea to consult a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other mental health professional for evaluation and treatment.

If your child, or a child you know has experienced trauma, contact Aurora Psychiatric Hospital at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital.

For more information on trauma visit these resources:

How do you manage through times of emotional distress, depression and anxiety?

Major crises, such as the loss of a job, health or relationship, can put anyone into this situation.

Dr. Gregory Schramka is a behavioral health supervisor at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital.

I just learned of a dear friend, who lost her job due to the economic downturn. She responded as many people do – she became sad, she suffered from low self-esteem, she lost motivation to keep searching for a new job. I wondered what I could do to help her.

Greg Schramka, PsyD, Director of Behavioral Health Therapy at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital, describes this as avoidance behavior – staying in bed, withdrawing from friends, exercise or normal routines – that can tend to lead to, maintain or worsen depression.

“People often resort to avoidance to escape stressful events and depressive feelings. Individuals need to identify personally meaningful activities and be encouraged to schedule them into their week and carry them out regardless of their mood.”

So I will encourage my friend to take action (one of the concepts behind a research-supported therapy used by Dr. Schramka called Behavioral Activation), and to break patterns of avoidance. I understand that is may be far from easy for her.  And if she needs more help, professional therapy is available.

For more information about treatment for individuals experiencing emotional distress, feelings of hopelessness, or depression, visit the web site for Aurora Psychiatric Hospital.

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.

Are you having a Blue Christmas?

Like me, many of you grew up listening to the song “Blue Christmas” by Elvis Presley. For me it was a holiday tradition, with great harmonies by the Jordaires and one of my favorite Christmas albums. But I never really gave much thought to those who do experience a Blue Christmas.

For many folks this time of year is not a happy, joyful experience. It is common for those that have lost loved ones, divorced, or those with family deployed in the military. For some people, it is a time of self-evaluation, loneliness, reflection on past failures and anxiety about an uncertain future.

The holidays can also exacerbate depression in someone who already suffers from it. Additionally, fluctuations in weather and sunlight caused by the changing seasons can influence depressive symptoms, such as those   experienced by people with seasonal affective disorder.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 19 million American adults suffer from depressive illnesses every year. Unfortunately, many people with clinical depression don’t seek help, even though depression is a treatable condition.

The holiday blues refers to specific feelings and symptoms that can mimic depression such as:

  • Depressed mood
  • Decreased interest in life activities normally enjoyed such as social gatherings, shopping, cooking, hobbies
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Irritability
  • Fatigue, feeling drained physically and emotionally
  • Sleep or appetite disturbances
  • Anxiety, feeling nervous, edgy or “keyed up”
  • Excessive guilt

Here are some ways to alleviate the holiday blues:

  • Stay connected.  The worse thing you can do for the holiday blues is to isolate yourself. Many people who are depressed during the holidays are also lonely. Spend time with supportive and caring people. Reach out and make new friends, or contact someone you haven’t heard from in a while.
  • Write a gratitude letter.  Write a letter of gratitude to your parents, God, or yourself – detailing all the things that ARE great about your life today. Focus on the positive will be beneficial.
  • Do something for someone else. Try volunteering some of your time to help others.
  • Get moving.  Exercise – even mild exercise – helps alleviate the symptoms of depression. Taking a brisk walk in the am before your day or to wind down after your day – is a great way to beat the blues.
  • Avoid drinking and drugs.  While you may experience a temporary numbing effect – your feelings of “the blues” will only become magnified once you come down off of your drug of choice.
  • Pace yourself.  If you are feeling depressed, don’t say “yes” to everything. Take on one thing or nothing if need be. Do what you feel is realistic.
  • Tell someone.  It will be easier to get through the holidays if someone else knows how hard it is for you. People that love you – want to help.  Talking about what is going on with you emotionally (in talk therapy) is one of the best ways to get through a depression of any kind.

If you or someone you know is experiencing a blue Christmas, click here or a free, confidential, on-line depression screening tool. For more information about depression,  contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services

For your mind and body, integrated care is the best medicine

Recently, the Behavioral Health unit at Aurora St. Luke’s South Shore Hospital demonstrated the life-saving benefits of an integrated health care system.

After attempting suicide with carbon monoxide from the car in their garage, a patient was admitted to the behavioral health unit at Aurora St. Luke’s South Shore Hospital.  While this may be a familiar scenario to the behavioral health team, the fact that the patient had an Left Ventricular Assistive Device (LVAD) made it unusual.  Patients with this device are usually awaiting a heart transplant and may have other medical issues as well.

Caring for a patient with a ventricular assist device is a rarity on behavioral health units.  The team knew that the best place for the patient was on the behavioral health unit, but the nursing staff was unfamiliar with how to care for someone with that level of medical equipment.

This is where being at Aurora Health Care rather than any other organization makes a huge difference.  Because of dedicated caregivers and the willingness to have a positive patient outcome, two departments (the Cardiac Device Program at Aurora St. Luke’s Medical Center and the Behavioral Health team at Aurora St. Luke’s South Shore) coordinated the patient’s transfer and stay on behavioral health.  This included staff education to know how the ventricular assist device works, what is involved in the patient’s care, possible risks, and how to access resources in an emergency.

Behavioral health staff was receptive and willing to learn quickly and, together with the clinical engineer, assessed the device, the need for auxiliary power in case of a power outage, and its potential suicide risks for the patient and others on the unit.  The patient also was familiar with the clinical engineer and appeared somewhat less anxious, knowing that his care was being well coordinated and that he would be in good hands while on the behavioral health unit.

While the patient signed out the next day, he left knowing that the behavioral health team puts the patient first, always.

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options in a caring, confidential environment.  If you find you may be struggling with stress that is causing significant physical or emotional impairment in your lifecontact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.

Is it healthy to feel depressed about the Brewers’ loss?

My husband woke this morning grumpy and ornery. At the office, co-workers are noticeably quiet and subdued, as if their grandmother was ill.

The Brewers lost!

Some fans will be emotionally down for days afterwards, don’t want to talk to anyone, and certainly don’t want to see any sports scores or highlights or other reminders of the team’s failure. Their failure was our failure.

Leading social psychologist Robert Cialdini has noted that “winning and losing teams influence the morale of a region, a city, or a college campus. A substantial segment of the community may actually have clinical features of depression when their team loses. People become ‘blue’ for several days, disoriented, and non-productive, whereas if they win, they are pumped up and active. In many cities, an atmosphere of depression and failure prevails after the loss of a significant game. The fans were counting on their team to delivery a victory-to make their day-and instead they feel personally let down.”

The life of a sports fan is a strapped-in roller coaster ride of emotional ups and downs. Sports can generate such a high rush of adrenalin, especially when your favorite team is playing a long awaited game. When your team wins, you’re filled with elation and confidence. When your team loses, you feel deflated and let down. The emotional highs and lows are magnified in two particular situations: when your team faces a hated rival or when your team is playing on the big stage with a championship on the line, like the Milwaukee Brewers last weekend.

In any sport, only two teams can participate in that sport’s championship game. Those two teams have a lot to be proud of. Out of all of the teams in the league, they are the two who were good enough to vie for the coveted title. It stands to reason that, win or lose, both teams should feel good about their accomplishments.

But reason has nothing to do with the sadness fans feel when their team loses. And that sadness is strangely magnified after a championship game loss.

Depression is a serious condition that often requires a doctor’s treatment. Yet, many people use this to describe how they feel after the Milwaukee Brewers lost Sunday’s game. More times than not, those who say they feel depressed after a team loss are actually simply experiencing a depressing situation – and the cloud will lift in a day or two.

If you continue to experience feelings of depression for several weeks, you may need to seek the help of a trained therapist. If you or someone you know may be suffering from depression use our free, confidential, online depression screening tool.

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers complete mental health treatment options in a caring, confidential environment.  If you find you may be struggling with stress that is causing significant physical or emotional impairment in your lifecontact us — online or by phone at 1-877-666-7223 — as soon as possible.