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.

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.

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.

Overcoming barriers: May is Mental Health Month

Mental Health America continues its tradition of celebrating “May is Mental Health Month,” which began in 1949 to raise awareness of mental health conditions and mental wellness for all.
Mental health month 2014 Mind Your Health
Mental illnesses are medical illnesses. One in four adults experiences a mental health problem in any given year. One in 17 lives with serious, chronic illness.

On average, people living with serious mental illness live 25 years less than the rest of the population. One reason is that less than one-third of adults and less than one-half of children with a diagnosed illness receive treatment.

The U.S. Surgeon General has reported that stigma is a major barrier to people seeking help when they need it. That’s why awareness is so important. We want people to understand mental illness and join a dialogue in our community. The more people know, the better they can help themselves or help their loved ones get the help and support they need.

When mental health care isn’t available in a community, the results often are lost jobs and careers, broken families, more homelessness, more welfare and much more expensive costs for hospital emergency rooms, nursing homes, schools, police and even courts, jails and prisons.

To access free screenings for depression, anxiety and other mental health concerns visit our screening center

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.

mental health month 2013

Do you always need to be hospitalized for mental health care?

Partial Hospitalization Program offers alternative to inpatient mental health care

For people who do not need to be hospitalized for behavioral health issues like anxiety, depression, bipolar or post traumatic stress disorder, but who have serious symptoms that are impacting their ability to cope with a daily routine, we offer Partial Hospitalization.

Partial Hospitalization is a great alternative to inpatient care, with a more flexible schedule, and is also more cost-effective. Yet, many people are still unaware that this program exists. It’s a fairly new concept in mental health care, having become available within the last 10-15 years.

mother daughters kids children family outdoors summer heroPartial Hospitalization provides clinically equivalent mental healthcare at a much lower cost than inpatient treatment. According to the Association for Ambulatory Behavioral Healthcare, direct cost savings over inpatient benefits are usually 40 to 60 percent — and more than 60 percent in some instances.

There are additional benefits because an employee involved in partial hospitalization treatment may be able to work on at least a limited basis, thus maintaining productivity.

Partial hospitalization dates back to the 1960s, when a small group of clinicians believed that individuals with acute mental illness would have a better chance of recovery and healthy functioning if they were allowed to pursue their treatment in the same communities where they worked, went to school, or maintained their family relationships.

“Our program provides the resources available to an inpatient without being completely isolated from your life” explains Marlyene Pfeiffer, LCSW, CSAC, and program psychotherapist at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital. “It’s an alternative to inpatient care, or a nice transition toward home for those ready to be discharged from the hospital.”

Partial Hospital programs help individuals develop and strengthen coping and healthy living skills – from healthy eating and regular exercise, to better sleep habits. Patients come in during the day and go home to their families in the evening. This allows them to practice the new skills they’ve learned, while also promoting their new-found confidence and independence.

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers several Partial Hospitalization Programs.

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.

How do you perceive people with psychiatric issues?

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What if you were to ask a group of friends or colleagues “How many of you have ever broken a bone?”

I’m sure they would not have thought twice about raising their hands if that were the case. Then I would have asked “How many of you have ever been diagnosed and treated for some form of mental or emotional disturbance?” I suspect none would have raised their hands, and there would have been an awkward silence.

Perhaps the stigma which continues to linger in our modern age is because the field of psychiatry is relatively young, compared to other sciences. Or perhaps it is because there tends to be an unrealistic expectation that anyone who is “competent” should not incur such types of problems.

The truth of the matter is: man, by his very nature, is imperfect, and mental health conditions can be inherited, just like so many other illnesses. Mental health conditions can also develop easily enough based on our ever-changing sets of life circumstances. Chemical imbalances stemming from a variety of bodily changes, such as hormonal, or thyroid, or a wide variety of other factors, can also bring on a range of psychiatric symptoms. All of these can happen to any of us at any time, whether we like it or not.

Why is it we don’t hesitate to contact our doctor when we have a physical problem, but hesitate to contact them when the problem is of an emotional nature? This is where the stigma comes in; that fear of what others might think of us. And that fear is based on a sense of shame, as if for some reason we are automatically buying into the negative stereotype of whatever label our symptoms might suggest.

As individuals we are far more than one or two labels might suggest. If we suffer from symptoms of anxiety or depression or a myriad of other potential psychiatric symptoms, does that make up the whole of who we are? Does that mean we are to automatically assume feelings of shame, inadequacy, or worse yet, label ourselves as a victim? If we break a leg do we not place our focus on the steps we need to take to heal, as opposed to just laying there as if nothing can be done?

Some progress has been made regarding the unfortunate stigma which has been placed on mental health or emotional problems, but we still have a long way to go. Every day we see the kinds of shortcomings each of us too often display, whether they can be labeled as a legitimate psychiatric condition or not.

The fact is, we have all exhibited unhealthy behaviors toward each other, and the challenge to improve our condition is always by degrees. We live in a world with a million shades of gray, and it does none of us any good to think strictly in polarized terms, as if everything should be black or white, all or nothing. We would all be wise to daily practice a greater degree of compassion to those in the world around us.

For more about mental health treatment, 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.

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.

What is being done to prevent suicides in the United States?

The 2012 National Strategy for Suicide Prevention was released Monday, September 10th.

The report from the U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Regina Benjamin and the Action Alliance includes 13 goals and 60 objectives for reducing suicides over the next 10 years.

U.S. health officials said nearly 100 people every day commit suicide, and many more attempt it. It is the tenth leading cause of death in the U.S. with rates doubling those of lives taken by homicide. The military in particular has seen an alarming increase in suicides this year.

The new guidelines focus on preventing suicides, especially among military veterans, by methods such as beefing up the nation’s crisis hotline to help. Four immediate priorities are highlighted to reduce the number of suicides:

  1. Integrating suicide prevention into health care policies.
  2. Encouraging the transformation of health care systems to prevent suicide.
  3. Changing the way the public talks about suicide and suicide prevention.
  4. Improving the quality of data on suicidal behaviors to develop increasingly effective prevention efforts.

The National Strategy‘s goals and objectives fall within four strategic directions, which, when working together, may most effectively prevent suicides:

  1. Create supportive environments that promote healthy and empowered individuals, families, and communities (4 goals, 16 objectives)
  2. Enhance clinical and community preventive services (3 goals, 12 objectives)
  3. Promote the availability of timely treatment and support services (3 goals, 20 objectives)
  4. Improve suicide prevention surveillance collection, research, and evaluation (3 goals, 12 objectives)

In addition, the federal government announced it will boost staff by 50 percent at the national hotline – 1-800-273-TALK – which is open to military and civilians alike. It provided $55.6 million for state and local programs, and highlighted Facebook features that link distressed users to counselors.

You can view the National Strategy for Suicide Prevention and additional materials at the US Surgeon General web site. To speak to someone about emotional distress or suicidal thoughts, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

Visit these web sites for more information:

suicide risk factors

suicide warning signs

For more information about treatment for individuals 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.

Celebrate the spirit of National Recovery Month

National Recovery Month, sponsored by The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), is recognized each September.

Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for substance use and mental disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible.

Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover.

Here are just a few stories from individuals celebrating Recovery Month

Today I work in recovery advocacy, and I try to help people who are experiencing the suffering I once did. My life today isn’t always easy, but I know that my recovery and the support I have in my life today can carry me through any situation life brings to me. 

Plain and simple, medication management and psychotherapy have helped me stay on the path of recovery from my mental health conditions. I’m an aspiring author with an autobiography detailing my mental health issues, and I advocate for the mentally ill. I am now 45 years old and living life to the fullest.

I have been in recovery for 15 years. I feel everyday is an accomplishment in my sobriety. I am happy and living a fulfilling life as I never experienced during my addiction. I am now working towards my masters of social work degree and will use this education to work with those dealing with mental health issues and addictions.

My life has been an unfolding process of searching for my truth and my liberation. A major part of my journey has been looking back with a deeper lens at what happened to me. I was put in a mental institution at age 16 and told that I had an incurable brain disease. The experts, however, were wrong.

For more stories about recovery, click here

Aurora Psychiatric Hospital supports individuals in recovery in many ways. One of the most recent projects is the renovation of the President’s House, which will benefit recovery support groups.

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

For more information about National Recovery Month go to www.recoverymonth.gov

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.

Preventing suicide: a sister’s emotional plea

This heart-felt letter was written by a sister who lost her brother too soon.

In 2011, my younger brother chose to end his life. He was so very smart, handsome, and kind-hearted. He was a talented potter. He appreciated beauty in the simplest things. He gave kindness to everyone and expected it in return. He had a wicked sense of humor. And he was tormented by a barely diagnosed and untreated mental disorder.

Since that day, my family has been on a roller coaster of emotions: guilt, anger, shame, fear, loneliness, despair and overwhelming sadness.  We would have done anything to get him the help he so desperately needed, but he didn’t want it. So, this letter is a plea to anyone who has ever considered suicide; it’s a desperate plea not to do it.  There is someone out there who loves you, who needs you, and who wants to help you.  It may be someone in your family, it may be one of your friends, it may a doctor or a therapist or a teacher or a religious official, but someone wants to help you.

There are so many things we’ve learned over the last eight months. I learned what it’s like to be unable to sleep because of the terrible thoughts in your head. I’ve learned what it means to watch your parents cry wretchedly and not be able to comfort them. I’ve learned how to deal with grief in a way that allows it to be focused and not “shoot out” all over the place. I’ve learned that people move on and forget about you and your family; they say and do rude things without even thinking about it. I’ve learned that you should pay attention when the person with suicidal ideas stops talking because that’s when they are going to take action. I’ve learned that hindsight really is perfect vision.

Perhaps the most shocking of those things I’ve learned came in a conversation with my therapist. I was horrified to learn that people who are suicidal think that everyone they know will be better off if they are gone. This is so wrong. We are not better off because my brother is gone. The world is not better off because he is gone. Just like no one would be better off if you were gone. Your family, friends, co-workers, pets, and anyone who know you will not be better off because you are gone.

Whatever your personal situation is may seem overwhelming and insurmountable right now. It may seem like suicide is the only way out. It’s not the only way out; it’s the wrong way out. You will be missed very much. Someone will cry for you; someone will feel a sense of suffocating guilt that they couldn’t help you and that you are gone while they are still here; someone will be angry with you; someone will be lonely because you are gone.

Suicide is not the answer—don’t do it. While it may be hard to do and the thought may be overwhelming, I urge you to get help. Please learn from my family’s experience and know that you are wanted and loved and you will be missed.

Sincerely,

A loving, concerned sister

Suicide is the 11th leading cause of death among Americans. The World Health Organization estimates that about one million people around the world die by suicide every year, and CDC (Centers for Disease Control & Prevention) 2007 data indicates more than 34,000 suicides occurred in the U.S. This is the equivalent of 94 suicides per day; one suicide every 15 minutes.

Visit these web sites for more information:

For more information about treatment for individuals 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.