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.

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What is group therapy?

Group therapy is a type of psychological therapy that is conducted with a group of people, rather than in a one-on-one session. This approach is sometimes used alone, but it is also commonly integrated into a comprehensive treatment plan that also includes individual therapy and medication.

vlcsnap-2013-05-16-13h41m36s249Group therapy can help anyone who is in need of mental health care. Like individual therapy, group therapy can benefit people with such conditions as anxiety, panic, depression, family problems, addictions, etc.

Groups can be as small as three or four people, but group therapy sessions generally involve around seven to twelve individuals (although it is possible to have more participants). The group typically meets once or twice each week for an hour or two. Group therapy sessions vary, but the basic format is a small group of patients meet on a regular basis to discuss their feelings and problems and provide mutual support.

The session is guided by a professional therapist who is specially trained in group therapy. The therapist acts as moderator and may suggest a “theme” or topic for the group’s discussion. Sometimes, the therapist will allow the group members to pick the topic for the session.

In a typical session, which lasts about 75-90 minutes, members work to express their own problems, feelings, ideas and reactions as freely and honestly as possible. Such exploration gives the group the important information needed to understand and help one another. Members learn not only to understand themselves and their own issues but also become “therapeutic helpers” for other members.

It’s not unusual to feel uneasy or embarrassed when first joining a group, but soon you begin to develop feelings of interest and trust. Most clients find that group therapy provides a great deal of relief because it allows them a chance to talk with others who are experiencing similar problems — in a private, confidential setting. Unlike individual therapy sessions, group therapy offers participants the opportunity to interact with others with similar issues in a safe, supportive environment.

sb10061547br-001People in group therapy improve not only from the interventions of the therapist, but also from observing others in the group and receiving feedback from group members. The group format, while not providing the one-on-one attention of individual formats, has several advantages.

Probably the biggest advantage of group therapy for mental health issues is in helping a patient realize that he or she is not alone — that there are other people who have similar problems. This is often a revelation, and a huge relief, to the person.

Additional benefits include:

  • Increased feedback Group therapy can provide the patient with feedback from other people. Getting different perspectives is often helpful in promoting growth and change.
  • Modeling By seeing how others handle similar problems, the patient can rapidly add new coping methods to his or her behaviors. This is beneficial in that it can Participants can try out new behaviors, role play, and engage with others give the patient a variety of perspectives on what seem to work and when.
  • Less expensive By treating several patients simultaneously, the therapist can reduce the usual fee. In most cases the cost of group therapy is about one-third that of individual therapy.
  • Improve social skills Since so much of our daily interaction is with other people, many people learn to improve their social skills in group therapy (even though such an issue may not be the focus of the group). The group leader, a therapist, often helps people to learn to communicate more clearly and effectively with one another in the group context. This is inevitably leads to people learning new social skills which they can generalize and use in all of their relationships with others.

There are clinicians and researchers who also claim that the group psychotherapy process produces stronger and longer-lasting results for many people, as compared to individual psychotherapy.

Aurora Behavioral Health Services offer a wide variety of group therapy. If you or someone you know would benefit from group therapy, please contact Aurora Behavioral Health Services at 1-877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services. 

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

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

NCADD (National Council on Alcoholism and  Drug Dependence) has sponsored Alcohol Awareness Month since 1987. It is an opportunity to raise awareness of alcohol abuse and encourage people to make healthy, safe choices.

ncadd%20alcohol%20awareness%20month%202013-%20logoDrinking too much alcohol can lead to health problems, including alcohol poisoning, hangovers, and an increased risk of heart disease. If you are drinking too much, you can improve your health by cutting back or quitting. Keep track of how much you drink, avoid places where overdrinking occurs, and find new ways to deal with stress. If you are concerned about someone else’s drinking, offer to help.

If you or someone you know is struggling with a drinking problem, Aurora Behavioral Health Services offers treatment programs that can help.

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

What does “eating well” mean to a person with an eating disorder?

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics recognizes March 9, 2016 as Registered Dietitian Day. This event, started in 2008, was created to increase the awareness of the vital part registered dietitians provide for patients regarding food and nutrition services and to recognize RDs for their commitment to helping people enjoy healthy lives.

The importance of the registered dietitian is extremely evident in the area of Eating Disorder treatment.

Blaies, Sandy 04a

Sandy Blaies

“Dietitians are an essential part of our program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital” says Sandy Blaies, Eating Disorders program supervisor. “Eating disorders have both psychological and physiological elements and require treatment providers with expertise in both.

“The extreme dieting behaviors, severe weight loss and symptoms of semi-starvation, binge-eating behaviors, and the patient’s distorted beliefs about nutrition and dietary requirements all support the need for the expertise provided by dietitians.”

“Dietitians have an essential role within the multidisciplinary assessment and treatment programs for all three major eating disorders.”

The main aim is to provide sound nutritional knowledge for the patient, the caregivers and other members of the treatment team. The focus of treatment should be on the establishment of a balanced dietary intake which will restore nutritional status and body weight.

Anne Sprenger

Anne Sprenger

Ann Sprenger, RD, a registered dietitian in the Aurora Psychiatric Hospital Eating Disorder Program describes how she works with patients. “I meet with every patient to provide nutrition information, describe how nutrition affects their mental and physical health, and to develop a diet plan in partnership with the patient.

“We monitor food intake every day and identify barriers to healthy eating habits. It is important for the patients to practice healthy eating habits while in the treatment program.”

Dr. Dinshah Gagrat, MD is the Medical Director of the Aurora Psychiatric Hospital Eating Disorder Program. “Professionals who treat patients with an eating disorder need to have knowledge of the nutritional effects and physiological consequences of the illness. This is rare within a predominantly mental health setting and this is the importance of including a registered dietitian in the treatment team.”

How do registered dietitians help people live well? Check out the top 10 ways from the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.

Dr. Dinshah Gagrat

Dr. Dinshah Gagrat

If you or someone you know may be experiencing an eating disorder please contact us at 877-666-7223 or visit our web site at Aurora Behavioral Health Services or check out these resources:

Are you a “heavy drinker?”

A recent story published by the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel indicates Wisconsin was the state with the nation’s highest percentage of heavy drinkers — well above the U.S. median of 6.6%.

Aurora offers a full continuum of substance abuse treatment and related services for children, youth, adults and families.

Aurora offers a full continuum of substance abuse treatment and related services for children, youth, adults and families.

Wisconsin ranked number one, with 9.8% of residents considered heavy drinkers. Just what is a “heavy drinker”?

According to the Centers for Disease Control, men having more than 14 drinks per week, and women having more than 7 drinks per week fall into the heavy drinking category.

Binge drinkers are those who have more than 5 drinks in a day for men, or 4 drinks in a day for women.

“Heavy or binge alcohol consumption can negatively affect an individual’s health in many ways” according to David Smith, MD, vice president of Patient Experience and Care Management at Aurora Health Care.

“The impact on families, communities, and workplace are well known. The brain, nervous system, heart, liver, stomach, gastrointestinal tract, and pancreas can all be damaged by alcoholism. In addition, accidents and injuries related to alcohol use are much higher. We are placing a lot of emphasis on encouraging our caregivers to live healthy lifestyles, and limiting alcohol consumption is key to good health”

For more information on the impact of heavy alcohol consumption, visit these resources.

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.

drinking

Would you recognize the signs of an eating disorder?

Whether you’re a professional caregiver, a friend, or a family member, you could be the first person to recognize and offer assistance regarding a patient’s eating and weight concerns. Identifying the problem early is important.  Early detection and treatment improves the prognosis.

PosterFlyerSCOFF is a screening tool developed to identify patients who may be experiencing an eating disorder.

The SCOFF questionnaire is effective as a screening instrument because it is simple, memorable, easily applied and scored.

One point is assigned for every “yes”; a score greater than two (≥2) indicates a possible case of anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa.

The SCOFF questions

  • Do you make yourself Sick because you feel uncomfortably full?
  • Do you worry that you have lost Control over how much you eat?
  • Have you recently lost more than One stone (14 lb) in a 3-month period?
  • Do you believe yourself to be Fat when others say you are too thin?
  • Would you say that Food dominates your life?

Read more information about What every Primary Care Physician should know about eating disorders.

NEDAwareness Week is February 24-March 2, 2013. This is the largest education and outreach effort on eating disorders in the United States.The aim of NEDAwareness Week is to increase awareness and education about eating disorders and body image issues for effective recognition, early intervention and direction to care.

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. Access an Eating Disorders Screening Tool, or learn about the Eating Disorder Program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital.

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6 Tips to help your children cope with trauma

The media is full of stories that can cause your child to become anxious, stressed or fearful.  Shootings, school violence, and natural disasters are all events that may trigger trauma.

AUR-0545Events such as this can cause post-traumatic stress reactions, which can range from mild to severe. Reaction to trauma can overwhelm a child’s ability to cope.

Munther Barakat, PsyD is a psychologist in the Child & Adolescent Day treatment program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital. Here are his suggestions for minimizing the impact of post-traumatic stress reactions.

    • 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.
    • Try to keep normal routines. Kids gain security from the predictability of routine.
    • It is important to limit the amount of time spent watching the news because constant exposure may actually heighten their anxiety and fears.
    • Talk about the events with your child to the level your child is developmentally able to handle. It is unlikely they have not heard about the event from peers, social media or news and television. Not talking about it can make the event even more threatening. PBS Parents offers help on how to talk with children about news events.
    • Assure children that they are safe and so are their schools.

Munther Barakat is a doctor of psychology at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital in Wauwatosa.

  • Watch for signs of stress, fear or anxiety. It may also a good idea to consult a child and adolescent psychiatrist or other mental health professional for evaluation and treatment if behaviors are severe.

If your child, or a child you know has experienced trauma, contact us at 1-877-666-7223 or visit the Aurora Psychiatric Hospital website.

For more information on trauma, visit these resources:

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.

How can art therapy be used to treat eating disorder?

Art therapy is part of the holistic treatment approach applied to treat eating disorders at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital. Patients can develop self-awareness, adopt better coping mechanisms, improve cognitive functions, and find pleasure in art making.

The purpose of art therapy is fundamentally on healing.  Art therapy helps patients creatively express emotions they may be having difficulty expressing verbally.

It is vital that patients express their emotions. Many times abusive or deadly behaviors are used to numb the pain of not speaking up and out. Obsessions with food and weight are often attempts to cope with unresolved emotional issues such as depression, rage, powerlessness, and loss.

Art therapy is a special tool that can help provide access to those hidden feelings in a safe and non-threatening way. Patients in the Eating Disorder Program at Aurora Psychiatric Hospital participate in both guided art and open art studios in an effort to strengthen and apply their inner resources towards recovery. Art therapy techniques are used to explore the issues that have led to compulsive eating, binging, purging, starving, over-exercising, laxative abuse, etc. Art Therapy is offered as a creative source and an outlet for patients to overcome blocked feelings. Emphasis is on discovering new ways to nurture oneself.

Art therapy is often intimidating to people. Many patients think they’re not artists or they can’t draw or they’re not creative. But art therapy is about the creative process, not the creative product. Patients connect with their inner experiences and find a way to express something that they may not be able to do easily with words. That’s one reason art therapy is a natural fit for eating disorders. It takes away the shame and helps people feel empowered.

A range of materials and mediums can be used, including pencils, watercolors, clay, collages and more. If someone is feeling anxious, overwhelmed, or out of control they might prefer markers or pencils, which help foster a sense of control. Someone who is feeling “stuck” or needing to break out might try a more fluid media, like watercolor paint. And someone who doesn’t want to draw at all can use collage, for example.

Looking at the visual representation of a particular issue provides helpful understanding of the emotions involved. So a person can examine how they feel and behave currently vs. how they want to feel or behave and explore what’s keeping them from functioning the way they want to in a situation or relationship. It’s a skill that can continue to be used at home after treatment as well. Art can be used as a positive coping skill to incorporate into a long term recovery plan.

If you or someone you know is struggling with an eating disorder contact Aurora Psychiatric Hospital Eating Disorders Program

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.