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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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

Everybody knows somebody with an eating disorder

NEDAwarenesweekNational Eating Disorders Awareness Week is the largest education and outreach effort on eating disorders in the United States, taking place from February 24 to March 2, 2013.

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. This year’s theme is EVERYBODY KNOWS SOMEBODY.

Do you know somebody affected by an eating disorder?

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Melissa Arvin

Judy Arvin knew somebody. Her daughter, Melissa, lost her life to an eating disorder. Following Melissa’s death, Judy formed Someday Melissa – a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, that was established to promote awareness of the dangers of eating disorders.

Click here to read Melissa’s story or watch the full movie trailer.

You can also 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.  

 

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.

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.

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.

Are your parenting skills effective?

Are your parenting skills effective? Ken Christian, LCSW, a therapist with Aurora Behavioral Health Services, offers some time to developing good relationships with your children.

By today’s standards the traditional family is quite different than it was a generation ago. In the “old days”, dad went off to work while mom stayed home to take care of the children. When dad came home in the evening, the family would have a dinner together. This traditional family setting, as we once knew it, is in danger of extinction.

Today, increases in the divorce rate, two income families, and single-parent families have prompted changes in values and traditional parent roles.  The focus among parents and children has shifted to activities outside the home – kids are doing one thing and parents are doing another. As a result, families are spending less time together.

Parents may be unable to control these societal changes, but with the proper “tools”, they can maintain their own values in the home and develop or maintain closer relationships with their children.

If you are a parent -married, single or divorced- you know it can be difficult to maintain a harmonious relationship with your child. There are a few things you can do to help lay the groundwork for a happy, healthy household:

  1. Focus on developing good communication and listening skills and be honest with your child. If you make a mistake, admit to it. It’s okay to let them know you’re human.
  2. Set expectations and limits for children. Make it clear what the expectations and consequences are, and stick to them. Many parents can fall into the trap of not being consistent and not following through on what they say. Remember – kids can be masters of manipulation. They may say things like “I hate you” or “you’re not fair”. At times you will feel guilty and want to give in. If you say you are going to ground your child if they do not take out the garbage – then do it.
  3. Work toward building your children’s self-esteem. In the long run it will help your relationship with them and help their relationships with others.
  4. Be a good role model. Don’t fall into the “do as I say, not as I do” trap. An example of this is: If you swear when you get upset, your child thinks it is okay to swear too. But when your child swears, they get scolded. Try to avoid sending mixed messages.
  5. Maintain control without turning things into a battleground. When your children reach their teens they will start challenging your judgment. For example, if your teenager wants to say out past midnight but doesn’t know where they will be, you might be inclined to say you don’t want them out past that time. Your teenager might respond by saying “Jimmy’s parents let him stay out past midnight without knowing where he’ll be”. You might respond by saying, “That’s not me. I value knowing where you are going to be and it’s important for me to know because I care about you”. Remember, you don’t always have to defend yourself or your actions. Saying “no” sometimes – and sticking to it – is all you need to do. Children need to learn how to handle hearing “no” for an answer. It is important that children recognize your values and their importance in your life.

If you are experiencing conflict with your children, or if you feel your child is out of control, contact Aurora Psychiatric Hospital. Our Child & Adolescent Day Treatment program can be the perfect resource.

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.

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.