Posts Tagged #mentalhealthawarenessmonth
Psychology of Performance #62: Veteran’s Mental Health, Memorial Day and President Trump’s Stigmatization During Mental Health Month*
*This blog has nothing to do with party affiliation, it is about leadership, modeling, and stigma and its consequences.
President Trump has made stigmatizing comments related to mental health during Mental Health Awareness month (May 2017). This is unacceptable leadership behavior on many levels. As the Commander-In-Chief of our armed forces, he has now sent a message to our active duty personnel and veterans that it is ok to call people “nut jobs” and other derogatory names related to mental illness, psychological stress, and behavioral problems. The irresponsible nature of this during Mental Health Awareness Month, and right before Memorial Day when we honor those who have served our country, now sends a message to our active duty personnel and veterans that they should not seek help or they will suffer social or job-related consequences.
Why is this a problem?
You may be wondering why am I making an issue of this? The US Department of Veterans Affairs has the following quick facts (not fake news, just the facts).
- In 2011, more than 1.3 million Veterans received specialized mental health treatment from VA for mental health related issues.
- The Rand Center for Military Health Policy Research, Invisible Wounds of War, 2008 noted that of the 1.7 million veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, 300,000 (20%) suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression.
- The American Psychological Association has identified the critical need for mental health professionals trained to treat post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury. Please review this commentary. http://www.apa.org/about/gr/issues/military/critical-need.aspx
The commentary goes on to note:
- suicide rates are increasing for returning service members;
- unemployment rates for veterans outpaces the civilian rate;
- brain injuries are linked to PTSD;
- female veterans are particularly likely to suffer from mental health issues related to “military sexual trauma” (20%);
- many in need (about 60-70%) do not seek help;
- stigma associated with mental illness in military communities; and
- long term consequences of unaddressed mental health needs.
Leadership and Stigma
It is well established in the psychological literature that social learning through the modeling by others has an impact on subsequent learning and behavior. When President Trump engages in direct insults to people while using derogatory mental health terms, his subordinates, employees, constituency, and his military receive the message that he is modelling that implies that having a mental illness (caused by serving our country) or stress (caused by serving our country) means you are less of a person, not competent to work, is something to be ashamed of, and should be kept a secret. Furthermore, it gives others permission to act in a similar manner further pushing those who are concerned about seeking help away and reinforces the stigma in the military and in society. Finally, his comments about grabbing women’s genitalia that came to public awareness while he was a presidential candidate further erode female military personnel’s safety in their own units when twenty percent (20%) have already experienced “military sexual trauma”.
Psychology of Performance
Employees’ performance can be negatively impacted by “bullying behavior”, or demeaning comments about their illnesses. It is exacerbated when leadership models this behavior because then it becomes acceptable with no organizational accountability. The consequences are lowered productivity, increased absenteeism, presenteeism, and increased medical costs. The cost of untreated mental illness to employers, families, and society is significant. President Trump’s behavior as a leader in this area is concerning and needs to stop.
This Memorial Day, I ask you to remember those who served and honor those who are still alive by letting them know the pain and suffering they experienced can be healed if they have such symptoms. They deserve our support, compassion, and gratitude. There are many resources available to them, encourage them to use them. Finally, stand up to those such as our President and Commander-In-Chief who model unskilful and unwholesome behavior.
Have a day filled with loving kindness and compassion!
Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., Chairman and Psychologist
I was told the birth of my daughter would have significant effects on my sleep schedule, social schedule, and life in general. One can never truly understand what that means until one is in that situation. Needless to say, our newborn baby, while we love her dearly, has caused my wife and I to change some things in our lives, if only temporarily. One of those things that have changed is our sleep (or lack of) schedule. I’ve always thought I was quite efficient at functioning with little to no sleep. Having certain sets of life circumstances… think long nights in Vegas, middle of the night hiking trips, and overnight flights across the globe… I always saw myself as someone who can manage without sleep, and still have the ability to be aware of not only my needs but other people’s as well. With this new experience of fatherhood, I’m learning that long nights in Vegas and long nights with a crying baby are two drastically different experiences. Being a new father has also made me realize how unaware I can be of my own mental health. I find myself thinking mostly about my new baby and my wife, and what their needs are, and by the time I realize what I’m needing, it’s too late and I’m in a crabby mood.
Thinking more about this made me realize how easy it is for us to lose track of what we’re needing, as well as other people’s mental health needs. As a therapist, I like to think that I am usually good at being aware of others’ needs, understanding what kind of support they are seeking, and encouraging them to pay attention to their mental health. However, when a big, life-changing event happens, or when we get wrapped up in our day to day lives, it’s easy to lose focus of what we may be lacking emotionally, and what we need to “fill up our tank”.
Because of how easy it has become for me to lose awareness, particularly on days after a very long sleepless night, I’ve started a new habit. Every day on my way home from work, after I exit on to a certain street, I use that time to check in with myself and ask myself how things are going. That exit is my signal to make myself aware of anything I may be needing. As I work to cement this new habit into a daily ritual, I will also start to look at what strategies I can employ and how I can adjust my perspective so I won’t be burnt out or be frustrated at my darling daughter.
What is your “exit” on the way home from work? What is needed to keep your “tank” full? I encourage you to take a moment and make yourself aware of what you may be needing and how you’re doing. It doesn’t take much time and it sure beats waiting until you’re emotionally exhausted to realize you’re struggling. Once you find your “exit” and know what you need to do so you don’t get burnt out, take the necessary time to find what strategies you can employ and how you can make this a new habit.
Here are some identifiable warning signs that you be close to burning out to watch for along with some self-care tips.
- Increased illness
- Loss of appetite
- Your mind feels fuzzy
- You feel stressed all the time, along with increased anxiety
- Loss of enjoyment or pleasure for working, successful completion of projects, or even being with friends and family.
- You are crabby, grouchy, or just not in a good mood
- You forget appointments, due dates, and possibly even social events.
- You have chronic fatigue
- Just say “No”- It is ok to decline a new project if you are feeling overwhelmed.
- Take time to relax. If you need assistance with this try guided meditation, massage, or even yoga.
- Make sure you take the time to fulfill all 8 areas of your wellbeing on a regular basis to help you overcome burnout and eliminate some stressors.
- Physical- sleep, eat, exercise enough.
- Spiritual- keep an eye on what you value and what your purpose is and make sure you do that activity often.
- Intellectual- Find an activity that is interesting to do- something to stretch your imagination, creativity, and make you use your brain in a different way than you do every day.
- Financial- Try using a financial calculator or meet with a financial advisor to discuss your personal situation. Talking about your finances and knowing what you need to accomplish to be financially stable is a good starting point to feeling less stressed, overwhelmed, and burnt out.
- Social- Even if you don’t feel like you have time, make time to be with friends and family so they can support you in your goals, or babysit your child so you can be with your partner alone.
- Emotional- Stay positive. Find something positive each day to focus on- your daughter is healthy, you have a job etc. If you struggle with this, look up how to reframe negative thoughts into positive ones.
- Environmental- Your environment includes your social, natural outdoor, and built environment. Take time look at your surroundings and maybe check out that store or museum you always drive by because you are too busy.
- Occupational- Take 5 minutes of your day to talk to a co-worker to learn from them, connect with them, and see how you can support each other at work.
We all have these areas that we need to fulfill in order to be successful, less stressed, and energized to face the next day and adventure. I hope with these tips and reminders, you can quickly recognize when and how to fill your “tank” and be able to handle late nights and responsibilities that we all have. And don’t forget to find that “exit” so you are reminded to take the time to do these things and be mentally aware.
As always if you need help with any of this or just need to talk, please use the resources that are available to you. If you have an Employee Assistance Program at work don’t hesitate to call them. If MINES is your EAP give us a call anytime. It’s free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day. You can reach us at 1-800-873-7138.
To Your Wellbeing,
James D. Redigan, LPC
The MINES Team
As you may or may not know, May is National Mental Health Awareness month in the United States. Here at MINES improving services, knowledge, and awareness around mental health issues, and providing solutions to these issues is our business, our specialty, and our passion. Therefore, it’s safe to say that Mental Health Awareness Month is important to us as it allows us an opportunity to jump into the national conversation around critical behavioral health topics on a national level and help the fight to increase awareness and decrease stigma around mental health.
To shed some light on why this is so critical, consider the following statistics:
US General Stats:
- 1 in 25 adults are currently diagnosed with a serious mental illness; 1 in 5 are currently diagnosed with some sort mental illness
- There are a wide variety of anxiety disorders, including Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, and specific phobias to name a few. Collectively they are among the most common mental disorders experienced by Americans.
- Approximately 10.2 million adults in the U.S. have co-occurring mental health and addiction disorders.
- Serious mental health illnesses cost people $193.2 billion in lost earnings every year in the U.S.
- Nearly 60% of adults with a mental illness did not receive care in the previous year.
- 3% are currently diagnosed with a serious mental illness; 14.3% are currently diagnosed with some sort mental illness.
- Men die from suicide at twice the rate as women.
- 6 milling men are affected by depression per year in the U.S.
- The Top 5 major mental health problems affecting men in the U.S. include: Depression, Anxiety, Bipolar Disorder, Psychosis and Schizophrenia, and Eating Disorders.
- Men are significantly less likely to seek help for mental health issues than women. Causes for this include reluctance to talk, social norms, and downplaying symptoms.
- 5% are currently diagnosed with a serious mental illness; 21.2% are currently diagnosed with some sort mental illness.
- 12 million women in the U.S. experience clinical depression each year. Roughly twice the rate of men.
- Although men are more likely than women to die by suicide, women report attempting suicide approximately twice as often as men.
- Many factors in women may contribute to depression, such as developmental, reproductive, hormonal, genetic and other biological differences (e.g. premenstrual syndrome, childbirth, infertility, and menopause).
- Fewer than half of the women who experience clinical depression will ever seek care. And Depression in women is misdiagnosed approximately 30 to 50 percent of the time.
- 50% of all chronic mental illness begins by the age of 14; 75% by the age of 24.
- 20% of 8 to 13 year of age in the U.S. will be diagnosed with some sort of mental illness in their lifetime.
- Girls 14-18 years of age have consistently higher rates of depression than boys in this age group.
- Nearly 50% of kids with a mental illness did not receive care in the previous year.
- LGBTQ adolescents are twice as likely to attempt suicide than non-LGBTQ youths.
- More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition.
This month from MINES
All throughout this Mental Health Awareness Month, MINES will be tweeting out stats to stoke the conversation and resources to help those that may not know where to go. We will also be sharing thoughts, resources, and insight from different members of the MINES team around some of today’s important behavioral health issues right here on MINESblog. So please follow if you are not already, and feel free to share with anyone you think may benefit from the information. And if you or someone you know is struggling with a mental health issue, please encourage them to reach out to one of the resources above to find the help they need. And as always, if MINES is your Employee Assistance Program and you need help, information or just need to talk, call us 24 hours a day at 1-800-873-7138.
- Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Referral Helpline –
- National Institute for Mental Health – nimh.nih.gov
- NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) – nami.org
- Mental Health America – mentalhealthamerica.net
- Mental Health America of Colorado http://www.mhacolorado.org/gethelp
- Anxiety and Depression Association of America – adaa.org
- Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance – dbsalliance.org
- National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – suicidepreventionlifeline.org
- Veterans Crisis Line – veteranscrisisline.net
- National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention – actionallianceforsuicideprevention.org
- United Way- unitedway.org/local/united-states/
Keep the conversation going
As always we ask that you don’t let the conversation end with the end of the month. We don’t have to wait until next year to keep talking about Mental Health especially when there are so many people out there in need of help and information. Keep good track of your own health and wellbeing, don’t be afraid to seek help if you need to, and assist others by talking to them and sharing information and directing them towards care providers that can help them.
To your wellbeing,
The MINES Team