Posts Tagged psychology

John Oliver: Rehab, Last Week Tonight Psychology of Performance #63

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., Chairman and Chief Psychology Officer

Thank you John Oliver and your staff for a significant public service on your show this week! Your commentary and excellent coverage of a major problem in substance use disorder and alcohol treatment will have an impact far beyond what the insurance and professional communities have been able to do.

MINES has patients who have gone out of network, received poor care, the payors have received outrageous bills, the patients are stuck with bills that can only result in medical bankruptcy and as you noted, people die in these disreputable facilities.  A major component that you pointed out is patient brokering. When people Google substance abuse/use treatment, the top 20-30 are facilities, mostly in Florida and California, or are patient brokers. Reputable facilities in the person’s community do not even make the list. Then the facilities sometimes even pay the airfare to fly the patient to their facility and if the patient does not meet medical necessity for that level of care, the facility turns them out on the street to find their own way back to the state/community they live in.

You mentioned addictionologists as a resource for finding reputable care. In addition, Employee Assistance Programs as well as managed behavioral health services (insurance) are knowledgeable and informed about substance use and alcohol treatment. They know which facilities and programs are in network with the insurance and which ones do a good job.

Evidence-based treatment supports the use of a continuum of care from outpatient, intensive outpatient, partial hospitalization, residential and detox (medical and social detox). There are medications that also contribute to sobriety and health.

These are chronic illnesses/conditions that require the patients to cope with all their lives. Learning relapse prevention and adherence skills are essential.

If you decide to delve into this national problem further in a future episode, I would be happy to consult with you and your team.

The following clip may be not suitable for some work environments:

Resource:

This is a link to a pdf of an article published by the Self Insurance Institute of America on predatory treatment facilities and managed behavioral healthcare strategies for helping the patients and the payors. http://www.minesandassociates.com/documents/Predatory_Facility_Article.pdf

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Mental Health Awareness Month 2018

It is time once again in 2018 to refocus, converse, reevaluate, plan, and take action around mental health issues and substance abuse. While this battle rages all year, Mental Health Awareness month (every May) is a time where organizations, healthcare providers, and individuals can share their story to highlight how they fight on the front lines against these issues and for those that those who struggle with mental health issues and substance abuse every day to share their story to help spread awareness and inspire hope in those who may need it most. To look at this issue(s) objectively it is important to look at the data behind it all. Who is affected? How many are seeking care? What programs are there that exist to help those in need? These questions are not new, we ask them every day, but for those that don’t work at an organization that provides mental health services or those that may not suffer from a mental health issue themselves, the problem is a little less visible and these questions are a little more foreign. So, let’s look at, and answer, some of those questions now.

Who is affected

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.

Men:

  • 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.

Women:

  • 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.

Kids:

  • 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.

 

Sources: click the links for more stats and infographics.

How many are seeking care?

The short answer to this one is “not enough.” A recent report from SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration) state that only 1 in 5 adults with a mental illness are receiving treatment. This statistic combined with an uncertain future for Medicare and mental health funding means that employers are often the only path to access help for those in need through health insurance benefits, employee assistance programs, and wellness programs.  These alarming statistics also bring to light how common it is for these issues to affect the workforce, and simultaneously its productivity. So, whether someone is directly suffering from a mental health issue or not, this is a problem that affects every last person in one way or another.

Why we do what we do

If you found the above statistics surprising, you must be new to the mental health conversation because these are nothing new. Mental health is an area that struggles to retain consistent support and funding from public and private sources. Mental health programs, care providers, facilities, non-profit organizations, and even programs like MINES’ Employee Assistance Program have to constantly justify themselves and (re)prove the value it what they/we do. A combination of the invisible nature of many mental health conditions and the stigma behind talking about these issues and seeking care makes it difficult to see just how pervasive of a problem these are in the US as well as the much of the rest of the world. In some areas of the world, mental health disorders can land you in jail or worse.  It is not a “sexy” topic so the media only really rallies around the topic when something happens like a mass shooting, celebrity rehab incident, or some other sensation worthy event. This is a tragedy in and of itself because if we as a nation could just remain committed to improving the support system, communication, and available resources around mental health, so much of this loss of life could be prevented. This is why we, MINES and every other care provider, organization, and individual fights this all too silent war every day.

The relationship between mental health and substance abuse

This month is also about a very closely related issue to mental health,  substance abuse. A large percentage of people with mental health disorders also experience issues with substance abuse, and vise versa. In fact, according to a SAMSHA study, nearly 27% of people with a mental health disorder use illicit drugs, which is over twice as much as the rate of the general population. And of the approximately 8.7 million people that suffer from both mental health issues and substance abuse, only about 7% receive treatment for both issues and a staggering 56% don’t receive treatment for either issue at all. With these numbers, it’s easy to see that there is a huge correlation that links these devastating nationwide issues. Enter prevention week.

Prevention week

This year SAMHSA is spearheading Prevention Week, May 13-19, to help spread awareness of both mental health issues, as they do year around, as well as the prevailing substance use issues that are running rampant without any sign of slowing down. We encourage you to check out their site for more information on prevention week and to see how you can support them and your community in the fight. Check out these links for information on all of the above:

Below is a list of other important resources that can help you if you or someone you care about is suffering from a mental health issue, depression, substance abuse, or if you just need someone to talk to. Many are free, community-based resources that won’t cost you anything but your time. And of course, as MINES and Associates provides Employee Assistance Programs, we encourage you to use one if your employer offers one. EAPs are a great free and confidential resource that can help you, and in many cases, your family/household members, get in touch with a counselor and start the journey to better mental wellbeing. EAPs can also help with a large variety of other work/life issues that may be affecting you like work/life balance, financial issues, fitness, nutrition, and more.

Resources

  • Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration Treatment Referral Helpline
    • 1-800-662-HELP
  • 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
    • 1-800-273-8255
  • First Responder Crisis Text Line
    • Text “Badge” to 741741
  • Military/Veterans Crisis Line/Resources
  • National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention – actionallianceforsuicideprevention.org
  • United Way- unitedway.org/local/united-states/

SAMHSA

  • Help and Treatment
    • samhsa.gov/find-help
  • Child mental health resources
    • samhsa.gov/children/awareness-day/2018/resource-list-traumatic-stress

Going forward

What can we do going forward? Stay loud. Keep talking. Keep writing congress about mental issues that affect you and those you love. Don’t let them wait for there to be a tragic event before the issues get put on their desk. Continue to vote for people that believe in what we do and what needs to be done. Continue to support organizations that are making strides in the right direction. Continue to demand benefits from employers that do more than just the bare minimum to support our mental health. Change is possible but it going to take more than an awareness month. It’s going to take people, all of us, coming together and making this an issue that’s bigger than a month, an issue that cannot be ignored or scapegoated. So, take the rest of this month help spread awareness, and then use next month keep marching, keep shouting, and continue to come together to push change forward because no one is going to do it for us.

 

To your wellbeing,

Nic Mckane

The MINES Team

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Publication Update December 2017

Just a quick update.

Dr. Robert Mines (chairman and psychologist) and Dr. Dani Kimlinger (CEO) from the MINES Team were honored to contribute to an article by Bruce Shutan in this month’s issue of The Self-Insurer. The article is called Beyond Opioids and covers how EAPs, like MINES, and good benefit-plan design can help treat addictions and other substance use issues in an employee population as well as control overall health care spending.

The issue can be viewed here:

 

Check out other Self-Insurer publications here: https://goo.gl/2TjaUV

And check out other MINES publications here: www.minesandassociates.com/about_staff_publications.html

 

To your wellbeing,

The MINES Team

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Turn Your Day Upsy-Daisy

Today is National Upsy-Daisy Day, which is a day all about using positive psychology to find ways to laugh, improve the quality of your life, and have fun, according to National Day Calendar. So, what does Upsy-Daisy mean? The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines Upsy-Daisy as an expression of “reassurance typically to a small child when it is being lifted”. So, in essence, this day is about finding ways to be lifted in your everyday stressful life.

Children and Gratefulness are key

Our culture tends to forget to take a step back and be grateful for each day we live. Even when things go wrong or seem hopeless, taking a moment to recognize one good thing that happens today or finding a small way to help improve your day (or someone else’s), will help you physically feel better and will help improve your emotional resilience. Children are great examples of this. Their ability to smile right after crying, their desire to be adventurous and experiment (and be ok when things don’t go as planned), and their perseverance to thrive in their current circumstances are some great examples of what we can learn from them. Take a moment to think how you can use flexibility and gratefulness in your present circumstances to help reassure and re-align your mindset to be positive. Look for a way to not only lift your own spirits up but look how you can help others feel uplifted and supported.

Focus on your Wellbeing

Each month, MINES writes on the various aspects of wellbeing in our Total Wellbeing Newsletter. We look at one aspect of wellbeing each month. This month we are looking at intellectual wellbeing and next month will be about social wellbeing. I think that this subject of looking inward and finding ways to be happy is very important especially in regards to your overall wellbeing. If you are able to “feed” and “support” your whole wellbeing, you will be a healthier and happier person overall. So, in celebration of this day, try to find one aspect of your overall wellbeing (Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Financial, Occupational, Environmental, Social, or Spiritual) to work on and look how you can use your talents to help lift someone else up.

How to use Positive Psychology

According to Psychology Today, Positive Psychology is “the study of happiness” and focuses on “how ordinary people can become happier and more fulfilled”. Martin Seligman, is a popular psychologist who has spent his career looking and reviewing what Positive Psychology is and how to use it in your everyday lives. He looks at how we can foster positive attitudes towards one’s subjective experiences, individual traits, and life events (Seligman, 2014). So, while you are grasping ways to be less stressed or overwhelmed, consider taking a step back to look at how you respond to each experience and see if you can adjust your personal bias towards that experience. You may be amazed at what you learn about yourself and the situations that you find stressful. Once you are able to be mindful of what you are doing daily, start finding at least one thing to be positive about with each situation/experience you are in.

Being Upsy-Daisy at MINES

At MINES, we are working on using this principle of being authentically happy and mindful of our perspectives by asking everyone to answer at the end of the day how their day went. This simple question allows you to take that step back and think of how your day is going and if there is anything that anyone could have done to help make it even better. We also try to make sure to engage our employees through a few different wellbeing initiatives once a month which allows for the re-focus on ones’ health and overall wellbeing/happiness that is needed in our busy lives. By doing this, we are able to be a part of Health Links as a Healthy Business Leader, which is a privilege.

Smile and Go Forth!

Even if your company doesn’t have a wellness benefit or if you are not able to do something all together, there are plenty of things you can do on your own. One of the easiest things you can do to be positive, even when you don’t feel like it, is to smile. There are several studies that show that when a person is truly smiling, it affects certain muscles that signal your brain to send out more endorphins which will help you be even happier. Smiling is also shown to boost your immune system which can help you live longer. What more reasons do you need to start smiling more?

I hope that these tips will be helpful for you and your wellbeing! Happy Upsy-Daisy Day!

 

To Your Wellbeing,

Raena Chatwin

The MINES Team

 

References

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/upsy-daisy

https://www.psychologytoday.com/basics/positive-psychology

Seligman, M. E.P., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2014). Positive psychology: An introduction (pp. 279-298). Springer Netherlands

http://www.lifehack.org/articles/lifestyle/11-facts-about-smiling.html

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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.

Memorial Day

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!

Bob

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., Chairman and Psychologist

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Mental Health Awareness Month 2017

BeAware

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.

Importance

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.

Men:

  • 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.

Women:

  • 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.

Kids:

  • 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.

Resources

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,

Nic Mckane,

The MINES Team

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GOOD GRIEF

What is grief?

Grief is a natural reaction to loss. It can be a loved one, friend, co-worker, pet, and even sometimes objects such as a house or car. It’s important to understand that grief is a way in which our minds and bodies cope and that grief can be a healthy, even necessary, process. Everyone experiences grief at some point in their lives and works through it on their own terms. In fact, 1 in 5 people will experience the death of someone close to them by the time they are 18. Grief can be an extremely personal time where people may reach out to others or isolate themselves. We will discuss the difference between healthy and unhealthy grieving, along with the common stages of grief.

The stages of grief

Depending on where you look you can find anywhere from 5 to 7 stages of grief. For sake of brevity, we will focus on the core 5 stages. The stages are:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

While these stages represent an overall progression, it is important to note that it is possible to move back and forth between stages, skip stages and even begin the stages again once you’ve reached acceptance. For instance, you may skip the bargaining stage and go straight into the depression stage but then fall back into the anger stage before finally reaching the acceptance stage. The healing process will be painful and depending on the level of grief you are experiencing can often take a long time. Sometimes it may take weeks, other times it can years to reach some form of resolution to the grieving process. It is important to focus on happy memories and positive thoughts when working through a loss. In 2008 psychologist Dale Lund of California State University surveyed 292 recently bereaved men and women age 50 and older and found that 75 percent reported finding humor and laughter in their daily lives and at levels much higher than they had expected. Other research has shown that being able to draw on happy memories of the deceased helps you heal — those who are able to smile when describing their relationship to their husband or wife six months after the loss were happier and healthier 14 months out than those who could only speak of the deceased with sadness, fear, and anger. Everyone works through grief their own way and in their own time but it is important to recognize when the grieving process has stagnated and is not progressing toward acceptance in a healthy way. This may be a sign that professional help is needed.

When is grieving good/bad?

As we mentioned above grief is a very natural, human reaction to tragedy and necessary to our healing process. Grieving is healthy when we are able to use it to process our thoughts and emotions in a way that lets us heal and eventually reach a state of acceptance that lets us move on from the tragedy. This does not mean forgetting about the people we may have lost or the events that might have happened, but simply reaching a place emotionally that allows us to live our lives normally. Grief is unhealthy when we stop progressing through the stages and get stuck. This may happen in any one of the stages and you may even switch between a couple but are never able to reach the acceptance stage. This can happen for any number of reasons. Depression, isolation, and compounding life sources of stress and grief are just a few factors that could lead to obstacles in the grieving process. If this becomes the case, it is often best to seek professional help. Contacting a professional grief counselor is the best first step in assessing where you are in the grieving process and to determine if there are other areas of concern that need attention. To get in touch with a qualified counselor you can talk to your primary care doctor and they can often make a referral. You may also have direct lines to behavioral health benefits through your employer’s health plan or Employee Assistance Program. Check with your Human Resources Department if you are not sure.

How to grieve in a healthy way

As we said, there is no right or wrong way to grieve, but there is healthy and unhealthy grieving. In order to help yourself stay positive and productive in the healing process it is helpful to keep in mind:

  • You are not alone – Friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, church groups, and others you know socially can help. Think about whom you know that can support you.
  • Don’t let others tell you how you should feel – Only you know what’s right for you. What someone else went through when they dealt with grief may not be what you experience.
  • Let others know how they can help – What you need while navigating the grieving process may be different from moment to moment, day to day, and week to week. Let others know how your needs are changing.
  • Everyone’s grief is unique – There is no guide to tell you when to start and stop grieving or when to move from one stage of the process to the next. However, if you feel that your grief is getting worse and that you are not progressing, there is help. Contact a grief counselor or EAP to get in touch with help. If your EAP is MINES our contact information is below.

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list and as you navigate through the healing process you may find that certain things help and others don’t. Find what works best for you.

How to help others grieve

At this point, you should see that grief is personal and can be a sensitive topic to some people. It can be hard to find ways to talk about grief or offer help if you know someone is grieving or struggling with a loss. There are things you can do, however, that offer support without being intrusive or overbearing. Things you might try include:

  • Just being around – Sometimes there is nothing you can say that will make a person feel better. But just the fact that you are around can help. By being present and ready should they need something, the grieving person will feel supported even if you or they don’t know exactly what to say at the moment.
  • Food – When someone is grieving, sometimes food is the last thing on their mind. They may not feel up to cooking or going out to get something. Or they may be suffering from lack of appetite which is common during grief. Being handy with quick, nutritious, easy to eat items such as fruit, veggies, or simple dishes can be a great help. As well as helping them remember when they ate last and ensuring they are getting enough sustenance.
  • Support for decisions – When depressed, people’s decision-making ability can suffer. Try to help the griever put off big decisions until they are in a better state of mind. If necessary be there to act as a voice of reason and clear thought should important choices come up that need to be addressed.
  • Listening – If and when the grieving person is ready to open up and talk, be there to listen. Offer simple understanding and words of support. Try and keep them talking so that they can vent their emotions when they have a chance. Steer away from any judgment and instead offer encouragement as much as possible. Talking is healing.
  • Let them cry – Seeing our loved one’s cry can be painful, but don’t let that make you discourage them from doing so. Crying can be an important part of emotional processing. Instead, comfort them, offer them tissues, and even cry with them.

Be there for the person in need but allow them the chance to choose to open up to you on their own terms and in their own time. Trust that if you are there for them they will let you know when they need you. Intervene only if you sense that they are getting worse and not taking care of themselves in a way that will help them get better in time.

Moving on

If you are currently grieving, supporting someone who is, or have grieved in the past but have reached acceptance, continue to focus on and preserve the good memories you have. You may always feel the sting of the loss to some extent but as you remember your passed loved one, lost relationship, or even a lost pet, the pain will slowly disappear over time and the fond memories and times that made you laugh and smile will be all that remain. If you are struggling and having trouble reaching the point of acceptance and do not feel as if you are healing, please reach out to someone. Find a close friend or family member you can confide in, seek out a grief counselor to talk to, and again if your employer has an Employee Assistance Program use that resource to find the help you need. If you have MINES as your EAP, we are always here to talk 24/7, please reach out to us anytime at 1-800-873-7138.

 

To Your Wellbeing,

Nic Mckane

The MINES Team

 

Sources

Children’s Grief Awareness Day. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2017, from https://www.childrensgriefawarenessday.org/cgad2/index.shtml

Konigsberg, R. D. (2011, March 14). Grief, Bereavement, Mourning Death of Spouse. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from http://www.aarp.org/relationships/grief-loss/info-03-2011/truth-about-grief.html

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Alzheimer’s Awareness Month

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November is National Alzheimer’s Awareness Month and National Caregivers’ Month.  One of the first questions I am asked when I speak or teach on the topic of dementia is, “What is the difference between Alzheimer’s and dementia?”  The most logical answer is that everyone who has Alzheimer’s disease has dementia, but not everyone with dementia has Alzheimer’s disease.

Prevalence and cost

Alzheimer’s disease was discovered by Dr. Alois Alzheimer in 1906.  It is a brain disease that causes difficulties with memory, thinking, and behavior.  5.4 million Americans are currently living with Alzheimer’s, and more than 15 million caregivers are providing their care.  Alzheimer’s accounts for approximately 70% of all cases of dementia and one in 9 Americans will develop the disease past the age of 65. With 10,000 Baby Boomers turning 65 every day in our nation, Alzheimer’s is a topic that cannot be ignored.  Nearly half of us will have Alzheimer’s at age 85 and it is currently the country’s 6th leading cause of death.  Unfortunately, it is the only disease in the top ten that cannot be slowed, treated, or cured.  Aside from the heartache of Alzheimer’s, it is also the most expensive disease in the US, costing the federal government $160 billion each year for patient care.

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Women and Alzhiemer’s

Women are at the epicenter of Alzheimer’s disease.  According to the Alzheimer’s Association, a woman past the age of 60 is twice as likely to develop Alzheimer’s as breast cancer.  Two-thirds of Alzheimer’s caregivers are women and 2/3 of Alzheimer’s patients are female.  The scientific community used to connect these numbers to the fact that women live longer than men, but now new studies are being conducted to determine if there is more than longevity involved in these gender statistics.

Hopefully by now you are alarmed but not despondent about the stark facts regarding Alzheimer’s.  There is hope!  Record numbers of clinical trials are underway, including four that address prevention.  While Alzheimer’s cannot be prevented at this time, doctors and scientists are now convinced that lifestyle may play a part in reducing risks or delaying the onset of the disease.

There are things you can do

Here are ten things that the Alzheimer’s Association suggests you can do to “Love Your Brain”:

  1. Break a Sweat – Exercise can reduce the risk of cognitive decline
  2. Fuel Up Right – Follow a balanced diet high in fruits and vegetables and low in fat
  3. Follow Your Heart – Avoid risk factors for cardiovascular disease like obesity and high blood pressure
  4. Buddy Up – Support your brain health by engaging and socializing with others face to face
  5. Hit the Books – Take a class – formal education may help reduce the risk of cognitive decline
  6. Stump Yourself – Challenge your mind – play games of strategy and speed
  7. Mind your Mind – Some studies link depression with cognitive decline making it important to seek treatment and reduce stress
  8. Catch Some ZZZs – Not getting enough sleep may result in problems with memory and thinking
  9. Butt Out – In addition to other health risks, smoking increases risk for cognitive decline
  10. Heads Up – Wear your seat belt in the car and use a helmet when playing sports or riding your bike

While there is no guarantee that doing the above things will prevent you from developing Alzheimer’s disease in your lifetime, these things may help reduce risk or delay onset.  And…they make good sense for overall health!

Resources are available in our community.  The Alzheimer’s Association is the nation’s leading voluntary health organization in Alzheimer’s care, support, and research.  Visit http://www.alz.org for a variety of good information regarding Alzheimer’s.  A 24/7 helpline is also available at 800.272.3900.  All services are provided at no cost to families living with Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia.

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Reach out, we can help

And remember to use your Employee Assistance Program benefits from MINES and Associates when the stress of caregiving for someone with dementia becomes overwhelming.  Caring for yourself is key.  You owe it to your family to stay healthy in order to achieve the best quality of life for both you and your loved ones with dementia.  MINES and Associates also provides workplace lunch-and-learn sessions regarding Alzheimer’s/dementia.

During November, make a point of learning more about Alzheimer’s and encourage your friends and family to do the same.  There is reason to be optimistic that a breakthrough will occur.  In the meantime, take good care of your brain and reach out for caregiving help.  It’s the smart thing to do!

 

To Your Wellbeing,

JJ Jordan

MINES Affiliate and Alzheimer’s/dementia Expert

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Breast Cancer Awareness Month

October

October is Breast Cancer Awareness month. While breast cancer is a year around killer, October is a crucial month for fundraising, information distribution, community support, and many other crucial functions that help keep research and the search for better treatment, and one day a cure, possible. With this post I hope to give a brief snapshot of what a diagnosis of this terrible disease can mean from both a patient’s and caregiver’s view, as well as provide resources that you can use this month and onward to provide support, gather information, and help yourself or others that may be dealing with cancer in their lives.

Resilience in the Face of Diagnosis

A serious diagnosis brings with it life-changing implications both for the person receiving the diagnosis as well as their loved ones. This beginning phase that starts at the diagnosis is commonly known as the “crisis phase.” This is where emotions like fear and anxiety are most prevalent and panic can ensue. But time is of the essence here as it is often necessary to move fast as doctors plan and prepare your treatment options. Therefore it is imperative to remain resilient in the face of diagnosis so that you can think clearly and react quickly. During this initial time the best thing you can do is ask questions and remove unknowns so that you can start to generate realistic expectations of the treatment process and the disease itself. If you are the loved one or caregiver of someone that is facing cancer or some other serious diagnosis then this responsibility may fall on you.

Caregivers

Of course the person who receives the diagnosis is hit the hardest by cancer, but the impact does not end there. Spouses, friends, family, and co-workers are all affected as well. Some of these people may find themselves in the role of caretaker in some capacity or another.  Caretaking can be an extremely hard job in both a physical and psychological sense, and in order to keep up their own wellbeing caregivers need to make sure they are practicing good self-care as well or else they can face adverse health effects and may find themselves suffering from burnout. Around this time last year we discussed self-care tips for caregivers who are caring for a loved one that has been diagnosed. If you or a loved one is currently in this tough, but crucial, caregiver role please take a look at our post here.

Knowledge is Power

Regardless of whether you are in the patient or caregiver role, knowledge is power. One of the best things you can do to prepare for dealing with a deadly disease is know your options and become familiar with those that can help you. Below we have tried to give a good balance of resources that are a great start if you are looking for information, support, or are looking to get involved with the cause. This is by no means an exhaustive list. There are tons of great resources out there. On that note please keep in mind that an Employee Assistance Program, like MINES provides, is a great source of support that is easy to access and free if your employer offers it. If you are not sure if you have an EAP, make sure to ask Human Resources for information.

Resources

American Cancer Society

1-800-227-2345

http://www.cancer.org/index

Family Caregiver Alliance

https://caregiver.org/taking-care-you-self-care-family-caregivers

Cancer Care

http://www.cancercare.org/

Support Events

Making Strides Events

https://secure.acsevents.org/site/SPageServer/?pagename=MSABC_CY15_TR_event_search

The Rest of the Year

This October is sure to be filled with fundraisers, awareness campaigns, charity contributions, and screening reminders. As for the rest of the year please make sure to remain vigilant and proactive. Do the standard self-checks on a regular basis, make those screening appointments with your doctor, and be mindful of your wellbeing year-round, early detection can make all the difference for many potentially terminal diseases. With that said here’s to all the women and men out there fighting the good fight for themselves or their loved ones, and here is to an October full of support, hope, and progress.

 

To Your Wellbeing,

– Nic Mckane

The MINES Team

 

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Suicide Prevention Week 2016

Suicide is non-discriminatory; it affects everybody regardless of gender, race, class, or age.  According to the World Health Organization, 1 million people attempt suicide per year, yet it’s still not commonly talked about.

A person who is contemplating suicide is in so much pain that they do not see any other feasible options.  Suicide is a permanent solution to temporary problems; the effect reaching far beyond the person who takes their life.

Suicide can be a symptom of depression; however depression is a treatable mental health illness that affects many people.   Many people may struggle with feelings of sadness and hopelessness but never act upon suicide.  Suicidal thinking is complex, so it is important to understand the warning signs to understand if the person needs immediate help.

A person who is struggling with suicidal thoughts may not know how to ask for help, they just want to stop hurting. You might feel uncomfortable bringing up the subject with someone you suspect may be suicidal, but talking openly about it, responding quickly, and offering support, can save their live.

Recognizing these signs and using the resources below may help you prevent someone from completing suicide:

Warning Signs:

  • Isolating behaviors, withdrawing from family and friends
  • Substance abuse issues
  • Decline in work or school performance
  • Being bullied
  • Recent death of a loved one
  • Increased mood swings
  • Decrease in activities
  • Giving away possessions
  • Change in sleep or appetite
  • Chronic mental illness
  • Feelings of hopelessness
  • Acting impulsively
  • Seeking out lethal means
  • Having a plan
  • Having intent

Suicide Prevention Resources

National Resources:

Denver Metro Area Resources:

Hotlines:

Text Lines:

  • Text “GO” to 741741

 

To your wellbeing,

-Alea Makley, MA

Case Manager

The MINES Team

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