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James Donaldson on CBD Oil and Benefits – What The Farm Bill Means For Your State

What The Farm Bill Means For Your State

The following is a brief overview of the legal status of CBD oil across the United States of America. The states are divided into three categories based on both the general climate of the hemp industry within the state as well as the standing legality of the product based on state legislature. It is a common misconception that after the passage of the 2018 Farm Bill CBD and industrial hemp are now legal in all 50 states. While it is true that both are legal at the federal level, many states are still struggling to update their pilot programs and expand access. Others are grappling with the concept of legal industrial hemp and have not yet legally defined it as separate from marijuana. Remember, states cannot give individuals more rights than the federal government, but they can limit or monitor those rights as they see fit.

The good news is that across the U.S. there is steady forward momentum in the hemp industry. It should be noted that the following is a brief description of what still remains as a very new and complicated legal issue. This overview does not account for every issue that might arise throughout the industry in an individual state, but serves as a condensed version of the most pertinent laws and overall hemp culture in each state.

Check here to read full article and to learn about your State

Here’s my State of Washington:


Due to the changes in the language from the 2014 Farm Bill to the 2018 Farm Bill the state of Washington is currently revamping their hemp pilot program to include the newly legal status of CBD oil. Previously, CBD oil could still be considered a controlled substance and not necessarily included in the pilot program. Due to recent changes Washington is working to update its laws to reflect the federal legality of CBD.

the bodys endocanabanoid system

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James Donaldson on Mental Health – Parents Guide to Co-occurring Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders (Pt.2)

James Donaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of depression and suicidal thoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

depressionand what to say

An Overview of Substance Use

What’s the Attraction?

Teens and young adults use substances for a variety of reasons. They may begin because of curiosity and peer pressure. Often, those who become habitual users are trying to “solve a problem.” Substances can help them relax, alleviate boredom, fit in socially, escape emotional or physical pain, deal with traumatic memories, relieve anxiety, go to sleep, get up in the morning, lose weight, etc. Substance use is “reinforcing,” which means that a child is more likely to keep taking them when they seem to help with a given problem or need. It’s important for parents to understand what it is specifically that makes substances appealing to their child in order to address his or her use. And when substance use is severe, it can be difficult for any parent to address these causes and keep a child safe without professional help.

Substance Use Basics

It’s helpful to have a basic understanding of the different kinds of substances, their effects and how to recognize signs of use. Common substances used by adolescents and young adults include alcoholtobacco (JUUL, cigarettes), marijuana (leaf, THC oils, dabs and vape pens), hallucinogens (LSD and PCP), sedatives (Xanax, Ambien), stimulants (Adderall, cocaine) and opioids (Vicodin, heroin, Percocet).

How do you know if a child is using alcohol and/or drugs? Aside from direct evidence (such as bottles, bags or other paraphernalia), parents often see physical, emotional and behavioral changes. Of course, the specifics of these changes depend directly upon the substance being used. For example, stimulants can cause an irregular heartbeat, insomnia, irritability and unexplained weight loss. Opioids, like Vicodin, Percocet, and heroin, can cause a lack of enthusiasm and energy, constipation, slowed breathing, pinpoint pupils and nausea.

Some behavioral changes that may occur with substance use:

  • Loss of interest in hobbies or extracurricular activities
  • Comments from teachers, classmates or friends
  • Changes in friendships
  • Mood swings
  • Irritability or argumentativeness
  • Unusual agitation, restlessness or hyperactivity
  • Lethargy or lack of motivation
  • Locking doors, demanding more privacy, isolating or missing family events
  • Declining grades, skipping school or poor work performance
  • Becoming more accident-prone
  • Engaging in risky behaviors (such as sex or driving under the influence)
  • Borrowing or taking money or valuables
  • Missing prescription drugs or missing alcohol

Many of these symptoms overlap with mental health disorders. For example, it can be hard to tell if a child who becomes withdrawn and isolated is depressed, using alcohol, or both. You can learn more about differentiating between substance and mental health disorders in Section 3.

What Is a Substance Use Disorder?

The term “substance use” exists along a spectrum from initial use to greater frequency (and usually more consequences) and eventually to addiction.

Regardless of the substance, the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, Fifth Edition (known as the DSM-5) defines a substance use disorder as a problematic, recurrent use of drugs or alcohol that causes significant distress or impairment in a person’s life. There are four categories of behaviors that are used to determine the severity of the problem: impaired control, social impairment, risky use, and tolerance and withdrawal.

A person needs to meet two or three of these criteria to be diagnosed with a mild substance use disorder. Meeting four or five of the criteria is considered a moderate substance use disorder, and six or more is deemed a severe substance use disorder.

Even if a child’s use of alcohol and/or other drugs doesn’t rise to the level of an “official” substance use disorder, it can interfere with functioning. There is a trend in the field moving away from categorizing severity by dependence or withdrawal criteria and looking instead at the impact on one’s life. A young person does not need to be dependent on drugs or go through withdrawal symptoms for the substance to have a huge impact on academic and/or social functioning.

Differential Diagnosis

What’s Causing These Symptoms?

Are your child’s concerning thoughts, emotions, and behaviors the result of a mental health disorder or a substance use disorder? Figuring out which symptoms come from which disorder, and which problem started first, is called differential diagnosis. Determining differential diagnosis is important because treatment for a mental health disorder can be very different from treatment for a substance use disorder.

You may be concerned about mood swings and suspect your child has bipolar disorder, when in fact he or she has been using opioids and cocaine. Similarly, a child could be diagnosed with cannabis (marijuana) use disorder without considering that there may be something else going on or at the root of the issue, like anxiety or a traumatic experience.

Finding the right treatment becomes complicated when adolescents or young adults don’t report everything that is going on in their lives. When young people are referred for help for a mental health disorder, they often can be reluctant to talk about their substance use. Similarly, young people being evaluated for substance use problems will often avoid discussing emotional or behavioral problems.

This lack of information can make it hard to get an accurate diagnosis. That’s why it is critical for clinicians to get a full picture of what symptoms occurred first and when substance misuse began. You can help encourage your child to talk about what’s truly going on in his or her life, and help fill in the gaps, as well. You can share information about your child’s and family’s history as well as other factors, such as recent problems (e.g., missing school, changes in sleep or eating patterns, etc.).

Behavioral symptoms that can result from both mental health disorders and substance use include:

  • Moodiness
  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Paranoia
  • Avoiding friends and situations
  • Erratic behavior

Getting an Evaluation

There are no laboratory tests to diagnose mental health or substance use disorders, so differential diagnosis depends on reports from the patient, his or her family, teachers and other doctors, and the clinician’s observations. This picture of what’s happening is then compared to criteria in the DSM-5, which professionals use to help diagnose.

Here are some examples of questions a clinician tries to answer:

  • Is sadness related to a loss, or just out of the blue?
  • Is the adolescent using substances as a way of coping?
  • Is substance use a response to stressful life events?
  • Is impulsivity part of a child’s personality, or tied to hyperactivity, or is it more manic and self-destructive?
  • Is the goal of substance use to seek excitement or to escape reality?

Examples of Results

Differential diagnosis may reveal that substance use is a consequence of a mental health disorder. Here are just a few examples of how substance use can grow out of a mental health disorder:

  • Alcohol can be a self-treatment for anxiety, depression or bipolar disorder.
  • Marijuana use is often tied to psychotic disorders, ADHD and anxiety.
  • Opiates (Percocet, Tylenol w/Codeine) and benzodiazepines (Xanax, Ativan) are more likely to be used by young people with oppositional defiant disorder, conduct disorder, and borderline personality disorder.
  • Amphetamine (Adderall) use can be a response to overwhelming anxiety and stress related to academic performance.

On the other hand, psychiatric mental health symptoms might result from the direct effect of the substance on the brain. Again, here are just a few examples:

  • Alcohol use can cause significant mood fluctuations.
  • Nicotine use can mimic anxiety symptoms.
  • Psychedelic drugs can cause psychotic states.

Even if it turns out that a young person’s substance use and mental health symptoms are not related to each other, they can still make each other worse.

The next few sections introduce adolescent mental health disorders, their symptoms and treatment, and substance issues that commonly co-occur with these disorders.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline


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James Donaldson on CBD Oil and Benefits – How To Talk to Your Doctor About CBD (the 8 questions you need to ask)

James Donaldson note:

I talked to my doctor about me taking CBD (for anxiety, depression, sleep apnea), and he knew enough about CBD to know there are no adverse side effects to worry about and for me to continue taking it and he’lll look at taking me off my medications in thenext couple of moths if everything continues to go well. (Yhay!)

Copy of Dr Titus Presentation (100)

If your taking prescription medications or you have an ongoing medical condition, you should talk with your doctor before starting to take cannabidiol (CBD.)  Depending on the person, that conversation may seem intimidating.  But it doesn’t have to be.

What questions should you ask your doctor before taking CBD?  Here are 9 critical questions you should ask your doctor before starting CBD if you have a complicated medical condition:

  1. Is CBD incompatible with any of my medications?
  2. Should I adjust the dosage of any of my medications?
  3. Is there anything about my current medical condition that makes CBD risky for me?
  4. What side effects should I watch out for?
  5. Are there any side effects that I should call you about immediately?
  6. How long should it take to see the benefits of CBD?
  7. Are there any normal activities I should stop doing until I know how CBD will affect me?
  8. Do you want to see me for a check-up after I start taking CBD?

If you’re generally in good health and not taking any prescription drugs, you probably don’t need to talk with your doctor before incorporating CBD products into your daily routine.  But if you are taking any prescription medications or you have a medical condition, be sure to have a conversation with your doctor before starting with CBD.  I’m going to teach you one simple question that will help you ease right into the conversation.  Then you can proceed to ask the above 8 questions.

Do your own homework

CBD is actually quite new to the medical community.  Most doctors in practice right now have never received any formal training about CBD, or cannabis in general.  So in most cases, it will be really helpful if you spend some time doing a little research.  Here are some things you should be prepared with before visiting with your doctor about CBD:

  • What condition are you hoping CBD will help with
  • Why do you think it will help
  • What product are you considering taking

I’ve written about several reasons somebody might consider taking CBD to improve their health.  Feel free to check out some of my other blog posts to get you started.  But there are lots of resources online where you can learn all sorts of information about CBD.  Spend a few minutes on Google and you’ll find plenty of information to share with your doctor.

In order to help you organize your thoughts and questions, I’ve put together a simple worksheet.  Click the image to the right to download.  Feel free to use this in order to be more prepared to talk with your doctor.  I’ve found that many times when you go in for a visit with your doctor, it’s easy to get caught up in the moment and forget to talk about what you wanted to talk about.  I hope this worksheet helps you get the answers you’re looking for.

Starting the conversation

Now that you’ve done your homework and prepared for the conversation with your doctor, how do you start it?  For some people, this is very simple.  For others, it may be a little intimidating to have this conversation.  If you’re in the second group, and you’re a little hesitant to have the CBD conversation with your doctor, here’s a simple question I recommend asking in order to start the conversation:

“Would it be innapropriate for me to ask you a few questions about CBD?”

State it just the way I wrote it.  By phrasing the question as I did, the obvious answer is “No”.  And people love to say no.  It’s much easier than saying “yes”.  When you say yes, it feels like you’re committing to something.  When you say no, you feel safe, as if you just got out of something.  Trust me, if you say it exactly as I wrote it, your doctor is going to say “no”.  It’s clearly not inappropriate for you to ask him or her a few questions about CBD.  This effectively starts the conversation in a way that will make your doctor feel at ease.

What are you hoping for

Remember the homework you did before going to see your doctor?  Now is the time to tell your doctor about it.  Tell them why you’re interested in taking CBD.  Don’t feel nervous or embarrassed.  Just let them know what you’ve learned and why you think it will help you.  They will likely be impressed that you’ve taken the time to look into this a little bit.  Go over a few of the resources you’ve found that caused you to become interested.  Some conditions have had more research done with CBD than others.  Don’t feel like you need to have tons of research articles to defend your hopes.

With CBD being so new, some doctors are not going to believe all the preliminary research that has been done on many conditions.  They may try to tell you that there aren’t any valid double-blind medical studies for your condition.  And they may be right.  But don’t let that stop you if you’re truly hopeful about CBD.  What you’re really wanting to know from your doctor is if your likely to have any adverse reactions from taking CBD.  And what to look for as far as side effects once you start taking it.  He or she doesn’t have to be convinced that it will help you before you give it a try.  So if their first reaction is, “no, you’re wasting your time”, don’t let that stop you from proceeding through the list of 8 questions.

Question #1: Is CBD incompatible with any of my current medications

What you’re trying to figure out here is if there are any dangerous drug interactions between CBD and any of the prescriptions you normally take that could cause you problems.  One of the things they’ll want to consider is how your current medications are metabolized, or removed from your body.  The majority of prescription medications are metabolized with a group of enzymes in your liver called P450 enzymes.  CBD is known to slow these enzymes down.  This means your current medications are potentially going to be staying in your system longer than normal.  You need to know if this is going to cause you any problems.  This naturally leads to question #2.

Question #2: Should I modify the dosage of any of my medications

If your doctor is concerned about any of your medications staying in your system longer because of CBD slowing down the enzymes in your liver, then ask if they’d recommend reducing the amount of medication you take.  Or possibly increasing the amount of time between doses.  Depending on the medication, this could be a pretty easy thing to modify.  They should be able to advise you about this.  Make sure you take good notes at this point or ask the doctor to write it down for you.  Then before you leave, make sure you’re very clear about what they’ve recommended for you to do.  You don’t want to get home and not be clear which medication you were supposed to take less of.

Question #3: Does my medical condition make CBD risky for me

If you aren’t taking any medications, or your doctor doesn’t see any risk of negative side effects between CBD and your medications, then is there anything about your health in general that makes CBD risky.  This isn’t likely to be the case.  CBD does not increase heart rate, blood pressure, or any other processes that could lead to poor health.  But it’s still worth asking.  If you have a tricky condition, your doctor will be able to tell you what’s in your best interest.

Questions #4: What side effects should I watch out for

At this point, hopefully your doctor has told you he or she isn’t opposed to you incorporating CBD into your system.  But is there anything in particular they want you to watch out for as you start out?  Your doctor may suggest you pay attention to certain things.  These will likely be related to any medications you currently take.  Be sure to write these down so you can remember them.

I’ve suggested in other posts that the first time you take CBD you should make sure you have someone near you whom you trust to care for you if for some reason you have a strange reaction.  It’s extremely unlikely that you will, but it’s good to be prepared just in case.

Question #5: Are there any side effects I should call you about immediately

This is also unlikely, but if they gave you some side effects to watch out for, it’s nice to know if any of them are serious enough that you need to call them immediately.  This is something we forgot to do a few times with our daughter when she has been prescribed new medications.  It can be scary when you notice something a little off and you don’t know if it’s something to call the doctor about or not.  So just ask it now so you don’t worry about it later.

Question #6: How long should I try CBD before seeing any benefits

This question may not be critical, but it’s worth asking.  CBD isn’t cheap, and if you have health insurance with pharmacy coverage, it won’t help you out with regards to buying CBD.  If CBD isn’t going to give you any benefits, then don’t keep spending money on it.  I would think you’ll feel the effects within a week or so of starting CBD.  I certainly wouldn’t go less than a week.  Most products on the market come with enough CBD for one month.  You might as well take it for a full month and see how you feel.  But listen to what your doctor says.  Perhaps he or she will recommend you take it for longer than a month before making a decision.  Some conditions take longer than others to respond to treatment.

Question #7: Are there any normal activities I should stop doing as I start taking CBD

Most people aren’t going to have any issues starting CBD.  But it’s still a good idea to take it easy for a day or so just to make sure you aren’t going to be overly tired or anything like that.  You don’t want to take it for the first time right before you head out for a long drive or right before going to operate heavy machinery.  Those would be bad ideas.  Start taking CBD on a day when there isn’t much going on and you can just relax if needed.  You should know pretty fast, within a few hours, how you’re going to feel with CBD.  But take it easy for a day or so.

Question #8: Do you want to see me for a check-up after I start

At this point, you’re just kind of ending the conversation.  It may be that your doctor would like to monitor you a little more frequently while you’re taking CBD.  It’s likely that this is new for your doctor.  You may be one of their first patients who’s taking CBD and it may make them more comfortable if they can see you shortly after you start CBD.  This is for your own safety.  They may be able to catch something you hadn’t been aware of before it becomes a serious problem.  So if they want to see you shortly after starting CBD don’t be alarmed, just be grateful you have a doctor who wants to be thorough and keep you safe.

Anything else?

You’re basically finished with your questions at this point.  Is there anything else the doctor would like to cover with you?  They’ve been kind enough to listen patiently and respond to your questions.  Now listen to them and see if they have anything else to say that may be important for you.  This may be a good time to get their opinion about the product your considering taking.  I’ve recommended several productsthat I think are worth starting with, but maybe they’ll have some other thoughts.

Be sure and thank them for listening and answering your questions.  Doctors are busy people and the fact that they were willing to take a few extra minutes to advise you is something to be acknowledged and thanked for.

CBD is very safe

As I’ve gone back and read through this post, it comes off a little scary.  Almost as if CBD is this scary medication that has lots of side effects or is not safe.  But that is not the case at all.  CBD is generally a very safe drug.  It’s always a good idea to talk to your doctor before starting on CBD, but if you’re generally in good health, you probably don’t need to.  This post was specifically targeted towards people who have a fairly serious medical condition that requires on going prescription medications and/or regular visits with their doctor.

I hope you’ll find the relief your hoping for with CBD.  There are lots of people who are experiencing better health than they’ve had in a long time thanks to CBD.  And it isn’t just for one condition either.  Because CBD works with your bodies Endocannabinoid System, which influences so many parts of your body, there is a wide array of benefits you can experience through CBD.  Please let me know when you find yours.

Related questions

Can you get in legal trouble for talking to your doctor about taking CBD?  No.  Section 5.05 of the Physician’s Code of Ethics states: “The information disclosed to a physician during the course of the relationship between physician and patient is confidential to the greatest possible degree.”  You can talk to your doctor about CBD without fear of getting into legal trouble.

Can my doctor prescribe CBD? A prescription is not required to purchase CBD.  However, the FDA has approved a new drug called Epidiolex for treatment of two rare forms of seisures.  This medication contains only CBD and may be prescribed by a doctor for those suffering from these forms of seizures.

Can I pay for CBD oil with my HSA or Flexible Spending Account (FSA)?  In order for an item to be paid for with your HSA, it must be considered a qualified out-of-pocket medical expense.  Currently, the IRS does not consider CBD to be a qualified medical expense.  Even if your doctor recommends it, CBD may not be paid for with an HSA or FSA.

the bodys endocanabanoid system

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James Donaldson on Mental Health – Parents Guide to Co-occurring Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders (Pt.1)

James Donaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of depression and suicidal thoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

Peer Support

You’ve noticed your teen is increasingly moody and anxious. Is this a sign of a mental health disorder? Or substance use? Or could it be both? What might be behind a young person’s change in behavior is often hard to pin down, particularly when substance use and mental health are both factors. But understanding how these challenges can manifest in a child’s life, and sometimes entwine to create new problems or complicate treatment, is essential to keeping kids healthy.


When children are struggling with both a substance use disorder and a mental health disorder, they are said to have co-occurring disorders. You may also hear these referred to as comorbid disorders or a “dual diagnosis.” The disorders may have developed at the same time, or one might have led into the other. Either way, co-occurring disorders can bring a host of questions.

How worried should parents be if a child has anxiety and is smoking pot? If a young adult has depression and is drinking, where should treatment begin? Is a child diagnosed with ADHD more vulnerable to developing a problem with substances?

If you are a parent or caregiver, teacher, or community member concerned about a child’s mental health or substance use, you are in the right place.

This guide, a collaboration of the Child Mind Institute and Center on Addiction-Partnership for Drug-Free Kids, provides information on common mental health disorders in adolescence (and the medications that are often used to treat these), tips on identifying substance misuse, and steps to making informed decisions about evaluation and treatment for co-occurring disorders.

An Introduction to Co-Occurring Disorders

Prevalence of Co-Occurring Disorders

Over 2.3 million adolescents (aged 12-17) and 7.7 million young adults (aged 18-25) used illegal drugs or misused prescription medication in the U.S. in 2014. About 2.9 million adolescents and 20.8 million young adults — more than half of the young adult population — consumed alcohol in the past month.

Mental health disorders are a subject of increasing concern for young adults. One in five adolescents has a mental health disorder. The most common are anxiety disorders, depression and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Young people may also struggle with bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and borderline personality disorder.

Risks Factors

Mental health disorders and substance use are tightly linked. Often, when a mental health disorder goes undiagnosed or untreated, a young person will attempt to self-medicate or self-treat with drugs or alcohol. Studies show that ADHD, anxiety disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder and depression all increase risk of drug use and dependence in adolescents.

At the same time, substance use poses a serious risk for developing a mental health disorder. Heavy marijuana use is a demonstrated risk factor for triggering episodes of psychosis, particularly in those with a family history of psychotic disorders. Misuse of prescription medications like stimulants or certain antidepressants can lead to manic or unusually irritable mood states.

Happily, research also shows that identifying and treating mental health disorders can reduce substance use. Similarly, reducing substance use can improve treatment outcomes for mental health disorders.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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James Donaldson on CBD Oil and Benefits – What is CBD Oil and Is It Good For You?

Let me know if I can help you with your choice of CBD products. Click Here

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. (WWLP) – You may have noticed more CBD stores popping up in western Massachusetts.

More people are buying CBD to treat anxiety, muscle stiffness, and other health problems, even though it’s not FDA approved

Cannabidiol, or CBD, is a compound found in industrial hemp plants and marijuana. Research has shown that it may help treat several health conditions without providing the user with the “high” feeling like marijuana.

CBD is advertised as a product that treats muscle stiffness, epilepsy, anxiety, inflammation, and seizures. 22News spoke with Jason Warchelak, the owner of Your CBD Store in Wilbraham.

Warchelak said, “The product is 100 percent organic and its THC free and it has shown many health benefits, a lot of customers have benefited through arthritis, back pain, depression, anxiety, fibromyalgia.”

Warchelak also said their CBD products include oil-based textures, gummies, and gel caps.

CBD is also being sold in pet stores.

The FDA is still trying to determine its effect on animals and recommend talking with your veterinarian about the best treatment options for your pet.

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James Donaldson on Mental Health – Suffering in Silence Contributes to a Higher Suicide Rate in Men

James Donaldson notes:

(This is exactlly why I do the work that I’m doing! Getting boys/men to feel okay with reaching out for help and letting others know that they are hurting, need help, and many times, just plain, flat out scared. It’s okay….

All I can say is “I’m so glad I didn’t take my life, and end it all in my darkest days of despair” (even though there were many, if not most days, when I wanted to)…. “Your Gift of Life” is just that…. cherish it, each and every moment of the day. There’s is a tomorrow, and the sun will come up tomorrow…. it’s only a day away…. even if you can’t feel it or see it at the moment, it’s there for you!) 

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for mental health awareness and suicide prevention, especially pertaining to our younger generation of students and student-athletes.

Getting men to speak up and reach out for help and assistance is one of my passions. Us men need to not suffer in silence or drown our sorrows in alcohol, hang out at bars and strip joints, or get involved with drug use.

Having gone through a recent bout of depression and suicidal thoughts myself, I realize now, that I can make a huge difference in the lives of so many by sharing my story, and by sharing various resources I come across as I work in this space.  http://bit.ly/JamesMentalHealthArticle

Men and Suicide (2)

When Marilyn Henderson lost her son Balewa Moody to suicide in 2012, she became an activist for mental health in Columbia. Her son had struggled with depression from age 9 when he first tried to take his own life. That launched an 11-year battle that ended on Aug. 11, 2012, when he died by suicide.

Balewa had received counseling but stopped seeing a therapist when he turned 18, and his mother isn’t sure how consistently he took his medication.


When dealing with issues of mental health, men are less likely to get help because they believe their struggle  makes them less of a man. Men want to believe they can handle all of their problems on their own and often aren’t aware their symptoms could mean something more serious might be happening, according to psychologists and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).


Suicide rates in the U.S. have increased 33 percent since 1999, and the rate of suicide in Boone County has risen drastically from 4.56 deaths by suicide per 100,000 people, to 10.49 per 100,000 since 2008.


According to a 2013 report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide also accounted for $50.8 billion in medical and work-loss costs. On college campuses, suicide is the second-leading cause of death among students. Untreated mental illness and substance abuse are the primary causes of suicide. Substance abuse often becomes an unhealthy coping mechanism for mental illness, especially when it goes untreated.

Alarmingly, the group most likely to die by suicide is also the group least likely to get assistance for mental health issues. In 2017, the most recent year that data is available, the suicide rate for men was nearly 3.7 times higher than the suicide rate for women, at 22.4 suicide deaths per 100,000 men to 6.1 suicide deaths per 100,000 women.

Why men?

A close look at the CDC’s National Violent Death Reporting System reveals that the primary contributor to higher rates of suicide in men is lethality of the methods used. Over 56 percent of male suicide deaths in 2015 were gun-related, while 32 percent of female suicide deaths involved a gun.

Secondly, while all symptoms of mental illness can be present in both men and women, men may show symptoms of anger, irritability and aggression while many women may seem sad, according to the NIMH. Men are also more likely to externalize emotions than women, according to a 2011 study by the American Psychological Association. This may make it more difficult for men to get support from friends and family when they need it.

“If you see one of your friends who’s angry and upset all the time, or he’s drinking a lot more, maybe depression isn’t the first thing you think about, but it could be one of the issues that the guy is dealing with that he doesn’t even realize,” said Joshua Beharry, the Project Coordinator for HeadsUpGuys.org, a website where men like Beharry himself have shared their personal struggles with mental health. The site is also a resource for people seeking help.


Resources like HeadsUpGuys are vital because the third factor contributing to higher rates of suicide for men is they’re less likely to seek help for or even recognize they have a mental illness.


A 2015 report by the CDC shows 84 percent of male suicide victims had no known mental illness, compared to 16 percent of female suicide victims. According to the NIMH, men are more likely to go to a doctor with concerns about the physical symptoms of mental illness than they are to knowingly seek help for a mental illness. There’s a stigma attached to seeking help for emotional struggles that men are seen as “unmanly” or weak.


Beharry said that when he was struggling with depression he was also unable to reach out for help on his own until it got to a point where the physical symptoms of his depression became too much for him to conceal.


“I didn’t reach out until I got so sick that I couldn’t hide what was going on anymore,” Beharry said. “Eventually, I got to the point that I just wasn’t sleeping at all, and I wasn’t even eating. I was just too tired to keep pretending things were OK. I thought if I couldn’t figure it out on my own, then it was my problem. I think, being a man, I thought it was about my character.”

Marilyn Henderson poses for a portrait in her son Balewa's room
Marilyn Henderson poses for a portrait in her son Balewa’s room on Dec. 1, 2018. Henderson actively works to combat the stigma that comes with mental health and suicide. “This mental health is a generation curse. I hope my grandkids don’t have it,” Henderson said.


Hiding the hurt

“I used to think that having mental illness was an attack on your masculinity,” said Briar Napier, a 20-year-old sophomore at MU and a member of the executive board for Active Minds, a mental health awareness advocacy group for students. “Men are stereotypically the breadwinners of the family, and I feel like when we feel that we are incapable of doing it, it hurts us emotionally because we’re made to feel like that’s what our biological role is on Earth.”


For most of his life, Napier said, he has suffered from anxiety and depression that eventually led to an eating disorder. He believed “being a man” meant he would have to handle his mental health issues on his own.


Depression in men can be inherited genetically as well as come from environmental factors like the loss of a job or relationship. People of all ethnicities and socio-economic backgrounds are susceptible.


Napier’s struggle with mental health began when he was very young and sensitive about his weight. After losing more than 30 pounds early in high school, he started to feel better about himself and more confident. But as some of that progress began to slip away later in high school and into his freshman year of college, his mental health began to slip with it.


“I was feeling that in my mind the best way to try and salvage what I had left was to binge and purge, and it stuck with me for several years now,” Napier said. Despite his worsening mental health posing a risk to his physical health, it would be years before he would seek help.


“No one really noticed it because I didn’t talk about it,” Napier said. “And if there were any signs I would try to hide it.”


“I can remember this one situation, in particular, my mother asked me if I was feeling suicidal,” Napier said. “I was, but I told her no. I lied straight to her face, and it’s always kind of stuck with me. My mother is the person I trust most in my life, and I couldn’t tell her to her face that I had problems.”

Men fear judgment from family and peers if they talk about emotional struggles and issues of mental wellness, but hiding those struggles often results in more misunderstandings from people who aren’t aware of what’s going on or have misconceptions about mental illness.

“My dad my entire childhood growing up, he had depression, but this was never talked about in our family,” said Zach Lahr, president of the Mizzou Student Suicide Prevention Coalition. “It was major depressive disorder, and so seeing him staying on a couch for three days and not getting up or anything, we just thought he was lazy. We just kind of assumed that these issues were more personality traits, not necessarily that he was struggling or that there were certain aspects we weren’t able to see that were affecting him.”


Men who suffer from depression are likely to withdraw from family and friends or become isolated, according to the NIMH’s “Men and Depression” page. Isolation can be dangerous when combined with untreated mental illness because it cuts men off from the support systems they need to encourage them to get help. Men can even blame themselves for their isolation, increasing feelings of depression.

‘Can’t just rub some dirt on it’

Since it’s so common for men suffering from mental illnesses to not seek treatment and feel ashamed of their struggles, psychologists have taken to the web in an attempt to reach out to men. Similar to HeadsUpGuys, ManTherapy.org is another website that has tried to connect with men in a way that is easier and more relatable.


Backed by a team of comedy writers and clinical psychologist Nathaan Demers, Man Therapy features the fictional Dr. Rich Mahogany, an online therapist designed specifically to appeal to men. Features on the site include a “head inspection” that uses input from a survey to give the reader an idea of the state of his mental health and provides resources based on the results.


The site also posts professionally vetted answers to common questions like, “Can I just fix my problems by myself?” and, “When a person dies by suicide is there something wrong with that person’s character?” Each feature on Man Therapy is guided by Dr. Mahogany’s very Ron Swanson-like sense of humor. Tips and adages include:


• “A mustache is no place to hide your emotions.”

• “It turns out there are worse feelings than being kicked in the giblets.”

• “According to science, bad things can happen to men, too.”


The idea is to make it easier for men to loosen up and get comfortable with approaching their mental wellness.


“If we wait till a man is in crisis with a loaded firearm, we’re far too late,” Demers said.

“So we know that we need to get men talking about mental health long before that crisis is occurring, so that when a crisis does occur, that man either has the tools to be able to cope with that on his own or knows where to reach out to.”


Demers compared mental health to minor injuries like falling off a bike. Most of the time a scraped knee will heal itself, but every once in a while a more serious injury, like breaking an ankle, requires professional attention. Just as with a serious medical injury, a serious mental health crisis will benefit from treatment.

Or, as Dr. Mahogany says, “You can’t just rub some dirt on your emotions.”

Getting help

Like with any disease, mental illnesses can get better with proper treatment and support. For that process to begin, however, there has to be a realization that there’s a larger problem — whether by noticing signs of a loved one’s poor mental health or in oneself. Once the illness is recognized, it can still be difficult to make the next step to seek help. The National Institute of Mental Health says, “It is important that friends and family support their loved one and encourage him to visit a doctor or mental health professional for evaluation.”


While getting professional help is the start of the climb, the road to better mental health can still be an uphill journey. Counselors are able to provide a wide range of assistance that is personalized to meet the needs of each patient.


Some people may worry about side effects of going on medications, but not all treatments require medication. According to the NIMH website, “The increasingly popular ‘collaborative care’ approach combines psychical and behavioral health care.”

And needing a little extra help from medication isn’t a greater a sign of weakness or failure. Rather than a shortcut, medication can be a means of gaining traction.

Napier said  his mental health took a turn for the better after he sought treatment at the MU Behavioral Health Center.


“The therapist kind of led me to the external factors that were causing this,” Napier said. “She told me it’s not going to go away, but you can better control it, and you can take steps in your life to make this more manageable.”

Richard Henderson prays with Missourian reporter Brandon Hill and photographer Shuana Yates, following an interview at his home about his son’s life and the work that Henderson and his wife Marilyn do to promote discussion on mental health. A deeply religious man, Richard believes that God can work through people to bring blessings into the lives of others.

Napier said he does as much as he can to stay active and get out of the house by going on hikes or playing golf and basketball. But the biggest change came from talking with other people through Active Minds who struggled as he did.

Balewa Moody took his life on August 11, 2011 after suffering from depression
Balewa Moody took his life on Aug. 11, 2011, after suffering from depression for several years. Memorabilia hangs in his room showing his accomplishments, like the belts he earned in taekwondo. His mother, Marilyn Henderson, encouraged him to use taekwondo as an outlet for his anger and said she is proud of her son for fighting his battle with mental health for all those years.


“I became surrounded by a community of people who had similar experiences to me,” Napier said. “It was good to know that I wasn’t alone, that you don’t need to struggle in silence.”


And for Lahr, the changes he saw in his father after he was hospitalized for his depression and got treatment changed the misconceptions he had and saved his father’s relationship with his mother.


“He goes to therapy; he reads more; there’s been a shift since we’ve all kind of gotten to a better understanding of it,” Lahr said. “Just being able to connect more with him on those issues, we’ve been able to see a pretty positive change in his overall behavior.”

With knowledge of mental illnesses and knowing the right tools to combat a mental health crisis when it arises, men can be better equipped to take care of their mental wellness.


Henderson said the memory of her son Balewa pushes her to spread awareness about mental health, but there’s still a long way to go. Balewa’s name is Swahili for “happiness,” and it’s his times of happiness that his mother chooses to remember. Those memories give her hope that the disease he struggled to overcome can be treated and that, with help, others can beat it.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

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James Donaldson on CBD Oil and Benefits – How to Use CBD Oil to Put Insomnia to Bed

How can CBD oil help with insomnia? Here are a few of the benefits because sometimes counting sheep can only get you so far

But there’s hope for you yet. Cannabidiol (CBD) oil for insomnia might be an effective solution that can provide relief without the sluggish side effects of certain over-the-counter alternatives.

How can CBD help with insomnia?

The World Health Organization reports that, unlike THC, CBD—the second most well-known active ingredient in cannabis—does not produce a high and seems to result in less REM-sleep (that deep, restorative sleep) disruption than THC. In short, CBD may help a person fall and stay asleep by calming the nervous system. WebMD explains that CBD is known to have antipsychotic effects, but that the cause for these effects remains unknown, or at the very least, unproven. Experts believe that CBD may prevent the breakdown of a chemical neurotransmitter in the brain that affects mental function, emotional state and pain, thus allowing for more of the sleep-promoting chemical to flow through the bloodstream and cause drowsiness.

That said, trusted institutes such as the Harvard Medical School stress that, despite its proven efficacy in helping issues such as childhood epilepsy, as well as hypotheses that it may act as an aid for conditions like anxiety, insomnia and chronic pain, “we need more research.”

Still, anecdotal evidence is mounting—everyone seems to have a friend of a friend who swears by a CBD product—and cannabis producers are taking note. The number of CBD-based products on the market is quickly growing.

Some CBD picks for insomnia
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Start with a low dose to see how you feel, and then increase as needed.

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