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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – As #Stigma Ebbs, College #Students Seek #MentalHealth Help

In this Nov. 14, 2019, photo, students walk on the campus of Utah Valley University in Orem, Utah. More college students are turning to their schools for help with anxiety, depression and other mental health problems. That’s according to an Associated Press review of more than three dozen public universities. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

By COLLIN BINKLEY and LARRY FENN

More college #students are turning to their schools for help with #anxiety, #depression and other #mentalhealth problems, and many must wait weeks for treatment or find help elsewhere as campus clinics struggle to meet demand, an Associated Press review of more than three dozen public universities found.

On some campuses, the number of students seeking treatment has nearly doubled over the last five years while overall enrollment has remained relatively flat. The increase has been tied to reduced #stigma around #mentalhealth, along with rising rates of #depression and other disorders. Universities have expanded their #mentalhealth clinics, but the growth is often slow, and demand keeps surging.

Long waits have provoked protests at schools from Maryland to California, in some cases following student #suicides. Meanwhile, campus counseling centers grapple with low morale and high burnout as staff members face increasingly heavy workloads.

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, 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 #suicidalthoughts 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

“It’s an incredible struggle, to be honest,” said Jamie Davidson, associate vice president for student wellness at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, which has 11 licensed counselors for 30,000 students. “It’s stressful on our staff and our resources. We’ve increased it, but you’re never going to talk to anyone in the #mentalhealth field who tells you we have sufficient resources.”

The Associated Press requested five years of data from the largest public university in each state. A total of 39 provided annual statistics from their counseling clinics or health centers. The remaining 11 said they did not have complete records or had not provided records five months after they were requested.

The data shows that most universities are working to scale up their services, but many are far outpaced by demand.

Since 2014, the number of students receiving #mentalhealth treatment at those schools has grown by 35%, while total enrollment grew just 5%. By last year, nearly 1 in 10 students were coming for help, but the number of licensed counselors changed little, from an average of 16 to 19 over five years.

On some campuses, that amounts to one counselor for every 4,000 students, including at Utah Valley University. An industry accrediting group suggests a minimum of one counselor per 1,500 students, but few of the 39 universities met that benchmark.

When Ashtyn Aure checked in at the #mentalhealth clinic at Utah Valley last year, she was suffering #anxiety attacks and had not slept for days. Her mind kept returning to past traumas. When she asked to see a counselor, a staff member told her the wait list stretched for months. She left without getting help.

“I was so obviously distressed, and that was the place I was supposed to go. What do you do after that? Do you go to the hospital? Do you phone a friend?” said Aure, 25, who graduated this year.

Ultimately, she turned to her church, which helped her find therapy at an outside clinic. “If it wasn’t for that,” she said, “I don’t know.”

Officials at Utah Valley said they are working to avoid such cases. If staff know a student is in crisis, they said, a counselor can see that person in a matter of minutes. But staff members have only a few moments to make an assessment.

“Unfortunately, stories like this are not that uncommon,” said Dr. William Erb, senior director of #student health services at Utah Valley. “We train, review and revise these procedures so that situations like this can be avoided as much as possible.”

At most universities, students contemplating #suicide or otherwise in crisis are offered help right away. Others are asked to schedule an appointment. For cases that are not urgent, the wait can range from hours to months, depending on the time of year and the design of the clinic.

Many schools that provided data to the AP said it takes weeks to get an initial appointment. At Utah Valley, students waited an average of more than four weeks last year. At the University of Washington at Seattle, it was three weeks. During busy times at Louisiana State, wait times stretched to four or five weeks.

Some other schools have adopted a model that provides screenings the same day students ask for help, but it can take weeks to get further treatment.

To some #students, waiting is just an inconvenience. But it raises the risk that some young people will forgo help entirely, potentially allowing their problems to snowball.

Students at Brigham Young University drew attention to delays last year after a student took her own life on campus. Days after the #suicide, an anonymous letter was posted at the counseling center describing the dilemma some #students face.

“I have a therapist on campus, and he is wonderful and well qualified. But I only see him once a month. Because he has too many clients to see in one week,” the letter said. “It is the story of many of us barely getting by here at BYU. If I died would anything change?”

Students at the University of Maryland called for change last year after some on campus said they had to wait 30 days or more for an initial appointment. Organizers called the campaign “30 Days Too Late.”

“We quickly realized that there were a lot of people on campus who believed in what we were doing and had had their own experiences,” said Garrett Mogge, a junior who helped organize the effort. “Thirty days can be a long time. And once you get there, it’s too late for some people.”

Officials at the University of Maryland said the campaign showed there was a need to raise awareness about same-day crisis services available on campus. The school also has hired additional counselors since the campaign began.

Other schools that have received #student petitions to improve counseling include Michigan State, Louisiana State, Columbia and Cornell universities.

For cases that are not urgent, some argue that waiting isn’t necessarily bad — and could even lead to better outcomes.

A recent study found greater reductions in #anxiety and #depression at clinics that focus on providing students counseling at regular intervals, a system that might mean waiting for a therapist’s caseload to open. That practice was compared with clinics that offer quick initial help but cannot always provide routine follow-up treatment.

The study by Pennsylvania State University’s Center for Collegiate Mental Health found that prioritizing access over treatment “may have significant negative consequences for #students in need.”

The rising demand for campus #mentalhealth care has been attributed to an array of factors. #Stigma around the issue has faded, encouraging more students to get help. Disorders that once prevented students from going to college are no longer seen as a barrier. Some people believe #socialmedia fuels #anxiety, while others say today’s students simply have more trouble coping with #stress.

#Massshootings, and the fear they spread, have also been suggested as a factor. The University of Nevada, Las Vegas, saw an increase in demand following a 2017 shooting at a nearby county music festival that left 58 people dead and hundreds wounded.

“That really increased the number of students we were seeing,” said Davidson, the head of student wellness. The school later hired a trauma specialist and added a student #mentalhealth fee to hire more counselors, among other measures to reduce wait times.

For years, national surveys have found rising rates of #anxiety and #depression among college #students. Most colleges that provided data to the AP said those conditions, and stress, were the most common complaints. Some schools also have seen more students struggling with thoughts of #suicide.

The shifting landscape has spurred many universities to rethink how they provide help, including offering more short-term treatment options. More #students are being steered to group therapy or anxiety workshops. Counseling centers offer yoga, and many train students to counsel one another.

“We’re reframing what #mentalhealth looks like at a school. It’s not necessarily 10 therapists sitting in offices,” said Erb, the student health director at Utah Valley.

Rising demand has also opened doors for businesses promising solutions. Some schools have signed on with companies that provide therapy over the phone or through video chats. Others urge students to try smartphone apps.

But some say the changes will help little if clinics remain understaffed. Counselors at some California State University campuses are pressing the system to hire more staff even as it expands peer counseling programs and wellness workshops. A faculty union is lobbying to reach a ratio of one counselor for every 1,500 students. The system estimates it has one for every 2,700 students.

“Some students come in, and they can be seen maybe once every five or six weeks. They are shocked, because that’s not what they’re used to out in the real world,” said Martha Cuan, a counselor at Stanislaus State University, one of the system’s 23 campuses.

A state bill requiring the system to set a goal to meet the lower ratio failed to gain traction in the state Legislature this year, but its sponsor plans to reintroduce it next year. Other states tackling the issue include Illinois, which in August approved a law telling public universities to aim for one counselor per 1,250 students.

For many schools, finding the money to add counselors is a challenge. Many campus clinics don’t charge students for services and generate little or no revenue. A 2016 bill in Congress proposed new grants for university counseling, but it never advanced to a vote.

Some schools are adding new campus fees to hire counselors or are subsidizing clinics through athletics revenue, as the University of Texas recently did.

Overall, the AP analysis found that campus counseling budgets have increased by about 25% over the last five years, but levels vary widely, from more than $200 per student at some campuses to less than $40 at others.

The way students feel about campus #mentalhealth services is mixed, according to a recent poll by the AP-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research. Among adults ages 18 through 29 who have pursued higher education, about a third said colleges do a good job handling #mentalhealth needs, while about as many said they think schools do a bad job. Another 3 in 10 said it’s neither good nor bad.

Most university presidents say #mentalhealth is a growing concern, but they lack the tools to address it, according to a separate survey of school chiefs by the American Council on Education. Given unlimited funding, the survey found, most presidents said they would first hire more #mentalhealth staff.

On any campus, the greatest fear is that a student in dire need could fall through the cracks. Mike and Kim Predmore believe that’s what happened to their son, Chris, who was struggling as a freshman at Illinois State University in 2014.

He had just been through a bad breakup. He didn’t make the soccer team. He was stressed about school and wasn’t sleeping. One night, he texted a friend and talked about #suicide. His family persuaded him to visit the campus counseling center for help.

At an initial screening, Chris Predmore told a counselor he was not thinking about #suicide but wanted to try therapy, according to notes from the visit. He was told that there was a wait on campus and that he should explore nearby clinics with his parents. He never did. Two days later, he took his own life.

His parents have since become regulars at a support group for families of #suicide victims. Three other couples in the group also lost children who were in college. The Predmores wonder why there aren’t more counselors and why schools can’t do more. Often, they just wonder what might have been.

“I think if they would have said, ‘Yeah, we’re going to get you into counseling,’ I don’t think he’d be dead,” Kim Predmore said. “I don’t know. I’ll never know. But I think he would have been able to hang on.”

___

Collin Binkley can be reached on Twitter at https://twitter.com/cbinkley

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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – Breaking The #Stigma Of #MentalHealth Struggles For #FirstResponders

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

by: Eric Pointer

There’s a new initiative aimed at getting #firstresponders the #mentalhealth treatment they need. 

#Mentalillness is suspected to be behind thousands of #suicides in America each year making #mentalhealth all the more important. Especially when it comes to #firstresponders. 

People often look at #firstresponders as heroes but some feel like they have nowhere to turn when they need help. The horrific scenes they deal with on a daily basis can take a toll on their #mentalhealth.

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, 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 #suicidalthoughts 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

A Franklin County EMT Firefighter is using the loss of a close friend to #suicide to spread awareness on the trauma #firstresponders deal with.

Just last year Jonathan Smith lost his best and fellow Franklin County Volunteer EMT Firefighter Robert Dent.

“We went on family vacations together, we were there for family tragedies. We were always together,” said Smith.

“It was a tough blow. It was really hard because I had talked to him the night before and didn’t catch any red flags.”

He says it brought the #suicide rate to light for him and he discovered #firstresponders are more likely to commit #suicide than the average person. He thinks it’s due in part to the #stigma they face.

“As a child, who do you look up for as heroes? It’s your #firstresponders. So when you’re considered a hero it’s hard to say I feel defeated because of this bad call or this bad call. So it makes it that much harder to say I need help because you feel like you’re a superhero,” Smith said.

So he wanted to do something about it. He started the group, putting a dent in #mentalhealth.

“Robbie, my best friend who committed #suicide, anytime you would ask him to help you do anything he would always say put a Dent in it. His last name was Dent.”

The group works to raise awareness to help break the #stigma. They also help sponsor a new class hosted by the Near Southwest Preparedness Alliance, #MentalHealth First Aid for #FirstResponders.

“This class is like a self-help class that can help you learn red flags, triggers and self-care.”

It’s something he says can also help loved ones and co-workers of #firstresponders.

“After taking this course and looking back, I can now see the red flags I didn’t see before. So knowing that I’m trained now to see these red flags and to see the behavioral pattern changes, it means a lot more to me because maybe I can help save the next person.”

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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – Why is #Suicide a Growing Problem In The #Black Community?

Stacy M. Brown
It’s no secret that African Americans – particularly teens – are committing suicide at record levels

#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – 

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, 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 #suicidalthoughts 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



 

The NNPA is taking a closer look at the #stigma of #mentalillness in the #AfricanAmerican community.

It’s no secret that #AfricanAmericans – particularly teens – are committing #suicide at record levels. According to the #CentersforDiseaseControlandPrevention, #suicide rates have increased by 30 percent since 1999 and nearly 45,000 lives were lost to #suicide in 2016 alone.

A June 2019 study conducted by the Journal of Community Health revealed that #suicide deaths among #black #females aged 13 to 19 rose 182 percent between 2001 and 2017, while the rate among #black #teen #males rose 60 percent during that same period.

From 2015 to 2017, 52 percent of #black teen #males who died from #suicide used firearms, a method with a fatality rate of nearly 90 percent. Another 34 percent used strangulation or suffocation, which has a fatality rate of about 60 percent.

Among the 204 #black teen #females who died by #suicide from 2015 to 2017, 56 percent used strangulation or suffocation and 21 percent used firearms, according to the study.

Experts and others have tried to determine why #AfricanAmericans increasingly are choosing to end their lives. Theories have run the gamut – from the lack of strong father-figures to racism and #socialmedia and even the increase in black wealth.

Whatever the reason, the CDC said it’s important to note that #suicidal thoughts or behaviors are both damaging and dangerous and should be treated as a psychiatric emergency.

CDC officials also caution that those who have #suicidal thoughts should understand that it doesn’t make one weak or flawed.

“Why are we killing ourselves? The lack of treatment of #mentalillness is the key factor to why #suicide is on the rise in the #black community,” said Clarence McFerren, a #mentalhealth advocate and author who admits to previously having #suicidal thoughts as a teenager.

“Throughout my life, I’ve been faced with difficult situations which festered into five #mentalillness diagnosis – ADHD, #PTSD, severe #depression, bipolar tendencies and anxieties – and I did not understand what was going on until I took the steps to get help,” McFerren said.

Famed Beverly Hills family and relationship psychotherapist and author, Dr. Fran Walfish said she’s treated hundreds of thousands of children and teens each year and recently she’s seen the number of troubled teenagers who are cutters and dealing with #suicidal thoughts, feelings, ideas, plans, and even attempts of #suicide.

“There is nothing glamourous about #suicide. The one common-denominator shared by all who cut, contemplate or attempt #suicide is that they feel emotionally alone in their families,” said Walfish, the author of “The Self-Aware Parent,” and who appears regularly as an expert child psychologist on the CBS Television series, “The Doctors.”

“They feel there is no one person they can talk to about their pain who will listen, validate, understand, and be a safe warmly attuned place for comfort,” she said.

Sam Gertsmann, the founder of Opinion-Lounge, a website for discussing politics, said he’s had extensive experience working #suicide hotlines.

“While #suicide is a complicated topic, it’s clear that the rise of #socialmedia is one of the main causes of the recent jump in #suicide rates,” Gertsmann said.

“#Socialmedia show users pictures and videos of everyone living better lives than they are; even though these pictures are often staged and paint an inaccurate picture, the brain isn’t able to differentiate and simply sees that everyone else is better off,” he said.

“#Socialmedia also puts numbers on your popularity – your followers, your likes, your replies. And, no matter how many you have, you’ll always want more,” Gertsmann said.

Kevin Darné, the author of “My Cat Won’t Bark! (A Relationship Epiphany), believes that the suicide rate among young #AfricanAmericans is due to the growing list of black millionaires and billionaires.

“Today, we have Oprah owning a TV network, Tyler Perry owning his own studios, Shonda Rhimes owning her night of television on ABC, Jaz-Z becoming a billionaire, Dr. Dre selling ‘Beats’ to Apple for $3 billion, and a few Fortune 500 black CEOs, black doctors, lawyers, and entrepreneurs,” Darné said.

“Although racism is still alive, it’s impossible to deny the fact that the rise of a black upper middle class and an increase in #black millionaires [contributes to others having lower self-esteem],” he said.

“The irony is the more #black success that someone sees in various industries could make a person start to wonder about what’s wrong with themselves. #Depression and lack of fulfillment can cause people in a rich country to consider #suicide … when there’s a huge gap between one’s expectations and their reality, life can seem miserable,” Darné said.

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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – #MentalHealth Service Use Appears To Increase After #Bariatric #Surgery

Morgan DJR, et al. JAMA Psychiatry. 2019;doi:10.1001/jamapsychiatry.2019.2741.

Over an average follow-up of 5 years, one in 10 patients who underwent bariatric surgery used #mentalhealth service afterwards, according to findings published in JAMA Psychiatry.

“Several recent studies have highlighted a concern that bariatric surgery may exacerbate psychiatric conditions, especially deliberate self-harm and suicide,” David J. R. Morgan, MBBS, of St. John of God Subiaco Hospital in Perth, Australia, and colleagues wrote. “In response to this, major professional #bariatric societies currently recommend that potential surgical candidates should have either no active severe [psychopathology] or drug dependency problems and/or have undergone psychological assessment before surgery.”

#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – 

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, 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 #suicidalthoughts 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



 

Researchers conducted a longitudinal cohort study to better understand the link between #bariatricsurgery and broader #mentalhealth outcomes, such as the incidence of outpatient, ED and inpatient #mentalhealth service use. They examined data on patients undergoing their first #bariatricsurgery in Western Australia over a 10-year period to determine the incidence and predictors for #mentalhealth presentations, deliberate self-harm and #suicide associated with the timing of #bariatricsurgery.

Overall, 24,766 patients (77.3% women) underwent #bariatricsurgery. In total, 3,979 patients (16.1%) used at least one #mentalhealth service. Of these, 1,401 patients (35.2%) presented only before surgery, 1,025 (25.8%) presented both before and after surgery, and 1,550 patients (39%) presented only after surgery.

After #bariatricsurgery, Morgan and colleagues reported an increase in outpatient clinic attendance (incidence rate ratio [IRR] = 2.3; 95% CI, 2.3-2.4), ED attendance (IRR = 3; 95% CI, 2.8-3.2) and psychiatric hospitalization (IRR = 3; 95% CI, 2.8-3.1).

The results also showed that presentations to the ED due to deliberate self-harm increased nearly 5-fold after surgery (IRR = 4.7; 95% CI, 3.8-5.7). Overall, #suicides accounted for about 10% of post-operative deaths.

Some risk factors of self-harm or #suicidalideation after first #bariatric surgery included younger age; higher socioeconomic status; self-harm, #suicidalideation, mental disorders due to psychoactive substance abuse, or mood disorders before their surgery. Complications after index surgery requiring further surgical intervention were also associated with later #mentalhealth presentations.

“Our findings question the hypothesis that weight reduction by #bariatric surgery will improve #mentalhealth in patients with obesity,” the investigators wrote. “Whether using a preoperative psychological assessment, as recommended by the current guidelines, can identify those at risk and improve their mental health outcomes, to our knowledge, remains scientifically unproven.” – by Savannah Demko

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#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – #Veteran #Suicides Increase Despite Host Of Prevention, #MentalHealth Efforts

By: Leo Shane III   

The Veteran’s Crisis Line — available to veterans, troops and their families — operates 24 hours a day, seven days a week

#Veterans #suicides rose in 2017 despite concerted efforts in recent years from federal officials and lawmakers to address #mentalhealth and emergency intervention services within the military community.

#VeteransAffairs officials noted in a new analysis released Friday that because of a data delay, their report does not take into effect any new initiatives put in place over the last 22 months. They also emphasized in the report that #suicide prevention has become a major public health problem throughout the country, not just in the veterans community.

“#Veterans do not live, work, and serve in isolation from the community, the nation, or the world,” the report states. “The issue of #suicide in the U.S. also affects the veteran population.”

The new plan to prevent veteran suicides: new grants, better research, more community focus
The new plan to prevent veteran suicides: new grants, better research, more community focus

#JamesDonaldsononMentalHealth – 

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, 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 #suicidalthoughts 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



 

The president will sign a new executive order on Tuesday creating a task force with a deadline of one year for aggressive new solutions to the problem.

But the increase in the number of #veterans who die by #suicide represents another setback for advocates who have worked in recent years to address the problem through public awareness campaigns, easier access to psychological treatment and aggressive messaging against the #stigma of seeking #mentalhealth care.

More than 6,100 veterans died by #suicide in 2017, about 17 individuals per day. That’s up about 2 percent from 2016 and about 6 percent over the previous 12 years.

The shift is even more pronounced considering that the total number of #veterans in America is decreasing each year, as older generations of former military personnel age. The total number of #veterans in America dropped almost 2 percent from 2016 to 2017 (about 370,000 veterans) and was down almost 18 percent from 2005 to 2017.

Department officials in recent years have quoted the rate of #veterans #suicides across the country as “20 per day,” reflecting past figures which included active-duty military, guardsmen and reservists who served on active-duty, and National Guard and reserve members who were never federally activated.Sign up for the Retirement Report

Officials said they changed this year’s report to focus solely on #veterans to avoid confusion about the population they monitor and directly assist. If the other military and never-activated reservist numbers were included, it would have pushed the #suicide rate for the total veteran-connected group to about 21 individuals per day.

Nearly 87 Americans die by #suicide each day, according to federal statistics.

Women with prior military service are more than twice as likely to die by #suicide as their civilian peers, according to the report. #Male #veterans are 1.3 times as likely to die by #suicide as #men who never served.

Almost two-thirds of the #suicide deaths among #veterans in 2017 were individuals who had no contact with the #VeteransHealthAdministration. VA officials in recent years have focused on public outreach efforts to address that problem, noting limited opportunities to share information on support services with #veterans who they don’t interact with regularly.

The new plan to prevent veteran suicides: new grants, better research, more community focus
The new plan to prevent #veteran #suicides: new grants, better research, more community focus

The president will sign a new executive order on Tuesday creating a task force with a deadline of one year for aggressive new solutions to the problem.

In a letter accompanying the report, Dr. Richard Stone — executive in charge of the #VeteransHealthAdministration — said that #suicide “is a national public health problem that disproportionately affects those who served our nation.” He called upon community partners to work with the department on “actionable, manageable steps” to address the problem.

Earlier this year, President Donald Trump announced the formation of a new task force lead by VA Secretary Robert Wilkie to focus on the issue of veteran and military #suicideprevention. Among the issues that group of federal officials is considering is how to more quickly compile national #suicide data, to provide quicker analysis of how prevention programs are performing.

The task force is expected to issue a formal report early next spring.

The full #suicide report is available on the VA web site.

#Veterans experiencing a #mentalhealth emergency can contact the #VeteranCrisisLine at 1-800-273-8255 and select option 1 for a VA staffer. #Veterans, troops or their family members can also text 838255 or visit VeteransCrisisLine.net for assistance.

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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – Why People Commit #Suicide

IDENTIFYING RISKS — Thomas Joiner Jr., a leading authority on #suicide, talks about assessing the risk of #suicide during at presentation at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee.

Understanding a person’s motivation for considering #suicide can be difficult to grasp for both their loved ones and #mentalhealthprofessionals trying to help them.

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, 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 #suicidalthoughts 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

Thomas Joiner Jr., a leading authority on #suicide, offered insight during a recent presentation to more than 250 people at Western Carolina University.

A clinical and research psychologist at Florida State University, Joiner has developed a framework for #suicide risk assessment that includes three key considerations: a person’s perception that he is a burden; his alienation from others and a sense of fearlessness.

“It is important to our species to belong … and painful not to belong,” Joiner said. “A sense of community will draw the #suicide rate down.”

Conversely, living a life of isolation increases the risk for many people.

While some may see people who take their own lives as cowards, Joiner said that those who can “stare death in the face and not blink” are able to commit #suicide.

“You ask people straight out, ‘How afraid of you are death?’” when assessing #suicide risk, Joiner said.

Dying is actually hard to do in terms of someone taking his own life, he remarked.

Among people who have a low fear of death are those with military training and traumatizing experiences, Joiner said. Killing and seeing someone else killed drives up the risk of #suicide for military personnel, he noted.

During deployment, soldiers pull together with increased camaraderie and sense of mission, decreasing their risk of #suicide. However, subsequent isolation that a military veteran may experience can drive up this risk, Joiner said.

Joiner mentioned another phenomenon that can be used to evaluate a person’s risk of #suicide: the rate at which he blinks his eyes. Someone who is ambivalent about living and contemplating #suicide has an abnormally low blink rate, he said.

Joiner also said that people with family members who have died by #suicide could have an increased risk of taking their own lives. However, this experience can also lower the risk, he added.

“We know there are a lot of other risk factors,” Joiner said.

Alcohol and drug abuse can be potent risks for #suicide, he noted.

However, Joiner said that most people are not using alcohol in the hours before #suicide.

“If you’re too intoxicated, you’re not going to do this hard thing,” he said.

Other known risk factors are impulsive and reckless behavior, Joiner added.

According to information on #suicide risk assessment from the #NationalAlliancefortheMentallyIll, other signs of possible #suicide are withdrawal from friends and family, dramatic mood swings, collecting and saving pills and buying a weapon.

Comments such as “nothing matters” or “I wish I wasn’t here” are also warning signs, according to #NAMI.

To help prevent a #suicide, placing a barrier to the means, such as removing guns and stockpiled pills, can reduce the chances of a lethal outcome, Joiner said.

Guns are the primary method for #suicide, he noted.

According to the most recent statistics for Haywood County, of the 13 #suicides that occurred this year, six were the result of gun shot wounds. Other methods include #suicide by hanging, drug toxicity and inhaling products of combustion.

Patrick Johnson, public health services director of Haywood County Health and Human Services, records #suicide data on the “Deaths of Despair” document he compiles.

Since 2016, the number of #suicides in the county has increased from 9 to a high of 20 in 2017, he reported.

The majority of #suicides in the county this year were committed by middle-aged #men, although the age range fluctuated from people in their 20s to those in their 70s, according to data.

As of Nov. 12, a total of 42 “deaths of despair” have taken place in Haywood County this year, including 31 substance abuse deaths.

Where to get help Appalachian Community Services, an area #mentalhealth services provider, has a crisis line that people at risk of #suicide and their loved ones may call for help. The phone number is 1-888-315-2880.

Another option is the #NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255).

For life-threatening emergencies, the Haywood Regional Medical Center suggests calling 911.

To assist people at risk of #suicide, #NAMI recommends talking with them in a compassionate, non-judgmental way and asking them directly if they have plan for killing themselves.

Many people contemplating #suicide have a degree of ambivalence about what they are planning to do—even the most suicidal person, Joiner said.

Being with other people and finding something that matters can reduce a person’s risk of taking his own life, he observed.Yo

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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – US Border #Officers Die By #Suicide 30% More Often Than Other Cops

Photo by Ludmila Aleksandra on Pexels.com

By Justin Rohrlich

Law enforcement suicides in the United States have surpassed line of duty deaths in recent years. There have been 14 reported police suicides this month alone.

And for every #police #suicide, there are at least 1,000 police officers with post-traumatic stress, according to Badge of Life, a nonprofit focused on #police #suicideprevention. Unlike physical injuries, mental trauma for cops occurs “almost daily,” creating risk for the officers themselves as well as those with whom they interact.

#JamesDonaldson notes:

Welcome to the “next chapter” of my life… being a voice and an advocate for #mentalhealthawarenessandsuicideprevention, 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 #suicidalthoughts 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

In no department or agency is this #mentalhealth crisis more acute than at US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and its Border Patrol division. According to an internal government report obtained exclusively by Quartz, the rate of #suicide at CBP is almost 28% higher than at any other law enforcement agency. From 2007 through Sept, 11, 2019, 115 CBP employees have died by #suicide.

Yet, in the face of this growing problem, sources with knowledge of CBP’s efforts to address #mentalhealth told Quartz that the agency isn’t doing enough and, in fact, has fostered a culture where seeking help is not only discouraged but punished. This is worrying for both the officers the agency employs, and the often vulnerable migrants with whom those #officers are required to interact.

An unqualified response

Jenn Budd, who served as a senior Border Patrol agent from 1995 to 2001 and now works as an advocate for immigrant’s rights, doesn’t believe the spike in #mentalhealth problems at the agency is the result of the increased workload required by US president Donald Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policies. Rather, she said, it is likely the new tasks officers and agents are now being asked to perform that are adding to the existing stress of the job.

“Agents who are being forced to work in the processing centers where they’re holding asylum seekers for weeks, if not months, in these conditions…even if the agents think it’s okay, they don’t realize it’s affecting their #mentalhealth,” Budd told Quartz. “And certainly in those cases where people die while they’re on duty, they may sit there and say, ‘Well, it’s not my fault, it’s not my fault.’ But you know that internally, it’s affecting them.”

Even for those who do recognize the strain the job is having on their #mentalhealth, there are said to be few avenues for seeking advice and the department is doing little to either make quality information or appropriate professional help available.

CBP says it employs staff psychologists in its human resources division who support a broad portfolio of programs. But instead of deploying clinical #mentalhealthprofessionals to the field, for example, CBP and Border Patrol rely heavily on peer counselors drawn from their own ranks. These counselors are given minimal training by outside contractors and then sent back to their sectors and stations “like they’re professionals,” Budd said.

“I can say as somebody who’s gone through it, you need professional help when it gets to [the point of #suicide],” she added. “You don’t need some agent who had 8 to 40 hours of sitting in a class, learning the common causes of #suicide and how to tell people to look on the brighter side. It’s just not right. It’s not going to cut it.”

A chaplaincy program for border officers launched in the early-2000s is similarly anemic. A source with knowledge of the situation said the chaplains are not full-time clergy with advanced degrees, but full-time officers and agents who perform lay faith-based counseling in addition to their regular law enforcement duties. The source said that at Border Patrol, a chaplain is only required to attend a brief course and is not required to have a Masters of Divinity like professional chaplains at other agencies.

Past #suicideprevention programs organized by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), CBP’s parent agency, have also not been particularly successful. A 2009 effort called “DHSTogether” went without “a formal vision or set of goals” for its first four years. In 2012, DHS hired a government-run service to create a peer support program for DHSTogether. However, a 2013 report commissioned by DHS said the partnership accomplished little.

DHS earmarked about $1.5 million for DHSTogether, before reducing that funding to about $1 million for the 2014 fiscal year. “Because of the modest funding, few or no resources are tied to the policies that are promulgated by the program,” the report said. The most recent mention of DHSTogether on the DHS website is a list of agency-specific resources, last updated in 2015. The CBP resource list links to a website that does not load, and lists a phone number for a peer support program that is no longer in operation. A message Quartz sent to the email address listed for the program was never returned.

Last year, CBP hired a private company that operates employee assistance programs. But the one-year pilot ended before the company managed to recruit someone to run it.

In response to Quartz’s earlier inquiries, a CBP spokesperson said the agency had “expanded” its resources to prevent #suicide, and has held events both during #Suicide Awareness Month and at other times that can be live streamed and viewed throughout the year. The spokesperson also said the agency has a peer support program, a “robust” Employee Assistance Program, and “an agency-wide” internal website dedicated to #suicideprevention, which includes #suicideprevention videos.

Not meeting basic standards

Part of the problem, Budd and others say, is that—unlike virtually every other federal law enforcement agency and many state and local police departments—new recruits at CBP aren’t given psychological evaluations or personality assessments.

Police psychologist Marla Friedman has said that it is necessary to implement pre-employment evaluations to determine the “mental elasticity” of new recruits, and their attitudes toward maintaining health regardless of “perceived #stigma.”

“The goal would be to narrow the selection process to specific candidates who demonstrated #mental flexibility and the willingness to undergo ongoing #mentalhealth checks and/or treatment to maintain and develop personally and professionally, without regard to the #stigma of engaging in therapy as needed,” according to Friedman.

James Tomsheck, CBP’s chief of internal affairs from 2006 to 2014, told Quartz he lobbied for years to add independent psychological screening to the hiring process. Tomsheck said he went through a battery of psychological tests and evaluations to become a police officer in his hometown of Omaha, and did the same to become a US Secret Service agent, a job he held for 23 years. But at CBP, he explained, “accounting said it was too expensive and the leadership said it would add too much time to the hiring process, another layer.”

In an email, a CBP spokesperson said, “All candidates who apply for Border Patrol Agent and CBP #Officer positions attend a medical examination. If any issue is identified that may affect safe and efficient job performance, the applicant is given an opportunity to provide additional information. For applicants who have #mentalhealth follow-up, this information is reviewed by a forensic psychiatrist to provide a medical recommendation to make a medical qualification determination.”

A culture of silence

While limited psychological support services exist for officers and agents at CBP, taking part in the few opportunities that do exist is also taboo, Budd said.

“Once you’re labeled, your career is over,” she said. “People are ashamed to ask for help. It’s not a badge of courage to say, ‘I’m having troubles. I’m having problems.’ It will affect your promotional ability. It’ll affect whether or not you get [special assignments]. So nobody will ever come out and say things like that.”

In fact, as James Phelps, a professor of criminal justice who studies border enforcement, told Quartz, many border officers have actually been told by supervisors that anyone who makes use of the available psychological support services is a failure. Further, he said the long, unpredictable hours make it hard to schedule counseling appointments. The Border Patrol tells prospective applicants that 16-hour days “are not that uncommon,” which is true for all CBP officers.

“You’re literally walking out of the shift room, getting in a pickup truck or an SUV and driving 50, 60 miles to your observation post,” Phelps said. “By the time your shift ends, you have to stay there and wait for the relief shift to show up. And if the relief shift doesn’t show up, you’re stuck.”

While some observers have suggested border officers just quit, that isn’t always an option, especially for someone with a family. And, Budd pointed out, joining another agency becomes impossible for anyone over a certain age. New hires at the FBI, for instance, must be younger than 37.

The more obvious solution would be to invest more in the #mentalhealth of immigration officers, especially those working along the southern border, where they are often the first Americans with whom migrants interact.

Christian Penichet-Paul, policy and advocacy manager at the nonprofit National Immigration Forum, called on the Trump administration—which is spending somewhere between $25 million and $1 billion for each mile of border wall—to redirect some of that money toward proper counseling and other psychological support services for border officers.

“The cost of building just one mile of physical barriers could help pay for better services,” Penichet-Paul told Quartz. “When we provide proper services to our Border Patrol workforce, I believe we can help improve conditions for everyone, including migrants, at the southern border. We must do what we can to help, because helping prevent even just one death is worth it.”

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