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How many of you all know anything about Jim Crow? (Part 26)

Charles Hamilton Houston became the NAACP first legal counsel.

He said that the discrimination towards blacks, was no accident.

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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – #Depression, The Silent Killer

Frequent mood disorder that affects people of all ages can be severely disabling and a risk factor for suicidal thinking

Depression, the silent killer

Dr Prakriti Poddar

#DEPRESSION is a word we often throw around without realising the depth of the disease. It is a #mentalhealthcondition that affects people of all ages in the form of one or recurrent major depressive episodes (MDEs) that can be mild, moderate, or severe. There is no single cause of #depression known — it is a disorder of the brain that occurs due to a combination of genetic and environmental factors working together. It is a frequent mood disorder that is severely disabling and has a significant impact on everyday life of an individual as well as society at large, including a substantial economic burden on society. According to The Lancet, mental disorders are among the leading causes of non-fatal disease burden in #India; 197.3 million people had mental disorders in #India in 2017, which includes 45.7 million people with depressive disorders and 44.9 million people with #anxiety disorders. It goes on to state that #mentaldisorders comprised 2.5 per cent of the total disability-adjusted life-years (DALYs) in #India in 1990 that increased to 4.7 per cent in 2017. Among non-communicable diseases (NCD), #mentalhealth is the largest contributor to economic loss in India — an estimated 20 percent of economic loss from NCDs between 2012 and 2030 worth $6.2 trillion will be caused by #mentalhealthissues.

Need for big effort

And yet, it takes a #suicide to make people post ‘I am there’ messages on #socialmedia. It is time we shun this ‘one at a time’ approach towards #depression and other #mentalhealthconditions and take up the cudgels to support them. A mark of #depression is the tendency to fatally injure oneself — that is, attempt #suicide. #Depression is a risk factor for suicidal thinking and good #mentalhealthcare can reduce the risk; thankfully, there are several ways to help affected person access these. #Suicideprevention programmes and hotlines can provide support and can withhold the tendency for some time. However, the focus on #suicide and its prevention draws attention away from the fact that in ‘worst case’ situations #depression and resultant suicidal thinking/suicide attempts/#suicide can be compelling. According to the #WorldHealthOrganisation, ‘#suicide epidemics’ have been a quagmire and are known to occur sporadically, but repeatedly, in certain populations such as #American Indians and in certain sites such as psychiatric inpatient units. Those who commit such acts predominantly suffer from mood disorders, and the most prevalent mood disorder is major #depression.

Hear them out

The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, is a welcome step in acknowledging this disease that is often silent. #Mentalhealth budget is less than 1 per cent of India’s total health budget and conservative estimated cost on the government to implement the Act is Rs94,073 crore per annum. However, clinical therapies can have limited impact in the absence of an effective social support group. One of the most important things that we can offer someone suffering from #mentalhealthcondition is to allow them space and comfort of talking – listening to how they are feeling without forcing them to open up can relieve them partially. Also, ask what is most helpful for them when they are feeling depressed and listen to what they have to say. But unless you are a trained professional dealing with #mentalhealth, try not to give advice. It is important to understand #depression, so some familiarity with its symptoms, possible course and treatments may help understand the person and how he or she is feeling. Support their treatment and carry on with regular activity – remind them of their appointments or medicines, or carry on with the habit of watching movies on a Friday night.

—The writer is a #mentalhealth expert, Poddar Foundation, Mumbai

#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

When #mentalhealth affects your body

#Depression may trigger #insomnia, increased pain sensitivity, weight fluctuations, fatigue, narrow the blood vessels and lower your libido. Here are some preventive measures and the way out:

  • Take good care of yourself — get enough sleep, eat nutritious food and exercise regularly.
  • Reach out to family and friends if you are feeling lonely or sad.
  • Fight #stress with exercise, meditation and yoga.
  • Know yourself better — find your strengths and pay attention to what makes your symptoms worse. This can help your doctor or therapist.
  • Stick with your treatment plan. If you are on medicine, take it as prescribed.
  • Do not skip sessions. Tell your doctor what is and is not working for you.

What triggers this disorder?

There is no single cause, but one or more of the following may cause #depression:

Stressful events: Personal events such as divorce, loss of job, death of a friend or close relative.

Family history: Genes have a role to play, so if you have a parent or a sibling with the condition, chances are you will also develop it.

Giving birth: The hormonal and physical changes in a woman’s body during pregnancy and after birth, coupled with the added responsibility of a new life, may cause post-natal depression, also known as ‘baby blues’.

Substance abuse: A sustained high consumption of alcohol and psychedelic can affect brain.

Illness: Chronic or life-threatening illness, e.g. coronary heart disease or cancer, can cause #depression. Other triggers can be poor hormonal balance (hypothyroidism) or head injury.

Gender: #Women are more prone to #depression than #men, mainly due to socio-cultural surroundings.

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How many of you all know anything about Jim Crow? (Part 25)

Walter White became the President of the NAACP in 1932.

In 1933, Franklin D. Roosevelt was elected. He promised a “New Deal” for everyone.

W.E.B. DuBois continued to fight for the opportunities for blacks to be included.

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James Donaldson Interview with “After ‘Homeschool” featuring Ann Davison Sattler (Pt. 5)

My advice to newcomers to Seattle.

We need more good people who are willing to step up and lead.

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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – Addressing #MentalHealth – What Is Copycat #Suicide? Here Is How To Keep Your #Teenagers Safe

Dr Era S Dutta

#Suicide is a leading cause of death amongst 13-19-year-olds in our country. #Teenagers are much more impressionable than older adults.

Addressing mental health - What is copycat suicide? Here is how to keep your teenagers safeAddressing #mentalhealth – What is copycat #suicide? Here is how to keep your #teenagers safe

New Delhi: The country was shaken with the sudden demise of a young star, #SushantSinghRajput when he committed #suicide about two weeks ago. This incident opened the doors to #mentalhealth conversation in our country.

Very soon after this event, there was news of a 16-year-old boy dying by #suicide in Adarsh Nagar locality in Nayagaon, who was allegedly sad over the death of the actor. #Suicide is a leading cause of death amongst 13-19-year-olds in our country. #Teenagers are much more impressionable than older adults.

In the past too, when a celebrity has passed away, similar events begin to mushroom in the geographic areas close to them.

Copycat #suicide is defined as an emulation of another #suicide that the person attempting #suicide knows about either from local knowledge or due to accounts or depictions of the original #suicide on television and in other media.

In a 1774 novel, The Sorrows of Young Werther, the author describes the #suicide of its lead character. After which the young #men began to copy the methods of the novel, down to the colour of the clothes of the character. They would often leave the book open at the page of Werther’s death at the site of their deaths. This phenomenon was one of the first instances of copycat suicides. 

#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

Why do they occur?

The sensational coverage of leading celebrity deaths by #suicide can often trigger sensitive individuals. They perceive that if larger than life celebrities couldn’t handle the pressure then how can they. Often #teenager stressors, changing neurobiology, substance use, poor family support, domestic abuse and even #socialmedia can have a part to play. A big impact is how media reports and sadly “glorifies” the celebrity suicides.

Who is at risk?

#Teenagers, those abusing substance, coming from broken homes or facing domestic violence; overtly engaged in #socialmedia and technology attempt “copycat” suicides. #Loneliness is a pivotal factor for #suicide.

What are the risk signs to look out for in your #child?

Notice a severe change in behaviour, which is a lot more than the explainable #teenage changes. If the child begins to wear long sleeves on a hot day, they may be harming themselves with small slits on the wrists (self-harm), if their eyes are bloodshot often or odd odours shoot from them, then consider talking to them about substance use.
There could be severe withdrawal from friends and family. If they engage in acts like giving away possessions and closing #socialmedia accounts, these could be alarming.
Other sings may be low mood, crying often, changes in sleep and appetite, falling grades.
Some may engage in reckless behaviour, and even talking about #suicide saying “I wish I were dead.” Take these threats seriously.

How to talk to your #teenager about #suicide?

First things first – talking about #suicide does NOT lead to it. In fact, it opens up the doors to talk about #mentalhealth. Ask your #teenager if there is something you can help with and if not you then would they like to speak to a professional. Tell them you are worried instead of blaming them or shunning them for having such ideas.

What can we do for better #teenage #mentalhealth?

Talk about #mentalhealth and destigmatise it. Just as you don’t judge someone for wanting to go the physician when they have a cough or cold, similarly why do we make an enormous deal for someone wanting to seek help from a #mentalhealthprofessional.
The only way to do this is to have a dialogue with your #children.

Listen. Talk. Don’t judge. Listen.

Photo by Helena Lopes on Pexels.com
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How many of you all know anything about Jim Crow? (Part 24)

Being a black landowner during Jim Crow was a dangerous thing to be.

Whites were very suspicious and envious of blacks who tried to make something of themselves.

Ned Cobb was one such person. He was an uneducated black sharecropper who prospered.

The American Communist Party, was the only political party that took a stand against segregation and for racial equality.

Of course, the opposition was from the Ku Klux Klan.

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James Donaldson Interview with “After ‘Homeschool” featuring Ann Davison Sattler (Pt. 4)

How I learned to “Speak Truth to Power”.

It’s difficult to “stand for something, and not fall for anything”.

But, you can do it!

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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – #Athletes Are Killing Themselves And Schools In Michigan Fear Their Players Could Be Next

Everybody knows it’s a problem. Can it be fixed?

Jeff Seidel, Detroit Free PressUpdated 4:59 p.m. PST Feb. 16, 2020Show caption

Too many people are struggling in silence, dealing with depression and anxiety, living in darkness, unsure what is wrong or how to get help.

Too many young adults are killing themselves: Suicide is the second leading cause of death for college students.

Zachary Winston brought it back into the national spotlight when he died by suicide at Albion College.

Today, the Free Press is taking an in-depth look at college athletics and mental health, using sports to shed light on a national crisis. The Free Press found a wide disparity in how Michigan colleges handle mental health issues, and athletic administrators at several schools admitted they fear they aren’t doing enough. These administrators should be commended for their honesty because it is time to talk openly about this issue — to talk about what is working, as well as what is not. This isn’t about casting blame or pointing fingers, it’s about trying to isolate problems and highlight solutions. The stigma has to be broken. And it starts with education and unvarnished openness.

This isn’t an athletic issue. It’s a societal issue. Too many counseling centers are underfunded and understaffed. Too many don’t take this seriously until there is a crisis. And it’s too hard to get mental health care.

We must get to the point where an athlete going for mental health treatment is no different than getting treatment for a sprained ankle.

But it’s not just athletes, of course.

It’s all of us.

Here was a college football player, stuck in the shadows of his own mind, on the brink of a tragedy. His thoughts kept racing, obsessing about death and dying, unsure what was wrong or how to make it stop.

Former Michigan football player Will Heininger
Former Michigan football player Will Heininger

“I was in a dark place,” former Michigan football player Will Heininger said. “The days felt miserable and long. I had racing thoughts, all day, every day, every 5 seconds.”

Heininger had just finished his freshman year at Michigan in 2008. He felt alone and didn’t know where to get help. He could have been any athlete, at any school. Research shows that about 30% of all college athletes experience depression, according to the NCAA.

“I couldn’t imagine living another 50 years like that, let alone another year,” Heininger said. 

Here was a small college on the cusp of a tragedy. It could have been any college, at any level.

Before Winston died by suicide, the subject of how to handle athletes experiencing mental health issues was raised at an Albion College athletic department staff meeting, according to a coach in the room.

It is a topic that all colleges, not just the athletic departments, are wrestling with: one out of every eight college students (13.3%) makes a suicide plan, according to National College Health Assessment. Research shows that 65.7% felt overwhelming anxiety and 45.1% felt so depressed that it was difficult to function, according to NCHA.

An Albion assistant coach asked athletic director Matt Arend whether the department would consider hiring a mental health professional to work with athletes, but Arend said no, according to the coach, who agreed to speak to the Free Press on condition of anonymity out of fear of retribution. An Albion College spokesperson said that is an “inaccurate” description of the staff meeting but would not elaborate.  

Winston took his own life on Nov. 9.

[Zachary Winston’s death and the lessons that came from it]

Most small schools say they can’t afford a mental health expert in their athletic department, even those spending millions on new facilities. Albion, which is undergoing a $5 million renovation of its athletic facilities, relies on its athletic trainers and coaches to spot warning signs before sending athletes to an on-campus counseling center, a policy shared by most small schools.

Here was a doctor at the NCAA, devastated by suicide but determined to do something.

Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s chief medical officer, made a bold statement after he was hired in 2013, calling mental health “the biggest issue” facing college athletics.

“I’ve lost a couple of people who I was exceptionally close to who died by suicide,” Hainline said. “And I’ve had three patients kill themselves and it devastates me, and it always will.”

The NCAA has raised awareness of suicide issues, issued best practices and guidelines and tried to get colleges to take this issue seriously.

But a Free Press examination of colleges across the state revealed a wide disparity in how athletic departments handle mental health issues. Some colleges have an extensive support network — the University of Michigan has a staff of seven mental health experts who work exclusively with its athletes. But other schools barely have anything. Some colleges didn’t start taking the issue seriously until one of their  athletes faced a crisis. And some mental health programs have turned into a mishmash of procedures and practices.

Most small schools send athletes to on-campus counseling, but that is not an ideal situation. Many counselors don’t understand the unique challenges facing athletes, and it can be difficult for athletes to get an appointment to see a counselor or schedule regular sessions because of long wait lists and complicated athletic schedules. In addition, some athletes are uncomfortable going to a counseling center because of the stigma.

Every college does something different and no one is quite sure what is the best approach.

Several administrators told the Free Press that all of this uncertainty makes them live in fear that a tragedy is just around the corner.

“It scares the tar out of you,” Hope College athletic director Tim Schoonveld said. “That could be, literally, on any day of the week, any of us. That’s the scary deal. No matter what you are doing, it could be any of us. It’s out there and it’s everywhere.”

This isn’t just an athletic issue, it’s a public health crisis.But the more we talk about this, the more we look at how different groups are trying to combat it, the better we will be.0:001:28ADHope College AD talks about helping athletes’ mental healthTim Schoonveld, Director of Athletics of Hope College talks about helping student athletes’ mental health.JUNFU HAN, DETROIT FREE PRESS

The  hope

Here is an athlete, who came out of the darkness and was saved.

Heininger battled his demons in silence for several months until he broke down after a practice in 2008. But he was lucky when Lenny Navitskis, a Michigan trainer, saw the warning signs.

“He saw me and put his arm around me and said, ‘Will, come with me,’ ” Heininger said. “ ‘You are going to be OK. We will take care of you.’

“He walked me into Schembechler Hall and into Barb Hansen’s office, who I credit in a lot of ways for saving my life.”

Heininger got the help he needed from Hansen, now a retired athletics counselor, and learned skills that changed his life.

“After that point, I was thriving, utilizing those tools,” Heininger said.

 Andhelped carry Lloyd Carr off the field, after his final game of the 2007 season.

Michigan football player Will Heininger, right wearing a hat is all smiles as he and teammates carry off their head coach, Lloyd Carr, after their Citrus Bowl game against the University of Florida at the Capital One Bowl in Orlando, Florida on January 1, 2008. Michigan won the bowl game 41-35. Heininger, was dealing with pressure and bouts of depression during this time and now teaches around the country to middle and high schoolers the warning signs and what to do about them.
Show captionMichigan football player Will Heininger, right wearing a hat is all smiles as he and teammates carry off their head coach, Lloyd Carr, after their…

There are several lessons in Heininger’s story. It is important to educate everyone in an athletic department — coaches, staff and administers — to spot warning signs. It is important for athletes to understand mental health issues are real. There is no shame in getting treatment for a sprained ankle and this shouldn’t be any different. There are tools to cope. No matter how bad it seems, it will get better.

The administrator

Here was the NCAA, putting a focus on mental health. But many athletes held an old-school mentality: “I’ll just tough it out.”

The NCAA issued guidelines and best practices in 2016 but not every college implemented them. Some created a crisis plan but didn’t actually practice it. Only about 75% of Division 1 schools rehearsed emergency action plans and only about half of Division 2 and 3 schools had implemented them by 2017, according to the NCAA.

Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s chief medical officer.
Brian Hainline, the NCAA’s chief medical officer.

“That’s a striking gap when you think about it,” Hainline said. “We found the membership was having a hard time implementing it.”

The NCAA developed a mental health operational tool kit, a seven-hour program to try to bridge that gap.

The NCAA implemented a new rule in 2019, requiring all colleges to guarantee mental health services for its athletes. But Hainline acknowledges it is not a perfect solution. “It doesn’t address the fact that we have a shortage of mental health providers who actually have an expertise in sports medicine,” Hainline said.

Even though some schools send their athletes to on-campus counseling, there is no guarantee the counselors know how to deal with athletes, or even whether the athletes can get an appointment or routine care.

Springing into action

Here is some honesty, and that is important, because it’s time to be brutally honest about this subject.

Officials at several Michigan colleges admitted to the Free Press that they started taking mental health issues seriously only after an athlete faced a crisis. “A couple years ago, we didn’t have a lot of resources, or even a plan in case something happened,” Olivet athletic trainer Samantha Whiteman said.

An Olivet student faced a serious mental health crisis in fall 2018 but Olivet’s athletic department wasn’t prepared for it. “You don’t really know exactly how to deal with it,” Whiteman said.

But it sparked Olivet into action. “Our coaches expressed to us, ‘We don’t really know what to do if this situation comes up, or how to deal with it,’ ” Whiteman said.

Olivet held several informational sessions last spring to inform its coaches. “We thought that would help everybody get on the same page,” Whiteman said.

Olivet is a private, liberal arts college with 1,000 students. Last year, Olivet didn’t have an on-campus counselor. “We had some options in Battle Creek,” Whiteman said. “That was mainly it. It was a half-hour away. For a student without a car, that was difficult.”

But Olivet has added on-campus counselors for its student body, which athletes can use. “That has helped a ton,” Whiteman said. “If someone says they are having suicidal thoughts, but they are struggling, that’s who we try to push them toward, on-campus counselors. We’ve had a lot of success with them so far. … We are still in the process of getting things together, but we are doing a lot better at it.”

The athletic department at Calvin University, a private liberal arts institution in Grand Rapids, began to focus more on mental health after a student-athlete faced a serious mental health issue.

“I didn’t think a lot about it until I had an athlete who was suicidal,” said Calvin athletic trainer Kerri Clausen, who declined to say when that happened for privacy reasons. “It sparked, ‘What are we doing and how do we do it appropriately?’ ”

Calvin senior associate athletic director Nancy Meyer.
Calvin senior associate athletic director Nancy Meyer.

Clausen immersed herself in the subject and is now a strong advocate for educating student-athletes about mental health.  She has created a brochure that lists warning signs and where to get help for Calvin athletes. She gives it to student-athletes and posts it in locker rooms. “People just don’t know,” Clausen said. “When you go to college, no one sits and tells you what is available to you.”

Dr. Irene Kraegel, who directs Calvin’s counseling center, talks to teams and at coaches’ meetings, trying to teach them warning signs and where to get help. “We do have a very strong on-campus counseling center,” Calvin senior associate athletic director Nancy Meyer said. “We also have several mental health facilities in town, for the serious cases. We have an on-campus psychologist. As well, because we are a Christian college, we have multiple chaplains, who all have had training in counseling. We feel like we are in a pretty good position.”

But Meyer said it is important to find counselors who understand athletes. “You can have a great counseling service,” Meyer said, “but if they don’t understand athletes, and if they don’t understand the pressures they are under, then it’s actually not that beneficial.”

The NCAA requires institutions to identify someone on staff to be the point person with mental health concerns. At small schools, that is often athletic trainers, which makes sense because they are often more tied in with athletes than the coaches because they spend so much time together.

But many trainers complain that they need more training.

Several schools have gotten creative with how they try to deal with this issue. Michigan State has the Green Bandanna Project. Fifty student athletes are awareness/peer advocates. They tie a green bandanna to their backpack so that others know they can approach them for assistance, and MSU has has doubled the amount of hours psychiatrists are available to our student-athletes every week.

Gretchen Goodman, a former athletic trainer, is now the head of Grand Valley State’s mental health program for athletes, one of the few Division 2 schools to have an in-house program. Goodman created a website with tips and resources, started doing monthly presentations and sends out tips on Instagram and Twitter. She is trying to reach student-athletes in different ways, using peer-to-peer interaction and video clips of athletes telling their stories. “There is a lot of power when a student-athlete is telling other student-athletes, ‘Hey, I’ve gone through something similar,’ ” she said. “We are trying to be preventative. You never know when the person sitting next to you on the bench is going to be going through something and you need to be there for them.”

The fear

Here is a man, who can view this issue through several points of view — with the insight of a former player, the compassion of a parent and the global view of an athletic director.

Hope College athletic director Tim Schoonveld was a star basketball player at Hope and now his daughter, Kenedy, plays women’s basketball at Hope.

“It’s scary right now for kids, the anxiety and depression and mental health issues,” Schoonveld said. “It’s so far beyond what it has been.”

That has Schoonveld wishing he could hire a full-time mental health expert for his athletic department.

Tim Schoonveld, Director of Athletics of Hope College in Holland poses for a photo in his office, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2020.
Tim Schoonveld, Director of Athletics of Hope College in Holland poses for a photo in his office, Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2020.

“If you said to me, ‘Hey, what is a top priority for Hope athletics?’ ” Schoonveld said. “I would say, ‘We need to find a way to fund somebody who would be a mental health professional who could work with our teams on a consistent basis.’

“Right now, our counseling center is great, but they are more reactive than they are proactive. Just because of time and number of people. Sometimes, it takes a week or two to get in to counseling.”

Recently, a Hope athlete faced a mental health crisis and Schoonveld tried to find help outside the college. Even that proved difficult. “There is so much need,” he said. “Our goal is to find somebody who can proactively work with our teams.”

Hope has focused on mental health issues, in part, because it has dealt with several athletes who have experienced a range of issues.

A year ago, Hope gave its prestigious Courage Award to a women’s soccer player who had attempted suicide 1½ years earlier.

It is courageous for athletes to tell their stories, but also incredibly important. Athletes will listen to other athletes.

Finding holes

Here is an entire conference, admitting nothing is perfect and trying to figure this out.

The MIAA is holding a mental health symposium for its member schools on Feb. 25 at Adrian College, which was scheduled before Winston’s death. The schools will go over NCAA best practices and evaluate what they might be missing.

“What do you have?” said Meg Sharp, Adrian’s assistant athletic trainer. “What do you not have? Where are the holes?”

The schools share some of the creative ways they are trying to get students informed. Adrian created a sticker with a QR code that has been placed around campus. “It says, ‘Need a helping paw, scan here for confidential resources,’ ” Sharp said. “I thought it was a simple, easy way to get it out there. I think flooding it on your campus, making everyone aware that we are all kind of talking about it, has helped our campus.”

Several schools use different slogans to reinforce different points.

“It’s OK to ask for help,” Sharp said. “It’s letting them know this is nothing to be afraid of or ashamed of. It’s OK not to be OK. I feel like I say that three times a day, for athletic injuries as well as mental health.”

Hope College has something similar, according to football coach Peter Stuursma.

“We also use the slogan ‘See something, say something’ a lot, with our team, to reinforce the opportunity to provide support and or seek help for teammates who appear to be struggling,” Stuursma said.

The Mid-American Conference, which includes Central Michigan, Eastern Michigan and Western Michigan, was one of the first conferences to implement a comprehensive league-wide program on mental health.

“The education part is the biggest part of it, and it’s not just the student-athletes, it’s the coaches and administrators,” MAC commissioner Dr. Jon Steinbrecher said. “It’s having a sense of commitment and buy-in, that we are about the total student. It’s the Latin phrase, ‘Mens sana in corpore sano.’ A sound mind in a sound body.”

New strategies

Here is a psychiatrist, who is passionate about mental health concerns because it is so personal to him.

“My mother attempted suicide when I was in medical school,” says Dr. Rahul Mehra, a psychiatrist, who moderated a panel discussion on mental health at the NCAA Convention in January in Anaheim, California. “Decision makers and board of trustees, unless you have been exposed to a family member with mental health issues, you have no clue about this.”

While many athletic departments send their athletes to on-campus counseling centers, Mehra sees a gaping hole in the strategy. “The national trend is, counseling centers at colleges across the country are understaffed and under-resourced,” said Mehra, the CEO and chief physician of the National Center for Performance Health, based in Tampa. 

But Mehra says he has found a way. He runs a company that offers video counseling to athletes.

“Suicide doesn’t conveniently happen between the hours of 8 and 5 p.m.,” he said. “It happens between the hours of midnight and 6 a.m., when resources are least available. …  These college administrators, athletic directors, college presidents and the college board of trustees are not hearing these messages. There are well-meaning people, but they don’t know where to begin. This problem seems so enormous for them. But I say, begin somewhere, with something.”


Here is a college, still grieving the loss of an athlete. 

Albion is not alone. Several colleges have had to deal with athletes who took their lives. No school is safe or has a foolproof plan. But it would be a tragic missed opportunity atop a human tragedy if we didn’t find lessons in every situation or try to deal with these issues with complete transparency.

A cross memorializing Zachary Winston is placed on East Erie Street near Albion College in Albion, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019.
A cross memorializing Zachary Winston is placed on East Erie Street near Albion College in Albion, Thursday, Nov. 14, 2019.

An Albion coach grew frustrated and told the Free Press that the Albion administration did not give coaches clear direction or advice on how to deal with athletes who were struggling with mental health issues before Winston’s death, other than advising the athletes to call security. 

“The information you shared is inaccurate as often is the case with information from anonymous sources,” Chuck Carlson, Albion Director of Communications and Media Relations, wrote in a response.

Carlson declined to elaborate what was inaccurate, and he denied repeated requests to talk to members of Albion’s athletic department. “We have established protocols to identify and respond to student-athletes who may be experiencing mental health issues,” Carlson wrote.

There is a wide gap between the coach’s version and Carlson’s statement.

Carlson said Albion’s 600 student-athletes have access to on-campus counseling services. He laid out several things Albion does, following NCAA guidelines, from screening new student-athletes to training members of the athletic department to identify and respond to student-athletes who show signs and symptoms of mental health issues. The training includes “walking a student-athlete to Counseling Services,” according to Carlson.

“The health and well-being of our student-athletes is at the forefront of every decision we make,” Carlson wrote.

There is no indication that Albion could have done anything differently to prevent Winston’s death. But if one coach doesn’t know what to do in a crisis, as the source told the Free Press, there is more work to be done. Clearly, having policies isn’t enough. And crisis action plans have to be practiced. And it is important for all of us to talk about these complicated issues, in honest ways, so that everybody can help each other.

The key is prevention

Here is a former athlete, now working to save lives.

Heininger works for Athletes Connected, a collaboration between the U-M School of Public Health, Depression Center, and Athletic Department — a program that started with a $50,000 grant from the NCAA. The department has seven counselors, who deal with mental health issues for Michigan athletes, ranging from sports performances to anxiety and depression.

Heininger works with middle school students to college athletes, giving the same message to everyone: “No matter how bad it is, you are not alone. There are millions of people who experience mental health issues. I make sure they know treatment works and to know it is a real illness.”

Sometimes, students ask him whether he considered suicide. He never did, but he was fixated on death.

After his presentation former Michigan football player Will Heininger talks with seventh grade students at Mill Creek Middle School in Dexter, Michigan on Thursday, January 30, 2020.
Heininger suffered from depression and thoughts of suicide during his playing career at Michigan. With help he overcame that and now he works and talks with students to teach them how to talk about and deal with these kind of issues at an early age.
Show captionAfter his presentation former Michigan football player Will Heininger talks with seventh grade students at Mill Creek Middle School in Dexter, Michigan on Thursday, January…

“I say, ‘I understand to think that it’s not worth it to be alive anymore and what a scary place that is to be,’ ” he said. “If you ever feel anywhere close to that, just tell somebody. Please, tell somebody who loves you, somebody you love. I tell them, ‘I promise you will get better. You won’t always feel the way you do. And secondly, if you are in that space, you probably don’t believe me right now but that’s what it does to you. I’ve been there.’ ”  

For too long, mental health has focused on the crisis situation.

But the key is prevention.

“How can we reduce stress up front?” Heininger said. “How can we educate better, to help students become experts themselves. That’s when you have really done your work, when they are able to utilize the tools you have taught them and they can navigate whatever comes their way and if not, they know who to ask.”

This issue has so many layers, so many faces. But one message should be repeated above everything else: Education is the key. Mental health issues have to be normalized. Plans have to be in place and practiced. And we have to figure out a way to make it easier for everyone to get help. Because there is hope. There is a way out. And no matter how bad things might seem, it will get better.

Contact Jeff Seidel: jseidel@freepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @seideljeff. To read his recent columns, go to freep.com/sports/jeff-seidel/.

How to get help

The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can be reached at 800-273-8255. It provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress, prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones, and best practices for professionals.

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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – Why Some Experts Think #SuicidePrevention Should Begin in Elementary School

Researchers say programs that focus on how to deal with emotions can help #suicide attempts in young #children.
  • An increase in suicides and #suicide attempts in young children has convinced some experts that prevention programs should begin in elementary school.
  • The prevention programs for this age group focus on recognizing and dealing with emotions, not on #suicide itself.
  • For #teens, experts say some warning signs of suicidal behavior are withdrawing from family, risk-taking actions, and a change in eating and sleeping patterns.

#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

#Suicideprevention works, even as early as elementary school.

That’s the conclusion from a new study from Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Ohio.

In the study, published in the journal Child Psychiatry & Human Development, researchers examined 21 children, ages 6 to 9 years old, with and without a maternal history of suicidal behavior.

During the study, the mothers and #children were asked to report on lifetime and past-month #suicidalideation and attempts as well as significant events that took place in the child’s life in the past year and the child’s emotion regulation skills.

“Unfortunately, #suicide and suicidal behaviors are increasing among youth, but youth #suicide and suicidal behaviors are preventable,” said Arielle Sheftall, PhD, the study’s lead author and a principal investigator with the #CenterforSuicidePreventionandResearch at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.

“[This study is] giving us a little peek of what could potentially be beneficial for #suicideprevention in younger #children, but in order to know if emotional regulation is the target for prevention, we should examine these factors in a larger sample of kids, but we are working on that, so that’s the good news,” she told Healthline.

Why are #suicide rates changing?

Sheftall says experts aren’t sure why suicide rates are rising.

“That’s the problem. We just don’t know,” Sheftall said.

She said the research on #suicide and suicidal behaviors in young #children is currently lacking, and it is difficult to pinpoint one cause for the increased rates.

She noted that from 2012 to 2017 the annual percentage increase in #suicide was almost 15 percent for #children 5 to 12 years old.

“And when you look at suicidal behavior, one study found a 92 percent increase in hospitalizations for #suicide attempts and ideation for youth 5 to 18 years old between 2007 and 2015,” said Sheftall.

“Unfortunately, we have noticed there are changes not only in age, but in sex also with the gap between #male and #female youth closing when examining the rate of #suicide,” she added. “There have also been some racial disparities that we have been noticing in the field as well.”

Sheftall said the factors related to the racial disparities are still unknown. However, economic downturns, housing market crashes, racial discrimination, and #mentalhealthservice access may all play a role.

“For example, you have parents who are suffering and losing their jobs. They are not able to pay the bills and are getting kicked out of their homes. Little people understand when you are down. I have little people myself. They see when we’re upset and when we’re mad and when we’re happy and they internalize these emotions. This all affects them. As much as we don’t think it does, it really does,” she said.

Sheftall added that the #COVID-19 #pandemic has exacerbated these issues.

“Millions of people are struggling to put food on the table and, again, we are in this very uncertain time,” she said. “I think all of what we are experiencing is going to unfortunately lead to some detrimental health concerns. With the #COVID-19 #pandemic, Black and brown families are being affected more than other racial groups, and I believe this will lead to many other concerns physically, mentally, and emotionally.

Healthline Parenthood helps you take care of you with support and advice in our week by week newsletter.

Basic intervention can saves lives

#Suicide is the second leading cause of death Trusted Source for people between the ages of 10 and 24.

But interventions for #suicide and suicidal behavior can begin as young as 4 years old with curriculum-based programs such as PATHS (Promoting Alternative Thinking Strategies), says Sheftall.

The programs are available for pre-kindergarten, elementary school, and middle school classrooms.

Supporters say the programs can help both students and teachers cultivate a safer and more positive learning environment.

The study researchers mentioned PATHS as a potential intervention strategy to reduce #suicide rates and suicidal behavior in youth.

“Providing emotion regulation strategies early in childhood may decrease the likelihood of the development of risk factors (e.g., emotion dysregulation) associated with suicidal behavior,” the researchers wrote in the study.

“Teaching kids to understand the emotions they’re facing so they can regulate them effectively could be extremely helpful,” Sheftall said.

For example, what’s positive and what’s negative? What can you do with the information you’re receiving or feeling on the inside?

If such programs and curriculum inclusions aren’t available in your school district, Sheftall suggests PBS Kids’ Mister Rogers’ spin-off, Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood. In the series, Daniel experiences a range of emotions and models for #children how to regulate them and have a healthy response.

Educators can also employ Daniel Tiger to teach #children about emotions by way of fun and interactive online games such as “Guess the Feeling.”

“Being able to recognize and name feelings is the very first step in helping #children manage their feelings,” PBS Kids says.

Their desktop games and mobile-friendly apps give #children a chance to play while learning about what different feelings look like.

“And it can give you the chance to talk with your child about all kinds of different feelings,” says PBS Kids.

The Feelings Friends educator and parent kits from The Feelings Company are additional ways to incorporate emotion regulation learning in-school settings and at-home. Their kits help adults teach #children how to identify, express, and manage emotions. Each comes with associated hand puppet feeling friends and tools for success.

Across all options, the goal is to teach #children about their emotions rather than have any discussion directly about #suicide.

“Having a discussion about #suicide can be a scary conversation to have with a little person,” said Sheftall.

Prevention is always possible 

Experts say #suicideprevention can take place at any life stage, including after an attempt.

A recent analysis Trusted Source of 14 studies published by JAMA Psychiatry shows that participants who received follow-up calls or text messages after their discharge, as well as coordinated care with professionals, were 30 percent less likely to experience repeat attempts.

In these cases, participants were helped with developing coping skills and strategies for suicidal behaviors and ideation. #Mentalhealthprofessionals and clinicians worked to raise awareness about the warning signs of #suicide and suicidal behavior.

“#Suicide is preventable and we could play a role in the prevention, it’s just knowing what those signs and symptoms are so we can act when necessary,” Sheftall said.

Experts familiar with the study of #youth #suicide say it’s crucial that parents take all threats of harm seriously and seek immediate help for your child or #teen.

The Mayo Clinic lists these common warning signs for #youth #suicide:

  • making suicidal statements
  • giving away belongings
  • withdrawing from friends and family
  • having extreme mood swings

Other warning signs may include:

  • risk-taking behavior, such as alcohol use, reckless driving, or sex without using birth control or a barrier method
  • a change in normal routine, such as eating or sleeping patterns
  • a change in personality or becoming severely anxious, agitated, or hostile (in addition to some of the other warning signs above)

Sheftall says, “It’s OK to ask kids, ‘Hey, have you had thoughts about hurting yourself?’ Some people don’t feel they have the ability to do so, but it really could save someone’s life.”

“Just that one question… but also knowing what to do if they answer ‘yes,’” she added. “There are so many barriers for parents who are struggling. There are some folks who find it very hard to seek out services or who can’t afford services.”

For assistance, you can call the #NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline (800-273-8255) or text HOME to the Crisis Text Line (741741). These resources are available 24 hours, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. (See also this #suicide prevention resource guide.)

“It can be hard knowing what resources are available but remember, the hotline is always there,” Sheftall said. “Don’t feel bad calling the hotline, that’s what they’re there for.”

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Finally!!! What took you so long Mayor Durkan?!

I was up at CHOP this morning on Capitol Hill in Seattle. I had to see for myself that the CHOP zone was finally being dismantled.

This is what I’ve been caling for over the last several days/weeks.

It’s gone on far too long.

Mayor Durkan, you’ve got blood on your hands! Two young African American men have died (so much for your support for Black Lives Matter!), and 3 others (African Americans) have been shot as well.

Several people have been mugged, raped, threatened, and the victims of purse snatchings. Neighbors have not felt safe, and businesses have been harmed.

All on your watch, Mayor Jenny Durkan!!!

Thanks for finally getting around to doing what you should have done weeks ago, but, I’m still asking you to resign and get someone in your position who won’t stick their head in the sand, who will take care of and protect the “non vocal” majority, and will communicate clearly to the public, and not hide and run.

You still have not said a word about the shootings that took place on early Monday morning.

We deserve better! Resign now!!!


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