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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – Thoughts Of #Suicide, Other #MentalHealth Struggles Still High For #LGBTQ #Youth

BRIANNA SCOTT

A high number of #LGBTQ teens and #youth struggle with #mentalhealthissues, according to a new survey by The Trevor Project.

Forty percent of young #LGBTQ people have considered #suicide in the last year; that rises to more than half for #trans and non-binary #youth.

That’s according to the second annual survey on #LGBTQ #youth #mentalhealth by The Trevor Project. The non-profit organization provides crisis intervention and #suicideprevention services to #LGBTQ people under the age of 25.

Two years of data isn’t enough to show trends, says clinical psychologist Amy Green, who is also the director of research at The Trevor Project. But what they do show, she says, is that “the numbers are high and staying high, in terms of #mentalhealth.”

“#LGBTQ youth already deal with housing instability, food insecurity and trouble accessing #healthcare,” she says. “All of that is exacerbated by a #pandemic.”

#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

Help is available

If you are a young person in crisis, feeling suicidal, or in need of a safe and judgment-free place to talk, contact The Trevor Project’s TrevorLifeline 24/7 at 1-866-488-7386, via chat every day or by texting “START” to 678-678.

More than 40,000 people, age 13 to 24, responded to the survey, which The Trevor Project says is the largest of its kind. It was conducted between December 2019 and March 2020 — as #COVID-19 restrictions began to take hold.

Many students and recent graduates had to decide whether to move back in with their families.

Mia Soza

For 24-year old Mia Soza, going home was not an option. Soza moved to Nashville earlier this year. She quit her job at a flower shop when the #stress of dealing with racist customers got to be too much. Living in a new city was already hard; the #pandemic and unemployment only added to the pressure.

Soza says she hasn’t met anyone in Nashville who she can relate to about being “#queer and brown.”

“I am very unstable right now,” Soza says. “I am lucky to be living with friends. But I don’t receive any support from my parents, largely because they don’t really accept me because of my identity. They are Trump supporters and also Latino.”

Home But Not Safe, Some #LGBTQ Young People Face Rejection From Families in Lockdown

That sentiment is reflected in the survey results as well: 86% of #LGBTQ #youth said recent politics have negatively impacted their well-being, up from 76% last year.

While it’s “liberating to feel the comfort of knowing” who she is, Soza says she feels like a lot of things haven’t changed since her middle and high school days. “I feel very much like that kid, there is no one to talk to.”

The survey found that 46% of #LGBTQ youth said they wanted counseling from a #mentalhealthprofessional but were unable to receive it in the past 12 months. The top barriers were affordability and parental permission.

Not being accepted by family members also can have an impact on #mentalhealth. Six out of 10 #LGBTQ youth said that someone — a relative, religious leader — tried to convince them to change their sexuality or gender.

But even those who live in an accepting family face challenges.

Madison Hall was laid off from her job in February and had plans to go home to visit her parents in March. But her two-week stay turned into multiple months due to the #pandemic. The 23-year-old says it’s the longest she’s spent with her parents since coming out to them as #trans.

Hall says her parents were always affirming. Yet, she says, she still wasn’t comfortable being her full self in front of them when she moved back in. She characterizes the process as a “trust exercise,” requiring much back and forth.

Madison Hall

“Yes, I’m her daughter and child, but those ‘Let me dress you up’ kind of bonds that stem from #childhood aren’t necessarily there,” Hall says of her mom. “She wants to be let in, and I have to let my parents in. I think that’s probably a good metaphor to transitioning in general for me. It’s letting them know a little, little by little, until we’re on the same page.”

The time together is improving Hall’s relationship with her parents, and she says it’s had a positive effect on her #mentalhealth.

Amit Paley, CEO of The Trevor Project, says that one affirming adult can have a big impact on #LGBTQ #youth.

“We saw that #LGBTQ young people who have an accepting adult in their lives were 40% less likely to attempt #suicide, which is is a huge impact from a public health perspective,” he said during an interview with NPR.

Rhys Hilicki, 17, also has supportive parents. When he came out to them as trans two years ago, Hilicki says they began calling him by his correct name and pronouns almost immediately.

Rhys Hilicki

“They remind me to take my medicine and my testosterone shots, they’ve supported me through my transition and helped me financially with it,” he says. “And they’ve really helped me come out of my shell.”

Hilicki says knowing his parents see him fully helps with his #depression and #anxiety.

Feelings like these are common among #LGBTQ youth: 68% percent said they’d experienced generalized #anxiety disorder in the past two weeks at the time of the survey, including more than three in four #transgender and non-binary #youth.

Paley says he hopes the survey results help inform efforts to improve #mentalhealth outcomes for the community.

“The reason they face these elevated risks of #suicide is not because there is something inherently wrong with #LGBTQ people,” he says. “The reason that they are facing these negative outcomes is because of the discrimination and bias that exists in society today.”

The survey found one in three #LGBTQ #youth reported that they had been physically threatened or harmed in their lifetime due to their #LGBTQ identity. Paley says support from parents and guardians can save lives.

“We hope that people will see those stories of parents who are understanding that when someone comes out it doesn’t change who they are,” he says. “It’s just a part of their identity and it allows them to hopefully be their fuller selves.”

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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – #Pastors, Counselors Work To Lower #Suicide Rates In #Minorities

By Dave Jordan

The year 2020 has been a year of strife, unrest and an ongoing #pandemic that continues to wreak havoc on the marginalized and minority communities.


#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


Many dealing with suicidal thoughts, #depression, #anxiety
Report shows #suicide rate among #black #youth on rise
Tampa church working on voucher program in bid to help

“They’re dealing with suicidal thoughts, #depression, #anxiety,” said Pastor Larry Roundtree ll of New Mount Zion Missionary Baptist Church in Tampa.

Roundtree has counseled dozens of parishioners dealing with those issues which he says were exacerbated by the #Coronavirus crisis, #racial inequities and images of #police brutality.

A recent study by the medical journal “Pediatrics” showed 73% of #black #highschool #students tried to end their own lives between 1991 and 2017. A subsequent report by the #CongressionalBlackCaucus found that the #suicide death rate among #black #youth increased faster than any other #racial group.

Both studies were conducted before the #COVID-19 #pandemic and the death of George Floyd by Minneapolis police.

“Life is complicated right now, especially being a person of color, and I think that’s the first step of telling yourself that it’s OK not to be OK,” said Ashley Hugh Stewart, director and counselor with Love Hugh LLC.

Stewart, who specializes in #mentalhealthtreatment of marginalized groups, says there are social and economic barriers that prevent those communities from getting the help they need.

“It’s a very compounding issue on top of the fact that #mentalhealth disparities are not seen as an issue for #AfricanAmericans,” said Stewart.

Often in #AfricanAmerican communities, there is a negative #stigma surrounding therapy.  Pastor Roundtree is working to reverse that by developing a voucher program that would cover the cost of counseling for indigent and needy families.

“It’s not just OK but it’s encouraged and sometimes it’s essential that they seek out professional counseling,” he said.

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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – As #COVID-19 Crisis Continues, #SuicideRisk For #Veterans Likely To Grow

As COVID-19 crisis continues, suicide risk for veterans likely to grow

#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

The #COVID-19 #pandemic, and the economic cataclysm it has wrought, have had an enormous impact on the #mentalhealth of our country. #Americans of all stripes are preoccupied with making ends meet, worried about their physical health, affected by the constant #isolation, and stressed out by the uncertainty of when life will once again get back to a place of at least semi-normality. 

Now, as the trajectory of the #pandemic in the #UnitedStates points ever further into the future, experts are expressing concern about a rise in #suiciderisk among the most impacted and most vulnerable segments of our population. Perhaps more than any other group, #America’s #veterans are especially susceptible to this moment. 

Unfortunately, the #COVID crisis is making that effort more challenging even as it becomes ever more imperative. A report published recently by the Meadows Mental Health Policy Institute projects that for every 5 percent increase in the unemployment rate, our country will lose an additional 550 #veterans to #suicide annually. Additionally, according to their projections, up to 20,000 more #veterans may be susceptible to substance abuse as a result of the crisis. The #isolation caused by the #pandemic has made a lot of already-lonely people even lonelier, further amplifying the risk of #veteran #suicide. 

The #U.S.DepartmentofVeteransAffairs deserves credit for its success in pivoting during the #pandemic on the delivery of care, including the expansion of tele-health options and the offering of #mentalhealthservices using digital tools. Despite those improvements, however, it appears that a large share of #veterans most in need of support still face barriers in accessing it. 

According to #veterans’ groups who testified recently on Capitol Hill, the challenge of serving the #mentalhealth needs of at-risk #veterans has been compounded by the fact that many #veterans, particularly older #veterans, don’t have access to or can’t afford the necessary technology, including high-speed internet. This particular version of the digital divide short-circuits access to the vital #mentalhealthcare #veterans need, including access to medications, and increases the risks of #suicide.

While there’s no single cause for #suicide, it most often occurs when stressors and health issues converge. #Depression and substance abuse are known to be significant risk factors. #Suicide is also disproportionately more likely to occur among #men and people with easy access to firearms — a fairly succinct description of #veterans as a group. This correlation also applies to #female #veterans, who are 2.2 times more likely to commit #suicide than #women who did not serve, according to a 2019 study (the rate among male #veterans is 1.3 times as high as that among #men who did not serve). 

Clearly, this once-in-a-lifetime #pandemic brings with it a whole host of challenges that are making the delivery of all kinds of critical services harder than ever. But it would be especially tragic if, after so many years of hard work by so many in finally bringing attention and desperately-needed progress to the issue of #veteran #suicide, we were to fail these most deserving of #Americans at a time when they need our help most. 

Federal, state, and local agencies serving #veterans need to prioritize finding resources and methods that will not only help #veterans navigate their way through this crisis but be there for them when it is finally over. In that effort, top priorities should include providing financial security expressly for #veterans via the extension of CARES Act aid programs, as well as enhanced, proactive outreach, both immediately and into the #pandemic’s aftermath, since health experts warn that some of the worst impacts to #mentalhealth tend not to manifest themselves fully until after the immediate crisis has passed.

America’s #veterans have more than earned our respect and gratitude for helping our country through previous times of uncertainty and danger. The least we can do now is help them through this one.

Josh Newman is a veteran advocate, former U.S. Army Officer, and a former member of the California State Senate, where he chaired the Committee on Veterans Affairs. Currently, Josh runs his own small business, ArmedForce2Workforce, which assists young veterans in Southern California in their career pursuits.

If you or someone you know may be struggling with suicidal thoughts, you can call the U.S. #NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) any time of the day or night or chat online.

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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – How To De-Escalate A #MentalHealth Emergency Without Calling The #Police

Because a wellness check shouldn’t be a death sentence.

By Al Donato

Every time Asante Haughton leaves his home, he sees someone in distress. For the Jamaican-born #mentalhealthadvocate, encountering a person experiencing homelessness going through a bad #mentalhealth episode in public happens often in his Toronto neighbourhood. What’s also common, Haughton said, is seeing them become victims when #police get involved.

Who do you call during a #mentalhealth emergency? Dialing 911 seems like the only possible action concerned Canadians can take, but doing so has shown to have fatal consequences for those most marginalized. In the past few months, Canadian #police have killed five #Black, Indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) during wellness checks: D’Andre CampbellRodney LeviRegis Korchinski-Paquet, and Chantel Moore.

The latest dead is Ejaz Choudry, a Pakistani immigrant killed in his home by police last week. And according to a recent lawsuit filed by B.C. nursing student Mona Wang, having an #anxiety attack in January led to injuries caused by an RCMP wellness check.

“Wellness checks” are defined as #police responding to concerns that a person is having a #mentalhealth emergency. As Global News reports, when police take someone into custody under their provincial #mentalhealth act, handcuffs are usually involved.

#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

#Mentalhealth response teams do exist, but involve #police

Bromberg, who’s also the Canadian national coordinator for the International Mobile Response Association (IMSA), has researched mobile crisis teams around the world. In Canada, Mobile Crisis Intervention Teams (MCIT) and similar team models deployed by emergency services always mean a police officer will be involved; #mentalhealthworkers are partnered with cops to answer calls, which doesn’t please critics who want anyone armed out of the equation altogether.

In cities like Toronto, these response teams are never the first on the scene of a 911 call and only available during office hours, which organizations like the Institute for Advancements for #MentalHealth (formerly known as the Schizophrenia Society of Ontario) have long decried.

There are response teams made up of solely #mentalhealthexperts; mobile interventions by unaccompanied trained professionals are run by non-government organizations, like Toronto’s Gerstein Crisis Centre or Montreal’s Tracom, but they have limited resources and can’t always respond immediately.

While no non-police alternative for #mentalhealth emergencies may be immediately available on a national scale, Canadians worried about #police violence may want to be aware of what experts do when someone is in crisis and emergency services aren’t the first option or are still on their way.

HuffPost Canada spoke to Canadian #mentalhealthworkers experienced in de-escalating those in crisis without hurting anyone or being armed. They shared strategies they exhaust before calling 911 as a last resort. Not all tactics may be adaptable and Canadians shouldn’t take on safety risks they’re uncomfortable with. Be honest with your comfort levels and experience before attempting to help, as your actions can exacerbate a situation if conducted without care and when possible, leave anything you can’t handle to someone with training.

Unlearn stereotypes about #mentalhealth and violence

The widespread belief that people with #mentalillness are violent is false, Harvard Medical School research finds. In fact, the Canadian #MentalHealth Association (CMHA) states that they’re more likely to be victims of violence.

Make the person in crisis feel safe with your presence

If someone is in crisis, how are you physically reacting to their emotional state? And what tone of voice are you using?

These are questions Steven Parker from Ottawa social service organization Shepherds of Good Hope uses when teaching staff members non-violent crisis intervention strategies.

“Just being physically present is an intervention, don’t take that for granted,” Parker advised. “The message that people in distress actually receive are in our non-verbal communication, not necessarily in what we say.”

There’s no playbook for navigating #mentalhealthcrises, Parker said, as being emotionally attuned to someone’s needs and having a previous, positive rapport will be a bigger factor in calming someone. In the case of several deaths related to #police killings of Canadians, the family members of Choudry and Korchinski-Paquet have criticized officers in the media for refusing loved ones’ entry into homes to help de-escalate.

#Mentalhealthexperts who are trained like Parker or support peers, such as family members who have assisted de-escalation before, will have more experience gauging the best ways to adapt their presence to the type of distress someone is experiencing.

What can be done by anyone and make a world of difference is body language: Making non-threatening eye contact, unfolding arms, and not raising your voice can keep tensions from getting worse.

Avoid overreacting (or underreacting)

It’s human nature to respond to perceived aggression, such as someone yelling at you for a reaction, with anger. Crisis Prevention Institute (CPI) advises against overreacting or getting into a power struggle because of flaring tempers, as giving in to these emotions and arguing will only escalate bad moods or unstable thinking.

It’s also worth not overreacting to behaviour that may be alarming to you because it seems eccentric, but is harmless. Similarly, immediate danger should be recognized as such.

“When people act weird or lose their minds, it is easy to overreact. It’s also easy to underreact,” states a crisis guide by #mentalhealthadvocacy group The Fireweed Collective. “If someone is actually seriously attempting #suicide or doing something extremely dangerous like lying down on a busy freeway, getting the #police involved might save their life. But if someone picks up a knife [to feel safer, but isn’t using it] and is walking around the kitchen talking about UFOs, don’t assume the worst and call the cops.”

If a supporter needs to calm themselves in order to help someone in crisis, it may be helpful to follow CPI’s directives for keeping cool under pressure: Slow and deep breathes can help, as does assessing the situation in terms of what dangers are or are not likely. Sometimes, waiting out a crisis with supervision or allowing the person to express themselves (as long as it doesn’t endanger anyone) may be the safest route for all involved.

Remember that people are people

For some marginalized people it may be reassuring to see someone they have a shared background with. In Fader’s experience running a drug user resource centre, this helped ensure people weren’t dehumanized.

Many told HuffPost Canada they recommended de-escalating in teams, however one-on-ones may be useful if someone is overwhelmed by attention and feels trapped.
Many told HuffPost Canada they recommended de-escalating in teams, however one-on-ones may be useful if someone is overwhelmed by attention and feels trapped.

“Say an Indigenous man needed de-escalating, we always made sure somebody Indigenous was a peer or a worker, someone part of the conversation,” she said. “If there was a woman, there would always be a woman on the team. That’s just part of respect. Remembering that people are people works so much of the time.”

Part of that respect can look like taking care of their basic needs. Offering them water, food, or helping them fall asleep might ease them. It can also involve taking care of them once the crisis subsides, as well as keeping tabs on them if external parties get involved.

Respect what they’re going through

Don’t get hung-up on saying the right thing to comfort them, but do make sure you aren’t saying anything invalidating, Haughton said.

“People become agitated because people are not listening to them,” he said. For example, if someone hallucinates, hears voices, or believes delusions, refuting what they experience can escalate the situation. “What works for me and what I’ve been taught is to listen and provide space for the person. What they’re experiencing is very authentic to them at that moment.”

Phrases like “I can’t see them but I know you can,” which the Connecticut #MentalHealth Center suggests, can be useful, unlike invalidating statements like “That’s not real.”

People with weapons aren’t necessarily going to use them

As unarmed social service workers, Tanya Fader and her colleagues have de-escalated people with weapons hundreds of times. Fader, who is the director of programming at PHS Community Society in Vancouver, says they’re able to do so because of their situational assessment skills.

“Are they having a psychotic break? Are they a danger to themselves and others, or are they just holding it?” she said, as an example. “Are they holding a knife for their own sense of security, to feel safer, or to use it?”

If someone is holding a weapon to feel safer, there are phrases that can promote everyone’s wellbeing, as the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health’s Dr. Brittany Poynter illustrates.

“Instead of saying, ‘No weapons allowed here, give it to us or we’ll call the #police,’ I might say: ‘I’m so glad you’re at the hospital. You’re in a safe place now,” Poynter wrote for the Toronto Star. “We’re going to hold on to the knife for you, so that we can all be safe. Let’s sit down and talk.’”

Trauma-informed approaches are necessary

One of the co-founders of PHS Community Society had a famous saying when it came to de-escalation: “Remember, it’s about their pain.”

“People tend to go, ‘Oh, they’re threatening me.’ No, it’s not about you,” Fader explained. “They’re really suffering.”

“Are they holding a knife for their own sense of security, to feel safer, or to use it?”- TANYA FADER

Both Fader and Parker’s organizations operate from trauma-informed frameworks, which takes into account how prior trauma can affect someone and avoids re-traumatizing someone when providing services — an approach not necessarily at the forefront of law enforcement strategies or laypeople’s minds, when crisis can seem scary and uncomfortable from the outside looking in.

For the two of them, addressing the root causes of a #mentalhealthcrisis involves putting more resources into anti-poverty work and #mentalhealthcare.

Fader said that addressing trauma often starts in childhood and needs to take culture into account. For Indigenous populations, family removal, abuse, and settler-colonialism can lead to someone adopting survival behaviours that may lead to self-harm later in life, Fader noted.

Know when others should step in

As mentioned above, attempting to de-escalate without experience and training may cause more harm than good. If you feel unable to stay calm enough to be helpful or can sense the situation is escalating beyond your capabilities, consider calling someone for help.

If the person in crisis is a loved one with support networks, it might be worth calling friends or family with more experience, their case or social worker, as well as anyone they trust.

Should the person be a stranger, there are crisis helplines available nationwide. But if #police presence is a concern, it’s worth keeping in mind that their involvement may occur depending on what’s described over the phone.

Understand the lingering effects of trauma

If a Canadian decides to call in another party on a loved one, such as the #police, they should consider how their friend or family member may have previously experienced harm during #mentalhealth interventions with strangers.

Bromberg has worked in the #mentalhealth field for several years. When fielding crisis lines, she often worried about a caller’s safety when dispatching #police which crisis line workers are legally obligated to do when someone is in imminent danger, Fader and Bromberg confirm.

“I have heard so many clients tell me about how scary it was when #police showed up yelling, tackling and handcuffing them,” she said. “They had nightmares and develop #PTSD from that. Every time when they see a #police officer walking down the street, they start shaking and crying.”

Canadians can get training

There’s no national resource that provides trauma-informed #mentalhealth first responder training, but Fader hopes ongoing discussions about #mentalhealth lead to it.

Until that happens, Canadians may find it helpful to equip themselves with de-escalation skills through training sessions like NVCI; Parker recommends taking a #mentalhealth first aid course and a #suicideprevention program similar to Ottawa’s safeTALK.

Many people who have experienced #mentalhealthstruggles and abuse due to #police or institutionalization have found solidarity and support in peer-led groups like the Hearing Voices Cafe and supporting advocacy by the Mad or psychiatric survivor/user/consumer movement.

Open Table Nashville released a trauma-informed guide for protestors de-escalating at events, which include examples of effective questions to ask such as, “If being here is not working out for you, can I help you get somewhere else?” or diverting attention with safe distracting topics.

Want to get involved with advocacy? For the Reach Out Support Network, they’re hoping Canadians email them at toronto.reachout@gmail.com if they’re looking to support or learn more about how non-police #mentalhealth alternatives can look like.

Are you in a crisis? If you need help, contact Crisis Services Canada at their website or by calling 1-833-456-4566. If you know someone who may be having thoughts of #suicide, visit CAMH’s resource to learn how to talk about #suicide with the person you’re worried about.

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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – We Need To Talk About #Black #Youth #Suicide Right Now, Says Dr. Michael Lindsey

Dr. Michael Lindsey

Dr. Michael A. Lindsey is a scholar in the field of child and adolescent #mentalhealth who leads a working group of experts supporting the Congressional Black Caucus Emergency Taskforce on #Black #Youth #Suicide and #MentalHealth. Dr. Lindsey, 48, also serves as the executive director of NYU McSilver Institute for Poverty Policy and Research and the Constance and Martin Silver Professor of Poverty Studies at NYU Silver School of Social Work. This is his story, as told to PEOPLE.

When I talk to families who had a child die by #suicide, something I always hear is that they had no idea that their child wanted to end their life.

That’s why we have to talk about the effects of #racism and discrimination on the #mentalhealth and well being of #Black #youth.

When #Black kids see photos and videos of a [typically] unarmed #Black person being killed by law enforcement or vigilantes — as in the recent cases of #GeorgeFloydBreonna Taylor and Ahmaud Arbery — it makes them question their reality. They can feel hopeless. When they see the video of #GeorgeFloyd’s death, they may see themselves, or a loved one. It is traumatizing. It conjures up #anxiety about whether that might happen to them, and can make them feel incredibly vulnerable.

We are starting to see that #Black #youth are becoming increasingly vulnerable to suicidal behavior. Several studies show this. In 2018, a group of experts at Ohio State University’s Nationwide Children’s Hospital conducted a study looking at #suicide deaths among 5 to 12 year olds over a span of about 15 years. They found that #suicide rates for #Black #children were roughly two times higher than those of #white #children. That difference has been growing over the span of the last 15 to 20 years.

A few colleagues and I recently completed a study that analyzed data from 1991 to 2017 from the Youth Risk Behavior Survey administered by the #CentersforDiseaseControl. We analyzed four indices of suicidal behavior: thinking about #suicide, planning, attempting #suicide and having an injury based on a #suicide attempt resulting in hospitalization.

#Black youth were the only group that had an increase over that span of time in #suicideattempts, at 73 percent — all other #racial ethnic groups saw a decrease.

There are other factors driving this spike, too, like poverty. #Black people are more likely to live in lower-resourced, low-income communities than #white people. We know poverty, specifically the #stress and trauma that it brings, can lead to #depression and trauma, which might be precursors to suicidal behavior.

#Black people also tend to have limited connections to #mentalhealthresources. In many communities of color, there are little to no #mentalhealthproviders in a #school. These #mentalhealthchallenges go unaddressed — and when not treated, they can make #Black youth vulnerable to psychiatric risk, including #suicide.

Look out for the signs: #anxiety, nervousness, restless, lack of energy, trouble sleeping. #Depression can also look like pessimism, anger or irritability. Yet oftentimes, when Black kids exhibit anger, we look at them differently and treat them differently. Our responses tend to be punitive.

#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

Dr. Michael Lindsey

Dr. Michael A. Lindsey JOHN DAVID PITTMAN

I once spoke with a 15-year-old #Black #boy who was very depressed. He told me that when he was down about something, he wanted to knock somebody’s head off so they felt the same pain he did. Obviously, if he engages in that type of behavior at #school, he’d get suspended. But nobody is seeing that kid might be depressed.

So I often say to loved ones and educators: when a kid is irritable, that could be a sign that they’re struggling with #depression.

We often ask folks how they’re doing, and not so much how they’re feeling. It is so important, especially for young kids, to tap into our feelings and talk about them. What we see a lot with kids is a reticence to talk about how they feel, and let people into that space. So practicing on a regular basis is crucial.

Kids, too, can talk to each other. If a #white kid wants to check in on their #Black friend, they can acknowledge that what’s unfolding [the recent killings of #Black people] is not right. It’s not cool, and we need to fight for a better society. Kids are the future, and they can commit themselves to the future being different.

They should ask themselves: “How do we fight injustices at school? How can we call out #racism?”

If anyone is really struggling with feelings that life is not worth living, I really urge kids and family members to reach out to support lines for help.

The recent spate of killings has had a tremendous impact on me. I have become very sensitized to being #Black in #America, and the callous perspective on what that means, especially when you see someone die so unnecessarily, while they’re screaming out for help. Or seemingly benign things that you think you have the right to do, like jog, or enjoy nature in the park.

Hatred has become so weaponized. People are dying. I’ve struggled with my hope that things will ever get better, because haven’t we seen this story over and over again? Isn’t this our modern-day version of #lynching?

But at the same time, the protests and activism taking place give me hope. They give me strength that we’re having these important conversations, and it’s not even that we’re talking about pure #racism anymore, but we are taking account of structural #racism and how insidious it is. Perhaps change is possible.

We’re also seeing high profile #Black #athletes and #entertainers candidly discuss #mentalhealth like Taraji P. HensonUsher, basketball player DeMar DeRozan. It helps destigmatize these issues so kids talk about them more.

So, I’m strengthened in my resolve. We’ll see what happens next.

  • As told to Morgan Smith

If you or someone you know is considering #suicide, please contact the #NationalSuicidePreventionLifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), text “STRENGTH” to the Crisis Text Line at 741-741 or go to suicidepreventionlifeline.org.

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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – It’s Time To Rethink #Police Wellness Checks, #MentalHealthAdvocates Say

Recent deaths involving #police highlight flaws with wellness checks, campaigners say

Vik Adhopia

Since being diagnosed with bipolar disorder 25 years ago, Bill Pringle has attempted #suicide eight times. He said #police accused him of ‘attention seeking,’ but have also shown him compassion.

Living with bipolar disorder for 25 years has led Bill Pringle to dark places. Along the way, he said he has gained insight into how #police handle #mentalhealthcrises and what needs to change in their approach.

The Saskatoon man has had eight #suicide attempts, which sometimes included interacting with #policeofficers.

Once, he was treated as though he had committed a crime. In another instance, he described #police as having a reassuring effect. “The difference in training was very evident,” Pringle said.

During one of his earlier #suicide attempts, years ago while living in Vancouver, he said the police “essentially accused me of attention-seeking and would not call an ambulance for me.”

Instead, Pringle said, he was handcuffed and taken to the hospital where he eventually overdosed, which resulted in him being ejected from the facility. “I have never really gotten past that incident,” he said.

But he credited Saskatoon police for being “calm and considerate” during a more recent #suicide attempt. “They spent time with me while I was waiting for the ambulance to come. They even followed the ambulance to the hospital to make sure that I was safe and OK.” 

#Police responses to #mentalhealthcrises have come under scrutiny following the recent deaths of Ejaz Choudry, Chantel Moore, Regis Korchinski-Paquet, and D’Andre Campbell, prompting demands to defund #police. Canada’s largest psychiatric hospital, the Centre for Addiction and #MentalHealth, also called for #police to be removed from leading “this important work.”

Pringle, who is the former chair of the National Council of Persons with Lived Experience, an advocacy group for people living with #mentalillness, said the deaths highlight a problem that, “desperately needs to be addressed.”

Though he agreed that #police may be needed to attend certain #mentalhealth situations, he added, “I don’t think #police should be the first line of response.”

Integrated #mentalhealthcrisis teams more common

#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

#Police departments in Canada have received more training for dealing with people with #mentalillness than ever before, as noted by a 2014 report prepared for the #MentalHealth Commission of Canada, and do “a reasonable job.”

Most municipal #police departments from Victoria to St. John’s also have some form of an integrated #mentalhealthcrisis team, which partners #police with #mentalhealthprofessionals to perform wellness checks, which are sometimes known as emotionally disturbed person calls.

In cities such as Hamilton, the use of teams has led to significant reductions of people being detained under #mentalhealth legislation.

#Mentalhealthworkers call for change in #police wellness checks

#Mentalhealthadvocates, health-care providers call for changes to how emergency teams respond to wellness calls after at least four Canadians have been killed by #police since April.

But many of these units don’t operate around the clock, or they’re brought into situations too late, and in the end it’s often the #police who are in charge — and they’re not #mentalhealthexperts despite recent training improvements.

Toronto psychiatric #nurse Sarah Reynolds said integrated teams are “a great model” that could be used more frequently. 

Reynolds worked with the Toronto Mobile Crisis Intervention Team (MCIT) alongside specially trained officers from the Toronto #Police Service for 18 months. She said if there was ever any talk of a weapon or “an unstable situation” during a wellness check, #police would quickly take over.

“The #nurses could be far more effective if we were front and centre doing the major assessment, and having police as back up,” she said.

In 20 years of emergency room experience as part of a psychiatric team, Reynolds said she has regularly managed patients who she described as “psychotic.”

“I’ve taken knives away from people in the emergency room,” she said, adding “sometimes I feel people [in distress] react to the #police presence, which can make them more aggressive or afraid.”

Reynolds said this is often the case in potential “#suicide by cop” situations, which require “patience, skill and it takes health-care experts not police experts.”

#Mentalhealth ambulance instead of #police

Indeed, Sweden’s capital Stockholm has tried to remove #police from psychiatric emergencies altogether with the 2015 launch of a #mentalhealth ambulance.

The Psychiatric Acute Mobility Team (PAM), which is composed of #nurses and #paramedics, responds to crises such as #suicide threats or severe behavioural issues much like a conventional ambulance.

A study of its first year of operation published in the International Journal of #MentalHealth found police were needed in  49 per cent of calls the team attended. However, the program’s manager told CBC News the ambulance cannot keep up with the demand for its services.

Sarah Reynolds, a psychiatric nurse who worked with Toronto #police in a crisis intervention team, said #mentalhealthprofessionals should be given more responsibilities when responding to wellness checks.

Halifax-based #mentalhealthadvocate and legal scholar Archibald Kaiser has long supported the exclusion of police from responding to #mentalhealthcrises.

“When the #police attend, they may well come with what I would call the wrong mindset, emphasizing law enforcement priorities over empathetic caring and human rights-respecting responses to people who are in crisis.”

Kaiser represented the Canadian Mental Health Association in the 1986 public inquiry into the #police shooting death of Harold Lowe, an unarmed Halifax man with a long history of #mentalillness who had barricaded himself in his apartment after he stopped taking his medication.

“You know it’s just endlessly frustrating for me that the same tragic scenes get acted out again and again,” he said.

The Psychiatric Acute Mobility team operates this #mentalhealth ambulance in Stockholm, Sweden.

Kaiser, a law professor at Dalhousie University cross-appointed to the school’s department of psychiatry, said altercations with #police are often the result of a #mentalhealthcare system that has failed people.

“It’s a deliberate choice to under invest in societal inclusion and provision of treatment, which is eminently correctable.”

Kaiser said people who have lived with #mentalillness should have a role in designing a system that better supports their needs, especially in times of crisis.

“Involve others, you know #mentalhealthprofessionals, legal professionals, and #police service providers at the end rather than at the beginning,” he added.

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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – A Looming Crisis For Our #Schools

By Aidan Brown

#Schools on Long Island are closed for the summer, but administrators still have homework. As the #coronavirus #pandemic exacerbates an ongoing adolescent #mentalhealthcrisis, #schools must prepare to meet the #mentalhealthneeds of their students come September.

The sad truth is that a #mentalhealthcrisis affecting #young people existed before the #pandemic began. One in five adolescents has a diagnosable #mentalhealthissue, but only half receive any treatment. #Suicide is the second-leading cause of death for people under the age of 24. The #suicide rate for #children ages 10-24 increased by 56% from 2007 to 2017.

With added stressors like #COVID-19, economic recession, widespread protests, and months without social interaction, the headlines of the last few months could be mistaken for the “Trauma Types” checklist from the National Childhood Traumatic #Stress Network. Recent events are especially concerning because trauma, especially in childhood, has been shown to increase the risk of long-term #mentalhealthissues.

Aidan Brown of Garden City holds a master's
Aidan Brown of Garden City holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Virginia.

#Schools must help tackle this looming crisis because they represent the one institution that virtually all adolescents interact with every day. #Schools began to take on #mentalhealth in part because they could offer a centralized point of care. Research suggests that #schools are the most common provider of #mentalhealthservices for #youth. Also, 50% of all #mentalillness cases begin before age 14; 75% begin before age 24. This means that for #students who are going to have a #mentalillness at some point in their lives, the illness will most likely be apparent while they are still in the school system. #Schools have the opportunity to treat #students early on and have the structures in place to connect #students to services.

But the #pandemic has fundamentally changed the way schools provide #students with #mentalhealthresources. The process usually begins when a teacher identifies concerning behavior in a #student like missing class often, failing to hand in an assignment, or letting grades slip. Virtual learning makes it more difficult to notice such behavior with little face-to-face time, muted microphones, and pass-fail assignments.

This means that not only is it likely more #students need #mentalhealthresources, but also it is more difficult to identify those #students in need.

The exact nature of education in September is still unknown. On Wednesday, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City #schools would only partially reopen. On the same day, #PresidentDonaldTrump threatened to cut federal funding to #schools that did not completely reopen in the fall.

Even if #schools are in-person in September, administrators need to expand procedures to make up for six months of interrupted services during a traumatic time. If schools remain online, even greater effort is needed to build out virtual processes to help #students. These plans need to detail how schools will communicate with students, identify possible cases, and connect #students to services. For help, the National Childhood Traumatic Stress Network has produced guidelines for creating trauma-informed #schools during #COVID-19.

Parents have a role to play as well. They can demand answers from their local school boards and principals. They can also learn how to better care for their children’s #mentalhealthneeds. The National Association of School Psychologists has a guide for talking to #children about the #coronavirus, and the #NationalAllianceforMentalIllness has a guide for identifying the warning signs of #mentalillness. Together, we can rise to the occasion and protect our #young people, but the first step is to acknowledge the expanding crisis already in our midst.

Aidan Brown of Garden City holds a master’s degree in public policy from the University of Virginia.

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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – Antidepressants Linked To Increased #Suicide And Self-Harm In #Teens

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A new study pushes back on psychiatry industry talking points.

DEREK BERES

  • Australian researchers note a link between rising antidepressant usage and rising #suicide rates in #youth.
  • Their research pushes back on psychiatry talking points that SSRIs decrease #suicide risk.
  • The top method for self-harm and #suicide in younger age groups is overdosing antidepressants.

#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 1947, Dr. Howard Rusk published an article in the NY Times. The #doctor is advocating for better public education on issues of #mentalhealth. Considered to be the founder of rehabilitation medicine, Rusk was trying to destigmatize #mentaldisorders in the same manner as physical disorders.

Psychiatrists were facing an upward battle. “Madness” was considered an aberration, not a treatable ailment, in a health care system that was increasingly relying on pharmacology. Thanks to a new class of tranquilizers showing promising results, Rusk drew a parallel between diseases of the brain and diseases of the body.

“We must realize that #mental problems are just as real as physical disease,” he wrote, “and that #anxiety and #depression require active therapy as much as appendicitis and pneumonia.”

As a rehabilitation specialist, Rusk knew the importance of physical movement for trauma recovery. He was likely aware of the connection between physical and #mentalhealth. Unfortunately, his good intentions were usurped by the psychiatry industry. Desiring status equivalent to medical doctors, psychiatrists understood that having a “painkiller” in their arsenal would cause the public to treat their profession with the same regard.

The process took another four decades to unfold. By the time Prozac was released on the American market in 1987, the chemical imbalance theory of #anxiety and #depression had become the going narrative in the psychiatry industry. Once a narrative grips the public’s imagination, it’s difficult to overturn. Psychiatrists finally achieved a similar status as medical doctors thanks to the parallel Rusk drew forty years before.

A safety narrative has long been attached to the chemical imbalance story: antidepressants are a safe intervention in the treatment of #anxiety and #depression. As three Australian researchers—Martin Whitely at John Curtin Institute of Public Policy in Perth and Melissa Raven and Jon Jureidini at the University of Adelaide’s Critical and Ethical Mental Health Research Group—write in a new study, that story is suspect.

Published in Frontiers in Psychiatry, these researchers push back on the narrative that antidepressants decrease the risk of #suicide. Since the FDA first issued a black box warning citing an increased risk of suicidal thoughts and behaviors in adults under age 18, psychiatrists and public officials have contested any link between antidepressants and self-harm.

Antidepressants Can Cause #Suicide and Homicide — Peter Gotzsche, M.D.

Australia, which ranks second in the world in per-capita consumers of antidepressants among OECD countries, has never been provided the same safeguards as America—and the efficacy of America’s safety measures are questionable at best. The FDA first issued that block box warning in 2004, updating it to reflect adults under age 25 three years later. In 2005, the Australian Therapeutic Goods Administration (TGA) required leaflets be included in antidepressant packages to reflect the risk of #suicidalideation.

The researchers write that the data put forward by psychiatrists and #mentalhealthorganizations was misleading. Much like the industry ran with Rusk’s assertion, many professionals cite a 2007 ecological study by Robert D. Gibbons that incorrectly associates SSRI usage with a decreased risk of #suicide among U.S. youth. This misreading is the basis of the narrative of minimized harm.

The data tells another story. The researchers point out that between 2008-2018, prescriptions for antidepressant (predominantly SSRIs) increased by 66 percent in the 0-27 year age group, while #suicide rates increased by 49 percent in a similar age group (0-24 years). Between the years of 2006-2016, there was a 98 percent increase in intentional poisonings in New South Wales and Victoria. An overlap emerges: the most common method of attempted self-harm and #suicide is prescription antidepressants.

“There is clear evidence that more young Australians are taking antidepressants, and more young Australians are killing themselves and self-harming, often by intentionally overdosing on the very substances that are supposed to help them.”

The researchers note that the FDA has long been criticized for not offering more non-pharmacological treatments. The cost of psychotherapy is prohibitive for many in the U.S. health care system. The reflex action of the medical establishment is to write a script. When one pill doesn’t work or loses efficacy, it’s usually replaced by another pill or added to an ever-growing pharmacological cocktail. Some people take four to six (or more) drugs to manage #mentaldistress, each one countering the side effects of the other.

woman sitting on beach alone

Photo: Ryan McGuire / Pixabay

As in America, Australia suffers from corporate lobbying. The team writes that many opinion leaders receive funding from pharmaceutical companies; it makes sense that these figures will tout the benefits of antidepressants while downplaying potential harm. They also note that governing bodies are likely relying on outdated evidence of risk, which translates into a lack of consumer awareness.

They also write that general practitioners account for 90.4 percent of antidepressant prescriptions in Australia. Since #mentalhealth is not their area of expertise, they often repeat what psychiatrists initially prescribed.

Correlation is not causation, a limitation the researchers acknowledge. They list another cocktail, this one labelled “drivers of #mentalhealthdistress.” Smartphone addiction, online bullying, lack of meaningful relationships, climate change, and debt top the list. Antidepressants are not the cause of #mentaldistress. What we need to know is whether they help alleviate it or add to the burden.

This forces us to confront a longstanding question: Why are we treating the symptoms of #mentalhealthproblems with pills while never addressing their actual cause? Put another way, why does the psychiatry industry rely on pills with a long list of side effects instead of addressing the environmental and #socialissues that are at the foundation of #mentaldistress? And why are we putting increasingly higher numbers of #teenagers on drugs that negatively impact their brains while their prefrontal cortex is still in development? This seems to set them up for a lifetime of dependence, which is a great profit model but a terrible #healthcaresolution.

The psychiatry industry faced an existential crisis in the nineteen-seventies when the public grew weary of their growing reliance on drugs. The industry’s response was to double down on pharmacology. Thanks for a massive PR campaign around Prozac, that move worked. You cannot both have increasing numbers of prescriptions and increasing #mentalhealthproblems and pretend that this intervention is working.

While more work needs to be done, the researchers are confident in their assertion between increased self-harm with antidepressant usage.

“These results are consistent with the hypothesis that antidepressants increase the risk of suicidality and self-harm in young people. Furthermore, they provide compelling evidence that the antidepressants prescribed to #children and adolescents are frequently the means of self-harm.”

These #children deserve more from us at a pivotal time in their development. The psychiatry industry needs to come through this existential crisis with better solutions.

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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – #SuicidePrevention ‘Needs To Be Priority Public #HealthIssue’

by Press Association

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The National Suicide Prevention Leadership Group said the impact of the #coronavirus #pandemic will be felt ‘for some time to come’

#Suicideprevention should be a “priority public health issue” for Scotland in the wake of the #coronavirus #pandemic, ministers have been told.

The group cites anecdotal evidence in the UK of more people struggling with their #mentalhealth and thinking about #suicide, saying this is seen “through police call-outs and crisis helplines, as individuals turn to remote support where social support is currently unavailable”.784Number of suicides in Scotland in 2018

There has also been an increase in calls to the #mentalhealth advice line Breathing Space, the report says.

It warns: “While data on #suicide rates during the #pandemic is not yet available, the adverse effects on people with #mentalillness and on population #mentalhealth in general, are likely to be exacerbated by fear, self-isolation and physical distancing.”

There were 784 suicides in Scotland in 2018 – up from 680 the previous year.

The report is clear “#suicideprevention is and should continue to be an integral part of Scotland’s #Covid-19 #pandemic public health response and recovery phases”.

As part of this, the group is calling on the Scottish Government to undertake enhanced monitoring of statistics on #suicide and self-harm to identify emerging trends and groups at risk, to enable early preventative action.

Ministers are also being urged to consider setting up a specific public #suicideprevention campaign, distinct from the Clear Your Head #mentalhealth campaign launched during the #coronavirus crisis.

A separate campaign is needed to “encourage people at risk of #suicide and in suicidal crisis to seek help without #stigma”, the NSPLG says.

Another recommendation is for a greater focus on “specifically suicidal crisis intervention – to ensure that those in suicidal crisis can access timely help and support, and meet any increase in numbers”.

The report also urges ministers to act to restrict access to the most commonly used means of #suicide.

There is global concern that the #Covid-19 #pandemic may increase #suicide rates

The report states: “As Scotland faces the extraordinary challenges arising from the #Covid-19 #pandemic it is clear that these are difficult and uncertain times for many people and it is highly likely the impacts of the #pandemic on individual #mentalhealth and well-being will be felt for some time to come.

“There is global concern that the #Covid-19 #pandemic may increase #suicide rates.

#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

“Studies of past epidemics support an association between previous infectious disease-related public health emergencies and increased risk of #suicide, self-harm and suicidal thoughts.

“It is therefore critical that #suicideprevention is a priority public health issue for Scotland which is integral to government planning now, confidently built on the best evidence of what works to save lives.”

The report also recommends a longer-term, potentially 10-year, #suicideprevention strategy for Scotland be drawn up, building on the current #SuicidePrevention Action Plan.

This could consider “the wider links between #suicide and inequalities, deprivation, social security, employment, criminal justice/prisons, the relationship between #suicide and self-harm; and the #stigma which still surrounds #suicide”, the NSPLG said.

A Scottish Government spokesman said ministers will consider the recommendations “carefully”.

He added: “#Mentalhealth and well-being are a top priority for the Scottish Government and we want everyone to have access to appropriate support.

“That’s why we’ve provided £6 million in additional funding during the #pandemic to support the NHS24 and Breathing Space telephone helplines, as well as the Clear Your Head campaign, which has practical resources to help people proactively manage their #mentalhealth.

“Public Health Scotland and NHS 24 are already working closely with NSPLG to monitor #suicide and self-harm data, and we will continue to work with partners in the sector on #mentalhealth and well-being campaigns targeted at well-being, #stigma and #suicideprevention.”

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#JamesDonaldson on #MentalHealth – #Depression And #Suicide Top #MentalhealthIllnesses

By Graham Kajilwa

#Depression and #suicide as the leading #mentalhealthillnesses in the country

Majority of Kenyans cannot distinguish the different kinds of #mentalillnesses, which explains why most cases of #suicide are missed.

A report by the Ministry of Health has identified #depression and #suicide as the leading #mentalhealthillnesses in the country.

However, the report notes poor documentation of #mentalillnesses by health workers, with all neurological related conditions lumped up together.

“At present only one indicator captures all #mentaldisorders in the existing health information system. This means that health care workers are forced to record substance use disorders, #suicide attempts, schizophrenia, and #depression simply as #mentaldisorders,” reads the report released on July 7.

The report titled “#Mentalhealth and well-being towards happiness and national prosperity,” indicates that Kenyans do not know the different behaviours that are synonymous to a #mentalillness.

As a result, the report compiled by a task force led by Dr Frank Njenga, notes that care for the affected is not given on time and it comes when the disease has worsened.

According to the report, Kenyans think that the term #mentalhealth was synonymous with #mentalillness.

It further notes that in the last few years, the society has witnessed an unprecedented number of people and families adversely affected by poor #mentalhealth. Kenya, however, does not have the exact data on #suicide cases. “This is the ticking time bomb that Kenyans are sitting on,” reads the report.

It notes that it is estimated that globally, one person dies by #suicide every 40 seconds. Other illnesses mentioned are substance use disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other psychoses.

#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

The report notes that unlike other illnesses, the greatest impact of #mentalillhealth does not lie solely in the number of persons who die from the disease, but from the number of years lived with the disability.

Official records, as noted by the task force report, suggest that in 2016, the national #suicide mortality rate was 3.2 per 100,000 people.

“Experts believe that the true figures are much higher. Whatever the truth, Kenyans have the duty to care for their countrymen who reach, by reason of #mentaldisorder, depths of despair that lead to #suicide,” the report reads in part.

This picture, the report says, is adequate to conclude that Kenya can no longer bury its head in the sand as people continue to cry out for help.

“It was clear that at least 25 percent of outpatients and 40 percent of inpatients in different health facilities had a #mentalillness, and an estimated prevalence of psychosis stated as one per cent of the general population,” reads the report.

However, that attempted #suicide remains recorded as a criminal act by those who perform it means that Kenyans who suffer the severe pain inflicted by #depression suffer also the additional trauma of being viewed as criminals.

“Parliament to move fast to decriminalise #suicide attempts in order to reduce #stigma and discrimination and encourage help-seeking among people that are feeling suicidal,” reads the recommendation of the task force.

Additionally, the task force also recommends restricting access to firearms.

It also proposes educating the #media on responsible reporting of #suicide and implementing programmes among #young people to build life skills to cope with #stress.

The team held discussions with a total of 1,569 Kenyans and received 206 memoranda.

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