Tag Archives: mental health

PTSD and Addiction Treatment for Veterans

PTSD

Veterans Day 2018 in the United States of America is Sunday, November 11; but, the country will officially observe the holiday on Monday. Each year, the Gentlemen of PACE Recovery Center like to express our gratitude for those who serve bravely in the military. As a treatment center specializing in bringing the light of addiction recovery into the lives of young men, the coming holiday is acutely important. We understand that many people who come back from armed conflict overseas struggle in civilian life. The prevalence of mental illness among such people is high, conditions that include anxiety, depression, post-traumatic stress or PTSD, and substance use disorder.

The rates of substance abuse or use disorders for male veterans aged 18–25 years are higher compared to civilians, according to a recent study. Substance use disorders can precipitate the development of coöccurring mental illness or can emerge secondary to conditions like depression or post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). PTSD is common among individuals who witness or experience trauma; without evidence-based treatment, men and women are more likely to self-medicate.

The order in which a psychological disorder presents itself pales in importance compared to the need for therapy. Veterans who are unable to access the care they need are likely to continue misusing drugs and alcohol. Continued substance abuse does little to ameliorate PTSD symptoms, leads to or worsens a substance use disorder, and significantly increases one’s risk of self-harm. Veterans who commit suicide have drugs and alcohol in the system regularly.

Young males, struggling with substance use and coöccurring mental illness like PTSD, are encouraged to seek help. Immediately! The more extended treatment is put off, the more deleterious it is to the individual.

PTSD Treatment That’s Right For You

A new study appearing in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows that PTSD patients, including veterans and survivors of sexual assault, who have a say in the form of treatment they receive, fare better. The researchers found that patient preference in the course of treatment impacts the efficacy of cognitive behavioral therapy and use of antidepressants, according to a University of Washington press release. The study was the first large-scale trial of hundreds of PTSD patients.

This research suggests that prolonged exposure and Sertraline are both good, evidence-based options for PTSD treatment -- and that providing information to make an informed choice enhances long-term outcomes," said study lead author, Lori Zoellner, a UW professor of psychology and director of the Center for Anxiety & Traumatic Stress.

Analysis indicates that SSRI antidepressants and prolonged exposure therapy show promise in mitigating the symptoms of PTSD. However, the group of patients who were offered a choice in the type of treatment they receive exhibited:

  • Fewer symptoms;
  • a greater ability to follow their treatment plan;
  • and, some no longer met the criteria for PTSD two-years later.

Almost 75 percent of patients who underwent their preferred method of treatment, completed the program, according to the article. Whereas, fewer than half in the non-preferred group saw their therapy through to the end.

Dr. Zoellner and our team showed that we've got two effective, very different interventions for chronic PTSD and associated difficulties," said study co-author Norah Feeny, a psychology professor at Case Western Reserve University. "Given this, and the fact that getting a treatment you prefer confers significant benefit, we are now able to move toward better personalized treatment for those suffering after trauma. These findings have significant public health impact and should inform practice."

Addiction and Dual Diagnosis Treatment

Approximately 50 percent of veterans who need treatment for mental health conditions seek it, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration. However, just more than half who receive treatment receive adequate care. Mental health conditions among veterans are no small issue; approximately 18.5% of service members returning from Iraq or Afghanistan have PTSD or depression. According to the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs, more than 2 of 10 Veterans with PTSD also have substance use disorder.

Studies, like the UW/Case Western, are vital and should help guide screening, diagnosis, and the determination of a treatment plan. It’s also worth mentioning that a large number of veterans are unable to access evidence-based treatment where they live. Such individuals can benefit from seeking help in another area. If you are a male veteran who is struggling with substance use disorder or coöccuring mental illness (dual diagnosis), please contact PACE Recovery Center.

Veterans Day 2018, we would like to honor two of our staff members who served in the U.S. Marine Corp, our Chief Operations Officer Sean Kelly and our Lead Resident Manager Victor Calzada. Additionally, our PACE team members Helen O’Mahony, Ph.D., Hisham Korraa, M.D., and Ryan Wright, M.D. all have extensive experience working with veterans with PTSD and substance abuse issues.

Again, the gender-specific environment at PACE enables men to share openly and without fear of judgment or social pressure. Our team works together with referring physicians and healthcare providers to create individualized dual-diagnosis treatment plans that emphasize continuity of care. Please call 800-526-1851 or submit a confidential online inquiry, to learn more about our innovative program for men.

Stigma Curing During Mental Illness Awareness Week

stigma

While May is Mental Health Awareness Month, October 7–13 is Mental Illness Awareness Week or MIAW 2018. Naturally, there is some overlap between these two essential observances—namely—ending the stigma of psychological disorders like addiction and depression.

We cover stigma on this blog frequently due to our understanding that there exist forces preventing Americans from seeking treatment. More people need to see the person, not the illness. Nearly 60% of adults with a mental illness didn’t receive mental health services in the previous year. Given that individuals living with untreated mental health conditions are at significant risk of self-harm and suicide, collective action is needed immediately.

The National Alliance On Mental Illness or NAMI chose Cure Stigma as its theme this year for Mental Health Month and MIAW 2018. The organization would like it to be known that: together we can encourage more people to seek treatment. NAMI’s campaign manifesto reads as follows:

There’s a virus spreading across America. It harms the 1 in 5 Americans affected by mental health conditions. It shames them into silence. It prevents them from seeking help. And in some cases, it takes lives. What virus are we talking about? It’s stigma. Stigma against people with mental health conditions. But there’s good news. Stigma is 100% curable. Compassion, empathy and understanding are the antidote. Your voice can spread the cure. Join NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Together we can #CureStigma.

Mental Health Facts

Most Americans are more than likely unaware of just how pervasive mental illness is around the world. The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates that over 300 million people are living with depression. What’s more, the vast majority of the afflicted have never undergone therapy, counseling, or treatment.

The truth is that too many people have little understanding of mental disease; lack of knowledge – ignorance – is a contributing factor in persons lacking empathy and compassion. If a more significant number of Americans could appreciate that mental illness affects 1 in 5 adults in the United States, maybe they’d exhibit greater understanding. With that in mind, let’s take a look some of the more recent figures to bring depression, bipolar disorder, and addiction in to focus.

Here are the facts:

  • 60 million people in the United States are living with a mental illness.
  • Among the 20.2 million adults in America who experienced a substance use disorder, 50.5%—10.2 million adults—had a co-occurring mental illness.
  • Depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide.
  • Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. experiences a severe mental illness in a given year.
  • 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness.

Armed with such information, anyone can see that we have a real crisis on our hands when it comes to mental disease. This week provides an opportunity to take to social media and spread the message that stigma hurts us all; that empathy and compassion save lives; and, that together we can affect real change.

Fighting Stigma On World Mental Health Day

Today is World Mental Health Day, October 10, 2018! The focus this year is Young People and Mental Health In A Changing World.

mental health

The World Health Organization writes:

Investment by governments and the involvement of the social, health and education sectors in comprehensive, integrated, evidence-based programmes for the mental health of young people is essential. This investment should be linked to programmes to raise awareness among adolescents and young adults of ways to look after their mental health and to help peers, parents and teachers know how to support their friends, children and students. This is the focus for this year’s World Mental Health Day.

In recognition of MIAW and World Mental Health Day, we hope that more people will open their hearts to friends and family members affected by mental illness. Mental health disorders are not going anywhere, but we can make stigma disappear. As a result, millions of people will find the courage to seek help and go on to lead fulfilling and productive lives.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

We mentioned above that more than ten million Americans are living with addiction and a co-occurring mental health disorder. It is paramount that such individuals receive treatment for their use disorder and dual diagnosis concurrently for successful outcomes. If you are a young adult male whose life is unmanageable due to mental illness, please contact PACE Recovery Center to learn more about our program. Parents of young men are also welcome to reach out to our team to learn how we can help your child break the cycle of addiction and heal from mental illness.

During World Mental Health Day and Mental Illness Awareness Week, PACE is spreading the message that the stigma virus is 100% curable; and, the antidote is compassion, empathy, and understanding.

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention

mental health

September is a crucial month regarding mental health in America. Those who follow our blog know that this is National Recovery Month, which we covered in some detail last week. Hopefully, many of you have taken the time to promote this observance on social media. Now is also a time to celebrate people in recovery and acknowledge the treatment service providers who help men and women make critical changes in their lives. When we shine a spotlight on those committed to leading productive lives while abstaining from drugs and alcohol, we encourage others to seek help.

When alcohol and substance use disorders go without treatment, the outcome is usually tragic. Addiction is a progressive mental illness with no known cure, and like any mental illness left untreated, the symptoms often become deadly. One need only look at the overdose death toll year-after-year or consider the 88,000 Americans who die from alcohol-related causes annually, to see evidence of the disease’s destructive nature. However, we have the power to reduce the number of people who succumb each year by eroding the stigma of mental health conditions. The simple fact is that evidence-based therapies exist; people can and do recover from diseases of the mind provided they have assistance.

While many people who fall victim to addiction do so owing to physical health complications, sadly there are some who decide they’ve had enough. The vicious cycle of addiction takes a significant toll on the psyche of many individuals, and some make fateful decisions that are irreversible. Such persons come to believe that treatment is inaccessible, they convince themselves that recovery is an impossible dream; such resignations can result in suicidal ideations or worse—attempts on one’s life.

Eroding Stigma Saves Lives

One of the most efficient ways to take the wind out of stigma’s sails is by having real conversations about mental health disorders. Anxiety, bipolar disorder, depression, PTSD, and alcohol and substance use disorder are treatable, but many people are of different opinions. What’s more, many of those who live with such afflictions fear what others will think of them if they seek help. It’s as if reaching out for support makes one’s condition more real, and it's impossible to hide an illness from others if treatment is sought.

Men and women don’t develop a fear of seeking help for no reason, much of society either consciously or subconsciously looks unfavorably upon mental illness. Even individuals with afflicted loved ones can still harbor misconceptions about mental health and the possibility of recovery. Much of society could stand to alter their understanding of mental illness and take a more compassionate approach. People who suspect a friend or family member is battling mental illness can affect change by merely asking how said person is doing or if they need help. It doesn’t matter the type of disease in question, everyone benefits when we open up the dialogue on mental health.

National Recovery Month aside, September is also National Suicide Prevention Month. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) asks that we reduce suicide risk by making sure we connect with one another and talk about mental illness. The organization points out:

We don’t always know who is struggling, but we do know that one conversation could save a life.

National Suicide Prevention Week

Not too long ago, the World Health Organization (WHO) released a startling figure: more than 300 million people worldwide are living with depression. Major depressive disorder, just one of several mental health conditions, is believed to be the leading cause of mal-health on the planet. It probably will not surprise you to learn that depression is the most common mental disorder associated with suicide. It’s also worth mentioning that depression and addiction often go hand-in-hand, more than half of the people living with a use disorder meet the criteria for a co-occurring mental illness. Moreover, depression like addiction is underdiagnosed and undertreated. The AFSP reports that only 4 out of 10 people receive mental health treatment.

One in four people who die by self-harm is under the influence at the time of their death, according to the organization. It is of the utmost importance that everyone in recovery and those with affected loved ones, spread the message that seeing a mental health professional is a sign of strength. We need to end the pervasive association that seeking assistance is an indication of weakness or failure. There is no time like the present, and there is certainly no time to waste: each year 44,965 Americans die by suicide. The AFSP shares that:

  • On average, there are 123 suicides per day.
  • Men die by suicide 3.53x more often than women.
  • The rate of suicide is highest in middle age (white men in particular).
  • White males accounted for 7 of 10 suicides in 2016.

Co-Occurring Mental Health Disorder Treatment

This week and throughout the month, everyone is encouraged to talk about mental illness and what can happen without treatment. We can all benefit from learning the warning signs of mental disorders and share messages with each other that promote treatment. If you would like to get involved, you can find shareable images here. On social media, the hashtags #SuicidePrevention #StopSuicide #RealConvo are trending. Together we can fight suicide!

When addiction accompanies depression, bipolar disorder or any mental disorder for that matter, it heightens people's risk of suicide exponentially. However, when individuals receive simultaneous treatment for use disorder and their dual diagnosis, long-term recovery is achievable. At PACE Recovery Center, we specialize in the treatment of men living with co-occurring mental health disorders. Please reach out to our team at your earliest convenience to learn more about our evidence-based programs.

WHO Adds Gaming Disorder to the ICD

gaming disorder

The World Health Organization’s (WHO)11th edition of its International Classification of Diseases (ICD), released Monday June 18, 2018, includes "gaming disorder." The addition of “digital-gaming” or “video-gaming” addiction to the ICD as a new mental health condition probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise for most people; especially considering just how far the industry has come since the advent of games like pong and how many people are spending multiple hours a day “leveling-up.”

Once video games found their way into people’s households with Atari, followed then by the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES), it was clear that the sky was the limit. Today, the myriad of games and various types of games is unbelievable; and, the emergence of online gaming allows users the ability to play endless games endlessly. Yes, that’s right, there isn’t a finish line or final stage in the most popular titles people are engaging with; ostensibly, an individual can play ad infinitum. Even if someone manages to find the end of a particular maze, game developers will promptly release a patch expanding the border of the playable realm.

Not long ago there were limits on how far a person could go in a game and the amount of money they could spend. Take a game like Super Mario Brothers for instance; people bought the game and played it and there was a final stage with a boss to be vanquished. Upon beating the boss that was all she wrote! Sure, you could play the game again, but you were not going to spend more than your initial purchase. Conversely, the games people play today, regardless of the gaming system (i.e., PlayStation, XBOX, or PC), offer players downloadable content(DLC); attaching credit card numbers to "Gamertags" allows users to buy DLC to give their character an edge or a custom look.

How Many People Play Video Games?

It’s safe to say that there was a time that the majority of people playing video games in the early day were young males. While young men continue to make up the market share of gamers, a good many females play regularly. There was, and still is, a number of stereotypes that people attach to gamers, social recluses, and nerds to name a few; however, as the technology gets better and more take part, it becomes difficult to blanket label the types of people who game. The result: gaming becomes normalized; a significant number of celebrities fancy “first-person shooters” or racing games. There isn’t anything inherently wrong with digital-gaming, to be sure.

When we talk about gaming, we would be remiss if we fail to point out that smartphones open up a whole new market. App games like Candy Crush eat up a significant amount of time of millions of people each day; even though they lack some of the bells and whistles video game systems boast, apps are quite captivating and allow people to play-on-the-run.

The annual Global Games Market Report shows that there are 2.2 billion active gamers in the world in 2017; of which, 1.0 billion players (47%) spend money while playing and generated $108.9 billion in game revenues. People pay to play smartphone games which produced revenue of $46.1 billion in 2017, claiming 42% of the market. The above figures make clear that an unbelievably significant number of people are not only gaming, but they are also spending money to play after the initial purchase. It is also safe to contend that some individuals are spending money they don’t have to continue to chase after an in-game item, often called “loot,” the acquisition of said item elicits a particular feeling. Sound familiar?

What is Gaming Disorder?

WHO’s website defines “Gaming Disorder” as a pattern of gaming behavior (“digital-gaming” or “video-gaming”) characterized by impaired control over gaming, increasing priority given to gaming over other activities to the extent that gaming takes precedence over other interests and daily activities, and continuation or escalation of gaming despite the occurrence of negative consequences.

For gaming disorder to be diagnosed, the behavior pattern must be of sufficient severity to result in significant impairment in personal, family, social, educational, occupational or other important areas of functioning and would normally have been evident for at least 12 months.

Preëexisting Mental Health Conditions

There is still much to learn about the dangers of devoting increasing amounts of time to offline and online gaming. However, the available research shows stark similarities between problematic gaming and other forms of addiction. Researchers who had a hand in the World Health Organization's landmark decision to include gaming disorder to its list of mental health diseases write, “Gaming disorder shares many features with addictions due to psychoactive substances and with gambling disorder, and functional neuroimaging shows that similar areas of the brain are activated.”

You probably would have guessed that there are critics of WHO’s decision to include gaming disorder to the ICD. Some opponents are working for the industry, so we all should meet their opinions with some skepticism; however, Dr. Netta Weinstein, a senior lecturer in psychology at Cardiff University, tells The Guardian, “I just feel like we don’t know enough yet.”

Weinstein points out that only a statistically small number (nearly half that of gambling disorder) of gamers experience adverse symptoms that affect their lives. A big concern of hers is about comorbidity, having more than one mental health condition. In the field of addiction medicine, more times than not, people presenting symptoms of addiction also meet the criteria for a co-occurring mental health disorder such as depression, PTSD, or bipolar disorder. In many cases, mental illnesses like depression often give rise to addiction via the process of self-medication. Could it be that people are excessively gaming to the point of disorder, in order to cope with a preëxisting mental health condition? Weinstein says:

We need to know that it is about the gaming [gaming disorder] itself, or we’re treating something that’s not the actual problem.”

Dual Diagnosis Treatment

If you or a loved is struggling with alcohol or substance use disorder and any one of many mental health diseases, please contact PACE Recovery Center. We offer clients gender-specific, extended care treatment for males in the grips of progressive mental health disorders.

If you have suicidal ideations, please contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255

Mental Health Awareness Month 2018 Cure Stigma Quiz

mental health

May is Mental Health Month; a time to raise awareness, fight stigma, provide support, educate the public. At PACE Recovery Center, our primary focus is treating addiction and coöccurring mental health disorders; we have made a commitment to do all that we can to end stigma and encourage individuals to seek help. Over the course the month we will cover a number of topics regarding mental illness, addiction, and stigma with the hope of helping those still struggling to understand they are not alone. We know your suffering and grasp the difficulty of reaching out for help.

Only 41% of adults in the U.S. with a mental health condition received mental health services in the past year, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). Among adults with a serious mental illness, 62.9% received mental health services in the past year. It is worth noting that more than half (10.2 million) of people living with a substance use disorder also have a co-occurring mental illness. What’s more, recovery is dependent upon treating both disorders simultaneously; there is no way around it, ignoring one condition will compromise the efforts made in treating the other.

One of the most significant obstacles standing in the way of treatment is stigma; in fact, stigma prevents the 1 in 5 Americans with mental health conditions from seeking help, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). When the general public doesn’t have all the facts, as is the case with brain diseases, people base their opinions on what it “seems" is going on with an individual. Large swaths of society believe that those suffering can choose to look at things differently; as if they can just walk-off their mental illness like a skinned knee and get back into the game of life.

Together, We Can #CureStigma

In reality, mental illness is not a choice! When people come to conclusions without the facts, it has a parasitic effect and creates an environment of shame, fear, and silence. When individuals don’t seek help because they worry about what other people think, it is a detriment to all. The overall wellbeing of society, like the links of chain, is only as healthy as it’s sickest citizens. When those suffering can’t access help, everyone pays the price in some way. It is worth remembering that there is not a single person on the planet who doesn’t know or care for someone with a mental illness; rarely is a family spared of the consequences of mental health conditions. 1 in 5 adults in the United States lives with a mental illness.

Even when there are mental health problems in the family, it is not uncommon for some members to view the afflicted negatively. What ends up happening is that the person suffering convinces his or her self that their illness is a byproduct of doing something wrong. As a result, such people shroud their behaviors in secrecy and are less likely to seek help for fear of judgment and ridicule. We cannot stress enough the importance of resisting the temptation to act in such ways in response to the ill-conceived notions of others; on the other hand, it is vital that everyone take some time and evaluate their views about mental illness.

Mental Health Month CureStigma Quiz

Examining your behaviors toward people living with mental illness and making adjustments (if necessary) can go a long way; doing your part to avoid contributing to the stigma of mental health disorders can save lives. NAMI believes that stigma towards mental illness is 100 percent curable, and there is a simple way to determine if stigma has infected you, take the CureStigma Quiz.

Please take a moment to watch a short PSA:


If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Co-Occurring Disorder Treatment

If you are a young man struggling with addiction and a coöccurring mental health disorder, PACE Recovery Center can help. Our team of dual diagnosis experts can teach you the skills and provide you the necessary tools for leading a productive life in recovery. Please contact us today to learn more about our program.

Adoption-specific Treatment Program for Mental Illness

adoption

The origins of alcohol and substance use disorders vary from case to case, but there are two primary variables worth particular consideration. First, a genetic predisposition that people have for mental health disorders; second, the environment in which a person is brought up. Both factors, each in unique ways, will have a hand in who we grow up to be; they will shape how we form attachments with our peers, influence our ability to love others, and how we allow ourselves to experience affection in return.

While there isn’t a guarantee that people with a family history of addiction or alcoholism will struggle with the disease one day, those with a genetic link to mental health conditions are thought to be at more significant risk. The same idea applies to surroundings, just because somebody grows up in toxic environs doesn’t necessarily imply that an individual will self-medicate to cope. Although, as with genetic links, experts tend to agree there is a heightened risk of experiencing problems with drugs and alcohol if a person suffers trauma at an early age. Furthermore, when individuals hail from both detrimental environments and families with addiction in the lineage, the likelihood of problems developing is exponentially higher.

During the developmental stage of a person’s existence, we shape our perspectives about ourselves and others. Our interactions with people early in life, especially our parents or lack thereof, can wreak havoc on the psyche. There is an inextricable link between attachments during adolescence, and our self-worth, self-esteem, and identity development. If a person isn’t able to form bonds with their parental figures (biological or not), it can stunt one's ability to make attachments later in life. Isolative tendencies may ensue.

Genetics, Environment, and Adoption

mental illness

Mental illness thrives in solitude and interpersonal darkness; left unchecked the means of coping are often disastrous. Many children fail to receive the care and attention that fosters a healthy psyche, especially kids who go into foster care or are placed for adoption. Each case is unique to be sure; however, the ways, means, and timing of a young person’s separation from birth parents (regardless of the quality of their birth parents) is often traumatic.

Where a child ends up, a good home or an unloving environment, coupled with a genetic predisposition to mental illness, is often a causal sequence to addiction. While it’s regularly the case that predisposed young people struggle with drugs and alcohol after being separated from biological parents, it’s not a foregone conclusion. A study of adopted children reveals that family history of addiction and environment are equally crucial to substance use initiation, CNN reports. The findings appear in the Archives of General Psychiatry.

Overall, 4.5% of adopted individuals had drug-abuse problems, but those with genetic ties to addiction were at double the risk of mental illness compared to those without the link. Researchers found a higher risk of drug abuse in children adopted into environments that include parental divorce, death, criminal activity, and alcohol problems.

Knowing the medical history of children who will be adopted is always a good idea, however... genes are not destiny," adds Dr. Wilson Compton, director of the division of epidemiology, services, and prevention research at the National Institute on Drug Abuse. "This study shows that in a healthy, safe, and secure environment with little exposure to drug abuse and other problems in the adoptive relatives, even children with multiple drug abusing biological relatives do much better than those whose adoptive families don't provide such advantages."

Addiction With A History of Adoption

Where we come from plays a deciding role in how we navigate through life; it plays a part in whether or not we will ultimately struggle with substance use and co-occurring mental health conditions. The study mentioned above didn’t account for the age at which the children, who would later develop addiction disorders, were adopted, which researchers should address in future studies, according to the article. Highlighting the research is meant to provide readers with an idea of how prevalent use disorders are among people in the demographic.

At PACE Recovery Center, we’ve treated many clients whose backgrounds involve adoption. We understand that a successful treatment outcome and achieving the goal of long-term recovery is contingent upon addressing clients’ underlying attachment issues. A significant number of adults raised in adoptive families struggle with anxiety or relationships. In dealing with a traumatic past, many people resort to drugs and alcohol to cope; self-medication is a sure path to dependence and addiction.

adoption

PACE is proud to announce the creation of our unique, adoption-specific program for men struggling with alcohol, substance use, and co-occurring mental health disorders. Working with Brett Furst, M.A., MFTI, clients can explore how a clash between logic and emotion precipitated and contributed to the development of mental health conditions, i.e., anxiety, depression, and substance use disorder.

If you were adopted and are in the grips of a progressive mental health disorder, please contact us to begin the journey of recovery and self-discovery. We can provide you with the tools to help you heal from a traumatic past and help you foster healthy relationships moving forward. Connecting with your peers in recovery will prove vital to fulfilling your dream of lasting recovery.

Mental Health in the Workplace: Exercising Compassion

mental health

From National Alcohol and Drug Addiction Recovery Month to Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), significant efforts have been made of late to shatter stigma and promote mental health treatment. We can all lend a hand in encouraging others to seek help. By promoting wellness, lives can be both mended and saved. It’s vital that such efforts continue, there is much work to be done.

On numerous occasions over the years, we have written about the importance of mental health parity, mental illness treatment and the negative impact that stigma has on society. We are all affected by the well-being of our peers, demanding that everything in our power is done to inspire others to seek help. Whether someone is suffering from depression, battling addiction or both; treatment works, recovery can become a reality for the millions of afflicted individuals.

Regardless of where you live or how old you are, the odds are that you know someone affected by mental illness. Or, you may be struggling yourself. With depression affecting more than 300 million people worldwide (just one of the many forms of mental illness), the odds are high. There are over 260 million living with anxiety disorders, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). It is next to impossible not to know someone touched by mental illness.

Mental Health In The Workplace

With such a high prevalence of mental health conditions, it stands to reason that most workplaces employ people affected. Unlike other typical illnesses, people with mental illness are far less likely to share what they are going through with an employer. Conversely, many employers are not keen on the idea of hiring people with mental health conditions. Creating closed-mouthed environments, one has to omit information to get a job. Then, has to do what they can to disguise their issues to keep it.

Obviously, it’s illegal to fire someone because of mental illness. But, that doesn’t mean that openly talking about it is typically welcomed in the workplace. This code of silence makes not only employees iller, but it also has an impact on the business itself. If someone feels that they can’t talk about what they are dealing with, they are less likely to seek treatment. For fear of repercussions to their career, individuals will do whatever they can to hide what they are going through on the inside. A trend that can have grave implications for the individual in the long run.

Without treatment and continued maintenance, people living with untreated mental illness will take desperate measures. Drugs, alcohol, and self-harm are conventional vehicles of coping with untreated mental health conditions. Behaviors that often lead to addiction, overdose, and premature death. Employers who promote environments of well-being can have a hand in reversing such outcomes.

World Mental Health Day

Some of our readers may remember that we discussed the topic of mental health in the workplace back in July? An exchange involving employee and employer. Yes, talking about needing time off for mental health, mirabile dictu, and it went unbelievably well. If you didn’t get a chance to read our post, below you can see the fantastic exchange:

Employee:

Hey team, I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health. Hopefully, I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%.”

Employer:

I just wanted to personally thank you for sending e-mails like this. Every time you do, I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health – I can’t believe this is not standard practice at all organizations. You are an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can bring our whole selves to work.”

The above discourse can serve as an inspiration to everyone. We can all promote mental health in the workplace. Mental health in the workplace is the theme of World Mental Health Day 2017 (October 10, 2017). Depression and anxiety disorders, alone, cost $1 trillion in lost productivity each year, according to WHO. The organization would like to raise awareness for mental health issues, and the impact such conditions have on society:

Employers and managers who put in place workplace initiatives to promote mental health and to support employees who have mental disorders see gains, not only in the health of their employees but also in their productivity at work. A negative working environment, on the other hand, may lead to physical and mental health problems, harmful use of substances or alcohol, absenteeism and lost productivity.”

Dual Diagnosis Therapy

AT PACE, we would like to acknowledge all the employers who treat mental health with compassion. You are a model for all employers around the globe, promoting the facts. Mental illness is treatable; kindness pays off in the end.

A significant number of the millions battling anxiety and depression also meet the criteria for addiction. When that is the case, treatment can be complicated. In such cases, long-term recovery is dependent on treating both the addiction and co-occurring mental health condition. If you are struggling with a dual diagnosis, we can help. Please contact PACE Recovery Center to begin the lifesaving process.

Mental Illness Sick Days

mental illness

If you get the flu, you would probably do what anyone would do, call in sick. After all, you wouldn't want to risk passing a bug on to your coworkers or work at less than 100 percent. Every day, millions of people call in sick to work for various illnesses, it is commonplace. But, there are some illnesses that people shy away from calling in, for fear of professional consequences. Mental illness.

Millions of Americans, and hundreds of millions around the globe are living with what are, at times, debilitating mental health disorders. Yet, waking up amid a depressive episode or an anxiety attack might not prompt someone to contact their workplace asking for a day off. There are a number of reasons for this, some people experiencing such problems may not think it warrants a sick-day. Others may think that they can muscle through the workday without a loss of productivity. Perhaps more common, and even more saddening, is the fact that many employers do not understand mental health disorders. Or employers believe that they are just cause for a day away from the office. They might say something like: “we all struggle with angst at times, we all get a little sad from time to time.”

Just pick your head up, and put your best foot forward, right? Wrong! People who manage their mental illness day-in-day-out can’t always stay ahead of the symptoms. There are going to be days when functioning is just not a reality. In such cases, most people will try to hide it at work rather than let on that they have a condition. And it should go without saying that doing that can be a slippery slope. People living with behavioral health conditions, who do not put their well-being first, are at risk of exacerbating their symptoms.

Mental Illness Is Real

In the 21st Century the verdict on mental health disorders like anxiety, depression, bipolar, et al. is no longer out. Mental illness is real, in every family there is at least one person who has been touched by such disorders. People living with mental health issues should not be discriminated against or stigmatized. But, they are. Even in more enlightened environs, the afflicted feel as though they need to hide what is going on underneath the surface. The result of years of conditioning, perhaps.

With each year that passes, more and more people living with mental health disorders are saying, ‘enough!’ They will no longer be shamed into putting their needs last. It is a brave move, and can be costly to one’s career, because most employers are not so enlightened. However, there are some workplaces who encourage those with mental illness to take time for themselves when it is needed. Perhaps a sign that the ‘times they are a-changin.' Not too long ago, few could’ve imagined calling in sick for mental health reasons, and returning to work on Monday with their job intact.

A recent email exchange between an employee and an employer regarding this subject went ‘viral’ (no pun intended) this month. A truly remarkable story of a CEO who understands the negative impact of mental health stigma. Madalyn Parker—an executive at Olark Live Chat—sent an email to her team at work explaining that she would be away from the office to focus on her mental health, PEOPLE reports. The response received from the company’s CEO was, well it was…up worthy!

Hey team, I’m taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health,” Parker wrote. “Hopefully I’ll be back next week refreshed and back to 100%.”
I just wanted to personally thank you for sending e-mails like this,” Olark CEO Ben Congleton wrote back. “Every time you do, I use it as a reminder of the importance of using sick days for mental health – I can’t believe this is not standard practice at all organizations. You are an example to us all, and help cut through the stigma so we can bring our whole selves to work.”

There Is No Place for Stigma

Parker posted the exchange on social media, and the Internet celebrated and commended Congleton and Parker’s exchange. And for good reason. This kind of thing is infinitesimally rare. Which is why we need more of this type of exchange in the workplace. Normalizing mental health disorders is of the utmost importance. It will not only increase productivity, it will save lives.

Even in the safest environment it is still uncommon to be direct with your coworkers about mental health issues,” Congleton wrote on Medium, a few days later. “I wanted to call this out and express gratitude for Madalyn’s bravery in helping us normalize mental health as a normal health issue.”

Parker added:

After repeatedly being told to keep my problems to myself for fear of discrimination, it’s good to know that it actually is possible to be open about mental health (even at work!)…You should never feel like you can’t address your emotional well-being because ‘it’s just not something you talk about at work.’”

Co-Occurring Recovery

Many of us working programs of addiction recovery are living with a dual diagnosis, as well. A co-occurring mental illness that, like the addiction, must be managed every day of the week. If one’s symptoms of depression or anxiety are ignored, it could lead to a relapse—or something worse. If you are in recovery for a co-occurring disorder, it is vital that you do not put your employment before your personal wellbeing. Fearing the consequences of being upfront about what you are going through is normal. But ignoring your condition for the sake of a day’s work can be deadly.

If you are still in the grips of addiction, battling another form of mental health disorder as well—please contact PACE Recovery Center to begin the lifesaving journey of addiction recovery.

Stigma of Addiction: Stop the Shame

stigma

How we treat people who have diseases which can be fatal says a lot about who we are both as a nation and a society. Our ability to express empathy to those who are suffering from conditions that are, in many cases, outside of one’s control is of vital importance—especially in this day and age living in a country that has been racked by addiction.

Throughout out the second half of the 20th Century and into the 21st, the United States has made and gone through significant changes with how we look at those afflicted by a substance use disorder and how to best effectively treat addiction. Not too long ago, the majority of Americans would have said of addiction, if asked, that it was likely a moral failing; such people lack constitution or willpower and are an example of extreme narcissism.

To be fair, a superficial look at addiction could present a picture of the aforementioned pejorative statements. It could be easy for anyone without all the facts to view the disease in such a light, and such viewpoints are then perpetuated and disseminated to others who also lack the ability to grasp what is actually going on inside the mind of an addict. As a result, thunderous clouds of stigma float permanently above the millions of Americans who have been touched by this pernicious mental illness.

Yet, a closer look through the lens of science reveals the nature of addiction as being something altogether different. Which is why, for quite some time the disease of addiction has been classified as a serious mental health disorder, a condition that has little to do with a moral compass. Scientists have overwhelmingly concluded, that while no one chooses to be an addict and there is not a cure for the disorder, with assistance those living in active addiction can make changes to break away from drugs and alcohol and recover. Going on to live a meaningful and productive life, existing as part of society rather than being the subject of ostracization.

From Stigma to Empathy

If addiction is a disorder which has no cure, but can be maintained allowing for individuals to live relatively normal lives, then do you wonder why addicts are viewed so differently than those who suffer from other incurable conditions? The response to that question is far from easy to answer, being the subject of many an investigation. But simply put, much of the stigma of addiction rests on the fact that the complex disease is not well understood. Such a reality has opened the door for people without any qualifications to draw conclusion about substance use, and nonchalantly disseminate their “2+2=5” summations.

We would like you to imagine for a moment and entreat you to look honestly inside your selves, that somebody close to you contracted a serious illness. Perhaps a condition that science currently offers no cure, but does provide treatments that can prove effective at slowing down the progression of such disorders (e.g. diabetes, HIV, cancer and Parkinson’s). Could you picture yourself acting towards that individual in such a way as to elicit guilt or shame inside your loved one? Can you see yourself saying to someone dying from cancer or AIDS that they are ‘not trying hard enough?’ That they could get better, but are choosing to do otherwise. While rhetorical questions like this may seem like “no brainers,” they illustrate the absurdity of casting stones at somebody with a terminal illness.

Now, please close your eyes, picture your mother, daughter or neighbor is not suffering from cancer, but rather addiction. Would you act the same way in respect to them, as you would if they had cancer?

PSAs About Stigma

Breaking the stigma of addiction is a process that requires a multifaceted approach involving several agencies. Last week, the American College of Physicians (ACP) published a position paper arguing that addiction should be viewed as a “chronic disease” requiring treatment. Substance use problems are not a "moral disorder or character defect."

At the same time, a new campaign was launched called “Stop the Shame,” which released two public service announcements aimed at breaking the stigma of addiction. We must warn you ahead of time, the PSAs are hard to watch due to the videos accuracy with regard to how people living with addiction can be, and often are treated.

PSA 1: Addicts Hear Comments Cancer Patients Never Would

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

PSA 2: Addicts Hear Comments Parkinson’s Patients Never Would

If you are having trouble watching, please click here.

Far Reaching Effects

The tough comments that people with addiction endure on regular basis have a serious impact, affecting American society. Those made to feel shame and guilt about addiction are less inclined to seek help for their condition. As a result, their illness progresses, sending ripples throughout the country. For starters, without treatment, more and more families find themselves burying loved ones before their time. There is also a huge economic toll that is associated with untreated addiction. Lawmakers have tried arresting addiction away, unsuccessfully. The time for compassion, is now.

Mental Health Awareness Week

mental healthThe Fall season is an important time with regard to mental health and addiction. If you have been following our blog posts, then you are likely aware that September was both National Recovery Month and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. Millions of Americans are affected by addiction and various other mental health problems every year. Sadly, those whose illnesses are left untreated will often make a choice that cannot be taken back, i.e. suicide. Efforts were made by various agencies and organizations, in both the public and private sector, to raise awareness about addiction and suicide. The aim was to open up a dialogue about the treatment options available for people suffering from mental health disorders, such as addiction. We feel that it is worth reiterating that suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, and suicide is often linked to untreated mental illness—more times than not. Awareness months are particularly important because they help break the stigma of mental illness, in turn encouraging people to seek help. There is no shame in having a mental health disorder, just as there is no shame in having any health problem that requires continued maintenance. We can all have a part in helping others, help themselves by seeking treatment—please remember to take the pledge to be #StigmaFree.

Mental Health Awareness Week

In May, now five months ago, we at PACE Recovery Center, recognized Mental Health Awareness Month (MHM), and took the pledge to be #StigmaFree. However, the effort to chip away at the stigma that has long accompanied mental illness is not something that will be accomplished over the course of a single month. It is a continued effort, and we all must stay the course until the goal of equal care (parity) is accomplished. As a proud member of the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), we would like to ask all of our readers to join us in observing Mental Health Awareness Week (#MIAW) between Oct. 2 - 8. This week, in October and around the year we all must work together to:
  • Fight Stigma
  • Provide Support
  • Educate the Public
  • Advocate for Equal Care

Young Adults With Mental Illness

Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders that impacts the lives of young adults. We mentioned earlier that suicide among young people is often the result of untreated mental illness. It is vital that those who are or may be living with depression (or any mental illness) are screened, so that they can begin the process of recovery. Depression can be debilitating, but help is out there and recovery is possible. Today is National Depression Screening Day (Oct. 6), if you believe that you are suffering from depression, we have some good news. You can get a free mental health screening at HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org.
The only way out is through.” —Robert Frost

Recovery

If you are a young adult male who has been diagnosed with any form of mental illness, it possible that you have been self-medicating with drugs and alcohol to cope. If that behavior has been going on for some time, there is a chance that it has resulted in addiction. Please contact PACE Recovery Center, our team specializes in working with young adult males struggling with chemical dependency and behavioral health issues. We can help your son break the cycle of addiction and adopt healthy behaviors to ensure long-term recovery.