Homeless Person’s Memorial Day

Event Time: December 21, 2022 4:00 pm

Event Location:

Thomas Paine Plaza, 1401 JFK Boulevard

Rain location: Arch Street United Methodist Church

55 N Broad Street

 

> More Information

Join us on the longest night of the year as we remember the hundreds of Philadelphians who experienced homelessness and died in 2022. Join us as we recommit to building a world in which everyone is safely housed.

Hot drinks provided by Salvation Army Canteen

Avoiding the Holiday Pressure to Drink

The holiday season can be a difficult time for many people – especially for the 18 million Americans who have an alcohol use disorder as holiday celebrations often center around alcohol. The CDC has found that the period between Thanksgiving and New Year’s Day sees a dramatic increase in DUI offenses and other alcohol-related issues. Seventy percent of people report higher alcohol use during the last two weeks of December.

People drink for many reasons. They may drink to feel relaxed, because they enjoy the taste, or because they feel pressured to drink socially. And some people may choose to use these celebrations as an excuse to drink more than usual. 

If you think alcohol is problematic for you, want to avoid drinking too much during the holidays, or just aren’t the biggest drinker, here are some strategies for navigating holiday celebrations.

Skip the risky parties

If an event is going to be a cocktail party or it’s at a bar, try to avoid it. If you choose to go, most bartenders have great recipes for mocktails. It’s important not to isolate yourself because that can lead to depression, which might tempt you to drink. Be selective about which holiday gatherings you attend. If you know a certain party has the potential to get out of control, it’s probably best to avoid it.

Drink something fun 

There are many festive alcohol-free mocktails to choose from. It can feel awkward if you are the only one at a party without a drink in hand. Come up with a favorite non-alcoholic beverage to order or bring your own sparkling water to enjoy. 

Be assertive

Learn how to say no and stick to it. Some people find that having a phrase that doesn’t allow further conversation is helpful. These could include, “I’m trying to get healthy” or “I’m the designated driver.”

Make sure you have social support

Let your family and friends know about your plans to avoid alcohol. Support is crucial for maintaining sobriety. Think about attending extra therapy sessions or group meetings during the holiday season. You can visit the Alcoholics Anonymous to find a meeting near you

Watch out for stressful moments

Family events can be very stressful. This can cause people to drink when they don’t plan to. Be aware and prepare for these situations.

Suggest different activities

Instead of going to holiday parties invite your friends to something you can enjoy that doesn’t involve alcohol. These can be things like dinner, movies, or ice-skating.

Care for yourself

Keep your normal routines during the holidays. Be sure to get enough sleep and exercise to keep the holiday blues from sneaking up on you.

Don’t forget to keep others safe this season. If you think a friend or family member may have had too much to drink and plans to drive home, don’t be afraid to tell them that you are concerned for their safety and the safety of others. 

About the Author: Ashley Rock is the program coordinator for the Single County Authority at DBHIDS and an advocate for all paths to recovery in her personal and professional life.

Original Article here: https://healthymindsphilly.org/blog/avoiding-the-holiday-pressure-to-drink/

Behavioral Health at Any Age: No One Needs to Struggle Alone

Many areas of behavioral health can be something of a mystery to the general public. Myths and misconceptions about mental health and substance use are often significant obstacles to looking out for the well-being of ourselves and our loved ones. Talking about suicide does NOT plant the idea in someone’s head. Many mental health conditions are preventable. Depression is NOT a normal part of aging.

Let’s focus on that last one. It’s worth repeating; experiencing feelings of depression is not a given as we grow older. However, behavioral health problems like depression often go undiagnosed in older adults.

Older adults as well as their loved ones and even their healthcare providers sometimes dismiss symptoms of depression as “normal” signs of frailty – inevitably, our bodies grow physically weaker as we age. However, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)notes that many equivocate symptoms of depression with the physical weaknesses of aging, leading them to ignore these indicators of a potential mental health issue.

Others believe that feelings of depression are just the natural result of changes in life that typically happen to older adults. Major life events more common to older adults – such as retirement, the death of a loved one, or moving out of the family home – can be stressors that impact our behavioral health.

Facing the loss of someone or something important to us, we all feel sadness at times, but such episodes need not necessarily lead to depression. In fact, “many older adults will eventually adjust to the changes. But some people will have more trouble adjusting,” says the U.S. National Library of Medicine. Being unable to grieve and move on to prior feelings after a loss may be a sign of depression – in individuals of any age.

So What IS Different About Depression in Older Adults?

  • Just as symptoms of depression may differ between women and men, older adults may experience a different range of symptoms than younger individuals. Memory problems, confusion, vague complaints of pain, and/or delusions (“fixed false beliefs”) can indicate depression in older adults in addition to more typical symptoms such as loss of appetite, inability to sleep, or irritability (National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)).
  • The Centers for Disease Control (CDC)reports that depression is more common in those who have another illness, and “we know that about 80% of older adults have at least one chronic health condition, and 50% have two or more.” This higher likelihood of having a physical illness puts older adults at greater risk of depression.
  • For older adults, the interplay of mental and physical health issues works both ways – not only does the presence of some chronic illnesses increase the likelihood of experiencing a behavioral health condition, but some mental health problems like depression – if untreated – can increase risk for heart disease, suppress the immune system, and elevate the danger of infection (NAMI).
  • The World Health Organization points out that while older adults may experience the stressors common to everyone that can weigh against behavioral health, they may also experience stressors unique to them. Reduced mobility, chronic pain, bereavement, change in socioeconomic status due to retirement, and frailty or other health problems are all additional factors that can have a negative impact on the mental health or substance use of older adults.

Closing the “Treatment Gap”

The Pan American Health Organization (PAHO) describes a “treatment gap:” while at least 1 in 4 older adults experience some mental health problem, two-thirds of those individuals do not receive the treatment they need. The first step in connecting those struggling with their behavioral health to treatment and recovery options is to identify the issue.

A great place to start if you’re worried about your mental health or substance use – or that of a loved one – is with a quick, anonymous online behavioral health screening. In about two minutes, you can find out if what you’re experiencing is consistent with symptoms of depression, anxiety, or other behavioral health conditions. If you’re concerned about a loved one – regardless of their age – encourage them to take a screening. No one needs to struggle alone.

If you or a loved one needs immediate mental health or addiction support, do not hesitate to call your insurance company or family doctor, or call 888-545-2600 if you have Medicaid coverage. You can find additional resources that support older adult mental health here.

If your loved one is ever in crisis, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text the word, “ACT” to the Crisis Text Line at 741741

Original Article here: https://healthymindsphilly.org/blog/behavioral-health-at-any-age-no-one-needs-to-struggle-alone/

Trigger Film Screening

Event Time:

Event Location:

A partnership of DBHIDS – EMOC and First Person Arts

For Black Women Who Say They’re Okay When They’re Not

How are you feeling? 

As leaders in our communities, workplaces, families, and homes, Black women are often carrying a physical and emotional load for themselves and those around them.

Earlier this year we got a sobering reminder of the invisible baggage we carry when we learned about the death of Cheslie Kryst, former Miss USA and entertainment news correspondent at Extra

From the outside, the 30-year-old appeared to have it all. With a pageant crown, multiple degrees, talent, and charisma, she exuded what some would describe as “Black Girl Magic.” But in a social media post confirming her suicide, Kryst’s mother, April Simpkins, revealed Cheslie was dealing with high functioning depression.  

What is high functioning depression? The clinical term is dysthymia. According to Psychology Today, three causes of high functioning depression are trauma, intergenerational depression, and unresolved frustration, something many Black women know about.

In 2007 the Journal of Multicultural Counseling and Development published the report “Cultural dysthymia: An unrecognized disorder among African Americans?” The report states, “After more than 250 years of enslavement, prejudice, and discrimination, dysthymia is reflected in chronic low-grade sadness, anger, hostility, aggression, self-hatred, hopelessness, and self-destructive behaviors.”

As we’re starting to emerge from the pandemic and the stress of the past two years, it’s OK to not be OK. But if you’re not, it’s important to get help.

Here are six ways to mind your mental health:

  1. Make a to-do list and a to-don’t list. Too often we try to take on everything and consequently suffer from burnout. Try this Trash, Transfer, Trim, Treasure exercise we use at The Ladipo Group to help you recognize responsibilities and activities you should stop doing, delegate, spend less time on, or continue doing because it brings you joy.
  2. Ask for help. There’s no shame in admitting your emotions might be too much to process on your own. Use resources like TherapyForBlackGirls.com to find a therapist in your area.
  3. Rest, rest, rest. Whether it’s getting the amount of sleep you need each night or taking small rest breaks throughout the day, allow time for your body and mind to stop moving, shut down, and rest.
  4. Move your body. Dance, exercise or do anything that gets your body moving daily. Movement boosts your mood by releasing endorphins which make us feel good.
  5. Curate your social media. Oftentimes we scroll through our phones and feel lousy. Review the people you follow and content you absorb, and delete those that don’t add joy.
  6. Intentionally cultivate and connect with your tribe. Our tribes of sister-friends get us through the darkest times and celebrate the joyful times as well. Don’t wait until you’re in the depths of despair to reach out. Sometimes a text or funny meme is all that’s needed.

If you struggle to take time out to care for your mental health, remember that you’ll be better able to care for others when you’re filled and refreshed from first caring for you!

Tonya Ladipo is the Founder and CEO of The Ladipo Group, the region’s only therapy, counseling, and Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion consulting practice specializing in serving Black and African-American communities.

The Search for Culturally Competent Care

Fans of the award-winning TV series ‘This is Us’ may remember the episode where Randall decides to switch therapists. The character—a successful commodities trader turned Philadelphia City Councilman—is African American, was raised by a white family, and struggles with anxiety and PTSD. He admits that he isn’t comfortable sharing many of his feelings with his current therapist. His new doctor is “cool, smart, funny, Black, young father… we got a lot in common,” Randall explains.

Does your therapist ‘get’ you? The answer to this question is a key factor in mental health recovery. 

Finding a provider you trust, who you connect with and who has experience working with people like you, isn’t always easy. Yet it is especially important for members of minority groups—many of whom suffer generational trauma from systemic racism, yet don’t receive the treatment they need. 

The numbers are telling. Forty-five percent of U.S. adults with mental illness receive help, but just 23 percent of Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) adults, 33 percent of Black adults, 34 percent of Hispanic/Latinx adults, and very few Native people with mental illness get treatment. 

This is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month—a time to focus on the unique struggles around mental illness that minority communities in the United States face, along with the solutions. Finding culturally competent providers is one of them. 

What is cultural competence in mental health? 

Cultural competence is understanding that a person’s values, experiences, and personal beliefs are shaped by their ethnic and community identities and the influences that come with it. These factors can also explain why a patient avoids treatment and how they perceive and express symptoms, cope, adhere to treatment, and attach stigma to mental illness.

Exploring a patient’s cultural identity may help providers tailor mental health treatment. On the flip side, cultural incompetence likely contributes to underdiagnosis and/or misdiagnosis in Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities, writes Mental Health America. “Language differences between patient and provider, stigma of mental illness among BIPOC, and cultural presentation of symptoms are some of the many barriers to care that explain these errors in the diagnostic process.”

Assessing a provider’s level of cultural sensitivity 

It starts with asking the right questions. The National Alliance on Mental Illness advises that you ask:

  • Have you treated other people with my cultural background?
  • Have you received training in culturally competent care for members of my community?
  • How do you see our cultural backgrounds influencing our communication and my treatment?
  • Do you have training in trauma-informed care?

Here are a few places to start your search for a culturally-competent mental health provider:

Psychology Today – Search for a therapist by zip code, ethnicity served, type of therapy and more.

Inclusive Therapists – Search by insurance, specialty, therapist identity, language, cultural knowledge, therapeutic approach, and location.

Open Path – A nonprofit serving clients who cannot afford current market rates for therapy through a network of affordable mental health professionals. Search by specialty, language, therapist ethnicity, age specialty, treatment orientation, and location.

You might also try:

Asian Mental Health Collective

The Association of Black Psychologists Therapist Resource Directory

Therapy for Latinx

Centers for Medicaid and Medicare American Indian/Native Behavioral Health Service Locator

Talking to Kids About Gun Violence

Like many U.S. cities, Philadelphia is struggling with a rising tide of gun violence. During this calendar year alone, there were 957 nonfatal and 242 fatal shootings in the city as of July 4, 2022. One hundred and five of these cases involved children under age 18.

These shootings take their toll on the mental health of our children. Research suggests that concern about school violence or shootings may be a risk factor for developing anxiety disorders.

In an article written for the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), Faculty Member Aditi Vasan, M.D., MSHP writes, “As a pediatrician, I have often seen children come into the hospital or clinic with mental health-related symptoms, including depressed mood, anxiety, and symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder, in the days and weeks following a shooting near their home or school.”

Children as young as two years old can be aware of gun violence, says Julie Campbell, LCSW, Trauma Services Director at the Children’s Crisis Treatment Center in Philadelphia. But because children are often exposed to gun violence on television and in video games, it can be hard for them to understand what it means when a person is shot.

It’s heartbreaking to watch a child struggle with the stress and anxiety that gun violence can provoke. But it’s not always easy to know how to respond, or what to say. Campbell encourages parents to take their cues from their kids, listening closely to what they know and what they fear, and responding at a level they can understand. “If we ask an open-ended question and then pause to listen deeply, the communication is much more meaningful and more likely to continue,” Campbell says.

Parents shouldn’t shy away from taking the lead to start the conversation, Campbell adds. And both parents and educators can help reassure children by talking about the safety measures that are in place to protect them.

Additional tips to help parents manage their children’s anxiety include:

  • Stay connected. After a first conversation, check in with your child every few days to see if they’re still feeling anxious.
  • Encourage kids to reach out to the adults around them if they’re worried or upset.
  • Turn the television off, especially if the news is replaying violent incidents.
  • Spend family time together. Have a game night or movie night so children feel that home is a safe and good place to be.
  • Support your child’s wellness, including helping them get enough exercise and sleep. Lack of sleep can make children more irritable and less able to manage their emotions.
  • Teach your child relaxation strategies such as deep breathing. A “4-7-8 breathing” exercise made popular by Dr. Andrew Weil has been found effective in managing anxiety and helping people fall asleep. Sesame Street offers several excellent video demonstrations of this breathing technique for children, including Learn to Belly Breathe with Rosita and Common and Colbie Caillat Sing Belly Breathing with Elmo.
  • Teach your child positive self-talk. “When we’re thinking fearful thoughts, we can hit the pause button in our brain and change them to positive thoughts, such as ‘I’m home, I’m safe, I know how to ask for help,’” Campbell says.
  • Maintain your own self-care. Getting support for yourself will trickle down to your children and make you more emotionally available for them.

Pediatricians can also be allies in helping support kids, Campbell notes. They are trained to talk to families about exposure to trauma and to detect signs of anxiety. Children might not have the words to express their feelings. But sleep problems, changes in eating habits, or complaints of headaches and stomach aches provide clues to problems that providers can address, she says. “Medical care is not just about your body, it’s also about your emotional health.”

The Importance of Violence Prevention

It’s a tragedy that gun violence has become so commonplace that we need strategies for helping our children manage the resulting anxiety. While we must provide them with this support, we also mustn’t accept this level of violence as a fact of life.

Greg Deavens, president and CEO of Independence Blue Cross, issued this statement on May 18, 2022: “Philadelphia – like so many other cities across the country – is experiencing an epidemic of gun violence. These senseless crimes destroy families and communities and take a toll on our collective mental well-being.” He added, “Independence strongly condemns all acts of violence, and we pledge to always be a force for positive change.”

Useful Links

If You Need Help

If you or someone you know is in immediate distress or is thinking about hurting themselves, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline toll-free at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). You also can text the Crisis Text Line (HELLO to 741741) or use the Lifeline Chat on the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline website.

For more information about self-care strategies for mental health and where to find help, visit ibx.com/knowyourmind.