The conference will illustrate how faith communities and the City of Philadelphia have partnered to connect and promote togetherness and love in our communities through unprecedented times.
How do we stay hopeful through food insecurity, loss of life, gun violence, and racial injustice? The purpose of this conference is to find ways to stay connected and to build on the strengths and compassion of Philadelphians to address how COVID-19 has affected our communities. This year’s conference is a reminder that Philadelphia was founded on the notion of love. It is a call to renew our faith in one another and our ability to effect change.
Speakers and panelists will present their efforts to respond to the pandemic as individuals and members of their communities. We invite community members, faith leaders, service providers, and all others to partake in this transformative event.
This panel discussion will give you the opportunity to hear firsthand accounts of turning tragedy into triumph and what helped individuals through the process of losing their children to gun violence. We will also have resources and information available that will help navigate you through this journey of grief. With the support of each other, faith, and determination we can begin the healing process.
Moderator: Samantha Grannum, Faith and Spiritual Affairs coordinator for DBHIDS.
Across our city, country, and the world, seasonal and religious holidays have not been and will not be the same this year. For many, the coming weeks are always a fragile time of year, and 2020 is certainly no exception.
Sadly, people have lost family members and friends in recent months, some have lost jobs, and most will not be spending holidays together for health and safety reasons. For some, absent friends or family has always made the holidays difficult, but this year, more of us will feel this emptiness. Our lives have been turned upside down, and some have gone from bad to worse.
Whatever your circumstances, it is not at all unusual to feel overly emotional or act differently than you typically would during these uncertain times. While some may be able to “keep calm and carry on,” there’s nothing wrong with not feeling calm or finding it difficult to carry on.
So what can we do to embrace this year’s holiday season, try to manage our emotions, and carry on?
We can start by accepting that this is a year like no other.We can:
Choose not to surrender to negative feelings, accept our situation, learn from it, and find comfort in what we still have.
Think back to other harsh challenges we’ve confronted in our lifetime and how we managed to get through those.
Give ourselves credit for what we’ve been able to accomplish so far and try to accept what we can and cannot control at this time.
Recognize that we are all doing the best we can, and everyone struggles in one way or another.
Remain realistic and still enjoy the present moment.
The holidays don’t have to be perfect- are they ever? Not everything has to be the same as it was in past years.
Trying to make things the same, or worse, faultless, will only get the better of you, and you’ll forget that being grateful and hopeful, and if you’re lucky, loved, is what counts. It’s what has always counted.
Seek gratitude this holiday season despite our circumstances and appreciate what we can still do.
We can continue to connect with others outdoors, over the phone, or online.
We can send cards and good wishes, practice many familiar religious rituals, cook for others, or assist a person struggling to pay bills.
If we are fortunate enough to have a home and plenty of food, we can relax, eat seconds, watch a football game or long movie.
We can think of creative ways to stay close and give those who have nothing a helping hand.
We can read, donate decorations, play games, and worship virtually. We can try out a new recipe, share stories, and make fantastic plans for next year’s holidays.
We can continue to be thankful and hopeful no matter what our situation, and proud of what we’ve been able to manage so far.
The world is hurting, people are suffering, and we all feel the pandemic’s pain and tomorrow’s uncertainty. Let’s be mindful together and place our thoughts on the good around us. Together we can overcome today’s challenges, enjoy the holidays as best we can, and remain hopeful for a better tomorrow.
If you or someone you care about is feeling more than just sad about the holidays or feeling lonely, withdrawn, worthless, or guilty for more than a few weeks, this may be more than just holiday sadness or stress related to the pandemic. For people in recovery, or those struggling with addiction, the holidays can be hard to get through. You are not alone, and we want to help. You can start with a no-cost and anonymous mental health check-up, look through Healthy Minds Philly Resources to begin helping yourself or others, or Get Help Now if support is urgently needed.
Author: Maria Boswell, Director, Health Promotion Unit, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS)
CMO of the Department of Behavioral Health Dr. Sosunmolu Shoyinka and CEO and Founder of V.O.I.C.E Laquisha Anthony joined Good Day Philadelphia to talk about mental health and battling depression especially during tough times like a pandemic.
Preserving Your Mental Health in a Double Pandemic A WHYY Community Conversation about Stress, Stigma and Self-Care
The stress of the COVID-19 pandemic and its impact on our health and economy, is enough to drive mental health needs off the charts. Meanwhile Philadelphia is also suffering the worst increase in the homicide rate since 2007 with 300 murders, up 33% over the year. These stressors have contributed to the fact that since March 1, 2020, 49% percent of Philadelphia residents report that they or someone in their household has been seriously depressed or anxious.
How can we create an effective practice of mental health self-care that is as widely accepted as the routines we follow for our physical health? Is it possible to practice self-care while anxiously focused on self-preservation?
Join WHYY for a virtual Community Conversation about stressors, stigma and self-care. Hear insights and tips from leading regional experts on preserving your mental health during extensively, stressful times.
Hosted By: Chris Norris – WHYY, Community Contributors and Engagement Editor
The Panel: Dr. Monica Campbell – Licensed Psychologist Phillip Roundtree, MSW – Mental Health Advocate Felicia Roche – Mental Health Advocate & Author Sarah Ashley-Andrews, MS – Co-host, Black in Therapy Podcast
Special Presentation By: Richard Taylor – Mental Health Advocate & Author
Date & Time Wednesday, November 11, 2020 6:00-7:15 p.m.
October 12, 2020 | Maria Boswell, Director, Health Promotion, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services
Our mental and emotional health is just as important as our physical health. Too often, we neglect to care for our mental well-being, and if left untreated, can cause serious health consequences.
Common mental health conditions, such as depression, can happen to anyone at any time. Many people have struggled with depression for years, and for others, challenging times such as the ones we are all experiencing now can bring about symptoms of depression. Know that you are not alone, and help is available. If you or someone you care for feels depressed or needs support, the City of Philadelphia has numerous resources available, including HealthyMindsPhilly.org and CBHPhilly.org. You can begin your mental health check-up with a quick and anonymous mental health screening and continue reading to learn more about depression.
How do I know I might have depression?
If you struggle with depression, you can have trouble sleeping (sleeping too much or not enough), trouble concentrating, and very low energy. You can lose interest in activities you once enjoyed, lose confidence in yourself, and feel worthless. Some people have recurring thoughts of death or suicide and can often feel trapped or desperately alone.
Depression can be a very painful and frightening experience. For many, depression can show itself in angry outbursts, frequent crying, irritability, or problems at home, work, or school. Depression can feel like you are all alone, and you can’t imagine that anyone else feels as much pain as you do. Well, that’s not true. Depression affects 40 million families each year, and other people feel and have felt similar to you.
People are reluctant to seek help for many reasons, including embarrassment, shame, fear, and social stigma. For some people, hiding their depression seems like the only solution. For others, finding negative ways to cope (like excessive drinking, overeating, or withdrawal from others) is the only way to get through the day. Many people suffer in silence, waiting a long time to find ways to feel better and get the help they deserve.
Although it might be hard to imagine, if you or someone you care about struggles with depression, people can and do get better. Help, support, and treatment can make you feel better, and it all starts with a first step. We encourage you to check in on your mental and emotional health today, beginning with a quick and anonymous check-up. This beginning step can be the start to a healthier, happier you.
The second year of the B. PHL Innovation Fest is being held September 15-17 as a celebration of inspiration, connection, and innovation. With a focus on supporting COVID-19 recovery efforts, B. PHL will highlight innovative ways to kickstart the economy and help the Philadelphia region safely get back on its feet.
Several of the more than 75 scheduled sessions (and more being added daily!) of the free virtual festival will focus on mental health, including:
Sept. 15, 5-6 p.m., Lightning Talk Series: Greener for Good: Community leaders from Pennsylvania Horticultural Society, Overbrook Environmental Education Center and Greensgrow Farms will discuss the positive impacts of cleaning and greening vacant lots in urban neighborhoods, how COVID-19 has amplified the importance of having a clean and safe space outdoors, and what other cities throughout the country can do to revitalize their own neighborhoods.
Sept. 16, 10:30-11:30 a.m., Mindfulness Over Matter: In this workshop, Rana Walker, M.Ed., an Emmy-award-winning life coach, mental health therapist, writer, producer, and Yoga and Mindfulness teacher will demonstrate how to use mindfulness techniques to promote overall well being, reduce stress, and teach you how to release emotional wounds so that you can live free.
Sept. 16, 1-2 p.m., The Health of Millennials: A third of millennials have health conditions that reduce their quality of life and life expectancy, according to a 2019 study of medical claims by the Blue Cross Blue Shield Health Index. Join us to learn more about the breadth and depth of health challenges facing the millennial generation, including mental health, and hear from Philadelphia millennial civic leaders about how these issues are impacting local communities.
Sept. 16, 4:30-5 p.m., Above – a short film presented by the 5 Shorts Project: Above is the first short film from B. PHL co-founder, Dan Whitzer, and his filming partner, Alec Pezzano. The film is a metaphor for mental health and the internal battles we face everyday. The idea for the film came from the struggles Dan faces with his own mental health issues, battling with negative thoughts about himself, work, and life on a daily basis.
Sept. 17, 12-1 p.m.: The Well City Challenge: Stimulating Inclusive Civic Innovation: Research shows that millennials suffer from more health challenges than previous generations. That’s why the Economy League and Independence Blue Cross are combining forces to launch the Well City Challenge—a citywide social impact launchpad that will engage and support community entrepreneurs who have promising ideas for addressing millennial health challenges in communities across Philadelphia. Attendees will gain insight on the evolution of inclusive civic innovation in Philadelphia and learn how to apply to the Well City Challenge for a chance at $50,000 and extensive coaching to support their ideas for innovative social ventures!
Sept. 17, 5-6 p.m., Supporting Employee Mental Health: In this engaging conversation moderated by Philadelphia Magazine’s Queen Muse, Kevin Mahoney, CEO, Penn Medicine; Varun Choudhary, National Behavior Health Chief Medical Officer, Magellan Health; Cecilia Livesey, Chief of Integrated Services, Penn Medicine; and Kelly Greenwood, founder & CEO, Mind Share Partners, will discuss how employers can support their employees in this time and moving forward.
From the beginning, B. PHL was designed to feature diverse speakers and perspectives to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion, and this year, racial justice. The three-day event will feature a diverse lineup of speakers from across the country and around the world, as well as workshops, curated experiences and socially distant activations including virtual speed dating and chatroom style networking, wellness events, trivia and more.
Tickets to the festival are free of charge, with an option to donate to the PHL COVID-19 Fund. By registering here, attendees will gain access to the full suite of festival events and virtual experiences. For more information about the festival, event schedules, and to keep updated on the latest announcements, visit BPHLFest.com and follow B. PHL on Instagram @bphlfest, Twitter @BPHLFest, and Facebook @BPHLFest.
Hunter Robbins Suicide Prevention Coordinator Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS)
September is National Suicide Awareness and Prevention Month. This is a time to highlight the work being done to prevent suicide, spread awareness about helpful initiatives, and share resources within our communities. It is also a time to remember the importance of those with lived experience.
Lived experience as it pertains to suicide usually means one of two things: either you have lost someone to suicide (a survivor of suicide), or you have attempted suicide yourself and survived. Unfortunately, when we talk about suicide, those with lived experience are often left out of the conversation. Being a survivor of any traumatic experience is not easy. In 2018, there were 48,433 Americans who died by suicide, and a staggering 1.4 million who attempted suicide. To add to that, studies show that for every death by suicide, there are up to 135 people who can be affected by it. This means that in 2018, up to 8 million people could be considered to have lived experience.
Why is it important to highlight lived experience? Studies show that after an individual dies by suicide, there could be a significant increase of suicide risk for close friends and family. There is also evidence that shows individuals with at least one prior suicide attempt have a higher risk of attempting again than the general population. Those with lived experience not only have to carry the weight of their loss or previous attempt, but also have higher risk of dying by suicide themselves. If you know of someone who would qualify as having lived experience, I urge you to check in with them. Please listen without judgement and provide a safe space for them to share things that they wouldn’t typically share. Providing connection can lower suicide risk.
Those with lived experience have valuable voices that should be informing how we provide suicide care. Individuals who have attempted suicide and those who have lost a loved one know the behavioral health system better than most. They know the good and the bad. Their lived experience provides invaluable insight. Survivors should be offered places for them to inform the system and show what it means to care for someone struggling with thoughts of suicide. As behavioral health care providers and administrators, we should listen when they tell us what they need rather than force a solution that we think is best. Suicide care is a two-way street.
Talking about suicide loss or one’s own attempt is not easy, but it is necessary to change the stigmatizing culture that still exists. We must start to share our stories of recovery and connecting with those who have similar experiences. This will create safer communities. Communities where those with lived experience do not have to be fearful of how people will react to their stories, but instead be welcomed by resources and support. Suicide may be national public health crisis, but that does not have to be the case in Philadelphia. Please click here to read a lived experience story.
If you or a loved one is thinking about suicide, please do not hesitate to call the National Suicide Lifeline (1-800-273-8255) or text the Crisis Text Line (741-741). If you are within Philadelphia County and require crisis assistance, please call the Philadelphia Crisis Line (215-286-4420) or go to your nearest Crisis Response Center.
As important as each is, both recognitions have heightened relevance during the ongoing COVID pandemic, as stress and anxiety are magnified by isolation, fear for physical well-being, and fear for economic well-being — which may result in consideration of substance use for some and suicidal ideation for others.
Even before COVID, suicide was the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, with 1.4 million attempted suicides in 2018 and almost 50,000 lives lost. In 2020, Philadelphia has seen a 16.7 percent increase in deaths by suicide in comparison to 2019.
Philadelphia has numerous events planned for both recognitions throughout the month. We encourage you to take part to remind people they are not ever alone in Philadelphia.
Sept. 12: Recovery Walk, the centerpiece of Recovery Month. The 30,000-strong event will be virtual this year, taking place from 9:30 a.m. to noon.
Sept. 16: The Power of Peers – Keynote Speaker: Dr. Arthur Evans, Panel of Philadelphia Area Peers sharing Lessons Learned about Promoting and Supporting Recovery in a Pandemic. 6 p.m.
Sept. 23: A Conversation on Anti-Racism and Peer Recovery- Deputy Commissioner Roland Lamb, DBHIDS. 6 p.m.
Sept. 30: Recovery Month Grand Finale- “The Recovery Toolbox For All.” Closing keynote by Bill White. 6 p.m.
Suicide Prevention Awareness Month
Sept. 10: Suicide Prevention Day. DBHIDS and partners across the city will be wearing purple and buildings including Boathouse Row, the FMC building, the Benjamin Franklin Bridge, and others will be lit up in purple to show support.
Sept. 16: A Suicide Loss Survivors Panel will focus on survivors of suicide, including discussion with individuals who have lost someone to suicide.
Sept. 17: Training session will provide a framework for supporting an individual who may be thinking about suicide and how to connect them to help.
Sept. 30: Black Youth and Suicide panel discussion will focus on unique issues related to suicide and Black youths. — learn more at DBHIDS.org/black-youth-suicide
More information at DBHIDS.org on these events and others, including monthly suicide loss survivor support groups.