It’s the height of summer, and wherever you are, it’s likely that the weather is pretty stifling in your neighborhood. You might feel like it’s a bit difficult to stay focused, and according to the science, it’s not your imagination. As recently published research indicates, it really is harder to think when the temperature goes up. So try to stay cool, and cut yourself some slack if you’re not feeling sharp.
Unfortunately, another topic that has been near the top of the news lately is suicide. As with many other issues, attention to suicide seems to heighten when a well-known public figure is involved. This time, the suicides of celebrity chef, author and TV personality Anthony Bourdain, as well as that of fashion designer Kate Spade, occurring within days of each other, once again brought suicide into the public conversation.
While the loss of high profile individuals is often the focus of attention to the issue, the reality is that suicide is a national epidemic that reaches into thousands of communities nationwide. In its most recent “Vital Signs” report, available at https://www.cdc.gov/vitalsigns/suicide/index.html, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that suicide rates have increased by more than 30% in half of US states since 1999. It also found, somewhat surprisingly, that suicide is not a traditional mental health issue, with only 54% of people having a known mental health condition. Other factors, such as relationships, substance use, physical health, and job, money, legal, or housing stress, play an equally large role.
Those types of factors, that reflect the complexity of suicide beyond clinical mental health diagnosis, are what advocates in the mental health recovery community know as “social determinants.” The negative impact of social determinants can lead to trauma, and the question of what happened to an individual can be far more illuminating than what might be “wrong” with them. It’s typical for the public to think of suicide as a mental health problem, but as the CDC findings indicate, the reality is that this epidemic doesn’t fit within that clear cut frame
This is where the expertise of people with lived experience can make a difference. Their understanding of the complexity of maintaining recovery and wellness, and the way in which promoting and sustaining positive mental health must be thought of in all dimensions of life, is something essential that the mental health recovery community can bring to the table in this moment. People who have lived through trauma and found a way to thrive in recovery are needed to help show their communities that is hope.
One way to share stories of hope and recovery is to get involved with Recovery Month, which is coming up in September. SAMHSA recently released its Recovery Month Toolkit, with a theme of “Join the Voices for Recovery: Invest in Health, Home, Purpose, and Community.” You can find out about events and access tools to share the recovery message at www.recoverymonth.gov.
There are also suicide prevention resources available at www.samhsa.gov/suicide-prevention, if you are looking for information to help you start the conversation about suicide.
Your recovery advocacy voice is needed, and we sincerely hope you share it!
For more news and notes, see below.
Campus Mental Health Know Your Rights: A Guide for Students Who Want to Seek Help for Mental Illness or Emotional Distress
With the fall around the corner, now is a good time for students with mental health needs to familiarize themselves with their rights. This publication from the Bazelon Center is a great place to start.
As A Mental Health Crisis Sweeps Across Colleges, Students Step Up To Fix It
With increasing demand for mental health support on college campuses, some students are adopting a peer-to-peer approach and looking to each other for the support they need.
Mental Health is a College Stumbling Block; For Students of Color, It Can Be a Wall
While mental health issues present challenges for students of all kinds, the difficulties for students of color can be especially acute, as discussed in this Boston Globe article.
July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
In 2008, the U.S. House of Representatives designated July as National Minority Mental Health Awareness, with the goal of improving access to mental health treatment and services through increased public awareness.
To find resources and learn about the disparities faced by minorities, visit https://nned.net/nmmham and https://minorityhealth.hhs.gov/omh/content.aspx?ID=9447.
Mental Health Declining Among Disadvantaged American Adults
American adults of low socioeconomic status report increasing mental distress and worsening well-being, according to a new study by Princeton University and Georgetown University.
iNAPS 2018 Conference Call for Proposals
The International Association of Peer Supporters is seeking proposals from presenters for the 12th annual international peer support conference. Reinforcing our Roots: Designing Our Future is the theme of this year’s conference, which promises to be an exciting and inspiring event.
The event will be held at the DoubleTree by Hilton Hotels in Orlando, FL on December 3-5, 2018.
The deadline for submissions is August 10th, 2018.
Find the presentation proposal form at https://form.jotform.com/80817949784173
Peer Workers in the Behavioral and Integrated Health Workforce: Opportunities and Future Directions
This article from the American Journal of Preventive Medicine, which appears in an issue dedicated to the behavioral health workforce, describes the experiences of peer
Workers and the organizations that employ them as progress toward the integration of peer support services into the service delivery system progresses.
Telebehavioral Health Finding its Niche
Health systems are embracing telehealth and digital apps to improve workflow and reduce costs around behavioral health.
Job Searching with a Mental Health Condition
Looking for a job presents unique challenges for people with mental health conditions. This MHA blog post offers some helpful tips on going about it.
Self-Employment for People with Psychiatric Disabilities: Advantages and Strategies
People with mental health conditions can face challenges in entering the employment market for a variety of reasons. This article, published in the Journal of Behavioral Health Services & Research, outlines the advantages of self-employment for people with psychiatric disabilities, which include opportunities for self-care, additional earning, and career choice.
International Trauma Summit – World Federation for Mental Health
The World Federation for Mental Health will host an International Trauma Summit in Houston this November. This event will bring stakeholders together to discuss effective responses to trauma and its impact on global health, productivity and stability.
Learn more and register at https://wfmh.global/trauma-summit/
Language Is Key to Easing the Stigma of Mental Illness
As this Psychology Today article explains, the way we talk about mental health is central to changing public attitudes toward it.
Hyping Biological Nature of Mental Illness Worsens Stigma
Some mental health advocates have long relied on a biological framework when discussing mental health, to counter the notion that individuals with mental health conditions are somehow morally deficient. However, a number of studies, as detailed in this Baltimore Sun piece, have found that biological explanations do not improve attitudes toward those with mental health issues.
Puerto Rico Ramps Up Mental Health Training
One of the less visible effects of Hurricane Maria has been PTSD. Many Puerto Ricans are dealing with trauma related to the storm, especially as the next hurricane season begins.
Risk of Being a Crime Victim Goes Up with Mental Illness Diagnosis
As reported by Reuters, recent research has found that a mental health diagnosis is associated with a significantly higher chance of becoming a crime victim.
A Guide for Taking Care of Yourself After Your Treatment in the Emergency Department
For individuals that undergo hospitalization as a result of a mental health crisis, transitioning back into the community in the days after being discharged can be a major challenged. SAMHSA has three guides to help those engaged in that process, with one each for individuals with mental health conditions, family members, and providers.
Family version: https://store.samhsa.gov/product/SMA18-4357ENG
Medical providers: https://store.samhsa.gov/product/SMA18-4359
Survey on Lived Experience and Mental Health Activism
Do you have lived experience of emotional distress, neurodivergence, and/or behavioral health treatment? Are you a Mad Pride, neurodiversity, or psychiatric survivor activist? A mental health advocate? Then please consider taking this survey from researchers at the University of South Florida. They are seeking participants who have lived experience of “mental difference,” i.e. characteristics, traits, states, and phenomena that have been categorized as symptoms of mental disorders or developmental disorders, and/or lived experience of behavioral health treatment, and who have engaged in any form of advocacy. This is an online survey lasting approximately 20-25 minutes. Participants will be asked questions about their mental health related experiences, involvement with activism, and viewpoints on sociopolitical issues within the mental health arena. Every 30th participant will receive a $50 gift card up to five cards.
Contact Emily Cutler at email@example.com
Directly access the survey at https://usf.az1.qualtrics.com/jfe/form/SV_acaniQNBp7Z7f81.
Behind Bars, Mentally Ill Inmates Are Often Punished For Their Symptoms
By some accounts, nearly half of America’s incarcerated population is mentally ill — and journalist Alisa Roth argues that most aren’t getting the treatment they need. Roth chronicles her findings in the book, Insane: America’s Criminal Treatment of Mental Illness.
New Virginia Law Mandates Mental Health Education In Public Schools
As reported by NPR, Virginia recently became the second state to mandate mental health education, joining New York.
Prioritizing Opportunities to Advance the Field of Trauma-Informed Care
Earlier this spring, the Center for Health Care Strategies (CHCS) convened nearly 100 health care providers, payers, researchers, and leaders from the health, education, and philanthropic sectors in New York City to explore opportunities for accelerating the adoption and integration of trauma-informed care across the health care system.