Back to School and Your Child’s Mental Health
Students are back in school, and we’re all getting back into our ‘school routines’. This can be a very exciting or a very stressful time for students as they embark on new experiences and face new challenges. Your child’s mental health is just as important as their physical health.
Here are some ways you can support your child’s transition back to school:
- Structure and routine are helpful for children. Establishing a consistent routine for your child will help your child adapt to the new school year.
- Encourage your child to get involved in school activities and support their interests.
- Encourage your child to make new friendships.
- Encourage your children to sleep well and eat healthy.
- Communication with your child is very important. Take time out of each day to sit down and ask your child how the day was and if there is anything he/she wants to talk about. Be prepared for silence and not always getting an answer. The important thing is that you are giving your child the opportunity to talk which tells them you care and are there to support them.
It is normal for children to have some anxiety at the start of school. This stress and anxiety should go away within the first few days or weeks. If the stress and anxiety does not go away, then it may be helpful to talk to your child’s teacher and physician. If problems continue, you may want to consider professional mental health care assistance.
Bryan Medical Center Mental Health Services has professionals available to assist you and your family. The Bryan Counseling Center offers outpatient services. We have specialists who work with children and adolescents, as well as families. We also have a mental health nurse available 24/7 in the Bryan West Campus Emergency Department for crisis situations.
Resources for You
Here’s wishing you and your family a successful transition back to school! Learn more about our services here. Online confidential depression and other mental health screenings are available here on our online screenings page. To schedule an appointment, call 402-481-5991.
Mark Your Calendar!
National speaker and parenting expert Robert Brooks, PhD will be in Lincoln providing a free community education program for parents and others interested in raising responsible and respectful children.
Here is the program information. It is free, but preregistration is required.
- Raising a Self-Disciplined Child with Dr. Robert Brooks, author and psychologist from Harvard Medical School
- Monday, October 7, 7-8:30 p.m.
- Bryan East Campus, Plaza Conference Center, 1500 S. 48th St., Lincoln, Neb.
- To learn more or register, call 402-481-8886 or visit our calendar.
Grief versus Depression
Each of us experiences grief at varying stages in our life. Grief is a normal reaction. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration defines grief as the normal response of sorrow, emotion and confusion that comes from losing someone or something important to you. It is a natural part of life. Grief is a typical reaction to death, divorce, job loss, a move away from family and friends, or loss of good health due to illness.
Grief has been described as an empty or numb feeling. Some individuals indicate they have had physical changes such as trembling, nausea, trouble breathing, muscle weakness, dry mouth, or trouble sleeping and eating.
Sometime grief brings the feelings of anger and guilt. Some individuals may withdraw socially and have a difficult time returning to life’s routine such as work. It is important to take care of oneself when grieving and to manage these feelings appropriately. Some individuals accept and learn to live with their loss within a few months and others take years to adapt. The grief process is different for everyone.
The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Administration outlines the grieving process in four steps:
- Accept the loss
- Work through and feel the physical and emotional pain of grief
- Adjust to living in a world without the person or item lost
- Move on with life
Many of the symptoms I mentioned above are similar to the feelings and behaviors of someone who is depressed. Depression is a serious but treatable condition where the symptoms impact the way a person thinks, feels and behaves every day for at least two weeks.
Symptoms of depression include:
- Feeling sad or "empty"
- Feeling hopeless, irritable, anxious or guilty
- Loss of interest in favorite activities
- Feeling very tired
- Not being able to concentrate or remember details
- Not being able to sleep, or sleeping too much
- Overeating, or not wanting to eat at all
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps or digestive problems.
If a person feels like they may be depressed, it is important to seek treatment. If someone is having thoughts of suicide, it is important to go to the nearest emergency department or call 911.
Bryan offers free online depression screenings here.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
June is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month and June 20 is PTSD Screening Day. In the U.S., 70 percent of adults have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives and up to 20 percent of these people will develop PTSD. Sometimes traumatic events affect an entire community, such as the Boston Marathon bombings. In other instances, traumatic events can affect an individual.
Examples of traumatic events that can lead to PTSD include:
- Natural disaster
- Car accident
- Acts of violence, war or terrorism
- Media coverage of traumatic events
Most individuals will have stress-related reactions following a traumatic event, but not everyone will develop PTSD.
Symptoms of PTSD generally last four weeks or more and can make it hard for an individual to function in daily life. Symptoms include:
- Reliving the event through nightmares and flashbacks
- Avoiding situations that remind you of the event such as large crowds or driving a car
- Developing negative changes in beliefs or feelings
- Feeling hyper-alert or easily startled.
PTSD is often associated with members of the military and veterans, but it is important to know that PTSD can affect anyone. While combat veterans do have a high rate of PTSD, we also see PTSD in members of the public especially among first responders, victims of violence, or those affected by natural disasters.
We offer free and anonymous screenings, providing a comfortable and private way for individuals to assess their symptoms. While the screenings are not diagnostic, they will indicate existing symptoms and if further assessment by a clinician is advisable.
To take an anonymous screening, visit http://www.mentalhealthscreening.org/screening/BRYANHEALTH
Heart Disease and Depression
Reports have shown that half of Americans will experience a mental illness at some point in their lifetime. One of the most common mental illnesses is depression. Depression can impact anyone at any point in their lifetime. Research conducted over the last 20 years shows that people with heart disease are more likely to suffer from depression compared to healthy individuals. It is also known that individuals with depression are at a greater risk for developing heart disease and have a lesser chance of survival from a heart attack compared to a non-depressed individual. Someone suffering from the symptoms of depression may find it more difficult to take the medications and follow other recommended treatment for their heart disease.
Symptoms of depression include the following (Source: National Institute of Mental Health)
- Persistent sad, anxious, or "empty" feelings
- Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
- Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
- Irritability, restlessness
- Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex
- Fatigue and decreased energy
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions
- Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping
- Overeating, or appetite loss
- Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts
- Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.
If symptoms are present every day for at least two weeks and interfere with routine daily activities such as work, self-care, and childcare or social life, seek an evaluation for depression. If having thoughts of suicide/self harm please seek medical attention right away by calling 911 or going to the nearest emergency department. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is available at 1-800-273-8255.
Depression is a serious medical condition that impacts person’s thoughts, feelings, and the ability to function in life. It is estimated that 10 percent of American adults will experience some form of depression in a year. Unfortunately, less than half seek the help that they need. Therapies are available to help with the symptoms of depression. 80-90% of those who seek treatment find relief for their depressive symptoms.
The combination of heart disease and depression is one that should be taken seriously. Treating depression will help manage both diseases and enhance quality of life. Work closely with the physician who is caring for your heart disease and with a mental health professional who will also work closely with your heart physician. Examples of mental health professionals are psychiatrists, psychologists, therapists, and social workers. The Bryan Counseling Center has staff available to help individuals adjust from a medical diagnosis to living life.
Preventing Violence Through Increased Connectedness
There has been a lot written lately about violence in schools, communities, and in society in general. A lot has been written about steps our Government can take to help with this issue. It is important that we focus on things each of us can do to help prevent violence in our neighborhoods and communities. Increasing community connectedness is something we can all do and should do to help promote and increase in ourselves and others.
Research supports that the more connected an individual is to their family, friends, and their community, the less likely that individual will be to act out in self destructive ways towards themselves or others. Everyone should ask themselves how we can help our community increase the level of connectedness. Community connectedness is sometimes also referred to as social connectedness. There are many avenues to social connectedness in our community including social networks such as school clubs community clubs, organized sports, neighbors, and support/self-help groups. Connectedness can be achieved through attending or referring others to a support group, joining a club, joining a school activity, participating in an organized sport, or engaging in any healthy activity with others in your community on a regular basis.
If ever concerned about you or someone’s safety please go to the nearest Emergency Department or call 911. If wanting to know what services there are in your area please visit www.dontbesidelined.com if interested in the different support groups in your community please visit www.thekimfoundation.org and search under the “Finding Help” tab and clicking on “support groups” tab to find a listing of support groups in your town or nearby town in Nebraska. The local newspapers, blue pages of phone book, mental health agency, or hospital are good resources for support group listings as well.
Take a look at your level of connectedness and decide if you have connectedness to family, friends, and the community (social) or if you are concerned about someone help them increase their level of connectedness. It is through everyone’s collective effort that we can prevent violence in our community by supporting and engaging in activities that promote increased connectedness.
December, 2012: Does This Time of Year Leave You Feeling Blue?
The holiday season is fast approaching! The leaves are changing, it is getting colder, and the days keep getting shorter. For many people, a change in weather can trigger Seasonal Affective Disorder or what is commonly known as SAD.
SAD is a depression that occurs each year at the same time, usually starting in fall or winter and ending in spring or early summer. This mood disorder is often attributed to the lack of light during the colder months of the year. Between 10 and 20 percent of the U. S. population may suffer from mild symptoms associated with the disorder, and 75 percent of those are women.
Symptoms of SAD can include:
- Excessive sleeping or feelings of extreme fatigue
- Overeating and weight gain during the fall or winter
- Inability to maintain regular lifestyle schedule
- Depression (feelings of sadness, loss of feelings, apathy) and irritability
- Lack of interest in social interactions, losing interest in activities of enjoyment
- Remission of symptoms in the spring and summer months.
SAD is a diagnosable disorder that may require treatment. If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms of this treatable condition, Bryan Medical Center invites you to take advantage of free, anonymous online screening. You will receive immediate feedback as well as information as to where to seek help if necessary.
October, 2012: Mental Illness Awareness Week
October 7-13 is Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW). This is a good time to learn about serious mental illnesses such as major depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia.
Mental illness is a medical illness. It does not discriminate. People from all walks of life, at all ages, may experience mental illness. One in four adults experiences a mental health problem in any given year. One in 17 adults lives with a serious mental illness.
Treatment works, but only if a person can get it. Bryan Health is proud of our long-standing and comprehensive treatment services for children, adolescents, adults and seniors. The earlier symptoms are identified and treatment is sought, the better the outcomes.
Please join Bryan Mental Health Services and the Lincoln Mental Illness Awareness Week Committee as we work together to educate the public about mental illness during this week.
Here are some ways you can be involved:
- Wednesday, October 10 - Piles Upon Piles: Helping People Who Hoard with Gail Steketee, PhD, from the Boston University of Social Work. The program is at Bryan East Campus, 1500 S. 48th St., from 7-8:30 p.m. A health fair featuring local resources will take place from 6:30-7 p.m. and 8:30-9 p.m. To register, call 402-481-8886 or register online.
- Thursday, October 11 - This is National Depression Screening Day. Our free, online screenings are available at all times.
During MIAW, let's all talk with friends and neighbors about mental illness and recovery. It's an opportunity to learn facts and end myths to help break the stigma - and silence - that too often surrounds the topic.
By changing attitudes about mental illness, we can change lives.
August, 2012: Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
Everyone has double checked something in their life.
An example would be making sure your front door is locked before leaving for work. Individuals with Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) feel the need to check on things repeatedly, or feel the need to carry out routines and rituals repeatedly. An example would be repeatedly double checking to make sure your door is locked before leaving for work. This repetition may actually make them late for work.
The frequent thoughts one has with OCD are called obsessions. In an effort to control the obsessions, an individual may have an urge to repeat certain rituals or behaviors called compulsions. Individuals with OCD have a difficult time controlling obsessions and compulsions which can be time consuming and can create distress. These symptoms can interfere with a person’s ability to function socially, occupationally or educationally.
OCD can start as early as childhood. OCD is an anxiety disorder, and getting a correct diagnosis is important.
July 2012: Ask a Question, Save a Life
Suicide is a preventable public health concern that impacts all ages.
Suicide ranks as the 10th overall leading cause of death in the United States. It ranks as the 3rd leading cause of death for our youth. It is important to know that suicide is a threat that impacts all demographics and is preventable.
There is a myth in society that says if we talk about suicide it will give someone the idea. This myth is one reason individuals are hesitant to bring the subject out in the open. This myth is indeed a myth. One of the best things we can do is to talk about suicide. Raising the question of suicide without shock or disapproval shows that you are taking the person seriously and responding to their pain. If you know of someone in crisis seek help immediately.
- Call 1-800-273-8255 to reach a 24-hour crisis center or dial 911 for immediate assistance or go to the nearest emergency department. The Bryan West Emergency Department provides emergency mental health care/crisis assessments to determine if hospitalization is needed. It is available 24 hours a day 7 days a week located at 2300 South 16th Street.
- Call the Lincoln Lancaster Community Mental Health Center Crisis Line at 402-441-7940.
It is important that we continue to educate ourselves about suicide prevention. Bryan Medical Center along with other entities collaborated with Nebraska Educational Television to produce a video called, “Ask a Question: Save a Life”. This video focuses on three high risk group, youth, military, and the elderly. Click here to watch the video now.
May 2012: A Mental Check-Up
Most of us have an annual physical but one of our most critical organs tends to go “under the radar.”
Our brains are the control centers for our bodies -- but how often do we make lifestyle choices that take our “gray matter” into consideration? The amount of alcohol we drink is an example. Or the amount of sleep we get each night. Even neglecting to take steps to alleviate the stress in our lives can impact us. All of these things can take a toll on our brains and contribute to mental health problems like depression.
Why not take a free, online screening to give yourself a confidential check up from the neck up. You can take a screening for alcohol, depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety, posttraumatic stress disorder or eating disorders– it’s totally anonymous and will only take up a few minutes of your time.
Click here to take a free, confidential health screening by Bryan Mental Health Services.