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 [...]

2021-03-25T16:38:55-04:00January 15th, 2021|Depression, Older Adults|

National Depression Screening Day 2020

Author: Maria Boswell, Director, Health Promotion, Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services Every October, on National Depression Screening Day (NDSD), we encourage everyone to get “a check-up from the neck-up” and talk about mental health.  National Depression Screening Day (NDSD) seeks to educate, raise awareness, reduce stigma, and connect Philadelphians with mental health screenings and resources. How do I know I might have depression?  If you struggle with depression, you can have trouble sleeping (sleeping too much or not enough), 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 [...]

2021-01-28T23:11:12-05:00October 5th, 2020|Depression|

How to take care of your mental health during the coronavirus outbreak

by Dr. Sosunmolu Shoyinka, Chief Medical Officer, City of Philadelphia Department of Behavioral Health and Intellectual disAbility Services (DBHIDS) These are stressful and uncertain times. The evolving nature of the COVID-19 pandemic is very sudden and can be confusing. This may provoke anxiety for many people. Those with pre-existing anxiety and other mental health conditions may be particularly at risk. Individuals and teams whose work bring them in contact with infected persons may experience stress and anxiety. Other groups at risk for increased stress include the elderly, those caring for sick or vulnerable persons, and those experiencing significant changes to work, travel, or family life. Regardless of status or work function, we can anticipate that all of us will at some point experience some increased stress. At times like this, it is important to take steps to promote mental wellness and resilience. DBHIDS aligns with SAMHSA, the American Psychological Association, and the American Psychiatric Association to make the following recommendations: Connect with people: Reaching out to people you trust is one of the best ways to reduce anxiety, depression, loneliness, and boredom during social distancing, quarantine, and isolation. Make phone calls frequently, FaceTime, and text to stay connected.   Relax: Calm your body often by doing things that work for you—take deep breaths, stretch, meditate, pray, or engage in home-based [...]

2021-03-16T14:31:57-04:00March 20th, 2020|Anxiety, Awareness, Depression, Pandemic, Self-Help, Stress|

How to Talk to a Suicide Loss Survivor

Talking to someone who has lost a loved one to suicide is challenging to say the least. It presents challenges beyond the discomfort we commonly feel in the presence of grief. Despite our hearts being in the right place, the eagerness to comfort someone may mistakenly cause us to say something hurtful. The fear of compounding the loss survivor’s pain by saying the wrong thing may cause us to avoid those who are grieving. Let them know about the Suicide Loss Support Groups that happen throughout the month in our area. And below are some tips from the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention on navigating conversations with suicide loss survivors in a kind, thoughtful, and responsible way: “I don’t know what to say, but I’m here for you.” Suicide loss is complicated, devastating, dumbfounding. There are no easy answers and no easy fixes. Be a patient, nonjudgmental listener. Be a safe place for the loss survivor to give voice to their anger, frustration, fear, relief, sadness, or any other emotion they may feel.  Or just be there with them – the reassuring presence of someone who cares may offer a lot of solace. Refrain from saying, “I understand what you’re going through.” Because suicide loss is not like other losses, you cannot truly understand how the loss survivor is feeling. [...]

2019-09-10T13:50:25-04:00September 10th, 2019|Awareness, Depression, Suicide Prevention, Support|
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