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23 Sep


This weekend Southwest Florida is celebrating 17 years of NAMIWalks, which is the nation’s largest mental health awareness and fundraising event.

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

The entire community is invited to join NAMIWalks on Saturday in Fort Myers Centennial Park where nearly 400 participants are signed up to join the NAMIWalks 5K in an effort to raise money to battle mental illness.

If  you don’t feel you are able to walk a 5K, there are other ways to particpate. You can be a sponsor of the event, as well as a committee member, team captain, team member, individual walker, or just volunteer to help.

If you would like to register or want to find out more information about the event, and what you can do to contribute, visit the NAMIWalks page here.


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21 Sep

LEXINGTON — A community organization chapter for parents who have lost children is hosting Jeremy and Bailey Koch in an open meeting for those who struggle with depression and mental illness.

The Compassionate Friends is a worldwide organization with over 600 chapters in all 50 states and are present in 30 other counties. The group offers support, friendship and understanding to bereaved parents, siblings, grandparents and other family members during the natural grieving process after a child has died.

Marcia Holtz, with the Lexington chapter of Compassionate Friends said their meetings are normally closed to the public, the grief of losing a child is best understood by someone who has been in the same situation.

During their October meeting, however, they will be hosting a meeting open to the public and have invited Jeremy and Bailey Koch to speak at a meeting titled, “Anchoring Hope for Mental Health.”

Having heard Jeremy speak previously, the Lexington Chapter invited the Kochs to speak about their struggle and journey through mental illness, Holtz said some of the members of the chapter have lost children to suicide.

Jeremy and Bailey are the owners of Natural Escapes in Cozad and have two boys Hudson, 13, and Asher, 10.

Ten years ago Jeremy had been diagnosed with severe depression, he did not tell his wife, Bailey, initially about his diagnosis. Several different medications were tried, but they were wrong for Jeremy’s situation, his first suicide attempt followed a medication change, over the years he made five attempts to take his own life.

Jeremy survived each of these attempts and has been telling their story to help people find clarity and hope in their own depression and suicidal thoughts. He said it is very clear this is their ministry and attributes his success to his faith in God.

With no suicidal thoughts in over three years, Jeremy has a “Big Three,” when it comes to combating depression.

The first advice he gives people is to have faith in something bigger than themselves, something beyond the rush of day to day living. Secondly, he tells people the importance of a support network. Jeremy said his wife Bailey is his number one support. This support network also includes his pastor, talk therapist, psychiatrist, family and friends.

He described depression like a weight which would feel so heavy, some days Jeremy felt like he couldn’t get out of bed, even going through his day, he would feel weighed down. His support network enables Jeremy to talk about how he is feeling and they will help bear the weight by spreading it out to those who care about him and his wellbeing.

His third piece of advice is for people to maintain a healthy diet, including exercise, and using the proper medications. Jeremy said people need to see a brain specialist for medications, depression can be down to a chemical imbalance in the brain and the right combination of medications is extremely important and can help someone re-wire their thoughts.

When asked about the message he would share at the Compassionate Friends meeting, Jeremy plans to talk about his history with depression and will say to anyone struggling, “You are not alone.”

People start to open up after they have heard Jeremy and Bailey speak and realize the depression is bigger than them, “it’s not fair to struggle by yourself,” he said. He hopes to open up a conversation between people and let them know there is hope and they can get healthier.

In a 2014 therapy session, the therapist joked Jeremy and Bailey should write a book about their experience, Jeremy turned down the idea point blank. Yet he and his wife Bailey began to write down their experiences to reflect. In 2015 a publisher reached out to them and was interested in printing their story.

“Never Alone,” was published in 2015. “It’s not a fun read, but it is real and honest,” Jeremy said. After reading the book, many began opening up to Jeremy and Bailey and said it helped uplift them.

Around four years ago, the Kochs began speaking at different events and for the last two years, they have shared their story with every student who passes through the University of Nebraska at Kearney.

The family’s book publishing days were not over, they published a book aimed at families called, “When the House Feels Sad,” it talks about how parents and children can open up about depression.

Jeremy said he and his wife are happy to come and speak to any group and share their story, people can see depression from a unique situation.

The “Anchoring Hope for Mental Health,” meeting will be on Monday, Oct. 21 at 7:30 p.m. at the Concord Club House on 20th and Erie St. in Lexington. The public is welcomed to attend.

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21 Sep

Redding mother talks first-hand experiences with homelessness and mental illness  KRCRTV.COM

A Redding mother joined us on the tour of homeless camps in the Henderson Open Space on Wednesday. She kept wondering if she would run into her …

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18 Sep

When someone is experiencing a mental health crisis, often the only alternatives are jail or an emergency room. Neither of those alternatives is particularly helpful, and sometimes they can make a person’s condition worse. Nationwide, cities and counties are searching for cheaper and more therapeutic options.

Some are turning to Forensic Assertive Community Treatment, or FACT, teams — a way to provide a range of support services designed to keep people with serious mental illness out of the hospital and out of the criminal justice system.

Michael Falck is the FACT team’s program director.

Alisa Roth | MPR News

I went along with Michael Falck, who’s the program director for a FACT team in Hennepin County, to meet one of his clients, Kentrell Lamberson. 

He was at his mother’s apartment that day because he needed a place for his kids to go. So, we sat at a picnic table in the backyard, where Lamberson gave Falck an update on his last psychiatrist visit.

Lamberson reported the doctor was going to give him a blood pressure medication, he said, and probably lower his antidepressant dosage to help him “balance a little bit.”

The backyard of an affordable housing complex is not the most traditional place to meet with a mental health worker, but FACT teams are all about meeting people literally where they are.

The idea comes from ACT, or Assertive Community Treatment teams, which were developed in the 1970s, as states had shut down large numbers of psychiatric institutions. People who had been living in hospitals were now living in their communities and the mental health field realized very quickly is that some of those patients were having a really hard time with the transition.

So, a group of mental health workers in Wisconsin came up with the idea of ACT teams, which were designed to serve as ”hospitals without walls.” A team would make sure patients had all the services they’d had in the hospital to keep them on track: doctors, nurses, social workers, and housing and employment help. They found that these ACT teams worked pretty well at keeping those people out of the hospital.

They didn’t work so well at keeping people out of the criminal justice system, people like Kentrell Lamberson. He’s on probation for a drug charge. He kept getting sent back to jail on probation violations. He counts at least seven times before he started with the FACT team.

Kentrell Lamberson is a client of Hennepin County’s FACT teamKentrell Lamberson is a client of Hennepin County’s FACT team

Kentrell Lamberson is a client of Hennepin County’s FACT team.

Alisa Roth | MPR News

Lamberson has a serious mental illness, which complicates everything he does. He has children, no job and has been homeless on and off for years.

He knows he could end up in jail again if he doesn’t meet his probation requirements. But meeting them can be hard because of everything else that’s going on in his life. 

“When I’m in this type of situation, being homeless,” he said, “I have to put probation as … a priority. And like my kids, I have to make sure they have somewhere to sleep and somewhere to go.”

But because the FACT team works with the probation department, when the going gets tough, Falck or one of the other team members can make sure the department knows what Lamberson is dealing with. And they can help him deal with his current challenges.

Caseworkers come over, Falck said, and “we’d work on housing. We’d work on vocational stuff. We’d work on just organizing all the daily stressors. What do I need to focus on this week?”

FACT teams go further than that, trying to keep people out of trouble with the law generally. To do that, they focus on things that may increase someone’s risk of committing crimes, such as hanging out with the wrong people.

It sounds complicated, but a lot of it is just being available to the clients. Lamberson remembers when the team first started working with him.

“These guys, I mean, they followed me around everywhere,” he said. “I was homeless for a long time with my family. And they followed me from hotel to motel to Holiday Inn.”

He can call them anytime he wants, he said, “call them, text them, if I had their Facebook page, I’d be on there, too.” And for all kinds of things: “I call them for advice,” he said. “I call them for, if I’m low on food, I call them for a Cub Foods gift card sometimes. Or they take me to the food shelf. They take me to hospital visits. I call them for a friendly voice.”

It’s pretty obvious that for Lamberson, the program is working. But there are FACT teams all over the country and no there’s no real way to know whether they’re statistically effective at keeping people like Lamberson out of jail.

Researchers at the University of Rochester set up a similar program years ago in their upstate New York community and their data suggests it works pretty well. They helped design the program in Hennepin County — and another one in Ramsey County — to see if they can replicate the results.

Gary Cuddeback, a professor at the University of North Carolina’s social work school, said the available research suggests FACT teams are no magic bullet. Like a lot of things, he said, FACT programs work really well for some clients, but not for others.

“It works for some people under some circumstances some of the time,” he said. “But to say it cures or addresses, keeps folks out of the criminal justice system completely and it does that completely is not where we are with the evidence.”

And so far, that seems to be the case for the Hennepin County team. Of the 60 or so people in the program, about half returned to jail after they started. (The probation officer who works with the team said the people probably got lesser punishments, thanks to the program, than they would have otherwise.)

It’ll be a few years before the Rochester team has results from their study in Minnesota. In the meantime, the FACT team will keep working with its clients, including Lamberson, who has a few more months on probation. Perhaps the best result for him is that he can stay in the program even when he’s completed his probation.

This reporting is part of Call to Mind, our MPR initiative to foster new conversations about mental health.

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18 Sep

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Changes in behavior are typical for many people during their teenage years, but sometimes big alterations in personality can be indicators of mental health issues. Getty Images
  • Some rebellious, irritable, or anxious behavior is a normal and healthy part of being a teenager.
  • However, when shifts in a teenager’s personality are more extreme, they may be indicators of a mental health issue.
  • Concerning behaviors can sometimes be prevented when parents talk to teens frequently and have an open dialogue with them that’s supportive.
  • Experts say even if parents aren’t sure whether or not a change in their teen’s behavior is something they should be worried about, it doesn’t hurt to check with a therapist, their child’s pediatrician, or a school counselor.

Any parent of a teenager knows, teens can be moody, distant, and defiant at times. But while this can sometimes be a source of stress and conflict for families, it’s also usually a completely normal part of being a teen.

“It’s important for parents to know this is normative behavior. Yes, it is hard. Yes, it is frustrating. But… putting it in that context is important,” said Laura Grubb, American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) spokesperson and director of adolescent medicine at the Floating Hospital for Children at Tufts Medicine Center.

In fact, Grubb said roughly 85 percent of teenagers “get through adolescence without too much angst.”

But what about that other 15 percent — the teens who may be facing other issues that aren’t easily identified.

How are parents supposed to recognize their need for help?

Healthline spoke with adolescent mental health professionals about 6 different areas where parents may notice a change in their teen’s behavior to distinguish what’s considered “typical” versus what could be “potentially concerning” indicators of a bigger mental health issue.

Typical teen behavior:

“One thing to understand about sleep with teenagers is that they actually have a very different biological clock compared to children and adults,” Grubb explained.

She said a teenager’s body naturally wants to sleep between 1 a.m. and 10 a.m., “So we’re kind of forcing them into a schedule that doesn’t work for their natural clock.”

In other words: It’s normal for a teenager to want to stay up and sleep in late.

Potentially concerning behavior:

On the other hand, if your teenager is routinely sleeping all day, isolating themselves from friends, repeatedly failing to get up for school, or if they’re struggling with either not being able to sleep at all, or needing more than 11 hours a night — all our experts agreed these could be signs of a bigger problem.

Typical teen behavior:

“It’s normal for teens to get moody, frustrated, and irritable from time to time,” explained Dr. Vinay Saranga, a child and adolescent psychiatrist in Apex, North Carolina.

“Adolescence is a period of transition and teens have to work through new emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Be supportive and open to talking so they know you are there,” he added.

Potentially concerning behavior:

Then again, if a teen’s moodiness is constantly escalating, if they seem unable to cope with normal settings without flying off the handle, and especially if they’re responding with violence, these are red flags that shouldn’t be ignored.

Typical teen behavior:

John Mopper, a licensed professional counselor and co-owner of Blueprint Mental Health, says it’s normal for teens to not want to do schoolwork.

Or conversely, for them to express “some stress about grades, worry about exams, and the impact of grades on their future.”

Potentially concerning behavior:

However, he explained this all becomes more concerning if teens are exhibiting true anxiety regarding schoolwork.

If your child isn’t able to bring themselves to study, even when they’re otherwise worried about their grades, if they have a hard time sleeping because they’re thinking too much about schoolwork, or if they’re unable to regulate their emotions about school — those are all potential reasons for concern.

Along those same lines, so are sudden fluctuations in grades, not caring about grades at all, or missing a large number of assignments.

Typical teen behavior:

“Some defiance is normal and healthy,” Mopper said.

“Wanting to go outside the norm, pushing back against household rules, periodically getting in trouble at school,” all of this, he explained, can be pretty common for teens.

Potentially concerning behavior:

However, it may indicate a bigger issue when a teen begins exhibiting more extreme rebellious behavior such as breaking laws or facing frequent detentions and suspensions from school.

If their defiance is threatening to impact their future, it’s time to seek outside help.

Typical teen behavior:

All our experts agreed that while parents may not like it, most kids will be in the position to at least experiment with alcohol prior to their 21st birthday. And the same is often true of marijuana use.

“This is why it’s so important to talk openly with your teen about peer pressure as well as the dangers of drugs and alcohol,” Saranga said.

Potentially concerning behavior:

While some experimentation may be normal, it becomes a cause for concern if your teen is binge drinking or turning to drugs and alcohol with any kind of frequency, whether that be weekend partying or to self-treat issues like anxiety and depression.

Typical teen behavior:

It’s not uncommon for teens to be somewhat secretive and to want some privacy from their parents when it comes to various aspects of their lives.

It’s also normal for them to want to make their own day-to-day decisions, without parental input — which may be why some teens choose to keep things from their parents occasionally.

Potentially concerning behavior:

This becomes a red flag if it develops into pathological lying, or when teens start lying to hide risky or dangerous behaviors.

Concerning behaviors can sometimes be prevented by talking to teens before things reach that point.

If you’re a parent who’s noticing some concerning signs, Grubb says it’s a good idea to sit down with your teen and let them know that.

“Don’t accuse, and don’t use stigmatizing language like ‘you’re being bad,’ or ‘you’re doing poorly in school,’” she said. “Instead, just let them know what you’ve noticed and tell them you’re concerned.”

“Say things like, ‘It seems like you’re not happy right now, how can I help you?’ or ‘Is there something you want to talk to me about?’” she added.

It’s also important to keep a cool head, according to Mopper.

He said parents sometimes let their own anxiety about what could go wrong take over, and that can get in the way of a calm and rational conversation.

“They catch their kid smoking pot, worry that they’re going to be eventually addicted to heroin, and send them off to a 90-day residential program,” he said. “Parents need to check their own emotions first and have an open and vulnerable conversation with their kids.”

“Any time a parent feels like they really have no idea what to do, that’s a good time to get a professional involved,” Saranga said.

This is especially true any time there are safety concerns.

Even if parents aren’t sure whether or not a change in their teen’s behavior is something they should be worried about, Mopper said it never hurts to reach out to a therapist.

Concerned parents can also try reaching out to their child’s pediatrician or school counselor for help.

“These things can be corrected by learning the skills that are missing and opening up dialogue within the family,” Mopper explained.

“I have seen many kids that were really struggling when they were 14 years old turn things around, kids who are now off at college and maintaining healthy relationships with friends and their family,” he said.

Adolescence can be hard, and kids today are dealing with a lot. But there are also more resources and options available than ever before that can assist families.

Grubb also pointed out that in many cases, parents can gain important perspective by simply taking a moment to remember their own adolescence.

“I think it’s important for parents to reflect on what they were like as teenagers. There’s not an adult [out there] who didn’t graduate adolescence,” she said.

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17 Sep

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness. Those individuals are family members, friends, neighbors and community members; perhaps everyone knows someone who is struggling with a mental health issue.

Actor Sean Astin lived with a parent struggling with bipolar disorder. His mother was acclaimed actress Patty Duke, who devoted much of her life to reducing the stigma of mental illness. Now, Astin is doing the same. He’s coming to Rochester as a guest of East House’s annual Hope and Recovery Luncheon where he’ll share his story and message, but first, he joins us on Connections.

We also talk with representatives from East House about recovery, how to care for caregivers, how to eliminate the stigma of mental illness, and more. Our guests:

  • Sean Astin, actor and advocate for mental health awareness
  • Kim Brumber, president and CEO of East House
  • Chuck Montante, board member for East House and president of Westfall Associates
  • Beth Bloom, peer support specialist at East House

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16 Sep

Hospital murder suspect’s past marked by addiction, mental illness and crime

A Baltimore, Ohio man charged for murder in a bizarre case last week has a long criminal record in Fairfield County and elsewhere, resulting from a lifelong …

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16 Sep

Mental health issues like depression and anxiety are a growing concern for college students. Demand for counseling services at University of Wisconsin campuses has increased by more than 50% since 2010. According to the World Health Organization, most lifetime mental disorders manifest before the age of 24. 

Psychologists with Wraparound Milwaukee, a service of the Milwaukee County Behavioral Health Division, are looking to increase awareness about the importance of early detection. They say spotting signs of mental illness early can connect patients to treatment sooner and lessen the severity of a diagnosis.

“When young people go off to college, they face certain stresses … and this can be the time that mental illnesses sometimes start to emerge,” says Dr. Steven Dykstra, a clinical psychologist with Milwaukee County Behavioral Health. “When they’re away from home, when they’re not in the company of people who know them well. And in some cases that can really delay and disrupt identifying those challenges.”

Dykstra says in order to distinguish between normal stress and something more serious, look at whether it’s disrupting one’s work performance, academic performance, and normal routine.

“It’s very appropriate to worry about your midterms,” Dykstra says. “It’s less appropriate to worry about your midterms all the time for weeks and weeks coming up, you’re not sleeping, you can’t get along with people … that’s a worry that’s gone too far.”

“When young people go off to college, they face certain stresses…and this can be the time that mental illnesses sometimes start to emerge.” – Dr. Steven Dykstra

Dr. Maria Elena Perez, director of behavioral health with Sixteenth Street Community Health Centers, says if a young person is emotionally struggling, they can reach out to a friend or, if they’re a student, their campus counseling center. But Dykstra notes that sometimes it’s hard to recognize those signs within yourself. 

“Family members who are away from these young adults, they can call, they can reach out, they can seek assistance,” Dykstra says. Milwaukee County Behavioral Health crisis services can be reached at 414-257-7222.

Perez says stigma still holds people back from asking for help, but “there’s movement.”

“I do see that young people are receptive to being more open about talking about what they’re struggling with,” Perez says.

The college years often come with an increase in risky behaviors, like alcohol use. Perez says staying away from unhealthy activities, getting adequate sleep, eating well, and keeping yourself from becoming socially isolated are important steps to prevent mental illness.

“Really taking care of oneself physically, I think that’s where it starts,” say Perez. “Unfortunately when one is faced with the first freedoms of young adult life, they want to stay out late, they want to party with their friends. Really just keeping that in moderation and scaling back when needed, it’s really important to have a healthy lifestyle.”

Have a question about education you’d like WUWM’s Emily Files to dig into? Submit it below.


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15 Sep

To say it’s tricky to find good representation of mental health and mental illness on television would be a vast understatement.

For every show that offers an accurate, well-rounded portrayal of what it means to live with anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder and others, it seems there’s another that makes a villain of its mentally ill character, uses their illness as a “superhuman” trait to solve problems or ignores it completely when the plot moves on to something else. Thankfully, there are shows that don’t do that — and they’re helping normalize something one in five adults in the United States experience every year.

Here are eight shows we think did a good job with mental health-related storylines.

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