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24 Sep

Countless open tabs with soon-to-be-finished papers litter laptop screens all around campus. Students frantically reading textbooks on train rides to their jobs and internships has become a common sight. It’s the fifth week of classes, and the work and stress is piling up.

With the pressures of classes, work and internships increasing, students barely have time to breathe, let alone take care of their mental health, setting up a dangerous precedent for the future.

Mental health disorders affect one in three college freshman, with the most common illnesses being depression and anxiety, the American Psychological Association reported in 2018.

There are plenty of on-campus resources for students dealing with mental health issues, like Tuttleman Counseling Services and the Psychological Services Center at Temple University Hospital. These resources are all available to students, but only if students seek help.

“Students feel there is a stigma around [discussing mental health]. Every time they act that way they perpetuate the stigma,” said Richard Heimberg, clinic director of the Adult Anxiety Clinic located in Weiss Hall and a psychology professor.

“I’ve seen lots of students fail courses because they didn’t want to admit they needed help,” Heimberg added.

Mental health issues can affect academic achievement, with approximately 83 percent of college students with emotional and behavioral disorders scoring worse than students without them in reading, math and writing, according to the National Center for Mental Health Checkups at Columbia University.

These difficulties only get worse after graduation, with the added responsibilities and stress of the workplace. Still, a 2018 study by the JED Foundation, a suicide prevention nonprofit, found that only two in 10 college seniors with diagnosed mental health conditions had plans for how to take care of their mental well-being after graduation.

“Ignoring mental health in this job can lead to terrible irritability, in all terms, a complete shutdown and lack of awareness of things around you, whether it be your team or your students,” said Aly Seechock, a teacher in North Philadelphia public schools since 2018. 

In her first year as an educator, she experienced burnout, which Mayo Clinic defines as a physical and emotional exhaustion due to chronic stress, from her new position, which negatively impacted her mental health, Seechock said.

There’s one thing that students can do to safeguard their mental health now and in the future: ask for help, whether it is your employer or professor.

“I would definitely be open to an employee coming up to me at any time and talking to me about what’s going on with them,” said Anita Dumas, an impact manager for a nonprofit education organization in Philadelphia. Dumas said she encourages her employees to schedule weekly and monthly check-ins with her to discuss their mental health.

The 2018 study by the JED Foundation also found that eight in 10 employers would welcome an employee approaching them about their mental health struggles.

There are a number of reasons why it would be difficult for students to seek out help with their mental health, like a lack of time and busy schedules. But if students can try their best to seek help to the best of their ability, it will benefit their lives now and in the future.

“If you don’t ask for help, you’re closing off a major lifeline,” Heimberg added.

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24 Sep

Robert Biale Vineyards has submitted a plan to the city for a single family home subdivision on the land that now hosts one of its vineyards, co-owner Bob Biale confirmed.

The land, which runs along El Centro Avenue and is bordered by residential housing in Napa, has been in Biale’s family since 1937. Biale and his siblings, Sandra Rossomando and Mark Biale, who each own equal shares of the vineyard, began discussing the fate of the property a few years after the death of their father, Aldo, almost a decade ago.

Biale said the planned development and sale of the land is part of a larger effort to settle the family’s estate, which gained traction after the death of their mother, Clementina, in April of 2017.

“The simple truth is in order to save some land, we had to sell some land. It’s not an easy decision by any means,” Biale said, adding that Aldo’s Vineyard, Biale’s vineyard on Jefferson Street, will remain. “The fact is it was my grandmother’s home site, and to give that up – you can’t replace that. In our mind, it’s priceless.”

Randy Gularte, the real estate broker who is working with Biale on developing the project, said the lot would encompass “approximately 53 single family homes”. Gularte’s team, which includes designer architect Kirk Geyer and civil engineering firm RSA+, is currently reworking the submission based on comments from the city of Napa, he said.

“We’re looking forward to making it work for the city, because we definitely need housing,” he added.

Ali Shull, whose home on El Centro Avenue directly faces the vineyard land in question – which Biale and his family call the “Home Ranch” – said she’d first heard “rumblings” about the land’s future about two and a half years ago.

“What we’ve heard is that they’re trying to be cognizant of the style (of the development),” Shull said, adding she perceives the family as respectful toward their neighbors. “I think it’s a sign of the times. They’re the people that are left from a family that has owned the land forever… it’s just progress.”

One neighbor, who declined to give their name because they said they had hired a lawyer to discuss seeking concessions from the developers, said they’d first learned of the proposed development about a year and a half ago, when Biale sent out a notice. They described themselves as resigned to the fact that the changes were “coming no matter what,” aware that the land is already zoned for housing. Their property backs up to vineyard land.

Home Ranch Vineyard and Aldo’s Vineyard, a registered historic vineyard, are two of a dwindling number of vineyards that still exist within Napa city limits. Aldo’s Vineyard is one of 11 registered historic vineyards in Napa Valley.

Gularte has worked on one other development built on existing vineyard land inside city limits, he said. That project, just off of Orchard Avenue in Napa, was purchased and is being built out by Lafferty Communities, a San Ramon based-firm.

Nothing will change from a wine-making standpoint, Biale said, since the timeline of the family’s decision to develop the land provided time to find new grape growing sites. The grapes from Home Ranch currently go into Biale’s Black Chicken Zinfandel, but the new vineyards should “come online” in time to replace any loss of fruit, according to Biale.

“It’s a personal loss, but like all things, goodness can come from it,” Biale said. “From a winery perspective, we’re gaining incredible new vineyard sites, and from the city point of view, they’re gaining a beautiful project. We think it’s the right call.”

There’s still much to be done for the project before any building begins, according to Gularte: he and his team are hoping to complete a second submission to the city in the next couple of weeks. The ensuing timeline will be dependent on whether or not the city’s comments are approving, he said. From there, the submission must go before the planning commission, and then before city council. If approved, the project must be purchased by a developer before any ground is broken, Gularte said, adding that “another growing year” could come and go for Biale before they sell the property.

Shull, who has lived in her home on El Centro for eight years, reminisced about the vineyard at harvest time – its absence will be a loss, she said, but one she added ultimately wouldn’t impact her quality of life.

“It’s sad – Napa changes, and it’s sad, but it’s life,” Shull added.

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23 Sep

Sen. Keith Perry and Reps. Chuck Clemons, Chuck Brannan and Clovis Watson Jr. listened to the public at the annual Alachua County Legislative Delegation meeting Monday.

Alachua County officials, leaders and citizens urged local legislators to fund initiatives concerning mental health, gun safety, development and other issues Monday at a public meeting with their representatives.

Sen. Keith Perry, R-Gainesville, and Reps. Chuck Clemons, R-Newberry, Chuck Brannon, R-Macclenny, and Clovis Watson Jr., D-Alachua, listened to the public at the annual Alachua County Legislative Delegation in the Fine Arts Hall on the Santa Fe College campus. The next legislative session is set to start in January but committee work already has begun.

The City of Gainesville’s new Intergovernmental Affairs Coordinator, Thomas Harrison, shared the city’s plan to expand its mental health facilities.

“Mental health has been quite an issue in the media,” he said. “And we would like to support an expansion of 10 beds for Baker Act screening for the area’s mental health central facility here.”

The Baker Act is a Florida law, passed in 1971, that allows a person to be involuntarily institutionalized for up to 72 hours if they are believed to be in danger of self harm or harming another.

The City of Gainesville is requesting $750,000 for the mental health bed expansion.

Stacy Scott, the public defender for the Eighth Judicial Circuit, said mental health issues are so important to the cases she and others cover, that an additional lawyer should be hired to better address mental health hearings in the circuit.

“Circuit-wide, we’ve experienced a dramatic increase in the number of Baker Acts,” she said. “Currently I have one full-time attorney that is dedicated to just the Baker Acts in Alachua County, but I also have five other counties and a number of state hospitals within my circuit.”

Community mental health services should be expanded for people before they even enter the criminal justice system, she said.

“If we can intervene in people’s lives and start treating mental illness much earlier in the process, we can keep folks from coming through my doors as a defendant,” Scott said.

Pamela Korithoski, president of the Alachua County Council of PTAs, said student mental health, as well as the reduction of gun violence and targeting of electronic cigarettes, are major concerns for families.

Alachua County Sheriff Sadie Darnell spoke briefly about gun safety, and the need for greater discussion on the topic is significant progress is to be made.

“We can’t do it if we are going to duck and run,” she said.

Darnell said the Florida Sheriffs Association suggests that legislation be passed to make it a third-degree felony for a minor to pose in a photo online with a weapon, as it could be considered a threat.

Scott, the public defender, voiced hesitation at this suggestion.

“It’s concerning to me,” she said. “Of course we don’t want any kinds of guns or threats going around about our schools, but you have to really think twice before you create new felonies where a young child could make a terrible mistake and then end up becoming a convicted felon for the rest of their life.”

Perry said it’s important for state legislators to look into what leads to mental health issues.

“We don’t know what the causes of these [mental health problems] are,” he said. My guess is it’s environmental factors. It’s not just genetics.”

Some community members also addressed the development of east Gainesville as a priority.

Outgoing SF College President Jackson Sasser, who will leave the school on Jan. 31, 2020, requested that legislators commit $17 million to complete the Blount Center, 401 NW 6th St., SF College’s east Gainesville location.

Sasser said “immoral” racial inequity in Gainesville is a motivating factor toward building up the school’s presence on the east side of town.

Gainesville City Commissioner Gigi Simmons echoed Sasser’s remarks on the potential benefits of the Blount Center.

“We heard Mr. Sasser speak before about how critical it is for east Gainesville and the residents of east Gainesville,” she said. “I also think this partnership between the University of Florida and Santa Fe College is critical for the development of east Gainesville.”

Alachua County School Board Chairman Rob Hyatt spoke about reinstating greater “local control” over public school system decisions.

The school board, Hyatt said, favors raising school property taxes to correspond with increased property values.

“Homeowners will pay $52 less in school property taxes this year than they did 10 years ago,” he said. “Despite the fact that the value of that home has increased by nearly $25,000.”

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23 Sep

Sophie Kwiatkowski provides a snapshot of some of the updates announced for the 2019/20 tax year.

Although you may be in the process of having your 2018/19 tax return completed for the 31 January 2020 deadline, we are currently in the 2019/20 tax year. This runs from 6 April 2019 to 5 April 2020.

So, what is new for the 2019/20 tax year?

Personal tax

The personal allowance is £12,500. The budget announced that the personal allowance will be frozen at £12,500 for 2020/21. The basic rate band limit has been increased to £37,500, with tax rates staying the same (basic rate is 20%, higher rate is 40% and additional rate is 45%). The lifetime allowance for pensions was increased to £1,055,000.

Employment tax

These points will be of interest if you have employees with benefits.

From 6 April 2019, the figure used as the basis for calculating the benefit for employees who receive free private fuel from the employer for company cars is increased to £24,100.

From 2020/21, there will be a new range of low-emission percentages when calculating car benefits. There is also the introduction of an ‘electric range’, which is the number of miles that is essentially the maximum distance for which the car can be driven in electric mode without recharging the battery.

There were new salary sacrifice rules that impose a cost on the taxable benefits based on the value of the amount of salary given up if this is greater than the charge that would otherwise be due.

Corporation tax

The rate of writing down allowance on the special rate pool is reduced from 8% to 6%.

There has also been a temporary increase in the annual investment allowance (AIA). For expenditure on or after 1 January 2019, the maximum AIA is increased to £1 million (previously £200,000). This means you can gain tax relief on assets purchased for your practice to a much higher value than before. This is only for a two-year period, so make the most of it.

This is just a snapshot of some of the tax updates announced, so if you want to know more on any of the points raised, speak to your accountant.

For more information visit

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23 Sep

As mentioned last week, to generate discussion and stimulate action toward resolving a major heath issue, Sept. 8-14 was designated as National Suicide Prevention Awareness Week. What I failed to mention is that September is Suicide Prevention Month. I was reminded of this by a U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs press release that encourages veterans, community leaders, co-workers, families and friends to use this month to help prevent suicide by being present, supportive and strong for those veterans who may be going through a difficult time. This campaign is tagged with the message “#BeThere.” As mentioned last week, veterans are 21% more likely to take their life than civilians. Of the more than 45,000 Americans who die by their own hand each year, an estimated 6,000 are veterans.

Veterans Affairs Secretary Robert Wilkie said in the release: “I encourage everyone to take a moment to be there for Veterans in need. One act of thoughtfulness can make a big difference and may even save a life.” You can learn more about the warning signs of suicide on the Veterans Crisis Line website at

Most people do not have any direct connection to the unique challenges and pressures of military life. Less than 1% of today’s U.S. population is currently serving in the military, as compared to 12% during World War II. We know even less about the difficulties veterans have in adjusting to civilian life.

Much of the focus today is on the growing number of younger veterans who commit suicide. It is important to recognize that statistics show the suicide rate for elderly veterans is higher than that of nonveterans of the same age. Veterans struggling with suicide are not always wrestling with recent memories of combat. Many veterans are never deployed to a combat zone. For them, service-related issues can lie dormant, only to crop up later in life.

The VA emphasizes the importance of getting potentially suicidal veterans in the door, where health care workers are trained to deploy a range of treatments. For older male veterans, what complicates their risk factor is their tendency to reject treatment for mental health issues.

To the issue of care, studies show that U.S. veterans hospitals often prove to be better options than nearby alternatives. In a recent study, researchers looked at 121 regional health care markets with at least one VA hospital and one non-VA facility. According to a report in Annals of Internal Medicine, across all regions, the VA was shown to be consistently better than non-VA facilities on almost every quality measure. The VA offers new programs, initiatives and advanced trainings, as well as renovations and improvements to health care facilities. The VA was also the best or above average in most markets for treating heart attacks, heart failure and pneumonia, among other conditions.

What the VA and other health care providers have to do a better job of is preparing for the changing profile of patients needing care.

According to the Population Reference Bureau, the number of Americans 65 and older is projected nearly to double from 52 million in 2018 to 95 million by 2060, rising from 16% of the population to 23%. This shift is unprecedented in U.S. history.

Among the health concerns for this aging population are obesity rates. They have been increasing among adults 60 and older, standing at about 41% in 2015-2016.

Population Reference Bureau data show the aging of the baby-boom generation could fuel more than a 50% increase in the number of Americans 65 and older requiring nursing home care. That would result in about 1.9 million in 2030, as opposed to the 1.2 million in 2017. The demand for elder care will be driven by a steep rise in the number of Americans living with Alzheimer’s disease, which could more than double by 2050.

This aging population has generated a new sociological term: elder orphans. It speaks to a large majority of older people who are living alone. It represents a major threat to mental or physical health. These seniors are living alone with little or no support. When they are fending for themselves, childless and spouseless, they are extremely vulnerable. It is unclear how many older adults are elder orphans, but a 2016 study suggested 22% of older adults were at risk. Some of this population is, or will be, veterans.

Let this stand as a reminder that we should not assume an older veteran is doing fine unless we know that to be true.

Write to Chuck Norris at with questions about health and fitness.

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22 Sep

OKLAHOMA CITY – Every student at EPIC Charter Schools will now have access to mental health counseling thanks to a partnership between EPIC and YouthCare of Oklahoma and YCO Alliance.

The initiative, which includes free counseling for EPIC students, was announced in recognition of National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month. 

Additionally, EPIC faculty and staff will continue to have access to free counseling sessions from Chance to Change, an Oklahoma City-based mental health and substance abuse counseling nonprofit with 40 years of experience. Services can be utilized in person but are guaranteed via phone or video conferencing. Employees also have access to online courses pertaining to self-care and mental health awareness.

EPIC Superintendent Bart Banfield said the time has come to end the stigma surrounding the discussion of mental health issues, especially in the state’s school systems.

According to the most recent data (2017) from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, suicide ranked as the eighth-leading cause of death in Oklahoma. The state has the 15th highest suicide rate among the 50 states. Nationally, in the same year, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention, 7.4 percent of youth in grades 9-12 reported at least one suicide attempt in the last 12 months.

If  you or someone you know is in crisis, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or contact the Crisis Text Line by texting TALK to 741741.

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21 Sep

More visitors are spending more money and more time in Napa Valley, leading to higher hotel revenue and daily room rates. And while new local hotels have opened in recent years, occupancy remained relatively stable, dipping less than a percent over the previous 12 months.

The data was reported by Visit Napa Valley during its annual Partnership Conference on Thursday afternoon at the Napa Valley Performing Arts Center at Lincoln Theater in Yountville.

“The hospitality experience of the Napa Valley is second to none compared to other wine regions. That’s why the numbers are the way they are,” said Linsey Gallagher, Visit Napa Valley CEO, in an interview on Tuesday. “We’re very fortunate.”

That being said, Gallagher said her team is also watching for signs of recession or other potential challenges.

However, the overall picture is favorable, according to Gallagher. The average daily room rate for a Napa County hotel room rose 7 percent from July 1, 2018 to June 30, 2019. The average rate is now $327 per night. Lodging room revenue for that same 12 months rose 8 percent, from $33.6 million to $36.3 million.

Occupancy dipped slightly, from 71.2 percent to 70.7 percent.

That’s good news, said Gallagher. “We’ve had some new (lodging) properties come on line and this shows there is room for everyone to be successful even with new entrants in this market.”

“I don’t feel were in a position of oversupply” of lodging rooms, said Gallagher. “Supply and demand are balanced.”

At the same time, Napa Valley can’t rest on its laurels, said Gallagher.

Other destinations are striving to become the alternative to Napa Valley, she cautioned. “They are getting their act together at other destinations about having a compelling reason to visit. We’re going to have to be creative and be scrappy and try new things. We’re going to have put more effort. But we’re ready.”

According to Visit California, there’s been a decline in international travel to California. In July, overseas visitors at California ports of entry dipped 3.8 percent year-over-year. Visitors from China declined 8.6 percent, said Visit California.

In addition, if there is a downturn in the economy, “We’re going to have to try harder to maintain our spot at the top,” said Gallagher. “We have no intention of ceding that to anyone else.”

“We are committed to doing everything we can to support the lodging and hospitality industries,” she said. “At the end of the day, we need to convert all of this to sales and revenue.”

That data showed that in 2018, the Napa Valley welcomed 3.85 million visitors who spent $2.23 billion, said a new report from Visit Napa Valley.

To compare, the 2016 report said visitors spent $1.9 billion in Napa Valley. The $2.23 billion spent in 2018 represents $85.1 million in tax benefit to residents, said the report. Taxes generated by the visitor industry include revenues from the transient occupancy tax (TOT), sales taxes and property and transfer taxes paid on lodging facilities.

The tourism industry remains the second-largest employer in Napa County (after the wine industry), supporting the livelihood of an estimated 15,872 people, with a combined payroll of $492 million, the report stated.

“The tourism industry continues to provide a significant positive impact to Napa Valley’s economy, while also supporting local initiatives essential to the well-being of our community,” Gallagher said in May.

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21 Sep

CLARKSVILLE, TN (WSMV) – The Clarksville Police Department is searching for a missing man who has a history of mental health issues.

Police say 41-year-old Jonathan Irvan left his home on Cobalt Drive yesterday morning without his medication. Irvan’s family has not heard from him since he left.

Police say Irvan never showed up to pick his son up from the bus stop yesterday afternoon.

Irvan is six feet tall and weighs around 250 pouds. He was last seen in blue jeans and a black shirt. He is new to the area and does not have a car.

If you see him, call police. is now with you on the go! Get the latest news updates and video, 4WARN weather forecast, weather radar, special investigative reports, sports headlines and much more from News4 Nashville.

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Copyright 2019 WSMV (Meredith Corporation). All rights reserved.

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20 Sep

Grant award to Central Virginia Health Services to add behavioral health services in Petersburg, Brunswick and Charlotte Counties

RICHMOND — The Virginia Health Care Foundation, VHCF, has awarded Central Virginia Health Services, CVHS, $176,250 to add behavioral health services to the primary medical care currently provided at its Petersburg Health Care Alliance, Southside Community Health Center, and Charlotte Primary Care sites.

“Making Brighter Days Possible: Increasing Access to Behavioral Health Services” is a special 18-month VHCF initiative intended to increase access to behavioral health services for uninsured and medically underserved Virginians. This initiative is made possible by a generous $1 million grant from Sentara Healthcare / Optima Health.

While the need for behavioral health services exists throughout Virginia, it is most acute in Virginia‘s mental health professional shortage areas which have too few behavioral health professionals to serve the number of people who live there. The Health Resources and Services Administration, HRSA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, has designated 75% of Virginia localities as mental health professional shortage areas; 40% of all Virginians live in these areas.

VHCF’s grants will be used to hire behavioral health professionals in some of these shortage areas to provide mental health services and incorporate telemedicine.

“We are proud to invest in bringing more mental health services to these medical practices that are part of the Central Virginia Health Services system,” said Deborah Oswalt, VHCF’s Executive Director. “VHCF is dedicated to addressing the shortage of mental health services in Virginia. With the capacity to provide additional treatment, CVHS patients will have access to the mental health care they need.”

Founded in 1970, Central Virginia Health Services is a non-profit system of community health center with 17 sites throughout Central Virginia. CVHS serves over 40,000 patients annually and offers integrated behavioral health care at 11 of its locations.

The Virginia Health Care Foundation is a non-profit public/private partnership with a mission to increase access to primary health care for uninsured and medically underserved Virginians. The Foundation was initiated by the General Assembly and its Joint Commission on Health Care in 1992. Since its inception, it has funded 421 community-based projects across the Commonwealth, and its programs and partnerships have touched the lives of more than 700,000 uninsured Virginians.

For more information about VHCF and its programs, visit or call 804-828-5804.

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