May is Mental Health Awareness Month

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Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental illness. And this year, more people than ever before are dealing with emotional challenges associated with the pandemic and the social upheaval experienced across our country. These stressors have amplified the need for public awareness and discussion of mental health as a key component of overall health. So, in conjunction with the national “May is Mental Health Awareness Month”, Ventura County Behavioral Health has launched a new countywide campaign, “I’m Talking About My Mental Health.”

This campaign was developed with de-stigmatization as a critical goal. By showing relatable people facing relatable challenges, reaching out for help and making positive changes in their lifestyles, we make the goal of improved mental health feel approachable and achievable. By personalizing the message – talking about “my” mental health – the campaign allows viewers to see others talking about, thinking about, and working on their mental health and fitness, and demonstrates this as normal and life-affirming behavior.

There are now billboards and posters in the community, public service announcements on the radio, and colleagues inviting discussion by wearing buttons or even using the themed Zoom background.

Please take a minute to get familiar with the campaign, and join us in promoting the discussion of mental health in the weeks ahead. 

Learn more:

I’m Talking About My Mental Health

www.talkingaboutmymentalhealth.org

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5th Annual Preventing Suicide: Help & Hope Conference – A Review 

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 The 5th Annual Preventing Suicide: Help & Hope Conference was held on December 10, 2020. Keynote Speaker Pablo Campos from Active Minds shared his insights about struggling with depression and addiction – and his road from attempting suicide to recovery. QPR Suicide Prevention Training was also offered.

Pablo Campos shared an inspiring story of his challenges in his road to recovery and talked about how stigma, cultural norms, and lack of education affected him and his recovery process. He discussed important obstacles that many struggles with when dealing with a mental illness and addiction; growing up without any discussion of or education on mental health, having to juggle the norms of two cultures, and lacking healthy coping skills. Pablo shared about not understanding why he had feelings of anger and frustration and of being unsure how to cope. He talked about how stigma and a lack of education made seeking help more difficult, but by finding a strong network of professionals and loved ones, he was able to grow from being his own worst enemy to a powerful participant in his recovery.

The QPR training is a great educational resource that teaches how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help. The program is designed to teach lay and professional "gatekeepers" the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to respond; it is designed to increase the chance of survival in the event of a crisis. The mission for QPR is to reduce suicidal behaviors and save lives by providing innovative, practical and proven suicide prevention training.

Suicide is a tragic reaction to severe distress or feelings of hopelessness in one's life. Thoughts of suicide do not necessarily mean that you want to die. Instead they mean that you have more pain than you can cope with right now. However, suicidal thoughts do not have to become suicidal actions. It's important to know that suicide can be preventable. Whether you are considering ending your life, or know someone who feels suicidal, learn to recognize the warning signs and how to get immediate help. You may save a life – your own or someone else's.

Learn More:

Suicide Can Be Prevented, Wellness Every Day

 

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It’s Never Too Early to Talk with Children About Race

Source: Yale News, June 15, 2020
By Brita Belli

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Many parents are now feeling a sense of urgency to discuss race and racism with their children. It helps to give parents the tools they need to have difficult conversations with their children, especially around issues of race and health equity. Weaving these into daily discussions is an essential step in creating a more equitable and just future for all children. 

Research shows that what children learn, hear, and witness from family members, friends, and others in their communities about race plays a major role in how they view people who are different from them. Children “identify all kinds of differences quite readily,” said Yarrow Dunham, assistant professor of psychology at Yale and director of the Social Cognitive Development Lab. “The critical question is: Which of those differences do they come to think of as important determinants of social identity and social outcomes? They make those decisions by observing the world around them. And here — unfortunately — the world presents them with abundant evidence that race matters.” As a result, it’s imperative that parents recognize and talk about racial differences with kids from an early age to prevent racism from taking root, said Yale experts. “It’s important that we tell children about their environment and what’s going on in the world,” said Dr. Wanjiku Njoroge, a board-certified child psychiatrist and adjunct professor of psychiatry at Yale, whose research focuses on the impact of culture on early infant and childhood development. 

Recommended Resources for Talking with Kids

See the many resources that can help parents educate themselves about race and racism, including books for youth of all ages, resources for adults, and tips on how to talk to children. They include:

  • Where to find diverse children’s books: a guide to blogs and sites where parents can find books featuring diverse characters and highlighting social justice from EmbraceRace, a parent-founded organization to fight systemic racism.

  • Anti-racism books for kids: books for kids of different ages that celebrate racial diversity and explain how diversity makes us stronger from Books for Littles, an organization that uses picture books to help parents have important conversations about social issues. 

View full story >

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Learn More:

 

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Staying Healthy & Connected During the Holidays

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This year has been hard on everyone, which means a lot more people will be feeling the holiday blues. Since it’s harder to get together with family and friends, let’s try keep in mind those who might be feeling a little extra lonely this time of year and make an effort to reach out.

The good thing about today’s world is that many of us have the technology to stay connected, even if we are miles away from each other.

Here are some tips to stay connected:

If you are feeling sad from the distance during these unprecedented times. Try the following to stay connected with friends and family virtually.

  • Plan a virtual holiday party via Zoom call with family and friends you usually see around the holidays. You can open gifts together, play games, and keep connected while being distant.
  • Make a video card with your child and email to family members or friends for the holidays or just because you’re thinking of them.
  • Call friends and family you know will be spending the holidays alone.
  • Plan virtual activities you can do with family and friends on the days leading up to the holidays. With video chat, you can build gingerbread houses together, make holiday cards, or decorate cookies.
  • Stream a movie virtually with friends and family – watch your favorite holiday movies with your loved ones. Try different online resources that synchronize video playback and add a group chat.

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Set time aside to connect with those who might be feeling lonely:

Over 40 percent of older adults experience loneliness and isolation on a regular basis. Many look forward to companionship during the holidays, that’s why times like these can be especially difficult for them. Make sure you set aside some time to bring comfort in their lives – even if it’s virtual.

  • If you know of any older adults around your neighborhood you could leave a holiday casserole or a plate of food at their doorstep for them to enjoy.
  • Plan a phone date with an older friend or relative. Acknowledge their feelings and make them feel supported by listening. offering advice and resources on ways to pass the time while also distancing.
  • Make them feel included and be patient. Not many older adults are tech savvy. Teach them how to FaceTime or use Zoom so they can join virtual events with the family.
  • Send a card, a letter, an email or a text.
  • Check in regularly – 5 minutes can make a big difference and be something to look forward to.

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Keeping yourself healthy is not only good for you but also your family:

Don’t abandon healthy habits this holiday season – manage stress and keep healthy.

  • Understand that this holiday season is bound to be different and some changes may make it easier for you, and for your family. Now is the time to try new traditions and activities that are fitting with the times.
  • Being connected 24/7 can produce stress. Try turning away from your electronics, and set aside 10 minutes to stretch, meditate or listen to soothing music.

In order to keep your family healthy, you have to stay healthy yourself. Try these tips:

  • Eat healthy snacks
  • Get enough sleep
  • Go on social distance walks around your neighborhood
  • Don’t go overboard on unhealthy snacks and drinks
  • And most importantly – don’t try to please everyone this holiday season. It’s been a hard time for everyone, so just remember it’s okay to not feel 100 percent jolly.
  • Find support. If you are feeling overwhelmed it’s okay to talk to a professional about your mental health. They can help you come up with a plan to cope with those feelings.

 

Learn more:

 

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Finding Balance in the "New Normal"

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When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, everything changed
– how we work, if we work, how our kids attend school, how we shop, where we can go, and what we can do. And it all happened almost instantly. No time to plan and little choice in the matter. We all gave up our old lives and we all gave up control. 

That’s a big-time recipe for STRESS.

And so here we all are, living life in new ways. Perhaps wishing things could be the way they were. Right now, we can’t go back to the way we lived but we can get back to how we felt. We can take back some control of our lives; we can find happiness, connection and relaxation.

And that is not just good for you – it’s good for your family, your friends and your community.


Here are some tips for feeling back in control:

Plan your time

  • Keeping to a regular schedule helps keep days more predictable and calm, especially for children.
  • Take regular breaks during the day. If you're working from home, take advantage of things you might not be able to do in an office, like taking a dance break with your children or walking your dog around the block.
  • Try not to schedule too many Zoom meetings in a day - they often take more energy to process than talking in person or on the phone.
  • Are you a "morning" or "evening" person? As much as possible, plan projects and meetings that require focused thinking during the time of day when you feel most alert.

Relax - let your mind refresh

  • Unplug from social media and email. Even just being able to see your phone has been shown to distract some of your attention. Keep it out of sight when you need to focus or relax.
  • Plan a regular time during the week that's just for fun activities. If you feel too busy, find time that's just for yourself. If you've been feeling isolated, schedule time to connect with others, either at out a safe distance, online or on the phone.
  • Close your eyes and pay attention to your breathing. Take 6 slow deep breaths in and out. Check in with how you feel. Click here for more examples of calming breathing: www.healthline.com/health/anxiety/anxiety-breathing#breathing-exercises

Share your feelings

  • Stay connected – reach out regularly to friends or family. Even a 5-minute check-in can make a difference.
  • Let people know you appreciate them – at home, when out shopping, when you see someone doing something kind.
  • Still feel like too much? Try calling the new free CalHOPE Warm Line at (833) 317-HOPE (4673) for emotional support. calhope.dhcs.ca.gov

 Learn more – see Coping during Coronavirus >


 

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Express Yourself - May is Mental Health Matters Month

Each Mind Matters

 

This year’s theme is “Each Mind Matters: Express Yourself.” As we celebrate Mental Health Matters Month, we are focusing on how expressing ourselves in different ways can raise awareness about mental health, break down barriers between people, build our own wellness and strengthen our communities.

The effects of self-expression and creativity on our mental health and well-being have been widely documented. Everyone can benefit from incorporating creative self-expression into their wellness routine.

Activities as simple as doodling have been shown to activate the reward pathways in our brain: elevating mood and making us feel better. In addition, creative self-expression can be a powerful tool to help us heal and maintain our mental wellness.

Learn more: www.eachmindmatters.org/may2020

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May is Mental Health Month

1 in 5 people will be affected by mental illness in their lifetime.

Did you know that Mental Health America (MHA) founded May is Mental Health Month back in 1949? That means this year marks MHA’s 70th year celebrating Mental Health Month! This May is Mental Health Month is raising awareness about the connection between physical health and mental health. A healthy lifestyle can help to prevent the onset or worsening of mental health conditions, as well as chronic conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and obesity. It can also help people recover from these conditions. For those dealing with a chronic health condition and the people who care for them, it can be especially important to focus on mental health. When dealing with dueling diagnoses, focusing on both physical and mental health concerns can be daunting, but critically important in achieving overall wellness.

During May, NAMI and the rest of the country are raising awareness of mental health. Each year we fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families. Ventura County Behavioral Health wants everyone to know that mental illnesses are real, and recovery is always the goal. Living a healthy lifestyle may not be easy but can be achieved by gradually making small changes and building on those successes.

 

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From Mental Health Crisis to Stabilization: Crisis Stabilization Unit

Kids and teens having mental health emergencies in Ventura County have a resource: the Crisis Stabilization Unit. Previously, youth in crisis ages 6-17 might otherwise have been immediately admitted to psychiatric hospitals. Now the Crisis Stabilization Unit provides the opportunity for intensive assessment and stabilization, which is often all that is needed before returning to the community.

While at the Crisis Stabilization Unit, a comprehensive stabilization team that includes psychiatrists, registered nurses and mental health crisis counselors provide risk assessment, therapeutic activities and aftercare planning with youth and caregivers. Within 24 hours, they will either return home or transfer to a psychiatric hospital if further care is needed.

If your teen or child is having a mental health crisis, call the Ventura County Crisis Team now: 
1-866-998-2243 (24 hours a day, 7 days a week)

Learn more about the Crisis Stabilization Unit.

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