Veterans Day and Mental Health

Veterans Day Mental Health

Read Mark C. Russell’s November 9th editorial published in The Seattle Times entitled, On this Veterans Day, where is the outrage over mental-health crisis?

Russell concludes with this call to action:

Honor our veterans this holiday by demanding the president and congressional representatives to urgently do the following:

  • Conduct independent investigations into the cause of the military mental-health-care crisis.
  • Establish a unified “Behavioral Health Corps” within the Department of Defense.
  • End hiring restrictions of licensed marriage/family therapists, mental-health counselors and clinical psychologists to address chronic staffing shortages.
  • Establish a “Joint Services Behavioral Health Lessons Learned Center.”
  • Compel the VA/military to ensure every veteran has access to all evidence-based therapies per the VA/DoD PTSD guidelines.

Mark C. Russell

Resources:

NAMI | Support for Veterans & Active Duty

Nearly 1 in 4 active duty members showed signs of a mental health condition, according to a 2014 study in JAMA Psychiatry. On this page we focus on questions that military personnel often ask, concerning treatment resources, disclosure and staying healthy during the transition to civilian life. If you are having thoughts of suicide, the Veterans Crisis Line is available 24/7 by dialing 1-800-273-8255 and pressing 1.

Veterans Crisis Line

#BeThere for Veterans and Servicemembers - Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255

The Veterans Crisis Line connects Veterans in crisis and their families and friends with qualified, caring Department of Veterans Affairs responders through a confidential toll-free hotline, online chat, or text. Veterans and their loved ones can call 1-800-273-8255 and Press 1chat online, or send a text message to 838255 to receive confidential support 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Support for deaf and hard of hearing individuals is available.

Siren Song

I have heard the siren song of alcohol and marijuana. Craved the quieting of my thoughts, the slowing down. Prescribed medications do help immensely, but I still understand and am wary of alcohol&#…

Source: Siren Song

Holiday Drinking Triggers Me

Originally posted on STIGMAMA.com at Holiday Drinking Triggers Me, by Kitt O’Malley.

Glass of red wine with holiday lights in backgroundHolidays I find unsettling. Not only are the days far too short, but visiting family can destabilize me and trigger bipolar symptoms. I acutely feel a genetic predisposition to alcoholism, drinking minimally, but craving intoxication, more so when triggered. The holidays trigger me for I am surrounded by family members who drink, some who drink to excess daily. In spite of thirty-two years of psychotherapy, it still pains me to see those I love dearly drinking or worse-yet drunk. What pains me the most is seeing my once vibrant father suffering from alcohol-related dementia. His cognitive abilities deteriorate quickly throughout the day and evening as he gets progressively more intoxicated. Both my mother and I become more emotional labile, sensitive, and reactive as we drink. Such is a recipe for repeated family drama.

Still, I desire the intoxicating effect of alcohol. When watching TV, I track alcoholic beverages. In The Big Bang Theory they hold and gulp wine in every episode. In Blue Bloods, Tom Selleck drinks whiskey. When grocery shopping, I am very aware of the aisle with alcohol and try to avoid it. Unfortunately, the wines face those snacks my husband and son enjoy. When I socialize with people who are drinking, that deep craving, that yaw opens, and I, too, drink. I do not drink to excess, but I drink for a biochemical reaction, for my brain to be slowed down and numbed, for that feeling of intoxication, not because I enjoy the flavor. I am no connoisseur. I am, perhaps, an addict who drinks minimally. Likewise, I still remember what marijuana smells like. I still have a visceral reaction when remembering that heady scent, when recounting how I used marijuana decades ago for relief, to slow down and be stupid.

Eric Arauz

Eric Arauz How Written and Oral Storytelling Saved MY Life 2-12-14 8.58 AM from International Bipolar Foundation on Vimeo.

Sunday I was particularly impressed by Eric Arauz‘s presentation on Conscious Storytelling. He gave us each a copy of his autobiography, An American’s Resurrection: My Pilgrimage from Child Abuse and Mental Illness to Salvation, which I am enjoying reading. The first thing I did once I grabbed a copy of his book was to check out his End Notes and his Arauzian Original Concepts. I was impressed and immediately knew I was going to like a guy who referenced Hesse, St. Augustine, Camus and Emerson among other great minds. This guy is an intellectual powerhouse. As I’ve been reading his book, I’ve been most impressed by the quality of his writing. For those of you who love well-crafted story-telling with an intellectual punch, read his book.

An American's Resurrection

IBPF Consumer Track Meeting

Yesterday I attended the IBPF (International Bipolar Foundation) Annual West Coast Meeting – Consumer Track. The one-day consumer track meeting covered quite a bit which I outline here, providing links to more information.


David J. Miklowitz, PhD

Professor of Psychiatry, Division of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, UCLA Semel Institute, David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA, and Department of Psychiatry, Oxford University

Coping with Bipolar Disorder: Eight Practical Strategies for Enhancing Wellness

The 8 Self-Care Principles

  1. Monitor your moods daily/know your early warning signs
  2. Recognize and manage stress triggers
  3. Stabilize your sleep/wake rhythms
  4. Know your position on medications
  5. Develop a mania prevention plan
  6. Work on communication with your family/partner
  7. Obtain reasonable accommodations at work or school
  8. Get regular therapy or join a support group

Eric Arauz, MLER

Adjunct Faculty Instructor, Rutgers/Robert Wood Johnson Medical School, Psychiatry.

Conscious Storytelling: Integrating somatic, cognitive, and emotional lucidity in oral storytelling as a recovery tool for serious mental illness, trauma, addiction, and suicidality.

  • Trauma-Informed Recovery
    1. Trauma-Informed Storytelling
    2. Relational Reconstruction
  • Fluencies of Self: Physiological, Cognitive, Spiritual, Social, and Emotional
  • Narrative Identity Processing: “…well-being is associated with the capacity to construct a coherently structured story about a difficult experience.” (Pals, J. L. (2006), Narrative Identity Processing of Difficult Life Experiences: Pathways of Personality Development and Positive Self-Transformation in Adulthood. Journal of Personality, 74: 1079–1110. doi: 10.1111/j.1467-6494.2006.00403.x)
  • Read, Write, Speak
  • Polyvagal Theory: TherapeuticDyad
    • Autonomic Nervous System
    • Social Engagement System
    • Neuroception: Pro-social, Fight or Flight, Freezing/Imminent Death
    • Interventions: Heart to Face, Heart to Voice, Heart to Eyes
    • (Porges, SW, The polyvagal theory: phylogenetic substrates of a social nervous system. International Journal of Psychophysiology, 2001 Oct; 42(2):123-46.)
  • Conscious Storytelling — Speak — “What is Shareable is Bearable.” (Dan Siegel, MD, author of Mindsight)

Genevieve GreenLynn Hart Muto

A Perspective from a Patient and Caregiver

Genevieve Green, 20-year-old mental health activist and public speaker, and Lynn Hart Muto, IBPF Board Secretary and one of IBPF’s founders, gave their perspectives as consumer and caregiver and answered questions.


Maricela Estrada

Hope: The Beginning of my Beautiful Life

Maricela Estrada has written Bipolar Girl: My Psychotic Self, is publishing Beautiful Bipolar Bisexual, and blogs at mentalhealthinspiration.blogspot.com. She was a patient of the Los Angeles County Department of Mental Health for ten years. Now she works as a Medical Case Worker helping patients with Prevention and Early Intervention.

Los Angeles Department of Mental Health Access Line (24/7): 1 (800) 854-7771

Milestones of Recovery Scale (MORS): Mental health recovery is non-linear.


Thomas S. Jensen, MD

Medical Director of IBPF and psychiatrist in private practice in San Diego. He specializes in general and neuropsychiatry treating children, adolescents and adults, but is especially esteemed for his work with patients with bipolar disorder.

Medication Treatment: A 4-Phased Approach

  • Phase 1: Rapidly stabilize mania or mixed state to help assure safety
  • Phase 2: Introduce agents that dampen cycles and lengthen the frequency of cycles, rather than just dampening the mania
  • Phase 3: Address residual depression
  • Phase 4: Address coexisting conditions

Dr. Jennifer Bahr, ND

Dr. Jennifer Bahr is a licensed naturopathic doctor who specializes in natural treatments for mental illness and endocrine disorders. For more information about her practice in San Diego, visit drjenniferbahr.com.

Healthy Living: A Natural Approach to Living Well with Bipolar Disorder

Focus on Right/Healthful Decisions

  • CBT/Mindfulness
  • Sleep
  • Exercise
  • Support
  • Resilience is Health

Acceptance – Not perfect all the time


Jake Roberts and Kayte Roberts

All in the Family: Overcoming Addiction and Bipolar Disorder Together

Panel discussion led by siblings Jake Roberts and Kayte Roberts addressed addiction and recovery from addiction, co-occurrence of mental illness and addiction, and genetic roots of addiction and mental illness.