Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week with us

Next week it’s Mental Health Awareness Week (11-17 May) and to celebrate we’ve organised some exciting activities, in partnership with Greater Manchester Police. So why not join us and show your support for mental health by attending one of the following events:

Monday (11th)
Piccadilly Train Station, 2:00-4pm
With the support of Greater Manchester Police, we’ll be on the station concourse promoting The Sanctuary. Come along to pick up some goodies and take part in the #SanctuarySelfie.

Beginning Monday, we’ll be asking our followers on Twitter and Facebook to take a #SanctuarySelfie with one (or more) of the Sanctuary Manchester banners we have located around the North. Banner locations include: North Manchester General Hospital, Canal Street, Piccadilly Train Station, GMP North Manchester HQ, Gorton Fire Station, Blackley Fire Station and Ancoats Fire Station.

Find your nearest banner on our map: http://j.mp/1KVlYdA

Share your image with the hashtag #SanctuarySelfie and help us share the word about our mental health crisis support service.

Tuesday (12th)
Sanctuary Manchester Coffee Morning, 8:30am-11am / click here for a flyer

Come along and join The Sanctuary Manchester team for a brew, and find out more about how the service is helping people in crisis over night in Manchester.

Wednesday (13th)
Sanctuary Bolton Coffee Morning, 8:30am-11am / click here for a flyer
Come along and join The Sanctuary Bolton team for a brew, and find out more about how the service is helping people in crisis over night in Bolton.

‘Mental Health in the Workplace’, Virgin Money Lounge, 6-8pm
Mental health problems cost employers in the UK £30 billion a year through lost production, recruitment and absence. In this talk, we’ll look at why understanding and addressing mental health in the workplace is important, and provide tips on what managers can do to promote positive mental health in work.

Thursday (14th)
Sanctuary Wigan & Leigh Open Day, 10am-2pm / click here for a flyer
Come along and join the Sanctuary team in Wigan & Leigh for drinks and cake, and find out more about how the service is helping people in crisis over night in Wigan & Leigh.

Get on your bike for mental health, Manchester Velodrome, 12-1pm / click here for a flyer
Join us for a short bike ride at the Velodrome to help celebrate Mental Health Week, organised by Colette at Greater Manchester Police. We have 16 spaces available, to confirm your spot, contact colette.thomas-balmbra@gmp.police.uk


For more information on any of the other events taking place throughout the week, contact nathan.bibbon@thebiglifegroup.com

Follow us on social media:

Twitter: twitter.com/selfhelpservice
Facebook: facebook.com/sanctuaryshs

This article, Celebrate Mental Health Awareness Week with us, first appeared on Self Help Services.

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Face-to-Face Communication More Powerful Than Phone, Email, Social Networks

Face to Face Communication More Powerful Than Phone, Email, Social Networks

I have been saying for a while that as a society we are losing touch with each other because we do not communicate face to face. Many have joked that we have to teach our kids how to have a conversation. Well now there’s proof that face-to-face communication is good for your mental health.

In a slight knock on digital and telephone communications, a new study points to the unsurpassed mental health benefits of regular face-to-face social interactions among older adults. Study participants who regularly met in person with family and friends were less likely to report symptoms of depression, compared with participants who emailed or spoke on the phone. The gains people derived from face-to-face socializing endured even years later. The findings were published in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.

“Research has long supported the idea that strong social bonds strengthen people’s mental health. But this is the first look at the role that the type of communication with loved ones and friends plays in safeguarding people from depression. We found that all forms of socialization aren’t equal. Phone calls and digital communication, with friends or family members, do not have the same power as face-to-face social interactions in helping to stave off depression,” says Alan Teo, M.D., M.S., lead author, assistant professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University, and researcher at the VA Portland Health Care System.

Teo and colleagues assessed more than 11,000 adults aged 50 and older in the United States who participated in the longitudinal Health and Retirement Study at the University of Michigan.

Researchers examined the frequency of in-person, telephone and written social contact, including email. Then they looked at the risk of depression symptoms two years later, adjusting for potential confounding factors including health status, how close people lived from family and preexisting depression.

The researchers found that having little face-to-face social contact nearly doubles your risk of having depression two years later. They also reported that having more or fewer phone conversations, or written or email contact, had no effect on depression.

Study participants who met up with family and friends at least three times a week had the lowest level of depressive symptoms two years later – 6.5 percent – than those who had less frequent contact. Individuals who met up just once every few months or less frequently had an 11.5 percent chance of depressive symptoms.

The study also detected significant differences between the types of individuals – family member versus friend – that participants should socialize with in order to have the most impact on their depression levels. The researchers found that among adults aged 50 to 69, frequent in-person contact with friends reduced subsequent depression. In contrast, adults 70 and older benefited from in-person contact with children and other family members.

The post Face-to-Face Communication More Powerful Than Phone, Email, Social Networks appeared first on Age with Quality not in Crisis.

This article, Face-to-Face Communication More Powerful Than Phone, Email, Social Networks, first appeared on Age with Quality not in Crisis.

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Terrorism and its impact on mental health

Lenin said the object of terror is to terrorize. Sun Tzu said kill one to terrorize 10,000. Someone else, possibly Nietzsche, said fear is the absence of power. On December 15, 2015, the Los Angeles School District superintendent closed 900 schools with an enrollment of more than 600,000 students because of an email which threatened violence against students at unidentified schools in the district. Perhaps Lenin got it wrong. Perhaps the object of terror is to instill a nameless foreboding which wears down a person’s resiliency and replaces it with an overabundance of extreme caution.

Life during crises

Columbia University researchers wrote a study which examines the behavioral consequences of terrorism. In the article, the researchers note there is no uniform human response to terrorist attacks or to manmade or natural disasters. They point to the suicide rate in Northern Ireland at the height of the ethno-nationalist conflict dubbed the Troubles. From 1969 to 1975, the rate declined by 50 percent. Folks were too busy trying to stay alive to succumb to suicidal thoughts. But nearly half of the firefighters battling a bushfire in Australia in 1993 developed post-traumatic stress disorder – PTSD – in the two years following the fire.

Responding with fear and ambiguity to fear

New York schools received similar emails to that which caused Los Angeles to close its schools. New York City officials determined the emails were not credible and the schools remained open. According to CNN and other news sources, the emails were nearly identical. Why did New York discount the threat and Los Angeles take it seriously? Because on December 2, 2015, terrorists attacked a government building in San Bernardino, California. They killed 14 and wounded more.

Anthony Mele, Psy.D., is the chief clinical officer of the Sovereign Health Group. He explains, “When random destructive acts — perpetrated by humans or occurring as events of nature — upset one’s ability to interpret our environment, we feel disconnected from that environment. When terrorism intrudes into this, our environment is no longer understandable. Our interpretations are now inaccurate, what we once considered safe is no longer so, our planning is now obsolete as what once worked is no longer effective.”

Parents teach your children

Mele advises parents not to expose young children to images of violence. Reassurance is the key. Parents must reassure their children they are loved and safe. Adolescents and teenagers require different handling. Mele notes, “Since ambiguity is difficult for even many adults, adolescents may ‘strike a pose’ of defiance or anger or bravado to deal with being the potential victim of random violence. At this point, adolescents may look toward adult models — parents, teachers, coaches, family members — to see how they are reacting and behaving. Teaching children and adolescents to be prepared and vigilant without being paranoid or reclusive is a valuable adult task.”

And the average Joe?

Mele quotes Auschwitz survivor Viktor Frankl, who wrote, “When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.” The challenge for every person is to adapt to the reality without being controlled by it. Mele adds, “Personally, my quest to find meaning in the random and sometimes violent acts of humanity is buttressed by my spirituality and belief that ultimately all events lead to good.”

The Sovereign Health Group is a nationally recognized behavioral health treatment center. We specialize in treating mental health, addiction and co-occurring disorders. To learn about how we treat post-traumatic stress disorder and other conditions which manifest in the wake of disaster, please call our 24/7 helpline.

Written by Darren Fraser, Sovereign Health Group writer

The post Terrorism and its impact on mental health appeared first on Sovereign Health Group.

This article, Terrorism and its impact on mental health, first appeared on Sovereign Health Group.

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AUDIO: She survived hunger and homelessness. Then she had to figure out her identity.


December 08, 2015

December 08, 2015





She survived hunger

and homelessness.

Then she had to

figure out

her identity.



Fatuma Ibrahim at her high school graduation in August 2015 Credit: Jeb Sharp

Fatuma Ibrahim at her high school graduation in August 2015
Credit: Jeb Sharp

Fatuma Ibrahim doesn’t remember anything good about life in Kakuma Refugee Camp in Kenya. The 19-year-old was born there after her family fled the civil war in Somalia.

Listen to the story >download

“I remember poverty, feeling really hungry and eating from the floor,” she told me when we met for the first time. “And going to school just for the food.”

She would hide the cookie she got for showing up at school under her shirt on the way home so the older kids wouldn’t steal it from her. Then she’d split it with her little sister.

“It tasted really good. When you don’t have any food, everything tastes good.”

Fatuma spent the first eight years of her life in the refugee camp. Then, in 2004, her family was resettled in the US.

Not surprisingly, her first memories of America also revolve around food. 

“I remember eating chicken for the first time,” she said. “I remember the feeling. I remember what it smelled like.”

Resettlement hassles

The family started out in an apartment in Lynn, Massachusetts, north of Boston. Her father found a job as a dishwasher. Fatuma and her siblings went to school. A couple years went by.

But then, for reasons Fatuma doesn’t entirely understand, her parents could no longer afford the rent. She remembers driving around in the car, going into offices, watching her parents sign papers.

“I remember my Dad saying, ‘I have my kids in the car. We don’t know where to go.’”

They lived in a hotel for a while. Then they were sent to a shelter in Holyoke, in western Massachusetts. Each move meant a new school for Fatuma.

“It was kind of good because I didn’t have any friends,” she said. “I didn’t speak at all, so moving was just like a new start for me, every time. I was just looking for something: To not be shy, or to have some friends.”

After a few months in Holyoke, the family moved to a new shelter in Boston. Fatuma started middle school.

Saida Abdi got to know Fatuma and her family during this period. She is a social worker with the Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center at Boston Children’s Hospital and originally from Somalia herself. At the time she was running a group for Somali girls at Fatuma’s school. She could tell Fatuma was hurting.

“Imagine this family,” she said. “They came here looking for permanency, looking for safety. They find that they have a house, the kids are going to school, there is this sort of moment of hope, but then all that gets yanked away and now you’re being thrown from one city to another to another, four cities within a few months. That takes away the sense of safety and can become a trigger for all that has gone past.”

Helping the family find permanent housing became an urgent priority.

But there were other issues as well. Fatuma was starting to struggle with her identity.

The first decision Fatuma had to make at her new school was whether to dress “Somalian” or “American.” She agonized over whether to wear a skirt or pants, a headscarf or no headscarf.  

She opted for a skirt and headscarf. That felt right at first. She was placed in a class with other kids from her particular Somali Bantu ethnic group. But then she tested out of that class, and into a hostile one.

“Nobody wanted to sit next to me,” she recalled. “I stood out from people, I guess. They would always pick on me. It would be boys and everyone else would laugh. I skipped a lot because of that. I hated school because of that. It made me hate it because of the bullying.”

“We don’t do mental health”

The kinds of problems Fatuma was experiencing were familiar to Heidi Ellis, the director of the Refugee Trauma and Resilience Center at Boston Children’s Hospital.

She started working with refugees almost by accident, 15 years ago. She was an intern in psychiatry at Boston Medical Center. She started seeing a lot of Somali boys being referred for mental health evaluations because they were acting out in school.

When she started talking to them, she realized they had incredible trauma histories, both from the war back home and from the violent streets they were encountering here in Boston.

Ellis got curious. She secured some research funding, and started studying Somali youth. Two-thirds of the kids she interviewed had significant PTSD symptoms. And hardly any of them had sought or received any kind of mental health service.

Her colleague Saida Abdi understood why.

“When people are not of this culture they don’t understand the cultural context,” she told me.

“They expect you to come and talk, and that makes no sense in my culture. Why would I go and talk to someone who has no idea where I come from? We do religion and we do culture, but we don’t do mental health. We don’t say ‘depression.’”

Instead, Somali families went to community leaders. So Ellis and her colleagues started working with those leaders to create services that made more sense.

“We needed to hear from those community leaders what they thought we needed,” she said. “To bring them in as central partners to building the program, so at the end of the day they would want kids using the program.”

“We also realized we couldn’t start with the mental health problem,” Ellis continued. “We needed to start before that. We needed to start with skills building, and addressing what family and community leaders were pointing to as the real problem, which is that our kids are coming here and trying to acculturate to a whole new world and they need the skills to do it. That stress of what it means to be in a family of one culture and go to school in another is central to the problems that we’re seeing.”

Ellis found that the more trauma the kids had experienced, the more PTSD symptoms they showed. But she discovered something else startling. The discrimination the kids felt here in the US was as powerful a predictor of PTSD symptoms as their trauma history was.

“We couldn’t change the trauma, which for the most part they’d experienced before coming here,” she told me. “But the discrimination was happening in our own communities on a day-to-day basis. So we built into our program work with the schools around school climate and how could we make the kids feel like they were a genuine, valued part of our communities here.”

“I wanted to change into a new person”

By the time she reached high school, Fatuma was tired of feeling different. All she wanted was to fit in. So she decided to dress American, and start wearing pants to school.

“And my parents didn’t like that at all,” she said. “They were never OK with me dressing American. Whenever I came home I had to wear my scarf or whatever. I felt the pressure. And then I started hanging out with people … different … bad kids.”

At school, Fatuma started lying about who she was.

“No one knew that I was Muslim,” she said. “I didn’t know what to tell people I was. I couldn’t tell them that I was Somalian. I couldn’t tell them that I was Muslim. I was like oh I’m this, I’m that. But I was not that. I was only telling them that because of the reactions that I got from middle school. When I came to high school I wanted to change into a new person.”

But it backfired. Lying made her miserable. She lost friends. One day a teacher asked if she was OK. She said no, that she hated life and wished she were dead. Fatuma was hospitalized with depression, the first of three hospitalizations during her high school years.

It was a terrible period, but also a fruitful one. Fatuma worked with counselors and mentors, and she reconnected with social worker Saida Abdi. Abdi worked with Fatuma, and also with Fatuma’s parents.

Abdi says some of the most important work she does with families is simply explaining to parents that their child is in pain. And that battles over things like clothing can be counterproductive.

“It’s engaging in a fight that you will never win,” Abdi says. “It’s symbolic of a bigger fight, because you’re really fighting about, ‘Is my child still in my culture, does my child still hold the same values as I hold?’”

Abdi calls herself a cultural broker. She translates between Somali culture and American culture, between parents and schools, between parents and their children.

Fatuma credits Abdi with helping her understand her parents, and helping her parents understand their daughter.

“She was able to speak from both sides of being Somalian,” Fatuma said. “Being Somalian in this world, being Somalian in America, and also being American and a teenager.”

Fatuma says she figured out a lot about herself in those years.

“It’s hard because you feel like two different people,” she said. “When I’m with my American friends, I want to dress American. When I’m with my Somalian friends or my family, I want to dress Somalian.”

Gradually she learned to let the two sides of herself coexist. And her parents became more accepting of her need to be American as well as Somali. She stabilized. She finished high school late, but she finished, striding proudly across the stage to collect her diploma. Now she’s applying to college and figuring out her future.

“It’s easier to figure out now, you know? Like it helps a lot to come this far. I’ve overcome a lot. I’m not going to say I’m not still going through it, but now I’m just like, I feel free. I’m at a good state in life and it’s good to say that.”

It’s good to hear it too.

Share your thoughts and ideas on Facebook at our Global Nation Exchange, on Twitter @globalnation, or contact us here.


>via: http://www.pri.org/stories/2015-12-08/she-survived-hunger-and-homelessness-then-she-had-figure-out-her-identity

This article, AUDIO: She survived hunger and homelessness. Then she had to figure out her identity., first appeared on Neo-Griot | Neo-Griot.

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My traumatizing, hilarious, and unforgettable stay at a psychiatric hospital

By Melanie Mann Source[/caption]
This brings me to another unexpected surprise from my hospital stay—how well I got along with the other patients. The first person who spoke to me at the hospital was a man who had suffered a mental health crisis after losing his girlfriend. He was set to be released from the hospital that day, and was feeling much better. He explained the hospital’s daily routine and handed me a poem he’d printed out to help him through his hospitalization—now that he was feeling better, he wanted me to have it. A few days later, I learned how effectively humor can be used as a coping tool when I persuaded the entire unit to chant, “Let’s get sexy” in a fit of boredom.

But of course, it wasn’t all fun and games. During a lame beach ball activity, we learned that the most personable of the patients joined a gang to replace his family, who abandoned him after he was diagnosed with schizophrenia. His story was met with a deer-in-the-headlights look from the social worker, who stated that gangs were bad and changed the subject. My roommate was also schizophrenic, though I couldn’t tell at all until she pulled me aside and confided to me that something was troubling her. She was afraid that a sorcerer was controlling her thoughts, and that she might be made to hurt her loved ones. She wanted to contact the police about it. I told her that one of the nurses would probably know what to do about it and offered to go with her to talk to a nurse. After she expressed her concerns, the nurse completely dismissed her and sent her back to her room. My roommate looked completely hopeless in that moment. The hospital workers were neglectful to other patients as well, including a patient who was paranoid that freemasons would try to kill him. He wasn’t willing to take his medication because he thought it was poison. The mental health professionals gave him no attention—I was the only who persuaded him to take his medicine with the argument that I was a woman. Women can’t be freemasons, so obviously I wasn’t trying to hurt him.

I can tell story after story about my stay at the psychiatric hospital, but the bottom line is that my experience taught me how poorly people with mental illnesses are treated by professionals who are supposed to help them get better. It taught me that even people with severe mental illnesses can be wonderful people. More than anything, it taught me the flaws in the mental health system. After I was released from inpatient treatment, I received intensive outpatient counseling and medication. While both of these treatment methods were effective, I would never recommend inpatient mental health treatment unless a person’s life is truly in danger. I am sharing my story because the longer individuals with mental illness stay silent about their mistreatment, the longer this treatment will continue.