As suicides rise in Wisconsin and across the U.S., our ‘wounded healers’ are more important than ever

THEY ARE THE COUNSELORS AND SOCIAL WORKERS OFTEN BEST ABLE TO HELP PEOPLE RECOVER BECAUSE THEY’VE BEEN THERE THEMSELVES.

Editor’s note: If you or someone you know is dealing with suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or text “Hopeline” to the National Crisis Text Line at 741-741.

From China to Europe, from India to South America, average suicide rates around the world have fallen 33 percent since 1990.

Not in the United States. American suicide rates are at their highest levels since World War II, making suicide the second leading cause of death between ages 10-34, government data show.

The increase in suicides, combined with record levels of drug overdoses and alcohol-related fatalities, are so extreme that they’re lowering the life expectancy of the average American. Mental health problems disable more American workers than any other affliction — suburban, rural or urban — and caregiver burnout and compassion fatigue are epidemic.  more

Interview: Artist with Anxiety Illustrates Mental Health Tips She Learns in Therapy

Illustrator Kate Allan was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder as an adult. The identification not only validated her experience, but it has given her the opportunity to use her artistic talent to help herself and others in the quest for improved mental health. Allan has taken what she’s learned since entering therapy to create a mental health comic about mindfulness. “Mindfulness,” she says on Twitter, “can be useful for literally everyone, but I found it particularly helpful for anxiety—this exercise got me out of the house and functioning again.”

Through the guidance of a cute bunny, Allan’s 10-panel comic introduces mindfulness and how it can help pinpoint emotions. By noticing, acknowledging, and thinking through feelings, the practice emphasizes that emotions are temporary—not part of our identity. You, for example, are not sad, but you are experiencing sadness at this moment. The feeling will pass, just as all others eventually will. Allan treats this serious subject without judgment and through a charming presentation. It’s thoughtfully created and, above all, is comforting to those who have anxiety; Allan is reminding us that no one is alone.  more

Psychosis and Symbiosis: Microbiome and Schizophrenia

Fascinating new research links the gut and brain in sickness and health.

Schizophrenia is a neurodegenerative disorder that affects about 1 percent of the world population and tends to strike in the prime of life. Preventing this disease could help tens of millions of families throughout the world, so finding the risk factors for early diagnosis and treatment are paramount. We know there are genetic risks that, at the moment, can’t be changed (and as the disorder is polygenic, we will not find a single “schizophrenia gene”). Other major risk factors, such as prenatal infection, also can’t be changed 18-35 years later when the disease shows up. We know there are risk factors that can be addressed, such as using large amounts of high-THC marijuana in adolescence. But are there other factors that predispose people to schizophrenia that we may be able to address, such as changes in the microbiome?  more

The Challenge of Going Off Psychiatric Drugs

Laura Delano recognized that she was “excellent at everything, but it didn’t mean anything,” her doctor wrote. She grew up in Greenwich, Connecticut, one of the wealthiest communities in the country. Her father is related to Franklin Delano Roosevelt, and her mother was introduced to society at a débutante ball at the Waldorf-Astoria. In eighth grade, in 1996, Laura was the class president—she ran on a platform of planting daffodils on the school’s grounds—and among the best squash players in the country. She was one of those rare proportional adolescents with a thriving social life. But she doubted whether she had a “real self underneath.”

The oldest of three sisters, Laura felt as if she were living two separate lives, one onstage and the other in the audience, reacting to an exhausting performance. She snapped at her mother, locked herself in her room, and talked about wanting to die. She had friends at school who cut themselves with razors, and she was intrigued by what seemed to be an act of defiance. She tried it, too. “The pain felt so real and raw and mine,” she said.

Teen opens dialogue on mental illnesses

The challenges presented by the prevalence of mental illness in society are numerous and complex. Victoria St. Jean, a senior at Pilgrim High School, is trying to make a difference by opening a door to conversation about the subject – from people who personally experience varying degrees of mental illnesses or disorders themselves.

“I think this is a topic that needs to be talked about more in society, because even though it’s 2019, with a lot of people it’s a touchy subject and they really don’t seem to want to talk about it,” St. Jean said. “It’s like any other disorder. Just because you can’t always see it on the outside, doesn’t mean it doesn’t matter as much.”  more

Psychologists Agree: There’s No Need to Panic Over a Panic Attack

In other words, don’t panic.

Panic attacks typically occur when a person is under stress. The stress can be physical, like being run down, or emotional, like a significant life change.

Panic attacks are a relatively common experience with as many as one in sevenpeople experiencing them at least once. A little more than half of those people will have repeated panic attacks.

Our understanding of panic attacks has changed over time, but we’ve now come to a good understanding of what panic attacks are and how we can help those who experience them.

It’s important to understand that panic attacks are a physiological expression of anxiety, and not intrinsically dangerous. The symptoms are the body’s natural way of coping with perceived threats.  more

World Bipolar Day: “Awareness needs to be raised in society about our disorder”

Marked each year on March 30, World Bipolar Day (WBD) is a world-wide awareness initiative that aims to encourage global education, open discussion, as well as improving sensitivity surrounding bipolar disorder.

As many as 1% to 2% of the British population experience bipolar through their lives and recent research suggested as many as 5% are on the bipolar spectrum.

A severe mental health illness characterised by significant mood swings including manic highs and depressive lows, the majority of individuals with bipolar experience alternating episodes of mania and depression.  more

Mental Health Awareness Means Talking About All Types of Mental Illness

Mental illness is incredibly common: Nearly one in five adults in the United States lives with a mental illnessaccording to the National Institutes of Mental Health (NIMH). But in spite of its prevalence, there still exists a tremendous amount of stigma associated with mental health conditions. That stigma can have far-reaching consequences, from limiting our understanding of these conditions to interfering with a person’s willingness to seek treatment when they truly need it.

The good news is that, culturally, we’re making some headway on that stigma. I have written and edited health content for a little over a decade, and it’s been amazing to see how the conversation around mental health has evolved in that time. Many brave people have publicly shared stories about their experiences navigating mental health conditions. And as the wellness industry has exploded, so too has our cultural understanding that being well and taking care of yourself requires tending to your mental health, and that means seeking help if you need it.  more

Handyman crafts custom swingset for Tennessee man with autism

Cobey Thomas cannot stop using his custom-built swing set. Cobey, who is 6-foot-10 and 200 pounds, has nonverbal autism, and swinging is his “thing,” his mom Jenifer Thomas tells CBS News. He’s always been big, but there was a point when Cobey became too big for normal swing sets, and he was distraught.

“We always had a big swing set in the backyard, or we’d go to the park … Cobey had no interest in sitting still,” Thomas said. “But then he started getting really tall.”

Cobey Thomas was always big, but last year he grew too big to do his favorite activity: swing.  more

The Practice That Improved My Mental Health When Nothing Else Did

I thought that when I was accepted to the university of my dreams, it would put me on the path to freedom—that I’d land a great job and live out a successful career. But so much changed over the five years that followed, and my journey didn’t go quite as planned.

When I transitioned from my suburban all-girls high school to a large Ivy League university in the city, I felt a major change in social and academic pressure. As an engineering student, I spent long hours in rigorous classes and studying—not to mention, the dorm I lived in was crowded and always, always loud. The image-focused culture made me question my health choices, and the full-force academic pressure put me in a mode of constant anxiety and stress. During my first year, I became pretty sick, a mental kind of sick that was manifesting physically as an eating disorder. That’s when I found yoga.  more