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Suicide prevention workshop Part IV

Emery County Progress - 11/8/2017

This four part series addresses suicide prevention and what the community can do to help.

Peer support groups bring people together who share common problems. They can share their experiences with one another. Rehabilitation programs can help a person regain the skills to live and work more successfully in their communities.

Recovery from mental disorders is possible. Many Americans are unaware mental health disorders can be treated and recovery is possible. Many factors contribute to recovery. These include the support of friends and family, availability of treatment and getting early treatment. A variety of health professionals can help a person with a mental health disorder.

A primary care physician may be the first person a person turns to for health. Often times people seek treatment for physical symptoms not knowing they have a mental health disorder such as depression and anxiety. Licensed mental health professionals specialize in the treatment of mental health problems. They include social workers, psychiatric nurse practitioner, psychologists and counselors. Certified peer specialists receive training that enables them to use their own experiences to help others. Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in the treatment of mental disorders. They focus on treating people with severe or long lasting disorders.

The President's New Freedom Commission on mental health report recommended a transformation to the approach to mental health care in the U.S. It recommended six goals: To understand that mental health is essential to overall health. Mental health care is consumer and family driven. Disparities in mental health services are eliminated. Early mental health screening, assessment and referral to services are common practice. Excellent mental health care is delivered and research is accelerated. Technology is used to access mental health care and information.

Mental health first aid is the help offered to a person developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The first aid is given until appropriate treatment and support is received or the crisis is over. The goals of mental health first aid are to: Preserve life when a person is in danger of harming themselves or others, providing help to prevent the problem from becoming more serious, promote recovery and provide comfort and support. Mental health first aid teaches the public how to recognize the symptoms of mental health problems, how to offer and provide initial help and how to direct a person to receive appropriate help.

Mental health problems are common, especially depression, anxiety and substance abuse. In the U.S. almost half of adults will experience a mental health illness in their lifetime.

Many people are not well informed about how to recognize mental health problems, how to respond or what effective treatments are available. Common myths include the idea that people with mental disorders are dangerous, it is best to avoid psychiatric treatment, people can use their own willpower to solve a mental health problem and that only weak people have mental health problems. Lack of knowledge may result in denial and avoidance.

If the community is informed about mental health problems, they will be able to recognize problems in others and be prepared to offer support.

In the U.S. only 41 percent of the people who had a mental disorder received professional help. Often, when people seek treatment they wait for years before doing so.

A delay in treatment can make recovery difficult. People with mental health problems are more likely to seek help if someone close to them suggests it.

There is a stigma associated with mental health problems. This stigma can lead to people hiding their problems and not seeking or delaying help. They are often ashamed to discuss mental health problems with family, friends and coworkers because they are concerned what others may think.

Some mental health problems can cloud a person's thinking and rational decision-making processes. The person may be in distress and cannot take effective action. In this situation, people close to them can get the appropriate help.

In order to be able to give appropriate help, first aiders need to have basic knowledge of mental health problems so they can recognize a disorder when it is developing. It is important to not ignore symptoms or assume they will just go away. Do not make excuses for the person's behavior. This may delay the person getting help. The first aider needs to approach the person and see if there is anything they can do to help.

As with medical first aid, participants learn an action plan to help someone who is ill or injured. Mental health first aid has an action plan as well. Remember ALGEE. Assess for risk of suicide or harm. Listen nonjudgmentally. Give reassurance and information. Encourage appropriate professional help. Encourage self-help and other support strategies.

Assess for risk of suicide or harm. If the person appears to be at risk of harming self or others, the first aider must seek professional help immediately, even if the person does not want to.

Listen nonjudgmentally. Listening to the person is very important. Most people experiencing a mental health crisis need an empathic listener before being offered helpful resources. When listening nonjudgmentally this allows the listener to really hear and understand what is being said. It makes it easier for the other person to feel they can talk freely without being judged.

Give reassurance and information. Once a person with a mental health problem feels he/she has been heard, it will be easier to offer encouragement and information.

Reassurance includes emotional support, such as empathizing with how the person feels, as well as offering help with tasks that may seem overwhelming at the moment.

Encourage appropriate professional help. People with mental health problems will generally have a better recovery if they receive the appropriate professional help. They may not know about the resources available to them. Options include medication, counseling, psychological therapy and support from family members to name a few.

Encourage self-help and other support strategies. Encourage the person to use self-help strategies or seek the support of family, friends and others.

People who have experienced mental health problems can provide valuable help to a person's recovery.

It is important to take care of yourself after providing care. A person might feel distress, tired or angry. You may also need to deal with your feelings and reactions. It is helpful to find someone to talk to about what happened.

If you do this you need to respect privacy. Don't share the name of the person you helped or provide details that might identify him or her.

Signs and symptoms of depression. People often describe physical symptoms associated with depressions. Sixty-nine percent reported physical symptoms as the reason they went to the doctor. Family doctors are more involved in the screening process and diagnosis for depression. Get treatment ASAP.

Symptoms, headaches, chest pain, nausea, sadness.

Anxiety is more common in females. It interferes with work and relationships.

Risk factors, giving away possessions, making amends with others, making plans to die by suicide, loss of a loved one, indebtedness, relationship problems, loss of a job, substance abuse, men are more likely to die by suicide. Woman are more likely to attempt.

Questions to ask. Ask the person directly if he/she is suicidal. Are you having thoughts of suicide? Are you thinking about killing yourself? Ask if they have a plan to die by suicide.

How to talk to a person who is suicidal. Let the person know you are concerned and willing to help. Discuss observations with the person. Ask the question without dread. Don't express a negative judgment. Appear confident, this can be reassuring.

Check for other risks. Has the person been using drugs or alcohol. Have they made a suicide attempt in the past. Provide safety. Keep the person safe. Get a contact phone number to help. Call law enforcement if the person has a weapon or is behaving aggressively. Protect your own safety.

Don't leave an actively suicidal person alone. Don't use guilt. Don't agree to keep it a secret.

Non suicidal self injury. Reasons. Escape, unbearable anguish, show desperation to others,

Self injury is a symptom of serious psychological distress.

Avoid negative reactions. Discuss the situation calmly. Focus on ways to stop the distress.

Don't focus on stopping the self injury and don't down play feelings. Don't punish or threaten to withdraw care. Severity depends on region they are cutting or injuring themselves. The most severe is cutting under their arms or inner thighs. Don't ignore the injuries. Encourage them to speak to someone.

 
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