Transitioning to College Life

September 4th, 2014

With summer coming to a close, many young adults will be transitioning to college life for the first time. For most incoming students, the transition can be challenging. For students with mental health conditions, getting familiar with the mental health services and supports that their college or university offers can help with this transition.

The following services/supports are available at most colleges and universities and will vary in the type of services offered at each campus.

Academic Advising Centers – If you have non-emergency questions or concerns regarding your condition and would like to know who to talk with, your academic advisor may be a good person to contact first. They are aware of the different programs that may be offered on campus and can refer you to the appropriate resources and services.

Counseling Centers / Health Centers – Many campuses offer individual counseling, group counseling, and crisis services. The types of services offered will vary based upon available programs and staff capabilities. Depending on the type and severity of the condition, a referral to an outside agency may be necessary.

Disability Services – Provide reasonable accommodations for students that have a documented disability due to their mental health condition. These accommodations may include adjustments to programs, coursework, and policies.

Student Groups – These groups are primarily directed by students to create awareness for the student body and develop partnerships with key staff/programs. One such national program is “Active Minds.” This organization develops and supports student-run chapters on colleges and university campuses (including several chapters at Minnesota colleges and universities) that promote a dialogue around issues of mental health.

General Information on Mental Health – Most campuses will have a variety of information about mental health. Health services, counseling centers, and other areas in the college will often have information and resources on mental heath conditions (depression, anxiety disorders, eating disorders, etc.). Also, many colleges host health and wellness fairs and other events that highlight mental health issues.

Other resources:

ULifeline is an anonymous, confidential, online resource center, where college students can be comfortable searching for the information they need and want regarding emotional health.
http://www.ulifeline.org

Mental Health America provides some helpful information on mental health for returning students and for students that are attending for the first time.
http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/back-campus

 

(Editor’s note: Republished article with updated information)

Getting Help for Depression

August 12th, 2014

In any given year, 1 in 10 adults in the U.S. are affected by depression. Depression is a brain disorder that affects how you feel, think, and act. People with depressive illnesses do not all experience the same symptoms. The severity, frequency, and duration of symptoms vary depending on the individual and his or her particular illness.

Signs and symptoms include:

>      Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” feelings

>      Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism

>      Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness

>      Irritability, restlessness

>      Loss of interest in activities or hobbies once pleasurable, including sex

>      Fatigue and decreased energy

>      Difficulty concentrating, remembering details, and making decisions

>      Insomnia, early-morning wakefulness, or excessive sleeping

>      Overeating, or appetite loss

>      Aches or pains, headaches, cramps, or digestive problems that do not ease even with treatment.

>      Thoughts of suicide, suicide attempts

There are different treatment options that can help, which may include medication, therapy, or combination of both. With effective treatment, the symptoms of depression will gradually get better.

 

If you are in crisis or thinking about harming yourself, or know someone who is, tell someone who can help immediately.

>      Do not leave your friend or relative alone, and do not isolate yourself.

>      Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room to get immediate help, or ask a friend or family member to help you do these things.

>      Call the toll-free, 24-hour hotline of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (1-800-273-8255); TTY: 1-800-799-4TTY (4889) to talk to a trained counselor.

 

For more resources and information on depression and other mental health disorders, please visit:

Online Mental Health Screening

The Mental Health Association of Minnesota has partnered with Screening for Mental Health, Inc. to provide free online screening for mood and anxiety disorders. This anonymous online assessment screens for depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. This screening is not a substitute for a diagnosis, but it will help determine whether or not a consultation from a health professional would be helpful. If you want to follow-up with a health provider, but have limited or no health insurance, MHAM can help find a sliding fee clinic or other medical coverage options. To speak with an advocate, call 651-493-6634 or 800-862-1799.

http://www.mentalhealthmn.org/be-informed/education-programs/online-screening-for-mood-and-anxiety-disorders

Get Help. Get Well.

Get Help Get Well helps people understand what to expect when seeking mental health care for the first time. Get Help Get Well includes information on…

>      The first steps to obtaining care; healthcare providers to see initially; and factors to consider when seeking a healthcare provider.

>      What may occur in the initial appointment; questions that may be asked by the health professional; and questions the patient may want to ask their health provider

http://www.mentalhealthmn.org/be-informed/get-help-get-well

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA) is the leading peer-directed national organization focusing on the two most prevalent mental health conditions, depression and bipolar disorder. DBSA provides online resources and peer support groups.

http://www.dbsalliance.org/site/PageServer?pagename=home

Support Groups in Minnesota

You are not alone out there. Utilize support groups to share mental health needs and concerns affecting your life and the lives of others.

MHAM Sponsored Support Groups: DBSA Support Groups (Depression & Bipolar Support Alliance)

http://www.mentalhealthmn.org/mental-health-advocacy/individual-advocacy/access-to-health-care-and-community-services/support-groups/dbsa-support-groups

Other Minnesota Support Groups and Activity Centers

http://www.mentalhealthmn.org/find-support/resource-list/support-groups-activity-centers/all-support-groups

National Institute of Mental Health

The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) provides the latest research and information on depression and other mental health conditions.

http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/index.shtml

MentalHealth.gov

MentalHealth.gov provides information and resources on mental illness for people experiencing a mental health disorder, family and friends, and other members of the community.

http://www.mentalhealth.gov/index.html

 

Meditation for mental health

June 10th, 2014

Many people believe that the goal of meditation is to sit still and stop thinking. In fact, trying to turn off thinking is not only pointless, but also very frustrating for beginning meditators, and can ultimately counteract the positive effects of a meditation practice. The human mind thinks, just as the ears hear and the nose smells. Allowing this process to unfold without judgment can help cultivate more calm and emotional resiliency on and off the meditation cushion.

New studies are continuously being published about the health benefits of meditation and its effectiveness in treating anxiety and depression. In a January Forbes article, contributor Alice G. Walton points out that meditation can be just as effective as medication in treating certain cases of depression. “On a purely biological level, MRI studies have shown that meditation is linked to a reduction in activity in the amygdala, the brain area that governs the stress response, and to reduced activity in the default mode network, the brain network that’s “on” when your mind is wandering from thought to thought, which is often linked to feelings of unhappiness and stress.”

Of course, no one should ever stop taking medication without consulting their doctor, but the beauty of meditation is that it has no side effects and can be used along with medication, therapy, and other treatments that are already in place. It isn’t necessary to meditate for hours at a time to feel the calming benefits of the practice either. In fact, meditating for 10 minutes first thing in the morning, on your lunch break, or before you fall asleep at night should feel good immediately. You can even practice walking meditation on your way from the car to the grocery store. Meditation can easily be incorporated into a busy life and the practice can always be lengthened and deepened over time.

Try this simple meditation practice for 10 minutes. Set a timer and find a quiet place to sit where you won’t be distracted or interrupted.

Sit comfortably while keeping your spine erect. You may want to sit up on a few pillows on the floor or on the edge of a chair with your feet touching the ground, but you can even meditate lying down if sitting doesn’t feel comfortable to you.

Take three deep breaths in and out of your nose focusing your attention on the air entering your body and filling up your lungs, and then slowly leaving your body. Pay so much attention to the breath that you can sense the difference in temperature of the in and out breaths.

Now place your palms, face up or down on your thighs and continue to breathe naturally. Try not to control the breath, but simply notice the breath as it enters and leaves your body. If your mind begins to wander (and it most likely will) simply return your attention to the breath as soon as you notice. Remember: thinking is normal. The key here is to notice thoughts when they happen and then gently steer your attention back to the breath.

Once this practice starts to feel comfortable, you can increase your sitting time by a few minutes each day, each week, or each month. Start slowly and be gentle with yourself.

These local meditation centers offer support, community, and education:

Common Ground Meditation Center
2700 East 26th Street
Minneapolis, Minnesota 55406
(612)-722-8260

http://commongroundmeditation.org/

Minnesota Zen Meditation Center
3343 East Calhoun Parkway
Minneapolis, MN 55408
612-822-5313

http://www.mnzencenter.org/

Mind Roads Meditation Center
2046 St. Clair Avenue
St. Paul, MN 55105
Telephone: 651-225-1443

http://mindroads.com/

The Metamorphosis Center
1301 East Cliff Road, Suite 105
Burnsville, MN 55337
(612) 730-2250

http://www.themetamorphosiscenter.net/

Men and Depression

June 5th, 2014

In observance of National Men’s Health Week, June 9th through June 15th, we are highlighting some information and resources on men and depression.

More than 6 million men in the U.S. have depression each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Not everyone will experience the same symptoms. For men, symptoms of depression may include feeling very tired and irritable, and a lose of interest in their work, family, or hobbies. Other symptoms of depression may include:

> Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
> Feelings of hopelessness, pessimism
> Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness
> Decreased energy, fatigue, being “slowed down”
> Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
> Difficulty sleeping, early-morning awakening, or oversleeping
> Appetite and/or weight changes
> Thoughts of death or suicide; suicide attempts
> Persistent physical symptoms

There are different treatment options that can help, which may include medication, therapy, or combination of both. With effective treatment, the symptoms of depression will gradually get better. Like any other health condition, early treatment is important.

For more resources and information, please visit:

Twitter Chat on Men and Depression – June 10, 2014
To learn more about the symptoms, causes, and treatments for depression in men, please join the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) for a Twitter chat during National Men’s Health Week on Tuesday, June 10, 2014, from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. CT. NIMH expert Matthew Rudorfer, M.D., chief of the Somatic Treatments Program, will be answering questions related to men and depression during the chat.
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/news/science-news/2014/nimh-twitter-chat-on-men-and-depression.shtml

General Information on Men and Depression – National Institute of Mental Health
Get information on signs and symptoms of depression as it pertains to men, available treatment, and seeking help for depression.
http://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression/men-and-depression/index.shtml

Online Mental Health Screening
The Mental Health Association of Minnesota has partnered with Screening for Mental Health, Inc. to provide free online screening for mood and anxiety disorders. This anonymous online assessment screens for depression, bipolar disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. This screening is not a substitute for a diagnosis, but it will help determine whether or not a consultation from a health professional would be helpful. If you want to follow-up with a health provider, but have limited or no health insurance, MHAM can help find a sliding fee clinic or other medical coverage options. To speak with an advocate, call 651-493-6634 or 800-862-1799.
http://www.mentalhealthmn.org/be-informed/education-programs/online-screening-for-mood-and-anxiety-disorders

Get Help. Get Well.
Get Help Get Well helps people understand what to expect when seeking mental health care for the first time. Get Help Get Well includes information on…
> The first steps to obtaining care; healthcare providers to see initially; and factors to consider when seeking a healthcare provider.
> What may occur in the initial appointment; questions that may be asked by the health professional; and questions the patient may want to ask their health provider
http://www.mentalhealthmn.org/be-informed/get-help-get-well

Yoga for Anxiety and Depression

May 19th, 2014

by MHAM Volunteer Stefanie Motta

As anyone who has experienced anxiety or depression knows, support from friends, family, a therapist, or an advocate is crucial. Yet, learning skills to support ourselves through difficult times can empower us to heal throughout an entire lifetime. One of the most effective self-care practices that I have found is yoga. This ancient Indian practice has been embraced around the globe as a system for achieving physical, mental, and emotional health, and research is now showing that regular yogic practice can alleviate symptoms of anxiety and depression.

After healing from her own depression using yoga and meditation techniques, yoga teacher and author Amy Weintraub, has dedicated her career to helping others feel better. In an interview for the May 2013 issue of Yoga Journal, Weintraub explains why yoga can be an effective component of any mental health treatment plan, “It lowers cortisol, the stress hormone; it activates the parasympathetic system, which is calming; and it deactivates the limbic brain, which is overactive in people who are very anxious or have a history of trauma.”

One of the most noticeable effects of my yoga practice is the sense of calm and peace that come from deep breathing along with the physical postures. When we are stressed, anxious, or depressed, our breathing often becomes shallow and constricted, which can trigger more stress in turn. In addition to the regular deep breathing of a yoga practice, there are many additional yogic breathing techniques that can help us relax when we feel triggered by a stressor or a depressing thought.

“Bee breath” which is named after the buzzing sound that bees make, is one of my favorite yogic breathing techniques. It is instantly calming, and you can try it any time you feel anxious or your mind is spinning. Because of the sound you’ll make, you may want to find a quiet, private place to practice this technique. Sit, or stand comfortably and take a slow, deep breath in and out, allowing your shoulders to relax away from your ears. Now with your eyes closed (if that feels comfortable) take another deep breath in through your nostrils, seal your lips, and breathe out through your nose while making the sound of the letter M until you need to inhale once more. You will make a buzzing sound in the back of your throat each time you exhale through your nose. Repeat this for a few minutes or as long as it feels good.

According to Weinbrub, “The message of yoga is that deep within you, you are whole and healed, no matter what is going on in your life.” Tapping into that mindset and empowering ourselves with tools like yoga can help each of us to find healing on our own path.

The Last Gold Leaf Releases EP Opaque

April 9th, 2014

By Derrick Keith, Band Member, The Last Gold Leaf

opaque_cover

When I was sixteen my parents bought be my first guitar as an Easter present. I never thought of myself as a musician. I was the kind of kid that spent endless hours locked away in my room, pencil in hand, drawing feverishly, seeking desperately to express the fanciful worlds in my head into images on a page. In fact, even as I began writing songs I never imagined I would seek to make a career out of music.

Picking up that guitar unlocked an urgency in me. I found that others could identify with the loneliness and depression that informed my music. And that made us all a little less lonely, the days seem just a little bit brighter. I was hooked and there was no looking back. I set out to find that connection on a larger and larger scale.

If I were to try to sum up my goal as a songwriter in one word I think it would be “fearless.” I believe my role as an artist is to bring light to those dark places in our psyche that we become afraid to talk about. The unpretty things: addiction, poverty, hunger, betrayal. It seems as if our culture is almost engineered to isolate ourselves from one another. But it’s in recognizing our griefs, our failures, in forgiving that we can tear down the walls we built originally to protect us. The walls we found cut us off from our lifelines.

I have seen friends, family members, lovers, strangers in deep hurt. In need of help. Become helpless. But I believe in the power of music to heal. To foster community. To open up wounds to draw the infection out. I seek to bring to the surface the ugliness so we can accept one another.

That’s why I reached out to the Mental Health Association of Minnesota (MHAM). Music can raise the questions, but MHAM has the resources to help heal the wounds. None of us can do it alone. According to the National Institute on Mental Health’s website, In 2012 18.6 percent of adults ages 18 and above were diagnosed with mental illnesses. That’s almost 2 out of every 10 people. And that’s just the people seeking help.

If you or a loved one you know have questions, seek help.

The Mental Health Association of Minnesota is proud to support the band The Last Gold Leaf in their upcoming EP release party for their new album Opaque. Through this release party for the EP Opaque, The Last Gold Leaf hopes to generate awareness of mental health and point people in the right direction to find treatment and services for mental illnesses.  Staff from MHAM will be at the party to share information about mental health and our services. A portion of the proceeds from this event will benefit the Mental Health Association of Minnesota.

Guests include: Parachute Empire, The Lost Wheels, and Kara Doten

Featuring photography by Haythem Lafaj

Location
The Stu
77 13th Ave NE
MInneapolis, MN

Cost: $11

Purchase tickets here.

What to Expect at Your First Appointment

March 20th, 2014

Seeing a health professional for any type of health condition can be daunting. Being prepared before an appointment can alleviate some of that pre-appointment angst and can create better outcomes after the visit. Below are a few possible questions that may be asked from your health professional and questions that you may want to ask during that appointment. Having some of these written down before your appointment may be helpful.

The following are some questions that may be asked by the health professional you are seeing:

  • What symptoms are you experiencing or have experienced, frequency and intensity, and how has this affected your daily life/routines?
  • Is there a past history of mental health issues?
  • Any family history of mental health issues?
  • Any substance abuse – past and present?
  • What prescribed medications, over-the-counter medications, dietary and herbal remedies, and vitamins or minerals are you taking?

You may want to ask your health provider about the recommended course of treatment and what options are available to treat your health condition, along with expectations of each.

If you are prescribed a medication, you may want to ask:

  • What the medication is for and how is it going to help you?
  • How and when should you take it and how much should you take?
  • How long will you be on this medication?
  • What should you do if you miss a dose?
  • Will it interact with other prescription or over-the-counter medications, dietary or herbal remedies, vitamins or minerals?
  • Should it be taken with food? What food or drinks should you avoid while taking this medication?
  • What are the side effects of this medication and what should you do if you experience them?
  • Who should you contact if you have any problems or questions about the medication(s)?

For more information on seeking help, visit Get Help, Get Well on the MHAM website.

 

Contacting a Health Provider About a Mental Health Condition

March 12th, 2014

When symptoms of a mental health condition emerge, knowing whom to contact can be somewhat confusing.  Below provides some information on who to contact first, type of professionals one might see, and tips on seeking a provider.

If you have health insurance, you can either contact your health care provider or contact your insurance provider for covered health providers. If you do not have insurance or you have limited coverage, you may want to call your county to see if you qualify for services for mental health treatment.

Depending on the type of coverage you have and what your health provider recommends, the type of health professional you see initially may vary.

Primary care providers or general practitioners can provide the initial assessment to see if you are experiencing a mental health condition. If necessary, they can provide medications for certain types of mental health conditions and can also provide a referral to a mental health professional for further evaluation and treatment. They may also utilize labs or medical tests to rule out any contributing health issue that may be causing your symptoms.

There are many different types of mental health professionals and many types of therapies. The type of therapy will often depend on each individual and the condition(s) that need to be addressed. Certain mental health professionals can also prescribe medications if needed.

Things to consider or to ask when seeking a provider:

  • Review information (bios) about available health professionals. What are their specialties? How available are they at the desired location?
  • Do you have any specific requests for finding a health professional? (culture specific, gender specific, faith-based, prior military background, etc.)
  • Your appointment may be set up by a scheduler. Be sure to let them know if you have any specific requests.
  • Would it be helpful to have a trusted friend or family member help you make the first appointment? For some, a loved one may provide that needed encouragement and support for seeking care.

For more information on seeking help, visit Get Help, Get Well on the MHAM website.  Do you have more questions about contacting a health provider? Please contact us.

*      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *      *

If you are in crisis or thinking about harming yourself, or know someone who is, tell someone who can help immediately.

  • Do not leave your friend or relative alone, and do not isolate yourself.
  • Call 911 or go to a hospital emergency room to get immediate help, or ask a friend or family member to help you do these things.

Over One Third of Adults With MDE Did Not Speak With a Health Professional

February 27th, 2014

In any given year, about 7% of the U.S. adult population experiences a major depressive episode (MDE). In a recent issue of The NSDUH Report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration looked at combined data from the 2008 to 2012 National Surveys on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) that showed that more than one third of adults with past year MDE (38.3%) did not talk to a health professional or alternative service professional during the past 12 months. Of those who did seek help, 48% consulted with a health professional, 10.7% percent talked to both a health professional and an alternative service professional, and 2.9% talked to alternative service professional. The report suggests that primary care providers should consider using screening tools to identify patients that may be experiencing depression.

To view the The NSDUH Report: http://www.samhsa.gov/data/spotlight/spot133-major-depressive-episode-2014.pdf

For information on resources and the latest news and research on depression, please visit the MHAM website at http://www.mentalhealthmn.org/be-informed/mental-health-resources/depression

Off Leash Area Presents Maggie’s Brain

January 14th, 2014

By Jennifer Ilse, Co-Artistic Director, Off-Leash Area

I have sweet memories of my brother Craig, 11 years my elder. Accompanying him to Boy Scout meetings, camping, swimming, pine cone fights, building snowmen… Though at times he staked out his rightful place as older tormenting brother, he clearly adored me, loved to teach me and show me the world and the things he loved in it. At age 19 he developed acute paranoid schizophrenia, and that was the end of that chapter of our lives together. I was confused, terribly embarrassed by his behavior in front of my friends, and I missed my old Craig dearly.

I watched our parents’ frustration and grief as they struggled with understanding what to say, what to do, what to feel. And I kept my own emotions well constructed in front of them and everyone else.

As the director of a dance and theater company, art is my most comfortable form of expression of the deepest places in my soul. And hence was born Maggie’s Brain from my memories of this period of intense struggle. This was in a small town in the mid-70’s – a time and place where most people didn’t know what schizophrenia was; it was still believed that “cold” mothers were the cause, and nobody ever talked about mental illness except in hushed and generally misinformed whispers. Thankfully my parents were able to find significant emotional and practical support through the local chapter of NAMI, and as a result Craig was able to get into a network of support that enabled him to have a safe and fruitful life.

Though Maggie’s Brain is not a replica of my family’s story with mental illness, it is born from those intense memories of confusion, guilt, anxiety, love, and grief. I researched and talked with many people who have experienced mental illness personally and professionally, and from all of our experiences created a version of this journey. The social and political environment for mental illness has also improved significantly since that period of time. But the struggle, the frighteningly intense emotions, the desire for communication and understanding, are part of everyone’s journey whose lives are touched by mental illness. Maggie’s Brain is my artistic expression of that journey.

You can see Maggie’s Brain at The Cowles Center in Minneapolis, January 24-26, 2014. I hope you can come.

Maggies_Brain-01

 

DATES/TIMES/TICKETS
At the Cowles Center for Performing Arts
January 24/25/26, Fri/Sat 8pm & Sun 7pm
FULL DETAILS at www.thecowlescenter.org
Tickets: Adults $25, Students/Seniors $23/ Under 21 $19
Group rates available
Reservations: Reserve online at www.thecowlescenter.org or call the box office at 612-206-3600.

There will be a discussion with the artists, mental health professionals, and those directly affected by mental illness after the show on Friday, January 24 and Saturday, January 25 as part of The Cowles Center’s Meet the Company Talk-Back Series.

You can find out more about Off-Leash Area’s work at their website.