SOS Group

How do we console someone who has lost a loved one to suicide?

Many people who have lost a loved one to suicide tell us what they want most is to know that people care about them and are not judging them or the loved one they are grieving. The death of a loved one through any cause is painful, but losing someone we love to suicide adds another layer of pain and emotions to the experience of loss.

In our attempt to help, we can listen to what has helped others in this situation:

* Be there even if you don’t know what to do or say. The comfort of food, flowers, donations to causes, offers to help with final plans, and babysitting, can bring some comfort to those who are grieving

* Mention by name the person who has died and talk about his/her positive qualities and what you loved about him/her. People don’t want their loved one to be forgotten.

* Listen to your friend’s experience and try to understand what he/she is going through. Sometimes we need to stop ourselves from saying what we might think is helpful, but doesn’t really help those in sorrow, such as “You’re so strong”, “time heals all wounds”, “you will love again”. Our best intentions can be offered in words like “We love you and ________ (lost loved one)”, “What can we do to be helpful right now?” and “How are you getting along?”

* Be aware that other relatives and friends such as children and grandparents can often be overlooked.

* Take care of yourself and know your limitations – when a friend is hurting it takes its toll on you, too.

* As time passes, people appreciate those who remember the anniversary date and birthday of their loved one because they don’t want that person to be forgotten and never mentioned.

* Suffering a loss to suicide is a long-term bereavement. Your acceptance of that and not expecting a person to “snap out of it” will be appreciated.

Marcella Amorese 845 267 2172 x324

amoreseM@mharockland.org

Please join us at our next meeting. Download a copy of our flyer here.

Resources:

American Foundation of Suicide Prevention Toll-Free: 1-888-333-AFSP (2377)

SOS Support Group for Survivors of Suicide, MHA of RC 845-267-2172

(A professionally facilitated group for those who have lost someone to suicide)

How Technology Can Help With Mental Health Recovery

The importance of interpersonal connection in mental health treatment doesn’t need to be argued. We need another person to get support and encouragement for new skills development; we need to feel accepted and loved before we can heal an old trauma; we need someone who would give us a hope in overcoming depression and other mental health issues.

But what if depression, low self-esteem, embarrassment, fear or social anxiety are in the way of connecting to others? In most of these cases, people prefer to isolate without asking for help or they stay away from making progress in their recovery.

Technology has opened a new era in mental health support. There are multiple web-based and phone applications which allow you to not only get information about your diagnosis, symptoms and medication side effects, they help you to monitor and manage your mood, improve your memory, develop critical thinking. They improve your time management and communication skills, they provide opportunities for budgeting money and even allow you to virtually travel to the country of your dream.

Along with the direct benefits of computer and phone-based applications, it was noticed that technology has a lot of indirect positive effects. The latest example is the game “Pokemon Go” which according to self-reports, has an unexpected improvement in depression and anxiety. The game makes people leave their houses and go out, which is not easy for people struggling with depression. Evidence-based practice shows that web-based and computer applications help people to stay focused and engaged which has been a real obstacle in mental health treatment. They increase motivation and stimulate self-directed activities.

Being aware and excited about multiple opportunities that technology offers to the mental health field, we are implementing new approaches and methods in the group treatment modality in our PROS program. Our members work on computer projects creating wellness tools for themselves to manage uncomfortable feelings. Group participants develop daily living skills, while expanding their knowledge about resources available in the community working with web-based applications. We are looking forward to exploring other technologies and applying them in our practice to help people with rebuilding their lives for a more satisfactory and productive future

Tatyana Yelizarova, PhD

Professional Clinician, PROS

CAN RESIDENTIAL SERVICES HELP ME IN MY RECOVERY?

Residential Services offer housing and essential rehabilitation services to people diagnosed with serious psychiatric disabilities. The day-to-day rehabilitative and support activities performed in community residences and other housing settings are vital for people who face the daily challenges of living with a psychiatric disability, but who want to live independent, productive and satisfying lives as members of the community.

The settings can be either transitional or permanent and the supports and services are individualized and fluid including counseling and crisis intervention. The programs are intended to respond to the needs of individuals who have expressed a desire to live independently, but as a result of symptoms, psychosis or frequent hospitalizations and crisis cannot obtain or maintain independent living. The goal of each program is to provide residents with a safe, comfortable, supportive place to live as they continue their recovery and acquire the skills needed to achieve their desired level of independence.

There are different settings for residential services, not necessarily a continuum but rather based on a person’s needs and desires. Services are individualized and actually identified after application is complete. Some programs are in community residences, where many components are conducted in small group forums with an emphasis on relationships and self-help. Others are in apartment settings throughout the community, with two or three people sharing the apartment and counselors visit to provide services and support. Supported Housing programs offer permanent independent living with residential assistance as needed/desired.

Residential services can provide a place for you to gain independence while you learn to manage your disability. Whether you need just a little help getting back on your feet or more extensive support, it is provided in a place where you can feel at home. Services offered are independent living skills, medication and symptom management, socialization and self expression skills. For one person services might include learning to build small, practical steps to lessen the effect of symptoms on your functioning or to know how to take action before symptoms become a major problem. For another the focus might be on stabilizing their health or new dietary concerns in a supportive setting.

The lower level of stress is often just the environment to interrupt and stop a pattern of multiple hospitalizations and crisis. A residential service program might help you to avoid a hospitalization or enable you to shorten a hospitalization. A place to live and focus on your recovery can ease the strain on familial or other social relationships. Dedicated counselors are always available to offer support and advocacy in all areas of your life and recovery.

The process of applying and/or deciding to live in a residence program is very individualized and relaxed. Programs offer opportunities to meet those who live and work in the programs and to visit the locations prior to deciding. You are able to include others whom you feel you want to be part of your decision. Discharge planning begins at the time of application with the ultimate goal always for residential services to assist you to be successful in your recovery and attain the most independent living you want!

We are the “Champions”: Trauma-Informed Care

I was chosen to participate in a Trauma-Informed Care Learning Collaborative through OASAS from April through August.  We are known as “Champions” as we are hoping to help our agencies realize the importance of practicing trauma-informed care.  Most of the clients that we work with have experienced trauma and it is extremely important for MHA as an agency to be informed of the impact trauma has on people.  Trauma impacts and impairs people relationships, emotion regulation, physical and mental health, perceptions and beliefs and cognitive functioning (School of Social Work, University of Buffalo).  “Trauma-Informed Care calls for a change in organizational culture, where an emphasis is placed on understanding, respecting and appropriately responding to the effects of trauma at all levels” (Bloom, 2010).   The road to Trauma-Informed Care conducts early and respectful trauma screening and assessment for all, includes providers and provides in planning and evaluation of services, provides introductory training to all staff, addresses any potential retraumatizing policies and procedures, establishes an internal trauma team and ensures administrative commitment to integrating a trauma-informed culture (Fallot & Harris, 2001).   There are five guiding principles for trauma-informed care which include safety (staff and client’s), trustworthiness, choice, collaboration and empowerment (SAMSHA, 2014).  As an agency it is important that we do not retraumatize our clients, which is why becoming Trauma-Informed is so important.  “When an event is traumatic, it may negatively impact individuals, organizations and systems of care on multi-levels.  Trauma-Informed Care is about ensuring all individuals feel physically and emotionally safe, are noticed and listened to, and are given a voice”. (ITTIC, 2014).  It is my hope, as a “Champion” that I can help bring about the change in our agency to become Trauma-Informed as I think this will help us to better serve our clients and will aid in our client’s success.

Brianne Fegarsky, Recovery Services