MHA is offering a free two-day training on suicide prevention – called ASIST – on June 2 and 3, 2015

For immediate release

Event:   Suicide Prevention Training June 2nd and 3rd

Contact: Sonia Wagner, Mental Health Association of Rockland, 845-267-2172, x323

The Mental Health Association of Rockland is offering a free two-day, highly interactive training on suicide prevention, called ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training), to the general community on June 2nd and 3rd from 9am to 5pm (registration at 8:30am), with breakfast and lunch provided.

Through video, lecture, and roleplaying, participants will learn how to engage a person who has suicidal thoughts, help them to develop a safety plan, and connect them to additional supports if necessary.

“It is a kind of CPR class for suicide prevention,” said Sonia Wagner, executive vice president of the Mental Health Association.  “So often people are afraid to ask a loved one about suicidal thinking.   In fact, we find that a person who is thinking about suicide is generally relieved to discuss it and grateful that someone cared enough to ask.”

ASIST training has been delivered to over 500,000 people in more than ten countries.

The ASIST training will be offered at the Mental Health Association in Valley Cottage.  To register, please call the Association at 845-267-2172, x320.

My Friend’s Depression is not Going Away. What Should I Do?

It is hard to see a friend you care about sink into sadness or withdrawal and to not know what to say or do to help. Depression is a serious but treatable disorder that affects 1 out of every 10 people over their lifetime. It causes tremendous pain for the individual suffering from depression and the people close to them too.

The first step to help is to understand. Depression is not feeling blue for a week or two, but is more intense and lasts longer. The signs and symptoms of depression are different for each person, but can include the following:

  • Feeling sad, hopeless, irritable or excessively crying without an apparent cause
  • Losing interest in activities that you had enjoyed in the past
  • Losing or gaining weight unintentionally
  • Sleeping poorly or oversleeping
  • Having less energy or feeling lethargic
  • Having persistent feelings of guilt, worthlessness or helplessness
  • Having trouble making decisions or concentrating
  • Having thoughts of suicide or death
  • Abusing alcohol or drugs

Depression affects a person’s attitude and beliefs. When a depressed individual says “no one cares for me” or “nothing will ever change”, these comments need to be viewed as symptoms of their depression.

Remember that depressed people aren’t lazy. They are ill. Everyday activities like going to work or school, cleaning the house, paying bills or feeding the dog may seem overwhelming to them. Just like someone with the flu they may not feel up to it and need your help.

Your friend may not recognize that they are depressed or they may feel that they can “tough it out” or overcome what they are feeling by willpower alone. As a friend the best thing for you to do is to listen to them, provide hope and to be there for your friend. It is generally not helpful to give advice or to suggest that they “can snap out of it” or try to “fix” them. If your friend expresses that they are not depressed or don’t need your help, don’t push them to acknowledge their problem, but instead continue to keep in touch with them.

If your friend is currently receiving professional help, support their treatment, and if they had not sought help, suggest that they seek help by a mental health professional. Most people suffering from depression can be treated by psychotherapy or a combination of psychotherapy and medication. If they do not begin to improve within 6 to 8 weeks, suggest that they speak with their doctor or another mental health provider for a consultation.

If your friend begins to express any hints about harming themselves or others, you should contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK.

Trying to help someone who is depressed can be draining and stressful for you so remember that you didn’t cause the depression and it is also important to take care of your own emotional health.

For more information about community resources, call MHA’s Client and Family Advocate at 845-267-2172, ext. 296.

Jerry Marton, L.C.S.W.

ACT Team Leader

ACT offers a team-approach that engages people in their communities – providing much of the support and care in people’s homes and neighborhoods.  The program is designed for individuals who have not found enough success in more traditional settings.

Raising a Male of Color Today

Raising a Male of Color Today
by Mary Evans, Senior Case Manager

People often say, “raising a child starts in the home”. Even though this concept is still widely uttered throughout America, then why do the same great principles and values that African American males are taught in their home, fail them outside the home? As a single, college educated African-American female, I raised my son up in the Church. I attended every parent-teacher’s meeting for 12 years of his life. I introduced him to the public library. I taught him wrong from right. I was not a substance abuser or an absent parent. We ate as a family each night when I did not have to work. I also held down 3 jobs to support my son. He grew up in an educated, working family. However, I never felt a need to worry until my son received his driver’s license. This is when the rules changed. My son went from being just an ordinary American male to a black or African
American male, who had to be taught the rules of the road as a black or African American male versus his White counterparts. It is unfair, it is unjust and it is maddening. But it is reality.

How could I ask him to understand something I did not understand myself? If you are an African American parent or parent(s) or person of color raising a light, brown, or black skinned male, what was your life experience? How many of you stayed up at night till your son came home? How many of you taught your son the 10 to 2 rule if he is pulled over by the police? How many of you worried when your son drove home from college out of state or vice versa? What about when your son relocated to a Southern state from a big city state like New York: Did you worry that the New York license plate would target him as suspect for drug dealing?

As an intensive case manager (at that time) and social work professional advocating for the rights of others, I work with white, light, brown and black skinned males between the ages of 6-21. As an intensive case manager, I provided advocacy services and linking population of clients served to resources in and out of the community. These services are based upon a client’s treatment plan goals. Nonetheless, there was one incident I do remember that took place in a local restaurant occupied by majority white patrons. This incident challenged my advocacy skills because it involved prejudice against two male youths of color, who happened to be clients of MHA. The two youths and I had just ended a socialization/recreational activity, which happened to be part of their treatment plan goal. Since they were hungry, I decided to finish the afternoon by treating them to a meal at a local restaurant before taking them home. When the youth finished their meal, it was time to pay the bill utilizing agency flex funds. The service was poor, so I decided not to leave a tip and complain privately to the owner. Before I could launch a complaint, a group of white women told the restaurant owner they saw the youths take money (tips) from the table we occupied. After being questioned by the owner; humiliated by the restaurant owner; and stared at by the group of white accusers, the two youths overheard the accusations and began denying it. They even went as far as proving their innocence by pulling their shirt and short pockets inside out. This was an embarrassing moment for the youths, and I was livid at seeing the youths reaction. When the restaurant owner learned I did not leave a tip at the table, he became apologetic, but it was too late. The damage was done as one of the youth said to me, “Mary, we did not steal any money: why did they blamed us?” I was plagued by so many emotions after hearing these words. I wanted to lash out, but was it the right thing to do in my professional role?

From a professional perspective, I have encountered many similar situations–different names, but same players. It’s disheartening but even more challenging to maintain a cool, calm composure while in the presence of youths, who are watching your every reaction. Various trainings and workshops have given me the tools to turn these unfortunate, distasteful experiences into fortunate teachable moments. The fortunate part about situations like these is that here at The Mental Health Association of Rockland (MHA) exists a Cultural Competency Committee, of which I was a member. The purpose of this committee is to ensure that ALL populations regardless of color, gender, disability, and culture are treated with dignity and respect. The Cultural Competency Committee is one of the most profound structural changing agents at The Mental Health Association. It is the “watchdog” for injustices experienced by our consumers and/or client population. The trainings provide skills that align with my value system then and now. As a huge advocate for children and adolescents, I am a firm believer that if injustices (racism, sexism, classism) faced by our youths of color continue to go unchecked and swept under the rug, it will continue to have a profound effect on children and adolescents and lead to more movements currently taking place in America today—“Hands Up Don’t Shoot” and “I Can’t Breathe”!!!

As your son’s role model, I want to leave you with these thoughts to ponder… what has or is your experience raising a male of color? If you are an adult male of color, how do you handle incidents of racial profiling in the presence of your son? In light of today’s headlines focusing on police brutality toward males of color, what advice do you give your 12 – 18 year old son who just received his driver’s license? Do you find that males of color, who are diagnosed with a serious emotional disorder get treated fairly in the justice system? What are you teaching your male(s) of color?
Mary Evans is the Senior Case Manager for the Children’s Case Management Program.
She can be reached at 845-267-2172, x272.
For additional information on our programs, please contact the Client & Family Advocate at 845-267-2172, x296.

What to do if you find drugs in your child’s room?

What to do if you find drugs in your child’s room?

It’s one of every parent’s nightmares. During a routine cleaning of your child’s room you accidentally come across a benign little baggie. Curiosity gets the best of you, and you open it up only to be shocked to find your teen’s stash of drugs. At first, you think your eyes must be playing a trick on you. After all, your child would never do drugs, especially after so many candid discussions about the pitfalls of addiction and the dangers of drugs. Right!?

Wrong.

The truth is that you are not alone, and you if come across your child’s stash of drugs, you can count yourself as one of the lucky parents. At least you know.

The trick is knowing what to do once you find the drugs. Of course, you are angry, and most parents’ FIRST reaction is to get angry and take away all freedoms that their teen has. While experts agree that consequences are necessary and should be immediate when parents realize their child is experimenting. It is also important for parents to keep the lines of communication necessary so they can ascertain the extent of their teens drug use.

Important questions that you need answered.

Is your teen just experimenting, or are they on the road to addiction?

Where did they obtain the drugs?

How long have they been doing drugs?

Why does your child feel the “need” to do drugs?

 

So what should you do now?

First, sit down and have an open, clear-headed conversation with your child. This is a time to build trust, to encourage your child to open up to you, to find out what is going on in their head and in their life. If you are too accusatory-your teen will think that you just don’t understand and will clam up – only hindering a positive ending.

The next step, regardless of the admitted level of drug use – is to seek some sort of drug and alcohol counseling from a professional experienced in the field.

Additionally, expose them in some manner – to the life that is ahead of them should they continue to use drugs.

Kids all over the country are becoming addicted to multiple different substances from every kind of background imaginable from the poorest of the poor to the very wealthy.

Don’t ever underestimate the role that peer pressure plays in a child’s drug use and do not give in to the guilt trip, because your child will not be helped by a parent who is feeling guilty and thus too immobilized to do anything.

If you suspect drug abuse is taking place, however, it is your responsibility as a parent to try to get help for your child. Drug abuse ruins lives, tears families apart and sometimes kills. It is nothing to be ignored!!!!!

Juliet Stiebeck is the Program Director of Recovery Services, a State-certified addictions recovery program at MHA Rockland.
Contact her at 845-267-2172, x225.

For information on programs offered at MHA Rockland and throughout the County, call our Client/Family Advocate at 845-267-2172, x296.

Should I Allow My Adult Child with Mental Illness to Move Back into My Home?

Should I Allow My Adult Child with Mental Illness to Move Back into My Home?

As parents we are often faced with the challenging decision as to how to best support our adult children.  How much help is too much help? How do we decide when we are helping and when we are hurting the growth and maturity process that we so desire in our children? When you compound this question with factors such as chronic medical and mental health concerns, the picture can become even more difficult to sort out.

When thinking this question through, there are several factors to consider:

Purpose/goal

What is the purpose of your adult child coming home? Are you extending your home as a way to help save money, to provide a layer of supervision, and or to help you with various responsibilities? These are all valid purposes that I recommend are clarified and discussed between you and your adult child. It is sometimes wise to write out the purpose to ensure that there is agreement. One of the most common reasons for living arrangements to be unsuccessful is due to the lack of agreement around Issues of purpose.

Time frame

How long are you willing to house your adult child? Are you expecting it to be a short term solution to an immediate crisis? Or, have you decided that she/he can stay as long as they want or need your help? How will you both know that it is time for her/him to move on? I would strongly urge you to have an open conversation with your adult child, clarifying your intention and inquiring as to how long they anticipate utilizing housing assistance from you. The best scenario will be one in which you both understand the expectations of the other and are working on being respectful of those expectations.

Responsibilities

Unmet expectation often arises from a lack of clarity around the responsibilities that are being ascribed to another. Before your adult child comes home, very clear expectations around who is responsible for what should be discussed and agreed upon. For example, are you expecting a financial contribution? If so, how much and how often do you expect payment? Are there household chores that you expect your child to participate in completing? If so, what are they, how often do you want them done and is there a special way to do them? It may be important to think of your adult child as an adult first and your child second when thinking about living together. This could aid in helping them continue to mature as adults, especially when and if they leave your home again.

Getting help

It’s important to get help in thinking through the option of allowing your adult child with a mental illness to move back into your home. It is always appropriate to seek advice from professionals. In many instances your adult child with mental illness is involved in treatment and may have a team of
professionals who are working with him/her and can shed light on this dilemma. For example, at MHA,we regularly engage family members and important individuals whom our members have identified to help them achieve their goals.

The long and short of it is that the decision to allow your adult child with mental illness to move home is a personal and individual decision based on many factors. Unfortunately, there isn’t a set answer that will fit every situation. However, with careful consideration, open and honest upfront discussion, and input from professionals, the best decision for you and your loved one can be attained.

Sylvia Wright, LMSW
Director
Adult Treatment and Rehabilitative Services