Mental Health America Blog https://www.mhanational.org/ en Navigating student mental health challenges and opportunities at HBCUs https://www.mhanational.org/blog/navigating-student-mental-health-challenges-and-opportunities-hbcus <span>Navigating student mental health challenges and opportunities at HBCUs</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=xuNItosB 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=vOgxD8d8 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=cdNRbfWI 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=X3ZdBwLq 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=YyLGTwaY 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=-D-OoZM5 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=xuNItosB 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=vOgxD8d8 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=cdNRbfWI 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=X3ZdBwLq 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=YyLGTwaY 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=-D-OoZM5 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <img srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=xuNItosB 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=vOgxD8d8 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=cdNRbfWI 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=X3ZdBwLq 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=YyLGTwaY 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=-D-OoZM5 1800w" sizes="100vw" src="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-02/HBCU-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=-D-OoZM5" alt="Two students of color look at books together while sitting on the grass" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/mha-admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">MHA Admin</span></span> <span>Fri, 02/16/2024 - 15:50</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">February 20, 2024 </div> <div class="em pt-2 pb-2 field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Chayil Bullock-Mariscal</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) stand as beacons of empowerment and academic excellence within the African American community. Beyond academics, these institutions cultivate a feeling of inclusion, cultural pride, and support from a community of individuals that not only resemble you, but sincerely want to see each student succeed. Like any institution, HBCUs face unique challenges when it comes to supporting student mental health, but they are providing innovative approaches to address these issues.</p> <p>The historical stigma surrounding mental health within the African American community is one of the leading challenges. Seeking help for mental health is frequently viewed as a sign of weakness, preventing students from seeking the support they need and leading to unrecognized and untreated mental health diagnoses, potentially impacting an individual's day-to-day routine, academic and work performances, and overall well-being. Compared to larger, predominantly white institutions, HBCUs often have limited resources or funding to provide comprehensive mental health services. Budget constraints may limit the number of on-campus counseling services, mental health professionals, or programs. This lack of resources can make it hard for students who deal with other financial and personal responsibilities to access timely, affordable, and culturally effective care. In addition, the intersectionality of race, gender, and socioeconomic status adds to the mental health experiences of students at HBCUs, causing <a href="https://votervoice.s3.amazonaws.com/groups/apaadvocacy/attachments/APA_HBCU%20mental%20health_fact-sheet.pdf" target="_blank">higher rates of anxiety</a>, depression, and other challenges.</p> <p>Don't be fooled, though. Despite these challenges, HBCUs offer opportunities for innovative approaches to supporting student mental health. Leveraging the strong sense of community and cultural pride that is fostered in these institutions can provide peer-to-peer support. By addressing unique challenges faced by students, creating safe spaces for open dialogue about mental health, promoting awareness, and fostering acceptance, HBCUs can continue their legacy of breaking down barriers and nurturing the growth of young people of color.</p> <p>HBCUs encourage student-led initiatives and collaborations with faculty and administration, further strengthening mental health support within these environments. These student-led initiatives, such as mental health awareness campaigns, support groups, and wellness workshops, empower individuals to become agents of change within their communities and cultivate self-advocacy for well-being.</p> <p>But HBCUs can go even further by prioritizing the recruitment of diverse mental health professionals who understand the unique cultural experiences of African American students. Through the lens of a student, seeing individuals who resemble them – their backgrounds and identities – and are passionate about not only their well-being but their aspirations creates trust, breaks stigma, and increases the desire to access mental health services.By acknowledging and addressing cultural stigmas, expanding access to resources, and fostering a culture of support and empowerment, HBCUs will continue to uphold their legacy as beacons of hope and opportunity for generations to come. HBCUs serve as catalysts for positive change within the African American community while embracing their heritage and creating paths toward healing, resilience, and liberation in the pursuit of mental wellness. As these institutions continue to evolve and adapt to the ever-changing needs of their student populations, prioritizing mental health must remain a focus.</p> <p style="margin-top:32px !important;">Chayil Bullock-Mariscal (she/her) is a member of the 2023-2024 Mental Health America <a href="https://mhanational.org/young-leaders/council">Young Leaders Council</a>.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/minority-mental-health" hreflang="en">BIPOC mental health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/youth-mental-health" hreflang="en">youth mental health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/college" hreflang="en">college</a></div> </div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.mhanational.org/blog/navigating-student-mental-health-challenges-and-opportunities-hbcus" data-a2a-title="Navigating student mental health challenges and opportunities at HBCUs"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_button_instagram"></a></span><section> </section> Fri, 16 Feb 2024 20:50:16 +0000 MHA Admin 26128 at https://www.mhanational.org Guest blog: How Hip Hop Therapy is reshaping mental health care https://www.mhanational.org/blog/guest-blog-how-hip-hop-therapy-reshaping-mental-health-care <span>Guest blog: How Hip Hop Therapy is reshaping mental health care</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=hByRzXgD 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=NbNPaLVB 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=Z-8W2163 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=ccVFpVVl 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=WZmE-y8S 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=cxiGvBLK 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=hByRzXgD 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=NbNPaLVB 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=Z-8W2163 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=ccVFpVVl 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=WZmE-y8S 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=cxiGvBLK 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <img srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=hByRzXgD 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=NbNPaLVB 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=Z-8W2163 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=ccVFpVVl 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=WZmE-y8S 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=cxiGvBLK 1800w" sizes="100vw" src="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Therapy.jpg.webp?itok=cxiGvBLK" alt="Hip Hop Therapy is painted in graffiti style on a concrete wall while people sit around on couches talking in front of it" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/mha-admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">MHA Admin</span></span> <span>Wed, 02/14/2024 - 15:29</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">February 16, 2024 </div> <div class="em pt-2 pb-2 field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Khafre Jay</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>This blog was adapted from a </em><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/breaking-beats-healing-minds-how-hip-hop-therapy-care-jay-he-him--aokic/?trackingId=Kj36FT02TMqoxG4IsgFq0g%3D%3D" target="_blank"><em>longer article</em></a><em>. </em></p> <p>Amidst a backdrop of cultural shifts and persistent mental health crises, a new form of therapy emerges, combining the raw power of Hip Hop with traditional healing practices. This innovative therapeutic approach, known as Hip Hop therapy, isn't just a fringe concept; it's a burgeoning practice that's reshaping how we view mental health care, particularly for those who've felt alienated by traditional methods.</p> <h2>The Genesis of a Movement</h2> <p>The origins of Hip Hop therapy trace back to the streets where Hip Hop itself was born, out of necessity in the marginalized communities of urban America. In these areas, mainly composed of Black and Brown individuals and where systemic barriers such as lack of funding, racial discrimination, and inadequate resources often impede access to mental health care, Hip Hop emerged not just as a cultural movement but as a vital form of expression and resistance.</p> <p>This creation was a testament to the resilience and ingenuity of these communities. In the streets where Hip Hop took root, progressive mental health professionals are recognizing and harnessing its inherent therapeutic potential. They are tapping into a form of healing that speaks directly to the <a href="https://www.mhanational.org/racial-trauma">experiences and traumas of those who have been systematically disenfranchised</a>. This approach is more than a clinical tool; it is an act of reclamation, a way of validating and empowering the voices that white supremacy and its embedded societal structures have long sought to silence. Hip Hop therapy is not just addressing individual mental health needs; it's challenging and rewriting the narrative of mental health care in a society that has too often overlooked the psychological toll of systemic racism and inequality.</p> <blockquote style="margin-bottom:30px !important;margin-top:30px !important;"><p style="color:#385988 !important;font-size:1.2rem !important;">Hip Hop therapy is not just addressing individual mental health needs; it's challenging and rewriting the narrative of mental health care in a society that has too often overlooked the psychological toll of systemic racism and inequality.</p> </blockquote> <h2>Hip Hop Therapy: More Than Just Music</h2> <p>At its core, Hip Hop therapy transcends the simplistic perception of merely nodding heads to beats or rhyming to rhythms. It's a sophisticated, multifaceted practice that intricately weaves together the dynamic elements of Hip Hop – rapping, DJing, graffiti art, and breaking – with established psychological healing methods. This fusion creates a powerful therapeutic modality deeply rooted in <a href="https://www.verywellmind.com/social-learning-theory-2795074" target="_blank">social learning theory</a> and <a href="https://mhanational.org/finding-right-mental-health-care-you#:~:text=of%20your%20treatment.-,Types%20Of%20Treatment,-Psychotherapy%C2%A0is">cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT)</a>.</p> <p>Incorporating social learning theory, Hip Hop therapy leverages the power of observation, imitation, and modeling found in the elements of Hip Hop. When individuals engage in rapping or DJing, they're not just performing; they're embodying narratives, learning from the stories and experiences expressed by others, and reflecting on their own life experiences. This process facilitates a deeper understanding of personal and communal struggles, enabling an environment where change and growth can be nurtured.</p> <blockquote style="margin-bottom:30px !important;margin-top:30px !important;"><p style="color:#385988 !important;font-size:1.2rem !important;">Through Hip Hop therapy, individuals find a platform to narrate their own stories, harnessing the cathartic power of creative expression to embark on a journey of healing and self-discovery.</p> </blockquote> <p>Coupled with <a href="https://www.apa.org/ptsd-guideline/patients-and-families/cognitive-behavioral" target="_blank">CBT</a>, Hip Hop therapy offers a unique avenue for individuals to challenge and reframe negative thought patterns through the creative process. Writing lyrics, for instance, becomes a method of cognitive restructuring, allowing individuals to articulate and process their thoughts and emotions in a constructive manner. Graffiti art and breakdancing provide physical outlets for expression, aligning with CBT principles of engaging in activities that break cycles of depressive or anxious behaviors.</p> <p>The roots of Hip Hop therapy's success extend beyond anecdotal evidence. Dr. Edgar Tyson was a pioneering figure who first coined the term "Hip Hop therapy" in 1998. He systematically integrated Hip Hop culture into clinical settings, setting a precedent for its therapeutic use. Following his groundbreaking work, other researchers have further illuminated the tangible benefits of Hip Hop therapy, including increased resilience, reduced symptoms of depression, and enhanced self-esteem. Through Hip Hop therapy, individuals find a platform to narrate their own stories, harnessing the cathartic power of creative expression to embark on a journey of healing and self-discovery.</p> <h2>Breaking Barriers to Mental Health</h2> <p>For many individuals, particularly in the <a href="https://www.mhanational.org/bipoc">Black and Brown communities</a> that are the lifeblood of Hip Hop, traditional therapy models can often feel alienating. These conventional forms of therapy, with their clinical settings and methodologies, may seem detached from these communities' lived experiences and cultural expressions. This disconnect hinders the therapeutic process and can reinforce feelings of isolation and misunderstanding. In contrast, Hip Hop therapy offers a culturally congruent alternative that uses a familiar and profoundly significant medium to bridge these gaps, making therapy more accessible and personally resonant.</p> <blockquote style="margin-bottom:30px !important;margin-top:30px !important;"><p style="color:#385988 !important;font-size:1.2rem !important;">In a world where many feel silenced or marginalized, Hip Hop therapy offers a space to be heard, understood, and connected with others who share similar experiences.</p> </blockquote> <p>Hip Hop culture, at its core, is about raw expression and unfiltered storytelling. It provides a unique space where vulnerability is accepted and celebrated as a form of strength and authenticity. In a society where expressions of vulnerability, especially from individuals in marginalized communities, are often stigmatized or viewed as weaknesses, Hip Hop stands as a defiant counter-narrative. Within the context of Hip Hop therapy, this celebration of vulnerability transforms the therapeutic experience. It allows individuals to explore and express their emotions, fears, and hopes naturally and empoweringly.</p> <p>Moreover, Hip Hop therapy acknowledges and leverages the communal aspect of Hip Hop culture. Its culture thrives on community support, collective experience, and shared struggles. This aspect is particularly crucial in therapeutic settings, as it fosters participants' sense of belonging and understanding. In a world where many feel silenced or marginalized, Hip Hop therapy offers a space to be heard, understood, and connected with others who share similar experiences.</p> <p class="text-align-center"><img style="max-width:90% !important;" src="https://mhanational.org/sites/default/files/2024-02/Hip-Hop-Is-Therapy.jpg" alt="Hip Hop is Therapy graphic" /></p> <h2>The Future is Here</h2> <p>In today's mental health landscape, where cultural competence is increasingly vital, Hip Hop therapy emerges as a beacon of hope and efficacy. It represents a forward-thinking movement among mental health practitioners who seek innovative, culturally responsive methods to meet the diverse needs of their clients. By marrying traditional therapeutic techniques with the expressive richness of Hip Hop culture, these professionals are not just acknowledging their clients' experiences – they are trailblazing new avenues in mental health care.</p> <p>As we navigate the crossroads of mental health care and cultural evolution, the emergence of Hip Hop therapy is not just a novel approach but a call for a long-overdue paradigm shift. This is an era where the mental health field must align with the rhythms of cultural awareness and inclusivity, and mental health professionals must educate themselves on the legacy of racism and socioeconomic disparities that have shaped the mental health landscape for communities of color.</p> <p style="margin-top:40px !important;"><em>Khafre Jay is Founder and Executive Director of </em><a href="https://www.hiphopforthefuture.org/" target="_blank"><em>Hip Hop For The Future SPC</em></a><em>, which uses the power of Hip Hop Culture to change the Public Healthcare ecosystem in the Bay Area and beyond; writer of the </em><a href="https://www.linkedin.com/newsletters/7058925973865435136/" target="_blank"><em>Unapologetic Black Newsletter</em></a><em>; and radio host at KPOO 89.5 FM.</em></p> <p style="margin-top:24px !important;"><em>The views and opinions expressed in this blog solely belong to the author, and external content does not necessarily reflect the views of Mental Health America.</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/minority-mental-health" hreflang="en">BIPOC mental health</a></div> </div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.mhanational.org/blog/guest-blog-how-hip-hop-therapy-reshaping-mental-health-care" data-a2a-title="Guest blog: How Hip Hop Therapy is reshaping mental health care"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_button_instagram"></a></span><section> </section> Wed, 14 Feb 2024 20:29:19 +0000 MHA Admin 26123 at https://www.mhanational.org 5 types of love we don't talk about enough https://www.mhanational.org/blog/5-types-love-we-dont-talk-about-enough <span>5 types of love we don&#039;t talk about enough</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=N2vR9640 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=tqXRu5ZU 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=w3JAo-Wi 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=0UsnfopP 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=OMAQTRBy 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=HSXe3mve 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=N2vR9640 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=tqXRu5ZU 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=w3JAo-Wi 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=0UsnfopP 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=OMAQTRBy 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=HSXe3mve 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <img srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=N2vR9640 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=tqXRu5ZU 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=w3JAo-Wi 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=0UsnfopP 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=OMAQTRBy 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=HSXe3mve 1800w" sizes="100vw" src="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-02/types-of-love.jpg.webp?itok=HSXe3mve" alt="hands hold a red felt heart and there are rose petals on the grass underneath" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/mha-admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">MHA Admin</span></span> <span>Tue, 02/06/2024 - 15:44</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">February 07, 2024 </div> <div class="em pt-2 pb-2 field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Niya McCray-Brown, Director of Community Engagement</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>“Love” is one of the most difficult words to define. Human beings often think about this essential experience by narrowing their focus to love’s attributes. </p> <ul><li>Is “love” a simple feeling or a complex discipline? </li> <li>Does “love” show up as grand gestures or subtle, intimate moments? </li> <li>Is “love” felt most when given or received? </li> </ul><p>Our experiences of love play a major role in our mental health and wellness. Thinking about love is natural because we all crave and need love and belonging to survive. But love has proven it transcends our imaginations’ attempts to define it over and over again. Our personal experiences are an excellent starting point to begin to imagine the full scope of love, however, due to societal narratives and pressures, people frequently understand the beautiful melody of love as just a single note - that of romantic relationships. </p> <p>In honor of this season of love, allow me to uplift some of the other harmonious elements of love’s melody.</p> <h2>Self-love</h2> <p>Self-love, when done right, is the metronome of your dynamic love melody. It balances and syncs your ability to love others based on your capacity, needs, and goals. Loving yourself is the foundation of all other expressions of love.</p> <ul><li><a href="https://www.mhanational.org/blog/love-yourself-and-our-world-valentines-day">Find some strategies to get started with your self-love practice.</a></li> </ul><h2>Community love</h2> <p>Universal forms of love for our family, friends, and environments are not often the center of Valentine’s Day activities or celebrated in movies, but these are undeniably a critical part of our sense of well-being and belonging. You can create harmony in your life by fostering your relationship with your community through spontaneous check-ins, volunteering, or simply being present with loved ones or in nature to show your appreciation for them.</p> <ul><li>Consider spreading the love in your community this year by participating in <a href="https://www.classy.org/campaign/spread-the-love-2024/c555031" target="_blank">MHA's Spread the Love campaign</a>.</li> </ul><h2>Pet love</h2> <p>Furry, scaly, or feathered, pets bring a sense of comfort, humor, and affection to the lives of their human caretakers. Pets teach us patience and the importance of routines. Bonds created with pets are filled with compassion and care that overflow into our treatment of others and our environment.</p> <ul><li>Show some love to your pet with some <a href="https://store.mhanational.org/products/mha-pet-tag?_pos=1&amp;_sid=51dadfd8c&amp;_ss=r" target="_blank">new bling from the MHA store</a>.</li> <li><a href="https://www.mhanational.org/4mind4body-animal-companionship">Learn more about animal companionship</a>.</li> </ul><h2>Passions</h2> <p>Hobbies, traditions, and goals can be a tremendous source of fulfillment in our daily lives. These practices inspire individuals to strive toward being their best selves and contribute meaningfully to their world. You may love to cook, read, garden, sing, or create and these passions deserve recognition as an expression of love as well.</p> <h2>_______________ (Blank)</h2> <p>The beautiful melody of love is constantly being composed and has a unique tune for every individual. Above are a few examples of unexpected displays of love, but you are the composer of your own piece of “love” music. You can identify one of your personal loves that is special and unique to your own life and fill in the blank here.</p> <ul><li>Trouble getting started? <a href="https://mhanational.org/create-joy-and-satisfaction">Read more about finding joy and satisfaction</a>.</li> </ul><p style="margin-top:20px !important;">Mental Health America is here to provide resources to help you take care of your mental health, practice self-care, and foster healthy relationships. Visit our <a href="https://mhanational.org/spread-love">Spread the Love campaign page</a> to read, listen, or engage with our other resources to boost your sense of belonging this love season.</p> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.mhanational.org/blog/5-types-love-we-dont-talk-about-enough" data-a2a-title="5 types of love we don&#039;t talk about enough"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_button_instagram"></a></span><section> </section> Tue, 06 Feb 2024 20:44:16 +0000 MHA Admin 26120 at https://www.mhanational.org Guest blog: Does shame serve a purpose? https://www.mhanational.org/blog/guest-blog-does-shame-serve-purpose <span>Guest blog: Does shame serve a purpose? </span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=0Owh0dVI 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=MGy_qclY 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=_-WH7HH_ 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=87pk2uYs 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=1qfqLSaP 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=MyTNuB7W 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=0Owh0dVI 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=MGy_qclY 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=_-WH7HH_ 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=87pk2uYs 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=1qfqLSaP 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=MyTNuB7W 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <img srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=0Owh0dVI 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=MGy_qclY 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=_-WH7HH_ 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=87pk2uYs 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=1qfqLSaP 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=MyTNuB7W 1800w" sizes="100vw" src="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-02/shame.jpg.webp?itok=MyTNuB7W" alt="Person sits with head in their hand" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/mha-admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">MHA Admin</span></span> <span>Mon, 02/05/2024 - 10:04</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">February 06, 2024 </div> <div class="em pt-2 pb-2 field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Lexie Manion</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Some of us feel ashamed for losing a relationship or not meeting a specific goal we set out for – which is particularly acute in the New Year when there is pressure to start over, as if we were lacking or inferior before. It can be a dark place to exist. We seem to forget that our worth is constant and not based on real or perceived failures.</p> <blockquote style="margin-bottom:30px !important;margin-top:30px !important;"><p style="color:#385988 !important;font-size:1.2rem !important;">To me, shame is the feeling of guilt magnified.</p> </blockquote> <p>Feeling ashamed, or shame, is commonly associated with “guilt,” which is defined as “<a href="https://dictionary.cambridge.org/dictionary/english/guilt" target="_blank">a feeling of worry or unhappiness</a> that you have because you have done something wrong, such as causing harm to another person.” In a similar vein, shame, however, is experiencing painful humiliation when we feel our behavior is foolish. To me, shame is the feeling of guilt magnified. The effects of shame can be debilitating. Shame surfaces at times we didn’t even do anything wrong.</p> <h2>Does shame serve a purpose in our healings?</h2> <p>I don’t think that shame always serves a useful purpose. When we make mistakes that lead us to seek resolution properly, guilt serves its purpose; guilt doles out accountability for our offenses. However, shame is a few steps down the road and is banking on our guilt to continue beating us up. Guilt helps us grow and learn so we can do better next time. Shame keeps us stuck in place – a prisoner to the inner turmoil.</p> <p>A notable time I experienced guilt was when I was coming out of a depressive episode a couple of years ago. I misunderstood a friend and was upset with her. My friend patiently listened to me and explained her perspective compassionately. Upon hearing her side, something clicked within me that helped me see that she was doing her best and did not intend to hurt me. We then resolved. Lending forgiveness to the people who show up in our lives time and time again is important. Most people don’t intend harm. Guilt stirred in my heart and I was able to mend our relationship.</p> <p>On the other side of this, last year I was dealing with a friend who was crossing boundaries and being inappropriate. It gave my brain whiplash because at the same time that I was working hard to maintain boundaries and keep myself safe, a different friend voiced I was causing them pain. The situations were certainly not opposites of each other; they were nuanced and different. However, it added to my shame because as I was setting boundaries bravely, I was also being accused of lacking them. It was confusing. The boundaries I held in both situations ended our friendships, but the losses reminded me of the strong relationships I still have today. The shame I felt in these situations made me feel as if something was wrong with me. In time, I’ve begun to recognize the internal progress I have made with understanding boundaries, even if others don’t see it. I am learning that some things happen in life beyond our control; we learn that it’s more of a circumstance of the complexity of life than a fault.</p> <p>Sometimes guilt can be of our own making. I experienced guilt when I didn’t meet my goal of making more meals at home last year. Oftentimes when we make resolutions, we assume we completely failed ourselves if we only did well part of the time. Improving a goal even 5% better than last time is still a positive trajectory, though. I have ordered food out frequently in the past, but in the past few months, I have been finding a better balance between cooking meals at home and getting take-out once or twice a week. This is an ever-evolving balance, but I also recognize that I am a full-time student and health care worker. Showing myself compassion when I do not always have the energy to fulfill my goals has made me happier and healthier. I work to not punish myself, but rather, to find balance. Guilt didn’t serve a purpose because I was, in fact, not doing anything wrong by not meeting a self-imposed goal.</p> <blockquote style="margin-bottom:30px !important;margin-top:30px !important;"><p style="color:#385988 !important;font-size:1.2rem !important;">Showing myself compassion when I do not always have the energy to fulfill my goals has made me happier and healthier.</p> </blockquote> <p>Our gut instincts guide us in life; we know when to walk away so we can reclaim our worth. I’ve felt the shame of the losses in my stomach – to the point it was hard to stand up straight. It’s been studied in psychology that communication between our gut and brain is natural and expected as our gut acts as our <a href="https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/health/wellness-and-prevention/the-brain-gut-connection" target="_blank">second brain</a>. The tenseness and absolute sinking feeling were the worst of it. While it’s a distressing feeling, I am so glad my body is letting it out and alerting me to unresolved inner turmoil. We can only begin to let go when we feel the pain for all that it is, so long as we are properly addressing it introspectively and interpersonally. I’m deeply grateful to feel all my emotions – shame and guilt – today and not deny any; it’s freeing to not bottle things up or push them down.</p> <p>One of the bravest things I’ve done is continue to show up to my life when shame urges me to run and hide. We can hold the anxiety and discomfort while not taking it as the only truth. Guilt can certainly serve a useful purpose of bettering ourselves, but we don’t need to allow it to fester into shame. Shame tells lies, so we must fight back with the truth that we are doing our best to navigate a world that is not always built for the empaths and the highly sensitive. Sometimes we look through the looking glass and see our greatest weakness, but when we look more closely, we also see our hearts can be utilized as our greatest strength.</p> <p>As we enter this New Year with a soft gaze on the past and an open stance for what is coming, I hope we can let go of the dull past harm, and feelings of shame attached to it, and embrace our bright future healing. We never have to wait for a new year to find new meaning – every day is a new day; every moment is a new moment to start anew.</p> <p style="margin-top:32px !important;"><em>Lexie Manion works in health care and is a passionate writer, artist, and mental health advocate. </em><a href="https://lexiemanion.com/" target="_blank"><em>Learn more about Lexie</em></a><em>.</em></p> <p style="margin-top:20px !important;"><em>The views and opinions expressed in this blog solely belong to the author, and external content does not necessarily reflect the views of Mental Health America.</em></p> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.mhanational.org/blog/guest-blog-does-shame-serve-purpose" data-a2a-title="Guest blog: Does shame serve a purpose? "><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_button_instagram"></a></span><section> </section> Mon, 05 Feb 2024 15:04:16 +0000 MHA Admin 26115 at https://www.mhanational.org The role of policy in driving peer-to-peer mental health support https://www.mhanational.org/blog/role-policy-driving-peer-peer-mental-health-support <span>The role of policy in driving peer-to-peer mental health support</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=Ejod8T7K 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=NUPlVz-E 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=0elkJuXI 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=95rjCGjI 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=pH1lz18u 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=qqOLTFFd 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=Ejod8T7K 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=NUPlVz-E 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=0elkJuXI 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=95rjCGjI 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=pH1lz18u 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=qqOLTFFd 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <img srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=Ejod8T7K 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=NUPlVz-E 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=0elkJuXI 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=95rjCGjI 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=pH1lz18u 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=qqOLTFFd 1800w" sizes="100vw" src="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-01/youth-town-hall-peer-support.jpg.webp?itok=qqOLTFFd" alt="U.S. Capitol building against a blue sky with clouds" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/mha-admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">MHA Admin</span></span> <span>Tue, 01/30/2024 - 15:28</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">January 31, 2024 </div> <div class="em pt-2 pb-2 field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Saiarchana Darira</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>How can policy be used as a tool to help people feel less alone in the world? </p> <p>When COVID-19 broke out in 2020, I felt deeply alone and isolated from society due to social distancing. Peer support helped me cope with the events that were unfolding in the world, and the support I received inspired my mental health advocacy journey – creating mindfulness initiatives to support others who were struggling with their mental health. </p> <p>I am currently studying environmental science and policy at Columbia University, and it’s easy to see the overlap of the role of policy in driving climate infrastructure. When I first started advocating for mental health resources, I assumed that policy and mental health were two disparate fields that rarely interlapped. Yet, when I joined Mental Health America’s <a href="https://mhanational.org/ypa/2023-24">Youth Policy Accelerator</a> cohort, I realized that policy can drive mental health and peer-to-peer support infrastructure. Policy plays a powerful role in transforming the mental health of communities. </p> <p>Mental Health America recently hosted a <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vh9hCdrx-Jc" target="_blank">Youth Town Hall for Policy Change</a> to discuss the importance of various mental health bills and the role of youth in advocating for mental health policy. The town hall featured multiple speakers in the mental health sector and policy realm, including Parker Reynolds, the health policy advisor for Sen. Bill Cassidy, who discussed the importance of youth actively participating in policy advocacy. He encouraged youth to “take the time to write into their office” because congressional offices are receptive to these letters. Reynolds said around 800 bills in the Senate focus on health care, and people can communicate to Senators which bills they believe need to be prioritized. </p> <p>The town hall also featured a youth leaders panel, where young people from various backgrounds discussed the importance of peer-to-peer support. Dionne Regis, a Youth Policy Accelerator member, discussed how peer-to-peer support is especially essential for “students of color and students of immigrant backgrounds,” where mental health “is often seen as taboo and isn’t talked about as much in the family unit.” Peer-to-peer support can support these individuals in getting access to mental health support if they are not able to find that support at home. </p> <p>Aimee Resnik, another member of the Youth Policy Accelerator, discussed the importance of the <a href="https://www.help.senate.gov/imo/media/doc/support_act_sections.pdf" target="_blank">“peer support technical assistance center”</a> section of the S<a href="https://www.help.senate.gov/support-act-text" target="_blank">ubstance Use-Disorder Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment (SUPPORT) for Patients and Communities Reauthorization Act of 2023</a>, also known as the SUPPORT Reauthorization Act. She discussed how many suicide prevention call centers are experiencing a high increase in calls and have been unable to handle all of them, which is why she believes that expanding secondary peer-to-peer lines is important. </p> <h2>What is the SUPPORT Reauthorization Act? </h2> <p>The bipartisan SUPPORT Reauthorization Act was introduced by Sen. Bill Cassidy in July 2023 because the original SUPPORT Act was set to expire in September 2023. This reauthorization act would ensure that essential provisions of the original SUPPORT Act would stay intact while also adding modifiers critical to strengthening the original act, including its peer-to-peer support elements. </p> <h2>Why is peer support an important resource? </h2> <p>Before diving into the specific elements of this bill, let’s first explore its relevance. According to data collected by Mental Health America, <a href="https://mhanational.org/sites/default/files/Young%20People%27s%20Mental%20Health%20Report%202020%20with%20Program%20Appendix%2012.8.20.pdf" target="_blank">44% of 14-18-year-olds indicated that access to youth peer support was one of the most important mental health resources</a> for them. Because there can be challenges with getting access to mental health care, such as costs of services, along with a shortage of U.S. mental health professionals, youth peer support is a vital resource. The <a href="https://bornthisway.foundation/research/peer-counseling-in-college/" target="_blank">Born This Way Foundation</a> found that 36% of youth would go to a friend first when they were struggling with a serious concern around their mental health and that around 67% of youth believe that youth peer support is helpful. Additionally, over 80% of youth believe that peer support can meet the diversity of their communities, as the current mental health workforce does not reflect the diverse identities and experiences of young people seeking support. Although it is not a replacement for clinical mental health care, peer support has been shown to improve the lives of youth struggling with mental health. </p> <h2>What are the key youth peer support elements of the SUPPORT Reauthorization Act? </h2> <p>The team at Mental Health America, including the Youth Policy Accelerator Cohort, identified four key elements in the SUPPORT Reauthorization Act that would bring progress to youth peer-to-peer programs across the nation. </p> <h3>1. Create grants for peer-to-peer programs in high school </h3> <p>Funding is essential in ensuring that high schools can implement effective peer support programs. The SUPPORT Reauthorization Act would allow high schools to secure grant funding for mental health support programs, which would finance peer support initiatives. </p> <h3>2. Reauthorize a federal peer support technical assistance center </h3> <p>The bill would reauthorize funding for the enhancement of the National Peer-Run Training and Technical Assistance Center for Addiction Recovery Support; grow development and training opportunities for the specialists giving peer support to others; improve the accessibility and effectiveness of peer support initiatives; and build local support through the establishment of a pilot regional center of excellence. </p> <h3>3. Collect vital data on youth peer services in Medicaid </h3> <p>Medicaid covers 1 in 2 youth, making it an important source for funding youth peer services. Currently, we have limited data about the use of youth peer services in Medicaid. Access to this data would help us better understand what is happening, as well as advocate for expanded access to youth peer support for the many young people who want it. </p> <h3>4. Codify the Office of Recovery at SAMHSA to promote lived experience </h3> <p>Two years ago, the <a href="https://www.samhsa.gov/about-us/who-we-are/offices-centers/or" target="_blank">Office of Recovery</a> in the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) was established to create partnerships that support families, communities, and all people affected by mental health struggles and/or substance-related issues on the path to recovery, resilience, and wellness. This bill would codify SAMHSA’s Office of Recovery, allowing for a sustained organization that promotes access, regulation, and the advancement of recovery support services. </p> <h2>Demand action for youth peer support </h2> <p>The SUPPORT Reauthorization Act creates the path for essential peer-to-peer mental health infrastructure. These provisions must not get lost before the final bill is passed. Participate in our action alert to communicate to your members of Congress that investment in peer support is critical to addressing the youth mental health crisis. </p> <p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vh9hCdrx-Jc&amp;t=1739s" target="_blank">The recording for the town hall can be found here.</a></p> <p style="margin-top:40px !important;"><em>Saiarchana Darira is a member of the first cohort of Mental Health America’s Youth Policy Accelerator. She is currently studying at Columbia University and is a member of the U.S. Youth Advisory Council to the United Nations Ocean Decade.</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/youth" hreflang="en">youth</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/youth-mental-health" hreflang="en">youth mental health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/peers" hreflang="en">peers</a></div> </div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.mhanational.org/blog/role-policy-driving-peer-peer-mental-health-support" data-a2a-title="The role of policy in driving peer-to-peer mental health support"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_button_instagram"></a></span><section> </section> Tue, 30 Jan 2024 20:28:40 +0000 MHA Admin 26112 at https://www.mhanational.org Making advocacy accessible: 5 learnings from my first congressional briefing https://www.mhanational.org/blog/making-advocacy-accessible-5-learnings-my-first-congressional-briefing <span>Making advocacy accessible: 5 learnings from my first congressional briefing</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=V0c36p3S 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=fnsaDHiU 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=Ch-ZnWFH 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=CtNU29NL 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=2BWozudo 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=rOKoZu6T 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=V0c36p3S 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=fnsaDHiU 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=Ch-ZnWFH 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=CtNU29NL 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=2BWozudo 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=rOKoZu6T 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <img srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=V0c36p3S 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=fnsaDHiU 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=Ch-ZnWFH 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=CtNU29NL 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=2BWozudo 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=rOKoZu6T 1800w" sizes="100vw" src="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2024-01/congressional-briefing.jpg.webp?itok=rOKoZu6T" alt="people sit in auditorium seating listening" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/mha-admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">MHA Admin</span></span> <span>Tue, 01/16/2024 - 08:40</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">January 16, 2024 </div> <div class="em pt-2 pb-2 field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Makalynn Powell</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>If you’re like me, the idea of attending a congressional briefing may be intimidating and confusing. Initially, I expected what you might see on C-SPAN – to walk into a large meeting room full of older, influential government representatives questioning people as they stand in front of a microphone. As mental health advocates, or future advocates, our voices matter, and attendance at these types of forums is imperative for change. Perhaps, like you, the thought of something so formal was intimidating.</p> <p>What I experienced, however, was far less stoic. In fact, it was the exact opposite of what I was expecting. They even provided snacks and refreshments.</p> <h2 style="font-size:1.3rem !important;">Briefing basics</h2> <p>Congressional briefings are like mini informational sessions filled with people from all corners of the nation who share a common interest or concern. The main goal is to provide insights into an issue by detailing its prevalence and helping people understand that change is necessary for improvement. Once that information is provided, participants can explain how and why their proposed solution would benefit the greater good.</p> <p>Recently, Mental Health America and our partners organized a congressional briefing to discuss the importance of peer support services and what is needed from Congress to expand access. <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxYMtHYqTgA" target="_blank">You can check out the recording here</a>. For someone new to mental health advocacy or wanting to become more involved in the legislative side, here are discoveries I made that might help on your journey.</p> <h2 style="font-size:1.3rem !important;">5 takeaways and tips</h2> <h3 style="font-size:1.1rem !important;">1. If you're looking for a solution to a systemic issue, you must provide information on why and how that issue affects average citizens – and offer solutions.</h3> <p>At the latest briefing, Mental Health America gathered a group of experts in peer support services to discuss why new solutions are vital to their work and how others can get involved. Among the panelists, one provided direct peer support services in underserved communities; the second received these services as a young person and has since dedicated their life to ensuring other young people have that same access; the third works for a health insurance provider that reimburses peer support specialists, increasing access for many folks in need; and the fourth panelist shared her experience with institutionalization and professionals who claimed her diagnosis would prevent her from living an everyday life. All four experts provided in-depth knowledge and living proof that peer support services are effective and should be physically and financially available nationwide. The information they shared proved to attendees how beneficial peer support services have been to the lives of those they serve and showed how easy it would be to implement more peer services across the nation. As an organization led by the voices of lived experience, these real-life accounts gave insights into the issue. By then providing a solution and tips on how that solution can be molded and applied on a larger scale, policymakers are left with tangible mechanisms to work with.</p> <h3 style="font-size:1.1rem !important;">2. Support from multiple groups and organizations is essential.</h3> <p>If you plan on asking for anything from Congress, or even your local or state legislator, you had better have ample support from several sources. With <a href="https://mhanational.org/mentalhealthfacts">1 in 5 adults</a> and <a href="https://jamanetwork.com/journals/jamapediatrics/fullarticle/2724377?guestAccessKey=f689aa19-31f1-481d-878a-6bf83844536a" target="_blank">1 in 6 youth</a> experiencing a mental health condition in any given year, mental health will affect everybody either directly or indirectly at some point in their lives. Having this knowledge makes the case that mental health care is a bipartisan issue, which has resulted in overwhelming support from both sides. That support comes in handy when these asks are taken to Congress. In addition to bipartisan support, Mental Health America used this opportunity to gather like-minded partners and collaborators to inform the briefing. Increasing the breadth and depth of the information, along with the diverse bodies of representation, strengthened our asks.</p> <h3 style="font-size:1.1rem !important;">3. “Leave-behinds” provide critical information and summaries.</h3> <p>Congressional briefings tend to provide much information within a short period, so it’s reasonable to assume some of that information may be glossed over or not retained. Staffers, liaisons, and others in attendance may need to relay what they heard to a Congressperson or other staff, and you want to make sure they hit the vital information. The purpose of a leave-behind document, or one-pager, is to ensure your audience understands the message and can reference it once the briefing ends. In this particular briefing, we had six asks that included information on different acts, bill proposals and calls to action, all mixed in with impactful stories of lived experiences from our panelists. Providing attendees with a short, concise summary of the focal points ensures those with the power and motivation to take action have the correct information to do so.</p> <h3 style="font-size:1.1rem !important;">4. Invite the right speakers, organizations, and other attendees.</h3> <p>If you are hosting a briefing, or advocacy event, getting the word out to key individuals and organizations will go a long way to strengthen your message and improve the chances of asks being put into legislation. With mental health being a concern for everyone, regardless of their political affiliation or demographic profile, it stands to reason that most folks would want to see conditions improve. At this briefing session, the invite list included over 70 organizations who wanted to learn more about or shared our passion for peer support services. We also invited experts to share their lived experience: Tiara Springer-Love, a mental health advocate from New York; Lauren Foster, a behavioral health program manager at Blue Cross Blue Shield, Minnesota; Vesper Moore, a mental health advocate at <a href="https://kivacenters.org/" target="_blank">Kiva Centers</a>; and Dana Foglesong of the <a href="https://www.peersupportworks.org/" target="_blank">National Association of Peer Services</a>. By having panel experts from various corners of the mental health world, we could discuss the multiple barriers to implementation and potential solutions to improving access. The wide array of attendees improved our chances of spreading that information throughout groups and organizations to garner even more support. This is crucial for goals like increasing funding for research and advocating for grants and support for community organizations that provide peer support services.</p> <h3 style="font-size:1.1rem !important;">5. Congressional briefings are a great place to network and meet folks with similar agendas.</h3> <p>If you are attending a congressional briefing, it’s probably because you have a vested interest in the subject matter – along with the other attendees. Common interests make it the perfect opportunity to meet face-to-face with other people who share your passion and can discuss solutions. A business card is a must if you plan to expand your professional contact list. Additionally, introducing yourself to panelists after the session is always a good idea. After all, those speakers are experts in their field and have experience in your area of interest.</p> <p>Ultimately, my frightening perception of congressional briefings at Capitol Hill was shattered, and I will attend more should I get the chance. I arrived feeling anxious and out of place but left feeling supported and rejuvenated in being a part of the solution. I also learned a lot despite being well-versed in the subjects. It helped to hear accounts of lived experiences and realize that others care about and want to improve mental health in our nation. Plus, the snacks they provided were excellent. If you get the chance to attend a congressional, or even state government, briefing, take it.</p> <p><a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zxYMtHYqTgA" target="_blank"><strong>Watch recording of congressional briefing</strong></a></p> <p style="margin-top:40px !important;"><em>Makalynn Powell is the Peer and Youth Policy Fellow at Mental Health America.</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/policy" hreflang="en">policy</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/mental-health-policy" hreflang="en">mental health policy</a></div> </div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.mhanational.org/blog/making-advocacy-accessible-5-learnings-my-first-congressional-briefing" data-a2a-title="Making advocacy accessible: 5 learnings from my first congressional briefing"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_button_instagram"></a></span><section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=26107&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="w-ElcsFl94G1oP6EOSNzd1WHHJnuI4kb56H6knnIMRU"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 16 Jan 2024 13:40:23 +0000 MHA Admin 26107 at https://www.mhanational.org What is your ‘why’: 5 common reasons people support Mental Health America https://www.mhanational.org/blog/what-your-why-5-common-reasons-people-support-mental-health-america <span>What is your ‘why’: 5 common reasons people support Mental Health America</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=aXcoUMxN 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=4geTRcd4 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=2wzEHB0x 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=zGbTzITd 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=KcxmuThT 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=uu6xkezI 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=aXcoUMxN 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=4geTRcd4 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=2wzEHB0x 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=zGbTzITd 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=KcxmuThT 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=uu6xkezI 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <img srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=aXcoUMxN 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=4geTRcd4 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=2wzEHB0x 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=zGbTzITd 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=KcxmuThT 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=uu6xkezI 1800w" sizes="100vw" src="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2023-12/whats-my-why.jpg.webp?itok=uu6xkezI" alt="two people sit on a stoop talking" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/mha-admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">MHA Admin</span></span> <span>Mon, 12/04/2023 - 16:56</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">December 05, 2023 </div> <div class="em pt-2 pb-2 field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Jennifer Molina</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>One of the most enjoyable parts of my job is hearing stories from donors and their “why” – why they choose to give generously to Mental Health America (MHA). Just recently, I spoke with Gary, a passionate mental health advocate. Our conversation and his commitment to raising mental health awareness inspired me greatly.</p> <p>During our conversation, Gary shared how he utilized MHA's <a href="https://www.mhanational.org/mental-health-month">Mental Health Month toolkit</a> within his retirement community. His enthusiasm was apparent as he described the benefits of using resources and attending our "COVID-19 Mental Health Consequences: What communities should do next?" webinar. Gary shared with me how he introduced resources to a community that is often overlooked or ignored.</p> <p>Hearing Gary's "why" reminded me of MHA's everyday impact on people's lives. Below are five common "whys" we hear from donors that we hope will inspire you to reflect on your own reasons.</p> <h2 style="font-size:1.2rem !important;">1. End stigma</h2> <p>At MHA, we believe it is important to talk openly about mental health concerns. Often, people are scared to seek help because they fear being teased or viewed as weak. However, mental health is just as important as physical health. Your support helps us spread the word that mental health can be discussed without fear, shame, or stigma.</p> <h2 style="font-size:1.2rem !important;">2. Turn hope into action</h2> <p>It is estimated that 1 out of 5 people will develop some form of mental illness during their lifetime. When you support MHA, you are turning hope into real help for people who are in need. It may be your donation that makes the difference.</p> <h2 style="font-size:1.2rem !important;">3. Share resources</h2> <p>Over 3,000 people participated in MHA webinars in 2023, and more than 60,000 individuals downloaded our Mental Health Month toolkit. In a survey of downloaders, 89% said the toolkit improved their community's overall mental health.</p> <h2 style="font-size:1.2rem !important;">4. Save lives: Make screenings accessible</h2> <p>Did you know $1.25 pays for a lifesaving screen at <a href="https://screening.mhanational.org/screening-tools/" target="_blank">mhascreening.org</a>? This year, MHA provided free, anonymous, and clinically-validated screens to over 5 million people. Your donation ensures that everyone can access this lifesaving resource.</p> <h2 style="font-size:1.2rem !important;">5. Spread joy</h2> <p>Making a donation isn't just about helping other people; it is also good for our health. Researchers have found that giving is associated with a boost in happiness and a decrease in stress. It's a win-win situation!</p> <p>As we work to shape the future of mental health, I hope you will join Gary and consider supporting Mental Health America. The following are some ways you can give back:</p> <ul><li><strong>Donate directly:</strong> Every donation helps us advance mental health and well-being for all. <a href="https://www.classy.org/campaign/2023-mha-year-end-giving/c530887" target="_blank">Donate here</a>. Thanks to the Hot Top Foundation, all donations will be matched up to $100,000 until Dec. 31, 2023.</li> <li><strong>Share awareness:</strong> Spread the word about MHA's work in your community or on social media.</li> <li><strong>Fundraise:</strong> <a href="https://www.classy.org/campaign/fundraise-for-mental-health-america/c160106" target="_blank">Start a fundraiser</a> or organize an event for MHA.</li> <li><strong>Advocate:</strong> Join MHA's <a href="https://mhanational.org/issues/advocacy-network">advocacy network</a> to receive email alerts about national campaigns that need your support.</li> <li><strong>Learn and share:</strong> Stay mentally healthy by educating yourself and others.</li> </ul><p>It is my hope that these reasons will inspire you to <a href="https://www.classy.org/campaign/2023-mha-year-end-giving/c530887" target="_blank">support MHA</a> this holiday season, and I welcome hearing your “why” anything!</p> <p style="margin-top:40px !important;"><em>Jennifer Molina is the Individual Giving Manager at Mental Health America.</em></p> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.mhanational.org/blog/what-your-why-5-common-reasons-people-support-mental-health-america" data-a2a-title="What is your ‘why’: 5 common reasons people support Mental Health America"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_button_instagram"></a></span><section> </section> Mon, 04 Dec 2023 21:56:54 +0000 MHA Admin 26097 at https://www.mhanational.org States should prioritize youth mental health: Governors Association Playbook is a welcome guide https://www.mhanational.org/blog/states-should-prioritize-youth-mental-health <span>States should prioritize youth mental health: Governors Association Playbook is a welcome guide</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=7rSgdaLH 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=EX4vhzvJ 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=yd0D-OF3 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=Mh0J28wL 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=Dk0BGFch 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=DZhuOvip 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=7rSgdaLH 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=EX4vhzvJ 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=yd0D-OF3 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=Mh0J28wL 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=Dk0BGFch 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=DZhuOvip 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <img srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=7rSgdaLH 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=EX4vhzvJ 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=yd0D-OF3 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=Mh0J28wL 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=Dk0BGFch 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=DZhuOvip 1800w" sizes="100vw" src="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2023-11/prioritize-youth-mental-health.jpg.webp?itok=DZhuOvip" alt="group of young kids walking with basketball, skateboard, backpacks" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/mha-admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">MHA Admin</span></span> <span>Thu, 11/30/2023 - 10:03</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">December 01, 2023 </div> <div class="em pt-2 pb-2 field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Caren Howard, Jose Caballero, and Marcus Alston</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>As legislators prepare for a new year and grapple with budget decisions that put to use their surplus or address shortfalls, there are significant opportunities for states to go big for youth mental health. The time is now.</p> <p>Across the nation, youth are actively seeking out help through Mental Health America’s <a href="http://www.mhascreening.org" target="_blank">screening program</a>, which registers more than 10,000 visitors a day – over a third of screeners are under age 18. Youth commonly express how trauma, relationship problems, and isolation are the top three factors contributing to their mental health concerns at the time of screening, and data show LGBTQ+ and Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) youth as those who would benefit most from swift action. Research by <a href="https://www.commonsensemedia.org/kids-action/articles/what-teens-want-adults-to-know-about-their-relationships-with-smartphones" target="_blank">Common Sense Media</a> indicates teenagers want help managing their internet and smartphone use but feel powerless to make changes on their own (notably, over two dozen states are suing Meta for its harmful practices).</p> <p>The National Governors Association’s <a href="https://www.nga.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/07/Strengthening_Youth_Mental_Health_A_Playbook_for_Governors_July2023.pdf" target="_blank">Youth Mental Health Playbook</a>, released earlier this year, is a tool states can draw from to create policies and initiatives and offers examples of both administrative and legislative actions already taken by states. It is informed by a year of work by New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, in his role as chair of the National Governors Association (NGA), and NGA staff in collaboration with national mental health advocacy organizations, including Mental Health America, and youth advocates. The playbook uses four pillars to show how systems can be reconceptualized to address today’s critical needs of children and adolescents and how to build capacity to reduce tomorrow’s needs.</p> <p>As communities face decisions whether or not to end programs and policies that were funded by one-time COVID-19 supplemental funding, it is important not to go back to “business as usual” by putting mental health on the back burner. Leading up to the pandemic, families seeking children’s mental health care were unable to find it 69% of the time, according to a <a href="https://www.mhtari.org/Survey_Conducted_by_NORC.pdf" target="_blank">NORC survey</a> of nearly 3,000 people in 2019-2020. In comparison, 17% of persons seeking children’s physical health care were unable to find it. State leaders must ensure their budgets and policies reflect the will of the great many voices of young people reaching out for mental help for both themselves and their peers.</p> <h2 style="font-size:1.3rem !important;">Key opportunities</h2> <h3 style="font-size:1.1rem !important;">Pillar 1: Addressing prevention and building resilience</h3> <p>A key opportunity in <em>Pillar 1</em> highlights Massachusetts (page 14) for developing healthier school climates. To address the root causes of student behaviors, rather than respond with strictly punitive measures, Massachusetts requires schools to first use alternative forms of discipline, including mental health intervention. Though Black children make up 15% of the K-12 school population, they make up more than 40% of referrals to law enforcement.</p> <p><em>Pillar 1</em> also stresses data collection and analysis as crucial steps in the process. It is essential that such data and analyses come from a representative sample of the affected population: students. States should rethink the way schools take into consideration students’ experiences and reevaluate the frameworks of student engagement and accessibility when implementing mental health initiatives. The foundation of a strong youth mental health system involves attentively listening to young individuals' concerns and struggles, and equitably utilizing this data to take actionable steps toward fostering a healthier school climate. By doing this, schools will provide a transformative experience for their students that goes beyond academic metrics to one that also cares about guiding students into becoming emotionally competent individuals.</p> <p><em>Pillar 1</em> illustrates the importance of building resilience, which includes teaching life skills in schools and community programs. Building resilience on school campuses should be a top priority for school officials, as research has shown the benefits of such practices. A <a href="https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyt.2020.00590/full?&amp;utm_source=Email_to_authors_&amp;utm_medium=Email&amp;utm_content=T1_11.5e1_author&amp;utm_campaign=Email_publication&amp;field=&amp;journalName=Frontiers_in_Psychiatry&amp;id=534776" target="_blank">2020 Yale study</a> found that "to improve students’ mental health, schools should teach them to breathe." A specific resiliency program, SKY Campus Happiness, which relies on a breathing technique, yoga postures, social connection, and service activities, was most beneficial for students' mental health, with students reporting improvements in six areas of well-being: depression, stress, mental health, mindfulness, positive affect, and social connectedness. A recent law in <a href="https://www.flgov.com/2023/03/22/first-lady-casey-desantis-announces-next-steps-in-floridas-first-in-the-nation-approach-to-create-a-culture-of-resiliency-and-incentivize-parental-involvement-in-schools/#:~:text=school%20and%20life.%E2%80%9D-,Resiliency%20Standards,those%20concepts%20in%20higher%20grades" target="_blank">Florida</a> and a new policy in <a href="https://www.nytimes.com/2023/06/27/nyregion/mindful-breathing-nyc-public-schools.html" target="_blank">New York City</a> highlight the growing recognition of resilience's power and its integration into education. By incorporating meditation and breathing practices into daily routines, states will not only address youth mental health concerns but also <a href="https://www.researchgate.net/publication/270638339_Maximizing_Mindful_Learning_An_Innovative_Mindful_Awareness_Intervention_Improves_Elementary_School_Students'_Quarterly_Grades" target="_blank">cultivate a new generation of emotionally competent leaders</a> who are high achieving.</p> <h3 style="font-size:1.1rem !important;">Pillar 2: Increasing awareness and reducing stigma</h3> <p><em>Pillar 2</em> makes the point that all activities should be conceptualized, enacted, and implemented with young people. By making space for young people at the decision-making table, we make them key players in ensuring systems are user-friendly and continuously improving by utilizing feedback. User feedback is highly valued by many private companies, yet public systems are slower to adapt and transform based on real-time input from those being served. New Mexico (page 23) created the Indigenous Youth Council, which provides youth-specific recommendations to the state Indian Affairs Department for behavioral and mental health needs in tribal communities. Several other states, including Vermont, Maryland, and Arizona, also allow youth councils to directly inform state policy.</p> <h3 style="font-size:1.1rem !important;">Pillar 3: Ensuring access and affordability of quality treatment and care</h3> <p>An exciting opportunity in <em>Pillar 3</em> is funding peer support models. Peer support services are known to reduce isolation and help build support systems, increase self-help skills and engagement in services, and empower youth to lead self-directed lives. In addition, peer support can prevent behavioral crises by helping individuals better manage both physical and mental health conditions. Though formal peer support is evidence-based, it is also commonly practiced among friends, colleagues, trusted peers and has a long-standing history outside of the evidence-based practice. Informal peer support has been commonly used among young people because of the mutuality ethos, its accessibility, and trust embedded between peers. There are several <a href="https://mhanational.org/sites/default/files/reports/Youth-and-Young-Adult-Peer-Support.pdf" target="_blank">models of youth peer support</a>, including peer counseling programs and programs that utilize formal certified peer specialists.</p> <p>In Wisconsin (page 30), over 300 schools offer student-led peer support wellness programs. Currently, 18 states bill Medicaid for youth peer support, which may be offered as part of mobile crisis programs, in schools, or as part of other community-based services – but no schools are utilizing Medicaid as a financing source. Youth are very interested in learning skills to support their own well-being and to support the well-being of their friends and peers. In a survey of almost 2,000 young people seeking help through MHA's online screening program, <a href="https://mhanational.org/sites/default/files/Young%20People's%20Mental%20Health%20Report%202020%20with%20Program%20Appendix%2012.8.20.pdf" target="_blank">44% of 14-18-year-olds stated that access to support from other young people</a> is one of the most important resources for their mental health. Peer support is intuitive because young people first turn to each other long before they are ready to talk to an adult about what they are experiencing and schools should be billing Medicaid for it.</p> <h3 style="font-size:1.1rem !important;">Pillar 4: Training and supporting caregivers and educators</h3> <p>A key opportunity in <em>Pillar 4</em> emphasizes the importance of training and educating youth-serving adults and caregivers. North Dakota’s (page 35) Department of Health and Human Services’ Behavioral Health Division has made online role-playing simulation technology available to help school personnel recognize signs of distress. The program models conversations for approaching students discussing concerns and makes referrals to appropriate resources.</p> <p>Not specifically called out in the playbook, it should be noted that there is often an extra layer of stigma for student athletes who experience mental health distress because of culture and attitudes about seeking help. Student athletes are advocating for change in athletic programs where students spend a significant amount of their time. Therefore, athletic coaches should be trained in mental health as they are required to be trained in CPR and heat illness prevention, as both mental and physical health can be a life-or-death situation. This year, Ohio passed HB33, which mandated mental health training for all 80,000 high school coaches. In Maryland, youth-led Alston for Athletes is advocating for HB375, which would require all coaches at public institutions to go through mental health training. However, training should not be exclusive to coaches, and the long-term goal is to ensure other school personnel, including teachers, bus drivers, and all youth-serving adults, receive it as well.</p> <h2 style="font-size:1.3rem !important;">What’s next?</h2> <p>We are excited about the opportunities this playbook offers to states and appreciate the incredible work it took to pull together this comprehensive guide. MHA and its partners look forward to working with stakeholders to bring the policies within the playbook, including the few highlighted here, to fruition because there is no health without mental health.</p> <p>Advocates, tell state officials to ensure youth mental health is a top issue in the next session. Let your governor know they should prioritize youth mental health. <a href="https://actionnetwork.org/letters/tell-your-governor-to-champion-mental-health/" target="_blank">Inseparable’s action alert</a> will automate a letter based on your residence.</p> <p style="margin-top:40px !important;"><em>Caren Howard is the senior director of policy and advocacy at Mental Health America. Jose Caballero is a national award-winning mental health activist, an MHA Young Leaders Council member, and a student at Columbia University. Marcus Alston is an award-winning mental health advocate, founder of Alston for Athletes, and an alumni of the MHA Young Leaders Council.</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/youth-mental-health" hreflang="en">youth mental health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/youth" hreflang="en">youth</a></div> </div> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.mhanational.org/blog/states-should-prioritize-youth-mental-health" data-a2a-title="States should prioritize youth mental health: Governors Association Playbook is a welcome guide"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_button_instagram"></a></span><section> </section> Thu, 30 Nov 2023 15:03:53 +0000 MHA Admin 26095 at https://www.mhanational.org Adult autism: Seeking an official diagnosis https://www.mhanational.org/blog/adult-autism-seeking-official-diagnosis <span>Adult autism: Seeking an official diagnosis</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=mDc2BEJT 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=d0r4l1pC 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=KMII20k4 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=HpL8K62y 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=byXC0AgG 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=YhFJT_y0 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=mDc2BEJT 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=d0r4l1pC 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=KMII20k4 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=HpL8K62y 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=byXC0AgG 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=YhFJT_y0 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <img srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=mDc2BEJT 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=d0r4l1pC 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=KMII20k4 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=HpL8K62y 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=byXC0AgG 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=YhFJT_y0 1800w" sizes="100vw" src="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2023-11/autism-testing.jpg.webp?itok=YhFJT_y0" alt="two people sit facing each other and a clipboard with pen and paperwork rests on the table between them" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/mha-admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">MHA Admin</span></span> <span>Thu, 11/30/2023 - 11:57</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">December 01, 2023 </div> <div class="em pt-2 pb-2 field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Kristen Abell</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>A little over a year ago, I started to wonder if maybe I was autistic.</p> <p>Not one to let things go (also known as hyperfixation), my exploration led me to reading scientific books about <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/ncbddd/autism/signs.html" target="_blank">autism spectrum disorder (ASD)</a> and memoirs by autistic people, listening to various podcasts about autism, and looking up resources and information about ASD online. I even started seeing a therapist who specializes in working with <a href="https://www.webmd.com/add-adhd/features/what-is-neurodiversity" target="_blank">neurodivergent</a> patients and who has indicated she agrees with my self-diagnosis.</p> <p>Despite all of that, I felt that it was important for me to explore an official diagnosis through testing. The entire process took me approximately 10 months, and having just completed it, here are some of the questions I had going into the process - with answers from my own experience.</p> <h2 style="font-size:1.2rem !important;">1. Do I need to be tested to identify as autistic?</h2> <p>From what I learned, the short and easy answer to this question is <em>absolutely not</em>. The autistic and neurodivergent community are very open to self-diagnosis, and with the myriad flaws in the medical testing model for autism, many adults struggle to get anything more than an “inconclusive” result from testing. If having an official autism diagnosis does not make a difference to you and the support you need to succeed, there’s no reason to spend the time, energy, and money to go through the process.</p> <p>I chose to go through the process for two reasons. First, I wanted to be able to write about my diagnosis without having neurotypical people question it. I view it as an underline to my diagnosis in that way. Second, there are people in my life that were struggling to understand and accept my self-diagnosis. The testing result and official diagnosis have helped me to move my conversations with them about being autistic forward.</p> <h2 style="font-size:1.2rem !important;">2. How long does autism testing take?</h2> <p>While this answer will likely vary, it took me approximately 10 months from putting my name on the waiting list to diagnosis. Nine months of that were spent on the waiting list, so the majority of my testing and diagnosis happened within a month.</p> <p>This is likely to vary depending on the resources available in your particular area, the type of support you need or don’t need, and whether there is a dedicated adult testing facility or even an option for adult testing at <a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://autismsociety.org/screening-diagnosis/&amp;sa=D&amp;source=docs&amp;ust=1701381382301312&amp;usg=AOvVaw3eA-CmtCSirGeVKl0URhKn" target="_blank">nearby autism facilities</a>.</p> <h2 style="font-size:1.2rem !important;">3. What was the testing like?</h2> <p><a href="https://www.google.com/url?q=https://www.verywellhealth.com/diagnosing-autism-or-asperger-syndrome-in-adults-259946%23:~:text%3Da%2520good%2520reputation.-,Autism%2520Tests%2520for%2520Adults,-Autism%2520tests%2520for&amp;sa=D&amp;source=docs&amp;ust=1701381382303133&amp;usg=AOvVaw3nn0zm_Bb4_RAvK4FEDRvZ" target="_blank">Testing may vary</a> depending on your age, types of symptoms, the facility you go to, the type of testing professional you’re working with, and other possible factors.</p> <p>My testing – which did not include the cognitive testing portion – consisted of two appointments and several forms to fill out. The first appointment was a video conversation with the clinician, in which they asked me to provide medical history, why I thought I might be autistic, and information about various behaviors and thought processes. At that point, there were two options: Either the clinician would decide I did not need further testing and end the process, or she could refer me for further testing. My clinician requested a follow-up in-person appointment based on my responses. She also sent my partner and me several forms to fill out (I filled out three to four, and he filled out one) to rate my behaviors on various scales.</p> <p>At the in-person appointment, my clinician began by generally asking what was going on with me. There was no preamble or other preparation, and it took me a minute to realize that was, in fact, part of the test. Other activities included “reading” a picture book, telling stories about various objects, identifying a picture, talking about my work, and generally talking about my interests and life. The appointment was roughly 90 minutes long.</p> <p>During this session, the clinician observed my physical behaviors (like eye contact or <a href="https://www.autism.org.uk/advice-and-guidance/topics/behaviour/stimming/all-audiences" target="_blank">stimming</a>), my ability to engage in back-and-forth conversation, my ability to identify and talk about emotions, and things like voice modulation (whether my voice would get loud when talking about things).</p> <h2 style="font-size:1.2rem !important;">4. Now what?</h2> <p>A couple of weeks after the in-person appointment, I had another video appointment with my testing professional, during which she diagnosed me with <a href="https://www.verywellhealth.com/what-are-the-three-levels-of-autism-260233" target="_blank">ASD level one</a>. She shared the observations she made that brought her to this diagnosis, as well as the self-reported and other-reported behaviors she gleaned from the forms my partner and I filled out. She also emailed me a full report (which is <em>long</em>, and I’m still working my way through it).</p> <p>For adults especially, the testing process may not be as definitive as mine was. It is not uncommon for someone to self-diagnose and then receive an “inconclusive” diagnosis. In talking with various professionals, I have learned that this often has more to do with the test and process itself. Despite extensive information now being available to show that autism is a much broader set of characteristics and behaviors than originally thought, many professionals providing testing services still adhere to an older definition that tends to <a href="https://helpandhealingcenter.com/blog/why-is-it-so-hard-to-get-an-adult-autism-diagnosis/" target="_blank">narrowly apply autistic behaviors to children only</a>, and more specifically, to male children.</p> <p style="margin-top:24px !important;">If you are an adult and are just starting your journey with autism diagnosis, testing may or may not be for you, but there are plenty of resources available to help on your journey. I’ve learned the most from <a href="https://mhanational.org/blog/5-reads-learn-more-about-autism">reading various books</a> and talking with other autistic individuals, as well as listening to podcasts by and with autistic people.</p> <p>While I am relieved to have an official diagnosis, that in itself will not likely change how I seek out and arrange support for myself – something I’ve been learning to do over the past year and a half. And I believe (and hope) that every little bit I do to educate others about what autism means for me helps someone else with their own autism journey.</p> <p style="margin-top:40px !important;"><em>Kristen Abell is director of website and digital projects, </em><a href="https://kristenabell.com/blog/" target="_blank"><em>writer</em></a><em>, and advocate for mental health and neurodivergence.</em></p> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.mhanational.org/blog/adult-autism-seeking-official-diagnosis" data-a2a-title="Adult autism: Seeking an official diagnosis"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_button_instagram"></a></span><section> </section> Thu, 30 Nov 2023 16:57:12 +0000 MHA Admin 26096 at https://www.mhanational.org Guest post: 5 tips for grandfamilies facing mental health concerns https://www.mhanational.org/blog/grandfamilies-facing-mental-health-concerns <span>Guest post: 5 tips for grandfamilies facing mental health concerns</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <picture> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=uNcYxz_T 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=91EnKcb0 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=WpZs1HVG 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=ZyPBs0G2 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=mrz7JMZF 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=ayr1hckY 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <source srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=uNcYxz_T 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=91EnKcb0 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=WpZs1HVG 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=ZyPBs0G2 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=mrz7JMZF 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=ayr1hckY 1800w" type="image/webp" sizes="100vw"/> <img srcset="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_small_480x270/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=uNcYxz_T 480w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_small_576x324/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=91EnKcb0 576w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_medium_768x432/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=WpZs1HVG 768w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_large_992x558/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=ZyPBs0G2 992w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_large_1200x675/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=mrz7JMZF 1200w, /sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=ayr1hckY 1800w" sizes="100vw" src="/sites/default/files/styles/hero_16_9_extra_extra_large_1800x1013/public/2023-11/grandfamilies.jpg.webp?itok=ayr1hckY" alt="grandparent helps grandchild with homework" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </picture> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/mha-admin" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">MHA Admin</span></span> <span>Wed, 11/29/2023 - 17:03</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">November 30, 2023 </div> <div class="em pt-2 pb-2 field field--name-field-author field--type-string field--label-hidden field__item">by Jaia Peterson Lent</div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>The U.S. is in a child and adolescent mental health emergency, on top of a national mental health crisis for Americans of all ages. While everyone can be impacted, there is one particular type of family that is particularly vulnerable to mental health concerns: grandfamilies.</p> <h2 style="font-size:1.2rem !important;">What are grandfamilies?</h2> <p>Grandfamilies, also known as kinship families, are families in which grandparents, other relatives, or close family friends are raising children with no parents in the home. There are at least <a href="https://www.gu.org/resources/building-resilience-grandfamilies-mental-health-and-wellness/" target="_blank">2.4 million children growing up in grandfamilies</a>, and 7.6 million children are living in households where another relative (not their parent) is head of the household. Grandfamilies are diverse and exist across various geographies, socioeconomic statuses, races, and ethnicities. Yet, they are disproportionately Black, African American, American Indian, Alaska Native, and, in some areas, Latino.</p> <p>Grandfamilies form out of events that separate children from their parents, such as a parental death, incarceration, deportation, divorce, military deployment, or the growing concern of mental health and substance use disorders. Research shows that between 2002 and 2019, grandparents reporting parents’ substance use as a reason for raising their grandchildren <a href="https://academic.oup.com/innovateage/article/3/Supplement_1/S676/5618461?login=false" target="_blank">jumped from 21% to 40%</a>.</p> <h2 style="font-size:1.2rem !important;">Grandfamily mental health impacts</h2> <p>Grandfamilies have many strengths, including resilience, which can mediate the effects of trauma; family connections and legacies; adaptability; and the ability to co-parent with birth parents. Research indicates that children in grandfamilies do better than when they are placed in non-relative foster care, especially when the grandfamilies have the services and support they need. However, mental health services and systems of support remain difficult to navigate and access – if not impossible – due to high costs, lack of availability of qualified mental health providers, lack of culturally appropriate services, stigma, ageism, and more.</p> <p>Children and their grandfamily caregivers can have many layers of trauma and mental health challenges. Children may come to grandfamilies with past experiences of trauma – such as a parental substance use disorder and other untreated mental health conditions, neglect, abuse, the trauma of being separated from their parents, and more – which can cause significant mental health concerns even when they are safely living in a grandfamily home. Children who have experienced trauma may live with learning difficulties, chronic health conditions, and mental health conditions, like post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).</p> <p>Grandfamily caregivers’ mental health, physical health, and general well-being also is highly impacted when raising others’ children. Caregivers could experience chronic stress not only from the common stressors of child-rearing and difficulties navigating relationships with the child’s parents, but also from housing strains, financial pressures, social isolation, food insecurity, lack of self-care, and other issues brought on by the sudden responsibility of raising children.</p> <p>Birth parents of children living in grandfamilies often experience undiagnosed and/or untreated mental health conditions. More than 1 in 4 adults living with serious mental health problems <a href="https://www.samhsa.gov/mental-health/mental-health-substance-use-co-occurring-disorders#:~:text=More%20than%20one%20in%20four,Depression" target="_blank">also has a substance use problem</a>, a key reason that children come into the care of relatives.</p> <p>The pandemic, increased racial violence, war, and other events in recent years have added even more layers of stress and trauma for grandfamilies.</p> <p>Research shows that improved access to mental health supports and concrete material supports (such as financial, food and nutrition, housing, etc.) improves mental health outcomes for children and caregivers in grandfamilies.</p> <h2 style="font-size:1.2rem !important;">Tips for grandfamilies</h2> <ol><li><strong>Explore employer-based support:</strong> More than half of grandfamily caregivers are in the labor force, and some employers offer supports that can be helpful. Employers may offer mental health support and treatment through health insurance, Employee Assistance Programs (EAPs), or employee support groups.</li> <li><strong>Utilize school and community-based mental health supports:</strong> School counselors and social workers can often help provide support or point grandfamilies to appropriate mental health services. Community-based mental health programs can also be helpful.</li> <li><strong>Obtain accurate diagnoses for mental health concerns: </strong>Accurate diagnoses for children and their caregivers can help with understanding behaviors and assist with getting appropriate treatment. Understanding trauma is particularly critical in these situations.</li> <li><strong>Find a grandfamily support group:</strong> It’s critical to connect with other grandfamilies for support and understanding, and support groups generally include education about challenges and resources. Find a support group by clicking a state on the <a href="https://www.grandfamilies.org/State-Fact-Sheets" target="_blank">GrandFacts: Fact Sheets for Grandfamilies page</a>, contacting the <a href="http://www.eldercare.acl.gov/" target="_blank">local area agency on aging</a>, or inquiring at a child’s school.</li> <li><strong>Tap into respite care:</strong> Grandfamily caregivers need respite – a break from caregiving – in order to manage chronic stress, take care of themselves, and “reboot.” Even a few hours can make a big difference. Respite care may be provided through in-home care, center-based care, camps, therapeutic recreation programs, Head Start, state-funded pre-K, community centers, YMCA, afterschool programs, or faith-based organizations. Also try searching for a grandfamily respite program through the <a href="https://archrespite.org/caregiver-resources/respitelocator/" target="_blank">ARCH National Respite Network</a>.</li> </ol><p>Learn more about the mental health concerns of grandfamilies and find resources to help families in Generations United’s 2023 State of Grandfamilies’ Report, <a href="https://www.gu.org/resources/building-resilience-grandfamilies-mental-health-and-wellness/" target="_blank"><em>Building Resilience: Supporting Grandfamilies’ Mental Health and Wellness</em></a>, at <a href="http://www.gu.org" target="_blank">gu.org</a>, and <a href="http://www.gksnetwork.org" target="_blank">gksnetwork.org</a>.</p> <p style="margin-top:40px !important;"><em>Jaia Peterson Lent is the deputy executive director of Generations United.</em></p> <p class="text-align-center" style="margin-top:60px !important;">###</p> <p><em><strong>The views and opinions expressed in this blog solely belong to the author, and external content does not necessarily reflect the views of Mental Health America.</strong></em></p> </div> <span class="a2a_kit a2a_kit_size_32 addtoany_list" data-a2a-url="https://www.mhanational.org/blog/grandfamilies-facing-mental-health-concerns" data-a2a-title="Guest post: 5 tips for grandfamilies facing mental health concerns"><a class="a2a_button_facebook"></a><a class="a2a_button_twitter"></a><a class="a2a_button_linkedin"></a><a class="a2a_button_instagram"></a></span><section> </section> Wed, 29 Nov 2023 22:03:32 +0000 MHA Admin 26094 at https://www.mhanational.org