Tag Archives: mental illness

An Anxious Mind

Anxiety is just one of the many mental illnesses in the world today, and it has a variety of forms. With multiple forms of anxiety, it can be easy for someone who doesn’t have a firm grasp on the illness to confuse the symptoms of anxiety and stress, and lead them to believe that they may have one when they really have the other. One similarity between forms is that they take control of a person’s mind and trap them. Anxiety is scary as it can be constant and mess with your thought process. It can come out with no warning and with no apparent cause, while stress is caused by specific occurrences or events that are happening at that specific moment in your life.

Since anxiety is an illness, its severity can range anywhere from high functioning to low functioning which varies by the individual. Everyone with anxiety is affected in a separate ways and severity. For instance, my friend and I both have anxiety. For me, it’s very mild and acts up when significant things catch me off guard. I always need a plan for things, or at least, an idea of what will happen. I can’t begin to calm down or steady myself until the situation is resolved. For my friend, his anxiety is much more severe. Years ago, his anxiety would make him think that something would happen while he was at work, or that he had forgotten to turn something off. This would cause him to always be late for work because he had to go back and forth around the house multiple times to check the stove, windows and sinks. This was his obsessive-compulsive disorder mixing with his anxiety. Now, the OCD mixes with his anxiety to create a string of negative thoughts spinning around his head. It causes him to overthink and eventually he ends up with the worst possible scenario of a situation that never happened or had even shown signs of happening yet. Anxiety for him shows up intertwined with his OCD, and it latched onto something else when a big cause of his anxiety wasn’t there anymore.

A common misconception is mistaking stress for anxiety. Some people may believe that they have anxiety, when it may just be stress. Stress can be resolved by taking a few deep breaths, or walking away from the situation. Anxiety lingers minutes to hours to days after you left, and makes it hard to breathe. It’s important to know exactly what the differences are so you know what’s going on with either yourself, a friend, or a loved one. Knowing the differences between stress and anxiety can also allow you to figure out what may or may not help when someone’s anxiety is acting up. Anxiety isn’t something that can easily be handled on your own, so when someone is willing to help you, it can ease the pressure of going through it alone.

As anxiety and its effects vary, so does the proper and most effective treatment. Treatments can range from natural remedies and therapy all the way to taking medications. For my friend, the best treatment for him, as of right now, is therapy. It’s best for him to sit down with someone and talk through what goes on when his anxiety and OCD act up, so it can be broken down and find how to work on those individual things at a time- tackling everything at once may make the anxiety worse.  The options for medications vary as well. There are many medications that can be prescribed. Every aspect of anxiety, from its forms to its effects to its treatments, are all different and they all vary based on the individual.

There are also alternatives to counseling that are available any time and don’t require you to talk face to face with someone. This may make you uncomfortable if what you need to talk about is more personal. “Crisis Text Line” is a 24/7 free help line across the US, and one single text message can connect you with a trained counselor within minutes. You can talk to someone immediately–no matter where or when. They will listen to what you need to say, and help you to relax and calm down. They are there to assist with anxiety, depression, feelings of hopelessness, and more. For more information on what they do and how to contact them, visit their website.

Written by Samantha Fantozzi

Wellness for the Family

Intercept Youth Services began in 1996 when its founder, Mark Bogert, decided that he wanted to redefine the group home experience. That year, he opened a group home for children with eight beds. Now, twenty years later, the company has grown to provide 14 group homes and 32 services for entire families and individuals across the state. They average around 1,200 clients each week.

“I came here because of the company and our values,” says Natalie Elliott, Senior Director of Program Development. “When you work with a population that is affected by mental illness and children who come into foster care, it is important to be innovative and collaborative. You have to be able to meet the needs of the community.”

There are several parts that make up Intercept’s full continuum of care. This includes Crisis One, a program that allows patients to call Intercept whenever they are in need of brief therapeutic interventions to achieve mental stability. It offers immediate response—24 hours a day, seven days a week. Mobile counselors will travel to children, adolescents, and adults that need help.

“Crisis don’t always happen between the hours of 8 am and 5 pm,” says Natalie. “We are not an 8 to 5 agency. Services have to be worked around families.”

Additionally, Intercept offers LifeBridge Counseling, an outpatient treatment that allows individuals (of all ages) with a variety of insurance providers to get the help they need. Through a partnership with Carilion, they have also opened True North Health Clinic. In this facility, doctors and physician assistants provide medication management for patients. Not only is this beneficial for adults, it helps meet a need for children in our area as well.

“There is a severe shortage of child and adolescent psychiatrists,” explains Natalie. “In many cases, they could wait as long as six months to see a doctor. True North gives patients the option of seeing a physician within three weeks.”

Intercept clients go through True North, but once they cease a service with Intercept they can continue to receive medication management without attached services. The ultimate goal is to make psychiatric treatment easier to attain. In an effort to achieve that, Intercept launched a program last month called Open Access. This allows patients to walk in, be assessed for services, and connected with those that can help them based on what they need and how the treatment plan matches with their insurance.

Essentially, what began as a group home has grown to meet the needs of entire families. This goes above and beyond serving children once their lives are in crisis, working to stabilize their environments before things get out of hand.

However, there are around five thousand children in foster care every day in Virginia. Intercept continues to offer many services for these children in addition to group homes throughout the state. Those who live in Intercept’s group homes attend public school and blend right in with their peers—exactly what they are meant to do. The company also works with local departments of social services to place children in foster homes. They take matching children to families very seriously, citing that it is imperative to helping them be successful in youth and as adults.

As these children get older, many of them become eligible for independent living services offered by Intercept. Young adult participants, between the ages of 17-21, live in supervised apartments and practice the skills they need before they go out into the world. After they leave custody, they can return to the program to receive additional services as needed. This reduces the likelihood that they will not have good outcomes once they age out of foster care.

Visit www.interceptyouth.com for more information on the myriad of services that Intercept offers, their involvement in the community, their values, and more!

Those That Mourn Must Not Give Up

As we remember and celebrate the life and accomplishments of Robin Williams, it is important to take a few things away from his tragic death.

Suicide. Depression. When did these words become so taboo that those being crushed under the weight of such thoughts felt forced to deny them? To be so ashamed of their illness that they could not reach out for help?

In reality, those who ignore their cries or expect them to “be strong” are the ones who should be ashamed for creating a culture where it is expected of everyone to wear their socially accepted mask in public and face their demons alone—behind closed doors.

We must re-examine our expectations of everyone we interact with on a daily basis. Do you want to make a difference in this world? Stop judging people based on their appearance, sexual preferences, past addictions and life circumstances. Stop making them feel weak when they ask for help.

Sit down and LISTEN to them. Sometimes, all someone needs is for another human being to see their struggle without sitting in judgment.

A lot of celebrities and news outlets are expressing that they are “heartbroken” in the wake of this announcement. Although they have every right to feel this emotion, we must remember that Mr. Williams, and the millions of people suffering from depression around the world, are often so well acquainted with that feeling that it does not even shock them anymore. In fact, it lives behind every smile, every laugh and every mask they wear.

If you take anything away from the death of Robin Williams, perhaps it should be that we are all facing struggles—even those who appear to have everything. Remember that we are all human, and sometimes we all need a helping hand. Be a friend.

Finally, if you are battling depression, the most courageous thing you can do is tell someone. There is nothing shameful about reaching out for help. If you are uncomfortable speaking with someone you know, I encourage you to call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255).