Recognize Challenges Facing Moms as Mother’s Day Approaches

Mother playing tambourine with her sonFlowers, a nice meal out or simply some time being pampered at home by family are great gifts for any mom on Mother’s Day. However, along with those signs of love and gratitude, what many women who come to our mental health centers say they could benefit from throughout the year is for people in their life to better understand and acknowledge the high degree of stress they face.

In fact, in a recently released book titled “Making Motherhood Work: How Women Manage Careers and Caregiving,” sociologist Caitlyn Collins shares her findings after five years studying parenthood in four wealthy western countries. Her conclusion: mothers in the U.S. have it the worst of those studied. The additional countries evaluated in this study were Sweden, Germany and Italy.

 

Understanding the Different Types of Stress

To get a better sense of what moms go through, it is important to understand the different types of stress. We explain at our mental health clinics that not all stress is bad. A surge of hormones and elevated heart rate is a normal, healthy response for a person who is excited but not afraid, such as when they are publicly thanked for their efforts at a school event or are interviewing for a new job. Sometimes this is called good stress.

Stress that is temporary but negative is what is called acute stress. When a rude driver cuts someone off in traffic, that person’s stress response kicks in briefly to help them prevent a crash. As long as they then allow (or encourage) the stress to dissipate, it typically is not harmful. 

The biggest stress-related danger to moms (and people in general) is chronic stress. This is stress associated with repeated or continual difficulties in life. Over time, it can cause a wide range of physical, mental and emotional problems.

 

Motherhood and Chronic Stress

Many mothers today experience chronic stress. There are a number of reasons for this, but one of the most common is that they feel overwhelmed by all the “hats” they feel they must wear to support their family. These include roles like:

  • Nurturing mother
  • Schedule keeper
  • Disciplinarian
  • Cook
  • Devoted wife
  • Housekeeper
  • Youth sports fan/manager/coach
  • Veterinarian

Plus, many women work outside the home and must face the pressure that comes from feeling like the two commitments conflict and consequently either their performance at work or their performance at home (or both) suffers.

 

Great Ways to Improve Mom’s Days

Fortunately, here are a few steps families can take to lighten mom’s load and help her enjoy life more fully. For example:

  • Take a task permanently off her plate. Even something simple like having another family member be responsible for feeding the family pet every day can be freeing to an overworked mom.
  • Initiate stress-relieving activities. While mothers should learn to take action to relieve their stress, it is certainly appreciated when a family member encourages mom to go for a walk, do some yoga or enjoy a creative outlet like painting or knitting.
  • Ask questions and listen attentively to the answers. “How are you doing? Tell me about your day?” These kinds of questions encourage a mother to open up and relieve some of the pressure that chronic stress creates.
  • Encourage her to get help. If a spouse or another adult feels like a mom could benefit from professional counseling, it is a very loving thing to do to gently encourage her to seek help from a mental health center.

At Community Reach Center, a leading Denver mental health clinic, we help mothers and anyone who feels overwhelmed by stress take immediate action to address their stressors. Then, going forward, we teach strategies for being proactive in minimizing or preventing stress to enjoy a happier, healthier life. Learn more about our services at communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County, including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Moms, navigating and balance

Mental Health Awareness Month and Mother’s Day coincide in the month of May. It is a time to celebrate mothers and recognize how they do so very, very much for us all. We can all appreciate how they navigate the multiple challenges of life and, at the same time, do their best to keep their inner balance.  

Let’s talk about one of those challenges, such as how to return to work for women experiencing PRD (Pregnancy Related Depression). Navigation and balance … ahh yes. Those two things can be difficult in any situation. Being a mom and experiencing PRD or significant anxiety as well as returning to work outside of the home can overwhelm the most balanced of women.

Perhaps some women reading this have already been diagnosed and are seeking treatment. Others may be reading this and wondering if what they are feeling or experiencing is “normal.” At the risk of giving women who may be struggling and headed into a life transition with yet another “to-do” list, I offer the following items in the spirit of support for the journey.

Phone a Friend

Who can you call or text day or night to just share how you are doing at any given moment?  Ask a friend or family member if they are willing to be your lifeline as you head into yet another transition. Have them on speed dial – I know, a thing of the past – and reach out just to say “Whoa, I am having a rough day,” or “I really need to talk, when do you have time?” or “Hi, just wanted to reach out.” 

Be Gentle with Yourself

Women can be our own harshest critics. New moms often feel the societal pressure to look and feel joyous and full of love. While it helps when our family and tribe are gentle and supportive, it can be most important that we give that gift to ourselves. This can be an affirmation on a sticky note or a jar full of affirmations you pull from when you need those messages. 

Start with One

Confide in others you trust (both inside of work and in your personal life) about what you are going through. Many women who have experienced pregnancy related depression and anxiety identify this as both the hardest and the most important thing to do. This confidant may be a therapist, your baby’s pediatrician, your friend, your partner or a trusted friend.  Start with one. 

Connect

Speaking up can lead to connecting.  This connection may be made through an online platform, a Facebook page or a local support group.  Knowing you are not alone when you may feel the most alone you have ever felt is essential. Humans are driven to connect, yet when we need it most, we tend to stay in isolation. Remember the “Phone a Friend?” Maybe they would go to a support group with you. 

Lastly a note to the loved ones and co-workers out there:

Dear Family and Friends:

New moms are overwhelmed and often feel like they need to do it ALL and with a smile on their face.  Please ask the new mom in your life how she is doing today and then simply listen. Bring her a cup of tea or coffee. Leave positive notes of encouragement just because. Acknowledge that what she is experiencing is difficult, exhausting … whatever it is for her and then remind her that you are there for her.

Please, resist the urge to “fix” her or the situation. She is not broken but struggling and feeling or being supported is what we all need to feel empowered during the tough times and support is the No. 1 thing she needs right now.  

There is no magic in the ideas on this page but where the real magic lies can be in the spark that moves someone to reach out for support and someone else to reach back, be present and listen.

Enjoy Mother’s Day!

This guest column is written by Carol Vidaurre who is a therapist at Community Reach Center in Early Childhood Services. Carol has been working with children and families for over 24 years as an educator, advocate, social worker and therapist. She has extensive experience in working with children who have experienced trauma and supporting children and families to navigate life’s challenges. She holds a master’s degree in special education and a master’s degree in social work. Carol is a mother to two fine young adults who she said continue to help her learn new things every day about what it is to be a mom.

We have a broad and diverse continuum of mental health services at your Denver mental health provider, Community Reach Center. To learn more about our services, visit communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday. We have outpatient and residential centers in the northside Denver metro area, including Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Help Spread Awareness During Mental Health Month in May

Hands holding green ribbon for mental health awareness monthSince 1949, May has been recognized as Mental Health Awareness Month or simply Mental Health Month. Founded by an organization called Mental Health America, the observance is a time for mental health professionals, educators and people, in general, to spread the news that mental health is a key component of overall health. It is also an opportunity to highlight the fact that getting help from a mental health services provider is no different than seeking treatment from your family doctor.

Each year, the observance has a theme or area of focus. In 2019, Mental Health America says it is “expanding upon last year’s theme of #4Mind4Body and taking it to the next level, as we explore the topics of animal companionship (including pets and support animals), spirituality, humor, work-life balance, and recreation and social connections as ways to boost mental health and general wellness.”

 

Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week

As part of Mental Health Month, the first week of May is a time for focusing on how mental illness affects children and their families. It is easy for adults to think of childhood as a time of carefree fun and overlook the fact that mental health issues can be present or develop at any age. In fact, the same mental health conditions that affect adults can impact children. This includes:

  • Anxiety disorders, such as generalized anxiety disorder, social phobia and obsessive-compulsive disorder
  • Mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder
  • Eating disorders, such as binge-eating disorder, anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa
  • Autism spectrum disorder (ASD), which affects a person’s ability to communicate with and interact with others
  • Attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), which causes hyperactivity, impulsive actions and difficulty concentrating
  • Schizophrenia, which causes people to experience psychosis or losing touch with reality

The symptoms of mental illness can be different in children than adults, so it is important for parents and other caregivers to be familiar with the signs of mental health conditions. It is also important for people to understand that while children do go through behavioral “phases” as they mature, concerning behaviors should not necessarily be attributed to these periods.

 

How to Spot Mental Health Issues in Children and Teens

The sooner a mental health condition is identified, the more successful mental health services can be in treating it. Here are some signs to look for:

  • Mood changes that last for at least two weeks and interfere with relationships at school or at home
  • Intense feelings of fear or of being overwhelmed by life, which may be accompanied by rapid breathing or heart rate
  • Trouble concentrating or sitting still
  • Physical symptoms like stomachaches or headaches, which are more commonly a sign of a mental health condition in children than adults
  • Significant changes in behavior such as lashing out verbally or physically, or expressing a desire to hurt others
  • Substance abuse, which may be a coping mechanism for a mental health disorder
  • Unexplained weight loss, frequent vomiting or loss of appetite
  • Self-harm such as cutting or burning of the skin 

If you notice any of these symptoms, you should talk with your child’s doctor. If appropriate, you should also consider talking with their teachers or school counselor to better understand the scope of the behavior. With that information, you and your doctor or mental health services provider can decide what action, if any, should be taken.

 

Mental Health Conditions are Treatable!

During Mental Health Month in May and all year long, it is important for people suffering from mental health conditions and their loved ones to know that mental illness is treatable and that there is no shame in seeking assistance. In fact, asking for help is a sign of strength and a positive step forward that should be applauded.

If you have questions about the mental health services we provide at Community Reach Center, contact us online at communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County, including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

 

Mental health and finding the key to happiness

Keeping fit takes effort and practice. Stretch, focus, exercise, rest, repeat. It turns out happiness works much the same way. Pause, reflect, refocus, act, repeat.

Abraham Lincoln said, “Most folks are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”

On one level, Lincoln is talking about perspective. As surely as the sun shines, there will be rainy days. As surely as there will be fun times, there will be negative events. Stress and adversity are part of life. Those who can endure the tough times with perspective generally experience happier lives.

On another level, a decision to be happy must be backed with training, as in a disciplined approach to establishing new habits or having coaching from someone else. Honestly, it is not as easy as putting on a top hat, so be ready to gear up. In short, time management and exercise are two key elements recommended to gain good habits to replace habits that are counterproductive.

Perspectives

Many, many books describe how to be happy and most often a first step is to decide to be happy, just as Lincoln observed. Happiness is an achievement that requires both inward and outward effort. It requires commitment and grit.

Here are a few tips:

  • Get ready to work at it. As with physical health, it takes plenty of exercise to see results and gain strength. Similarly it takes time to find your new way of looking at life that results in more smiles and feeling healthful.
  • Counteract negative thoughts. Do your best to notice negative thoughts and retrain yourself. Learn about positive self-talk and practice meditation, breathing and relaxation to reduce the stress and anxiety that contribute to negativity.
  • Go with forgiveness. Holding a grudge can affect mental health as well as physical health. Work on “letting it go” whenever you can.
  • Surround yourself with what you love. If singing in a choir gives you glee, find one. Or, if biking with others makes you perky, find a bike club and pedal. If spending time with specific people helps, then make the time to rub elbows often.
  • Think about your eating habits. Consider what you like to eat and identify eating habits that can be improved. Where you see opportunities for improvement, consider making dietary changes that are permanent lifelong habits. On-again, off-again diets are not so good for the body or the mind. We always turn to the Mayo Clinic for a time-tested approach to smart eating and securing new lifelong habits.
  • Money can’t buy you happiness. Regardless of what we pursue in stuff, consumeristic conquests cannot secure an enduring state of happiness. Consider your values and share your perspectives with those around you. Focus on health, relationships and accomplishments over material possessions.

Taking stock

These are just a few tips to gaining more happiness. If you have tried self-help approaches but still find yourself feeling glum for extended periods of time, consider talking to your primary care doctor or seeing a counselor. If your mental state is affecting your work, relationships and health, it’s a good time to visit with a mental health professional.

We have a broad and diverse continuum of mental health services at Community Reach Center. To learn more about our services, visit communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday. We have outpatient and residential centers in the northside Denver metro area, including Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Facing the 20th anniversary of the Columbine tragedy

Saturday, April 20, marked the 20th anniversary of the Columbine High School tragedy.  Many of us remember where we were and what we were doing when we heard the news. Maybe you weren’t even born yet, but if you grew up in Colorado, you grew up with the Columbine “legacy.” Local and national media has shifted into high gear with 20th anniversary coverage.  It brings those awful memories right back, doesn’t it?  The way we worried when our kids were out of our sight, worried for their safety.  Worried for our own safety.  It’s not at all unusual to feel anxious and sad 20 years after the event.

Here are some helpful tips to help you navigate through:

  • Give yourself permission to disconnect from media, including social media, to lessen your exposure to coverage about the event.
  • Encourage your children and teens to talk about their concerns and to express their feelings. Some children may be hesitant to initiate conversation, so you may want to ask what they’ve heard and how they feel about it.
  • If the looming anniversary is affecting your sleep, concentration, or social interactions, talk to someone you trust about how you feel. A friend, a work colleague, a member of your spiritual circle or a family member may be more than happy to listen.
  • Resiliency is the secret to navigating through hard times like this. Now is the time to fortify your resiliency with self-care. Indulge yourself with good and healthy food, enough sleep and any enjoyable social activities that bring you peace and happiness. Expose yourself to the beautiful Colorado landscapes and parks, music, art or a good book.  Self-care isn’t selfish indulgence, it’s an important protective factor for good mental health.
  • Monitor your alcohol, sugar and caffeine intake because they really do make you feel worse during stressful times.
  • Give yourself permission to cancel some of your obligations so you don’t feel so pressured by your “to-do list” right now.
  • If you’re feeling overwhelmed and hopeless, we are here for you. Here’s the link to get started with supportive services at Community Reach Center: https://www.communityreachcenter.org/help-starts-here/. Also call Colorado Crisis Services 24/7 at 1-844-493-8255 or text

Remember that you’re not alone. Although Columbine was a national tragedy, it was Colorado’s family. The best thing we can do for ourselves and one another is to embrace the good and live our best lives.

A look at suicidal tendencies and how to help

The signs and symptoms of suicide risk are well documented, so it is important to take the time to know what to watch for and how to help. You could be the helpful friend or family member that aids and encourages someone to connect with needed professional services.

Common factors

People face different challenges at different times of their lives, and according to the Mental Health First Aid manual some common factors associated with someone being suicidal are:

  • Mental illness: People who are depressed are more likely to die by suicide. Depressive symptoms contribute to risk of suicide as the person may feel overwhelmed and helpless.
  • Suicide risk is increased by alcohol or drug use - and in some cases, a combination of both.
  • Certain age groups are more at-risk, typically adolescents and older adults.
  • Males kill themselves more often than females although females attempt suicide three times as often.
  • Lack of social support. For example, not having a spouse is a risk factor for males.
  • The fact that other family members or significant persons have taken their lives by suicide.

Of the suicide risk assessments related to: gender, age, chronic physical illness, mental illness, use of alcohol and other substances, less social support, previous attempt and organized plan, it so happens that previous attempt and having an organized plan are the most significant factors. Having a plan means discussing specifically how someone might take his or her life.

What to watch for

A variety or warning signs of suicide are evident. They include:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill oneself
  • Seeking access to means
  • Talking, writing or posting on social media about death dying or suicide
  • Feeling hopeless
  • Feeling worthless or a lack of purpose
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities
  • Feeling trapped
  • Increasing alcohol or drug use
  • Withdrawing from family friends or society
  • Demonstrating rage and anger or seeking revenge
  • Appearing agitated
  • Having a dramatic change in mood

Please keep in mind that some of these warning signs alone may not be related to suicidal ideation but fall under the context of life’s general pressures or what teens sometimes experience in the process of growing up. The Mental Health First Aid courses outline how to help and provides several exercises to teach skills in reaching out. One key point is to let the person know you are concerned and willing to help. Secondly, if a person has a plan and is a high risk for suicide, it is most important to stay with that individual until professional help arrives.

Learning opportunities

Mental Health First Aid courses are provided through Community Reach Center. Please register at Community Reach Center. Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) instructs people how to identify, understand and respond to others experiencing a behavioral health crisis. This 8-hour class teaches recognition of risk factors and warning signs and how to provide basic, appropriate interventions for individuals experiencing a mental health crisis.

ASIST (Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training) is a two-day workshop that prepares caregivers to provide suicide life-assisting, first-aid intervention. Anyone 16 years and older are welcome to attend. Also, safeTALK is a three-hour training program that prepares helpers to identify persons with thoughts of suicide and connect them to suicide first-aid resources. To register for ASIST, visit Community Reach Center.  For safeTalk, training, visit Living Works.

If you are concerned about yourself or a loved one, we have a continuum of mental health services at Community Reach Center. To learn more about our services, visit communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Learn About the Role of Sleep in Mental Health

Man enjoying good sleepEvery year, researchers discover new links between sleep and health, and it's become apparent that sleep is something that everybody needs to take seriously. There are a number of health complications that can arise as a result of disturbed sleep, a lack of sleep, and a slew of other factors. At our mental health clinic, we emphasize that restful sleep is essential to good mental and emotional health. 

 

Physical and Mental Health Risks of Sleep Deprivation

Everyone experiences occasional sleeplessness. However, people who fail to get seven to nine hours of sleep on a regular basis and consequently have an ongoing “sleep deficit” are at a higher risk for a number of medical problems including:

  • Heart disease
  • High blood pressure
  • Diabetes
  • Stroke
  • Heart attack

Sleep difficulties can also cause or worsen mental and emotional health issues. This includes:

  • Decreased ability to think clearly
  • Memory problems
  • Decreased reaction time (which is especially problematic when driving a motor vehicle or operating machinery)
  • Increased symptoms of depression and anxiety
  • Strained personal and professional relationships

 

Sleep and ADHD

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a condition that is closely linked to sleep. While the relationship is not fully understood, most experts agree that there is a connection. The National Sleep Foundation quotes multiple studies in pointing out that in children in particular:

  • Children who have ADHD have higher rates of daytime sleepiness than children without ADHD
  • About 50 percent of children with ADHD exhibit signs of sleep-disordered breathing as compared to just 22 percent of children without the disease
  • Periodic leg movement syndrome and restless legs syndrome are common in kids with ADHD

Making matters worse is the fact that while adults tend to get lethargic when they don’t get enough sleep, children often compensate for feelings of daytime sleepiness by being more active. Consequently, sleep disorders and ADHD may both mask and magnify one another, making it more challenging to assess and treat either condition. However, treatment can be effective, and it is critical as both conditions can lead to other health problems.

 

10 Tips for Better Sleep

Whether sleep issues are causing you to have health concerns or simply impacting your quality of life, there are steps you can take to get more restful sleep. They include:

  1. Sticking to a regular sleep/wake schedule, even on weekends
  2. Avoiding long or irregular daytime naps
  3. Increasing exposure to sunlight or bright light during the day
  4. Reducing caffeine consumption later in the day
  5. Sleeping in a room that is comfortably cool, dark and quiet
  6. Avoiding late meals and minimizing water intake in the evening
  7. Reducing “screen time” as bedtime approaches
  8. Practicing relaxation techniques like deep breathing, visualization, taking a hot bath or shower, meditating or reading a book just before going to bed
  9. Getting regular exercise, but not in the evening
  10. Being evaluated for physical or mental health concerns that may be affecting your sleep

 

Helping Clients Understand and Improve Their Sleep

At Community Reach Center, we know how valuable it is to get restful sleep on a regular basis. Our counselors also understand that sleep, mental health and physical health are intertwined and can help you address the challenges you face. Learn more about our services at communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have mental health centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

What are “Evidence-Based” Practices?

Doctor helping patient with paperworkThe term “evidence-based practice” (EBP) is widely used in behavioral health settings today. In fact, it is used in many areas of healthcare and beyond. But, the people we serve at our mental health clinic will often ask, “What does it mean?”

Healthcare professionals first began referring to evidence-based medicine (EBM) in the context of medical research. In particular, randomized clinical trials were, and are, considered to be the best source of evidence on the efficacy of a particular drug or treatment. The concept then spread to other allied health and educational fields, and the more general label EBP was applied. And while “evidence-based” first referred to a process, it now is a descriptor for any treatment model that is supported by a reasonable amount of evidence.

 

From Initial Reluctance to Widespread Use

Initially, some behavioral health professionals were reluctant to adopt EBP as a standard of care in mental health for a few reasons. One was that unlike a clinical drug trial in which the results were fairly clear (i.e., a medication either killed the targeted cancer cell or it did not), the “results” of a behavioral treatment are harder to define. Is the patient experiencing fewer symptoms of depression this month as compared to last month? If so, how much fewer? Another point of resistance was that mental health professionals did not want to ignore the important role that their judgment plays in helping patients get well.

However, EBP is now widely accepted as an effective way to approach the diagnosis and treatment of behavioral health conditions. For example, the U.S. government’s Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has established an Evidence-Based Practices Resource Center whose goal is “to provide communities, clinicians, policy-makers and others in the field with the information and tools they need to incorporate evidence-based practices into their communities or clinical settings.”  

Nonprofit mental health organizations like Mental Health America (MHA) are chiming in as well. MHA’s Position Statement 12: Evidence-Based Healthcare says that the organization is “dedicated to accelerating the application of scientific and practical knowledge to help in the recovery of people with mental health and substance use conditions.”

 

EBP and the “Three-Legged Stool”

Evidence-based practice is sometimes defined as a “three-legged stool.” The three key principles are:

  • Leveraging the best available evidence on whether or not a treatment works and why it works
  • Using clinical skills and judgment to assess a client’s condition and weigh the risks and benefits of potential treatments for them specifically
  • Considering the client’s values and preferences

Fortunately for behavioral health professionals at mental health clinics, web-based “clearinghouses” of information are continually becoming larger and more accessible. Consequently, the evidence needed to choose intervention approaches is more accurate, up-to-date and clearly articulated. As a result, clients are getting treatment plans that more effectively address their conditions and produce better outcomes.

We feature evidence-based practices at our Community Reach Center mental health clinics. Learn more about our services at communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Gain knowledge about eating disorders

The goal of National Eating Disorders Week, Feb. 25 to March 3, is to address myths and better understand eating disorders. Most people with an eating disorder are concerned about appearing overweight or physically unattractive. However, a person with an eating disorder can be underweight, normal or overweight.

Eating disorders include anorexia, bulimia and binge eating disorder and affect about 30 million people per year in the United States, according to the Mental Health First Aid curriculum. The median age for onset of eating disorders is between 18 and 20 years old. A high percentage of people with eating disorders have other mental health disorders, such as anxiety, mood and substance use disorders.

There are many warning signs that an eating disorder may be developing. A few of them are:

  • Extreme dieting behaviors, such as fasting, obsessively counting calories and avoiding some food groups
  • Evidence of binge eating
  • Evidence of vomiting or laxative use (making trips to the bathroom after eating)
  • Obsessive exercise patterns
  • Avoidance of eating meals
  • Behaviors focused on body shapes and weight (interest in weight loss websites, books and so forth)
  • Social withdrawal or avoidance of previously enjoyed activities

Some physical warning signs include weight fluctuations, sensitivity to cold most of the time, changes in menstruation and fainting.  Some psychological warning signs include preoccupation with food, sensitivity to comments or criticism, and extreme body dissatisfaction.

A few questions

The SCOFF Questionnaire developed in the United Kingdom in 1999 helps to detect eating disorders. For each “yes” answer, there is one point. A score of two or more indicates a likely eating disorder.

  • Do you make yourself sick (induce vomiting) because you feel uncomfortable full?
  • Do you worry that you have lost control over how much you eat?
  • Have you recently lost more that 12 pounds in a three-month period?
  • Do you think you are too fat, even though others say you are too thin?
  • Would you say that food dominates your life?

These are a few of the warning signs and factors to be aware of in your circle of friends and family. There are self-help books and websites to assist those with eating disorders, but we encourage professional help for the best results.

As part of the National Eating Disorders Awareness Week, look for activities to learn more. The Come as You Are campaign sponsored by NEDA (National Eating Disorders Association) features interactive learning challenges and events on its website.

Be assured that good physical health and mental health go together at our metro Denver mental health centers. To learn more, visit communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton. Additionally, our website has a link to sign up for free Mental Health First Aid courses

 

Trauma-Informed Care: Why Our Crisis Center Uses This Approach

Talking with doctor about trauma

Merriam-Webster defines trauma as “a disordered psychic or behavioral state resulting from severe mental or emotional stress or physical injury.” This state can develop as a result of a wide range of stressors including abuse, witnessing violence, experiencing homelessness or being affected by a natural disaster. A large percentage of the people we see in our crisis center have had trauma-inducing experiences at some point in their life. The same is true for other providers of behavioral health services. This trauma often contributes to the development of mental illness and co-occurring conditions like chronic health issues, eating disorders and substance abuse, as well as contact with the criminal justice system.

 

Symptoms of Trauma

People who experience trauma may exhibit a number of symptoms. These signs can occur immediately after the experience or may not surface until a later time, and include:

  • Fear and anxiety
  • Self-blame or guilt
  • Withdrawal from people and activities
  • Loss of memories
  • Inability to relax
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Mood swings
  • Disbelief
  • Sexual dysfunction
  • Insomnia
  • Sadness or hopelessness
  • Confusion and disorientation
  • Feeling emotionally numb or unable to relate to others

 

What is Trauma-Informed Care? 

Trauma-Informed Care (TIC) is an approach in which an organization like our crisis center ensures that all staff members understand the impact that trauma can have on a person’s mental and emotional health. Team members also learn about triggers that can cause the person additional stress and how to avoid them and prevent new trauma.

Behavioral health organizations trained in delivering TIC exhibit certain characteristics, including that they: 

  • Respect the need of survivors to be well-informed about their treatment and hopeful about their recovery
  • Educate all staff members, from care providers to business staff and leadership, on the effects of trauma so that a culture of compassion is developed and maintained
  • Have a deep understanding of the many ways that trauma can manifest in a survivor (depression, anxiety, eating disorders, substance abuse, etc.)
  • Recognize the importance of collaborating with survivors, their loved ones and other human services agencies to support recovery
  • Work continually to destigmatize mental illness

 

How to Respond to Trauma

If you have experienced trauma, there are certain steps you should take to address it and lessen its impact on your mental and emotional health. First, if the trauma-inducing issue is ongoing, you should attempt to remedy it if possible. Next, you should talk about the trauma with a trusted friend or loved one. Simply expressing your thoughts and feelings can be very helpful. It is also important that you take care of your physical health while working to overcome trauma, including avoiding the use of substances as a coping mechanism.

Finally, please take advantage of resources like Community Reach Center. Remember our Colorado Crisis Services line at 1-844-493-TALK (8255) for immediate needs. We have a 24-hour walk-in center in Westminster at 2551 W. 84th Ave. and there are several other centers in the Denver metro area. As a highly respected crisis center in the Denver metro area, we use Trauma-Informed Care to help people take a proactive approach to their mental health challenges. Learn more about our services at communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.