Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder: Getting Workers the Help They Need

 

Taken from   the   Workforce  which is located    HERE.

Recent events such as Hurricane Sandy and the early February blizzard that slammed the Northeast brought workplace preparedness back into the forefront. Employment experts agree that companies should have policies and procedures in place to deal with the psychological effects of such traumatic events.

In the aftermath of a natural disaster or traumatic event such as workplace violence, some victims will experience short-term psychological effects. A subset of those people will develop post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, an anxiety condition that results from life-threatening events.

Left untreated, PTSD can linger for years and affect memory, sleep, concentration, ability to enjoy life and also interpersonal relationships.

“Most employers don’t have procedures in place other than supervisors or co-workers sensing that something is awry, and eventually building up the courage to talk with their colleague and make a referral to an individual practitioner,” says Doug Hicks, a mental health case manager with The Standard, an insurer based in Portland, Oregon. “HR departments should handle these, and all psychiatric cases, with extreme confidentiality and sensitivity. Caring and involved managers and leaders within the company, in my opinion, go a long way toward helping and healing the individual suffering from a psychiatric condition.”

Training human resources department individuals, managers and leaders on warning signs of psychological distress and PTSD can help, too, Hicks says.

David Pawlowski, a clinical manager at ComPsych Corp., an employee assistance program provider based in Chicago, says that benefit managers should not be expected to become experts on PTSD and mental health.

“But they are experts on the benefits and services available to employees,” Pawlowski says. “They can help employees to get the help they need.”

About half of the U.S. population will experience a traumatic event, he says, and though a far smaller percentage will develop PTSD as a result, services are usually available to employees who experience trauma.

People exposed to a traumatic event can experience shock, loss of appetite, dizziness and fatigue. Longer-term symptoms include difficulty completing tasks, making decisions and problem-solving, as well as avoidance of certain places or people that could be triggers to re-experiencing the event. Drug or alcohol abuse can develop as a coping mechanism, Pawlowski says.

One tool commonly used by employers after a natural disaster or other trauma is a group counseling session, Pawlowski says. A trained counselor will appear on-site to talk about the event and people’s reactions.

ComPsych deploys members of its critical incidence team to facilitate these events and also do one-on-one in-person or telephonic counseling. Team members are all master’s-level clinicians who specialize in trauma.

“It makes sense to come together as a group and talk about people’s experiences and have a counselor normalize those feelings,” Pawlowski says.

Incidents where employers have called in on-site group counselors include the aftermath of bank robberies, hurricanes and local mass shootings, he adds.

Even events that happen far away can create a need for response. ComPsych got calls from employers from all over the country requesting counseling sessions for workers in the wake of the December 2012 shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary in Newtown, Connecticut, that left 27 people dead including 20 children, Pawlowski says.

“One of the most common questions we heard from employees was how to talk with their children about the shooting,” he says.

A caring work environment is often the best medicine when tragedy strikes, The Standard’s Hicks says. “Being sensitive and assuring confidentiality when handling the matter is essential,” he says. “Assisting the employee to get the best treatment options is extremely beneficial.”

Listening to individual employee needs is also important. One person might need a sympathetic supervisor while another might need more reduced distractions in the workplace, Hicks says.

PTSD can affect job performance and quality of life but there are ample treatment options available to help individuals heal from traumatic events, experts say.

“The more managers and company leaders know about the services available,” Pawlowski says, “the better they will be able to respond when an event happens.”

PTSD by the Numbers

Post-traumatic stress disorder is an anxiety disorder that results from exposure to life-threatening events.

Causes of PTSD may include being:

• Attacked or assaulted. • The victim of a fire, flood or other form of natural or man-made disaster.

• Being part of or witnessing a horrible accident or assault.

• Threatened with a weapon.

• Intimidated or sexually harassed by a fellow employee.

• Experiencing combat or war.

• Seeing someone being badly injured or killed.

Types of PTSD

There are three kinds of post-traumatic stress disorder:

Acute: Experiencing symptoms less than three months from a traumatic event.

Chronic: Experiencing symptoms up to six months after an event.

Delayed: Symptoms that appear more than six months after a traumatic event. The trauma could have happened years before, but triggered by environmental factors, or physical or psychological memories of an event.

Top Oscar Awards Connect to Mental Illness

Academy Award winners Daniel Day-Lewis, Jennifer Lawrence, Anne Hathaway and Christoph Waltz (Photo: Disney ABC Television Group – Flickr)

Taken from NAMI   which is located    HERE.

The annual Academy Awards televised ceremonies in Hollywood are notorious for dragging on too long, while saving the best for last.

For people who stayed up late Sunday night, Feb. 24, they were able to see two of the top Oscar awards—for Best Actor and Best Actress—presented to movies with significant connections to themes of mental illness.

Daniel Day Lewis was honored as Best Actor for his leading role in Lincoln.

In real life, America’s 16th president struggled with depression—as detailed in the biography Lincoln’s Melancholy, which makes the case that the struggle also helped to fuel his greatness as a leader. The movie focuses on Lincoln’s efforts during the Civil War to have Congress pass the 13th amendment to the U.S. Constitution to abolish slavery. There no direct reference to depression, but Lewis’ performance shows a man who is at times weary and pessimistic, but also determined in his vision for the country. In film, the Lincoln also is shown sharing the grief of his wife, Mary Todd Lincoln, over the death of their 12-year-old son, Willie. (Later in life, Mrs. Lincoln would be institutionalized briefly for depression).

NAMI is currently honoring Lincoln in its “You Are Not Alone in This Fight” campaign of televised public service announcements.

Jennifer Lawrence was honored as Best Actress for her role in Silver Linings Playbook. The movie is a comedy in which a young man (played by Bradley Cooper, who was nominated for Best Actor), living with bipolar disorder, who after being released from a state psychiatric hospital, begins to rebuild his life.  He meets Lawrence, who has endured misfortunes of her own. As their relationship evolves, they find often hilarious paths to recovery.

After receiving her award Lawrence answered questions from reporters backstage, including a question about what the film means for people struggling with mental illness.

“I don’t think that we’re going to stop until we get rid of the stigma of mental illness—I know David won’t, and I hope this helps,” she said. “It’s just so – it’s so bizarre how in this world you have to – if you have asthma, you take asthma medicine. If you have diabetes, you take diabetes medicine. If you have to take medication for your mind, there’s such a stigma behind it.”

Only 22 years old, Lawrence is no stranger to movies with themes of mental illness. In 2010, she starred in Winter’s Bone in a “breakthrough” role as a teenager who had to look after her mother, who lived with mental illness, as well as raise two younger siblings. She also played a supporting role in The Beaver, a film about the impact of a father’s depression on his family.

First Lady Michelle Obama appeared from the White House by remote television hook-up to announce the winner of the Best Picture Award—which went to Argo, about the rescue of six Americans during the 1979 Iran hostage crisis.

She noted that films often leave us with lessons—and her remarks had special resonance for individuals and families who live with mental illness.

“These movies,” she said, “taught us that love can endure against all odds and transform our minds in the most surprising ways. And they reminded us that we can overcome any obstacle if we dig deep enough and fight hard enough and find the courage to believe in ourselves.”

One Word At A Time: A Writer’s Spiritual Journey To Recovery

Taken from  NAMI   which is located    HERE.

Ten years ago, back when I was 18, I planned to go to college and live a normal life as a deaf man. But at age 19, I was diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder. The psychotic world in my mind, which seemed so real at times, threatened to imprison me in a world of delusions. In class, my passion for words kept me motivated, but once I graduated from college I plunged into a pit of despair. I wrote and slept, but struggled to produce anything. Writing was my drug and it was my boyhood dream to be a writer, but a writer cannot live on words alone.

I looked for God, but He could not be found. Psalm 13 captured my yearnings: “How long, O Lord, will you utterly forget me? How long will you hide your face from me? How long shall I harbor sorrow in my soul, grief in my heart day after day? How long will my enemy triumph over me?” My enemy was my mental illness and like a prisoner in a cell, I saw no way out or nowhere to go. I was scared of the world. Medications and therapy helped some, but the best medicine was love. Even as I lost faith in myself, my family and friends never lost faith in me.

Ironically, it was a tragic event that lifted me out of my own sadness. In 2007, my college adviser of four years unexpectedly died. For a long time I wanted to write something in honor of him, but the words would not come. Then one morning beautiful, graceful lines came to me without struggle. God answered my silent prayer.

I soon sent the article to the alumni publication of my alma mater, which published it a few months later. This article commemorated him and turned my sorrow into joy. Since his burial, I have kept his funeral pamphlet on my desk. Every time I look at it, I am inspired and comforted. His spirit is with me and gives me strength.

Living at home after college was difficult, so I moved into a group home for deaf individuals. That too was a challenge, but there I found new companions who gave me the strength not only to endure my illness, but to think positively. The monthly SSI checks didn’t provide us much, but what we lacked in wealth, we made up with good spirits and humor. Not a day goes by that my roommates or fellow members don’t crack a good-hearted joke. Just being with them is a joy—they are the reason I get up each morning and live each day.

Then I became involved with a wellness and recovery center. Soon after, I got involved with the center’s informal writing group and literary publication, The Fellow Traveler. I felt accepted and comforted. Looking back, I believe that God sent these special earthly angels to uplift me and give me hope.

Now I feel blessed with what I have. Not only has God sent me friends during my darkest hours, He has given me the capacity to reach out and touch others through the written word. I continue to write short articles and biographical sketches about the people I know and love. Recently, I found solace in contributing prayers and essays to my local church for its newsletters and services. In my life, writing has opened a door to friendship and has given me spiritual strength to rise above the anguish of my illness. For me, the real reward is making a difference in the lives of other people that I care about. Like anyone, I have my down days—but I feel that I am winning the battle one word at a time.

U.K.’s Charlie Webster: My Hell Of Child Sex Abuse, Violence And Self Harming

I originally posted this article in 2011.  Allan

Taken from  News Of The World  which no longer exists.

BRAVE Sky Sports News star Charlie Webster has told how her childhood was ruined by horrifying sexual, physical and mental abuse that led her to self-harm.

Charlie endured YEARS of torture – and has decided to speak out to help fellow “child survivors of abuse” move on with their lives.

Now one of the brightest young stars on TV, the former model, 28, said: “I am now ready to let people know what I went through as a child.

“I witnessed and experienced abuse by more than one person. I was very unhappy, confused and lonely. I became a bit like a zombie. Looking back, the mental abuse can take longer to get over.”

At the launch of the Empowering Women Awards with charity Women’s Aid in London last week, Charlie said:

“I’ve always been very quiet about what happened to me because I’ve been scared and felt people would judge me.

“When it happened to me, I did not know where to turn.”

Charlie, who cannot reveal when or how she was abused for legal reasons, is now one of the best-loved presenters on Sky Sports and Sky Sports News and has also worked for ESPN, ITV4 and Channel 4.

I want to show people you can come from anything and make something of yourself even if you are an abuse survivor

It’s been a long, tough journey from her early life as a keen young athlete in Sheffield – where much of her abuse came from a man involved in her sports training. The abuse led to years of self-harm for Charlie. She admitted: “I went through a phase of cutting myself. I’ve still got scars on my wrist.

“I thought I was worthless. I hated myself. You believe what is wrong is your fault.

“But I’ve learnt survival is the most powerful thing ever.”

And Charlie believes there should be no shame in talking about being the victim of abuse. “A lot of people will say: ‘Why didn’t you get out of that situation?’ But if you are abused, bullied every day, made to feel you’re nothing you believe you are nothing.”

In the end, despite the abuse, it was sport that helped turn her life around.

“I saw running as an escape. It helped me get over my issues by giving my confidence back,” said Charlie, who after completing a degree in English, used her background in sport to help her break into the world of TV.

“At first I wanted to be an athlete. I never wanted to be on TV.” Now Charlie plans to use her horrific early experiences to help others who’ve been abused. “It’s swept under the carpet in this country,” she said. “But it goes on a lot.

“I want to show people you can come from anything and make something of yourself even if you are an abuse survivor.”

  • Visit womensaid.org.uk for help and support, and details about the Avon and Women’s Aid Empowering Women Awards 2011.

At National Veterans’ Suicide Hotline Center In The Finger Lakes, The Phone Never Stops Ringing

Jan Kemp, director of the national Veterans Crisis Hotline, stands in one of the phone bank rooms at the hotline’s home at the Veterans Administration Hospital in Canandaigua, N.Y. in this Jan. 11, 2013 photo. (Photo by Dick Blume/The Post Standard)

Taken from  the Syracuse News  which is located   HERE.

Need help?
Call 800-273-8255 and press #1 to contact the the national Veterans Crisis Line, a suicide hotline for military personnel and veterans.

Canandaigua, N.Y. — The call came from a Vietnam veteran.

“My dog’s sitting in my lap, I got a 45 under my chin and you’ve got two minutes to tell me why I shouldn’t blow my f!#*!! brains out,” the caller told the Veterans Crisis Line responder, Dan Stone.

A veteran himself, Stone asked a question.

“What are you going to do with the dog?”

“I’ve got it so my ex-wife is going to take it.”

“Well that’s damn nice,” said Stone. “If you can’t put up with your ex-wife, how do you expect your dog to?”

Stone’s remark provoked laughter from the vet, changed the tone of the conversation, helped the vet to open up. An hour and a half into the call, the veteran agreed to let police check on him.

The call was one of Stone’s more memorable ‘rescues.’ He’s a call responder at the Canandaigua VA Medical Center, which is home to the nation’s Veterans Crisis Line, formerly known as the Veterans Suicide Prevention Hotline.

In its five-plus years of existence in Canandaigua, a Finger Lakes village between Syracuse and Rochester, the crisis line has fielded some 750,000 calls and helped save some 26,000 callers on the brink of taking their own lives.

The program began with a staff of 13 working in a borrowed corner of a Rochester crisis phone center. Jan Kemp, its director then and now, wasn’t sure how busy they’d be. She advised responders to bring something to do as they waited for calls. Twenty minutes after the lines opened they received their first call.

“The phones haven’t stopped ringing since,” said Kemp, now the national VA mental health director for suicide prevention.
The call center serves from veterans and military personnel around the globe, and is the only one of its kind. Calls come 24-7 from soldiers, sailors, Marines, and veterans. They come from family members and friends concerned about their loved ones. When someone is suicidal, they can harm others, too.

The service now occupies several newly remodeled offices in a building on the Canandaigua VA Medical Center’s sprawling 1930s campus. Each shift demands 40 to 50 staff. Around the call center’s perimeter, responders work with a phone and computer in booth-like cubicles. In the room’s middle, health technicians at computers support the responders, helping locate everything from VA staff to police or ambulance services nearest the caller.

Sometimes, rescue crews have arrived too late to help or were unable to find the caller.

“The instances we know about are under 10,” said Kemp. “Sometimes we don’t know until much later, if at all.”

Why Canandaigua?

The creation of a suicide prevention call center at Canandaigua helped save the old medical center, which had been downsized and was slated for closure in 2003.

Although the Iraq war was just ramping up, reports about increasing numbers of military and veteran suicides made setting up something like a call center “a clear priority,” said former U.S. Rep. James Walsh.

At the time, Walsh was chairman of the appropriations subcommittee for military construction and the Department of Veterans Affairs. His chairmanship essentially brought the call center to Central New York.

“It could have gone anywhere in the country,” the former congressman from Syracuse said. “We kind of insisted that it be in Canandaigua.”

Staffing at the call center has grown from 13 to 300. Some, but not all, of the workers are veterans. Phone lines have increased from 3 to 30. The center has a crisis line chat service and a texting service, but responders try to move the conversation to a phone line, where they can hear the caller’s tone.

Besides handling calls from or about veterans, the crisis line fields calls from active duty soldiers in Iraq, Afghanistan, anywhere in the world.

Military suicides continue to increase. Last year, there were 349 suicides among active-duty troops, the most ever recorded, according to the Pentagon, up from 301 the year before. More American soldiers died from suicide last year than from combat in Afghanistan.

The suicide rate among active duty soldiers had historically been significantly lower than the rate for the general population.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan changed that. The military suicide rate has climbed from 10.3 per 100,000 in 2001 to 18.3 per 100,000 in 2009, according to a 2012 Surgeon General’s report.

Suicides among the Army National Guard have also increased, from 48 in 2009 to 101 in 2010. Military veteran suicide numbers are less firm. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that veterans account for roughly 20 percent of the deaths from suicide in America.

For both veterans and active duty soldiers, Marines and reserve soldiers, firearms are the most common means of suicide. Drug overdoses the most common means for attempts.

The Veterans Crisis Line in Canandaigua, a $20 million-a-year operation, is one piece of a comprehensive $83 million suicide prevention program within the Department of Veterans Affairs. Each VA center has a suicide prevention team.

With a caller’s consent, crisis line responders in Canandaigua contact the suicide prevention coordinator at the VA center nearest to the caller to arrange for follow-ups.

Crisis line responders can steer callers toward the VA’s program for homeless veterans if needed. Responders follow-up with callers weeks later to be sure they are getting help.

With active duty soldiers, responders will seek permission to contact the soldier’s chaplain or staff sergeant. When soldiers don’t want anyone in their unit to know they are suicidal, responders try to connect them with a private counselor.

The VA’s suicide prevention program has worked hard to promote its crisis line as a place to contact when it feels like there’s no one else to talk to. Nearly 25 percent of the crisis line’s budget pays for advertising and promotion, with the dominant message one that encourages people to ask for help before they are in crisis. Changing the name from Suicide Prevention Hotline to Veterans Crisis Line a year ago was part of that.

Call volume has grown, from 67,350 in 2008, the center’s first full year of operation, to 193,507 last year. But the percentage of rescue calls — those calls for which emergency responders get involved — has declined, from a high of 4.26 percent in 2010 to 2.7 percent in the first months of this fiscal year.

“It’s a lot if I do one rescue every two months,” said Stone. “Most of our calls are mental health issues. If you lost a limb, you might not tell me you lost a limb, but with the loss of a limb comes a mental health issue. “

Kemp, 58, the crisis line’s director, is a native of Carthage. She spent 20 years at the Denver VA. While there she conducted research about war experiences and their effects and ways to prevent suicide. Among other things, the Denver VA is a research center for suicide prevention.

In 2009, for her work with the crisis line, Kemp was named Federal Employee of the Year across all departments by the Partnership for Public Service, a not for profit. For that she received a $10,000 award and a medal presented to her by Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric K. Shinseki.

She cautioned that the effects of being at war, things like post-traumatic stress disorder symptoms, can take time to become troublesome.

“Often these invisible wounds, these undiagnosed head and brain injuries, aren’t evident in the beginning,” she said. “I think that’s going to be a problem for a while. We need to be prepared for that.”

Contact Dave Tobin at 470-3277, dtobin@syracuse.com, or @dttobin

Need help?
Call 800-273-8255 and press #1 to contact the the national Veterans Crisis Line, a suicide hotline for military personnel and veterans.

Answering the bell
The number of calls to the national Veterans Crisis Line in Canandaigua in the past six fiscal years:
2012: 193,507
2011: 164,101
2010: 134,528
2009: 118,984
2008: 67,350
2007: 9,379

Prayer Requests & Praise Reports, February 24th, 2013

“Heaven is full of answers to prayer for which no one bothered to ask” – Billy Graham

Prayer Requests

lensgirl53–  Please pray for my daughter Vanessa who suffers from Misophonia (hearing sensitivity which causes rage and depression) and Borderline Personality Disorder. She has lost so much because of this…jobs, relationships….etc….we are at an all time low over this on top of losing our son to suicide. Thank you so much. God bless you.

Allan–  My cousin DeAnna is recovering from a double mastectomy. Please pray there will be no complications as she goes through treatments  and the cancer will be gone.

Allan–  A friend lost her husband a year ago. This not too long after she had a leg amputated. She has now moved out of state to be close to her daughters. She has lost 37 pounds and is battling deep depression. Her name is Jan.

Allan–  I just received word that an old friend who helped me so much in my early years as a believer tried to commit suicide. Finances and health issues have been and are overwhelming. Please pray that Dick would regain hope and that God would move mightily in his life.

Classic Streams In The Desert: February 23rd, 2013

And there came a lion   1 Samuel 17:34

It is a source of inspiration and strength to come in touch with the youthful David, trusting God. Through faith in God he conquered a lion and a bear, and afterwards overthrew the mighty Goliath. When that lion came to despoil that flock, it came as a wondrous opportunity to David. If he had failed or faltered he would have missed God’s opportunity for him and probably would never have come to be God’s chosen king of Israel.

“And there came a lion.” One would not think that a lion was a special blessing from God; one would think that only an occasion of alarm. The lion was God’s opportunity in disguise. Every difficulty that presents itself to us, if we receive it in the right way, is God’s opportunity. Every temptation that comes is God’s opportunity.

When the “lion” comes, recognize it as God’s opportunity no matter how rough the exterior. The very tabernacle of God was covered with badgers’ skins and goats’ hair; one would not think there would be any glory there. The Shekinah of God was manifest under that kind of covering. May God open our eyes to see Him, whether in temptations, trials, dangers, or misfortunes.
–C. H. P.