Mental Health

Trump administration launches new campaign to reduce high suicide rates

The Trump administration launched a broad national campaign Tuesday aimed at reducing high suicide rates, urging the public to reach out to others, especially during the coronavirus pandemic, and acknowledging daily stresses in people’s lives. Known as REACH, the government campaign is the core part of a $53 million, two-year effort announced by President Trump to reduce suicide, particularly among veterans. Starting Wednesday, digital ads will hit the Internet with the key message that “suicide is preventable” and that collective action not only by government but also by businesses, schools, nonprofits and faith-based organizations can overcome the stigma of discussing mental health and empower people to understand risk factors, stay connected with others and talk openly about problems. “Working together, we can implement this road map and end this national tragedy of suicide,” said the wife of Vice President Mike Pence, Karen Pence, a lead spokesperson for the government effort. She called it an opportune time, noting increased social distancing because of the coronavirus. “All of us have been facing anxieties and isolation,” she said. “It’s OK to not be OK. … The best thing is to talk about it more, not less.” “No one should be afraid to ask for help,” she added. Trump established a federal task force last year to develop a way to lower veterans’ suicides. Currently, about 20 veterans, guardsmen and reservists die by suicide each day, a rate about 1.5 times higher than those who have not served in the military. The government says about 14 of those 20 were not under the care of the Department of Veterans Affairs, pointing to a need for improved community outreach. With the coronavirus still raging across communities, officials expressed hope that the message of suicide prevention can aid the public more widely, not just veterans. Surgeon General Jerome Adams, who is helping the effort, stressed the need to stay connected by texting, emailing or, in the case of his kids, writing “old-fashioned letters to grandma and grandpa.” He described stigma against getting help as a much bigger public health threat than cigarettes or COVID-19. “When we feel comfortable seeking help, and unless more people feel comfortable offering help without judgment, we’ll never reach those who need it the most,” he said. Acknowledging the impact of the broader pandemic, Adams also offered a separate public service message: Wear a mask. “It’s not an impingement on your freedom,” Adams said, calling masks the No. 1 way to stem spread of COVID-19. “It actually increases your freedom and your choices because it lowers spread of the disease and increases the chances we will be able to open and stay open.” “It actually will decrease that hopelessness. It will actually lower suicide rates,” he said. Public health experts urged people to go to the website and take a pledge “to reach and be part of the solution” to stem suicide. The website offers information on risk factors for suicide and ways people can get help. “By having this conversation, we will save lives,” said Dr. Barbara Van Dahlen, executive director of the suicide prevention effort.

As a vet, this one is personal to yours truly as I’ve had friends commit suicide.  If you know someone struggling with this, refer them to the REACH site.  To access it, click on the text above.  Kudos to President Trump and his team for taking this initiative.  It’s important.

As Veterans Affairs mental health services increase, veteran homelessness decreases

A Marine Corps veteran is crediting the decline in veteran homelessness to an increase in the Veterans Affairs’ budget and mental health services. The number of homeless veterans in the U.S. is down to 37,000, according to the Department of Housing and Urban Development. This is a decrease of 2 percent in the last year and a 50 percent decrease since 2010. Retired Gunnery Sgt. Jessie Jane Duff, co-chair of Veterans for Trump, discussed military funding on FOX Business’ “Making Money with Charles Payne” on Thursday. “The V.A. has received a budget of $86.5 billion dollars,” Duff said, referring to fiscal year 2019. “And within that, we also have mental health capability; $8.6 billion was allocated for mental health.” Duff said many cases of homelessness are associated with mental health-related issues. “You start having walk-in capability at our VA hospitals for those veterans who are seeking help,” she said. “These [services] are no-brainers that should have happened over a decade ago when we saw veteran suicides skyrocket.” Duff also pointed to veteran unemployment, which is “its lowest level ever at 3 percent.” She praised the government for allocating funds to “these real-world issues.”

Christmas Music Can Harm Your Mental Health, Psychologist Says

Are you one of those people that can’t stand hearing Christmas songs months before the holiday actually arrives? Does hearing festive carols weeks before Thanksgiving only make you upset that you haven’t eaten your turkey yet? A psychologist in Great Britain says your reactions don’t make you a Grinch because too much Christmas music is actually bad for your mental health. Clinical psychologist Linda Blair claims the constant barrage of Christmas tunes too early in the season forces people to remember all the things they have to do before the holiday. Blair says the songs are a reminder to buy presents, cater parties, organize travel, and all the more stressful chores during Christmas. “You’re simply spending all of your energy trying not to hear what you’re hearing,” Blair tells Sky News. The psychologist added that store workers are most at risk for being worn down by the catchy beats. She states that hearing the same songs over and over each day make workers struggle to “tune it out” and they become “unable to focus on anything else.” “Christmas music is likely to irritate people if it’s played too loudly and too early,” Blair explained to reporters. In the U.S., the mad dash by retailers to get consumers in the holiday spirit continues to eat up more of the calendar. The seller’s push, also known as the Christmas Creep, has made some major stores decide to break out the Christmas playlist in the middle of October. According to a survey of top retailers by the Tampa Bay Times, Best Buy outpaced all other stores by starting their holiday music on Oct. 22. Danny Turner, a programming executive with Mood Media, told the Times he advises stores avoid playing novelty or repetitive songs that tend to be more annoying than cheerful. “The one I have in mind is The 12 Days of Christmas… Once I’m at the third day, I’m counting how many days are left. You don’t want any songs that feel like they last for 12 days.”

No kidding!  Ms. Blair is spot on.  The early playing of Christmas music has gotten out of control.  It’s about time someone said this…

How to ‘Reclaim Your Brain’ from mental disease

Many sufferers of mental disease would describe their illness, whether it be post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or anxiety, as a loss of control over their mind. Regaining that control seems impossible for those in the deep trenches of battle with their disease, but Dr. Joseph Annibali, a chief psychiatrist and author of “Reclaim Your Brain,” said there is hope. Dr. Annibali spoke with about several mental diseases and the techniques one can use to fight back. One example is battling anxiety through the heart, which has more than 40,000 neurons that can regulate the body’s physiology including its emotional state. Through meditation techniques, patients can achieve a “coherent” heart rate, which has a gradual increase and decrease. This can evoke calmness and an emotional balance which can ease the stress brought on by anxiety. Obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) occurs when the mind is fixated on a worrisome thought and the patient feels the way to assuage the growing anxiety is by performing a certain action. For example, repetitive washing of the hands to stop the thoughts of getting sick. Annibali says one of the most effective ways of “reclaiming the brain” from OCD is to know thoughts are only thoughts, and that they aren’t necessarily true; just because you think your hands are contaminated doesn’t mean that they really are. “If I can step back, tolerate the anxiety and maybe distract myself with something else or do something pleasurable the anxiety might go away,” he said. In cases of severe OCD, where techniques like this might not work, Annibali said medication may be necessary. With PTSD, there are some techniques that Annibali was skeptical of at first, but now believes are affective. Emotional Freedom Techniques (EFT), or “tapping,” is one example. Annibali said that the genesis of EFT is actually from acupuncture in which needles are placed into certain meridian points in the body to achieve a desired outcome. With EFT, patients tap these points and repeat a positive affirmation. “We believe that this turns down excessive activity in the autonomic nervous system,” Annibali said. Similar to EFT is Eye Movement Desensitization and Reproccessing (EMDR), which includes moving the eyes from side to side. This process seems to activate the processing centers in the brain that are “online” during REM sleep. “We believe that a lot of traumatic experiences that still exert their power haven’t been adequately processed,” Annibali said. The PTSD and EMDR technique “activates these processing mechanisms that can detoxify the experience.”

Porn a public health crisis? Utah state senator thinks so

Is pornography causing a public health crisis in Utah? State Senator Todd Weiler thinks it is. The Republican lawmaker introduced a resolution Friday that “recognizes the need for education, prevention, research, and policy change at the community and societal level in order to address the pornography epidemic that is harming the citizens of Utah and the nation.” Utah has one of the nation’s highest rates of porn use, according to a 2009 Harvard Business School study. “I’m being mocked by the media about this but it is affecting people’s lives and families,” Weiler told FOX411. “This is not a Mormon thing, a Utah thing. This is not a conservative thing. It’s based on science. Not all scientists will agree on this, but scientists don’t agree on everything.” The divorce lawyer turned politician said he’s not trying to impose morals on anyone but simply making people aware of porn’s perils. “Like in the 1950s, people said tobacco wasn’t addictive and now we know it is. I think that porn is similar to tobacco back in the 50s,” he said. “Porn is being found to be addictive and damaging.” “The resolution is a warning telling us to be careful. I’ve been a divorce attorney for 20 years and it contributes to a lot of divorces in Utah,” Sen. Weiler cautioned. “It undermines relationships and families. I’m not trying to ban pornography. I know it’s not illegal. Not everyone who looks at pornography is going to get addicted, but a lot of people don’t realize it can have that impact.” Jeremy Boberg, sexual addiction specialist and founder of Utah Addiction Centers, agrees that pornography addiction is a big problem in his state. “Eighty-five to 90 percent of my clients that come in annually have a sexual addiction or compulsion. For the first time in the human race, you can make love to your computer, smartphone, or tablet anytime, anywhere, and the human brain was not designed for this,” he said. “It’s cocaine on steroids. It’s touch deprivation, so you don’t need to go to your spouse or your significant other for that connection, which is paramount to cultivating relationships.”


Gut Check–In Defense of Obnoxious Jerks: Gene Simmons

Gut Check–In Defense of Obnoxious Jerks: Gene Simmons

This is another fun piece by Greg Gutfeld of Fox News’ “The Five” and “Redeye.”   KISS bassist Gene Simmons is unquestionably, a jerk of epic proportions.  He is also very hypocritical in calling out the foibles of others, while shrugging off those who call him on his short comings.  That said, he IS a very successful business man.  And I agree with him on his call for immigrants to learn English.  We agree wholeheartedly.  If you come here, you should learn the language and the unique American culture, and assimilate.  Anyway, a fun read..