This September, we observe National Recovery Month. National Recovery Month focuses on evidence-based treatment and resources for people who struggle with mental wellness and substance misuse. It is a time to increase public awareness around recovery, as we celebrate the recovery community and the mental health providers who support them.
Many misconceptions linger around recovery, and these falsehoods can be dangerous. Statistics show that there is hope. In fact, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), which sponsors Recovery Month, focuses on hope:
“Hope is a catalyst of the recovery process.”
At the Hancock Health Connection Center, we believe in hope. We believe recovery is attainable, especially when people are paired with the proper resources and treatment protocols. That is one of the many reasons why the Connection Center exists – to provide pathways to prevention, intervention, treatment and recovery services for Hancock County individuals struggling with mental health concerns or substance misuse. Read on for some important recovery information, and find out how you can identify what is right for you or a loved one.
Facts and Figures
Before we dig into the scientific findings, let’s clarify an important point: Recovery is for everyone. Substance misuse and mental wellness concerns can affect any family, regardless of income, socioeconomic status, race, age, education, or other factors. Substance misuse is a chronic brain disorder. People who struggle with substances or mental health are not weak. Their brain, however, may process substances and circumstances differently. Substance misuse has been studied extensively. There are many scientific findings that allow mental health professionals to craft unique treatment plans.
Let’s look at the prevalence of substance use disorders and how the right treatment can help:
Substance use: SAMHSA released its National Survey on Drug use and Health earlier this year. Its findings included several statistics on drug use:
- In 2021, 61.2 million people ages 12 and older used illicit drugs. That represents almost 22% of the population. Marijuana was the most commonly used drug, but 9.2 million people reported misusing opioids.
- 46.3 million people ages 12 and older met the description of having a substance use disorder. This included 29.5 million with alcohol use disorders and 24 million having a drug use disorder.
- Only 6% of people who met the definition of having a substance use disorder received treatment.
Co-occurring substance use disorders and mental illness: About 9.2 million adults fall into the category of having both a substance use disorder and mental illness. These include anxiety, schizophrenia, major depressive disorder, and bipolar disorder.
Recovery: The National Institute of Drug Abuse sees recovery as a two-step process. Remission occurs when people can overcome their substance misuse behaviors and regain their health and social function. Recovery means these changes have become part of a new lifestyle. What does research say?
- 70% of people who have had substance use problems consider themselves to be in recovery.
- 66.5% of people who have struggled with mental health issues also consider themselves to be in recovery.
Anyone who has struggled with recovery understands that it’s not always a simple process. Relapse is not unusual and should not be considered a failure. Recovery isn’t a conclusion. It’s a journey that is different for each person. Mental health professionals work with individuals to create a path that meets their unique needs.
- Medications may help people detoxify from addictive substances. They also can be used to treat certain mental health conditions.
- Behavioral therapy helps people learn to identify triggers and situations where they may relapse.
- Family therapy assists families in addressing mental health and substance misuse concerns about a loved one. This therapy allows them to understand how the support their loved one and change behaviors that can contribute to mental health and substance misuse concerns.
- Support groups provide camaraderie and mutual support.
How can the Hancock Health Connection Center support recovery?
The Hancock Health Connection Center works to connect Hancock County residents with the proper resources and tools needed to treat mental health concerns and substance misuse. Our support navigators are caring community partners who are here to listen and provide helpful local connections. RISE Recovery & Wellness works with individuals who are affected by mental health and substance misuse disorders. We also have a CRAFT family support program for friends and loved ones.
Hope for recovery is here. If you or someone you love is struggling with mental wellness of substance misuse, stop by the Hancock Health Connection Center at 120 W. McKenzie Road in Greenfield, or call us at 317-468-4231. Recovery matters. So do you.
Planning has begun for Rise Above It, an annual free event designed to continue the conversation around mental wellness in the Hancock County community. It’s open to all ages and is scheduled for November 9 at Greenfield Central High School from 5:30 pm to 8 pm. Read on to find out more.
What’s included in the Rise Above It event?
Local organizations will have displays and demonstrations that dig into topics like mental wellness, self-care, and substance misuse. While Rise Above It is held at a local school, its target audience is anyone, including students, parents and community members. Participants can attend focused workshops to learn more about specific mental health concerns and substance misuse topics. They can also indulge in some much-needed self-care, which is such an important component to mental well-being.
What do you mean when you talk about mental wellness and substance misuse?
Mental illness, defined as the presence of any mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder, can affect any person, regardless of age, sex, socioeconomic class, education, or address. Substance misuse, which includes the use of illegal drugs and the inappropriate use of legal substances, including tobacco and alcohol, also contributes to the current state of Indiana’s mental health. Consider these numbers:
- One in four American adults, and one in five American children, lives with mental illness.
- Indiana ranks fifth in the nation for states with the worst drug problems.
- Suicide is the second leading cause of death for Hoosiers ages 25-34.
- Here in Hancock County, recent studies show that 65% of our youth report knowing someone who has had serious thoughts of suicide.
- Hancock Regional Hospital’s most recent Community Needs Assessment indicates that 17% of Hancock County residents smoke and 18% reported drinking excessively.
Mental health concerns and substance misuse can be insidious, affecting both the person and their loved ones and friends. Unfortunately, mental health never announces its presence, and substance misuse rarely seeks out the spotlight. That’s one of the many reasons why the Healthy365 Connection Center sponsors educational programs and events like Rise Above It.
Why is it so important to talk about mental wellness?
In a perfect world, people would feel as comfortable discussing their mental health as they feel about discussing physical health concerns. However, while most people have no problem saying they struggled last week because they had the flu, many would not want to admit that they stayed home due to bouts of depression or struggles with substance misuse. Events like Rise Above It help break the stigma by bringing mental health discussions to the forefront and letting participants know it’s OK to ask for help.
For instance, last year’s event included informational materials on vaping, domestic violence, and teen drug use. Parents visited an exhibit called “Hidden in Plain Sight,” where they learned to identify drug paraphernalia and stash compartments that can be disguised as everyday items. We also offered onsite Narcan training, which is potentially lifesaving training that anyone can learn to possibly reverse the effects of an opioid overdose. There was also “In Her Shoes,” a domestic violence simulation tool designed to increase awareness of the struggles faced by domestic violence survivors. This year’s Rise Above Event will include both of these programs.
Why is self-care a part of the Rise Above It event?
When you visit this year’s Rise Above It event, you’ll be able to indulge in specific self-care activities:
- Relaxation station – free chair massages
- Beautification station – haircuts and nail painting
- Stress Relief station – coloring pages, fidget toys, deep breathing exercises and weighted blanket sampling
- Fuel station – healthy snacks and information about how food affects your mood
- Gratitude and Positive Affirmation station – write notes to spread kindess to yourself and others
- Move and Groove station – participate in Zumba and yoga with music
- Changing Footprints – free shoes for your family!
Taking care of yourself has a powerful affect on both your physical health and your mental health. Self-care may not be a cure for mental health concerns, but it may help you cope with everyday stresses that can intensify struggles with depression, anxiety, or substance misuse. Plan to treat yourself as you participate in the activities listed above, and watch our website and social media feeds for more information as we add more activities to the schedule.
Sounds great! I definitely want to attend. What should I do next?
As we stated above, the event is free and open to anyone. We do ask that you register in advance to help us plan for the evening’s attendance. You can find the registration form online here or by copying and pasting https://www.behealthy365.org/riseaboveit into your browser.
Nobody should have to struggle silently with mental wellness or substance misuse concerns. Plan to join us at the Rise Above It event on November 9 to learn new information and coping strategies for yourself and those you love. If you’re currently struggling with mental wellness or substance misuse, remember that the Healthy365 Connection Center can help you find local resources and treatment options. Call us during business hours at 317-468-4231 or stop by the center at 120 W. McKenzie Road in Greenfield. Let’s get healthy, stay healthy and thrive as a community together.
Communication receives a special focus in June, which is designated Effective Communication Month. How are your communication skills? Do you feel like you’re always talking, but nobody is listening? Does your advice to your spouse or family members seem to go unheeded? How about when someone is talking to you? Do you really know how to listen, or are you already coming up with your response while the other person is still talking?
If you feel seen, don’t despair. You’re not alone. While a whopping 96 percent of people think they’re good listeners, most people usually retain about half of what they hear. Another survey suggests we’re frustrated communicators. In this survey, people listed being interrupted, being talked over and having to repeat themselves as top complaints.
Effective communication is important in every area of our lives, from our workplace to our homes. People appreciate and understand each other better when communicating their feelings and their needs. When the communication stops, the relationship halts as well. Fortunately, the Healthy356 Connection Center has some effective communication tips you can start practicing this month to strengthen your communication and listening skills.
Effective communication skills
Do you struggle to make your voice heard? Are you an active talker but a passive listener? Do you forget the conversation five minutes after it ends? Consider adjusting your communication skills to strengthen your relationships and ensure that you aren’t playing a guessing game when it comes to what the other person needs you to know and hear.
Your mother probably told you to listen when you were a kid, and Mom had some pretty good advice. Listening may seem like a passive gesture, but there’s a term called “active listening” that encompasses an intentional interest in what the other person is saying. Active listening has three components:
- Cognitive listening – paying attention to what you’re hearing.
- Emotional listening – staying calm while the other person is talking, even if they’re saying something that really hits one of your emotional triggers.
- Behavioral listening – showing your interest both verbally and non-verbally. This can be a challenge in today’s society, where the siren song of our electronic devices entices us to scroll through social media while our friend is unloading his heart.
How can you actively listen without succumbing to distraction? Sometimes it’s as easy as repeating the person’s words back to them: “I’m hearing you say that you’re frustrated with your new boss because he wants to change everything that has worked for month.” Pay attention to nonverbal cues, like facial expressions or body language, and ask the necessary questions. It’s natural to start rehearsing your response before the other person is finished, but this is a habit you can break! Give the other person a few seconds of silence before you respond. Sometimes the most important communication happens when you remain silent.
Say what you mean
Relationships must be built on honesty. Don’t make communication into a guessing game. If you want something from the other person, stop dropping hints and ask for it. If someone asks for your opinion, offer the truth. Remember, though, that brutal honesty can be, well, brutal. If your BFF wants to know how she looks in her new chartreuse dress and you think she looks hideous, convey your opinion gently. It’s better to say, “I think the color is cheerful, but I really loved how you looked in that yellow dress you wore last week.” Authenticity is important, but so is kindness.
Hold off on the unwanted advice
Let’s face it. A lot of advice is unwanted. Sometimes friends and family members just need to unload on each other. They need to share their problems and move on. Ask before you advise. “Do you want to hear my thoughts, or do you just need me to listen?” Then abide by their answer.
Pay attention to your own nonverbal cues
Are your arms crossed? Are you scowling while you talk? Do you maintain eye contact, or do you gaze over the other person’s shoulder as though you’re looking for a better option in the crowd? Is your jaw clenched or relaxed? Do you find yourself speaking louder because you fear the other person is about to disagree with you? These cues can add more to the conversation than the words you’re saying. Use them wisely.
Clarify as necessary
Have you ever had a conversation where you were saying one thing and the other person was hearing something completely different? If you’re not sure where the other person is going in the conversation, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification.
Put away the distractions
Phones are great for staying in touch, but they can ruin a good in-person conversation. Keep your phone in your purse or pocket, and don’t grab it every time you get a notification. Give the other person the gift of your undivided attention, which is pivotal to an effective conversation.
Use this Effective Communication Month to freshen up your conversation skills. You may be surprised to discover how much your relationships improve as you deepen your understanding of each other.
World Caring Day was first celebrated in 2022 to commemorate the anniversary of the CaringBridge website. The website, launched in 1997 to share information about a baby born prematurely, now allows people around the world to share health updates and coordinate necessary help and support for others. On June 7, World Caring Day seeks to highlight ways we can connect and care for each other. It’s a mission that the Healthy365 Connection Center takes personally as we work to connect Hancock County residents with available caring resources.
A culture of caring lays the foundation for a strong community. Caring doesn’t have to be a huge undertaking, either. There are many ways you can exercise a caring spirit with your loved ones, friends, neighbors, or strangers. Here are some suggestions to get you started.
Focus on connecting
It’s a bit of a mystery. In a world where we can connect instantly through electronics or social media, people still feel alone. Online relationships have a place and purpose. But, they they also may lack those verbal cues and physical presence that lead to stronger relationships. Old school connections, like in-person conversations, phone calls or even a letter, can tell someone that they’re worth more than a thumbs up button under their latest social media post.
Share your meals
No, we’re not telling you that you must let your friend eat off your plate. Instead, think about your widowed neighbor down the street or the family that’s dealing with a sick child. If you’re one of those families who always seems to throw away leftovers, consider making a to-go box. Send a text to your neighbor that says “Hey, I made a lot of meatloaf. Can I bring you some for your fridge?” Or, spend a day baking with your favorite family members and plan to share the goods afterwards. There’s something special about sweet treats.
Too often, we spend conversations thinking about what we’re going to say next. That’s perfectly natural – everyone wants to be able to contribute. But caring starts with being an active listener. If you’re at lunch with a coworker and you ask how her day is going, make sure you’re also listening to her response. If you have a family member who likes to go on and on (and on and on) about the old days, give him the gift of your attention.
Let them go first
Boundaries are healthy, and we encourage people to communicate their needs and advocate for themselves in their relationships. When it feels appropriate, though, consider waving the other person ahead in line for the family dinner or giving them the covered parking spot at home. You can practice this with strangers as well – let the other guy have the good parking space. In other words, focus on giving rather than winning.
Raise money for causes you believe in
The world is full of foundations and charities designed to support people who are struggling. Most of these groups rely on donations to grow and continue their work. Go ahead and enter that 5K – you’ll also enjoy increased fitness. Remember, it’s not too late to purchase your passport for the Passport to Hancock County 5K Series, which supports various local fund-raising events. Or, nurture a passion for philanthropy among your children by encouraging them to raise money through lemonade stands or dog walking duties.
Help them get the care they need
This may be one of the most challenging – and most important – ways to show you care. If you notice someone near you struggling with mental health or substance misuse issues, consider helping them find the care they need. The Healthy365 Connection Center is designed to connect Hancock County residents with local supportive services. Our support navigators are ready with a non-judgmental, listening ear. Our services include substance misuse treatment connections, mental wellness support, suicide prevention training and personal support navigators who can remove barriers to service.
World Caring Day is June 7, but caring is timeless. How can you help?
Summer travel season is upon us, and you’re planning something exciting for the family. Previous experiences suggest that the best laid vacation plans can’t necessarily prevent a little family drama or tantrums that mar the memories. Mental wellness is a passion at the Healthy365 Connection Center, and we have some tips for skipping the stress and focusing on the fun this summer.
Pick an appropriate vacation destination
When it comes to traveling with children, some places are better than others. A museum vacation, for instance, might be more stressful than it’s worth if you have little ones who want to touch everything they see. On the other hand, your teens may lose their patience if every vacation activity is tailored to their preschool siblings. Do a little research to find vacation locations with activities for all ages.
Plan the vacation together
Let every family member weigh in on vacation plans. You may not be able to fulfill every wish, but you can use this planning time to find out what each person is hoping to do during the family trip. You don’t have to do everything, though. Help your family understand ahead of time that you’ll be focusing on only one or two activities each day. When you try to cram in every wish, you run the risk of overwhelming everyone.
Be ready for “I’m bored”
What parent hasn’t heard this phrase? If your family vacation plans include lengthy car trips, counter the boredom with fun road trip games. Consider packing surprise gifts – small games or toys – that can magically appear in the car each morning. Stick with things that are self-contained though. You don’t want someone to have a meltdown over a game piece that has fallen under the seat.
Arrive early to the airport
Flying with kids can be a challenge. Take a little pressure off yourselves by arriving early at the airport. Pack a carry-on goodie bag for each child with travel-appropriate snacks, books and games to amuse them while you wait for your number to be called. Download a few movies on phones or tablets before you arrive so you won’t be held hostage by the airport Wi-Fi.
Encourage physical activity during your vacation
Many adults envision an ideal vacation that involves sitting on the beach with a good book and the sound of the ocean waves crashing in the background. Younger family members don’t necessarily subscribe to the same mindset. If both parents are traveling, consider sending one of them with the kids to find a local park or playground where they can burn off their energy. Look into renting bicycles at your destination so the family can pedal their way to vacation adventures and enjoy some exercise as well.
Stick to scheduled meals
Between travel snacks and late nights, it’s easy to deviate from your normal meal schedule during a vacation. However, skipping meals and filling up on junk food can affect your overall mental health as well as your physical health. Try to stick to the same meal schedule you follow at home. Have some prepackaged protein-rich snacks available for mid-afternoon munchies, and stock your vacation condo kitchen with fresh fruit and vegetables to encourage healthy eating.
Leave your work behind
Today’s office environment can make it too easy to bring work on vacation. Talk to your coworkers ahead of time to let them know you’re going to be unreachable for the week – and stick to it. If you have to periodically check emails or voice mails, set aside a time each morning for the task. This is your vacation too. Let your focus be on the family.
Be ready to be flexible
You may be the consummate planner, but plans change, especially when you’re on vacation. Someone can wake up with a fever and need a trip to the nearest urgent care center. Flights can be delayed. Vacation accommodations may not resemble what you saw on the website. Take a step back and acknowledge that everything is going to be OK. You’re together, and that’s what counts in the end.
Moderate your alcohol intake
It may be tempting to throw away moderation and spend your vacation days in a party mode. Substance misuse, however, can ruin a good time. Consider moderate or limited alcohol consumption during your vacation. Splurge on a few tropical drinks during dinner but lay off the alcohol during the daytime.
Make mental health a priority
Mental health concerns don’t take a vacation. While mood swings and anxiety are often associated with winter months, they can occur during the summer months as well. If mental health concerns are threatening to ruin your vacation time, reach out to the Healthy365 Connection Center. Our support navigators will offer a non-judgmental listening ear and connect you to appropriate available resources. Call us today at 317-468-4231 or visit the Connection Center at 120 W. McKenzie Rd., Suite G in Greenfield.