You’ve heard of CPR, which can save the life of someone’s heart stops. But do you know about QPR? QPR stands for “Question, Persuade and Refer,” and it may make the difference in the life of someone who is considering self-harm or suicide. Throughout the month of September, we have been focusing on suicide prevention as part of the National Suicide Prevention Month. QPR, a training program offered by the Hancock Health Connection Center, educates people about suicide warning signs and equips them with steps they can take to save lives.
A look at suicide statistics
Suicide is the 12th leading cause of death in Indiana. However, it is the third leading cause of death in Indiana for people between the ages of 10-24, and the second leading cause of death for ages 25-34, according to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP) and Suicide Awareness Voices of Education (SAVE). Nationwide, suicide was responsible for 48,183 deaths in 2021. That’s one death every 11 minutes.
Suicide can touch any family, regardless of race, ethnicity, age, and location. However, certain groups have higher rates of suicide, including non-Hispanic American Indian/Alaska Native people, followed by non-Hispanic white people. People who live in rural areas have higher-than-average rates of suicide, as well as young people who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual.
Suicidal tendencies may be difficult to identify, and many survivors struggle with feelings of guilt when they lose a loved one to suicide. Sometimes it is simply impossible to prevent suicide. However, programs like QPR can make a difference. In fact, a retrospective study of QPR participants in Tennessee showed that more than 42% were able to identify and intervene with at least one at-risk youth in the six months after taking the course. Let’s dig into what happens in QPR training.
Hancock Health Connection Center staff offers QPR training classes to interested groups and individuals. Our staff has been trained through the QPR Institute, which developed the QPR curriculum and program. QPR classes are pivotal to caring for the mental health of Hancock County residents. Just as you rely on a smoke detector to warn you before the flames engulf your home, the training offered during a QPR class can help you take action with someone who is considering suicide.
During a two-hour training session, participants focus on several key components:
- How can you question, persuade and refer someone who may be suicidal
- Getting help for yourself or learning more about suicide prevention
- Common causes of suicidal behavior
- Warning signs of suicide
- How to get help for someone in crisis
QPR training is offered periodically through the Hancock Health Connection Center. Our next session in 2023 will be from 2-4 pm Tuesday, Nov. 14, at the Connection Center. You can register for the free class here. Our staff also offers QPR training to outside groups and organizations. If you are interested in hosting a class, call us at 317-468-4231.
A far-reaching impact
Suicidal behavior affects more than just the person who attempts to end their life. Suicide attempts can have lasting effects on someone’s overall physical health. There may long-term mental health issues, including depression or anxiety.
Suicidal behavior also leaves its mark on loved ones and family members, who can experience prolonged grief, shock, anger, guilt, depression, and anxiety. Suicide and self-harm can cost more than $500 billion in medical expenses, days lost from work and quality of life costs.
Other suicide prevention resources
If you or someone you know is experiencing suicidal thoughts or behaviors, you can call 988 to be connected immediately with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Calling this number puts you in touch with trained counselors who can listen, support and provide referrals to local resources.
The Hancock Health Connection Center has a staff of support navigators who are here to listen to concerns and refer people to appropriate support services and treatment options. Anyone who is a Hancock County resident or a Hancock Health patient or associate can stop by the center, located at 120 W. McKenzie Road in Greenfield, during regular business hours.
Suicide does not have to be an inevitable conclusion for someone who is struggling. Be proactive now by registering for the next QPR training session on November 14 at the Connection Center. Or, talk to a support navigator about how you can become familiar with the warning signs of suicide and how to help someone find appropriate resources in time to save their own lives.
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?