Back to School Tips for Mental Health

Back to School Tips for Mental Health

It’s time to go back to school and the reactions of kids (and parents) can differ wildly. Some children are excited to see their friends again more regularly and get back into a routine. Others will miss the freedom of summer and aren’t ready to return to the classroom. Still others may have a mental health condition like anxiety or depression or a learning disorder that makes school harder for them. At the Healthy365 Connection Center, it is our goal to support families in their overall wellness, so we’ve got some general tips for back to school time that will hopefully make the transition a little easier. 

Get a good night’s sleep

People of all ages need a solid sleep routine to function at full capacity during the day, but no population more so than children. According to the American Academy of Sleep Medicine, students aged 6-12 should get at least 9-12 hours of sleep each night, and teenagers 13-18 should get 8-10 hours of sleep each night in order to promote optimal health. 

The authors of this consensus report also noted that getting the recommended amount of sleep on a regular basis is associated with “better health outcomes including improved attention, behavior, learning, memory, emotional regulation, quality of life, and mental and physical health.” Lack of sleep can also increase the chance of learning and behavior problems, injuries, depression, and in teenagers, the risk of self-harm or suicidal thoughts and attempts. 

In addition, research shows that screen time before bed can have negative impacts on both children and adults, and can be associated with the “worsening of many mental health conditions, including depression and anxiety.” Reminding your child to turn off their devices at least 15-30 minutes prior to bedtime, and even charging them in a common space like the kitchen or living room, can improve sleep hygiene.

Find an after-school routine

Helping your child find a good routine for homework, reading and other activities is a good lesson in time management and self-care. For example, you can show them how the practice of laying out their clothes and packing their lunch the night before sets the tone for a more relaxed morning instead of scrambling to get out the door. A daily routine can provide more stability for children who have a lot of anxiety, and adding in a checklist of regular tasks or chores can offer an incentive to get things done efficiently.

Keep organized

Staying organized as a family can sometimes seem like a challenge, but going back to school can create a natural rhythm and sense of organization that is difficult to find during the summer. You can help kids always know where their things are by setting up a mudroom, closet or space by the front/garage door as a drop zone for their backpacks, lunch boxes and school supplies. 

Staying organized can also offer kids with anxiety a better sense of control when life feels overwhelming. Look for natural times to help them declutter their backpack or supply drop zone, like the end of each week, to help them feel on top of things again. Clutter in the space where kids do their homework can also contribute to distractions. Help them reorganize their room, desk or the dining room in order to find a better sense of focus. 

Be kind and don’t be afraid to ask for help

Another important part of going back to school is teaching your child to be kind, both by talking about ways to be a good friend and by setting a good example for them. Kids with mental health conditions or learning disorders may sometimes have a hard time making friends, so regardless of whether your child falls into this category, teaching them to be kind can make a big difference. 

If you think your child may be experiencing an unusual amount of stress or anxiety, you can look for these common signs and help them get support. In preschool-aged students, you may notice a regression to bed-wetting, baby talk or the development of new fears. In elementary students, you could see clinginess to parents or teachers, worries about their safety or that of family/friends, or difficulty concentrating. For high school students, you might notice signs of depression or agitation, taking unnecessary risks, trouble sleeping or changes in their usual behavior.

Do you need additional mental health support for yourself or your family? Contact the Healthy365 Connection Center today at 317-468-4231 to learn more about the local resources to which we can connect you.

How Companies Can Support Employee Mental Health

How Companies Can Support Employee Mental Health

According to the CDC, mental health conditions are among the most common wellness concerns in the U.S. In any given year, 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness, and more than 50% of individuals in the U.S. will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lives. With the prevalence of these concerns, it is more important than ever that companies support employee mental health with better work/life balance, quality wellness programs, mental health benefits and more. 

Offering mental health education

The first step to supporting employee mental health is acknowledging that mental health concerns exist in the workplace. Companies need to educate themselves about the prevalence and impact of mental health issues and, in turn, educate their workers about how they can expect to be treated with regards to mental wellness at work. Offices/employers that currently offer regular professional development are already well on their way to the process of including mental health education in this type of training, but it’s never too late to improve the ongoing education initiatives at your company. 

Improving work/life balance

The next big step to supporting employee mental health in a business is improving overall work/life balance. In some cases, this may look like increasing remote work opportunities, or offering a more flexible/hybrid schedule. For some companies, it may work to offer unlimited PTO with the expectation that mental health days will be included in that time off. But in some offices with unlimited PTO, people are worried about taking any days off for fear of being seen as “taking too much advantage” of the policy. In this situation, incentivizing mental health days could be beneficial (for example, unlocking more PTO or other benefits when workers use their mandatory mental health days). 

Providing mental health programs/benefits

Speaking of benefits, these days it is essential that workplaces offer benefits and programming to support employee mental health. Make sure that your insurance coverage includes regular mental health counseling and other services, and that your staff members understand when and how to use this coverage. Some HR offices have even begun partnering with resources that can help employees schedule mental health services to reduce barriers to quality care and providers. A number of companies are also buying into employer programming for counseling, meditation and mental wellness apps like BetterHelp or Headspace to address mental health early and regularly — before someone’s situation becomes severe.

Advocating for mental health access

Of course, caring for your employees’ mental health is more than just providing programs. It’s also about advocating for them and setting a good example from the top down. Individuals in leadership can reduce the stigma about mental illness by talking openly about it and whether they have direct experience. They should also encourage their direct reports to take regular time off for mental health breaks, and should be taking regular (but not excessive) time off themselves. 

Leadership and HR staff can advocate for employees to take advantage of any of the programs or benefits mentioned above, including for their children or other dependents where coverage is available. And supporting the cause of mental health at large, through service projects, company donations or community education, is another great way for businesses to show their employees that they care. If you are an employer looking to better support mental health at your company, reach out to the Healthy365 Connection Center today! Our staff would be happy to provide your workforce with training, resources and more to improve mental health and overall wellness.

Summer Mental Health Tips

Summer Mental Health Tips

June 21 is the first day of summer, and for many people that means trips to the pool, exciting outdoor activities and having fun. But for others, summer can be a difficult time for their mental health. We often hear about Seasonal Affective Disorder in the winter, when the days are shorter and darker, but summer can bring about depression, anxiety and mental health issues as well. Let’s talk about how you can protect your summer mental health and how Healthy365 can connect you to available resources in Hancock County. 

How is mental health impacted during summer?

If you already suffer from anxiety or depression, it can feel extra hard to come out of your “winter hibernation” in the spring and summertime. While everyone else seems to be excited about the warmer weather and extra sunlight, someone with reverse Seasonal Affective Disorder or mental health issues may feel additional guilt or shame because they don’t feel that same excitement. 

Big weather changes that come in the spring and summer can also cause hormonal shifts or mood swings. Our circadian rhythm can get overwhelmed by changing seasons, and some people may need more time to adjust. Some typical symptoms of seasonal affective disorder or depression can include weight loss, changes in appetite, anxiety, irritability or insomnia.

Going outside

One of the silver linings about having feelings of depression in the summer versus the winter is that it’s much easier to get outside and soak in the Vitamin D. Even taking a short walk can boost your serotonin and improve your mood. If you notice your children are getting bored or having mood swings during summer break, keeping a loose schedule that includes time outside and playdates with others can be a great way to help them. 

Taking a relaxing vacation

Summer is obviously a great time for vacations. Your job (and schools) give you vacation time for a reason – so make sure to use it! Some people might find planning a trip stressful, so take advantage of online resources for vacation planning and find a place to get away. Try to use your vacation to unwind, clear your mind and refocus your energy so that you feel refreshed when you return home. 

Getting active

Exercising is another good way to treat feelings of depression or anxiety, and during the summer there are tons of options to get active. You could start training for a 5K or fun run, many of which take place in the summer or fall. You could take up a yoga practice to improve flexibility and try out some mindfulness meditation. You could even just take the kids to the park and try to keep up with them! However you feel comfortable, try getting active for at least 20-30 minutes a day and your body (and mind) will thank you for it. 

Maintaining proper sleep

On the flip side of getting active is getting a good night’s sleep. It can be easy to stay up late or sleep in during the more relaxed days of summer, but do your best to get in 8 hours of uninterrupted sleep, with a relatively similar schedule for your bedtime and wake-up call each day. Sleep hygiene can have a big impact on mental health for people of all ages, so it’s important to set a good example for your family.  

Seeing a mental health professional

If your feelings of anxiety and depression persist or seem to be getting worse, it may be time to talk to your doctor or see a mental health professional. The Support Navigators at Healthy365 would be happy to provide you with a non-judgmental listening ear, and to connect you with local resources for your overall health and wellness.

Call us today at 317-468-4231 or visit the Connection Center at 120 W. McKenzie Rd., Suite G in Greenfield to learn more about how you can improve your mental health this summer.

Overcoming Performance Anxiety or “Stage Fright”

Overcoming Performance Anxiety or “Stage Fright”

Does speaking in front of a crowd make you nervous? You’re not alone. Experts say that up to 20% of Americans suffer from performance anxiety, also known as stage fright. At Healthy365, we help the Hancock County community overcome a number of mental health conditions, including connecting clients with resources to address specific anxieties or concerns like this one. Here are a few quick tips that can help you or a loved one with your next bout of performance anxiety. 

What is performance anxiety?

According to GoodTherapy, performance anxiety is the “fear about one’s ability to perform a specific task.” Performance anxiety can occur with a wide variety of tasks but is often associated with public speaking or performing for an audience. Some of the symptoms of performance anxiety can include a racing pulse and rapid breathing, dry mouth and tight throat, trembling or sweaty hands, knees, and lips, a wavering voice, nausea/upset stomach, and even vision changes. 

For adults who are out of a school setting, you may no longer be performing or speaking on a regular basis, but performance anxiety can still impact people who need to make a presentation at work, speak publicly at a family gathering or even have to do something difficult, like parallel parking, in front of a crowd. 

Practice makes perfect, or at least less anxiety

The number-one way to quell performance anxiety is by practicing. For people with stage fright, public performances can induce a “fight or flight” response out of fear of messing up, and in extreme cases, this anxiety can cause panic attacks. By practicing your presentation frequently, you are more likely to feel confident about your performance. 

Meditation and confronting your vulnerabilities can also improve your confidence and reduce performance anxiety. Stage fright can sometimes become a bit of a “self-fulfilling prophecy,” where even if you are well-prepared, your anxiety responses cause you to lose confidence. By practicing relaxation techniques regularly (even if a performance is not upcoming) you are more likely to have a confident attitude in the face of a public event.

Preparing on the day of your performance

So you’ve taken the days or weeks before your next performance to practice, but there are also a number of things you can do in the hours leading up to the event. Make sure to limit your caffeine or sugar intake the day of the event, and eat a good meal to give you lots of energy. Right before your performance, try to get the nerves out by jumping up and down, shaking out your muscles or taking a quick walk. Try not to focus on what could go wrong, and instead visualize a successful event and the audience enjoying your performance. Connecting with your audience by smiling and making eye contact can also be a helpful confidence boost, especially if they are family, friends or coworkers. 

Performance anxiety in children

Stage fright is extremely common among children. Your son or daughter may often get a stomach ache or nausea before a big athletic event or a school play. As suggested above, you can help your student reduce their performance anxiety by helping them rehearse or practice for the event. During these practices, be sure to offer them praise and positive encouragement, but let them know that you will still love them even if they make a mistake. 

If you are not someone who experiences this type of anxiety, try to understand where your child is coming from, rather than telling them to “stop worrying” or that it’s “not a big deal.” It can be tempting to let your child skip a stress-inducing event, but it may prevent them from developing coping skills needed later in life and their anxiety could worsen. One way to find a compromise is to suggest recording a performance to be played for a teacher or coach at a later time. If you see consistent and severe signs of anxiety in your child, you may need to look into a children’s therapist or family counselor who they can speak with. 

If you or someone in your family is in need of support for performance anxiety or another mental health condition, Healthy365 would love to connect you to local resources that can help. Contact us today at 317-468-4231 to learn more about the mental health organizations available here in Hancock County. 

How to Support Someone with Depression

How to Support Someone with Depression

Watching a friend or loved one struggle with a mental health issue like depression can be extremely difficult. But, there are ways that you can help. Working with a Support Navigator at Healthy365 can teach you how to identify and support someone with depression, plus they can connect your loved one to a mental health professional and other local Hancock County resources.

How to tell when someone is depressed

Depression is more than just feeling sad, it is generally an overwhelming feeling of hopelessness and withdrawal from life. The symptoms of depression can vary from person to person, but a few that you might recognize include a persistent negative outlook, a loss of interest in things they once enjoyed, lack of concentration, or a change in appetite or sleep habits (either eating or sleeping too much or too little). 

Someone suffering from depression may also express feelings of guilt, indecisiveness, exhaustion, frustration or a lack of confidence. Depression can be common after a death/loss, major life changes (even seemingly good ones) like a new job or moving, as well as postpartum or prenatal depression/anxiety. Depression is also commonly comorbid with substance use disorder. But depression can also come on without an explicit reason. 

Ways to support someone with depression

If you think someone you love may be showing signs of depression, talk to them as soon as you can. Keep in mind that mental health issues like depression can affect anyone. Just because we can’t always see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Checking in on someone can be hard, but it could make all the difference in someone getting the help they need. You can also connect your loved one with a Healthy365 Support Navigator, professionals who are here with a sympathetic ear to provide guidance for identifying local resources such as therapists or support groups. 

One of the best ways to support someone with depression is to remain patient and understanding. Treatment can help those with depression, but it can take time. Encourage your loved one to stick with it and try to offer a listening ear without judgment. Many people with depression may judge themselves harshly, so reminding them of their positive qualities can be very supportive. You can also work to create a lower-stress environment for them by offering assistance with household tasks that may be difficult to manage as they focus on their mental health.

Mental Health FIRST AID Training

If you want more practice and resources for how to identify and support someone with depression, a mental health condition, or a substance misuse problem, check out our Mental Health FIRST AID Training. This groundbreaking eight-hour course gives people the tools to look out for symptoms of common mental health conditions, as well as the best ways to connect someone with appropriate support and resources when necessary. The next Mental Health FIRST AID Training will be taking place on May 18, 2022 from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. at Hancock Regional Hospital.

What to do if someone is suicidal 

If you believe that someone is considering suicide or self-harm, it is important to get them the help they need as soon as possible. If you feel you’re at risk of harming yourself or others, call 911 immediately. The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 is another free and confidential resource for those in crisis. Additionally, Healthy365 offers a Suicide Prevention Training called QPR, which stands for “Question, Persuade and Refer.” Like CPR, these are three emergency response steps that you can take to help save someone’s life if they are considering self-harm or suicide. 

If you are interested in hosting or attending a QPR class, or need to talk with a Healthy365 Support Navigator about how to support someone with depression, contact us today at (317) 468-4231 or by visiting the Connection Center at 120 W. McKenzie Rd., Suite G in Greenfield. We are always here to help!

Local Treatment for Substance Misuse

Local Treatment for Substance Misuse

If you or someone you love has fallen into a habit of substance misuse, it’s important to get support. Addiction is one of the most pressing health issues in the Hancock County community, and Healthy365 is here to connect individuals with local treatment options, alleviate suffering and find solutions to these challenges by partnering in healing.

Looking for signs of addiction

There are a number of signs that you may want to watch for if you are concerned about someone’s misuse of a controlled substance. These can include a loss of control when using a substance or engaging in other destructive behavior, frequent risk-taking, as well as neglect of loved ones/interests and other relationship issues. Signs of addiction may also include changing appearance (especially relating to hygiene), a decrease in attendance/performance at work or school, and continued substance use despite these negative consequences. If substance misuse is disrupting your life or that of a loved one, it is likely time to get help. 

Types of local treatment

When you reach out to a Healthy365 Support Navigator to get support for substance misuse, we will discuss your situation, individual needs, and offer suggestions for local treatment options. One of the most common choices for sufferers of substance use disorder is a residential treatment center, which offers a break from the stress and temptations of daily life. Many residential centers also offer outpatient treatment and dual-diagnosis services for patients with comorbid mental health conditions. Some treatment centers may focus specifically on adolescents or women, or larger facilities may offer special programming for these populations. 

Local treatment facilities in Central Indiana

American Addiction Centers offer a 90-day residential rehabilitation, with locations across the country, including one in Indianapolis. Treatment includes detoxification and rehab for substance use disorders, and they also provide dual diagnosis services. 

Ascension St. Vincent Anderson Center is located in the Behavioral and Mental Health Care Division of Anderson’s Ascension St. Vincent Jackson Street campus. They provide mental health and addiction treatment for all ages, including for adolescents with substance abuse issues. Their dedicated programs for addictions to drugs (opioids), alcohol and even gambling offer a personalized recovery process that may include individual therapy, couples or family therapy, group therapy, intensive outpatient counseling or partial hospitalization.

Ascension St. Vincent Stress Center in Indianapolis, offers personalized behavioral and mental health outpatient treatment to youth, adults and seniors who may be struggling with drug and alcohol dependency. Their dual diagnosis treatment focuses on healing the mind, body and spirit.

Bridges of Hope is an accredited Drug and Alcohol Treatment Center in Anderson that takes a comprehensive and integrated approach to addressing any and all issues related to substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health issues. Bridges of Hope offers inpatient residential rehab, partial hospitalization, intensive outpatient programs, specialized living environments, self-help groups, transportation to and from treatment and more. 

Fairbanks Recovery Center is a longstanding treatment provider for drug and alcohol addiction in Indianapolis, and was recently acquired by Community Health Network. Fairbanks offers both inpatient and outpatient programming, including recovering housing and long-term residential services, one-on-one counseling, medication-assisted treatment and even a family support center.

Harbor Light Center in Indianapolis, sponsored by the Salvation Army, provides individuals in need with withdrawal management and detoxification services, a 28-day residential treatment program, a transitional housing program for adult men and women in need of temporary housing, as well as an intensive eight-to-sixteen week outpatient program. 

Hickory House in Greenfield is a standalone, inpatient rehab and treatment center that treats individuals with addictions to alcohol, heroin/opioids, prescription drugs, fentanyl, cocaine and crack. In addition to their residential treatment, they also offer an intensive outpatient program, dual diagnosis treatment and individual/group therapy. 

IU Behavioral Health has multiple addiction treatment and recovery centers in Central Indiana, including locations in Muncie, Martinsville, Indianapolis, Bloomington, Avon and Portland. Outpatient services for adults 18+ at these locations include individual, group and family therapy, dual-diagnosis services, medical-assisted treatment, 12-step program education, recovery coaching, aftercare and more. 

LifeSpring Recovery Campus is located in Jeffersonville and provides men and women aged 18 and older with a one-stop dual-diagnosis experience. Their Integrated Treatment Center is an outpatient setting and the Turning Point Center is a residential facility for those seeking recovery from their behavioral health and addiction issues.

Options Behavioral Health is the most recognized mental health, addiction and psychiatric disorder treatment hospital in Indianapolis, with 24-hour treatment and continuing care beyond an in-patient stay. Options provides care not just for adults but also specifically for teens and seniors. 

Recovery Works is a residential detox facility located in Cambridge City. In addition to their medically-assisted treatment detox services, they also provide counseling, psychiatric services, relapse prevention and more. They even offer a specialized alumni program post-treatment.

Regional Mental Health Center in Merrillville offers both outpatient and residential substance abuse treatment programs with mental health counseling. Their wraparound addiction services offer guidance and empowerment for adults on the journey to recovery, with admission including (and preference given to) pregnant women. 

Sandra Eskenazi Mental Health Center provides comprehensive inpatient and outpatient services with more than a dozen locations in Indianapolis. Their fully integrated, dual-diagnosis treatment includes outpatient detoxification, medical-assisted treatment, specialized services for expectant and new mothers and children’s programming, all with a focus on family and community participation.

Tara Treatment Center is located in Franklin, with a 30-day immersive adult program in a home-like environment. Tara also provides a transitional residential and intensive outpatient program, relapse prevention, a variety of experiential approaches such as yoga, equine and art therapy, holistic and dual-diagnosis treatment from a multidisciplinary staff, and family involvement encouraged. 

Valle Vista Health System in Greenwood provides adults with inpatient and outpatient substance misuse programming, including partial hospitalization. Their dual-diagnosis individualized treatment focuses on providing patients with a greater understanding of the cycle of substance abuse and developing long-term strategies. 

Wheeler Mission has multiple locations in Indianapolis that serve a variety of populations. They have a men’s homeless shelter and a residential center with substance misuse services for men (as well as a men’s center in Bloomington), and a center specifically for women and children who are homeless or in need of addiction recovery. 

Mental health and substance misuse

Research shows that there are direct connections between mental health and substance misuse, but in many cases, one or both can go untreated. In an effort to shed more light on these issues — and bring an end to the darkness and suffering, the Hancock Health Foundation is seeking to raise $3.5 million to fund critical support and resources for our community through their Mental Health Campaign

You can help our community further enhance our local treatment options by donating now or spreading awareness about the campaign. With the results of this fundraising initiative, the Hancock Health Foundation plans to hire two new mental health navigators, 10 new licensed social workers, and implement more school-based prevention and early intervention programs along with medication-assisted opioid treatment services.

You can learn more about substance misuse programming by contacting Healthy365 or support the Mental Health Campaign on the Hancock Health Foundation website