What Happens in a Mental Health Screening?

What Happens in a Mental Health Screening?

Have you ever had a mental health screening? October is National Depression and Mental Health Screening Month, and this common practice can be a true life-saver. Let’s explore what happens when you take a screening, how to analyze your results and how organizations like the Healthy365 Connection Center can help you find the support that you need. 

What is a mental health screening?

A mental health screening is a quick and simple exam that can help determine the state of your mental wellness. You may receive one of these exams during a visit with your primary care provider if you are exhibiting symptoms of a mental disorder, but many physician’s offices have also made these screenings a standard practice. For example, most people who give birth will receive a screening at their one-week and six-week appointments because postpartum depression can be so prevalent. The purpose of a mental health screening is to diagnose mental conditions and help the recipient find appropriate treatment. 

Where might I receive a mental health screening?

As mentioned, you are likely to receive a mental health screening in your primary care provider’s office in order to connect you with a mental health provider. If you are already seeing a mental health professional, they may administer a screening in order to best determine your course of treatment. 

Due to the fact that approximately 50% of lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75% begin by age 24, organizations like NAMI continue to advocate for periodic screenings in schools. The average delay between symptoms and treatment of a mental health condition is 11 years, and early intervention can bridge that gap. You can also easily access at-home mental health screenings online in order to identify symptoms and seek out treatment. 

What happens during a screening?

There are several different types of mental health screenings. You may receive a more generalized screening to check for a variety of mental health symptoms, or you can take a screening based on specific symptoms you have been experiencing. You may want to speak with your healthcare provider or take an online test if you have been noticing common symptoms such as:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Extreme sadness
  • Major changes in personality, eating habits, and/or sleeping patterns
  • Dramatic mood swings
  • Anger, frustration, or irritability
  • Fatigue and lack of energy
  • Confused thinking and trouble concentrating
  • Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
  • Avoidance of social activities
  • Thinking about hurting yourself or attempting suicide — if you are feeling suicidal feelings, call the 988 Suicide Lifeline immediately 

Many tests pose their questions in the following way, “Over the last 2 weeks, how often have you been bothered by the following problems,” which you can answer with “not at all, several days, more than half the days, or nearly every day.” With some physicians and mental health care professionals, you may just discuss your symptoms and answer questions aloud. In other cases, you may be asked to fill out a paper or digital questionnaire. 

In addition to questions about your mood and behavior, your primary care provider may also give you a physical exam. Sometimes a physical disorder can cause mental health symptoms, such as thyroid disease, and a simple blood test can detect it. 

What is the benefit of mental health screenings?

The biggest benefit to taking a mental health screening is earlier identification and intervention for mental health conditions. Many people who are affected by mental disorders will find improvement from medication and/or talk therapy with a mental health professional. 

In a recent statement, the U.S. Preventive Services Task Force has recommended that all doctors should issue regular screenings for anxiety in adults under 65, even if they do not present symptoms. According to the Associated Press, “the recommendations are based on a review that began before the COVID-19 pandemic, evaluating studies showing potential benefits and risks from screening,” and given the surge in mental health concerns during the past few years, this guidance makes more sense than ever.

If you have taken a recent screening and/or would like to access help from a mental health professional, you can contact a Support Navigator at the Healthy365 Connection Center. Our team provides free and confidential services to walk alongside you and your family and connect you with local resources to support your mental health journey. Call us at 317-468-4231 today!

How Prevention and Recovery Can Work Together

How Prevention and Recovery Can Work Together

Fall is a busy time of year for the mental health and substance use recovery community. September is National Recovery Month, and October is Substance Abuse Prevention Month. Prevention and recovery are two important elements related to substance use disorders, and the resources and programs in each sector often work in tandem to build overall community resilience. Let’s explore how the Healthy365 Connection Center can connect you and your family with local resources to support the overall wellness of Hancock County. 

What is recovery?

Recovery Month is an annual celebration of the strong and proud recovery community that takes place each September. This month also brings more awareness and support to new evidenced-based treatment and recovery practices that are being innovated, as well as honoring the dedication of family members, friends, service providers and community members who help make recovery possible for those affected by substance use disorders.

Treatment centers, outpatient services and dual-diagnosis programming can help bring people with substance use disorder to the successful management of their condition and long-term recovery. Many recovery programs incorporate peer-run engagement that allows those further along their journey to help those just starting out, and may also work to reduce stigma and negative attitudes toward those suffering from substance use disorders. 

What is prevention?

As it relates to substance misuse, prevention is most often related to education about addictive substances like drugs and alcohol. During Substance Abuse Prevention Month in October, we also recall those who have lost their lives to substance use disorder or drug overdose. In doing so, we can recommit to promoting the local resources that can help prevent these devastating losses and bring healing to those communities affected. 

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), prevention strategies can also help “prevent or delay the use and misuse of substances, prevent suicide, promote mental health, mitigate problems among populations at risk for mental and substance use disorders, foster resilience, and prevent the onset among populations showing early signs and related problem behaviors.”

How can prevention and recovery work together?

Services for prevention and recovery both fall under the umbrella of mental and behavioral health, and often work together to build community resilience. Educational prevention programs and the recovery movement are each represented in the continuum of care for substance use disorders, and a number of people in the community touch them both, including clinical providers, prevention practitioners, representatives from the community and people with lived experience. 

When advocating for better treatment services, it also makes sense to work with the community on improvements to prevention, and vice versa. As SAMHSA explains, “Scaling up the capacity and infrastructure of these programs will create strong resource networks to equip communities to support recovery for everyone.”

Healthy365 programming

The Healthy365 Connection Center provides a few different options for both prevention and recovery services. First is Rise Above It, an educational prevention program for ages 12+ to adults that addresses mental health and substance misuse in Hancock County. These free annual events provide attendees with the opportunity to open up about mental health and substance misuse in an environment with resources that are ready to help. Indiana has rising rates of addiction, substance abuse and use of nicotine products, but help is available. This year’s Rise Above It event will be held on Wednesday, Nov. 9 from 5:30-8 p.m. at Eastern Hancock High School, and you can register online today. 

Another service provided by the Healthy365 Connection Center is our CRAFT Support Group. This Family Support program is based on the Community Reinforcement and Family Training (CRAFT) model and is designed for family members and friends concerned about their loved ones who currently live with a substance use disorder. The ultimate goal of this 16-week curriculum is to help your loved one enter treatment services and engage in recovery, but it also addresses communication skills and your own self-care. The next CRAFT Support Group will meet each Thursday beginning on Wednesday, Nov. 3 and you can register or learn more online.

Are you ready to help support prevention and recovery programming right here in Hancock County? Contact Healthy365 today at 317-468-4231!

National Recovery Month: How to Support your Loved One

National Recovery Month: How to Support your Loved One

Do you have a friend or loved one in recovery from addiction or with mental health concerns? September is National Recovery Month, and it’s the perfect time to learn more about how you can support them. The Healthy365 Connection Center is here to help both those in recovery, as well as their loved ones and support system. Learn more about the resources we can connect you with and local programs we offer. 

What is Recovery Month?

National Recovery Month, also known simply as Recovery Month, was founded in 1989. This month-long observance is a time to promote new evidence-based treatment and practices, the proud individuals in addiction recovery, and the dedication of service providers and community support systems who help make recovery possible. In particular, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) often releases announcements of new treatment initiatives and funding during National Recovery Month, celebrating individuals during their long-term recoveries as well as grantee organizations who have shown compassion and dedication to the recovery community. 

Tips for supporting someone in recovery

There are many ways that you can support your loved one in recovery. Your first step may be acknowledging that they need help and offering it. They may be nervous to ask for support, but discussing the ways that you are available to help can make a big difference in their recovery. Also, keep in mind that you can’t recover for them. Find ways to encourage their responsibility and offer assistance without enabling them. For someone in recovery, it may be difficult to remember the things they once enjoyed. Help them rediscover their favorite hobbies, talents or goals while making new, healthier lifestyle choices. 

Local recovery treatment centers

As much as you can support someone in recovery on your own, there may be times when they need professional help. This would primarily include the chance of harm to themselves or others, as well as the inability to take care of their own basic needs. The Healthy365 Connection Center can help connect you and your loved one in recovery with a variety of local treatment centers, including residential programs, which offers a break from the stress and temptations of daily life, as well as outpatient units and dual-diagnosis services for patients with comorbid mental health conditions. Additionally, some treatment centers offer programming for specific demographics, such as adolescents, seniors or women in crisis. 

Mental health and substance use pocket guide

Also from Healthy365, our mental health and substance use pocket guide can be especially helpful for determining the best treatment options for someone in recovery. This pocket guide contains the phone numbers for 24-hour crisis hotlines supporting a variety of situations such as suicide prevention, gambling addiction, mental health and addiction resources, eating disorders and more. It also provides readers with a color-coded list of mental health and substance misuse resources, their contact information, and the type of services they provide, including inpatient vs. outpatient, age ranges, dual-diagnosis programming, detox and medication-assisted treatment.

CRAFT Support Group

While being in recovery can be extremely difficult, supporting someone in active addiction or recovery can be stressful as well. At Healthy365, we provide regular sessions of our CRAFT Support Group, which stands for Community Reinforcement and Family Training. This 12-week course is designed for adults 18+ who have a family member or friend in addiction, with the goal of getting that person into treatment for recovery. CRAFT is a free program that takes a compassionate approach to communication strategies, empowering you not only to support your loved one in their journey to recovery but to take care of your own well-being too.

If you have questions about helping a loved one with recovery, or the resources that our Healthy365 Support Navigators can connect you with, contact us today at 317-468-4231.

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.