by Amanda Hinkle | Mar 16, 2023 | Health & Wellness, Resources, Support Navigator
March is Self-Harm Awareness Month, and it’s a good time to raise awareness about what self-harm is and how you can help people who struggle with the behavior. Self-harm is often a well-hidden concern, causing intense shame and emotional distress. While the typical definition of self-harm does not include suicide, self-harm can indicate that someone is at a higher risk of suicidal behaviors. Let’s look at the facts about self-harm and how it can be successfully identified and treated.
What is self-harm?
Self-harm is defined as hurting oneself intentionally. Many of us think of cutting as a primary form of self-harm, but self-harm may manifest in other behaviors like hitting oneself, burning oneself, picking at injures and pulling hair. Although most people tend to think of self-harm affecting children and teens, adults are not immune to it. Self-harm affects all ages, genders, and socioeconomic classes.
You may be reading this and wondering why anyone would want to harm themselves. The answer is complex and often dependent on the individual. People may be trying to experience physical pain to overcome emotional pain. They may have difficulty expressing their feelings. They may feel numb and use self-harm to force themselves to feel something. Most people report an immediate sense of relief when they self-harm, due in part to the brain’s release of beta-endorphins in response to pain signals. Unfortunately, that release is short-lived and is often followed by feelings of guilt of shame.
What are the signs and symptoms of self-harm?
People who engage in self-harming behaviors may be very proficient at hiding the telltale signs. That’s why loved ones should be on the lookout for certain symptoms:
- Scars and scratches, often forming words or patterns.
- Wounds or burns with no clear explanation.
- Frequent and excessive rubbing of the skin to create a burn.
- Bite marks.
- Wearing long sleeves, even in hot weather, to keep arms hidden.
- Depression and difficulties with interpersonal relationships.
- Unpredictable behavior and mood swings.
What are the risk factors?
As we said above, self-harm can affect anyone, even people who seem outwardly happy and carefree. However, there are certain factors that increase the risk for self-harm. These include:
- Having friends who self-harm.
- Showing symptoms of depression, anxiety, or stress.
- Struggling with substance misuse disorder or eating disorders
- Feeling isolated.
- Experiencing stressful situations.
- A history of abuse or trauma
- People who are struggling with gender identity and sexual orientation.
Treating self-harm behaviors
Treating self-harm behaviors often begins with therapy to address the underlying reasons for the behavior. An effective therapist can help the patient tackle underlying emotions and learn new methods for handling stressful situations. If a person is also experiencing depression, substance misuse or other mental health challenges, those must be addressed in order to stop self-harming behavior. Medication may be used to treat those underlying issues. In some cases, family therapy can help parents and siblings learn how to understand and support their loved one as they work to get better.
Left untreated, self-harm can lead to mental health issues, severe injuries, and suicide.
What if you or someone you love is showing symptoms of self-harm?
If you’re engaging in self-harming injuries, or if you notice telltale signs like cuts, scratches, or unexplainable injuries, you may not know where to find help. That’s why it is important to reach out to someone you trust, whether it is a counselor, mentor, medical professional or friend. Many people may not know where to start when they want to seek therapy or support for self-harming behaviors. The Healthy365 Connection Center can begin this walk alongside you. Our support navigators are available to refer you to local services that provide the resources you need to overcome self-harming behavior.
Self-harm is a serious concern, but it isn’t one you need to bear alone. If you are worried about yourself or someone you love, reach out now to the Healthy365 Connection center at 317-468-4231.
by Amanda Hinkle | Feb 15, 2023 | Health & Wellness, Resources, Support Navigator
As we move through National Eating Disorders Awareness Month, let’s look at eating disorders and the myths associated with them. Eating disorders are on the rise, affecting approximately 24 million people in the United States. Despite the prevalence, there are many misconceptions and false beliefs about eating disorders, starting with what they are.
Eating disorders is a broad term for several psychological conditions that can lead to unhealthy eating habits. Many people associate eating disorders with anorexia nervosa, a condition where people resort to restricting food and relying on unhealthy activities in an attempt to reach an unnaturally low weight. Other eating disorders include:
Bulimia nervosa involves eating large amounts of food over a short time, followed by purging via actions like vomiting, excessive exercise or taking laxatives.
Binge eating disorder is a condition where a person will eat large amounts uncontrollably over a short period of time without purging. Similarly, binge eating disorder can cause marked distress.
Many eating disorders are associated with shame and embarrassment, which is why it is important to openly discuss these conditions. Eating Disorders Awareness Week, scheduled for February 27-March 5, focuses attention on eating disorders as it works to educated and provide hope and support to people who are struggling. Like many mental health conditions, though, eating disorders are associated with a number of misconceptions. Therefore, by understanding the facts around eating disorders, we may be in a better place to recognize them among ourselves and the people we love. Read on for some common myths and learn the facts.
Eating disorders mostly affects rich teen girls
Eating disorders can affect anyone, regardless of their age, sexual orientation, gender and socioeconomic status. Most people with eating disorders fall between the ages of 12 and 26, but eating disorders can and do affect people in their 40s, 50s, 60s and higher. According to the National Eating Disorders Association, one in three people with an eating disorder are men.
People with eating disorders are always underweight
Many people associate eating disorders with people who are extremely thin, and that can be the case with people who are struggling with anorexia, which is characterized by a significant reduction in food intake. However, other eating disorders like bulimia and binge eating disorder may not be associated with low body weights. Binge eating disorder, the most common type of eating disorder, often affects people who are overweight or obese.
They are a choice
Eating disorders are complex medical conditions. There may be biological or sociological factors involved. Many patients also struggle with other mental health issues, including anxiety, depression, or substance use disorders. Eating disorders tend to run in families, suggesting a genetic link. People with eating disorders are already struggling with feelings of worthlessness. Calling them a choice diminishes their complicated causes, which even the most accomplished researchers do not completely understand.
They aren’t really serious
This myth can have devastating consequences. Eating disorders can cause serious medical issues, including brittle bones, cardiac problems, and kidney failure. Left untreated, they can be deadly.
Eating disorders do not respond to treatment
If there is any good news in the discussion about eating disorders, it’s that they can and do respond to treatment. Recovery can take months or even years. Relapse is not unusual. Because of this, treatment must also address other underlying issues, including depression, anxiety, trauma, and nutritional concerns. An effective treatment plan seeks to restore physical, behavior and psychological health, and these changes require work and commitment. For instance, treatment can involve intensive inpatient care, or it may only require outpatient care with a trained mental health provider. Your healthcare professional can help you make this important decision.
If you or someone you love is struggling with an eating disorder, help is available. If you would like additional support or want to speak to a support navigator, reach out to the Healthy365 Connection Center at www.behealthy365.org or call 317-468-4231. You can also find additional information and links to treatment at the National Eating Disorders Association website at www.nationaleatingdisorders.org.
by Amanda Hinkle | Dec 15, 2022 | Health & Wellness, Resources, Support Navigator
As we move into the winter months, you may be experiencing what’s known as seasonal affective disorder. You may know it by other names, like the winter blues, seasonal depression or the aptly named acronym SAD. December is Seasonal Depression Awareness month, and it’s no wonder. Shorter days and a lack of sunshine can throw our bodies into a winter funk that is hard to shake.
Let’s look at what we know about seasonal affective disorder and how it can be treated at home and by your medical professional.
What is Seasonal Affective Disorder?
Seasonal Affective Disorder is a type of depressive disorder triggered by the changing seasons and lack of sunlight. It causes signs and symptoms similar to major depressive disorder or bipolar disorder, but it is limited to certain months of the year, particularly the winter months. It occurs in .5-3% of the general population, although it is more prevalent among those who are already diagnosed with major depressive or bipolar disorder. Common symptoms include:
- A loss of interest in normal activities
- Low energy
- Excessive sleeping
- Difficulty concentrating
- Carbohydrate cravings and weight gain
- Feelings of hopelessness or worthlessness
There’s also a milder form of the condition known as subsyndromal seasonal affective disorder or seasonality. These individuals may notice milder symptoms and can also benefit from the strategies listed below.
If your seasonal affective disorder symptoms are starting to interfere with your ability to work and live your daily life, make an appointment with your doctor. Seasonal affective disorder responds to various treatments, including:
Light therapy can mimic the sun and promote changes in your brain chemistry that lift your mood. Your doctor can help you decide if light therapy is a good option for treating your symptoms. You can buy a light box without a prescription. Keep in mind that these devices are not regulated by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, so talk to your doctor and do your research before you invest in one.
Antidepressant therapy may lift your mood by increasing the level of certain chemicals in your brain. Your doctor can talk to you about the benefits and drawbacks of these medications. You may need to try more than one medication to find the one that works best for you.
Talk therapy is always a good idea when you’re having trouble coping.
Fortunately, there are a lot of things you can do at home to relieve the symptoms of seasonal affective disorder. You don’t have to try to do everything at once – even small changes may have big results.
Exercise. Yes, we know. Oversleeping is a symptom of seasonal affective disorder, and we understand that you’d rather stay in bed. But, if you can pull yourself out from under the covers and add daily activities, you may notice it gets easier each time. Walk the dog. Do some jumping jacks. Sign up for a fitness class at the nearest Hancock Wellness Center.
Be social. Isolation can lead to increased depression, which is the last thing you need to add to your winter burdens. Make sure you’re having regular human interaction. If you can’t meet in-person with your favorite people, try a video call. If holiday parties suck the life out of you after a while, consider inviting a friend to go to a movie or grab a quick dinner.
Set a schedule. You may be sleeping too much in the morning, which leads you to hours of staring at the clock at night. When you finally fall asleep, you’re back to your mixed-up schedule that doesn’t fit with your family and work commitments. Sticking to a schedule is the first step to making your days and nights more predictable. This includes eating at regular intervals, rather than grazing throughout the day and night. Check out more healthy sleeping tips here.
Avoid alcohol and other substances. ‘Tis the party season, but misusing alcohol and other substances can exacerbate your depression.
The good news? Most seasonal depression lifts in the spring, as the days become brighter and longer. In the meantime, we have plenty of coping strategies. People rarely “snap out of” depression, but you may find your symptoms gradually lifting.
If you are struggling with addiction or a mental health condition and don’t know where to turn, reach out to the Healthy365 Connection Center. Our trained support navigators can help you find resources that guide you to a healthier, happier and well you, no matter what season we’re in.
by Jodi Gilman | Oct 20, 2022 | Healthy365 News, Support Navigator
Have you heard about the Mental Health Campaign from the Hancock Health Foundation? Launched early last year, the goal of this $3.5 million campaign is to bring mental illness and substance misuse issues to light in Hancock County — and to bring an end to the darkness and suffering. The campaign has now reached $3 million in generous donations, and we are hoping to finish strong and band together to get our community to the finish line. Are you able to help fund this critical support and resources for Hancock County?
What are the goals of the Mental Health Campaign?
The Hancock Health Foundation’s Mental Health Campaign was started as an honest conversation about the issues of mental health and substance misuse and their impact on Hancock County. But it’s more than just the raising of voices. The $3.5 million goal for the campaign was put in place to fund two new mental health navigators, 10 new licensed social workers, school-based prevention and early intervention services and medication-assisted opioid treatment.
What has the Mental Health Campaign done so far?
So far, the campaign has used generous community donations to make great strides in meeting those goals. Two new social workers have been hired, and navigators have seen 160+ clients. Contracts have been set with two local school systems, and multiple mental health programs have been established within those schools. Additionally, the newly launched RISE program is set to provide dual diagnosis services and medication-assisted treatment for those who need it.
These services are primarily being conducted through the Healthy365 Connection Center, where Support Navigators work as caring community partners, provide a confidential listening ear and connect clients with local resources to overcome life’s many challenges. Even prior to the start of the campaign, Healthy365 was hosting their QPR suicide prevention training and CRAFT support group for individuals who have a loved one in addiction.
Why does the community need this campaign?
Some people might think that local Hancock County residents aren’t impacted by issues with mental health or drugs, but mental illness and substance misuse leave no community or age population untouched. In the U.S. overall, 1 in 4 adults—and 1 in 5 children—live with mental illness. More specifically, Indiana ranks 5th in the nation for states with the worst drug problems and ranks 2nd for youth suicide attempts.
And right here in Hancock County, recent studies show that 65% of our youth report knowing someone who has had serious thoughts of suicide. But with your generous support, you can help us open up about mental health and substance misuse in our community. Early education and intervention about these concerns, particularly in schools, can literally save lives.
Success stories from local residents
Don’t just take it from us. The Healthy365 Connection Center has served hundreds of clients in Hancock County – with life-changing results. Said one client, “I was just ready to walk out and give up. In all honesty, Healthy365 helped me a lot. It has changed so much since someone finally just listened.” And working with a Support Navigator is not just a one-time outreach. “They take the time to listen and get to know you and your needs and help you every step of the way,” said another client. “It’s not just done after one phone call, they really created a relationship with you and keep in touch regularly to make sure you are okay.”
Many individuals in our community have been trying to get help for their mental health or substance misuse for weeks, months or even years. But the Support Navigators are trained to provide a non-judgmental (and confidential) listening ear, as well as a connection to local resources. “I have been searching for help for the last 4-5 years,” said an additional client. “I’ve had overwhelming anxiety and did not know what to do. When I called Healthy365 I didn’t feel brushed to the side due to my history. They took time to listen, understand, and helped me figure out what to do.”
Would you like to learn more about the Hancock Health Foundation or their Mental Health Campaign? Visit their website today. Any support you can generously offer is appreciated as they aim to reach their final campaign goal of $3.5 million in donations.
by Jodi Gilman | Sep 12, 2022 | Support Navigator, Training & Classes
A new school year can bring a number of anxieties for students, especially considering we are starting our fourth school year with a global pandemic. Mental health has long been a concern for adults as well as children, and the COVID-19 pandemic, school shootings and other societal concerns continue to exacerbate the need for better mental wellness support in school and beyond. Here are some tips for how we can support student mental health in Greenfield, including the connection to resources you can find from our Healthy365 Support Navigators.
How are students feeling lately?
According to a recently published CDC study entitled, “Mental Health, Suicidality, and Connectedness Among High School Students During the COVID-19 Pandemic” found that 44 percent of high school students reported “persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness” during the past year, when served between January-June 2021. These persistent feelings were defined as feeling so sad or hopeless nearly every day for at least two weeks that it prevented them from doing some of their usual activities.
Even before the pandemic, a major increase in mental health concerns was found among students across the country from 2009-2019, including “having persistent feelings of sadness or hopelessness (26.1% to 36.7%), having seriously considered attempting suicide (13.8% to 18.8%), and having attempted suicide (6.3% to 8.9%).” However, these concerns for poor mental health have been found to be significantly less prevalent in students who are well-connected to their loved ones, friends and others at school.
Communicating with your student
Of course, we’ve all heard before the benefits of good communication with our children and/or students, but studies can directly correlate “connections to trusted adults and supportive peers” with better mental health and reduced risk for suicide or other harmful behaviors. Isolation can cause a snowball effect of more isolation, shame or poor mental health, so staying in frequent communication with your student is very important. Talking in the car can be a great way to get your student to open up, since there isn’t as much pressure to maintain eye contact.
Making them aware of multiple approaches for seeking out help when they are experiencing mental health concerns or other issues can also be extremely helpful. This help-seeking behavior could be talking to a parent, another trusted adult like a teacher or counselor or even a hotline like the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. Although it can be intimidating, it’s also vital to talk with your student about substance misuse, which can be easily connected to mental health conditions.
Maintaining a schooltime routine
Participating in extracurricular activities can be another good way to provide more connectedness and prevent poor mental health, but a busy schedule can also be a fast track to burnout. Sit down with your student and establish a regular routine for waking up, eating meals, going to extracurriculars, homework time and getting ready for bed. Sleep is extremely important for mental health, especially in teens and preteens, so setting up a consistent routine and sleep schedule can have a lot of benefits.
Extracurricular activities can also provide additional opportunities for connection, whether that is with their teammates, a coach or their parents in shared activities. One such shared activity could be our regular Rise Above It event, which offers space for adults and teens (over the age of 12) to talk about mental health and connect with potential sources of help. The goal of the event is to help families in our county learn to cope with life’s challenges and stress, and reach out when help is needed.If you’d like to know more about connecting to resources that can support your family’s mental wellness, contact the Healthy365 Connection Center today at 317-468-4231 or visit our offices at 120 W. McKenzie Rd., Suite G in Greenfield.
by Jodi Gilman | Jul 19, 2022 | Healthy365 News, Support Navigator
The Healthy365 Connection Center has a new team member! We are proud to welcome Connor McCarty, who will be serving our team as a Support Navigator with a special focus on clients and families within the justice system. His past social work and child welfare experience makes him the perfect fit for this role and we can’t wait to see our connections with the justice system continue to grow!
A background in child welfare
Connor is a familiar face at the Connection Center because of his past working relationships with his fellow Support Navigators. “I first got involved with Healthy365 through Christina Dewitt, she and I have worked together for about 7 years through social work,” said Connor. “She mentioned what she was doing here and that they were launching their justice program.”
Connor got his professional start in child welfare and has been serving Central Indiana for nearly a decade. “I have been in social work for about 10 years now. I have been working in child welfare for over six years,” he said. “When I was doing my undergrad I did various placements typically related to child welfare, and the majority of my professional work has been at the Department of Child Services.”
Transitioning into the justice system
When you think about working with clients in the justice system, you may just think about those who are incarcerated or on probation. However, families and children who have loved ones in the justice system are also largely affected. “I have worked very closely with the justice program because a lot of our clients overlap,” explained Connor. “I have worked directly with clients that have been in jail or prison, and that have transitioned out and worked with probation. I’ve learned to work collaboratively with them.”
A lot to love about Healthy365
Connor started working at the Healthy365 Connection Center just about a month ago on June 20, but it didn’t take much time for him to fall in love with the environment. “It is an amazing environment to work in and very supportive. Healthy365 is really client-driven and I love that,” said Connor.
He also appreciates how passionate Healthy365 is about our clients. “I love that the client is truly the main focus,” he said. “Everything we do relates to how this is going to benefit the client and, in turn, our community.”
Unsurprisingly, one of his favorite programs at the Connection Center is one that can benefit children and families: “We can help link families to get coverage for health insurance. It’s an awesome resource because it’s not just Medicaid or the marketplace, it’s all of them. We can help families identify what works best for them and get them applied.”
A heart for Hancock County
Connor has a special place in his heart for local residents because he is one as well. “I’ve lived in Hancock County for about six and half years,” he said. “I lived in New Pal for most of that and then I recently relocated to Greenfield.” He also appreciates both the professional and personal benefits to be found here locally. “It’s a great community as far as collaboration,” he said. “It’s so easy to build those connections and relationships with people. I’ve worked in other counties and that is not always the case.”
Like many Hancock County locals, Connor loves the “small town” feel that can be found alongside a number of “big city” amenities. “I know a lot of people love that ‘small town feeling,’ but there are a lot of things to do and I love that it’s growing,” he said. “I love being able to be part of that growth, not just in this role but as a community member and being able to benefit from it.”
If you were a superhero, what superpower would you have?
“Telekinesis… I would probably never get up.”
What is your favorite Indiana season and why?
“I love the springtime because I love the outdoors. I love getting our garden and our yard ready for summer, planting and getting things pruned and cleaned up from the winter – that’s the best time.”
What is your favorite way to kick off a Monday?
“If I’m being honest, it would be to drive through and get a McDonald’s Coke, and then show up to work and I am ready to go.”
What’s your most recent favorite read, movie, or show?
“We just started Season 2 of ‘The Umbrella Academy’ on Netflix. I’m trying not to binge because we want to extend it but it’s awesome. Elliot Page is in it as a trans character, and as supporting and being in the community I love to see it. Sometimes I think major networks try to exaggerate real life and so it’s really refreshing to see it done well, in my opinion.”