Talking to your Children about Substance Misuse

Talking to your Children about Substance Misuse

No one likes to have difficult conversations, especially with their kids. But avoiding talking to your children about substance misuse can have major consequences. At Healthy365, we seek to help individuals and families that have been affected by addiction, substance misuse and other mental health conditions concerning mood, thinking and behavior. Learn more about why and how we recommend talking to your children about substance misuse – even from a young age!

When should I start talking about substance misuse?

The exact age that you should begin talking about drugs and alcohol will depend on your child. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), “When parents talk with their children early and often about alcohol and other drugs, they can protect their children from many of the high-risk behaviors associated with using these drugs.” Some experts say that 5-7 is a good age to start the conversation, especially since studies have shown that children as young as nine may start to see alcohol in a positive way. 

It’s also better to talk about drugs and alcohol before your children are directly exposed to it, and that age is getting younger all the time. SAMHSA reports that roughly 3,300 children as young as 12 try marijuana each day and about 10% of 12-year-olds say they have tried alcohol. Additionally, about 50% of kids young as 12 have used prescription pain relief for nonmedical purposes. Anytime that your child is asking about drugs or alcohol, that is a good sign that they are ready for an age-appropriate conversation.

How do I talk to my young child about substance misuse?

For young children, organic teachable moments are an ideal time to bring up substance misuse. If someone is drinking wine with dinner, you can talk about what it means to drink responsibly. If you see a TV commercial for beer or a movie character smoking, you can talk about these substances and the negative effects they can have on our bodies. Especially if the users seem to be enjoying themselves, you can talk about how drinking too much can cause someone to make bad decisions, and how doing something like drinking and driving can hurt themselves and others.

Whenever you’re talking to your children about substance misuse, be sure to keep your tone calm and use words that they can understand. And as KidsHealth says, be sure to “teach kids early on how to say no if someone offers them something they know is dangerous.” Younger children are more likely to be willing to talk to their parents about tough subjects, and starting the conversation now can help keep that door of communication open as they grow older.

What is the harm in avoiding talking about it?

Although most schools discuss substance misuse to some degree, it is still important to talk about it with your children so that you know they have all the facts. Not talking about alcohol or drugs could send the message to your kids that trying them out is not too harmful, or that you, as their parents, won’t mind. Set clear rules for your children and teens to establish how your family feels about substance misuse, including the natural consequences that they could face from experimenting with drugs and alcohol. You could also decide together on a “code word” that they can call or text you with to let you know that they are in a situation where drugs or alcohol are present and they need to be picked up – no questions asked.

You might also feel the need to avoid talking about substance misuse if you have a loved one with addiction or in recovery. However, children who have a family history of addiction are more likely to struggle with substance misuse themselves, due to a combination of both environmental and genetic factors. According to MentalHealth.net, “first-degree relatives (i.e, a sibling, parent, or child) of someone with a history of addiction are between 4 to 8 times more likely to develop problems with addiction themselves.” In these cases, it’s even more important to have regular conversations about substance misuse. If you are an adult over 18 who has a loved one affected by addiction, the Healthy365 CRAFT workshop can offer support and communication techniques to use in your family.

If you need more tips for talking to your children about substance misuse, or are in need of support for your own addiction, the Healthy365 Connection Center is here to help. Contact us today at 317-468-4231 or stop by our offices at 120 W. McKenzie Rd. in Greenfield to talk to a Support Navigator.

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.

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!

Connections Between Mental Health and Substance Misuse

Connections Between Mental Health and Substance Misuse

The mission of Healthy365 and our Support Navigators is to help residents find solutions to some of our community’s most pressing health issues. Two of these top wellness concerns are mental health and substance misuse, or addiction. And in fact, research shows that there are direct connections between mental health and substance misuse, but in many cases, one or both can go untreated. But with the help of Healthy365, our Hancock County residents can get connected to resources to support their unique needs. 

What is comorbidity?

The term “comorbidity” describes when two conditions, such as mental health disorders and addiction or substance use disorder, can occur in an individual simultaneously. Although neither disorder causes the other, there are often underlying mental health issues in those suffering from substance misuse. And they can also exacerbate the symptoms of the other. 

This explanation is also supported by the fact that mental health conditions and substance misuse are both chronic brain disorders. The mind of someone struggling with addiction has been permanently rewired to work differently than before, affecting the same areas of the brain that are affected by depression, anxiety, schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. And on the flip side of the coin, some people with mental health disorders may be more likely to become addicted to substances in an effort to self-medicate and cope with the pain of their condition. 

Identifying a dual diagnosis

Because the symptoms and connections between mental health and substance misuse are so similar, it is possible that one could be diagnosed while the other goes untreated. Inadequate training or mental health screenings that only diagnose one condition can make it more likely for the symptoms of both to continue. Especially when it comes to substance misuse, achieving sobriety can be extremely difficult while also dealing with an untreated mental health condition.

At Healthy365, we seek to educate our community to better identify the symptoms of these disorders in themselves or their loved ones in order to get the proper help. Our QPR training is a suicide prevention course that stands for “Question, Persuade and Refer,” which are three steps you can take to identify and assist someone in crisis. We also offer a full-day Mental Health First Aid Training, which gives people the tools to identify when someone might be struggling with a mental health or substance misuse problem, and to connect them with appropriate support and resources when necessary.

Getting treatment for the connections between mental health and substance misuse

When a dual diagnosis has been made, it is important to get the proper treatment. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly 9 million people have a co-occurring disorder, but sadly only 7 percent get treatment for both conditions, and roughly 60 percent receive no treatment at all. The top research indicates that comorbid conditions should be treated at the same time, or for best results, patients can even undergo an integrated treatment.

Early detection is very important to provide individuals with the proper integrated treatment. Because patients with co-occurring disorders can suffer from more persistent and severe symptoms that come with both conditions, receiving treatment and maintaining sobriety may be much more difficult than if they were to have a substance use disorder alone. At Healthy365, it is important to us to find the best local treatment option for our clients, including dual-diagnosis centers as well as residential treatment, outpatient centers, teen-specific treatment and centers for women who may have also suffered from domestic violence or a history of abuse.

If you believe you or a loved one may be in need of support for a mental health condition, substance misuse disorder, or both, contact Healthy365 today at 317-468-4231 or visit the Connection Center in Greenfield. We would be honored to help your family find the best treatment and support for your situation.

Ways to Support Suicide Prevention

Ways to Support Suicide Prevention

September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and there are many ways that you can help support this important issue. Mental health conditions and suicidal thoughts are more common than you may realize. In Hancock County, “mental health and suicide” was among the top five concerns of respondents to our 2020 Community Health Needs Assessment. You can help support suicide prevention and those struggling with mental wellness with these steps.

IMPORTANT: If you or someone you know is in immediate risk of self-harm or suicide, call 911 immediately. We also recommend calling the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or texting the Crisis Text Line (text HELLO to 741741) if you prefer text. These services are both free, confidential and available 24/7. 

Take a QPR suicide prevention class

Just like you would take a CPR class to be prepared for an emergency response situation, our QPR suicide prevention training can prepare you to save someone’s life too. QPR stands for “Question, Persuade and Refer,” three steps you can take to support someone who may be considering suicide or self-harm. QPR classes will help you identify the warning signs of suicide in loved ones, friends or coworkers, and how to get them access to resources that can help. Healthy365 offers QPR classes quarterly, and you can sign up for our next training online

Remember the signs of suicide

There are several warning signs of suicide or self-harm that you may be able to identify in people you interact with often. Some of these signs include talking about wanting to die or about being a burden to others. They may also experience feelings of hopelessness, or act more anxious, agitated or reckless with extreme mood swings. Those considering suicide may start using alchohol or drugs more frequently, sleep too much or too little, or withdraw from life and isolate from others. If you notice any of these signs in someone you know, you should get them help right away.

Know who is at risk

Anyone can be at risk for suicide or self-harm, even those who seem “fine” on the outside. Knowing the warning signs of suicide can help in suicide prevention, but it can also help to know the populations who may be at higher risk. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), population groups at greater risk of suicide can include veterans, American Indians, LGBTQ+, young adults, loss and disaster survivors and survivors of a previous suicide attempt. If you have a friend or loved one in one of these categories and notice a change in their behavior, keep an eye out for the early signs of emotional suffering. 

Help reduce mental health stigma

You can also help prevent suicide by reducing the stigma around mental health and wellness. If someone is able to talk about their feelings or get help from a mental health professional early on when they are having a difficult time, it may prevent them from ever getting to the point of contemplating suicide. At Healthy365, you can work with a Support Navigator to connect you or someone you love with resources such as support groups, counseling/therapy and more. We host events like Rise Above It to discuss important mental health concerns and offer coping mechanisms to our local community of teens and adults. You may also consider supporting the Hancock County Mental Health Campaign, a funding effort to bring mental illness and substance abuse to light — and bring an end to darkness and suffering.

Always know that help is available for those in crisis, and you can contact Healthy365 online or at 317-468-4231 for a connection to local mental health resources and more.

Rise Above It: A Free Mental Health Event

Rise Above It: A Free Mental Health Event

In a recent community survey, one of the most pressing wellness concerns in Hancock County was identified as mental health. Healthy365 is committed to finding solutions to pressing health issues like this, in part with free events like Rise Above It. These events take place annually, offering space for adults and teens to open up about mental health and substance abuse and identify potential sources of help. 

What is a Rise Above It event?

During an annual Rise Above It event, attendees can hear from special speakers and attend focused workshops to learn more about mental health awareness. Vendor booths from local organizations and businesses that support mental wellness offer services that can help attendees learn how to cope with life’s challenges and stresses, either for themselves or to help in a loved one’s wellness journey. Question and answer sessions also provide a time for personal feedback in order to reduce stigma around mental health and substance abuse issues. 

Who is the intended audience?

The intended audience of Rise Above It events are local residents aged 12 and older. Attendance is free for all participants. Although the majority of event speakers and sessions are relevant to both parties, there are also dedicated workshops just for teens or for parents. For example, the next Rise Above It on September 28 will include a simulation called “Hidden in Plain Sight.” This workshop will showcase the ways that a teen could stash alcohol, drugs or vape devices, as well as pro-drug messages to watch out for. 

In addition to the resources offered to teens at Rise Above It, our Hancock County area schools have incorporated Bring Change to Mind Clubs. These student-led clubs are dedicated to empowering students to educate each other and their loved ones to create a culture of peer support within their schools and community.

What topics will be addressed?

The topics addressed at Rise Above It vary slightly from year to year, but for the upcoming 2021 event, we’ll be hearing from speakers on the following mental health topics:

  • Anxiety– This session will be led by Jennifer Luchtefeld, a trained social worker who works with families and children in a variety of contexts. 
  • Social Media– Led by Stephanie Nancarrow, a Youth Educator with the Indiana State Police and ICAC Task Force, this session is called, “Target: How Predators use Technology to Groom Children.”
  • Grief and Loss– Katherine Murray will lead the session on grief and loss, with her experience as the chaplain and bereavement coordinator at Hancock Regional Hospice.
  • Depression/Suicide– This session on identifying suicide risks will be led by mental health professionals from Providence Behavioral Group: Brad Dobson, a licensed mental health and clinical addictions counselor, and Dr. Lani Jones, a licensed clinical psychologist. 
  • Vaping/Smoking– Co-led by Brandee Bastin, the Tobacco Initiative Coordinator at Hancock Regional Hospital and Sergeant Christine Rapp, D.A.R.E. Indiana State Coordinator, this session will specifically address the youth vaping epidemic. 
  • Substance Misuse– Kevin Minnick will lead our session on substance addiction and misuse, with his experience as a Licensed Mental Health and Clinical Addiction Counselor, Behavioral Health Probation Officer, and Court Treatment Specialist for Hancock County Courts. 
  • Self-Regulation– With a session called, “My Brain Does What? Understanding My Response to Stress,” Alli Chance will discuss self-regulation based on her experience as a TBRI (Trust Based Relational Intervention) Practitioner with HopeAlight LLC.  
  • Mind-Body Medicine– This session on scientifically proven stress reduction methods, will be led by Laura Baker, the Congregational Network Navigator here at Healthy365.
  • A half-hour Q&A session will be offered to conclude the event, with all presenters in one room to answer any questions from the night.

Rise Above It on Sept. 28

To attend our upcoming Rise Above It event on Sept. 28, you can register yourself and/or others online or at the door. This free event will be held in-person at New Palestine Intermediate School (5613 W 200 S, New Palestine, IN 46163) and will also be broadcast virtually. To attend in person, come to Door #9 and doors will open at 4:30 p.m. The event will last until 8:30 p.m., and a free dinner will also be provided. 

If you have more questions about Rise Above It or how Healthy365 can support your mental health journey, you can contact our Support Navigators online or by calling  317-468-4231 for assistance.