Valley Behavioral HealthValley Behavioral Health

By Dr. Todd Thatcher, DO, CMO

Learning How to Control Your Anger: The Benefits of Going to Anger Management

Anger is a normal human emotion and can be an appropriate reaction to many common events. In most cases, it is considered a healthy response to a difficult situation as long as it triggers a series of positive actions to safely manage and understand the emotion. But what happens when your anger becomes an uncontrollable force in your life? Frequent or poorly managed anger is not normal or healthy and can lead to serious consequences. Chronic anger is dangerous to your physical, mental, and emotional health and can be harmful to your personal and professional relationships. It can also result in financial troubles due to job loss or even legal action.

If you need to learn how to control your anger, it’s important to understand this complex and forceful emotion and to seek help right away. Anger that is not kept under control can lead to high blood pressure, elevated heart rate and high levels of stress and tension. These conditions could lead to serious medical complications, including heart disease and chronic headaches. Serious social consequences can also occur. If you find yourself feeling angry often or are unable to regulate your responses when anger strikes, it’s time to take action and regain control of this powerful emotion.

 

 

What causes Anger Issues?

What causes anger issues in the first place? There are actually many factors that can lead to this problem and they originate from both internal and external sources. For those who have suffered a trauma or witnessed one or more troubling events in life, anger issues are a common long-term side effect. However, everyday stressors can also lead to anger problems, especially if they occur frequently or seem to have no end in sight. These can include high demands or long hours at work, caring for small children or the elderly, financial hardship and tensions between friends or family members. Those who are living with grief or a difficult illness are likely to struggle with anger as well.

Anger may be a sign of an underlying disorder, including depression, anxiety, OCD (obsessive-compulsive disorder) ADHD (attention deficit hyperactivity disorder) or bipolar disorder. In these cases, evaluation should be sought to effectively manage or treat the disorder as a whole, not just one isolated symptom or issue. Some disorders are synonymous with anger problems, as their symptoms and side effects deal almost exclusively with anger and rage. These include ODD (oppositional defiant disorder), which is most common in children, and IED (intermittent explosive disorder), which causes violent behavior that is disproportionate to a situation.

When people struggle to control their anger, it is consequentially directed at either themselves or others in a negative or harmful way. If you struggle with inward anger, you focus your frustrations on yourself. This can result in damaging self-talk or self-harm and can often prompt individuals to deny themselves a basic need. Outward anger is directed at others, typically at those closest to you. Uncontrolled outward anger can become violent and lead to verbal and physical abuse. Passive anger is doled out using indirect methods, such as sarcasm, the silent treatment or psychological attacks.

How to Control Your Anger

One way to set yourself up for success is to practice healthy stress relief on a regular basis. Frequent vigorous exercise can provide the outlet you need to effectively manage your emotions. Other forms of self-care could help you maintain control in a stressful situation. Yoga, meditation and certain creative hobbies can help build focus while promoting a sense of calm. Relaxation and breathing techniques can be especially helpful during an anger crisis. By developing and practicing a healthy response to your anger, you’ll be able to refocus your aggression in a positive and effective way.

In most cases, it’s helpful to eliminate as many sources of stress whenever possible. Try to keep yourself out of situations that typically lead to outbursts or cause you to lose control. While some of these stressors are easy to identify or eliminate, others may require a deeper insight or a care plan. Therefore, professional guidance from a trained therapist or counselor is often critical for those with anger issues. For many people, individual or group therapy helps them develop a plan while uncovering the heart of the issue. In some instances, medication may be needed to treat an underlying condition in order to successfully manage anger.

Anger Management Counseling

 

While healthy practices can help you deal with your anger more effectively, anger management can be incredibly important and even necessary in regaining full control and addressing your issues. For many, external assistance and professional guidance is the only path to success. There are several approaches to anger management, including one-on-one treatment, group therapy, and even video or online courses. During your time in anger management, you can learn how to better understand your anger and what could be prompting you to reach an out-of-control state. You can develop useful tools to help you react properly to a trigger, and can also find comfort and support through the shared experiences of others in anger management programs. Perhaps most importantly, anger management through therapy or classes can help identify an underlying condition that requires a specific type of evaluation or treatment.

While there are numerous situations that can lead to frequent or severe anger, it’s important to address the issue as soon as possible. In order to protect your physical, mental, emotional and social well-being, seek help to manage your uncontrolled anger right away. With the proper approach and guidance, you can save yourself and others from irreparable harm and lifelong consequences.

 

By Dr. Todd Thatcher, DO, CMO

The Elderly and Addiction

 

Drug and alcohol addiction are most common in young adults between the ages of 18 and 25. However, addiction can occur at any age and is becoming more and more prevalent among the elderly, or those at age 65 and older. In fact, it’s estimated that approximately 17% of this age group are suffering from some type of substance abuse, with the actual number of cases presumed to be much higher. Due to common physical changes during this life stage, addiction is easy to miss and difficult to diagnose in senior adults. Proper attention to surrounding circumstances and symptoms can help you identify this problem in a loved one and get them the help they need to recover.

 

Addiction Among the Elderly

In general, there are two main categories when it comes to the elderly and addiction. It’s the ones who struggle with drug and/or alcohol abuse. Some have survived into their senior adult years after prolonged addiction. Others develop the habit as a result of major adjustments or chronic conditions later in life. Regardless of which category your loved one falls into, it’s important to seek help and treatment right away.

Senior adults often experience significant life changes that can be difficult to cope with. These can lead to loneliness, depression or a feeling of insignificance or displacement. Some common causes include:

  • Chronic or serious illness
  • Retirement
  • The death of a spouse or peer
  • Loss of independence
  • Financial changes or struggles
  • Isolation
  • Moving to a new home or care facility
  • Physical and mental deterioration
  • Overall lifestyle changes

Such events can worsen or initiate a drug or alcohol addiction, so it’s critical to be wary of changes in behavior or mood if and when these situations do take place. In addition, be on the lookout for the signs of addiction among the elderly. These may seem like normal signs of old age, but usually point to a more serious problem.

  • Unexplained injuries
  • Trouble eating or new unhealthy eating habits
  • Disinterest in normal routine or pursuits
  • Changes in sleep patterns or habits
  • An increased desire to be left alone
  • Frequent pain
  • Sadness and irritability
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Losing touch with friends and family
  • Lack of interest in usual activities

Have your loved one evaluated by a physician or specialist to rule out an underlying condition. If no other diagnosis is reached, you may be dealing with substance abuse.

What Drug is Most Commonly Abused by Older Adults?

Research has shown that the most common types of substances abused by the elderly are alcohol, sedatives and opioid pain killers. The most frequently prescribed sedatives include benzodiazepines like Xanax, Valium or Ativan and Z-drugs, such as Ambien or Lunesta. Codeine, Fentanyl, Hydrocodone and Oxycodone are opioids that may be prescribed for chronic or severe pain. It’s important to monitor the dosage and consumption of these drugs closely and to use a system to keep all medications safely organized. Also, alcohol consumption should be limited to one serving a day and eliminated altogether when taking certain medications. In addition to these legal substances, heroin is the most common illegal drug abused by senior adults. These substances can have a much more severe effect on elderly people, which can be significantly harmful to their health.

Substance Use Treatment for the Elderly

Once an addiction problem has been suspected or identified in your loved one, seek evaluation and treatment right away. There are many recovery options for the elderly, including individual and group therapy and medical intervention. Some people may be more successful when the entire immediate family is involved in counseling and caregiving in regards to substance abuse. In some cases, cognitive or behavioral therapy can help overcome addictive behaviors and lead to successful recovery.

It’s important to seek care that is designed for this specific age group. Older adults have a unique set of needs and perspective on life that can impact how well they respond to certain treatment environments. Substance abuse treatment programs that are created specifically for the elderly help ensure connection to their peers, practical applications to their stage of life and resource materials that are easier to access, read and use.

How to Help Elderly With Drug Addiction

You will likely need to become more involved in your loved one’s life in order to help them stick to their rehabilitation program. Provide transportation to and from any meetings or treatment sessions and offer to stay with them if they desire your presence. A specialist may recommend this in any case and will likely wish to meet with you on a regular basis. You will need to monitor their drug or alcohol consumption closely. Be sure to follow a medical professional’s instructions, as withdrawal symptoms can be incredibly difficult for the elderly. In some situations, constant supervision may be necessary for a time in order to ensure your loved one’s safety.

In addition to practical assistance, emotional support is extremely important for older adults with substance abuse problems. Since the root of the issue is often situational, be sure to communicate openly and encourage them to report any emotions they are struggling with. It can be helpful to reintroduce a sense of meaning and purpose in their lives, so help them find a fulfilling activity or hobby that they can enjoy. Help them schedule visits with friends and family on a regular basis to maintain their important personal connections with others.

If you have an older loved one who may be suffering from addiction, the time to act is now. While their symptoms may appear to be normal for their age and stage of life, unidentified addiction can have traumatic consequences. Fortunately, with the right timely support, your elderly friend or family member can experience recovery and still live a healthy and fulfilling life in their old age. Feel free to request more information from a Valley specialist today.

By Julie Rael

A Nationwide Event Helps Combat Salt Lake City Homelessness

 

If you are one of the many people concerned about the growing seriousness of the Salt Lake City homeless situation, National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week presents an opportunity to make a positive impact. Some individuals, sadly, are quick to point fingers and blame others for their unfortunate circumstances, but a greater awareness of the many factors contributing to Salt Lake City homelessness can change attitudes while also helping those in need.

A Way To Change Perceptions While Also Fostering Assistance

National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is an event that began 44 years ago to bring attention to these two critical issues and their causes while also fostering positive change. Awareness and education are often critical factors in solving widespread problems. The engagement of others can be a significant factor in remedying a serious issue such as homelessness, and an understanding of what brings about such negative conditions is an important first step.

Homelessness is not a choice, and individuals and families who find themselves without a place to live are often not far removed from others with secure housing arrangements. The intent behind the National Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week is to not only bring the issues into a more personal and relatable focus, but to educate the public to the causes. At the same time, the weeklong event serves to build support, foster advocacy and help enlist participation in volunteer activities.

Starting in 1975, the first annual Hunger and Homelessness Awareness event was held at Villanova University. Each year, volunteers and community members come together to help raise the awareness of homelessness and how it could affect all types of Americans. Participants of the event include hundreds of thousands of advocates throughout the nation who have helped raise millions of dollars for homeless service providers in their local areas.

What Causes Homelessness?

Some homeless individuals find themselves in their circumstances because they have lost a well-paying job or were uninsured and in need of expensive medical treatments. Either set of circumstances can cause a single person or family to fall behind.

More than half a million Americans across the U.S. experience homelessness on any given night. With 43.1 million Americans living under the federal poverty level, it is not surprising to learn that another family has been evicted for non-payment of rent. In addition to financial issues, many homeless individuals have been thrust into their painful circumstances by chronic and often serious mental health issues. In some cases, there was a need to escape the threat of domestic violence.

The Utah and Salt Lake City Homeless Situation

Homelessness has increased in Salt Lake City over the past two years. Salt Lake County is where greater than two-thirds of the Beehive State’s homeless population can be found. Overall, the number of individuals who were unable to sleep indoors in Utah almost doubled since 2016, as noted in a state report.

There were more than 2,000 homeless individuals in Salt Lake City according to estimates made in 2018, and an alarming 35% of Utah’s homeless population consists of families. Forty-five percent of the Salt Lake City homeless population is also struggling with a mental illness that affects their ability to find a job or hang on to one long enough to get back on their feet.

How You Can Help

Valley Behavioral Health in Salt Lake City works with other organizations across the valley to service more than 2,000 homeless clients. Sponsored events and activities not only help clients feel they are important enough to be worthy of attention, the events also help to raise the resources required to fulfill each individual’s personal needs.

With your participation, Valley can bring attention to the issues of hunger and homelessness in Salt Lake City. Our events promote and help fund advocacy, service, education and fundraising programs.

Valley’s partners include The Road Home, Fourth Street Clinic and the Salt Lake County Housing Authority, all of which benefit from your volunteer work, donations and efforts to raise a greater awareness of Salt Lake City homeless outreach programs.

Housing Programs

Valley provides eight apartments for those who require permanent housing and who can live with minimal supervision such as weekly visits. There are also 25 transitional units for severely mentally ill individuals who need a temporary home until they are able to move into permanent housing. We also provide 24 units for individuals who have a history of being homeless along with substance abuse or mental health issues. Our program offers peer support, skills development and assistance with medication.

Some individuals find that staying in a shelter temporarily will meet their needs and enable them to get back on their feet. Our various HUD-subsidized programs are designed to help Salt Lake City homeless families and individuals regain self-sufficiency.

Valley Storefront Program

Individuals who are severely mentally ill or have issues with substance abuse participate in our Valley Storefront outpatient program. Many in the Salt Lake City homeless community who were previously reluctant to seek treatment now benefit from our non-traditional approach. Our goal is to end hunger and homelessness, particularly for those individuals who may also be struggling with a severe mental illness such as depression, schizophrenia or a bipolar disorder.

Why Your Help Is Important

With your assistance, we can collectively end hunger and homelessness not just in Salt Lake City, but also across the nation. Every small action taken on the local level produces an amplified effect, which expands exponentially. By working closely with the members and volunteers in our own community to remedy the Salt Lake City homeless crisis, we can build upon our positive efforts to generate a greater awareness of what needs to be done to combat homelessness across the nation.

 

By Julie Rael

Domestic Violence Awareness Month: It’s Time to Speak Up

Since 1981, October has been recognized nationally as Domestic Violence Awareness Month. During this time, the focus is on educating and raising awareness of the ongoing epidemic of domestic violence, both physical and emotional. Domestic violence affects millions of men and women every year. Approximately three out of four Americans are a victim or personally know someone who is a victim of this type of abuse. With such a staggering statistic, it’s more clear than ever that it is time to take action. So, what can you do to help this October? First things first, it’s important to be educated before teaching others. So, let’s understand what this abuse entails and why domestic violence awareness is so important.

What is Domestic Violence?

When we think of domestic abuse, most of the time our mind goes to physical abuse. While this is part of it, domestic violence actually encompasses much more than that. This includes:

  • Physical or sexual violence
  • Threats
  • Humiliation, such as calling someone stupid to the point where they believe it
  • Stealing a paycheck
  • Online and over the phone harassment, like nonstop texting or posting on social media
  • Manipulation and coercion 
  • Yelling or constant use of the silent treatment

Unfortunately, these are just a few examples but abuse can manifest in many different ways. Domestic violence is also hidden from the public eye and many victims are frightened to come forward. So, if you think you don’t know anyone who is experiencing this, you may be wrong. You’re probably wondering how this happens and why abusers become abusers in the first place. There isn’t a clear cut answer, however, there have been some insights into how this violence begins.

Factors of Domestic Violence

Just as domestic violence can have many different appearances, there can be many different factors that contribute to domestic violence. So, what are some of the factors of domestic violence?

Power and Control

Many times, domestic abuse is rooted in the abuser seeking power and control. According to the Joyful Heart Foundation, if a partner feels they can dominate the other, it is significantly more likely for a relationship to turn violent. Research has found that abusers tend to abuse when they feel out of control.

Past Trauma

Domestic violence is known as a cycle, and it’s possible that if an abuser witnessed domestic violence during childhood, they begin to repeat the same behavior. PTSD and trauma can contribute to this and influence an abuser. Past trauma can also manifest as insecurity, which is another possible root of domestic violence.

Substance Abuse

When a person is struggling with alcohol or substance abuse, their decision making is affected and violent impulses are less controlled. This can also influence emotions and the severity of the abuse can worsen the situation. Although someone may be under the influence of drugs or alcohol, that does not give them the right to turn violent towards their partner or family.

Major Life Changes

Episodes of domestic violence have been known to increase during a major life event, such as a family member’s illness or pregnancy. Such changes can cause anxiety and depression, which can be difficult to cope with when untreated. If you feel someone going through a major change may become abusive, reach out to them and assist them in seeking help

There is no single trigger for domestic violence, and these are just a few examples of why it could happen. However, these factors of domestic violence do not justify harming a loved one and are no excuse for violent or abusive behavior. It’s important to remember that you can and must speak up to help a loved one who may be experiencing this type of abuse.

How to Raise Domestic Violence Awareness

While October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, we should not limit our awareness and education to this one time of the year. It’s important to stay educated and involved year-round and provide support. There are a number of ways to get involved in raising awareness:

  • Volunteer at your local Domestic Violence Coalition
  • Donate to the National Domestic Violence Hotline
  • Educate yourself on all types of domestic violence, including dating abuse
  • Provide resources to those in need, such as Utah’s 24-Hour LINK Line <a href=”tel:1-800-897-5465″>1-800-897-5465</a>
  • Reach out to a loved one if you are worried about them

It’s wonderful to be involved all month long, but keep the trend going throughout the year and remember that it is time to speak up. If this issue doesn’t affect you directly, it may be affecting those around you and those you love. At Valley Behavioral Health, we are here to help. Through our wide range of programs and services, our team of experts can assist every step of the way. So, remember, once Domestic Violence Awareness Month is over, it’s still important to speak up, stay educated, and raise awareness.

By Julie Rael

Mental Health in Prisons: How Alternatives to Incarceration Programs are Making an Impact

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. experiences mental illness in a given year. That is 46.6 million people. Of those people, nearly 2 million of them are booked into jails each year. However, the prison system in America does not provide the resources and treatment necessary to help these inmates. As a result of this lack of treatment, when these inmates are released, they may fall back into old patterns, leading them to repeat criminal behavior and end up back in jail. This recidivism results in consistently high prison populations and, more importantly, many individuals not getting the treatment they deserve.

Mental health in prisons is becoming a major concern, but thankfully alternatives to incarceration programs are on the rise, helping people get the treatment they need to recover and reducing recidivism rates.

Mental Health in the Criminal Justice System

The prevalence of prison and jail inmates with mental illnesses is quite large. In fact, according to a report by the Treatment Advocacy Center, the Los Angeles County Jail, Chicago’s Cook County Jail, and New York’s Riker’s Island Jail each hold more mentally ill inmates than any psychiatric hospital currently in service in the United States. Over 20 percent of inmates in jails and 15 percent of inmates in state prisons are now estimated to have a serious mental illness.

On top of that, the lack of available mental health prison support for inmates serving their sentences means these individuals don’t receive the treatment they need to recover. So, instead of getting better, often mental health conditions get worse. Individuals with mental health conditions also end up staying longer amounts of time in jail, costing more money for taxpayers. Even worse, the problem doesn’t end when they get released.

Recidivism Rates for Mentally Ill Offenders

This lack of mental health services in the criminal justice system in the U.S. leads many previously incarcerated individuals to find their way back to prison through repeated behaviors and crime. Mental illness is associated with higher recidivism rates, with one 2017 study showing that offenders with diagnoses are 9 percent more likely to be rearrested within one year of their original release. Five years after release, that percentage increases to 15 percent. So, what is the cause for these increased recidivism rates?

When individuals with mental health conditions initially get released, often with their illness untreated while they were in prison, they don’t have access to healthcare or benefits to help them recover. These individuals also have a hard time finding a job or housing and end up right back where they started. This vicious cycle affects the burden placed on law enforcement, public safety, and corrections, state, and local budgets. Even more importantly, individuals who are in need of treatment and help are being left in the dust by the criminal justice system.

There is another option though. Alternative to incarceration programs are a route more and more states are turning to ease the strain placed on prisons, employees, and budgets while also giving individuals access to the treatment they need to get better.

What are Alternatives to Incarceration Programs?

Alternatives to incarceration programs are coordinated treatment programs by law enforcement, courts, correctional departments, prisons, jails, and more that allow those with mental illnesses to get treatment instead of serving jail time. These types of programs are being increasingly used across America for nonviolent offenders and are proving to be beneficial to both individuals and the nation as a whole.

In fact, in 2000, California officials instituted a law that requires judges to offer nonviolent offenders substance abuse or mental health treatment instead of serving prison time. This law saves the state up to $18 million a year. Even better, recidivism rates for the state are down too, with arrest rates for participants who completed the program declining by 85 percent, conviction rates by 77 percent, and incarceration rates by 83 percent. So, how do these alternatives to incarceration programs work?

How do Alternatives to Incarceration Programs Work?

Treatment centers and programs are court-approved and designed to give offenders the help and supervision they need to recover. When courts hear the cases of nonviolent offenders who have committed low level crimes and have mental health problems, they can provide the option of treatment as opposed to jail time. Depending on the case, in exchange for a guilty plea, the offender enters treatment, which then serves as their “sentence.” After treatment is successfully completed, there is even the possibility that the offense is removed from the individual’s record.

Alternatives to Incarceration with Valley Behavioral Health

Here at Valley, we are the leading provider of alternatives to incarceration programs in the state of Utah. We believe that everyone deserves the opportunity and access to seek treatment for mental illnesses and conditions. To do this we have partnered with local courts, legal defenders, and the Salt Lake County Jail to offer a variety of programs for inmates.

Our programs are designed with various needs and treatments in mind, and we work with law enforcement, the courts, and correctional departments to ensure that disciplinary requirements are met. If you have any questions about any of our alternatives to incarceration programs, know someone in need, or want to get involved, contact us today.

By Julie Rael

You Have The Power To Help This Suicide Prevention Week

Today, a Utah father will take his own life due to untreated mental illness. (A suicide takes place every 16 hours in our state, totaling 10 suicides a week.)

Today, a teen will think that death is the only way out of his or her troubles in school. (Suicide is the leading cause of death among youth ages 10 to 17.)

Today, a young woman in Utah will attempt suicide due to an unhappy break up with her love interest. (Intimate partner problems are a key trigger for suicide in young adults 18 – 24.)

And, today marks the beginning of National Suicide Prevention Week, September 8 – 14, an important time to remember that although more adult Utahns have pondered or attempted suicide than anywhere else in the country, we all can make a difference in someone’s life who may be contemplating suicide. Please take a moment to learn about common suicide warning signs, and the actions you can take to prevent them. Otherwise, please call us to learn more about suicidal ideation treatment in Utah.

How To Help A Loved One Who Is Suicidal

You might feel powerless to change someone’s mind, but if an acquaintance, friend or family member is talking about suicide, take them seriously. Talk to them, listen, give them hope and encourage them to get help. You might be nervous talking with someone threatening suicide, but research shows that openly discussing it doesn’t increase the risk. Engaging them in a conversation about it may ease their anxiety and help them feel less isolated.

Suicide Warning Signs

Look for these clues that your loved one may be contemplating taking his or her own life:

  • Dramatic mood changes
  • Increased substance abuse
  • They say “I have no reason to live”
  • Anxiety, agitation, inability to sleep or constantly sleeping
  • Hopelessness
  • Withdrawal from everyone
  • Feeling trapped, like there’s no way out
  • Having uncontrolled anger or seeking revenge
  • Acting recklessly

Emergency Suicidal Threats

If you know anyone who is doing any of the following, call 911, the suicide hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255), or take them to a hospital emergency room:

  • Threatening to hurt or kill him or herself, or talking about doing so 
  • Looking for ways to take their own lives such as firearms, pills or other means 
  • Atypically talking or writing about death, dying or suicide

Understanding Suicidal Ideation Triggers

It’s also helpful to know what triggers suicidal thoughts, so we can reduce the risk in our circle of peers. According to the Suicide Prevention Resource Center, some people are at risk due to past trauma or abuse, physical and mental illness, a family history of suicide, and alcohol or substance abuse. Life events such as losing a job, financial loss or a breakup with a partner can all play a role. Also, local clusters of suicide can be contagious. School districts are particularly aware of this risk factor among youth and are on high alert during those unfortunate circumstances. Lack of social support and isolation increase risk as well.

Sadly, seeking mental health counseling carries a stigma that may prevent some from getting help. Valley Behavioral Health understands that and is working to dispel the notion. In truth, mental illness is a neurobiological or psychological condition that’s really no different than having diabetes or arthritis.  We are available to help people struggling with suicidal thoughts and their loved ones get the help they need. Please contact us today to set up an appointment with one of our understanding, specially trained, mental health professionals. They can guide you through a process that will bring hope and emotional stability.

In the meantime, let’s all do our best to keep strong ties with our families and friends, support one another, talk to each other and learn more about suicide prevention this week. All these things can protect our loved ones from doing the unthinkable.

By Julie Rael

How To Help A Child With Behavior Problems At School

It’s August, and that means children and young adults are starting a brand new year at school! For many families, back to school season is an equally exciting and stressful time. As a parent, you may be scrambling to make sure your child has everything he or she needs to start off on the right foot. Your child may be excited, nervous, or anxious – but it’s probably a mix of these and more.

School can be a challenging environment for children, especially for those with mental and behavioral health challenges. If your child is headed back to school with a history of behavior problems at school, these three easy strategies may help your child address behavior challenges, gain more from their education, and even improve your family’s home life!

Tear Down Communication Barriers

Strong communication is the key to addressing behavior issues. If you’ve been informed that your child’s behavior in school is disruptive, establishing better communication with your child, their teacher or faculty member, and your support network is a great first step.

Start by reaching out to your child’s teacher or the most appropriate faculty member. Before you speak with your child, you may want a more detailed description of the issue from the teacher’s point of view. Having this conversation can be challenging, but remember to avoid acting defensive, and make an effort to gather all of the facts.

Now that you’ve gathered the administrative point of view, speak with your son or daughter. Remember to let them freely express their point of view, and be considerate and respectful of their opinion. Oftentimes, feeling disrespected or disregarded can worsen poor behavior.

With more effective communication, hopefully you can develop a better understanding of the entire issue. Effective communication may or may not shed light on the reasoning behind your child’s school behavior problems, but it will show them that you care about their success at school. With a strong foundation of communication, you can look for ways to create a positive impact on your child’s behavior.

Establish Healthy Habits For Students At Home

As parents, it’s easy to want to get involved at your child’s school when you find out they’re acting up in class. However, interfering with your child’s classroom environment may not be the most effective way for you to help. Trust that teachers, administration, and support professionals will reinforce positive behavior while your child is in school. Instead, you might focus on establishing healthy habits for your student at home.

One of the most important healthy habits you can establish at home is family-wide respect for your child’s education. Downplaying the importance of homework, expressing negative opinions about education, or disrespecting your child’s teacher may reinforce poor behavior in the classroom. Instead, try to create a sense of positivity and importance regarding your child’s education at home.

When your child shows positive changes in his or her behavior at home, find ways to reinforce that behavior with positive feedback. Positive feedback will likely have a stronger impact on your child’s behavior at school than negative feedback. Positive feedback doesn’t have to be expensive or elaborate, it just needs to be consistent when your child shows positive behavior.

Consider Support From A School Behavior Specialist

School behavior specialists help guide students with mental or behavioral challenges towards positive changes in their behavior at school. At Valley Behavioral Health, we have a strong network of school behavior specialists and outpatient care providers across Utah that are prepared to provide the support your student may need during class, or after school. With programs that offer in-school support, day treatment, family-inclusive treatment, and much more, we can help you find a personalized program that propels your child’s growth. If you feel that professional therapy may help improve your child’s behavior in school, speak with a Valley Behavioral care professional today!

By Valley

Minority Mental Health Month 2019

The month of July is a favorite of ours here at Valley Behavioral Health, for a variety of reasons. Among those reasons, one of the strongest is that July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month! It’s a time for us to reach out to everyone in our communities, embrace our similarities and our unique qualities, and hopefully have a meaningful impact for those who need support. It’s unfortunate to say, but racial, cultural, gender, sexual orientation, and all other minority groups in Utah’s communities still struggle to receive the same necessary support as their non-minority neighbors. It’s up to us, to actively eliminate the stigma surrounding mental health challenges in minority groups, and support everyone’s ability to receive the treatment that could positively impact their wellbeing. This July, we invite you to join us in spreading awareness for Minority Mental Health Awareness Month!

 

Minority Mental Health Disparities: What’s The Difference?

Since our beginning, Valley has been committed to helping people of all ages, race, gender, culture, social, and economic circumstances receive mental health treatment. We firmly believe that each of us is on our own journey, and no one person’s circumstances are the same. However, at first glance, it may be unclear how minority groups could be impacted differently by mental health challenges than non-minority groups. So what is the difference?

Cultural Barriers – If you have ever been in a community where your culture or heritage was not the most common, then you are familiar with the challenges that can introduce. Communication challenges, language barriers, cultural norms, and pre-existing biases often make it difficult for minority groups to even start the conversation about mental health treatment. Moreover, every culture throughout the world has different tendencies towards receiving support, reaching out for help, individual, and community behavioral norms.

Stigma – Minority groups still struggle with widespread acceptance and support, no matter their race, sexual orientation, gender, or cultural foundation. This type of systematic stigma may be discouraging, or make it difficult for minority groups with mental health challenges to receive the appropriate treatment.

Employment & Coverage – When the two issues identified above go hand in hand, oftentimes it becomes more difficult for minority groups to access the same employment and insurance coverage opportunities as non-minority groups. As a result, minority groups are affected by the same mental health challenges but don’t have access to the same supportive resources.

Minority Mental Health Statistics

As we’ve mentioned in a previous article about mental health, roughly 46.6 million adults in the U.S. experience some form of mental health challenges. The American Psychiatric Association does an excellent job of describing the different racial groups that comprise that population, and how those groups are impacted by mental health. Below are a few of the most impactful statistics they’ve defined:

  • Of those affected by mental health challenges, Black, Hispanic, and Asian groups are receiving roughly 20-30% less treatment as a group than White or multiracial groups.
  • As a population, individuals involved in the criminal justice system experience a higher percentage of mental health challenges. Furthermore, the criminal justice system is disproportionally represented by minority groups.
  • According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the youth of minority groups with behavioral health challenges are more likely to be referred to the juvenile justice system than young, non-minority individuals.

 

Help Valley Support Everyone In Utah Needing Assistance

We hope this information has shed some light on the additional challenges minority groups face when dealing with mental health challenges. We invite you to celebrate our unique communities and help us eliminate the stigma surrounding minority mental health, and as a community, we can deal with this together. If you, or anyone in your community, are struggling with a mental health challenge and need support we urge you to reach out to us. To speak with a Valley care professional, call us today!

By Julia Hood, Ph.D., BCBA, NCSP

PTSD And Fireworks

PTSD And Fireworks – Supporting Your Neighborhood Combat Veterans


Photo by Chris Fuller on Unsplash

The 4th of July is here, and many of us are looking forward to a nice weekend spent on the water, barbecuing, or at fireworks shows and community events. For many, a dazzling fireworks show spent with friends and family is one of the best times of the year. However, for the combat veterans in your neighborhood, Independence day may be a difficult time. For many combat veterans, the loud, unexpected bangs and booms of irresponsibly set fireworks can trigger PTSD symptoms. This Independence Day, we are urging our community to learn more about PTSD, and to be considerate of combat veterans.

PTSD Facts Regarding Fireworks And Veterans

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, anywhere between 11-30% of combat veterans will struggle with PTSD in their lifetime, depending on their service era. PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) is a mental health challenge that sometimes develops after individuals experience traumatic experiences of some kind. For the brave men and women who have served our country, memories of combat experiences are often a foundation for PTSD symptoms. These symptoms can be very difficult to manage, often keeping veterans from maintaining employment, housing, or personal relationships. Since Utah celebrates two holidays with fireworks in July, these symptoms can be especially difficult this month.

A combat veteran named Kevin Rhoades decided to speak out within his Texas community about the troubling affect fireworks can have on those with PTSD. Mr. Rhoades, who has dealt with PTSD since his deployment in Iraq, placed a sign in his yard just before July of 2015 that said:

“Combat Veteran Lives Here. Please Be Courteous With Fireworks”

“It’s not that I don’t want people to have fun. On the Fourth of July, I’m going to pop my own fireworks. But when you get woken up at two, three o’clock in the morning, it brings back those memories.” said Rhodes in an interview with NBC News.

Being Courteous Of Those With PTSD This 4th Of July

You don’t need to cancel your celebrations in order to be courteous of those struggling with PTSD. Combat veterans, including Kevin Rhoades, are very vocal in understanding that fireworks are a part of the celebrations for Independence Day. The issue lies in fireworks that are misused or used without consideration. To be most courteous of those with PTSD triggers caused by fireworks, please remember the following:

  1. Only use fireworks in permitted areas – Not only is this a legal requirement, it is an important way to anticipate the sound of fireworks. Some combat veterans with PTSD spend Independence Day in neighborhoods, resorts, or communities that don’t permit fireworks. Please be considerate of these requirements, and respect firework-free areas.
  2. Schedule Your Celebrations Appropriately – Most combat veterans attribute episodes of PTSD triggered by fireworks to instances where fireworks were used after appropriate hours. Please be respectful of resting hours, and don’t launch fireworks outside of the hours defined by your local government.
  3. Communicate With Your Neighbors – If you are planning on celebrating with fireworks this Independence Day, talk with your neighbors and post in your neighborhood social groups. If you are a combat veteran dealing with PTSD, consider voicing your concerns, or speak with a Valley care professional for support and additional assistance.

This Thursday, we hope that everyone is able to respectfully celebrate America’s independence and enjoy a wonderful holiday weekend. Please be conscious of the combat veterans in your neighborhood, and manage your fireworks respectfully and responsibly. If you or someone in your network is dealing with PTSD, we’re here to help. Valley offers a variety of personal PTSD support options throughout Utah. For help overcoming your PTSD symptoms, or to learn more, reach out to a Valley care professional today.

By Dr. Todd Thatcher, DO, CMO

Discover Outpatient Mental Health Treatment

Discover Outpatient Mental Health Treatment

“Emotional pain is not something that should be hidden away and never spoken about. There is truth in your pain, there is growth in your pain, but only if it’s first brought out into the open.” -Steven Aitchison

According to a study conducted by The National Institute of Mental Health, 46.6 million U.S. adults experience mental challenges or illness. That is 1 in 5; nearly 20% of America’s adult population. Surprising, right? Many of us simply don’t realize the reach that mental health has within our communities. This may be attributed to the fact that mental health challenges can take a variety of forms and affect each person differently. Millions of us struggle with the difficult effects of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and various other behavioral and mental challenges for years on end without even considering reaching out for support. In fact, on average 60% of American adults with a mental health challenge didn’t receive mental health services in the past year – Mental Health By The Numbers – National Alliance on Mental Illness.

Our goal at Valley Behavioral Health is to help put an end to the stigma surrounding mental health, and encourage those who need support to reach out. With over 70 programs providing over 62,000 services weekly throughout Utah, we offer a variety of outpatient programs to effectively address a broad spectrum of client needs. Read on for more information about outpatient care, and how it may serve you.

What Does Outpatient Mean?

Outpatient care is physical, mental, or behavioral care that is provided wherein the patient is not required to stay overnight. Outpatient care is generally less intensive and grants the patient more independence. At Valley, our outpatient mental health treatment programs are not conducted at hospitals. Instead, treatment is hosted at care facilities, within various communities around Utah, or at the client’s home.

5 Reasons To Consider Outpatient Mental Health Treatment

  • It May Be The Perfect First Step – As mentioned before, the majority of American adults are enduring challenges introduced by their mental health without seeking treatment. How many people do you know that would try to walk on a broken leg without visiting a doctor? Trying to manage the symptoms of anxiety, depression, PTSD, and other mental health challenges may be similarly difficult. We want everybody currently excusing the challenges they face to know that a less intensive, supportive network of caregivers are ready and eager to help on your terms.
  • Your Insurance Might Have You Covered – According to MentalHealth.gov “As of 2014, most individual and small group health insurance plans, including plans sold on the Marketplace are required to cover mental health and substance use disorder services”. Everyone’s insurance coverage varies, but you may be surprised to find out that your insurance provider covers outpatient mental health treatment.
  • Find Relief Without Disrupting Your Day-To-Day Outpatient care doesn’t require patients to stay long hours or overnight, granting clients the freedom to carry on with their day-to-day while benefiting from the added support of a team of care professionals and care facility. That means you can achieve your goals and better manage symptoms without interrupting your livelihood.
  • Focus On The Things That Matter Most – At Valley, our mission is to help clients foster time with family, friends, and their community – not inhibit it. With treatment options that can be personalized to your schedule, you are able to work towards your mental health rehabilitation goals on your time. Keep enjoying time spent relaxing with loved ones, working hard at your career, and being involved in your passions.
  • Invigorate Your Independence – Ultimately, our goal is to help you regain a stronger sense of understanding and control over your symptoms than ever before. Effective treatment will help you continue your journey with confidence and independence.

Discover Outpatient Options For Everyone

 

 

 

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