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Mental Health and Homelessness

 

This May marks the 70th anniversary of Mental Health Awareness Month, which was started by the Mental Health America Organization in 1949. May is a wonderful month when Valley Behavioral Health and many other mental health support organizations promote recognition, education, and treatment of mental health challenges. We are passionate about putting an end to the isolation and stigma that surrounds mental health by helping people throughout Utah achieve their goals with personalized treatment programs. It all starts with the knowledge and desire to make a change. To learn more about Mental Health Awareness Month and how it affects everyone, read our post from last May.

This May, Valley is focusing on the effects of homelessness on mental health. According to a 2018 study conducted by the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness, there were an estimated 2,876 homeless men, women, and children in Utah alone. National estimates show that 25%-40% of these individuals may have mental health concerns. As a comparison, roughly 5% of all American adults are diagnosed with mental health challenges. Unfortunately, homelessness and mental illness are related. However, with empathy and support from our community, we can all do something to help Utah’s homeless population live more fulfilling lives. Read on to learn more about how you can help us make a positive change this May.

 

Understanding Mental Health And Homelessness

The relationship between mental health and homelessness is difficult to define – by no means does one cause the other. So, we are left to wonder, how are mental health conditions more closely tied to the homeless population? Obviously, there are a variety of factors that may be considered. A few of the most common beliefs held by researchers include:

  • Behavioral and mental health challenges may hinder a person’s ability to earn a livable salary.
  • Mental health challenges often make it difficult for people to create and maintain connections with friends, coworkers, families, or partners.
  • Mental and behavioral health concerns may be co-occurring with substance abuse and criminal behavior, furthering the likelihood of homelessness.

 

How Can We Help?

Mental Health Awareness Month is about educating our community and eliminating the stigma surrounding mental health. Many homeless people may feel embarrassed or incapable of reaching out for help. Others may not even be aware they are struggling with mental health challenges. This May, you can help us address homelessness and mental health by:

Spread Awareness

Spread awareness within your social circles. Help those around you understand the facts regarding homelessness, behavioral and mental health. Stand for transparency and empathy, and be a voice for change.

Offer Help

If you know of anyone that is struggling with challenges driven by mental health, or spending nights without a home, there are many ways you can offer help. Consider volunteering with programs that offer meaningful help to the homeless community, or simply reaching out to show your support.

Donate

Unfortunately, most of the money given directly to homeless persons doesn’t lead to healing. Instead, make your donation to a non-profit organization that helps many people through structured programs and treatment.

 

Providing Homeless Mental Health Services

Valley Behavioral Health offers a variety of supportive programs throughout Salt Lake City for homeless persons dealing with mental health challenges. We believe that helping clients successfully achieve their goals starts with personalized treatment, and help from our passionate team. Many of us at Valley are involved with loved ones, family and community members that are managing mental health challenges in their daily lives. As a result, we are passionate about helping every person we can find a comfortable home, and develop the skills necessary to maintain a better lifestyle. To learn more about Valley’s homelessness services, click the button below. Most importantly, share your thoughts this May and help spread awareness for mental health.

By Dr. Todd Thatcher, DO, CMO

7 Ways You Can Make a Difference During Alcohol Awareness Month

The Importance of Alcohol Awareness

Are you aware that the Centers for Disease Control reported that in 2016, more teenagers were killed by alcohol than all other drugs combined? Did you know that the National Cancer Institute has listed alcohol as a cause of several types of cancer including head and neck, esophageal, liver, breast, and colorectal? Are you aware that according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration in 2017 10,874 people died in drunk driving accidents in the United States?

Did you know there is help available to escape from this terrible disease?

Substance abuse and addiction such as alcoholism can be surprisingly common, but there are many ways you can help yourself and others by taking some extra time to consider alcohol and its impact on your life. There’s no better time to start than the present, and since April is Alcohol Awareness Month, it can be a great time to put some extra time into facing the impact alcohol has. Here are seven ways you can recognize Alcohol Awareness Month.

1. Be Informed

A lot of people have an idea of what alcoholism is, but they may not know a lot about the true extent of the addiction. One of the best ways you can equip yourself to make a difference is to educate yourself about substance abuse and alcoholism and how it can be prevented and cured. There are many reliable sources that you can use to do research. Websites of organizations that inform or help people recover from alcoholism can be a good place to start. Government websites or health professionals are also generally reliable sources of information. You don’t need to spend a huge amount of time doing research. Even taking just a few minutes to learn some new things can be incredibly beneficial.

2. Inform Others

There can be a lot of stereotypes that surround the idea of someone being an alcoholic, but these are often unproductive and distract from the fact that almost anyone can suffer from the adverse effects of alcoholism. Using tools such as social media to spread awareness about substance abuse and Alcohol Awareness Month to your friends and family can help them to be informed about it too. While you should always try to stay as polite and positive as possible, sharing some extra support to help those who have been hurt by alcoholism can make a real difference.

3. Attend Events

You can often find events and activities being offered in your local area by organizations that are working to solve alcoholism and treat addiction in the lives of people. Attending these types of events can often be fun, educational, and beneficial to people who need help. Depending on the event, it could be a fun way to spend time with friends or family while also supporting the cause. Making donations at events is often another good way to contribute, but is not always necessary.

4. Spend Time Alcohol Free

Alcohol is commonly incorporated into social events, but making the choice to go alcohol-free for a few days can be a great way to recognize Alcohol Awareness Month while also giving some attention to your personal health. You can dedicate yourself to spending a weekend, a week, or even an entire month without alcohol. Going alcohol-free for a few days can help you gauge your own level of alcohol dependence. You may find that it is either harder or easier than you expected to quit drinking for a span of time.

In order to stick to your goal, it can help if you find a group of friends or family to participate with you so that you can all support each other. You will find that you can have just as much fun, if not more, spending time with the people you care about and doing things you love while staying alcohol-free.

5. Donate

Donating money or time can be a great way to help solve alcohol-related issues. It can be important that you make sure that any donations you make are going to a reliable organization that has the best interests of people that need help in mind. Donating your time can also occasionally be an option. Many events and activities that are put on by alcohol awareness organizations rely on volunteers to help run things. You can look into the different opportunities to donate money, time, or both to find something that is a good fit for you.

6. Talk to Your Kids

Perhaps one of the most important places for you to make a difference during Alcohol Awareness Month is with your own immediate family. Underage drinking can be a huge risk that opens the door to alcoholism later in life. Alcohol can turn into a major addiction that is very hard to quit. Prevention is the best strategy to avoid it.

Taking some time to sit down with your kids and talk to them about the risks of alcohol may not be the most fun thing to do, but it can make a huge difference in their lives. Even if you feel like they aren’t listening to you, it generally makes a bigger impact on kids than you may think to really discuss the issue with them for at least a few minutes.

7. Help a Loved One

If you notice the symptoms of alcoholism in a friend or family member you care about, it can sometimes be hard to know what to do. While it can often be a sensitive thing to discuss, helping someone that you know is in need is always worth it. There are a lot of resources you can turn to for help. Getting other family members involved can occasionally be beneficial, but one of the best ideas can be to try and encourage the individual to get professional help at a substance abuse treatment center. There can be a lot of in-depth resources online about how to do this in the best way possible. Looking into the specific measures you should take can be a vital first step to offering aid.

Recognizing Alcohol Awareness Month This April

Alcoholism and substance abuse issues can affect anyone and individuals are not at fault for having an addiction. Alcohol Awareness Month is the perfect opportunity to dedicate some time to face the issue and help those suffering from alcoholism. Every little bit of effort you put in to understand, prevent, and cure alcoholism can make a huge difference. Don’t worry if you don’t have massive amounts of time to give, as doing just a little bit is still many times better than doing nothing. Try doing some of the activities listed above or others that can help you, your family, and your friends to take a stand against alcoholism and promote alcohol awareness.

If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse addiction, it’s important to find treatment. Here at Valley Behavioral Health, our trained specialists offer individualized care for anyone struggling with addiction. We believe in creating positive change and growth through constant communication and observation. Contact us today to learn more about our treatment options and find happiness again.

By Julie Hoggard Winn

Dating Violence

Teen Dating Violence

February is National Teen Dating Violence Awareness month. Dating violence is defined as verbal, physical, emotional, sexual, and/or psychological abuse within a relationship by a current or former partner. The 2017 National Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 8 percent of high school students reported physical violence and 7 percent reported that they experienced sexual violence from a dating partner in the 12 months before the survey.

A new type of dating abuse has recently emerged, referred to as technology dating abuse. Technology dating abuse is abusive behaviors that are perpetrated by a romantic partner via technology (social media, texting, email). This includes threats, harassment, coercing a partner into sending explicit selfies, sending degrading or threatening messages, demeaning password to email and social media accounts, and/or using a partner’s social media without permission.  A study conducted by the Department of Justice analyzed violence experienced by teens via technology found that 26% of youth in relationships report some type of cyber dating abuse, and half of these victims reported they were also physically abused. Due to the hidden nature of technology dating abuse, many teens are unlikely to report abuse. Less than 1 in 10 teens seek out help for dating violence.

Teens who experience dating violence or domestic violence report increased depression and anxiety, engagement in unhealthy behaviors such as drug and substance abuse, exhibit antisocial behaviors, have a higher risk of revictimization, and increased suicidal thoughts.

4 Teen Dating Violence Prevention & Awareness Steps:

Know The Warning Signs

Common warning signs of dating abuse are your partner checking your cell phones, emails, or social network without permission, extreme jealousy, constant belittling, explosive temper, isolating you from family and friends, hurting you, being controlling, and pressuring you into having sex.

Act On The Warning Signs

Seek help by talking to someone you trust; a parent, teacher therapist or call the Utah Domestic Violence Link Line: 1-800-897-LINK – or the Rape and Sexual Assault Crisis Line: 1-888-421-1100

Be Supportive

When someone is going through dating abuse, don’t blame them or get angry. It is important to show love and support, not judge or blame.

Educate

Understand what dating abuse is and it’s warning signs. Educate children early about what positive relationships look like.

By Dr. Todd Thatcher, DO, CMO

About Depression and Major Depressive Disorder

Imagine for a moment that we sit down across from each other and I tell you that I’m going to test your knowledge about behavioral health diagnoses. I will do that by holding up a card with words on it and ask you to tell me everything you know about that word or words. Ready? Here goes. I hold up the first card and it says, “Depression.”

With a look on your face that excitedly says, “I know this one!” you launch into a confident discussion of diagnostic criteria. The look on your face quickly changes to surprised confusion when you notice my head moving left and right in the silent universal symbol of disapproval that says, “No, that’s not right.” The instruction begins when I tell you, “The correct answer is that depression a normal human emotion, not mental illness.” What? Stay calm and read on.

Human beings are endowed with a rich and deep palette of emotional colors. We experience the exquisitely pleasant highs of childbirth, marriage ceremonies, graduations, good sex, and our favorite team winning the big game. We also experience the deep and painful lows of divorce and breakups, funerals, job loss, and our favorite team losing the big game. Although feeling these comparatively extreme emotions adds richness our lives, it’s also exhausting and not productive for long periods of time. We spend most of our time in the middle of the emotional spectrum, and our brain helps us regulate our moods.

Depression is not a medical term because it is a normal human emotion that everyone feels. When we feel depressed we instinctively engage in activities that make us feel pleasure and our mood eventually improves back to the middle of the emotional spectrum. Sad and depressed people leave funerals to attend social gatherings featuring a multitude of pleasure-inducing activities; interpersonal connection, touching, hugging, eating, and laughing over common memories and experiences. After other such lows in our lives, having french fries with a friend after a romantic break-up, or a hunting trip with buddies serve the same purpose. We tend to feel better afterwards.

What is Major Depressive Disorder?

Major Depressive Disorder is the medical term to describe the problem when people feel depressed (normal) and lose the ability to feel pleasure (not normal). In that condition, people feel down and cannot lift themselves up. If they remain in that condition more days than not for more than 14 days, they are candidates for a diagnosis of Major Depressive Disorder.

Other symptoms are required for the diagnosis and may include motivation and energy changes, sleep disturbances, feelings of guilt, decreased sex drive, a sense of cognitive dulling, or thoughts of suicide. However, the primary problem in Major Depressive Disorder is anhedonia, the inability to feel pleasure. Anhedonia is what distinguishes normal depressive states from Major Depressive Disorder. People elevate themselves out of depression by feeling pleasure, but in Major Depressive Disorder they can’t. They need help.

Major Depressive Disorder is a significant personal and public health problem. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that in the United States, 16.2 million (6.7%) adults had a major depressive episode in 2016. Women (8.5%) experience major depression about twice as much as men (4.8%). Adults ages 18-25 have the highest rates of depression (10.9%). Whites (7.4%) have higher rates than Hispanic (5.6%) or Blacks (5.0%) or Asians (3.9%). However, Native Americans and Alaskan Natives have even higher rates (8.7%), and people reporting two or more races have the highest rates (10.5%). Adolescents ages 12-17 have similar statistics that are about twice as high across all categories, with the highest rates in 16-year-olds (17.4%).

Fortunately, Major Depressive Disorder can be treated once it is diagnosed properly. Sadly, 37% of adults, and 60% of adolescents do not receive any treatment. We must do better. If you had a cough or fever that was concerning, you’d seek a medical opinion and help. Even if you were told it’s a minor problem and will resolve without treatment, at least you would have appropriately responded to warning signs.

Please don’t ignore the warning signs of Major Depressive Disorder. If you notice that you or those you love are feeling depressed and normally pleasant activities have lost their appeal, get help. It’s not normal to be in that condition. It’s better to be on the side of caution and get a medical opinion before deciding on your own that the depression isn’t something more serious.

At Valley Behavioral Health, we offer evidence-based therapy and medication treatment for depression. We can help, but we can’t help if we don’t know you’re there. Make contact with us today and Let’s Deal with it Together.

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

National Recovery Month

This September, Valley Behavioral Health is celebrating the 29th annual National Recovery Month to help celebrate those who have achieved recovery through mental health treatment and substance abuse treatment. It is so important to recognize the meaningful work that people have done to be where they are in their recovery. This month gives many people a platform to share their stories with others, to hopefully inspire others to seek treatment for their addiction or take steps to avoid addiction. Recovery month also offers an opportunity to reiterate the vital importance of prevention services within our communities.

Substance use disorder can affect anyone. It does not discriminate across race, gender, socioeconomic status, religion, and/or level of education. Most everyone knows someone who has had a substance use disorder. They have seen the impact on their lives and the lives of their family and loved ones.   Those struggling with addiction often lose jobs, homes, families, and relationships as their addiction develops.

Hearing stories of those in recovery is also helpful in educating the community about what led them to use. Often people develop very negative opinions about people who are addicted to substances and make assumptions about circumstances which may have contributed to developing a substance use disorder or their inability to control their addiction.

Every year, we have a graduation ceremony for two of our residential programs and have graduates share their stories. It is always so inspiring and moving; however, during these speeches, you often hear stories of abuse, mistreatment by a partner, childhood trauma, assault, etc. These experiences contributed to the individuals’ initial use of substances, manifestation of mental health conditions, and development of a substance use disorder that impacts their life so negatively.

Unfortunately, many who struggle with substance use and/or mental health issues are too embarrassed to seek the treatment they need. There is a cultural stigma surrounding treatment and it keeps many people from getting help. It is imperative that we help remove the stigma of seeking mental health or substance use disorder treatment so our mothers, fathers, brothers, sisters, neighbors, and co-workers all feel more comfortable about getting the help they need.

At Valley Behavioral Health, we offer a variety of therapeutic services to address each individual client’s substance use and/or mental health needs. We have clinics throughout Salt Lake, Summit, and Tooele Counties. We also provide many different levels of support, based on our clients’ needs. All clients receive individualized, evidence-based, client-centered care at our clinics. Our therapists address each client’s emotional health which is essential for improving each client’s overall health and well-being.

By Gary Larcenaire, CEO & President

Valley’s Semi Annual 2018 Update

2018 is shaping up to be a pretty thrilling year for Valley!

Valley’s recently launched ValleyEPIC program is nearly at capacity and is already making a difference in people’s lives.

Soon primary care will be made available to our customers on site to ensure comprehensive care and integrated health monitoring.

ValleyLab is seeking licensure which will permit external lab services to community partners and further diversify our funding streams.

Our ValleyFit Clinic has provided several hundred physicals and is a really appreciated resource for our employees and their families. Believe it or not, it is almost Fall and soon ValleyFit will be gearing up for cold and flu season as well as physicals for back to school activities.

ValleyRx should be making medications conveniently available to clients and employees in September. The buildout looks gorgeous and I am thrilled we are adding this resource to our service array.

The Pingree Center of Learning will be expanding soon! We have negotiated the sale of a perfectly located property where we will build a “state-of-the-art” program for adults challenged with autism.

Highland Springs Specialty Clinic continues to grow rapidly. We are expanding in Lehi this year and are actively exploring Idaho markets as well.

Valley’s call center fields an average of nearly 10k calls per month and the recent technology modernization initiative is paying off nicely in terms of data insights and improved customer service.

Our significant investment in technology is paying dividends as performance insights are becoming clearer and opportunities for improvement are illuminated.

Valley’s “pay for performance” and our significant investment in talent acquisition and staff retention are making a big difference for our workforce.

Finding top talent and retaining highly qualified, passionate employees is a top priority.

Compensation certainly plays a part, but career development and transparent communications are critical.

Valley’s significant restructuring more than a year ago is nearly solidified and employees are reporting much higher levels of satisfaction with the support they are getting from all levels of the company.

Our IT team is the best I’ve ever experienced.

Our Property Management, Grants and Contracts, Revenue Cycle, and Accounting are first in class.

ValleyAcademy will kick off this Fall and will select only the most elite and engaged employees to complete the coursework and lead system improvement and best practice use, system-wide. Leadership training will be more formalized this Fall as we ensure we are all using the same proven management techniques and not falling into the “theory-x-trap.”

Staff Development and Marketing are amazing teams and their merger with HR is proving to be a really good decision. Together, they will be an unstoppable force to support the teams that serve most closely to customer care.

Valley is a vibrant company and our teams are always tightening their processes.

2018 and forward will see ever-improving services and outcomes for those we serve. I am truly blessed to help lead this amazing company, made great by our skilled and committed workforce, our great partners, and of course our cherished customers.

I have welcomed a new NEO class yet again this week and somehow they just get better and better!!

 

Best,

Gary

 

By Dr. Todd Thatcher, DO, CMO

PTSD Awareness Month

June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) awareness month. It’s a time for us to reflect on a medical problem that challenges millions of Americans. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that about 50% of the people in the United States will suffer a trauma in their lives. Fortunately, the human brain has a wonderful way to deal with trauma sometimes called the “fight or flight system.”

When someone is in danger, it produces powerful fear and anxiety emotions to warn them and get their body ready to fight or escape the situation. The person’s heart and breathing rate increase to supply oxygen to the body, and blood and nutrients are directed to the muscles to fight or run away.

After the danger has passed, the brain releases chemicals to calm the person back down within about 20 minutes. The brain also remembers the threat so that detection and reaction to a similar threat in the future will be faster.

For up to 30 days after someone suffers a traumatic event, it is normal and common for the brain to go through a recovery process. Just like recovery from a physical injury is often painful, recovery from a trauma can be painful for a while as well.

Common symptoms include nightmares of the trauma and flashback memories during the day, avoiding people and places that remind the person of the trauma, feelings of depression, irritability, anger control problems, and guilt. The symptoms happen because the brain relives the trauma and triggers the fight or flight system. Although the person is no in danger any more, their brain thinks it is.

Eventually, the brain recovers and the person moves on with their life. The memory of the trauma does not cause problems for them. When they remember the trauma, it is remembered with either no emotions, or only mild and manageable emotions.

PTSD develops when the person continues to suffer the trauma recovery symptoms for more than 30 days. If the symptoms persist for more than one year the PTSD is called chronic. The underlying problem is that the brain was damaged by the trauma and has not been able to recover on its own. It continues to activate the fight or flight system even when no danger is present, and the person cannot control trauma memories. It can be very disruptive to families, friendships, and jobs.

According to multiple sources including the Veterans Administration, the National Institute of Mental Health, and PTSD United, about 6% to 8% of Americans suffer from PTSD. They experienced a trauma, or multiple traumas, that they are unable to leave in the past.

PTSD is not a new human problem. It has probably affected human beings since the beginning of time. Scholars have found evidence of PTSD in ancient Greco-Roman soldiers as far back as 3,000 B.C. In the American Revolutionary War, it was called Nostalgia. In the Civil War it was called Soldiers Heart. In World War I it was called Shell Shock. In World War II it was called Battle Fatigue. In Vietnam it was called Gross Stress Reaction, then changed to the current PTSD. The names have changed, but the symptoms have not.

However, war is not the only trauma that can cause PTSD. Rape, fires, car accidents, muggings, and domestic violence, are just a few of the traumas that can cause PTSD. Each trauma is different for each person.

Fortunately, we live in a day and age when there is more hope for recovery than ever before. Evidence-based and FDA approved treatments are readily available. At Valley Behavioral Health, we have therapists and prescribers specially trained to assess and treat PTSD. Our providers are trained in trauma-informed care, and are inspired to help those with PTSD live more fulfilling lives, one person at a time.

The most important step is the first step to reach out for help. You don’t have to suffer alone any longer. Start your recovery today by contacting Valley Behavioral Health to schedule your first appointment. Let’s deal with it together.

 

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

Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. A lot of people ask, “Why is awareness important?” There are many reasons. For one, because 1 in 5 adults in the United States live with a mental health condition. That means that everyone likely has some personal connection to someone living with mental illness, it also means that you will interact with people who may be struggling in some way. Being aware of mental health and treatment will help you in interactions with those who may be struggling with mental illness.

I was a teenager, I spent a lot of time with one of my cousins. I remember being with him and hearing him talk about his girlfriend named Madonna and how she was a famous rock star, neither of which were true. He occasionally would get aggressive, luckily for me it was never directed toward me. At the time, I was very intimidated because I didn’t know what was causing this unexpected behavior or how to interact or respond to him. Years later, I found out he had schizophrenia, so I started to read about it. The awareness of what he was experiencing was so helpful. In adulthood, I got a call from my uncle telling me my cousin was in jail and he asked me to go visit him. My perception and approach to interacting with him along with the way I responded to him was so different this time because I could empathize with him knowing what he was experiencing. Awareness made all the difference.

Another reason awareness is so important is to allow those living with mental health conditions to seek high quality evidence-based treatment. Between 70 – 90% of people who engage in the right treatments and have the proper supports in place experience a significant reduction in symptoms and they report an increased quality of life. If people with mental health conditions could get these results, why don’t they all engage in treatment? There could be a number of factors contributing to why people don’t seek treatment, including cultural beliefs, insurance, financial strain, etc. However, one of the biggest reasons is the stigma surrounding mental health and treatment.

There is a prominent societal stigma surrounding mental health and treatment. Many people fear judgment or shaming by others if they share that they have a mental health condition or are seeking treatment for a mental health condition. This can further isolate those who are already experiencing a mental health condition. We need to encourage treatment rather than judge or shame people who receive treatment. Take the opportunity to spread awareness of mental health, increase your own awareness in some way, and take any opportunity you can to help end the stigma surrounding mental health and treatment not only during this month but every month.

For more information on the services we offer and how we can help, please call Valley Behavioral Health at 888.949.4864.
If you or someone you know is dealing with mental health, you don’t have to deal with it alone. Let’s deal with it together.

 

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

Suicide Awareness

Many people assume that the rate of suicides increases around the holidays, but that is a false assumption. Suicide rates actually increase in the Spring, which is why it is so important to be aware of factors that influence suicide attempts and how to get help. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t be aware of these factors and resources during other times of the year, but we should be particularly vigilant about the increased risk of suicide during the Spring months. It is important to be able to watch for signs that someone may be thinking about attempting suicide and know the resources to get them the support and help they need.

Suicide affects entire communities, including the person attempting suicide and their family, friends, and peers. Utah ranks 5th in the nation for the highest suicide rates.
 Suicide is the number one cause of death in children ages 10-17. It is important to be 
aware of the risk and protective factors associated with suicide so that we can all take 
part in the prevention. Some risk factors that can lead to suicidal ideation and/or attempts include substance use, mental health issues, poor school performance, experiencing crisis
 or trauma, and being the victim of bullying. The number one risk factor for someone to attempt suicide is a previous suicide attempt. Often there will be a noticeable change in behavior prior to an attempt, that may include giving away valued belongings, not speaking about the future, significant changes in mood, feeling trapped in some way, or withdrawal from friends, family and/or the community. Protective factors that can indicate a decreased likelihood of suicide attempts include having a positive school, home, and community environment, positive peer relationships, and exhibiting prosocial behaviors. Valley Behavioral Health has licensed and trained clinicians who can help if you or one of your loved ones is experiencing thoughts of suicide or self-harm.

 

Please contact us at 1-888-949-4864

There are a number of resources available to help prevent suicide. There are both Utah and National Crisis lines (see below). There are people who are well-trained to help that can talk at any time. There are also county specific crisis lines.

Utah Statewide CrisisLine: 801-587-3000

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255), suicidepreventionlifeline.org

County Crisis Lines:
Davis County 801-773-7060

Salt Lake County (UNI) 801-587-3000 Summit County 435-649-9079 Tooele County 435-882-5600
Utah County 801-373-7393

Weber & Morgan Counties 801-625-3700

Unique to Utah, we have the SafeUT app that can be downloaded and used to chat, text, or provide tips to licensed clinicians 24/7.

SafeUT Crisis Text & Tip Line (download app)

By Dr. Todd Thatcher, DO, CMO

Patient Safety Awareness Week

Dr. Todd Thatcher, Chief Medical Officer

March 11th through 21st is National Patient Safety Awareness Week 2018.  An opportunity for America to reflect on the safety of our medical system.  Although we enjoy one of the finest healthcare systems in the world in terms of cutting edge technology, some of our safety statistics are sobering.

Norton’s Bankruptcy Law Advisor reported an estimated $19.5 billion dollars spent each year are attributable to medical errors.  The US Department of Health and Human Services reported that in 2009, adverse medical events caused more than 770,000 injuries and deaths at a cost of $5.6 billion.  Data compiled from Medscape surveys of practicing physicians, and from the Centers for Disease Control, rank failure to properly diagnose as the most common reason for malpractice lawsuits.

While these numbers should cause every patient to think carefully about their healthcare choices, they shouldn’t scare us away from care.  Counting medical mistakes is easier than determining your chances of experiencing a medical error, but common experience and reason tell us most people experience great benefit and little harm from healthcare.

At Valley Behavioral Health, we take patient safety very seriously.  Here are steps we take to ensure your treatment in our care is safe and effective.

Who we hire:

We only hire licensed professionals who pass rigorous State background checks and are in good standing with State licensing regulations.  Our interviewing process for clinicians also includes detailed and careful interviewing that assesses a candidate’s knowledge of their field, and the ability to safely administer that knowledge with patients.  Our process is so selective that we only hire about 10% of applicants.

How we train our people once they’re hired:

Landing a clinical job at Valley Behavioral Health is not the end of professional development.  In addition to upholding State standards for continuing education credits, we invest 40 to 80 hours of onboarding training depending on the specialized field.  Medical staff, therapists, and case managers receive 40 hours of classroom instruction in the evidence-based fundamentals of mental health work such as diagnostics, therapeutic alliance, suicide risk assessment, dealing with difficult or dangerous patients, substance abuse, trauma informed care, etc.  APRN’s receive an additional 40 hours of classroom instruction in how to safely and effectively prescribe psychiatric medications.  All staff must pass annual internal testing to ensure skill levels remain high.

Evidence-base care:

Our Chief Medical Officer, Director of Nursing, Senior Director of Clinical Services, and 6 Clinical Directors are dedicated to practicing state-of-the-art care that is evidence-based, safe, and effective.  That team is backed by a fully staffed IT department including data analysts and biostatisticians.  We are using data to help us monitor patient safety and we insist on the highest levels of electronic security to protect that data.  All our systems are HIPAA compliant.  With over 20,000 patients annually, receiving tens of thousands of services a month, we realize the vital role that technology and computers play in helping us keep the quality safety of our care high.

How we supervise staff:

All clinical staff are supervised by seasoned and skilled professionals who ensure a high quality of care is being delivered continually.  They help answer difficult questions, mentor staff to maintain good boundaries with patients, and work to avoid care-giver burnout which can lead to errors in care.

How we safely serve the community:

All our facilities are licensed by Federal and State agencies, that regularly inspect and audit our system.  We have 6 full-time employees in our regulatory oversight department who ensure that we are compliant with safety requirements.

Why we do all this:

Simple.  We want the same high-quality healthcare you do.  After all, we are providers, but sometimes we’re patients too.  Please don’t delay your mental health care.  If you need us, we’re here to provide safe and effective care.  We are inspired by helping others.

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