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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 “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




By Valley

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.


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.


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

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