Help Remove the Stigma of Mental Illness

September 28, 2017

Organizations around the country are using the first week of October to honor Mental Illness Awareness Week and raise awareness of mental health, which affects approximately a quarter of adults in the U.S.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), a mental illness is a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling or mood. Such conditions may affect someone’s ability to relate to others and make it difficult for these individuals to perform everyday tasks. Each individual will have a different experience, even if they share the same diagnosis.

Remove the Stigma

Unfortunately, mental illness is often viewed in a negative light. Many individuals who suffer from mental illness are afraid to discuss it with family or friends, as they are afraid of being judged or looked down upon. By discussing mental health, you are raising awareness and helping boost the confidence of those suffering – you could also be saving a life.

Speaking openly about mental illness is not the only way to raise awareness. You can also educate yourself and learn the facts. One of the best ways to remove the stigma of mental illness is to understand what it is and what it is not. Understanding mental illness makes it easier to learn how to help those suffering, and also allows you an opportunity to speak up if someone expresses a stigmatizing attitude or opinion.

Speak with dignity and respect when discussing mental illness. Choose your words carefully, use respectful language, emphasize abilities rather than limitations, and refer to the person rather than the disability or illness.

Take a Stance

At AltaMed, we strive to fight the stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for equal care. If you or someone you know may need a mental health assessment, anonymous online tools are available on the NAMI website. You can also join NAMI’s StigmaFree campaign by taking a pledge in the effort to end stigmas on mental health and create hope for those directly affected by mental illness.

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Suicide Prevention: Look for the Warning Signs

September 01, 2017

Suicide has strong emotional consequences for the families and friends of its victims. With 44,000 people in the U.S. successfully committing suicide each year, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) notes, suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people. NAMI also states that suicide is often the result of mental health conditions that affect people when they are most vulnerable.

September is National Suicide Awareness Month, but our goal is to bring awareness to the warning signs of suicide, which can happen at any time.

Warning Signs and Risk Factors

When concerned about a loved one who may be suicidal, it’s important to look out for a change of behavior or entirely new behaviors. This could be triggered by a painful event, loss or some type of personal change. Most people who decide to take their lives show one or more warning signs, either through what they say or what they do. Here are a few things to look out for if you are concerned about a friend or loved one:

If a person talks about:

  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped
  • Experiencing unbearable pain
  • Having no reason to live
  • Killing themselves

Specific things to look out for include:

  • Increased use of drug or alcohol
  • Keeping away from friends and family
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions

People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

  • Depression
  • Loss of interest
  • Rage
  • Irritability
  • Humiliation
  • Anxiety

Treatment

Ninety percent of people who commit suicide have a mental disorder at the time of their deaths. There are biological and psychological treatments that can help address the underlying health issues that put people at risk for suicide.

At AltaMed, we are here to help. If you know someone that is feeling stressed or overwhelmed, talk to your provider, who can refer you to our Behavioral Health team. One of our clinicians may be able to give you information and guidance to help you or someone you know. Other resources for help include:

  • Call 211 for assistance with services like housing, employment or child care Click here for LA County and here for Orange County.
  • Call the suicide prevention hotline if you’re in crisis or are experiencing suicidal thoughts at 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

 

Take Care with Your Health Care

October 08, 2018

We’ve all heard the saying, “If you don’t use it, you lose it,” and the same sentiment can be applied to your health plan. Thanks to the Affordable Care Act (ACA), an additional estimated 20 million Americans now have health coverage. It’s up to you to make sure you take advantage of everything your insurance has to offer. 

Beyond taking a closer look at the details of your specific plan, here are a few easy and basic ways to make the most of the benefits included in your health coverage. 

  • Wellness Visit: These provide an overall picture of your health and how you can make improvements by checking stats like blood pressure, cholesterol, body mass index (BMI) and weight.
  • Preventive Services: Keeping you healthy is just as important to your provider as it is to you. So be sure to use any and all free services they offer, which can include immunizations, colonoscopies, diabetes checks, contraceptives, osteoporosis and anemia screenings, prenatal care and mammograms, just to name a few.
  • Education: Many plans include classes on fitness, nutrition, overall healthy living and chronic disease management. 
  • Annual Physical: Preventive exams are key to catching any serious health issues like cancer and diabetes early, before they start, or early enough to be properly treated. It’s also a great time to talk to your doctor about any health concerns you may have, and to get important shots and vaccinations. 
  • Discounts: You’d be surprised what kind of health and wellness products and services may be available through your insurance. Think discounts on gym memberships, eye exams, and chiropractic or acupuncture visits, as well as programs and support groups to help quit smoking. 
  • Nurse Advice Line: Typically available 24/7, you can save yourself and your family a trip to the emergency room or urgent care by calling these helplines , which have registered nurses on hand to answer your questions and point you in the right direction. 
  • Prescriptions: Not only is medication more affordable if your doctor prescribes you the generic version, but if your plan has a mail service pharmacy option, you’ll be able to save a trip to the pharmacy.