June is Pride Month!

Jennifer Truman, LSCSW, LCSW, CCTPIIBy Jennifer Truman, LSCSW, LCSW, CCTPII, Lead Behavioral Health Clinician

The development of June as Pride Month dates back to the Stonewall Uprising that began on June 28, 1969 after a police raid of the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village. The raids were a common form of the harassment and aggression toward the LGBTQ community at that time, and the Stonewall Uprising marked a major turning-point in the LGBTQ community’s response to discrimination.

Since the 1969 Stonewall Uprising much progress has been made for LGBTQ rights, however, progress toward equality of any group is always met with resistance. Continued advocacy is needed in order to sustain and develop the growth of rights for the LGBTQ community. A recent example of controversy affecting the LGBTQ community is the focus on members of the transgender community. Many opinions have been developed about this community without understanding of the community itself. The below information from the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) can help provide an introduction to the people of the transgender community and some of the concerns they experience.

  • The word “transgender” – or trans – is an umbrella term for people whose gender identity is different from the sex assigned to us at birth. Although the word “transgender” and our modern definition of it only came into use in the late 20th century, people who would fit under this definition have existed in every culture throughout recorded history.
  • The trans community is incredibly diverse. Some trans people identify as trans men or trans women, while others may describe themselves as non-binary, genderqueer, gender non-conforming, agender, bigender or other identities that reflect their personal experience. Some take hormones or have surgery as part of the transition, while others may change their pronouns or appearance.
  • In addition to experiencing problems related to stigma, harassment and discrimination, members of the trans community face problems around lack of health insurance coverage. An HRC Foundation analysis found that 22 percent of trans people and 32 percent of trans people of color have no health insurance coverage. More than one-quarter (29 percent) of trans adults have been refused health care by a doctor or provider because of their gender identity.

June is Pride Month!While political controversy has developed about members of the trans community and the health services they receive, healthcare organizations continue to recognize that gender-affirming care is well established as an appropriate aspect of an individual’s overall care. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends “providing youth with access to comprehensive gender-affirming and developmentally appropriate health care.” American Medical Association Board Member Michael Suk, MD, JD, MPH, MBA, states, “Gender-affirming care is medically necessary, evidence-based care that improves the physical and mental health of transgender and gender-diverse people.”

Good healthcare is built around effective relationships between patients, their families and healthcare providers. These relationships depend on the rights of individuals and families to work with their healthcare providers to make the health-related decisions that impact their lives. Health Partnership Clinic recognizes the right for all people to receive comprehensive, effective and compassionate healthcare based on their individual needs.

For more information about LGBTQ+ advocacy, visit the Human Rights Campaign website.

Mental Illness Awareness Week 2023: Together We Share, Together We Care

John SmartBy John Smart, LSCSW, Behavioral Health Clinician

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) shares the following statement for Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW):

Each year, millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition — but mental illness affects everyone directly or indirectly through family, friends or coworkers. That is why each year, during the first week of October, NAMI and participants across the country raise awareness, fight discrimination and provide support.
National Alliance on Mental Illness

We believe that mental health conditions are important to discuss all year, but MIAW provides a dedicated time for mental health advocates across the country to come together as one unified voice. Since 1990, when Congress officially established the first full week of October as MIAW, advocates have worked together to sponsor activities, large or small, to educate the public about mental illness.

Mental Illness Awareness

Mental Health AwarenessMental illness awareness can be effectively approached on an individual and family level through considering the factors that contribute to our overall mental health, and remembering that mental health depends on many variables: addressing physical health needs, avoiding addictive substances, connecting with others in mutually supportive ways (this can include friends, family, volunteer work, spiritual support and pets), balancing needs for daily rest and activity and practicing mindfulness of our overall well-being. Mental illness awareness also includes advocacy and education. NAMI has a variety of tools and resources to support advocacy and education. NAMI and several other mental health advocacy organizations also provide connection to local support groups.

At HPC, we offer affordable, in-person and telehealth Therapy Services to Youth 12 and older, and adults.

Patients can schedule an appointment by calling 913-730-3664.

If you need to find professional help for a friend, family member or yourself, please see the additional resources below.

National and local resources:

Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: Call or text to 988 or go to 988lifeline.org (online chat available including services for the deaf and hard of hearing)

National Alliance on Mental Illness: nami.org

Mental Health America: mhanational.org

Johnson County Mental Health:
913-826-4200
Crisis Line 913-268-0156
jocogov.org

Community mental health centers are found throughout the United States:

To find the community mental health center nearest you in Kansas or Missouri click the links below:

Kansas

Missouri

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

Thao LeBy Thao Le, MSN, APRN, PMHNP-BC, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

In 2022, a record high of 539,810 lives were lost to suicide in the United States – an increase of 2.6 percent over the previous year.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), risk factors for suicide include:

  • Previous suicide attempt
  • History of depression and other mental illnesses
  • Serious illness such as chronic pain
  • Criminal/legal problems
  • Job/financial problems or loss
  • Impulsive or aggressive tendencies
  • Substance use
  • Current or prior history of adverse childhood experiences
  • Violence victimization and/or perpetration
  • Bullying
  • Family/loved one’s history of suicide
  • Loss of relationships
  • High conflict or violent relationships
  • Social isolation
  • Lack of access to healthcare
  • Suicide cluster in the community
  • Community violence
  • Stigma associated with help-seeking and mental illness
  • Easy access to lethal means of suicide among people at risk
  • Unsafe media portrayals of suicide

Suicide rates were highest among American Indian and Alaska Native (AIAN) people, males, and people who live in rural areas in 2021. Specific risk factors that could have led to an increase in suicide rates in 2022 include mental health related symptoms following the pandemic, financial stressors and lack of access to health care.

Healthcare professionals can help prevent suicide by:

  • Routinely screening patients for suicidal thoughts and behaviors
  • Consider hospitalization for patients at high risk for suicide
  • Refer to a higher level of care if needed.
  • Develop a crisis plan
  • Collaborate with family members
  • Collaborate therapists and psychiatric providers

In addition to identifying risk factors, healthcare providers should help identify and enhance protective factors among at-risk populations.

Protective Factors among at-risk populations include:

  • Effective coping and problem-solving skills
  • Reasons for living (for example, family, friends, pets, etc.)
  • Strong sense of cultural identity
  • Support from partners, friends, and family
  • Feeling connected to others
  • Feeling connected to school, community, and other social institutions
  • Availability of consistent and high quality physical and behavioral health care
  • Reduced access to lethal means of suicide among people at risk
  • Cultural, religious, or moral objections to suicide

If you are thinking about harming yourself or attempting suicide:

  • Suicide and Crisis LifelineCall 911 for emergency services.
  • Go to the nearest hospital emergency room.
  • Call or text 988 to connect with the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. The Lifeline provides 24-hour, confidential support to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress. Support is also available via live chat.

John Smart, LSCSW, Behavioral Health Clinician, along with his wife, Katelyn will represent HPC at the 20th Annual Remembrance Walk at Loose Park on Sunday, Sept. 10. John will have a table with information about HPC, and he and his wife will also participate in the walk.

Health Partnership offers therapy services, psychiatric medication management, and substance use services.

To schedule an appointment or more details, call 913-730-3664.

The Pain and Practice of a Changed Life

Christopher WoodwardBy Christopher Woodward, LMAC, Substance Abuse Specialist

September is National Recovery Month. The aim of this month is to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover.

I always hear the statement “once I stop using, my life will get better.” That is a true statement in that our brain, body and family relationships gain recovery and rest when we stop using our substance of choice. A person can start the long process of rebuilding their hourly and daily lives.

However, the road is more emotionally and physically difficult for the person seeking recovery. For some substances, quite literally, there is more emotional and physical pain attached to recovery than resuming use. This is not great news for those early in recovery, but it is a welcome reminder of where we have come from for those that are a little further down the road. There is an opportunity to mend relationships, earn respect and push out of being marginalized by our substance of choice.

This pain and practice can lead us into the changed life.

Finding a reason to move out of our substance use into change is the first step. Making the change and practicing the change is step two.

The Pain and Practice of a Changed Life I had a mentor tell me once that the best evidence of a changed life is a changed life. It is a simple statement but really difficult to complete. So many of us will change the one thing that we think is holding us back. Whether it is cutting the carbs, stopping that afternoon Diet Coke, or not driving past the liquor store on the way home. These small changes can lead to successes which can lead to more success and momentum of change. Thus, we become better at practicing our change and our process.

We use the support of the people around us and our new skills obtained in treatment to push out of pain into practice of our recovery. We start to move on from the bigger moments of our past and our present. We move on from the trauma, missed expectations, and the wreckage that our substance use has left behind. If we keep up the practice of a changed life, we will one day look up from the work that we have done on ourselves, and our life is changed. We become the evidence of a changed life.

The next step is to serve others and help them along the path to recovery.

Health Partnership offers substance use services, therapy services and psychiatric medication management.

To schedule an appointment or more details, call 913-730-3664.

Substance Abuse Services Offered at Health Partnership Clinic

By Christopher W. Woodward, LMAC, Substance Abuse Specialist

Health Partnership Clinic offers a variety of Substance Abuse Services, including:

  • Early Intervention Program
  • Outpatient Level I Program
  • Intensive Outpatient Treatment
  • Substance Use Assessments
  • DUI Assessments
  • Medication Assisted Treatment

Services are offered to individuals 12 years old and up.

Watch our video to learn more about Substance Abuse Programs offered at Health Partnership.

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

By Ming Strother, LSCSW, Behavioral Health Clinician

National Minority Mental Health Month is observed during the month of July. Prior to her death in 2006, author, journalist, teacher, and mental health advocate Bebe Moore Campbell advocated tirelessly to bring light to the lack of mental health resources in the black and other underserved communities. Struggling to support her own daughter through her mental health needs, Moore Campbell worked with her friend Linda Wharton Boyd, and brought their efforts to Washington. After the death of Moore Campbell, Wharton Boyd, family, and other like-minded individuals continued their efforts in Washington, and in 2008, the U.S House of Representatives declared July as National Minority Mental Health Month.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported that in 2020, suicide was the third leading cause of death among blacks or African Americans ages 15- 24. The death rate from suicide for Hispanic men was four times the rate of Hispanic women in 2018. Black females in grades 9-12 were 60 percent more likely to attempt suicide in 2019 compared with Caucasian females in the same age range. Statistics show that suicide attempts for Hispanic girls were 30 percent higher than Caucasian girls in the same age range.

Minority Mental Health Awareness MonthPeople from ethnic minority groups are less likely to seek mental healthcare than their white counterparts for a multitude of reasons. There remains a general mistrust of the healthcare system among these groups. Other reasons for consideration include poverty, lack of access, lack of proper health insurance, provider discrimination, stigma and cost.

We can all help to bridge some of these gaps in care by working to destigmatize mental health within our communities. We can make efforts to use positive language when discussing mental health concerns. We can share our stories and encourage open and honest dialogue about these topics. We can volunteer our time. We can continue to advocate for equal access to services and fight to continue with efforts at expanding health insurance coverage.

To learn more about Health Partnership Clinic’s Behavioral Health Services, please visit our website.
To schedule an appointment call 913-648-2266.

“While everyone – all colors – everyone is affected by stigma – no one wants to say ‘I’m not in control of my mind.’ No one wants to say, ‘The person I love is not in control of [their] mind.’

But people of color really don’t want to say it because we already feel stigmatized by virtue of skin color or eye shape or accent and we don’t want any more reasons for anyone to say, ‘You’re not good enough.'”

-Bebe Moore Campbell

 

Other Organizations Offering Minority Mental Health Awareness Resources:

World Autism Month: Building Positive Attitudes

Ilexa AxelrodBy Ilexa Axelrod

April is Autism Awareness Month. Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) is a neurodevelopmental disorder that develops during early childhood and can sometimes go unrecognized through adulthood. Autism is marked by challenges related to social skills and repetitive behaviors. Since the presentation of Autism varies from person to person, it is important to look at each individual’s strengths and challenges to best provide support and interventions.

World Autism Month can be celebrated by sharing stories, defying stigma and increasing knowledge to create a world where all people with autism are honored, admired and appreciated. Not sure how to get involved? The Autism Speaks organization offers a variety of ways to stand in solidarity including the following: wear blue, fundraise, get involved, donate to Autism Speaks and engage in the Kindness Campaign.

World Autism MonthHealth Partnership Clinic is committed to serving all individuals, including those who are neurodivergent or have ASD. If you are seeking assistance for yourself or a loved one regarding locating support or services for autism, you can make an appointment with a physician by calling 913-648-2266.  Alternatively, you may ask to schedule with our Behavioral Health team.

Local resources:

What is Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT)?

By Thao Le, MSN, APRN, PMHNP-BC, Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner

Thao LeAccording to the Food and Drug Administration, Medication-Assisted Treatment (MAT) is the use of medications in combination with counseling and behavioral therapies for the treatment of opioid use disorders (OUD). MAT has been proven to be a safe and effective treatment method in sustaining relapse and preventing cravings and withdrawal symptoms in individuals with OUD.

Opioids are a class of pain-relieving drugs that include hydrocodone (Norco), or oxycodone (Percocet) which are available by prescription to help control acute pain and illegal drugs such as heroin, fentanyl and other synthetic opioids.

When individuals take opiates, they experience an increased sense of pleasure which motivates them to take opiates repeatedly.

Opiate use disorder is a medical condition that develops when an individual:

  • Takes larger amounts or taking drugs over a longer period than intended.
  • Experiences Persistent desire or unsuccessful efforts to cut down or control opioid use.
  • Spends a great deal of time obtaining or using the opioid or recovering from its effects.
  • Craves, or a strong desire or urge to use opioids
  • Problems fulfilling obligations at work, school or home.
  • Continues opioid use despite having recurring social or interpersonal problems.
  • Gives up or reducing activities because of opioid use.
  • Uses opioids in physically hazardous situations such as driving while under the influence of opiates.
  • Continues opioid use despite ongoing physical or psychological problems likely to have been caused or worsened by opioids.
  • Reaches a level of tolerance (i.e., need for increased amounts or diminished effect with continued use of the same amount)

When individuals do not use opiates consistent with medical and legal guidelines, they are at increased risk for drowsiness, decreased breathing and heart rate and death.

The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has approved three MAT medications for the treatment of opiate use disorder – methadone, buprenorphine and naltrexone with the purpose of reducing cravings, withdrawal symptoms and pleasure from using opiates.

MAT at HPC

At Health Partnership Clinic, our waiver-trained MAT providers prescribe buprenorphine/naloxone (Suboxone) and naltrexone and collaborate with our substance use counselor to deliver a whole-person approach to treatment. We believe that patients can benefit just as much from counseling as they do from medication through ongoing communication, identification of goals, enhancing coping skills and relapse prevention. Additionally, we offer weekly groups that allow individuals to share their experiences and serve as a source of support for one other in their recovery journeys.

Per the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, MAT improves patient survival, decreases illicit opiate use and other criminal activity among people with substance use disorders, increases patients’ ability to gain and maintain employment and improves birth outcomes among women who have substance use disorders and are pregnant.

Watch our video to learn more about the medication, Suboxone:

 

“Together for Mental Health” – Continued Collaboration for Mental Illness Awareness Week

Ilexa AxelrodBy Ilexa Axelrod, BA, Master of Social Work Intern on Behavioral Health Team

Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW), established by Congress over thirty years ago, is Sunday, Oct. 2 through Saturday, Oct. 8. MIAW brings awareness to mental health-related issues that millions of people face to defy stigmatization, combat oppression and offer support each year during the first week of October.

Together we can partner to highlight advocacy, resources and assistance for those with mental health concerns.

When is something considered a “mental health concern?”

When someone experiences thoughts, feelings, or displays behaviors that results in distress, dissatisfaction or dysfunction. Symptoms may interfere with daily life, relationships and other areas of functioning.

Mental illnesses are very common and are found across the world and in varying cultures. Mental health issues may develop from traumatic experiences, sudden life changes, ongoing stress and oftentimes run in families.

What can we do about it?

For yourself

  1. Fulfill your most basic needs: I make sure I’ve had enough water, sleep and eat regularly.
  2. Engage in activities that bring you joy: My favorite things to do include practicing yoga and cooking new recipes.
  3. Talk to someone you trust: They can be a family member, partner or friend.
  4. Seek professional help: It is very common for folks to regularly see a therapist and psychiatrist to help manage concerns and provide a nonjudgmental space.

 Health Partnership Clinic offers affordable therapy and psychiatry services to those who seek them. To schedule an appointment, you may call 913-730-3664.

For others

  1. Be a lifelong learner: While it can be helpful to ask questions about someone’s mental health concerns, it is also beneficial to educate yourself on their specific disorder and how you can best support them.
  2. Practice partnership: As someone who is a “fixer,” I often find it helpful to ask someone if they are looking for support or solutions which allows them to hold the reigns.
  3. Take care of yourself: Supporting someone who is struggling can be difficult. You are your priority, and it is essential to prioritize your wellbeing before someone else’s.

 Who is affected?

Together for Mental HealthThe National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) provides fast facts that capture who is affected by mental disorders.

  • One in five U.S. adults experience mental illness each year
  • One in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year
  • One in six U.S. youth aged six-17 years old experience a mental health disorder each year
  • MI by the numbers:
    • 44 percent are Queer
    • 32 percent are Multiracial
    • 22 percent are white
    • 19 percent are American Indian or Alaska Native
    • 18 percent are Latinx
    • 17 percent are Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander
    • 17 percent are Black
    • 14 percent are Asian  
  • Annual prevalence among U.S. adults:
    • Anxiety Disorders: 19.1 percent (48 million)
    • Major Depression Episode: 7.8 percent (19.4 million people)
    • Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: 3.6 percent (9 million people)
    • Bipolar Disorder: 2.8 percent (7 million)
    • Borderline Personality Disorder: 1.4 percent (3.5 million people)
    • Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: 1.2 percent (3 million people)
    • Schizophrenia: <1 percent (1.5 million people)

How can we get involved in Mental Illness Awareness Week?

  • Share your own story or read others’ online at https://nami.org/personal-stories.
  • Use social media to post, read and follow. An example NAMI offers to post:
    • One in 20 U.S. adults experience severe mental illness each year, but less than two-thirds get treatment. We must improve access to quality care. #Together4MH
  • Participate in related events:
    • Thursday, October 6: National Depression Screening Day
    • Monday, October 10: World Mental Health Day

Resources for Immediate Help

Local

Johnson County Mental Health Center Crisis Line: 913-268-0156

Headquarters Counseling (KS Suicide Prevention Headquarters): 785-841-2345

National

National Suicide Hotline: Call 988

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline Chat: https://988lifeline.org/chat/

Why is that broken clock on your wall?

Christopher Woodward“A broken clock is right twice a day.”
By Christopher Woodward, LMAC, Substance Abuse Specialist

September is National Recovery Month. The aim of this month is to increase awareness and understanding of mental and substance use disorders and celebrate the people who recover.

If you have been to the HPC office, you know that the clock on the wall has been broken for about two years. That’s weird, right? Why would you have a broken clock in your office for two years? Well to be honest it never really bothered me all that much. I knew it was broken and didn’t tell time. But it was right twice a day! I just left it up and didn’t address it.

For me, the broken clock was not a problem… more of an inconvenience. However, to everyone else it was more of a problem. Were they late? Did they fall asleep? Others that came in seemed to question it. Some would look up confused like the broken clock was some hidden camera show or a trick.  After a while, I started to notice the reactions of people. Some look up and scowl, some would get confused and disoriented, some would look at the clock and look at me and just choose not to say anything.

Recovery

National Recovery MonthIn recovery, some of us leave broken clocks on the wall. We have persons, places and playthings around us that don’t work all the time. We have things on the walls of our life that we don’t need any more or that don’t benefit our recovery.

For example, keeping contacts in our phones for people that we know are using or we have used with. Keeping pictures of past “good times” in our camera roll. Not cleaning out our drawers and our hiding spots, so that we can find something that might get us in trouble or turn us back towards a lapse or a relapse.

Other people in our lives see the broken clock on the wall and can become frustrated by it. They become consumed by the question of why would that person hang on to a behavior, relationship or thought that no longer works? Hanging broken clocks is much like holding onto a relationship that we know isn’t healthy and seems to be holding us back from our recovery goals. And that unhealthy relationship is often like a clock that’s only right twice a day.

Taking Down the Broken Clock

Broken ClockMy recovery work is to take down the clock and work on it, to see what is defective about it. Is it the gear box? Does it need a battery… or is it beyond repair? Just like in treatment, we examine it. In this case, the clock in the office was beyond repair, so I had to take it down and find a new place for it, right? No, I had to separate myself from the clock, put it in the trash and move on.  Much is the same with recovery, examining why I don’t need the broken things of my past to be hanging on the walls of my life for all to see is a deep and difficult path. But once the old clock is gone and a new one is in place, my soul feels renewed… Open to new adventures where I don’t have to explain the broken clock on the wall.