Monday, May 2, 2016

Do You Know What Mental Illness Feels Like?

We often hear the clinical terms used by doctors and other professionals to identify the symptoms of mental illnesses…but if someone hasn’t gone through it, would they know how to recognize it?
So often, clinical terms don’t do justice to what life with a mental illness feels like. We know that two people with the same diagnosis can experience the same symptom and describe it in very different ways. Understanding the signs of a mental illness and identifying how it can feel can be confusing—and sometimes can contribute to ongoing silence or hesitation to get help.

It’s important for people to talk about how it feels to live with a mental illness. We know that mental illnesses are common and treatable, and help is available. But not everyone knows what to look for when they are going through those early stages, and many simply experience symptoms differently. We all need to speak up early—Before Stage 4—and in real, relatable terms so that people do not feel isolated and alone.

This May is Mental Health Month; Lakes Region Consumer Advisory Board is raising awareness of the importance of speaking up about mental health, and asking individuals to share what life with a mental illness feels like by tagging social media posts with ‪#‎mentalillnessfeelslike. Posting with our hashtag is a way to speak up, to share your point of view with people who may be struggling to explain what they are going through—and to help others figure out if they too are showing signs of a mental illness.

Life with a Mental Illness is meant to help remove the shame and stigma of speaking out, so that more people can be comfortable coming out of the shadows and seeking the help they need. Whether you are in Stage 1 and just learning about those early symptoms, or are dealing with what it means to be in Stage 4, sharing how it feels can be part of your recovery.

Lakes Region Consumer Advisory Board wants everyone to know that mental illnesses are real, that recovery is always the goal, and that the best prospects for recovery come when we act Before Stage 4 (B4Stage4).

Addressing mental illnesses B4Stage4 means more than burying feelings and refusing to talk about them, and waiting for symptoms to clear up on their own. B4Stage4 means more than wishing that mental health problems aren’t real, and hoping that they will never get worse. B4Stage4 means more than thinking that someone on the edge of a crisis will always pull himself or herself back without our help, and praying that someone else will intervene before a crisis occurs.

B4Stage4 means, in part, talking about what mental illnesses feel like, and then acting on that information. It means giving voice to feelings and fears, and to hopes and dreams. It means empowering people as agents of their own recovery. And it means changing the trajectories of our own lives for the better, and helping those we love change theirs. So let’s talk about what life with a mental illness feels like, to voice what we are feeling, and so others can know they are not alone.

May is Mental Health Month

Each year millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition.

During the month of May, NAMI and participants across the country are
bringing awareness to mental health. Each year we fight stigma, provide
support, educate the public and advocate for equal care. Each year,
the movement grows stronger.

We believe that these issues are important to address all year round, but
highlighting these issues during May provides a time for people to come
together and display the passion and strength of those working to improve
the lives of all Americans whose lives are affected by mental health conditions.

1 in 5 Americans will be affected by a mental health condition in their lifetime
and every American is affected or impacted through their friends and family
and can do something to help others.
- See more at:

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Support Lakes Region Consumer Advisory Board while shopping

Amazon will donate 0.5% of the price of your eligible AmazonSmile purchases to Lakes Region Consumer Advisory Board whenever you shop on AmazonSmile.
AmazonSmile is the same Amazon you know. Same products, same prices, same service.
Support your charitable organization by starting your shopping at

Click on the link below to start your shopping:

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

For People with Mental Health Problems

If you have, or believe you may have, mental health problem, it can be helpful to talk about these issues with others. It can be scary to reach out for help, but it is often the first step to helping you heal, grow, and recover.
Having a good support system and engaging with trustworthy people are key elements to successfully talking about your own mental health.

Build Your Support System

Find someone—such as a parent, family member, teacher, faith leader, health care provider or other trusted individual, who:
  • Gives good advice when you want and ask for it; assists you in taking action that will help
  • Likes, respects, and trusts you and who you like, respect, and trust, too
  • Allows you the space to change, grow, make decisions, and even make mistakes
  • Listens to you and shares with you, both the good and bad times
  • Respects your need for confidentiality so you can tell him or her anything
  • Lets you freely express your feelings and emotions without judging, teasing, or criticizing
  • Works with you to figure out what to do the next time a difficult situation comes up
  • Has your best interest in mind

If you have, or believe you may have, a mental health problem, it may be helpful to talk about these issues with others. John Saunders, sports journalist, shares a personal story of hope and recovery from mental health problems.

Find a Peer Group

Find a group of people with mental health problems similar to yours. Peer support relationships can positively affect individual recovery because:
  • People who have common life experiences have a unique ability to help each other based on a shared history and a deep understanding that may go beyond what exists in other relationships
  • People offer their experiences, strengths, and hopes to peers, which allows for natural evolution of personal growth, wellness promotion, and recovery
  • Peers can be very supportive since they have “been there” and serve as living examples that individuals can and do recover from mental health problems
  • Peers also serve as advocates and support others who may experience discrimination and prejudice
You may want to start or join a self-help or peer support group. National organizations across the country have peer support networks and peer advocates. Find an organization that can help you connect with peer groups and other peer support.

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

11 Mental Health New Year's Resolutions

By Rheyanne Weaver HERWriter

Top of Form
New Year’s resolutions tend to focus on weight, general health and finances, but they can also extend to mental health. Experts give their mental health New Year’s resolutions suggestions for you to try this year and every year after.
Chip Coffey, the director of Outpatient Services at St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center, sent nine positive mental health resolutions for the new year through email:
1. “I will treat myself with respect and speak nicely about myself. Try taping a list of 10 positive characteristics about yourself in various places throughout the house and workplace to remind you of these things.”
2. “I resolve to be mentally healthy. In the United States, there is still a stigma about seeing a therapist. However, it is truly one of the healthiest things we can do for ourselves. A therapist gives us an unbiased ear and can also help us to understand why we do the things we do ... think of seeing a therapist as a mental health oil change.”
3. “I will be physically active on a daily basis.” Multiple studies show a link between exercise and improved mental health.
4. “I will act and not react. Many times we feel like everyone is pushing our buttons. When this happens, we are caught up in reaction. It is not that people are actually pushing buttons; it is that we became overly sensitive. If you know you’ll be around someone who says negative things, plan for this and have a list in your head of disarming statements.”
5. “I will learn to relax and enjoy. Many times we become so busy we forget how or even when to take care of ourselves. Take a yoga or meditation class. Find some activity like photography or journaling [that] is relaxing and enjoyable to you. Dedicate time to this daily, if possible, or at a minimum, weekly.”
6. “I will not define myself by a label. We often become our labels, e.g., I am depressed, I am fat, I am anxious. Drop your label; when you so it allows you to take control of the messages you have about yourself. For example, you could say, “I have depression, and today I will make sure to exercise to manage it.’”
7. “I will be mindful. Being mindful is about staying in the moment.
I cannot change yesterday; I cannot predict tomorrow, however I do have control over the here and now. So, I will be aware in the moment, and enjoy that moment.”
8. “I will work towards being the person I want to be. There is an old quote about life being a journey to be enjoyed not an obstacle to be overcome. When we see our lives as obstacles we do not enjoy life much. When we see life as a journey and a time to continue to be the person we desire to be, life is much more pleasant and enjoyable.”
9. “I will not be hard on myself if I make resolutions and do not keep them. I may want to try them later in the year. I may realize that it will take more time than I thought to work on issues and I will look at this as a good things and not a bad thing. I do not fail by trying.”
Soroya Bacchus, a psychiatrist in Calif., suggests that women look at setting healthy boundaries as a New Year’s resolution.
“This can be something that women struggle with much more than men, whether it be with their sexual partners, officemates, or children,” Bacchus said. “Boundaries are important as they protect us from being manipulated, controlled, or abused. This enables women to make choices about what they think, feel, or how they behave.”
Tina B. Tessina, a psychotherapist and author of “Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage,” said in an email that resolutions can center around removing toxic personal habits, like feeling lonely.
“Loneliness may not result from actually being alone, but more from feeling misunderstood or not valued,” Tessina said.
“People often isolate themselves because they feel inadequate in social situations. Value the friends you do have, and make new friends by attending classes or other group events where you can focus on a task or assignment. This will take the pressure off your contact with other people, and give you something in common with them.”
She said to also avoid spending too much time on the computer socializing because that doesn’t help loneliness as much.
“Make sure you schedule some time with a friend at least once a week, and if you don't have friends, then use that weekly time to take a class or join a group (for example, a book club or sports group ) which will give you a chance to make new friends,” Tessina said.

Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Not So Merry? Holiday Depression and Stress

Not So Merry? Holiday Depression and Stress

Holiday DepressionAlthough the holidays are supposed to be a time full of joy, good cheer and optimistic hopes for a new year, many people experience additional stress or seasonal "blues". Thanksgiving dinner dishes are still being cleared off the table when some of us start thinking about everything that needs to be done in the upcoming weeks. The season can be a stressful time as we try to meet all of our obligations. Things like financial stress, over-commercialization, being away from loved ones, or lack of time to prepare to make it easy to feel out-of-sync with holiday crowd.

In order to help you cope with some the stress duing the holidays here is a list of things to remember.

Coping with stress during the Holidays

  • Keep expectations for the holiday season manageable. Try to set realistic goals for yourself. Pace yourself. Organize your time. Make a list and prioritize the important activities.
  • Be realistic about what you can and cannot do. Don't put the entire focus on just one day (i.e. Thanksgiving Day). Rember that it's a season of holiday sentiment, and activities can be spread out to lessen stress and increase enjoyment.
  • Remember the holiday season does not banish reasons for feeling sad or lonely; there is room for these feelings to be present, even if the person chooses not to express them.
  • Leave "yesteryear" in the past and toward the future. Life brings changes. Each season is different and can be enjoyed in its own way. Don't set yourself up in comparing today with the "good ol' days."
  • Do something for somone else. Try volunteering some your time to help others.
  • Enjoy activities that are free, such as taking a drive to look at holiday decorations, going window shopping or making a snowperson with children.
  • Be aware of excessive drinking. It will only increase your feelings of stress.
  • Try something new. Celebrate the holidays in a new way.
  • Spend time with supportive and caring people. Reach out and make new friends, or connect with someone you haven't heard from in while.
  • Save time for yourself! Recharge your batteries! Let others share in the responsibility of planning activities.
Always remember your rights during the holiday season!

Holiday Bill of Rights

You have the right to...
  • Take care of yourself.
  • Feel mixed up emotions around the holidays.
  • Spend time alone thinking, reflecting and relaxing.
  • Say "no" to party invitations.
  • Ask for help and support from family, friends and community service agencies
  • Say "no" to alcohol, drugs...and seconds on dessert.
  • NOT to ride with a drunk driver, to take their keys away and to call a taxi for them.
  • Give gifts that are within your holiday budget.
  • Smile at angry sales people and/or rude drivers and give them a peace of your mind.
  • Enjoy your holiday the way you want.
Source: Mental Health America; Oneida Health Promotions: Holiday Survival Kit

Links and Resources

Coping With Holiday Stress ( APA Help Center)

Friday, September 25, 2015


2015 NAMIWalks NH registration is now open! Click here to create a team, join a team, register as an individual walker, or make a donation today.
Sponsorship opportunities are available – click here to learn more, email, or call 603-225-5359.