Saturday, December 22, 2012

Mental Health Day

Working the 9-5 grind can become quite overwhelming week in and week out. But how can you recharge your batteries? Why not just take a day off.

A survey by ComPsych, a provider of employee assistance programs, found that 82 percent of employees admitted taking a mental health day. You may not think this is the best option but taking a mental health day can help you remain productive at work and help you relax.

When should a mental health day be taken?

There are foursigns that you need a break from work, said Brandon M. Smith an expert in workplace health.

1. You’re suddenly not sleeping well or have developed insomnia.
2. You can’t shake last week’s stress. In other words, your level of stress is greater than your current stressors.
3. You’re snippy with your spouse, your kids or your co-workers.
4. You feel a general sense of apathy and don’t care about your work.

So what do you do on you mental health day?

The point of a mental health day is not like a normal day off where you go out on the town with your friends or family, the point is to relax your mind and body and truly recharge your body. A big thing you can do is catch up on sleep, especially if you have been feeling exhausted at work. Another thing to treat yourself to is a spa day, get a relaxing massage, and let your daily strains release from your body. Another way is to go see your family! If work has you busy on the weekends and you haven’t had a chance to see your close friends and family, taking a day to talk and spend time with them may be important. You can even simply curl up and read a book and drink some coffee! To take a successful mental health day you can do anything that helps you relax both your mind and body.

With stress listed as a top source for work related problems, APA or The American Psychological Association found that 75 percent of Americans  experience physical symptoms from stress. So while you may think a day off may stress you out more and put you further back in your work, it may be the best option to further productivity down the road. Plus some employers now even include mental health days in their benefits. gives us a checklist about how to effectively take a mental health day!

·         Don’t spend the day feeling guilty. It won’t help you recharge.
·         Pick your day smartly, and be respectful of your team. It is unprofessional to take a mental health break on the day of a big meeting or presentation.
·         Call (or email, or text) early. Your boss may need to plan, or re-plan, the day given your absence. This is easier for to do if he or she knows first thing, not late-morning.
·         Don’t lie. You don’t have to call it a mental health day. But rather than making up fake medical conditions, symptoms, or family crises, you can tell your boss you aren’t feeling great, and you believe you will be most effective if you stay home for the day and return to work after some rest.
·         Make sure you recharge. You know yourself best. Whether it’s lunch with a friend, a pedicure, a day outdoors, or curling up with a new book or the entire first season of Glee, do something for yourself.
·         Come back ready to go. Chances are you’ll have a bit to catch up on after a day off, but show up ready for it.

If you think you need a mental health day do not be afraid to ask for one. Being stressed at work can cause a dip in productivity and can cause apathy towards your job. Simply taking a day off can help recharge your batteries and improve your mood.

Don’t forget to follow us on Twitter for daily updates about Preferred Family Healthcare and news about mental health.

-Maxwell Law

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Binge Drinking and You

While binge drinking is typically thought of as something youth and young adults, especially college students, participate in, data from the 2010 Behavioral Risk Factor Surveillance System (BRFSS) shows that this behavior is also widespread among older adults. More than 38 million U.S. adults binge drink about 4 times a month, and the largest number of drinks per binge is on average 8. While the age group of 18 to 34 year olds has the most binge drinkers, people 65 years and older binge drink most often.

Binge drinking is defined as a pattern of drinking that brings a person’s blood alcohol concentration (BAC) to 0.08 grams percent or above. This typically happens when a woman consumes 4 or more drinks and when a man consumes 5 or more drinks, in about 2 hours. According to the CDC most people who binge drink are not alcoholics.

Binge drinking is a dangerous public health problem and contributes to over 54 different injuries and diseases, from car crashes and violence to sexually-transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies. The chance of getting sick and dying from alcohol problems greatly increases for those who binge drink more often. According to the 2010 BRFSS, binge drinking is most common in the Midwest. In Missouri the estimated number of adults who binge drink ranges from 16.8% to 18.6% and the average largest number of drinks within a short period of time among binge drinkers ranges from 7.8 drinks to 9 drinks.

Everyone can help prevent binge drinking by choosing to limit the number of drinks they consume and to let others know the dangers of binge drinking. The U.S. Dietary Guidelines on alcohol consumption recommend no more than 1 drink per day for women and no more than 2 drinks per day for men.

Pregnant women and underage youth should not drink alcohol.

When you come to the end

of your rope,

tie a knot and hang on.

-Franklin D. Roosevelt

By Tina Stevens

About the Author: Tina Stevens is a Prevention Secretary with Preferred Family Healthcare. The prevention team works with coalitions throughout the Northern 27 counties in Missouri. She attend fairs and events to distribute information about ATOD (Alcohol, Tobacco and Other Drugs) to bring awareness to our communities. In July 2012 she joined the Healthcare Home team as their secretary/care coordinator. Healthcare Home is a fairly new program in the State of Missouri that is combining Mental Health and Physical Health of our consumers to treat the whole person.

Friday, December 7, 2012

A Heart Full Of Thanks

During this season of holidays and festivities, adolescents in our residential programs can tend to form bleak outlooks as they find themselves displaced from families and celebrations they may otherwise be a part of.   

Substance use creates consistent problems within communities as it rips individuals from their homes, peer associations, communities, academic supports, churches, youth organizations, sports, clubs, and other connections.  

While in the recovery program, our adolescents are learning to rebuild these connections, as well as form new connections to their communities to help sustain their recovery efforts.  As a part of the month of November, Adolescents at the Kirksville site engaged in a three-week art program addressing what gratitude means, and how to identify things in their lives they have taken for grated prior to engaging in programs of recovery.

In our first week of exploring gratitude, clients were asked to define gratitude.  Various responses were given including being thankful for things that they have, etc, but one of my favorite responses came from a 16 year old female who stated, “Gratitude is respecting the things that you have, and putting your heart into the things you are glad for.”  Clients were then asked to generate a list of 50 things they were grateful for, which, despite initial resistance toward, was a very insightful activity for them.  Based on these lists, individuals created gratitude collages, reflecting these things in life they have come to “respect” and “put their heart into”.  Here are a few examples of what our clients came up with:

The following week in group, clients reviewed their definition of gratitude, and were again asked to identify at least one thing they were thankful for that day.  Then, a challenge was impressed upon them that if they were not given any art supplies for the group, and were simply given items found in the trash and recycled materials, would they be able to come up with and create an original piece of art?  Essentially, they were challenged to make something out of nothing.  A lot of clients who come to our program come at a very low point in their life where they have lost so many things.  So, when they enter into a recovery program, they quite literally feel as though they have “nothing” left.  This project enabled our clients to piece together bit by bit a project they initially had no vision for, with tools, concepts, and materials they were given, much like the stages and phases of their individual recovery. 

On the third week of our thanksgiving, I originally anticipated our clients to be very bored with addressing the concept of gratitude, as Thanksgiving was a few days away and the concept of “giving thanks” had been drilled into their heads for the past few weeks.  However, I was quite surprised by the hearts and attitudes of clients who were genuinely examining things in their lives they had been taking for granted, and ways they were willing to address and repair these severed relationships and ties.  In this week of exploring gratitude, clients were asked to create an original rap, poem, or short story, depicting thankfulness.  Here is one example from a 16 year old female, who wrote about what Thanksgiving means to her:

Thanksgiving Poem
I wake up to the smells I enjoy.

My friends and family gathering

with joy.

Spending quality time is the best,

with the ones you have missed.

Oh how I feel so blessed.

The turkey is basting,

it will be quite tasty.

I’m quiet excited for our meal.

We dish our plates, while we conversate,

about how our lives have been.

It’s been so long…

That I’ve been gone,

and I realize how much

I have missed…

So on this Thanksgiving,

I thank God for bringing

me and my family back together…

In moving forward through the holiday season, the Kirksville Adolescents are going to be moving into a time of “giving back,” and are focusing on ways they can take things they are learning not to take for granted, and pour back out into the lives and programs of individuals in their lives and communities.

-Natasha VanderWeide 

About the author: Natasha VanderWeide is the A.R.T.C. Regional Coordinator for PFH's Central Region.