November brings Gratitude

It is that time of the year when we naturally think of “Thanksgiving”. This is a time for caring family, friends, and gratitude for having both. Gratitude doesn’t need to just come once a year. Making gratitude a part of everyday can actually improve your life.

Openly appreciating those around you will cause a positive reaction from them; that causes them to respond favorably, and your brain will make the translation that you are happy, connecting with others and satisfied with your life. The more you look for the positives in others, the longer you will extend your feelings of positivity. People who feel this way treat themselves better, are more productive, and have better work, relationship, and family outcomes.

Some ways to stay in gratitude:

  1. Jot down some names of people who could use a “boost”. Think of things that you can say that may make a difference in their day. Journal your feelings about their reactions.
  2. Start your day with a “Gratitude Statement.” This can be about the beautiful fall leaves, that you are having coffee with a friend, or that you are just glad to be you.
  3. Let your best friends know when you need support. Don’t let yourself get low. Share what you are thinking and feeling. Let them bring you up… You already paid it forward!
  4. Grab a book on gratitude; there are zillions out there; there are even gratitude apps.

All in all, gratitude is life changing. Try engaging in everyday gratitude. You’ll be grateful you did.

Coming soon to Silver Oaks!

We are pleased to announce that we are adding an Addictionologist to our Medical Staff.

Other exciting news to share is that we are expanding our Gero Psych Services by adding a Gero Psychiatrist who specializes in the treatment of the older adult.

Name and start dates of these two new physicians will be announced soon.

How Can This Happen to Me?

October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

One day things seem fine. The next day you get a call from your doctor that something was amiss on your mammogram requiring a diagnostic look at what might be going on. The rest is a blur of tests and conferring with your doctor about options for your specific type of breast cancer. You didn’t even know there was more than one kind of breast cancer.

If you have ever experienced breast cancer, “emotional roller coaster” doesn’t even begin to describe the range of emotional turmoil a breast cancer diagnosis can bring. Feelings of fear, anxiety and depression are probably at the top of the list, but feeling alone and confused can add to the stress and emotional upheaval. Cancer diagnoses, of any kind, produce an array of mental health concerns.

Fear of the unknown; the “what’s next” of cancer is a genuine worry. The fears can relate to the kind of treatment options, the costs involved, the impact on your appearance, future health and the future, in general, and how to interact with family and friends in your new role as a cancer patient.

Many challenged with a cancer diagnosis don’t seek support. Many hesitate to tell close friends and family and go for months without support.

If you have received a diagnosis of cancer, know that this Breast Cancer Awareness Month, with the right support, may be a time of both personal discovery and recovery. Please let the team at Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital be the difference for you.  One call for a free assessment can be what you need to determine the level of mental health care that can reduce your fears and help you feel more in control. You don’t have to go through it alone. We will help you 24/7/365. It’s what we do. Just call us Toll-Free at 844-580-5000.

Suicide

Suicide prevention starts with recognizing the warning signs and taking them seriously. If you think a friend or family member is suicidal, there’s plenty you can do to help save a life by taking any suicidal talk or behavior seriously. It’s a myth that people who talk about suicide won’t really do it!  It’s not just a warning sign that the person is thinking about suicide — it’s a cry for help!

Common suicide risk factors include a diagnosis of mental illness, substance use disorder, previous suicide attempts, family history of suicide, trauma terminal illness, chronic pain or a recent loss or stressful life event.

Warning signs:

  • Talking about wanting to die.
  • Talking about suicide, dying or self-harm.
  • Talking about great guilt and shame.
  • Talking about being a burden to others.
  • Feeling empty, hopeless, trapped, or having no reason to live.
  • Feeling extremely sad, more anxious, agitated, or full of rage.
  • Feeling unbearable emotional or physical pain.
  • Changing behavior such as planning or researching ways to die.
  • Changing behavior by focusing on death, dying or violence. Writing poems or stories about death.
  • Changing by neglecting personal appearance.
  • Changing by frequently complaining about physical symptoms, such as stomach pains, headaches or tiredness.
  • Changing behavior by withdrawing from friends, saying goodbye giving away important items, or making a will.
  • Changing behavior by taking dangerous risks such as driving extremely fast.
  • Changing behavior by displaying severe mood swings.
  • Changing behavior by eating or sleeping more or less.
  • Changing behavior by using drugs or alcohol more often and in greater quantities.
  • Changing behavior by having a sudden sense of calm and happiness after being extremely depressed.

If these warning signs apply to you or some you know, get help as soon as possible, particularly if the behavior is new or has increased recently.

988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline:

Resources:

Facing the post-pandemic: ‘We know when something is off with our children’

Showing kids how to talk about feelings is a good first step toward protecting their mental health.

By Denise M. Baran-Unland

Nothing symbolizes facing a challenging future more than high school graduation. Bryce Atkin sits in attendance on Plainfield East’s Class of 2022 graduation. Saturday, May 21 2022, in Plainfield. Today’s young people must navigate a world where an endemic COVID is their reality. It’s up to adults to prepare them for it. (Gary Middendorf – [email protected]/Gary Middendorf)

Just two years ago, common belief often held that COVID-19 was a temporary blip on life’s radar, that temporary public life shutdowns, or a vaccine, or the right treatments would make the virus go away for good.

Now it appears that COVID-19 is here to stay. The pandemic has become endemic.

How do adults best prepare today’s youth to thrive in that new reality? What if some form of COVID-19 might be in our lives for the long term?

In July 2021, mental health experts from Yale said the way COVID-19 affected kids was unprecedented. Every child was affected, although every child didn’t have the same experience. How kids fared mentally and emotionally was partly dependent on temperament, genetics and family support, Yale mental health experts said.

High school grads this spring walk into a world unlike the one they faced as freshmen.

Also, in July 2021, the return to in-person learning was on the horizon and some felt that the return of routine and normalcy might dispel some of those mental health struggles.

But if 2021 proved anything, it’s that the world did not return to pre-pandemic normal. Mitigations went up and down; guidelines for quarantine and isolation were modified; and new variants appeared – raising new concerns and questions where no one had clear and concise answers.

If adults are struggling to adapt to an uncertain post-pandemic world, how can they help kids feel safe and secure amid all the uncertainty?

But hasn’t the world always been a place of uncertainty?

As far back as 1954, author Mary Reed Newland discussed how parents wrestled with making the world safe for their kids. Newland told the story in her book “We and our Children” about a couple who told their children the family had lots of money in its savings account; so the kids would feel secure.

Except – financial trouble knocked on their door and the couple actually had no bank account.

So what’s the answer?

One “big lesson” people learned from COVID-19 is to talk about mental health more, April A. Balzhiser, counselor and program director at Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital in New Lenox, said.

April Balzhiser, counselor, is the program director at Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital in New Lenox.

Balzhiser said people, including children, who struggled with mental health before COVID-19, struggled with it more during COVID-19 – and so did people who never seemed to have had a mental health care in the world.

Yet the more people struggled, the more people talked about mental health and the need for more available and easily accessible resources, she said. So as COVID-19 transitions from pandemic to endemic, it’s important to keep that conversation going, she said.

This is where adults should lead the way, she said.

“We need to have open conversations with our children [about feelings] so that it’s OK and safe to talk about them,” Balzhiser said.

It’s normal for people – kids and adults – to experience many feelings each day, Balzhiser said. When parents are comfortable sharing their feelings, kids can feel comfortable discussing theirs, too, Balzhiser said.

Too often, parents never realize their kids are struggling until a crisis occurs, Balzhiser said. These are not “mean parents” or “bad parents” but parents who simply didn’t know, she said.

That’s partly because mental health concerns in children remain so stigmatized, she said. And partly because of an expectation that once kids returned to their usual routines, their mental health struggles would vanish.

But the return brought its own challenges.

“Kids were being jumped right back into sports and programing at school; they were no longer doing Zoom,” Balzhiser said. “That worked very well with some kids and others struggled with that.”

Students browse the various business booths set up at the Laraway 70C 5th Grade Business Expo. Friday, May 13, 2022, in Joliet. While some kids easily transitioned to remote learning and then back to in-person learning, other students struggled with it, health experts say. (Gary Middendorf – [email protected]/Gary Middendorf)

Nevertheless, kids are resilient across the board, Balzhiser said. But they are also sponges, she said. And they absorb what’s happening around them, she said.

They pick up on their parents’ uncertainty and concern. And it’s OK for parents to say they “had a hard day today” or that they’re feeling stressed, Balzhiser said.

“I think, again, that being able to talk about what we can control, and normalizing that it’s uncertain for everyone, and we work with the things we can do in our day-to-day lives, can lead to much bigger discussions, so it doesn’t become overwhelming,” Balzhiser said.

So what are the signs their kids are struggling with their mental health?

“The best thing is just to trust your gut,” Balzhiser said. “We know when something is off with our children.”

The National Institute of Mental Health offered these signs: frequent tantrums and/or frequent and intense irritability, talking about their fears and worries; frequent stomach aches and headaches with no known medical cause; hyperactive behavior; nightmares, daytime sleepiness; sleeping too little or sleeping a great deal; disinterest in social activities, academic struggles or decline in grades; reacting out of fear.

In addition, teens might engage in risky or self-harming behaviors; drink alcohol, smoke or use drugs; diet or exercise obsessively; believe they are hearing things others do not, feel as if someone is controlling their minds; and have thoughts of suicide, according to the NIMH.

Balzhiser said not to dismiss mood changes in teens as normal adolescent behavior. Encourage teens to talk; ask the hard questions, she said. And take them to a mental health professional if you are concerned, she said.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in a 2021 study, 37.1% of high school students experienced poor mental health during the pandemic. And in the 12 months before the survey, 44.2% persistently felt sad or hopeless, 19.9% had seriously considered taking their life, and 9% had actually tried.

“It’s better to be safe than sorry,” Balzhiser said.

Silver Oaks Talks: LGBTQ Youth

No One is Immune to Mental Illness: Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital Encourages You to Reach Out for Help

New Lenox, IL — The recent suicide of performer Naomi Judd at age 76 after battling depression for years shows mental health issues do not discriminate when it comes to age, income or gender, experts say.

And during Mental Health Awareness Month in May, they want to make sure you know it’s OK to reach out for help for yourself or a loved one.

“You can look at Naomi Judd, and think, ‘Why would she be depressed? Why would she do that? She looks like she has everything,’” said April Balzhiser, MA, LCPC, ICDVP, Program Director at Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital on the campus of Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox.

“But mental illness has no boundaries.”

Teena Mackey agrees.

“People of all ages, genders, ethnicities and socio-economic groups are vulnerable to mental health issues,” said Mackey, President & Recovery Support Specialist for the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI), serving residents of Will and Grundy counties.

“Mental health challenges are not an inevitable part of aging, but there are several risk factors that we face as we get older,” she said.

Risk factors include:

  • A feeling that we are no longer relevant.
  • Reduced opportunities for participation in meaningful activities.
  • Relationships that are at risk due to loss and people who are “too busy.”
  • Challenges to physical health and the onset of disease.
  • Poverty

The COVID Effect

Balzhiser said COVID and its restrictions on personal interaction exacerbated mental health issues already there for people and fostered new feelings for those who never had any issues before.

“COVID is very hard on young people, especially teens,” she said. “We think teens should handle using remote learning well because they always are in front of a screen. But we forget the social interaction that was lost. And we are feeling the after-effects of that now.

“Staying inside, staying apart from people is exactly the opposite of what we tell people with depression and anxiety to do to help them deal with it. Our mental health suffered as a result.”

Research tells us that by socializing with others, we stimulate the chemicals in the brain that help us to better manage stress and anxiety, Mackey said.

“People who spend a lot of time alone have an increased risk of depression. We crave interactions with others and socialization can lower the risk of dementia and help us to feel happy. Meeting new people by volunteering, taking a class, facetiming with family, eating with friends, joining a club or taking an exercise class.

“Now that we have all learned about Zoom, there are more opportunities to interact with friends, loved ones or new acquaintances online,” she said.

Pay Attention

Reaching out to help others who may be suffering can be difficult, Balzhiser added.

“We are built to persevere. And there is no blood test for mental health issues; no X-rays.”

So, Balzhiser said, people have to watch for clues.

“We think of children as being resilient. But they don’t have the coping skills adults do. Yet, with depression, they may act out, or withdraw. So, we look for any changes in behavior.”

And Mackey and Balzhiser said we have to be vigilant about our own feelings; not being afraid to reach out for help because you think you’re different.

“It’s like having diabetes or another condition,” Balzhiser said. “It is an illness. And treatment is available.”

Mackey said if you begin to feel like you are struggling with depression or anxiety or other dramatic changes to how you think, feel and behave, ask for help. Suggestions include local senior services centers or your insurance provider, who can suggest practitioners, hospital emergency rooms, peer support groups and not-for-profits.

“NAMI Will-Grundy provides peer support for individuals diagnosed with a mental illness and their families,” she said. “A full description and schedule of services is provided on the website, namiwillgrundy.org, or call 815-409-7917.”

Balzhiser said those with questions can reach out to Behavioral Oaks staff as well. She hopes the passing of a high-profile person such as Naomi Judd can motivate someone to call for themselves or a loved one.

“Sometimes, this is what it takes to normalize an issue perceived to have a stigma,” she said. “Maybe, they were a big fan of Naomi Judd and realized it can happen to anyone. Because it can.”

For more information about Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital, visit silveroaksbehavioralhospital.com, or call 844-580-5000.

About Silver Cross Hospital 

Silver Cross Hospital is an independent, not-for-profit health care provider serving Will County and southwest suburban communities since 1895. Silver Cross has been recognized as a Truven Health/IBM Watson 100 Top Hospitals National Award winner for eight years and honored with an “A” Hospital Safety Grade by The Leapfrog Group. With over 4,500 employees, physicians and volunteers, Silver Cross operates a 300-bed acute care hospital and 12 satellite facilities providing outpatient services and physician offices. Silver Cross opened a state-of-the-art replacement hospital in 2012 at I-355 and Route 6 in New Lenox. In 2019, Silver Cross provided over $39 million in charity care and other community benefits. To learn more about Silver Cross Hospital or a referral to a physician on staff, visit www.silvercross.org.  Physicians on Silver Cross Hospital’s Medical Staff have expertise in their areas of practice to meet the needs of patients seeking their care. These physicians are independent practitioners on the Medical Staff and are not the agents or employees of Silver Cross Hospital. They treat patients based upon their independent medical judgment and they bill patients separately for their services.

About Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital

Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital specializes in mental health and substance use disorder treatment. Our facility is equipped with the latest safety features designed to provide patients with a comfortable environment to receive therapeutic care. Our therapy modalities are evidence-based models proven to decrease symptoms of mental illness and help patients find lasting change. Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital offers a caring environment with licensed psychiatrists, nurses, therapists and technicians who are dedicated to providing exceptional care for you, a loved one or your client. We provide mental health and substance use disorder programming for adolescents to senior adults. Additional specialized programs will be designed based on identified needs in the community. Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital stands with our community as we treat those with mental health conditions. As a community service, we offer free mental health assessments 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 844-580-5000 or walk in anytime.

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MENTAL HEALTH FACTS AND STATISTICS

OVERALL:

  • Nearly 1 in 5 American Adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year.
  • 46% of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life, and half of those people will develop conditions by the age of 14.
  • Number of US Adults with Mental Illness is 44 million.
  • Percentage of US Adults with Mental Illness is 18%.

ANXIETY:

  • Lifetime prevalence of any Anxiety Disorder is 31.6%.
  • Number of US Adults with Anxiety Disorder is 42.5 million.
  • Anxiety Disorders are among the most common Mental Illnesses in America.

DEPRESSION:

  • Major Depression is one of the most common Mental Illnesses.
  • Percent of US Adults with Major Depression is 7.1%.
  • Number of US Adults with Depression is 17.3 million.
  • Percent of Youth (aged 12-17) with Major Depression is 13%.
  • Number of Youth (aged 12-17) with Major Depression is 3.1 million.
  • Percent of Youth with Severe Depression is 9%.
  • Number of Youth with Sever Depression is 2 million.

BIPOLAR DISORDER:

  • Past year prevalence of Bipolar Disorder is 1.8%.
  • Number of US Adults with Bipolar Disorder is 3.3 million.
  • An estimated 2.5% of US Adults experience Bipolar Disorder at some time in their lives.

ADDICTION/SUBSTANCE USE DISORDER:

  • Percent of US Adults with Substance Use Disorder in the past year is 8%.
  • Number of US Adults with a Substance Use Disorder in the past year is 19 million.
  • Percent of Youth with a Substance Use Disorder in the past year is 4.6%.
  • Number of Youth with a Substance Use Disorder in the past year is 1.1 million.

POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER (PTSD):

  • Percent of People (ages 13+) in US with PTSD (lifetime prevalence) 5.7%.
  • Percent of people (ages 13+) in US (one year prevalence) 3.7%.
  • Number of US Adults with PTSD is 12 million.

SCHIZOPHRENIA:

  • Percent of US Adults with Schizophrenia is 1%.
  • Number of US Adults with Schizophrenia is 1.5 million.

SUICIDAL THOUGHTS:

  • Percent of US Adults with Suicidal Thoughts is 4%.
  • Number of US Adults with Suicidal Thoughts is 9.8 million.

TREATMENT:

  • Percent of Adults with Mental Illness who did not receive any mental health treatment is 56%.
  • Number of Adults with Mental Illness who did not receive any mental health treatment is 24.5 million.
  • Percent of Adults with Mental Illness who report they try and cannot get treatment is 20.6%.
  • Number of Adults with Mental Illness who report they try and cannot get treatment is 9 million.
  • Percent of Youth with Depression who did not receive any mental health treatment is 61.5%.
  • Number of Youth with Depression who did not receive any mental health treatment is 1.8 million.
  • Percent of Youth with Severe Depression who received some consistent treatment is 25%.
  • Number of Youths with Severe Depression who received some consistent treatment is 505,000.
  • Ratio of Individuals in a state to available mental health providers is 504 to1.

Resources:

  1. MHA – The State of Mental Health in America
  2. NIH – Schizophrenia
  3. NCBI – PMC
  4. SAMHSA

Anxiety versus Depression

Do you know the difference?

In the United States, approximately 40 million adults struggle with anxiety, and more than 16 million adults struggle with depression.

Anxiety and depression are two of the most common mental health challenges people in the U.S. face. They also cause the most confusion in distinguishing the difference between the two. For example, many people have found themselves asking questions like, “Is anxiety and depression the same thing?” and “What is the difference between anxiety and depression?”

Anxiety disorders are characterized by intense, excessive, and persistent feelings of worry, fear and dread. One of the key differences between anxiety and depression though is the difference in the way people move. Those with anxiety may appear agitated and present jerky movements or rush around to try and calm their anxious feelings.

Several different disorders fall under the anxiety umbrella. The following are the most well-known.

  • Generalized Anxiety Disorder: This disorder involves chronic feelings of anxiety and exaggerated worry; these feelings are generally unprovoked.
  • Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD): People with OCD experience recurring, unwanted thoughts (or obsessions) and/or perform repetitive behaviors (compulsions) to provide temporary anxiety relief; failure to perform these behaviors tends to increase anxiety symptoms.
  • Panic Disorder: Panic disorder involves repeated and unexpected episodes of fear or panic; these feelings are accompanied by physical symptoms like hear palpitations, chest pain, dizziness, abdominal pain, and difficulty breathing.
  • Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD): PTSD typically develops after exposure to a terrifying event in which harm may have been threatened or occurred; triggering events include assaults, natural disasters, accidents, and military combat.
  • Social Anxiety Disorder: People with Social Anxiety Disorder experience overwhelming anxiety and feelings or self-consciousness that occur during everyday social situations; it can be limited to individual situations like speaking in front of a crowd, or it can be so broad the symptoms are triggered whenever other people are around.

Depression is another common mental health disorder characterized by a persistent depressed mood. Those struggling with depression, may experience a loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, and may struggle to carry out basic activity of daily living because mood and energy levels are so low.

The most well-known type of depression is referred to as major depressive disorder. It lasts for extended periods (at least two weeks) and impacts your self-esteem and overall feelings of well-being.

In addition to major depressive disorder, there are a few other types of depression of which to be aware, including these:

  • Persistent Depressive Disorder: Those with persistent depressive disorder, symptoms last for a least two years with little to no relief.
  • Bipolar Disorder: Also known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is characterized by periods of mania (extremely high energy, limited sleep, irrational behavior, impulsiveness, etc.) followed by periods of depression) extremely low energy, excessive sleep, feelings of self-loathing, struggle to carry out basic activity of daily living, etc.).
  • Seasonal Affective Disorder: This type of depression typically occurs during the fall and winter when the seasons change, the weather cools down, and the days get shorter.

Can You Have Anxiety and Depression at the Same Time?

As far as causes go, there are a lot of similarities between anxiety and depression. Trauma, gender, and family history all play a significant role in your mental health and can increase your risk of developing the other issues.

You can experience symptoms of anxiety and depression at the same time. In fact, panic disorder and other types of anxiety disorders are often accompanied by major depressive disorder.

A recent worldwide study also showed that, of those who experienced major depression for 12 months, 41.6 percent of them also dealt with one or more anxiety disorders during the same period.

Many of the symptoms of depression and anxiety overlap with each other, so it’s understandable why these two conditions are often diagnosed simultaneously.

Be mindful of your particular symptoms and discuss them with your mental health professional for an appropriate diagnosis.

Resources:

MedlinePlus

ADAA – Facts & Statistics

Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital Talks: Depression