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.

###

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

Message from Scott Hullinger, Chief Executive Officer of Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital

We Need to Talk: Suicide Is Preventable

Scott Hullinger

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and licensed caregivers from Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital want those affected by thoughts of suicide or the loss of a loved one to know that they are not alone, and help is only a call away.

At Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital, we strive to provide resources to individuals, family members, friends, and the community for addressing mental health conditions and improving quality of life. We are dedicated to meeting the behavioral health and substance abuse needs in the community.

According to the World Health Organization, suicide is among the three leading causes of death for those aged 15-44 and second-leading cause of death in those 10-24 years of age. With nearly 1.4 million Americans attempting suicide annually, this accounts on average for nearly 132 Americans dying by suicide each day.

As September comes to a close and October starts National Depression and Health Screening Month, please watch my video on suicide awareness, including the importance of knowing the warning signs and how to help. And remember, the key to mental health is being comfortable talking about it.

As a community service, Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital offers free mental health assessments 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 844-580-5000 or walk-in anytime.

We Need to Talk: Suicide is Preventable

For decades, suicide was not something to be talked about by families and friends affected by the devastating loss.

Because of this and the stigma attached to mental illness, we learned too late that those who chose suicide were afraid to confide in others as well. Or maybe they felt there was no one in whom they could confide.

September is Suicide Prevention Awareness Month, and licensed caregivers from Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital on the campus of Silver Cross Hospital in New Lenox want those affected by thoughts of suicide or the loss of a loved one to know that they are not alone, and help is only a call away.

“Here at Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital, we strive to provide resources to individuals, family members, friends, and the community for addressing mental health conditions and improving quality of life. We are dedicated to meeting the behavioral health and substance abuse needs in the community,” says Scott Hullinger, Chief Executive Officer, Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital.

According to the World Health Organization, suicide is among the three leading causes of death for those aged 15-44 and second-leading cause of death in those 10-24 years of age. Experts also say lesbian, gay and bisexual youth are four times more likely to attempt suicide than straight youth. Transgender adults are nearly 12 times more likely to attempt suicide than the general population.

With nearly 1.4 million Americans attempting suicide annually, this accounts on average for nearly 132 Americans dying by suicide each day.

Everyone has unique experiences throughout their lives, and these experiences affect everyone differently. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), knowing the signs of suicide and being able to recognize them can successfully prevent an attempt. These signs can include, but are not limited to:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Losing interest in activities
  • Feelings of hopelessness/helplessness
  • Talking about death or suicide
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Saying goodbye to family and friends

Suicide is preventable even if it does not feel like it. Being an advocate for those in need can make all the difference. There is a lot that each of us can do to prevent suicide. Some of the things that you can do to help may include:

  • Seek help for your loved one if you are worried
  • Listening
  • Respond to crisis quickly
  • Offer support and help
  • Keep them safe
  • Stay connected

Suicide is an attempt to escape suffering that can feel unbearable. Despite the individual’s desire for the pain to stop, most individuals that have or experience suicidal thoughts or attempts, feel deeply conflicted about ending their own lives. This major public health concern can be complicated and tragic. However, we know this can be preventable. Knowing the warning signs and how to help can save lives.

NAMI offers these informational resources:

As a community service, Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital offers free mental health assessments 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Call 844-580-5000 or walk-in anytime.

Silver Oaks CEO: Pandemic challenges may lead to greater acceptance of mental health Issues

Despite all the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic during the past year, Scott Hullinger, CEO of Silver Oaks Behavioral Hospital in New Lenox, believes the flexibility and resiliency shown during the crisis, both of providers and their clients, could lead to long-term successes.

“This past year has been unprecedented in so many ways,” said Hullinger, a licensed clinical social worker with extensive experience in the inpatient and outpatient behavioral health services field.

“None of us has been through a pandemic before. It was critical that we adapt and find new ways of helping people. And we did.”

“Following safety guidelines from the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Silver Oaks continued providing assessments and treatment during the pandemic,” he said.

Additionally, Hullinger said even technologically challenged people like himself became “avid Zoomers,” and providers adapted to offer one-on-one Telehealth sessions, and even group sessions via Zoom.

“Keeping those lines of communication open are critical,” he said. “We encourage our clients not to isolate. And what happens? A quarantine. We had to get creative. People were scared.”

“The stress of the quarantine – the loss of jobs and income while having to help their children with schoolwork – not only added stress for those already suffering,” Hullinger said, “but brought in a new group of those who possibly had not fully understood anxiety and depression before.”

“But even if they didn’t,” he said, “chances are pretty good they know someone who suffers from mental health issues.”

“One in five adults in the nation experiences some form of mental illness each year,” Hullinger said. “The problem is, less than half seek treatment.” The overall suicide rate in the U.S. has increased by 35 percent since 1999, and suicide is now the second leading cause of death among those ages 10 to 34 and the 10th leading cause of death overall in the U.S.

“A big problem is the stigma associated with mental illness. It has gotten better over the years, but it’s still there. We have to let people know what they are feeling likely is common and is treatable by mental health professionals.”

“Education is the key to easing the stigma,” he said. “At one time, other illnesses were only whispered about, while now people are open and readily seek treatment.”

“The other problem with helping those in need is a lack of mental health providers. Citing statistics from the National Alliance on Mental Illness,” he said, “55 percent of U.S. counties do not have a single practicing psychiatrist.”

“And while that number is improving,” Hullinger said, “it could take any years for the number of providers to catch up with the need.”

“We have to find a way to let people know there are all kinds of jobs in the mental health field,” he said. “Not all are at hospitals. Some are in schools, in mobile units and clinics.”

Hullinger hopes those who may have experienced anxiety, depression and other mental health issues during the pandemic will be more likely to reach out for help, and maybe encourage others to do the same.

“And we may not fully understand the effects of the pandemic stressors for years,” he added.

“As things continue to open up, I don’t expect people to be OK immediately. I believe it will be a long process. But it’s a step in the right direction.”

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 us at (844) 580-5000 or walk-in anytime.