Articles & Trainings

Have you ever felt as though you need a little help getting into the spirit of the holidays?  It can be true for many of us, because let’s face it; this time of year can be rather stressful. Often times though, it is the smallest and simplest of activities that provide us joy and happiness.  And it is no different during the holidays.

So we have pulled together a list of inexpensive activities that might help lift you into that festive mood.  Pick a few that bring a smile to your face and hopefully you will experience your own little slice of the holiday spirit.

  1. Watch your favorite old holiday movies at your house.
  2. Play in the snow or make your own.
  3. Drink hot cocoa in your pj’s.
  4. Write letters to out-of-town friends and relatives.
  5. Look at old family holiday photo albums (these make for great TBTs).
  6. Make homemade potpourri to make your place smell amazing.
  7. Go ice-skating.
  8. Light an evergreen-scented candle in your room.
  9. Do holiday-themed nail art.
  10. Make a holiday playlist.
  11. Create an Elf Yourself
  12. Host an “Ugly Sweater” party.
  13. Make a jar of good things — write down all the things you’re thankful for that happened in 2015. Read them again at this time next year.
  14. Have a bonfire with friends who are in town.
  15. Donate canned goods to a local food bank.
  16. Go on an outdoor adventure and take photos of the wintry scenery.
  17. Volunteer at a nursing home’s holiday party.
  18. Go see a local school’s holiday play.
  19. Do random acts of kindness; anonymously leave notes spreading holiday cheer on people’s cars.
  20. Hang Christmas lights along your bedroom walls.

*List courtesy of: www.popsugar.com

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Sometimes the news is just plain scary. 

For most everyone, events of terror shake our foundations and change the way we view our safety and well-being. That’s the point of terror.  Anxiety happens to everyone, some more than others.  I would be lying if I said I didn’t worry and let my mind move into the “what if’s”.  Any good worrier can move easily from scenario to scenario, each one worse than the other. 

Worry can be a gutter ball of a thought that always moves us to the negative, the scary and the catastrophic.  This “catastrophizing” can be no joke.  Here are some strategies to manage your anxiety about terrorism, if you find yourself in a dark and negative place over events in the world or just your own corner of it.

  1. Stay In The Day 
    First, stay in the day, the “what if’s are all about things you can’t control. Try to learn when you are doing this and listen for your voice saying “what if”.  That doesn’t mean don’t plan or strategize if you need to, but doing the “what if’s” is that same as spinning and going nowhere.  When you find it happening, remind yourself to only focus on the here and now…the things you can control.  The Serenity Prayer is great for calling you back to helpful thinking.
  1. Consider The Odds
    Another helpful strategy is to consider the odds.  With all the chaos in the world people are still living long, productive and reasonably happy lives, putting one foot in front of the other.  Odds are that things we do every day like driving, working, or even eating a sandwich can be dangerous, and more likely to affect us than an act of terror in our town.  
  1. Find Comfort in Connecting
    Lastly, in uncertain times people often find great comfort connection to those things that bring their lives meaning; faith, family and interests. Don’t worry alone.  Share your concerns and allow others to help.  Some people, both children, and adults, sometimes find that they can’t stop the spinning “What if’s… the Gutterball Thoughts… or the Catastrophizing.  That’s exactly when a counselor can help.  Everyone worries, but the worries don’t need to control your life.

Author: Luanne Starr Rhoades, LCPC, LADC, CCS, Health Affiliates Maine

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According to Maine’s Attorney General’s Office, the evident opiate epidemic in Maine has resulted in 50 more deaths in 2014 from just 4 years ago.

In response to WMTW’s series on Maine’s Heroin Epidemic this month, Outpatient Therapy Director Luanne Starr Rhoades of Health Affiliates Maine comments, “There are a lot of reasons Maine is struggling with this epidemic.  In the not too distant past, physicians felt freer to treat their patient’s pain with opiates. In many cases, it was too much, for too long; and some people became addicted.”

Rhoades elaborates, “Now, with increased scrutiny of prescribing practices, physicians are hesitant to prescribe opiates for pain.  Left to their own devices, some people in pain have turned to Heroin and opiate medications sold on the street.  Criminal activity of stealing and diverting prescribed medications also happens.  Street drugs, and especially heroin, are abundant and relatively inexpensive. The supply of opiates and other drugs come into Maine right up the 95 corridor from Boston and New York.   As a result, we are now seeing our neighbors, co-workers and friends impacted by these drugs like never before”.

According to the Maine Office of Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services, in 2014, nearly seven out of ten overdose deaths involved an opiate. And since 2012, the numbers of deaths involving heroin and or morphine have more than doubled.

Getting help.

These are very alarming statistics, and many are wondering what we can do to combat this.  For those families who want to know how to help their loved one overcome this, there are some options they can consider.  For instance, doing an online search of Intensive Outpatient Programs (IOP) is a likely first step towards getting clean.

There are also Medication Assisted Treatment options for opiate addiction which are available in Maine in the form of Methodone and Saboxone prescribed by a physician.  Nevertheless, even after moving beyond the physical dependency and the cravings the reasons behind the abuse often are still there.  Seeking therapy from a substance abuse counselor can help individuals work through all of the struggles that lead them to using.

What to watch for.

Some signs and signals we can all watch for, that might mean someone is struggling with an opiate addiction:

  • Social withdrawal from family & loved ones
  • Extreme alterations in mood
  • Weight loss, nausea, diarrhea & vomiting
  • Continued use of the opiate, even after pain has subsided

You can get a complete list of warning signs and other useful information on opiate addiction at:  http://www.addictionhope.com/opiates

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Daylight Savings Time began on November 1st this year. 

The first Sunday of the month. There are over 70 countries all over the world that use Daylight Savings Time. That means that over a billion people are affected by the changes in time twice a year! Not only that, but the dates that Daylight Savings Time starts have also changed over the years.

But what happens to our bodies?

Over a 24-hour cycle, our bodies release chemicals that translate to the time of day. The time change affects our bodies. Ever noticed how going to bed late on weekends affects getting back on schedule on Mondays? The same thing happens when getting on an airplane and changing time zones. Changing time zone means adjusting to a difference in time. This same thing happens during Daylight Savings Time. Daylight Savings Time can disrupt our internal Circadian Rhythm – or our internal biological clock – and interfere with the amount of melatonin which our bodies produce for sleep. Melatonin is made by the body when there is a decrease in light playing a role in whether we feel sleepy or wide awake. When it is darker our body continues to release melatonin causing us to feel sleepy.

For adults and children

The transition of getting up an hour earlier can be difficult to adjust to. While getting used to change in their sleep pattern, most people react by feeling sluggish, tired and fatigued. Reactions to being tired can show as an increase in being seen as “cranky”, irritable, easily frustrated, less alert, a decrease in concentration and mood changes. This can lead to difficulties performing tasks that normally would not be as difficult – like doing school work, a job, or driving. Some studies suggest that there are more heart attacks brought on by the stress accompanying the change. (If you are affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder, the change in seasons and decrease in light can have an added impact).

For teens

Teens require an average of nine hours of sleep and if they haven’t slept long enough by going to bed too late, they feel “perpetually drowsy”. This affects their performance at school with their ability to pay attention and to learn.

What can be done to help adjust to this change in time?

It is very helpful to be proactive and prepared. Discussing the change ahead of time whether with family members, friends or colleagues. If your child has a lot of difficulty with transitions, talk to them about it. Remember, losing one hour may not seem like much, but it still affects our bodies and our routines. You might want to:

  • Talk to the teacher at school, the school bus driver and with your spouse as appropriate to your situation. This helps everyone and the family get used to the idea that a change is coming.

  • For some, getting clothing ready the night before, organizing everything that is needed for school or work is helpful.

  • Going to bed earlier and giving some time for waking up completely in the morning increases alertness and mental acuity.

  • Be prepared to feel tired, sluggish or fatigued when getting into the car and take a few extra minutes to look both ways before driving.
    Even if you feel fine, others may not be as prepared as you are!

  • Be prepared for having less daytime so having some activities ready can be helpful.

  • Children still have a lot of physical energy that they may not use if they cannot stay out after dark.

Parents Try This

Making a list of some activities your child or children can do inside to get that energy out is helpful like:

  • Play tag
  • Make an indoor fort
  • Play hide n’ seek
  • Jump rope
  • Do yoga
  • Exercises

Or can you add going swimming after school, going to the basketball court, or ice rink in the winter? Your child or children can help with ideas then put them in a jar and have your child pick one every day.  Just give them time to be physically active then time to wind down.

For You

Adults need the same things, so looking into what is available in your community may be helpful. How about:

  • Walking/jogging trails
  • The YMCA
  • Are there local swimming pools? Many motels are now offering swimming pool service for a fee (some even include the exercise room)
  • Or look at adult education programs that involve exercise.  

Finally, if there are symptoms of depression or any serious mental health concerns please contact a mental health provider for assistance. For those who are still interested in learning more I have attached the following articles:

http://www.businessinsider.com/health-effects-of-daylight-saving-time-2014-10

http://wgno.com/2015/10/27/falling-back-why-do-we-change-our-clocks-for-daylight-saving-time/

Author: Cynthia Booker-Bingler, LCSW, Health Affiliates Maine

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 “To those feeling hopeless, no matter how bad you are hurting, we want you to know …you are not alone and you matter.” 

In light of the recent news from the Brunswick Police Department regarding missing 30 year old Lisa Cox, who is believed to have committed suicide, Executive Director Andrea Krebs of Health Affiliates Maine reflects on her tragic passing “While we do not understand all the facts that lead up to someone choosing to take their own life, we do understand the struggle and bleakness one may feel..  Painful events or feelings of despair, can cause individuals to feel like there is no other option” says Krebs.  “To those feeling hopeless, no matter how bad you are hurting, we want you to know …you are not alone and you matter.” 

According to the Maine CDC, 24% of all deaths in Maine are considered to be suicide and is the 11th leading cause of death in the nation.  Despite the dire statistics, there is help out there and warning signs to help prevent suicide.  “Speaking to a supportive person or professional and developing a safety plan for those more challenging times, are important first steps” says Krebs. 

Signs that all of us can pay attention to that may mean someone is at risk of suicide include talking about:

  • wanting to die or kill oneself
  • feeling hopeless or having no reason to live
  • feeling trapped or in unbearable pain
  • being a burden to others

You can get a complete list of warning signs and other useful information at Suicide Prevention Life line: www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org

If you or someone you know is at risk of harming themselves, please contact the statewide crisis hotline at 1-888-568-1112 or the suicide prevention lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.

Based in Auburn, Health Affiliates Maine is a growing statewide substance abuse and mental health agency providing therapy, case management and psychiatric assessment and treatment services.  To learn more about Health Affiliates Maine visit: www.HealthAffiliatesMaine.com

Andrea Krebs is available for further comment – she can be reached at (207) 333-3278

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(Auburn/Lewiston, Maine) October 4 – October 10, 2015 is Mental Illness Awareness Week. Health Affiliates Maine a statewide substance abuse and mental health agency, and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) of Maine are both calling on the public to learn the symptoms of mental illnesses such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia and to “go stigma free”.

To “go stigma free”, is to see the person, not the illness; to listen and to understand. “It is also a time to free everyone from stereotypes that too often discourages people from getting help when they need it.” says Executive Director, Andrea Krebs of Health Affiliates Maine.

One in five adults experience mental illness every year; however, 50 percent of chronic mental illness begins by age 14 and three-quarters by age 24. Although many people today understand that mental illness is a medical condition, individuals and families affected by mental illness are still often subjected to stigma and discrimination.  “This is a time to raise public awareness about mental illness,” says Krebs, “NAMI and Health Affiliates Maine hope everyone will educate themselves about mental illness and share what they learn with family, friends and others.”

NAMI Maine provides support, education and advocacy for any individual affected by mental health concerns. Find out more by visiting www.namimaine.org or by contacting the Help Line at (800) 464-5767.  Health Affiliates Maine offers a variety of mental health services, to make a referral, an appointment or for more information about Health Affiliates Maine call 1-877-888-4304 or visit www.healthaffiliatesmaine.com.

 

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(Auburn, Maine) Health Affiliates Maine a statewide substance abuse and mental health agency is thrilled to announce they exceeded this year’s fundraising goal for the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in Maine by over $400. With the help of their staff and clinicians, a total of $2,411 was raised to support NAMI Maine. 

Health Affiliates Maine also had a walk team of more than 30 participants at the recent NAMI Maine Walk held at Spring Point in Portland.  Friend and fellow mental illness awareness supporter, Kevin Mannix News Center forecaster and author of Weathering Shame, joined the HAM team.  “Mental health struggles, like depression, can impact anyone” says Andrea Krebs, Executive Director of Health Affiliates Maine.  “Contrary to popular belief, seeing a therapist is not something to be ashamed of.  Everyone needs help now and then and you are not alone”.

HAM has been both a long time sponsor and fundraiser for the annual NAMI Maine Walk, where both agencies share a commitment to raising awareness and ending the stigma associated with mental illness.

Based in Auburn, Health Affiliates Maine offers a variety of mental health services, including therapy, case management and psychiatric assessment and treatment services. To make a referral, an appointment or for more information about Health Affiliates Maine call: 1-877-888-4304 or visit www.healthaffiliatesmaine.com.

NAMI Maine provides support, education and advocacy for any individual affected by mental health concerns. Find out more by visiting www.namimaine.org or by contacting the Help Line at (800) 464-5767.

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(Auburn, Maine) Health Affiliates Maine (HAM) is proud and honored to announce it has been awarded a contract with the Maine Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to provide services to members of the Maine National Guard.  This is provided through the Maine Suicide Prevention Program’s Building Caring Connections in Maine grant.  The aim of the grant is to increase suicide prevention, intervention, and postvention efforts in at-risk youth and young adult populations. The Department of Defense (DoD) has statistically higher numbers of suicides among service members. HAM has been selected by the CDC to provide services to the Maine National Guard as a component of the DoD.

Health Affiliates Maine is a growing statewide substance abuse and mental health agency, providing mental health and substance abuse counseling, case management and psychiatric assessment and treatment services.  Through this contract mental health and substance abuse services will be available at no cost to active members of the Maine National Guard who are without health insurance or who cannot find a provider for their insurance in their area. Another aspect of the contract will enable HAM to provide suicide awareness training for Guard family members. “Building Caring Connections in Maine” is a three year Garrett Lee Smith grant funded through the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration.  

HAM was awarded this contract by the CDC based on their statewide network of clinicians, case managers and psychiatric providers. HAM has an established relationship with the Maine National Guard and has made strong efforts to provide their affiliate clinicians with opportunities to increase their understanding of the unique challenges military service members and their families face. As a result, HAM will help reduce the obstacles and barriers for service members in receiving much needed mental health and substance abuse treatment. 

To make a referral, an appointment or for more information call 1-877-888-4304 or visit www.healthaffiliatesmaine.com/referral    

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2015 Fourth Annual Consortium

Health Affiliates Maine (HAM) recently celebrated their 4th Annual Consortium, which honored HAM’s fifth year as an Agency and was a time to celebrate all of HAM’s nearly 400 mental health professionals and staff.  

The event kicked off with a Keynote address from Kevin Mannix and his social worker wife Linda Rota.  Together they courageously spoke about their book Weathering Shame, which addresses their experiences with shame & stigma around mental illness.  Their goal being to raise awareness and be inspired to benefit from self discovery.  The event included over 30 door prizes, several awards, training’s, networking opportunities and tons of delicious food.

 

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