Mental Health Cops Help Reweave Social Safety Net In San Antonio

Mental Health Cops Help Reweave Social Safety Net In San Antonio

“[20 years ago], the police were repeatedly arresting the same people; many not only had a serious mental illness but were also addicted to drugs or alcohol and were often homeless. And whether they went to the jail or the ER, it was expensive for everyone — the jails, the hospitals and the police department that had to pay for overtime while cops waited at the hospital.

San Antonio’s response was to require all officers to take a 40-hour course called Crisis Intervention Training – to learn how to handle mental health crises. But even with strong programs, there’s only so much that training alone can do; there’s still the problem of where to take patients [with serious mental illness].

San Antonio tackled that problem, too. People who commit a felony still go to jail, regardless of their mental status. And those who need extensive medical care are taken to the hospital. But San Antonio built another option: the Restoration Center, a separate facility with a full array of mental and physical health services. 

San Antonio and Bexar County have transformed their mental health system into a program considered a model for the rest of the nation. Today, the jails aren’t full, and the city and county have saved $50 million over the past five years.”

This is your hopeful story for the day, and between the Middle East & Ferguson, MO, not to mention the Ebola virus, we need all the good news we can get.

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If you need help…

The Bloggess

If you are considering suicide or know someone who is, please call a suicide hotline.  They can help.  They’re free.  They’ve saved and helped so many of us, including me.  Click here for a link to suicide crisis organizations around the world.  They listen.

I find it very triggering to talk about a humorist who has lost his battle with mental illness so I’m not going to write about this.   I’m practicing self-care by making an appointment with my therapist and avoiding triggers and watching bad tv.  I was, however, asked by a lot of people if I would share the post I once wrote about how the full moon makes me feel unbalanced and more willing to believe the lies that depression tells, and considering we’re dealing with a super-moon right now then maybe reading it will help if you’re feeling vulnerable yourself.  So it’s here…

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No Time to Think

No Time to Think

“When people aren’t super busy at work, they are crazy busy exercising, entertaining or taking their kids to Chinese lessons. Or maybe they are insanely busy playing fantasy football, tracing their genealogy or churning their own butter. And if there is ever a still moment for reflective thought — say, while waiting in line at the grocery store or sitting in traffic — out comes the mobile device. So it’s worth noting a study published last month in the journal Science, which shows how far people will go to avoid introspection.

In 11 experiments involving more than 700 people, the majority of participants reported that they found it unpleasant to be alone in a room with their thoughts for just 6 to 15 minutes.

Moreover, in one experiment, 64 percent of men and 15 percent of women began self-administering electric shocks when left alone to think. These same people, by the way, had previously said they would pay money to avoid receiving the painful jolt.

It didn’t matter if the subjects engaged in the contemplative exercise at home or in the laboratory, or if they were given suggestions of what to think about, like a coming vacation; they just didn’t like being in their own heads.”

Mind-boggling. When’s the last time you took fifteen minutes to self-reflect, to slow down, to contemplate? I’m going to try to make more of a habit of doing this myself, especially since,

“Suppressing negative feelings only gives them more power, leading to intrusive thoughts, which makes people get even busier to keep them at bay. The constant cognitive strain of evading emotions underlies a range of psychological troubles such as obsessive-compulsive disorder, anxiety, depression and panic attacks, not to mention a range of addictions. It is also associated with various somatic problems like eczema, irritable bowel syndrome, asthma, inflammation, impaired immunity and headaches.”

Now that is something to think about.

When Work Becomes A Haven From Stress At Home

When Work Becomes A Haven From Stress At Home

“Moms who worked full time reported significantly better physical and mental health than moms who worked part time, research involving more than 2,500 mothers found. And mothers who worked part time reported better health than moms who didn’t work at all.

Working and juggling family responsibilities can be stressful. But can work, despite its demands, be less stressful than the alternative?

Mothers who worked longer hours had more juggling to do. They had more demands on their time and more stress. How could they possibly be in better physical and mental health?”

I was actually surprised by this survey; I expected that part time work would be the least stressful alternative. Looking forward to seeing more research in this field.

Tarred and Feathered: Help Wanted

Tarred and Feathered: Help Wanted (Apr 2014)

“There’s one group of people that is universally tarred and feathered in the United States and most of the world. We never hear from them, because they can’t identify themselves without putting their livelihoods and reputations at risk. That group is pedophiles. It turns out lots of them desperately want help, but because it’s so hard to talk about their situation it’s almost impossible for them to find it. Reporter Luke Malone spent a year and a half talking to people in this situation, and he has this story about one of them.”

I was one of many thousands (millions?) of Americans stuck in traffic last night driving home at the end of a holiday weekend. Luckily I had plenty of episodes of This American Life to catch up on, and this segment especially was one I had to share with you. I would encourage you to try to listen to this even if (especially if) it makes you uncomfortable. Because it definitely made me uncomfortable, but I’m better for having heard it.

There’s a moment.

“I’m writing this to remind myself of the light. Of the dazzle. Of the fact that it’s worth trudging through the muck because the way out is so much better than you can remember. It’s like the first shower after a week in the woods, or the sun on your skin after a month of night. I’m writing this because I know I’ll be in dark places again and I’ll forget how wonderful it is to emerge. I’m writing to remind you that if you’re struggling now, it will be good again. It will be so much better than your lying, forgetful brain remembers. And I’m writing to tell you that if – right this moment – you are healthy and well then you should stand up and do something wonderful to celebrate it. Go walk barefoot on the grass. Treat yourself to a good book. Call or visit someone you love. Make plans for a trip. Eat a chocolate ice cream bar. Enjoy the sun.

And if you don’t see the sun right now, keep trudging. It’s there. It’s blindingly magnificent. And we’re waiting for you. Promise.”

The Bloggess

Several weeks ago I had surgery to stitch up a hernia in my stomach.  It was supposed to be very simple but the recovery for me was horrific.  Worse than labor, or gallbladder surgery, or stepping on a floor made of loose LEGOs.  I had complications and developed a seroma, which is a “tumor-like collection of serum from damaged blood and lymphatic vessels after significant tissue disruption or trauma.”  It sounds worse than it is but it hurts like a bastard and I’d end each day exhausted and teary and unable to take complete breaths without flinching.  I might need more work done to fix it but they often go away on their own so my doctor decided to wait.  So we’ve been waiting.  And this weekend I was able to walk around and leave the house.  And Monday I could sit up from laying down without wanting to scream.  And Tuesday…

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Running as Therapy

Running as Therapy

“As I was helping my mother pack up her parents’ house, I found myself too drained to move and lay down on the floor and sobbed. My mother suggested I try therapy. I signed up for a 10-mile race instead.

Training for the Ocean Drive 10-Miler became my release valve. When I was running, there were no phones, no texts, no emails. On the road, work crises could not reach me. While pounding out miles in the pouring rain, I was grateful that it was raining so no one could see me cry.”

Wonderful, moving essay. When you find yourself trapped in a dark place, moving your body helps you get out of it. Any kind of routine helps; it gives you something to plan for, something to accomplish.

I couldn’t post this without linking to The Oatmeal comic, The Terrible and Wonderful Reasons Why I Run Long Distances. Because Blerch.

Sidenote: This is also about me motivating myself to get back out there and start enjoying this gorgeous Spring weather by running with my dog.