Mental Health

A Tribute to Robin Williams

Posted on by Diane in Adult Therapy, Counseling, index, Mental Health | Leave a comment

Countless touching comments, stories, and memories of Robin Williams have been shared this week, and I feel compelled to write as well on a topic many struggle to discuss: suicide. I have personally been touched by three individuals I knew well who committed suicide, and in my practice treat individuals with suicidal thoughts; and family members who have been impacted by a loved one’s taking his or her own life, or attempting to. The aftermath is devastating and long-lasting.

Clinicians actively assess suicide from three distinct viewpoints: 1 — thoughts, which are more common than one would expect. 2 — a plan; does the person have a specific plan, and the means to carry out that plan? and finally 3 — intent. Does this person really intend to hurt themselves? A trained mental health professional knows the difference between suicidal thoughts (also called suicidal ideation); a thought with a plan, and a thought with intent, and a plan. Any thought to harm one’s self should be taken VERY seriously, with discussion about in-patient treatment.

Good, effective treatment for depression is available! Consult your primary care physician, your insurance company, mental health professionals in your area, on-line and community resources. Loved ones: you may have to help facilitate treatment for your family member or friend if he or she is deeply depressed; typically that person may not have the motivation or energy to navigate the often complicated mental health system.

The old adage that if a person mentions suicide, it is unlikely that they will actually commit the act is ABSOLUTELY WRONG! Any mention of suicide should be taken seriously, and dealt with immediately. Suicidal thoughts are an indication that depression may be moving from moderate to severe in intensity. Seek help right away.

Finally, for those of you who have lost a loved one, my heart weeps for you. Not only is there the loss of your loved one, but the thought that perhaps something more could have been done; perhaps a sign was missed, and opportunity not seen. My only thought is that perhaps the pain of this life is too much for some people; especially those who care and feel deeply. And that the soul is finally at peace.

And for Robin Williams: Nanu Nanu.

The Latest Statistics — Who is Normal?

Posted on by Diane in Counseling, index, Mental Health | Comments Off

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, 18 percent of the US population suffers from some kind of anxiety disorder, and additionally:

6 percent have Major Depression

2.6 percent have been diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder

1 percent Schizophrenia

On top of that, 4 percent of adults have ADHD; and 9 percent have some diagnosable personality disorder, such as Borderline Personality Disorder (often linked to trauma), Narcissistic Personality Disorder or Anti-Social Personality Disorder.

All that adds up to 40.6 percent of the US population.

There’s more. The Center for Disease Control estimates that 5 percent of the US population drinks heavily (that’s 15+ drinks per week for men, and 8+ drinks per week for women). 17 percent of the population binge drinks, 9.2 percent of the population uses some type of illicit drug, and 2.6 percent abuse psychotropic medications. If we add that to the 40.6 percent, it totals 74.4 percent.

These statistics do not include all the other categories of mental health diagnoses, including learning disabilities, pervasive developmental disorders (such as Autism), tic disorders, dissociative disorder, sleep disorders, sexual functioning disorders, neurocognitive disorders (such as dementia), paraphilic disorders, gambling, and eating disorders.

Now, it is common for individuals who suffer from mental illness to have what is called a “co-occurring disorder,” such as depression and anxiety, or anxiety with substance abuse. So, there is certainly some overlap in these statistics. However, these statistics are still staggering!

Let’s say that 25 percent of people with a mental health diagnosis also use substances to self medicate. That still leaves 66 percent of the US population with some kind of mental health or major substance abuse issue. That’s two out of three people. Could this be true?






Posted on by Diane in Adolescent Therapy, index, Mental Health | 1 Comment

The teen years can be turbulent for both the teen and his or her parents. You will survive! Remember: we all went through this stressful and often confusing period, but we all came out the other side.

The transition from childhood to adulthood starts for many at age 12 and can continue on through 19, 20, even up to age 25, when research shows the brain’s executive functioning is mostly fully developed. Until then, teens are struggling with separating from their parents or caretakers, developing their own individual identity, finding their place among peers, and exploring long-term goals and career paths. To add to the stress are hormones, opportunities and pressure to use alcohol and drugs, sexual identity issues, struggles to control impulses, and a media that promotes sex, violence, drugs, and angry outbursts as “normal.”

What’s a parent to do? How can we navigate this period with ease and grace? Here are some tips:

– Remember — it is not about you! Try not to take what your teens says or does personally. It is about them — their stress, their development; not you or your parenting skills. Often teens act respectfully to teachers and their friends’ parents, then decompensate at home and act out. This is normal.

– Take care of yourself. While you are working, running your teen to soccer practice, and band, and dance, and looking at colleges, and worrying about them driving, remember to take good care of yourself and, if you are in a relationship — your spouse or significant other. After the teen years are over and your children are grown and launched successfully, there will only be you — and perhaps you and your mate. Nurture your soul, and your relationship.

– Stay firm yet calm. Yelling, threatening, punishing, and losing control will only escalate a situation and promote the same behavior in your teen. In all situations, stay calm. Where you once gave your child a “time out,” now, take one yourself. Breath, go for a walk, call a friend, then return to a situation when you are calm and can think more rationally.

– Know this period is a phase and will end!


Understanding Your Health Insurance

Posted on by admin in Blog, Health, Health Insurance, Mental Health, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Understanding Your Health Insurance

Undoubtedly, you have entered a physician’s office and read a sign stating: “Knowing your health insurance policy is your responsibility. Any unpaid balance or non-covered charges will be billed to you!”

But, who’s to know what is covered and what is not? How much does insurance pay, and how much will you be expected to pay? What is the bottom line bill going to be?

Here are some keys terms you should know related to health insurance:

– Deductible. The deductible is the amount you are required to pay before your benefits kick in. If your deductible is $1,000, that means you have to pay $1,000 out of pocket before your benefits apply. This amount need to be paid regardless of whether you are using an in-network or out-of-network medical professional. Co-pays are not included in the deductible.

– Allowable rate. This is the amount your physician is allowed to charge for services, based on his or her contract with the insurance company. For instance, a health care professional might typically bill $300 per hour for a particular service. However, when he or she contracted to be “in network” with a particular insurance company, he or she might have agreed to accept only $150 for the same service. This is called the “allowable rate;” it is the amount the health care provider is allowed to charge you because you are using an in-network health professional.

This is also the amount the health care professional should be charging you if you have a deductible to meet before your benefits kick in. You might want to ask your health care professional the “allowable rate” for services you receive. This rate is going to differ substantially depending on the physician’s contract with insurance companies. With one insurance company, the service may cost $100, and with another $120. This is a private contract between the physician and the insurance company, which is why allowable rates vary.

– Co-pay. This is the amount you will pay per visit to your primary care physician, gynocologist, mental health professional, specialist, etc. There is typically a different co-pay for primary care physicians and for specialists. If you go to a specialist, the co-pay may be higher. Co-pays can vary from $10 to $50 or more per visit.

– Co-insurance. This is the amount you are responsible for when you finally get a bill and once your deductible is satisfied, in addition to your co-pay. Sometimes the co-insurance is 10% of the ALLOWABLE rate, sometimes 30%, sometimes 40%. The Affordable Care Act has termed plans “Platinum, Gold, Silver, and Bronze” as a way to determine the co-insurance amounts easily. Platinum plans pay 90%; your contribution is 10%. Gold plans pay 80%, Silver plans 70% and Bronze plans 60%.

Next: Tips on what to ask your health care professional regarding insurance.