Stigma

For Parents: Supporting Your College Freshman

My husband, my daughter and I recently moved the youngest member of our family into his freshman dorm, at a university far from home, where there are no familiar faces.

Maybe your family also has a college freshman. While this is an exciting time for these young people, let’s recognize that some students may need some help navigating this major life transition.

Read More

The NAMI Convention Welcome Center: A Home Away from Home

This past July marks the twelfth year I’ve had the privilege of supporting the Consumer Welcome Center at the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) National Convention.

This year’s theme was Act, Advocate, Achieve. These are welcome calls-to-action for Beacon Health Options. Our core values reflect our focus to act with integrity, build community, foster resiliency in ourselves and those we serve, treat all with dignity, and advocate for continual improvements in behavioral health awareness and systems of care.

Read More

Reduce Stigma and Improve Your Well-Being: It’s Just Like Riding a Bike

I started running when I was 8. This was right around the time that my parents divorced and my world changed in numerous ways.

I was having anxiety attacks and battling depression. I was having trouble concentrating at school. When I started running, I couldn’t tell you why I was doing it, I just felt compelled. When an anxiety attack surfaced, I put on my shoes and headed out the door.

Read More

Play Golf, Take the Pledge, and Help Stamp Out Stigma

If you want to know what Beacon Health Options’ (Beacon) values look like in “the real world,” look no further than our fourth annual Stamp Out Stigma golf outing today in Virginia Beach, Virginia.

Each year, Beacon employees tee up with a variety of community partners to support Stamp Out Stigma, an initiative to eradicate the stigma surrounding mental illness and substance use disorders.

Read More

Asking the Right Questions About Gun Violence

In the wake of the recent nightclub shooting in Orlando, there are voices that are again loudly touting mental illness as a key target for preventing the repetition of such horrors.

Yet, as we wrote last year, researchers have already debunked the link between mental illness and gun violence. Instead, we found access to guns increases rates of suicide, but not of homicide. However, what most people don’t know is that, underlying all of this, there is policy prohibiting research from delving further into the issue and discovering where the evidence leads us.

Read More

Prince: Fame Highlights the Infamy of Opioid Addiction

I love Prince. My first job was at a movie theater that played Purple Rain for months.

I saw that movie hundreds of times, in five-minute bursts while I left the ticket booth unattended. My first concert was the Purple Rain tour – at the Capital Centre, outside of Washington, DC; one of the first albums I bought with my own money was Dirty Mind, on cassette, no less.

Read More

Zero Suicide: Aspirational or Reality?

It turns out that almost everything I was taught about suicide during my clinical training is not true.

Contrary to what most clinicians are taught, there is clinical protocol we can follow to prevent suicide attempts – apart from locking people up. Very little of this new knowledge about detecting and treating suicidality has translated into practice.

Read More

PTSD: Not Just a “Veteran” Problem

It is frustrating as a retired Army infantry officer to see people assume that veterans, particularly combat vets, live with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder). Most do not.

This perception is unfair to veterans, perpetuates a larger misunderstanding of PTSD, and diverts attention away from a larger population in need. Illustrating this problem, a combat vet recently told me about an ill-informed supervisor who replied, “I don’t need you going all PTSD on them…”

Read More

Addressing Depression Care Management in PCP Offices: Collaborative Care

If you have read Beacon Health Options’ white paper, “Integration,” you learned that more than half of all adults with major depressive disorder are already managed in primary care settings.

You also learned that most antidepressant medications are written by primary care physicians (PCPs). However, most concerning is that approximately 45 percent of those who complete suicide have seen their PCP within the past month.

Read More

Guns, Violence, and Suicide

Today’s culture has embraced an erroneous connection between mental illness and violence, partly due to exaggeration by the media, especially in light of the many mass killings in the past several years. The Sept. 1 post on Beacons Lens that appeared after the on-air shooting in Virginia addressed this very point, stating, “[t]he proliferation of today’s media makes it too easy to draw conclusions that aren’t necessarily based in the evidence, often blurring the line between fact and fiction, a view supported by research.” There is, however, an important caveat to this mix of stereotypes and prejudices: the problem of suicide. The 20th century French writer and philosopher, Albert Camus, asserted that suicide is the one truly serious philosophical problem….

Read More