Screening for Mental Health

@screening-for-mental-health | contributor
Screening for Mental Health (SMH), the pioneer of large-scale mental health screening for the public, provides innovative mental health and substance use resources, linking those in need with quality treatment options. Our programs offered online and in-person, educate, raise awareness, and screen individuals for common mental health disorders and suicide. For more information about Screening for Mental Health, visit Mental Health Screening.

Advocating for Suicide Prevention After Family Member's Suicide

Editor’s note: If you experience suicidal thoughts or have lost someone to suicide, the following post could be potentially triggering. You can contact the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741. “You’ll never experience a pain like this again, Lisa.” Strange that this would be one of the phrases I held onto for dear life. Lord knows I didn’t want to go on living, nor did I know how. How would I go on after losing a child? How would I go on after losing a child to suicide ? The despair choked me for months, leaving me empty, hollow and hopeless. This, I thought to myself, “must be some of what my beautiful boy was experiencing.” My son, George Cameron, left this world on July 13, 2013. He was my only child and only 15 years old when he died. The usual demons staked their claim on me daily by demanding Why didn’t you know? Why didn’t he talk to you? What kind of mom are you? You should have loved him better! What kind of social worker are you if you couldn’t even help your own son? These questions haunt me each and every day since the morning I found my beautiful boy. There’s not a day that goes by when I don’t cry, plead with God and tell my Cami I’m so, so terribly sorry. Sorry for his pain. Sorry I didn’t know. Sorry he felt alone. Sorry he felt no other option. As a mother, I cared for my son and would go to any extreme to protect him. Lord knows, I would have moved mountains for my son. Little did I know, he needed protection from himself — from this horrible disorder, depression. Adding to the tragedy and shock was that George did not appear to be struggling. Like so many struggling with depression, he kept his depression private. Family and friends were stunned and heartbroken to hear the news. George excelled in sports and academics and enjoyed being the jokester amongst his friends. But of all of the trophies, accomplishments and great things George succeeded at, the thing I adored most about my son was his beautiful heart. At the age of eight, he pleaded with me: “Mom I want to have a Haunted House for Halloween. We need to raise money for Katrina!” In eighth grade, I picked him up from a dance and he told me he asked a girl to dance because she had been crying in the bathroom. This was a big deal for a teenage boy to “go against the grain” and do what was right and kind. That’s the kind of boy my George Cameron was, willing to put his heart out there for others. I wanted my son’s legacy to be that of his character, not of this one action. So, I created a scholarship in his honor called “LIFT.” His love for weight lifting and God inspired this tribute. Peers from the sophomore class are called to nominate another who exemplifies George’s spirt. One who “lifts” others in spirit. One who “pushes” through difficult circumstances. One who expresses God’s glory through his or her talents. I’d like to tell you it’s gotten easier in the past three years. But quite honestly, life just becomes a little more bearable. I now get some respite from the crying and have longer periods of time when I can function in this world without the impending cloud of doom. I’ve poured my heart even more so into my work in schools, working with administrators and our superintendent to bring a comprehensive suicide prevention program (Screening for Mental Health’s SOS Program) to our small city in Montana. With one of the highest rates of suicide in the country, Montana has a duty to educate its youth about depression and suicide. They need to be informed, need to know depression isn’t a secret you should keep and that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Through my grief, I have become a strong advocate for suicide prevention in schools and communities, advocating for a two-day suicide prevention program for the district, working with the school administration to develop a suicide prevention plan and policy, all with the hope that it will prevent the same thing from happening to other youth. I am optimistic. Optimistic that this work has started and there’s no stopping us now. We will grow. We will reach kids. And most importantly, lives will be saved. So, when I’m having an especially difficult day, missing my beautiful boy, or when I’m a nervous wreck about public speaking, I remember “The worst pain is over Lisa, you can do this.” Forever in my son’s honor. I love you George Cameron Friesen. Mom Lisa is a mother and has worked as a licensed clinical social worker for the schools for 25 years.  Her only son took his life in 2013 and she has been a strong advocate of prevention in her community since her loss. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via Alvina_Denisenko.

The Work I Do Now in My Son’s Honor After His Suicide

“You’ll never experience a pain like this again, Lisa.” Strange that this would be one of the phrases I held onto for dear life. Lord knows, I didn’t want to go on living, nor did I know how. How do you go on after losing a child? How do you go on after losing a child to suicide? The despair that choked me for months, leaving me empty, hollow and hopeless. “This,” I thought to myself, “must be some of what my beautiful boy was experiencing.” My George Cameron left this world on July 13, 2013. He was my only child and only 15 years old when he died. The usual demons stake their claim daily demanding, “Why didn’t you know? Why didn’t he talk to you? What kind of mom are you? You should have loved him better! And…. What kind of (clinical) social worker are you if you couldn’t even help your son?” These questions haunt me each and every day since the morning I found my beautiful boy. There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t cry, plead with God and tell my Cami that I’m so so terribly sorry. Sorry for his pain. Sorry I didn’t know. Sorry he felt alone. Sorry he felt no other option. As a mother, you care for your children and you will go to any extreme to protect them. Lord knows, I would have moved mountains for my son. Little did I know he needed protection from himself… from this horrible disorder, depression. Adding to the tragedy and shock was that George did not appear to be struggling. Like so many struggling with depression, he kept his depression private. Family and friends were stunned and heartbroken to hear the news. George excelled in sports and academics and enjoyed being the jokester amongst his friends. But of all of the trophies, accomplishments and great things George succeeded at, the thing I adored most about my son was his beautiful heart. At the age of 8, he pleaded with me, “Mom, I want to have a Haunted House for Halloween. we need to raise money for Katrina.” In eighth grade, I picked him up from a dance when he told me that he asked a girl to dance because she had been crying in the bathroom. This was a big deal for a popular teenage boy to “go against the grain” and do what was right and kind. That’s the kind of boy my George Cameron was, willing to put his heart out there for others. I wanted my son’s legacy to be that of his character, not of this one action. So, I created a scholarship in his honor called “LIFT.” His love for weight lifting and God inspired this tribute. Peers from the sophomore class are called to nominate another who exemplifies George’s spirt: One who “lifts” others in spirit; One who “pushes” through difficult circumstances; and One who expresses God’s glory through his/her talents. I’d like to tell you that it’s gotten easier in the past three years. But quite honestly, life just becomes a little more bearable. I now get some respite from the crying and have longer periods of time where I can function in this world without the impending cloud of doom. I’ve poured my heart even more so into my work in schools, working with administrators and our superintendent to bring a comprehensive suicide prevention program (Screening for Mental Health’s SOS Program) to our small city in Montana. With one of the highest rates of suicide in the country, Montana has a duty to educate its youth about depression and suicide. They need to be informed, need to know that depression isn’t a secret you should keep and that it’s nothing to be ashamed of. Through my grief, I have become a strong catalyst and advocate for suicide prevention in schools and communities, advocating for a two-day suicide prevention program for the district, working with the school administration to develop a suicide prevention plan and policy, all with the hope that it will prevent the same thing from happening to other youth. I am optimistic. Optimistic that this work has started and there’s no stopping us now. We will grow. We will reach kids. And most importantly, lives will be saved. So, when I’m having an especially difficult day, missing my beautiful boy or when I’m a nervous wreck about public speaking, I remember, “The worst pain is over Lisa, you can do this.” Forever in my son’s honor. I love you George Cameron Friesen. — Mom Lisa is a mother and worked as a licensed clinical social worker for the schools for 25 years. Her only son took his life in 2013 and she has been a strong advocate of prevention in her community since her loss. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255, the Trevor Project at 1-866-488-7386 o r text “START” to 741-741 . We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Thinkstock photo via Marjan_Apostolovic

Untrue Things Depression Makes You Believe

No one likes you. There’s something wrong with you. You never do anything right. Depression ‘s voice isn’t kind, and it can be difficult to separate out depressive thoughts from reality. If you’ve experienced depression, you know it can trick you into thinking things about yourself and your life that aren’t true. Here are some thoughts that depression can trick you into believing: People don’t want to be around you: Depression makes you feel completely alone. Even if you have friends and family who love you, it can trick you into feeling like they don’t really care, or that no one wants to be around you. It can highlight insecurities about yourself and your relationships which can actually cause you to isolate yourself more. Gradually taking steps to re-engage with those you want to reconnect with can help to counteract your social withdrawal. You don’t deserve to get better: Depression can toy with your self-worth, making you feel like you deserve to be this miserable. Trust me, you don’t. You are worth every minute of effort others spend trying to help you get to a better place, whether it’s your counselor, parents or a close friend. If you’re having a particularly difficult time figuring out if you should seek help, try to pretend that your friend is going through what you’re feeling right now. What do you think that they deserve? It’s often much easier to be a good friend to others than it is to ourselves. Take a two-minute anonymous screening at  HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org to find out if your symptoms are consistent. You are only your depression and nothing else: Depression may be something you have, but it’s not who you are. It can become really easy to get wrapped up in your feelings and to even start defining yourself according to your symptoms because of how often you feel them, but it’s so important to fight back against these thoughts. Try to change even simple phrases you say to yourself like, “ I’m depressed ” to “ I am feeling depressed right now.” Reminding yourself the other parts of yourself you offer to the world can help boost your self-esteem and can restructure these thoughts. Reaching out for help won’t make a difference: The problem is, you’re not trying hard enough, right? Wrong. When it comes to mental illness we’re quick to assume we should be able to fix the problem ourselves. You wouldn’t try to set your broken leg alone would you? Reaching out for help for a mental health issue should be no different. Up to 80 percent of those treated for depression show an improvement in their symptoms generally within four to six weeks of beginning medication, psychotherapy, attending support groups or a combination of these treatments. Living with depression can be unbearable. If depression is tricking you into thinking some of these harmful thoughts, it’s important to confide in a friend or loved one, and to seek help. We want to hear your story. Become a Mighty contributor here . Lead image via Thinkstock.

Screening for Mental Health: Why We Need to Talk About Suicide

We often feel most comfortable talking about suicide in the form of statistics. It’s the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. Each year 42,773 Americans die by suicide. For every suicide 25 others attempt. These statistics communicate important information, but they don’t come close to portraying the raw, hopeless, pain that someone with suicidal thoughts is feeling, or the heartbreaking grief of a friend or family member who has lost someone they love. Oftentimes, the reality of suicide feels uncomfortable merely because we don’t understand it, or don’t know how to act when we are confronted by it. Fear is often the largest deterrent, keeping peers, friends and loved ones from speaking up when they really should. Here are several reasons why you should break through your discomfort in talking about suicide: 1. You could learn something new. Our culture, background, genetics and experiences all work together to create a unique perspective on how we relate to the world. Although you may think about depression, anxiety or another mental health issue in a certain way, your friend or loved one may have a completely different way of thinking about it. Making a connection with someone is about more than shared perspective or opinions. It’s about really taking the time to actively listen to what they’re saying and, more importantly, why they are saying it. Understanding where the words are coming from gives us valuable information as to who they are as individuals and what they value. You can play an important role in assisting a friend or peer who may be struggling with a mental health issue. 2. It won’t put the idea in someone’s head. One myth that a lot of people tend to believe is that talking about suicide makes someone more likely to consider or follow through with it. But the reality is, this person has most likely already been thinking these things, and you bringing up this subject they’ve been afraid to is one of the most helpful things you can do. 3. It could save someone’s life. The majority of people who die by suicide tell someone or give warning signs beforehand. Your words and actions could be life-saving. Those who have thoughts of suicide often feel a loss of connection to others. Your willingness to have an open conversation with them could make a huge difference. The more we, as a public, talk openly about suicide, the more people don’t feel like they are going through this alone. Visit Stop a Suicide to learn how to have this conversation with a friend or loved one. Are you feeling empowered to take action for a friend or loved one in need? Visit Stop a Suicide today to turn your inspiration into action. If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page. If you need support right now, call the Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. You can reach the Crisis Text Line by texting “START” to 741-741.