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Recognizing Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness month. You might wonder: why the distinction, if mental health doesn’t discriminate across race, gender, religion, or sexual orientation? Consider this: while the number of people experiencing mental illness may be the same across demographic groupings, people's access to care and quality of treatment for mental illness varies greatly. According to the National Institute of Mental Health, “the quality of and access to mental health care are suboptimal for minority groups.” NIMH also describes several recent studies showing that “members of racial and ethnic minority groups in the U.S. are less likely to have access to mental health services, less likely to use community mental health services, more likely to use inpatient hospitalization and emergency rooms, and more likely to receive lower quality care.” Cultural and language differences add to the challenge. Mental illness is still not acknowledged in many cultures, resulting in even…

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City Calls on Philadelphia to Take Online Pledge to “Check in” on those who Have the Holiday Blues

PHILADELPHIA – Starting today and throughout the holiday season, the city’s behavioral health department will be calling on Philadelphians to take a quick online pledge to “check in” on family and friends who are suffering from the holiday blues for reasons that range from losing a loved one to losing a job. Anyone can take the pledge, which encourages individuals to also be mindful of their own holiday wellness, at https://www.healthymindsphilly.org/en/mind-your-holidays through January 1, 2018. While the holiday season can be a joyous time of celebration, cheer and family fun for many, studies show that as many as 30 million Americans experience feelings of depression during the holidays. People who are spending the holidays alone while those around them gather with family and friends may be especially vulnerable. Experts say a phone call, text message, email, visit or invitation may help lift the spirits of a person who is troubled…

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Optimism: An Awesome Antidote to Stress

Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms: to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way. Victor Frankl Have you noticed those upbeat people in your environment who never seem to let anything get them down? They seem to manage life’s stresses and challenges with a smile on their face and a skip in their step. No matter what lemons life seems to throw at them, they are still able to make lemonade. What is the quality that these people have and how can you start to cultivate it in your own life? The quality you are noticing is called optimism. Optimism is defined as a general inclination to anticipate positive outcomes in any given situation. An optimistic person expects things to turn out for the best. You can imagine how this kind of attitude…

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How My Brother’s Mental Illness Affected Me

My brother Paul was diagnosed with schizophrenia, like myself. Yet because Paul was 10 years older than me, the illness was viewed quite differently when his symptoms first appeared. That was back in the early 1960’s. In those days, some psychiatrists believed that the disease was caused by the individual having a weak will. For instance, when my parents took me to Paul’s psychiatrist at 9-years-old, a time during which I was struggling emotionally, they asked the doctor in front of me “Will Jeff get sick like Paul?” The doctor replied by saying, “Jeff is too strong to get sick.” Nevertheless, I did develop schizophrenia and was diagnosed with the serious mental illness at the age of 17. At the onset of Paul’s disorder there was no knowledge that schizophrenia was linked to a specific gene and that it could materialize through a heredity component. Furthermore, there was little hope…

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