Resources for Farm Stress

I was reading an article recently about Farm Stress, and the overall mental health crisis that is going on within our country’s farming communities. The pain and suffering is real, and very upsetting.

While I am not a farmer or rancher, I can try to understand the extreme conditions of the job: It’s physically dangerous, unpredictable because of weather, crop prices, and international relationships. Farmers are also making up a smaller and smaller portion of our population (less than 2%), and tend to be more geographically spread out than in years past. All of these factors – and others – combine to create a pressure-cooker of stress.

People are taking notice, however, and working hard to help those who are suffering. I discovered some wonderful resources through North Dakota State University. Here’s one:

And another:

For more information on farm stress and how to cope, check out this article:

What Happens When You Drink Or Drug Too Much?

Problematic use of drugs and alcohol can impact just about all areas of your life and functioning. There are obvious risks of over-using drugs and alcohol that are associated with:
Relationship problems
Disruptions in education
Difficulty maintaining employments
Economic problems
Legal troubles/encounters with the criminal justice system

Drug and alcohol use can also cause many physical and mental health problems, including:

Changes in appetite
Trouble sleeping
Changes in blood pressure
Change in mood
Psychosis
Heart attack
Stroke
Cancer
Lung disease

Additionally, when you spend much of your time impaired by alcohol or drugs, it can effect your ability to make healthy, sound decisions. Impulsivity and poor decision making are common when under the influence of drugs or alcohol. These poor decisions can lead to other health-related problems such as:

HIV/AIDS, hepatitis, and other communicable diseases
Poor nutrition
Being at higher risk for trauma or violence

Lastly, drug and alcohol abuse is costly! In fact, it is estimated that alcohol and illicit drug use cost the United States about 160 million dollars each year in lost work productivity, health care costs associated with addiction, and crime.

Addiction – It’s a BIG Problem

Alcohol and drug addiction and abuse are an unfortunate part of life for many Americans. Whether it’s by personal experience, or through watching a friend or loved one struggle, millions of Americans have an experience with drug and/or alcohol addiction each year.

In 2014, more than 16 million adults – that’s about 7% of the population – met criteria for Alcohol Use Disorder. Another 5 million American adults admitted to engaging in risky alcohol use that could lead to addiction in the future.

Alcohol is the most heavily used drug in the United States, followed by marijuana. And unfortunately, recent surveys have found that illicit drug use is on the rise in the United States. Illicit drugs include: marijuana, prescription drugs used other than as prescribed, cocaine, heroine, methamphetamines, etc.

Most people use drugs for the first time as teenagers, and more than half of illicit drug users begin their drug use by using marijuana. Drug use tends to be highest among teenagers and those in their twenties, but recent data suggests that drug use is increasing in people in their fifties and sixties as well.

Drug and alcohol use in children and teens is on the decline overall, with one exception: vaping. As of 2018, vaping among young people had increased dramatically, with 17.6% of 8th graders, 32.3% of 10th graders, and 37.3% of 12th graders admitting to vaping at least once in the last year.

Are you a podcast listener?

I love listening to podcasts! I took me a while to get into it, but now I’m hooked. You know what’s also fun? Being on a podcast! I have gotten the opportunity to be on several different podcasts over the years, and one of my favorites is Produce for Kids’ podcast: The Healthy Family Project. If you haven’t heard it yet, it’s worth a listen!

They have a number of new episodes up, including Food as Medicine and How to Get Kids in the Kitchen – along with their huge collection of awesome, healthy and easy recipes. Check it out!

Want to hear one of my interviews? Check out this one about promoting healthy body image in kids:

New Office

Just a reminder that I have moved my office to:

671 Mitchell Way

Suite 109

Erie 80516

All contact info is the same:

stephaniesmithpsyd@gmail.com and 303-828-3080

Here are some photos from my new place:

Main Lobby
Waiting room – Come on in and have a seat!
My new (little!) office. Cozy and quiet, with views of Stop and Save (!!) and the occasional critter outside the window. Welcome!

I’m Moving!

Big announcement! I am moving!

After 13 years on Briggs Street in Old Town Erie, I am moving to a new location. As of June 1, 2019 I will be moving my practice to:

671 Mitchell Way

Suite 109.

I am sad to be leaving The Gateway Building, and the community of Old Town Erie businesses I have enjoyed watching grow and thrive over the last decade plus. However, I am excited to move into a newer building with plenty of parking and a spacious waiting room!

All of my contact information will remain the same:

303-828-3080

stephaniesmithpsyd@gmail.com

Can’t wait to see you in my new space!

Managing Your Emotions When Coming Back From Maternity Leave

Photo credit: Health eCareers

Did you know that 47% of the American workforce is women? And up to 90% of women become mothers at some point in their lives? That all adds up to lots of folks taking maternity (or paternity!) leave at some point in the professional lives.

But it’s not always easy to manage the emotions around going back to work when maternity leave is over. Just like with every other aspect of becoming a parent – the struggles we might have are not always the ones we expect.

I recently wrote and article over at

about how to deal with the varied, and often-changing emotions when coming back from maternity leave. Here’s one tip:




To read the entire article, check out Health eCareers

Thoughts About Sexual Orientation Change Efforts

Have you been reading the Colorado Sun? If you live in Colorado, I suggest you check it out. Here’s a a bit about them from their site:

“The Colorado Sun is a journalist-owned, ad-free news outlet based in Denver but which strives to cover all of Colorado so that our state — our community — can better understand itself.”

Recently, the folks over there published a story about a “conversion therapy” bill that had been introduced to the Colorado Legislature. I thought the reporting was great, but they missed a mental health professional’s perspective on why Sexual Orientation Change Efforts (SOCE) are not only unhelpful, but also damaging. So I wrote a letter to the editor. Here it is:

Dear Editor:

I am writing to add some information to the article Colorado lawmakers for a fifth — and likely final — time will weigh whether to ban gay “conversion therapy”

While I appreciate the balanced approach you attempted to take in explaining the history and effects of “conversion therapy,” I think you missed an important voice: licensed mental health professionals who have long been opposed to the practice.

Sexual orientation change efforts (SOCE, also commonly known as “conversion therapy”) operate under the assumption that there is something wrong, bad, abnormal or disordered about identifying as lesbian, gay or bisexual. In fact, the American Psychiatric Association’s Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the gold standard in mental health diagnoses) stopped identifying homosexuality as a mental health disorder in 1973. Since 1973, all mainstream health and mental health organizations (American Academy of Pediatrics, American Psychological Association, etc) have come to understand that lesbian, gay, bisexual and questioning adolescents are simply a part of the normal spectrum of human sexual expression.

But not only does every health and mental health organization oppose SOCE, I, as a clinical psychologist have seen first hand the harm lack of support, understanding and evidence-based mental health treatment can do to a young person struggling to understand who they are. Shame, guilt, low mood, anxiety, self doubt, trouble concentrating – these are all potential outcomes for a young person who is told they aren’t “normal,” “healthy,” or worthy of respect and acceptance exactly as they are. Sadly, this is exactly the message SOCE sends.

Adolescents who identify with a same sex orientation or are questioning their sexual identity can face enormous challenges – during a time in life when things are already pretty hard. In addition to trying to figure out everyday things associated with adolescence: What classes to take, how to get homework done, what to do after high school, who to hang out with – they can also be met with lack of support (at best), discrimination, prejudice and violence (at worst) by family, friends, and community members. We know youth who identify as lesbian, gay and bisexual have higher rates of substance abuse, emotional distress and suicide attempts. We also know that some of the reason for this is because of the lack of support and genuine acceptance these kids find in homes, schools and society as a whole. We, as adults and caregivers, need to do all we can to guarantee that these kids will have access to safe places to express themselves and receive appropriate, effective mental health care that will be accepting of all pieces and parts of the wide range of human sexual expression.

Respectfully,

Stephanie S. Smith, PsyD
Licensed Psychologist