Some ideas about mental health resources

A big part of my job is connecting people with resources for helping and maintaining good mental health. The mental health system in the United States in enormous, not very well connected, poorly understood, and hard to access. There are a lot of resources out there (many are even very low cost or free!) but they can be hard to find if you’re not immersed in the mental health community. And really, who is?

I’ve compiled a list of some resources that I have found helpful over the years. Do you have more to add? Let me know!

Mental Health America – This is a large non-profit organization that supports Americans living with mental illness. I love their list of support groups – the include groups for about a million different concerns all over the country. Check it out.

Medicare – Medicare is the government-sponsored health insurance program for older Americans. Millions and millions of Americans use their Medicare coverage everyday to access health care of all types. Did you know Medicare also covers mental health treatment? Check it out to find a provider.

Substance Abuse and Mental Health Service Administration (SAMHSA): SAMHSA is an amazing group that has an overwhelming amount of helpful information on their website. I actually find myself using SAMHSA’s information about mental health disorders and treatment all the time. I recently found this very useful list of treatment providers who can assist people who emerging serious mental illness – and believe me, providers like this can be hard to find! Check it out!

National Alliance for the Mentally Ill (NAMI): NAMI is a nation-wide organization providing support to folks dealing with mental health issues. They actually offer many wonderful diagnosis-specific support groups around the country. They have a comprehensive list here.

What resources am I missing?


Mental Health and TV – Good for All of Us

Today I posted an article over at the American Psychological Association’s blog, Your Mind. Your Body.  In it I write about the importance of portraying mental health issues, struggles and solutions in TV and movies.  Check it out here.

Some of my favorite TV shows regularly integrate important topics in mental health including bullying, suicide, mental illness and family struggles.  The folks over at Glee do a pretty good job (most of the time) accurately portraying mental illness and treatment. Gossip Girl, Hoarders, Parenthood, Monk and Friday Night Lights are other shows that include characters with psychiatric disorders.

Of course there are tons of movies whose main subject is mental illness.  Check out this cool list on Wikipedia listing movies featuring mental illness organized by diagnosis.  Silver Linings Playbook is just 1 of 14 movies listed in the Bipolar Disorder category.

If you want to learn more about some of the great work being done in TV and films, check out SAMHSA’s Voice Awards.  Here’s a description:

Join the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s (SAMHSA) Voice Awards program in recognizing consumer/peer leaders and TV and film professionals who educate the public about the real experiences of people with behavioral health problems. Through their work and personal stories of resilience, both groups of leaders demonstrate that people can and do recover from mental health and substance use disorders and lead full and meaningful lives in their communities.

Today is the deadline to nominate producers and programs! Check out SAMHSA’s site to submit your favorite show by the end of the day!

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Helping Your Kids (And Yourself) in the Midst of a Tragedy

When will the madness end? That’s a question so many of us are asking ourselves today.  It is so hard to know how to cope with senseless violence of any kind, but especially when it involves so many kids in a place where they are supposed to feel safe.

As we struggle to cope with the tragedy in Connecticut today, I offer a couple of tips for families:

Talk about it.  Many of us find it useful to process and talk about tragedies – especially when they are as confusing and senseless as the one today.  This goes for grown-ups and kids alike.  Allow yourself and your family members (even the little ones) time to express feelings, fears, and worries over today’s events.  Talk about what you and your family do to keep each other safe, and take a moment to cherish each other – out loud.

Turn it off.  Just as it’s crucial to express our thoughts, it is just as important to put an end to the conversation at an appropriate point.  This can mean turning off news coverage, taking a break from Facebook, and providing our children (and ourselves) with other, safer things to do (watch a holiday movie, make cookies, play Wii, etc).  The details of the shooting in CT will be in the news for days and weeks to come.  You will not be missing anything by turning off the news reports, and in fact you will be doing a lot to maintain your mental health.

Need more ideas and resources about how to manage stress in the aftermath of a tragedy?

Helping Your Children Manage Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting (APA)

SAMHSA’s Disaster Distress Helpline: 800-985-5990

Managing Distress in the Aftermath of a Shooting (APA)

Tips for Talking with Kids and Youth After a Disaster or Traumatic Event (SAMHSA): A Guide for Parents, Caregivers, and Teachers




Glee Wins at The Voice Awards

Peter Krause was the host of the 2011 Voice Awards Photo by: SAMHSA

Have you heard of the Voice Awards?  Here’s a description:

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), and Center for Mental Health Services, the Voice Awards honor consumer/peer leaders who have played a vital role in raising both awareness and understanding of behavioral health (mental health and/or addiction issues) and promoted the social inclusion of individuals with behavioral health problems. Through their exemplary leadership and advocacy, they demonstrate that recovery is real and that individuals with behavioral health problems are valuable, contributing members of their schools, workplaces, and communities.

This year the focus of the awards program was recovery from trauma, and the ceremony was held last night.  While just a teeny bit disappointed that I didn’t get to go and cover the red carpet (dang it!), I am thrilled that Glee won an award for its portrayal of Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).  As a gleek, I couldn’t be happier for the show.  Check out my post on Glee’s portrayal of Ms. Pillsbury’s OCD.

Check out more of the winners at last night’s Voice Awards.  Mad Men, another favorite of mine, is among the honored.  Sally’s treatment with a psychologist may just be in my blogging future.

In honor of Glee’s award, here’s the trailer from their new season starting next month: