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10 Proven Tools to Help You Feel Stronger, More Hopeful

The 10 Tools

These proven tools can help you feel stronger and more hopeful. Check out each page for specific, easy-to-follow tips.

  1. Connect with others
  2. Stay positive
  3. Get physically active
  4. Help others
  5. Get enough sleep
  6. Create joy and satisfaction
  7. Eat well
  8. Take care of your spirit
  9. Deal better with hard times
  10. Get professional help if you need it
Posted by Debbie on 11/30/2015 2:25:58 PM

Why B4Stage4?

When we think about cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, we don't wait years to treat them. We start way before Stage 4. We begin with prevention. And when people are in the first stage of those diseases, and have a persistent cough, high blood pressure, or high blood sugar, we try immediately to reverse these symptoms.

This is what we should be doing when people have serious mental illnesses, too. When they first begin to experience symptoms such as loss of sleep, feeling tired for no reason, feeling low, feeling anxious, or hearing voices, we should act.

Click here to go to a confidential, online mental health screening.

Posted by Teresa on 8/24/2015 4:53:31 PM

Mental Illness and the Family: Recognizing Warning Signs and How to Cope

Most people believe that mental disorders are rare and "happen to someone else." In fact, mental disorders are common and widespread. An estimated 54 million Americans suffer from some form of mental disorder in a given year.

Most families are not prepared to cope with learning their loved one has a mental illness. It can be physically and emotionally trying, and can make us feel vulnerable to the opinions and judgments of others.

If you think you or someone you know may have a mental or emotional problem, it is important to remember there is hope and help.

Click here to go to a confidential, online mental health screening.

Posted by Teresa on 8/24/2015 4:51:11 PM

Suicide Research: Key to Understanding Risk Factors

Our effectiveness in preventing suicide ultimately depends on more fully understanding how and why suicide occurs.
What we know about the causes of suicide lags far behind our knowledge of many other life-threatening illnesses and conditions. In part, this is because the stigma surrounding suicide has limited society's investment in suicide research. Over the last 25 years, however, we have begun to uncover and understand the complex range of factors that contribute to suicide.
Summarized below are findings from research studies that have especially contributed to our current understanding of suicide.

Posted by Teresa on 8/24/2015 4:48:00 PM

Out of the Darkness Community Walk: Fort Bend

Join us as we participate in the First Annual Out of the Darkness Community Walk in Fort Bend. The event will take place on September 26, 2015 at Oyster Creek. All proceeds go to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention. For more information, click here

To register, click here

Posted by Teresa on 8/24/2015 4:45:43 PM

Mental Health Problems Among Minorities

Words like depression and anxiety do not exist in certain American Indian languages, but the suicide rate for American Indian and Alaskan Native (AI/AN) males between the ages of 15 and 24 is two to three times higher than the national rate.

Posted by Debbie on 7/7/2015 6:29:01 PM

African American Pioneers in Mental Health

Solomon Carter Fuller, M.D. (1872-1953)

Dr. Solomon Carter Fuller was a pioneering African-American psychiatrist who made significant contributions to the study of Alzheimer's disease. He was born in Liberia, the son of a previously enslaved African who had purchased his freedom and emigrated there.


Posted by Debbie on 7/7/2015 6:21:23 PM

African American Communities and Mental Health

Mental Health America works nationally and locally to raise awareness about mental health.  We believe that everyone at risk for mental illnesses and related disorders should receive early and effective interventions. Historically, communities of color experience unique and considerable challenges in accessing mental health services.

Posted by Debbie on 7/7/2015 6:16:45 PM

Racial, Ethnic Minorities Show Significant Need and Interest in Mental Health Services

There is significant interest and need in mental health services among people who identify as belonging to a racial or ethnic minority, data from Mental Health America’s new online screening site show.

Responses of individuals from racial and ethnic minorities indicate that they are more likely than whites to report that they would monitor their health by taking screens regularly.  And they are also more likely to want a way to privately contact a peer to discuss results. 

Posted by Debbie on 7/7/2015 6:13:17 PM

7 Ways Meditation Can Actually Change Your Brain

The meditation-and-the-brain research has been rolling in steadily for a number of years now, with new studies coming out just about every week to illustrate some new benefit of meditation. Or, rather, some ancient benefit that is just now being confirmed with fMRI or EEG. The practice appears to have an amazing variety of neurological benefits – from changes in grey matter volume to reduced activity in the "me” centers of the brain to enhanced connectivity between brain regions.

Posted by Debbie on 6/9/2015 10:45:46 AM

Coping with Loss: Bereavement and Grief

Coping With Loss

The loss of a loved one is life's most stressful event and can cause a major emotional crisis. After the death of someone you love, you experiencebereavement, which literally means "to be deprived by death." 

Posted by Debbie on 6/4/2015 11:43:30 AM

Coping with Stress Checklist

Stress is a natural part of life. You can feel physical stress when you have too much to do, or when you've had too little sleep, aren't eating properly or have been ill. Stress can also be emotional: you can feel it when you worry about money, your job or a loved one's illness, or when you experience a devastating life event, such as the death of a spouse or the loss of a job. When stress is not addressed, it can affect many parts of your life, including your productivity and performance on the job. In fact, workplace stress causes about 1 million U.S. employees to miss work each day.

The key to coping with stress is to determine your personal tolerance levels for stressful situations. You must learn to accept or change stressful or tense situations whenever possible. Some of the following suggestions may help immediately, but if your stress is constant, it may require more attention or even lifestyle changes. 

Posted by Debbie on 6/4/2015 11:26:44 AM

Stress: Coping with Everday Problems

Everyone has stress. It is a normal part of life. You can feel stress in your body when you have too much to do or when you haven’t slept well. You can also feel stress when you worry about things like your job, money, relationships, or a friend or family member who is ill or in crisis. In response to these strains your body automatically increases blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, metabolism, and blood flow to you muscles. This response is intended to help your body react quickly and effectively to a high-pressure situation. However, when you are constantly reacting to stressful situations without making adjustments to counter the effects, you will feel stress which can threaten your health and well-being.

Posted by Debbie on 6/4/2015 11:06:42 AM

Children's mental health is parents' greatest concern

Parents in the UK are more likely to worry about their children's mental well-being than any other health issue, suggests research.

Some 40% of 2,267 parents surveyed by Action for Children said their children's emotional well-being was a primary concern.

Among mothers, this rose to 47%, according to the charity's analysis of data collected by YouGov last year.

The charity wants more early support for families to prevent major problems.

"Spending time and money preventing a problem rather than repairing the damage is the right and logical thing to do.

"With councils facing reduced funds, we are calling for a shift in funding towards early support to help prevent concerns or issues from becoming major problems," said chief executive Sir Tony Hawkhead.


Posted by Teresa on 2/2/2015 10:06:40 AM

PTSD May Raise Women's Risk for Diabetes

WEDNESDAY, Jan. 7, 2015 (HealthDay News) -- Women with post-traumatic stress disorder seem more likely than others to develop type 2 diabetes, with severe PTSD almost doubling the risk, a new study suggests.

The research "brings to attention an unrecognized problem," said Dr. Alexander Neumeister, director of the molecular imaging program for anxiety and mood disorders at New York University School of Medicine. It's crucial to treat both PTSD and diabetes when they're interconnected in women, he said. Otherwise, "you can try to treat diabetes as much as you want, but you'll never be fully successful," he added.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that develops after living through or witnessing a dangerous event. People with the disorder may feel intense stress, suffer from flashbacks or experience a "fight or flight" response when there's no apparent danger.

It's estimated that one in 10 U.S. women will develop PTSD in their lifetime, with potentially severe effects, according to the study.

"In the past few years, there has been an increasing attention to PTSD as not only a mental disorder but one that also has very profound effects on brain and body function," said Neumeister, who wasn't involved in the new study. Among other things, PTSD sufferers gain more weight and have an increased risk of cardiac disease compared to other people, he said.

The new study followed 49,739 female nurses from 1989 to 2008 -- aged 24 to 42 at the beginning -- and tracked weight, smoking, exposure to trauma, PTSD symptoms and type 2 diabetes.

Posted by Teresa on 2/2/2015 10:04:25 AM

Attempted suicide among young people can be reduced by 50 percent

A new study published in The Lancet outlines a programme for preventing suicidality among young people. The results provide strong endorsement for a method whereby school students learn to discover signs of mental ill-health in themselves and their friends, while they are also trained to understand, interpret and manage challenging emotions. The European study was led from Karolinska Institutet in Sweden, and researchers now hope to see the method reach a large number of young people in European schools.

At a global level, suicide is the second leading cause of death in the age group 15-29. Only road traffic accidents cause more fatalities in this age group. At the same time, there has been a lack of knowledge about which strategy is best for preventing suicidal behaviours in young people. A major EU-funded study which embraces more than 11,000 school students from 168 schools in ten EU countries has therefore evaluated different strategies for prevention of suicidality in young people.

Posted by Teresa on 2/2/2015 10:02:28 AM

Protein sustains both 'a sound mind and a strong heart'

"Mens sana in corpore sano" is a Latin aphorism written by the Roman poet Juvenal, usually translated as "a sound mind in a sound body." Juvenal made an early connection between the relationship of a sound mind and a sound body. However, a new study from John Hopkins explains the link between the two could be biochemical, and not merely coincidental.

The study, published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, reveals that a protein, already known to act as a natural antidepressant, enhance learning and memory, powes nerve cell growth and nourish blood vessels, is also a key player in maintaining heart muscle vitality.

The research team conducted experiments in mice and lab-grown heart cells, findings of which showed the multi-tasking protein - a nerve-growth factor called BDNF (brain-derived neurotrophic factor) - helps sustain the ability of heart muscle cells to contract and relax properly.

The results of the research, indicate that BDNF can precipitate heart muscle dysfunction and has a role in a cascade of molecular signaling events in heart cells, the disruption of which leads to heart muscle failure.



Posted by Teresa on 2/2/2015 9:59:58 AM

Leading academics underscore the importance of diet and nutrition for mental Health

Evidence is rapidly growing showing vital relationships between both diet quality and potential nutritional deficiencies and mental health, a new international collaboration led by the University of Melbourne and Deakin University has revealed.

Published inThe Lancet Psychiatrytoday, leading academics state that as with a range of medical conditions, psychiatry and public health should now recognise and embrace diet and nutrition as key determinants of mental health.

Lead author, Dr Jerome Sarris from the University of Melbourne and a member of the International Society for Nutritional Psychiatry Research (ISNPR), said psychiatry is at a critical stage, with the current medically-focused model having achieved only modest benefits in addressing the global burden of poor mental health.

"While the determinants of mental health are complex, the emerging and compelling evidence for nutrition as a key factor in the high prevalence and incidence of mental disorders suggests that nutrition is as important to psychiatry as it is to cardiology, endocrinology and gastroenterology," Dr Sarris said.
Posted by Teresa on 2/2/2015 9:56:11 AM

Researchers Find 108 Genetic Clusters Associated with Schizophrenia:

A large study that examined the genetics of schizophrenia found 108 genetic clusters associated with the disease, offering the best evidence to date about which genes play a significant role in the condition. The research, funded by multiple governments and nonprofit foundations, involved hundreds of scientists and included pooling genetic data from nearly 37,000 people with schizophrenia. The researchers looked for short sequences of DNA that were more common in people with schizophrenia compared with those without the condition. The study, published online in Nature, confirms that genes connected to regulating the brain chemical dopamine are involved in schizophrenia, as predicted. But so are genes involved in the immune system, and several associated with heavy smoking. (USA Today, 7/21/14)

Posted by MHAFBC on 8/1/2014 9:44:53 AM

Mental health and sleep in teenagers: chicken and the egg

TEENAGERS are launched onto a slippery slope of insomnia and poor mental health once they start delaying their bed times according to a new university study from South Australia.

The University of Adelaide research reveals the delicate juggle between sleep, study and social pressures our young adults regularly experience.

"In adolescence, the older the child becomes the more likely they are to show a preference for being awake in the evening," said study leader, PhD candidate Pasquale Alvaro.

"This is due to biological factors, but also social factors like academic stresses or use of technology like phones and tablets."

"Then they have to turn around and get up early for school the next day, and this can start a pattern of sleep deprivation," he said.

To conduct the study, Alvaro surveyed more than 300 high school students aged 12-18.

Teens who were more active in the evenings were more likely to have depression or insomnia, or both. This group was also more likely to have obsessive-compulsive disorder, separation anxiety, and social phobia.

The study suggests that the approach for treating teenagers for mental health disorders should take sleep into account.

"We need to communicate to teachers and parents that some behavioural issues may feature sleep deprivation as a contributing factor," said Alvaro.

"In my opinion measuring sleep should be part of any mental health assessments performed in teenagers."

Alvaro's study was published in the journal Sleep Medicine.

Posted by MHAFBC on 7/31/2014

A new cause of mental disease?

Astrocytes, the cells that make the background of the brain and support neurons, might be behind mental disorders such as depression and schizophrenia, according to new research by a Portuguese team from the ICVS at the University of Minho. The study, in Molecular Psychiatry, shows how a simple reduction of astrocytes in the prefrontal cortex (which is linked to cognition) can kill its neurons and lead to the cognitive deficits that characterise several mental diseases. Although malfunctioning astrocytes have been found in psychiatric patients before, it was not clear if they were a cause or a consequence of the disease.

"This is the first time that cognitive deficits of a psychiatric illness can be mimicked by solely affecting astrocytes" - says the team leader, João Filipe Oliveira - "opening a whole new range of possibilities, both on the causes and potential treatments for these disorders." The research by Ana Raquel Lima, João Filipe Oliveira and colleagues is particularly significant when we look at the heavy burden in human suffering and financial cost of mental diseases. In the US and Europe about 1 in 4 adults are affected in every given year (this is about 26% of the populations), while depression alone uses almost 5% of the total world health budget. And a new player behind a disease offers also potential new and maybe more effective treatments.

So what are astrocytes? These star-shaped cells are part of the so called "glial population" - non-neuron cells that form the brain background and that for a long time were considered mere "housekeepers" of the real players - the neurons. In fact, traditionally, brain function is the result of electrical impulses passing between neurons, transmitting the information necessary for all those extraordinary abilities of this brains ours, from memory storage and motor control to personality quirks.

But astrocytes, even if believed to be "the help", have always been the subject of much curiosity since it was claimed by some (and denied by others) that one of the few uniqueness of Einstein's brain was larger and more complex astrocytes within its cerebral cortex than "normal" individuals. Equally curious, was the fact that these are the most numerous cells in the mammalian brain, because keeping cells alive costs energy, which is always in short supply, and astrocytes were not even part of the of main action/brain activity. Or so it was thought.

In fact, the last decade has seen our ideas on astrocytes (and glial cells in general) change radically; we now known they perform highly complex jobs, including several previously associated with neurons. They are, for example, important for synapses (the specialised structures that do the contact between different neurons and through which the electrical signal is transmitted), where astrocytes detect and modulate activity, so effectively controlling the transmission of information in the brain.

Supporting their importance in the brain several studies have shown that patients with mental diseases - such as depression, bipolar disorder and schizophrenia - have lower than normal astrocyte density in the brain, especially in the prefrontal cortex. This can be improved, though, with anti-psychotic drugs.

This not only supports the importance of astrocytes in normal brain function, but also suggests they could play a role in mental disorders. And in fact, in one study killing astrocytes in the prefrontal cortex of rats seemed to cause a depression-like behaviour. But even if faulty astrocytes and mental diseases were often seen together, it was not possible to be sure, at least in psychiatric patients, that these cells were behind the disorder.

It is in this state of affairs that Lima and colleagues, in the work now published, decided to design a simple but very effective experiment to understand what was happening.

They start by injecting rats in the prefrontal cortex with a toxin that specifically kills astrocytes in a very localized way, and then tested the animals' cognitive abilities correlating these with the animals' (changed?) brain structure. The prefrontal cortex was chosen because it controls cognitive abilities such as planning, reasoning and problem solving, which are affected not only in the most common mental diseases, but also on age-related neurodegenerative illnesses like Alzheimer's.

As expected toxin-injected animals developed the cognitive deficits typical of mental disorders where the prefrontal cortex is affected. But what was really interesting, were the brain changes found - not only the prefrontal cortex's astrocytes had died with the toxin (as expected) but, as time passed, also did its neurons. Control animals injected with a solution free of toxin had no changes, either in behaviour or brain structure.

So even if faulty astrocytes have been found before in mental patients, the Portuguese researchers' results give robust support to the idea that astrocyte breakdown can be a primordial cause for these disorders (and not a result of them), and also suggests how it occurs. "Until now, we have blamed the poorer performance of the prefrontal cortex in these diseases on the surrounding astrocyte pathology" - says Oliveira - "but this study now supports the view that astrocytes, targeted in a pathological process, may actually lead to neurodegeneration in a specific brain region. Psychiatric disease can be mimicked by simply affecting astrocytes!"

This is a totally new perspective on how these diseases can develop, and consequently on how to treat them. For now, while we do not test other brain areas, Oliveira's results are specially relevant for mood disorders diseases - depression, schizophrenia and bipolarity - which we know to have both loss of cognitive functions, and abnormalities in the astrocytes of the prefrontal cortex.

But Oliveira and his team's findings are also important challenging the still too present view of the brain as a simple network of neurons, clearly showing that we need to see it instead as an interdependent circuit of neural and glial cells (in particular astrocytes) both in health and disease.

The new work also makes us also wonder if the claims on the importance of the astrocytes in Einstein's brain were that crazy after all...

Piece researched and written by Catarina Amorim.

Posted by Teresa on 7/24/2014

Patrick Hendry of Mental Health America to be Honored by SAMHSA with 2014 Voice Award for Consumer/Peer Leadership

Patrick Hendry, Senior Director for Consumer Advocacy at Mental Health America, will be honored by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) with a 2014 Voice Award for consumer/peer leadership.

Hendry and other leaders being honored this year will receive their awards on the evening of August 13 at an event at Royce Hall on the campus of the University of California, Los Angeles. (For more information on this year’s Voice Awards, go to

SAMHSA's Voice Awards program recognizes consumer/peer leaders who share their personal stories of resilience to demonstrate that people with mental and/or substance use disorders can recover and lead meaningful lives. It also honors writers and producers who incorporate dignified, respectful, and accurate portrayals of people with behavioral health challenges into film and television productions.

"Patrick Hendry has made major contributions in improving the lives of people living with mental health and substance use conditions,” said Paul Gionfriddo, president and CEO of Mental Health America. "His exceptional skills and leadership have empowered thousands to achieve recovery. We are proud to have him on the staff of Mental Health America.”

Hendry was the recipient in 2012 of the Clifford W. Beers Award, Mental Health America’s highest honor, which is presented to a mental health consumer who best reflects the example set by Mental Health America’s founder in his or her efforts to improve conditions for and attitudes toward people living with mental health conditions. Earlier this year, he was honored by the National Council for Behavioral Health with a Reintegration Lifetime Achievement award.

Early in his career, Hendry battled serious mental illness that robbed him of his business, home, marriage, and friends and nearly destroyed his life. He became an advocate and an educator helping others overcome the challenges of poverty, loneliness, exclusion and isolation imposed by mental illness. In 1992, he co-founded the first peer-run organization in Florida to contract directly with the state for the provision of services. Since that time, he has assisted with the development of numerous peer-run programs to help people with mental illness recover through reintegration into the community.

He is also the editor of the book "Common Threads, Stories of Survival and Recovery from Mental Illness” and the producer of a documentary, "From Asylums to Recovery: The History of the Battle of Civil and Human Rights for People in the Mental Health Care System.”

Hendry has also devoted his time and talent to the national memorial at Saint Elizabeths for psychiatric patients buried at state hospitals nationwide. He has given of his time voluntarily to present the memorial plan at national mental health conferences, work with city officials on the details of the project and help develop a sustainable fundraising plan.

Mental Health America is a program partner of the Voice Awards.

Mental Health America ( is the nation’s largest and oldest community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. With our 228 affiliates across the country, we touch the lives of millions—Advocating for changes in mental health and wellness policy; Educating the public & providing critical information; and delivering urgently needed mental health and wellness Programs and Services.

Posted by Teresa on 7/23/2014
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