Self-Care for Providers During Change and Stress

Self-Care for Providers During Change and Stress

People working in health care recognize stress as something that can compromise the wellness of the people they serve. However, health care workers may neglect their own wellness and not realize that an even a greater challenge is to manage their own stress. Long hours, large workloads, and exposure to the physical and psychological trauma of others can contribute to provider stress, burnout, and diminished well-being. Maintaining good self-care is especially important to avoid the toll that stressful challenges take on mood, behavior, physical health, and patient care.

Significant events such as a job change, the loss of a family member, an empty nest, divorce, or even age-related biological changes can decrease the ability to cope with daily stressors. This is amplified during times when a community is affected by disaster or disease, which often presents service providers with additional challenges to maintaining their own health and well-being while helping others. Therefore, it is essential that healthcare workers adopt and maintain healthy lifestyles and employ self-care strategies during times of stress.

Stress can cause headaches, fatigue, sexual disinterest, stomach problems, and sleep disturbance. It can decrease energy, make a person more irritable, and lead to feelings of depression or anger. Stress can also decrease an individual’s efficiency, quality of interpersonal interactions, and lead to serious changes in behavior such as isolation, substance use, and changes in eating and exercise habits.

Self-Care Strategies

Providers can learn to recognize their own need for self-care by learning the common causes of stress and how stress impacts them as individuals. SAMHSA offers many resources on resilienceprotective factors, and self-care strategies to lessen the effects of stress. Some of the recommended strategies include:

  • Follow a healthy lifestyle. Eat healthy foods and limit alcohol intake. Don’t smoke or use addictive substances. Exercise regularly. Consistently practice good sleep habits. And make time for rest and relaxation.
  • Make wellness part of everyday life. Address emotional and general health to improve personal resilience and manage stress. This may include exercise, time by yourself, or mindfulness exercises.
  • Connect with friends and family. Relationships and social networks that provide support, friendship, love, and hope are essential to one’s well-being. At work, if case load or other work issues are creating stress, connect with a supportive colleague or workplace mentor to think through helpful strategies.
  • Schedule annual checkups and health screenings. Take care of the basics to ensure your best health in the event of any adversity and to help manage stress.
  • Seek support from a support group or mental health professional. If stress is starting to affect your mood, behavior, or physical health, it may be helpful to talk with a physician or counselor to talk through strategies to help balance.

Carlton Speight, public health advisor with SAMHSA’s Center for Mental Health Services, provides additional perspective. “If providers take the steps to build resilience through wellness practices and healthy supportive relationships, they will be better equipped to manage adversity. A little thought, intention, and time are key before a crisis arises.”

From: SAMHSA News 


The Decrease in Age but Increase in Sex Traffecking

The Decrease in Age but Increase in Sex Traffecking

When most people think of sex trafficking they view it as an issue in foreign countries but unfortunately we need to analyze much closer to home. Sex traffecking affects girls/boys/ young adults who are American trafficked within America.

Victims are in every county, state, and rural town in the US. They are the girls next door taken in by a persuasive predator or being kidnapped into sex slavery. The victim does not need to cross state or international lines to be trafficked. It can happen in their own hometown.

“Sex traffickers use violence, threats, lies, debt bondage, and other forms of coercion to compel adults and children to engage in commercial sex acts against their will. Under U.S. federal law, any minor under the age of 18 years induced into commercial sex is a victim of sex trafficking—regardless of whether or not the trafficker used force, fraud, or coercion” , reported by The Polaris Project.

Sex trafficking is expected to bypass drug trafficking in the next 10 years because the victims are considered a “renewable commodity”.   A trafficker can make around $100,000 a year, per victim.  The average age of a girl that is sex trafficked within the US is 12 and it has been declining as the age of puberty has decreased. The average age is expected to lean more toward the age of 10.  In 2013, the United States Department of State’s Trafficking in Persons Report (TIP) estimated 27 million victims of human trafficking worldwide. The International Labor Office (2014) projected that human trafficking generates $150 billion of annual illegal profits worldwide” from UTexas.

The majority (99%) of girls sex trafficked in the US have previously been sexually abused and did not receive proper therapeutic interventions, making them vulnerable to predators. Only 1% of girls that have been sex trafficked, successfully escape and ended up in a safe environment for treatment.

The common diagnosis with this level of complex trauma are PTSD, anxiety, panic attack disorder, OCD, mood disorders, dissociative disorder, personality disorders like borderline personality disorder, and substance abuse. The common evidence based therapy treatments used are  CBT, Exposure Therapy, EMDR, Stress Inoculation Training, DBT, Hypnosis, Art and Music therapy and Substance Abuse programs like SMART, 12 step and Matrix. An important part of treatment,  beyond receive group and individual  therapy is  family therapy because most families do not know how to effectively handle the trauma, shame and guilt related to the complex trauma the victims faced and the social stigma of sex work whether voluntary, coerced or forced.

If you know someone that is a victim of sex trafficking then reach out to the national sex trafficking hotline:

Call 1-888-373-7888 ( TTY: 711)|Text 233733

Written by: Karen Limme

Lincoln police saving lives in more ways than one

Lincoln police saving lives in more ways than one

A program in which Lincoln police refer people with mental illness for voluntary help has reduced the chance officers will need to take the same people into emergency protective custody, a department study has found.The study examined the department’s collaboration with the Mental Health Association of Nebraska’s REAL program. REAL is an acronym for respond, empower, advocate and listen, which launched in 2011.

The partnership formed following years of increasing mental health investigations by Lincoln police and limited bed space at the Crisis Center and other facilities where police take people who are in emergency protective custody, Officer Luke Bonkiewicz said.

 More than 1,900 people had been referred to the program as of last September, and 85 percent accepted services, according to the review last August.

The program works like this: A police officer who meets someone with an identified or suspected mental health issue on a call writes a referral for the association, Bonkiewicz said. Then peer specialists working for the association offer the person free, voluntary and non-clinical support.The peer specialists are trained staffers who themselves have lived with a mental illness, Bonkiewicz said.

If the help is accepted, the specialist listens as the person identifies the issues they’re having and helps them develop a plan.

Sometimes this means helping someone navigate the legal process if they’re having troubles with a landlord, getting them into grief counseling to process a loved one’s death, or finding funds to help pay a utility bill, Bonkiewicz said.It’s not always pushing medication if the person has stopped taking their meds, he said.The goal is to intervene with someone struggling with mental illness long before the person would need to be placed in involuntary treatment.Analyzing data from mental health calls between 2008 and 2013, the researchers found these plans helped those who were referred to the program.

People who were referred were 33 percent less likely to be taken into emergency protective custody two years from the initial contact compared with cases where no referral was made, the study found.At the three-year mark, individuals were 44 percent less likely to be taken into emergency protective custody.Bonkiewicz said he believes that’s because, like treatment for a serious physical ailment such as cancer, successfully treating mental illness takes time. The referral program had no effect on the arrest rate, the study found.Bonkiewicz believes that’s because police use their arrest powers judiciously on these calls, and people with mental illness commit crimes at the same rate as people who don’t have mental illness.

However, he said, people with mental illness are more likely to be victims of crimes.This study follows a six-month pilot study that Bonkiewicz believes did not have enough data to examine the true effects of the program.Other large law enforcement agencies have partnerships with on-call psychiatrists who can come out to assess someone in crisis, he said.But the REAL Program is a unique, long-term partnership between police and mental health advocates, he said.”I don’t know of another agency that works as closely as we do with our mental health association in really providing a community-based, collaborative response,” Bonkiewicz said.The study is up for publication in Police Quarterly, a peer-reviewed academic journal on policing.

From Lincoln Journey Star

Why Creating a Sense of Purpose in Life is Important

Why Creating a Sense of Purpose in Life is Important

Think about the last time you had the energy or drive to complete a task- whether it was to clean the house or to pay attention in school and maintain passing grades. I had a client in the past who came in with his mother who was concerned about her son’s lack of interest-from school to extracurricular activities. The client would spend his free time playing video games, which he stated he enjoyed but wouldn’t express any excitement or passion. When asked what he wanted to pursue in the future he responded “I don’t know.”I proposed and highly recommend the client to start delving into a possible part time job, sport, or volunteering so that would instill purpose in his life and create motivation. I educated the client and mom that he may have to try all different kinds of activities to see what really creates passion for himself to relay that purpose in other areas such as school. If you are interested in how creating purpose in life can help- please contact Exult Healthcare @ 469.714.0006.

By: LP-C Therapist

Beyond Coping Skills

Beyond Coping Skills

As a practicing clinician, it is highly recommended to go beyond coping skills in therapy. Thinking about how we address issues, we tend to want that quick fix, like a band-aid to essentially mask the issues at hand. Think about all those times you got angry and you ended up listening to music or turn to watching your favorite movie to “just forget about it.” It is important to be able to use your coping skills to prevent further escalation of the emotions that would essentially become out of control but actually addressing those emotions is the key to personal growth. Although using your coping skills temporary eases or help the issues, directly challenging ourselves to the underlying issues/emotions will produce long term outcomes.

If you are interested in walking the steps of becoming more aware of your thoughts and emotions with a licensed professional, please contact Exult Healthcare at 469.714.0006

By: LP-C Therapist

Thoughts From Our Therapists: Family Sessions

Thoughts From Our Therapists: Family Sessions

Why Are Family Sessions Important When Working with Child or Adolescent Populations?

In my work with children or adolescents, I consider it important to think of family therapy as a component of their treatment plan. When one considers how family members impact one another in regards to emotional and physical developments, it would only make sense to involve family members in a client’s session. Compared to individual therapy, family sessions have several distinct benefits, including but not limited to: increased communication, improved relationships with one another, and deeper understanding of each other (empathy).

As much as I would like all family members to be present, sometimes it simply is not feasible. Therefore, I occasionally work just one legal guardian/parent with the child/adolescent. The goal of these family sessions is to allow for a safe place to exchange emotions and issues with one another. This may be achieved through a series of therapeutic games or simply by talking to one another with myself as the mediator. The family session would focus on the underlying issues that have broken the communication or relationship and hopefully have all family members build each other to be able to work as a team and work together effectively to better handle any issues that lie ahead.

If you or a loved one are interested in family sessions, please contact Exult Healthcare at (469) 714-0006.

By: LP- C Therapist