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After Las Vegas Shooting: PTSD and Mental Health Must be Priority

After Las Vegas Shooting: PTSD and Mental Health Must be Priority

Just this past Sunday the nation saw one of the deadliest shootings in modern American history in Las Vegas. This immense and indescribable tragedy shocked the world as news reports and live footage filled the airwaves after a gunman opened fire with high-powered rifles at an outdoor music festival. At this point there are at least 58 dead and over 520 wounded, making it the deadliest mass shooting in recent history.

The heartbreak and weight of this tragedy truly cannot be put into words. The unimaginable loss is without parallel. Beyond those who lost their lives in such a senseless act of violence, the impacts this event has had on countless friends, families and loved ones are unfathomable.

In the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting, mental health must be a priority. How we address and protect the psychological well-being of every American must be a very serious part of the conversation. We have to take a close look at how we are facing mental health, and support those who have been traumatized in the wake of such horrific events.

PTSD of Mass Shootings

The risks of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is extremely elevated in situations like this. Research on mass shootings is not extensive but is sufficient enough to allow for some preliminary conclusions. One study examined 15 mass shooting events to review consequences of the incidents upon survivors. From these studies conclusion, researchers stated:

  • Prevalence of post-disaster diagnoses (predominantly PTSD) in these studies ranged from 10% to 36%
  • Much higher percentages reported sub-threshold PTSD
  • Very few participants reported no symptoms

One 1994 study in the American Journal of Psychiatry shows that in the acute post-disaster period:

  • 20% of the men met criteria for PTSD after a mass shooting
  • 36% of the women met criteria for PTSD

The same study looked at those with post-disaster PTSD who also met criteria for another post-disaster psychiatric diagnosis, especially major depression. They found:

  • One-half of the women met the criteria
  • One-fourth of the men met the criteria

Experts say most people will recover fully from post-disaster PTSD within 6 to 16 months, but most still emphasize the importance of support.

Not only can those present at the tragedy be affected directly, but also those not present but connected to the location or individuals present can be affected vicariously. You don’t have to experience something so horrifying first-hand to suffer a severe impact. An attack like this can have deep emotional effects on those who witness the event, or even for those all over the world following the story.

Understanding PTSD

Part of dealing with the residual effects of tragic events and disasters is to understand how conditions like PTSD can impact people. PTSD can result in emotional, physical and even cognitive issues that some people may not know how to recognize or cope with.

Emotional Effects of PTSD Include

  • Shock
  • Terror
  • Irritability
  • Blame
  • Anger
  • Guilt
  • Grief or sadness
  • Emotional numbing
  • Helplessness
  • Loss of pleasure derived from familiar activities
  • Difficulty feeling happy
  • Difficulty experiencing loving feelings

Physical Effects of PTSD Include

  • Headaches
  • Fatigue
  • Exhaustion
  • Insomnia
  • Startle response
  • Cardiovascular strain
  • Increased physical pain
  • Reduced immune response
  • Gastrointestinal upset
  • Decreased appetite
  • Decreased libido

Cognitive Effects of PTSD Include

  • Decreased concentration
  • Confusion
  • Impaired decision making
  • Disbelief
  • Dissociation
  • Nightmares
  • Impaired Memory
  • Decreased self-esteem
  • Reduced self-efficacy
  • Self-blame
  • Intrusive thoughts/memories
  • Anxiety

All of these things can cause other more personal issues. Some will experience difficulty with intimacy or social relationships. Isolation and alienation can develop at work, at school or even at home.

According to PTSD United, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing support and resources for those suffering from PTSD:

  • 70% of adults (approximately 223.4 million people) in the US have experienced some type of traumatic event at least once in their lives.
  • Up to 20% of these people go on to develop PTSD.
  • Approximately 44.7 million people today either have struggled or are struggling with PTSD.

With PTSD, a lot of people actually turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. Some will rely on substances as a form of relief when PTSD brings feelings of isolation or depression. However, as people try to numb or distract themselves from these feelings, they tend to create more problems through substance use.

Often times, the substances only fuel feelings of isolation, depression or anxiety.

Make Mental Health a Priority

This week, October 1 through October 7, is Mental Illness Awareness Week. There is no time like the present to discuss the current state of mental health across the country. Now is always the time to advocate for better support, services, and acceptance when discussing mental illness and mental health in America.

According to the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH):

  • 9% of all U.S. adults (43.4 million)qualified as having mental health issues in 2015
  • Approximately 20-21% of incarcerated Americans have a “recent history” of mental health issues
  • 70% of young people caught up in the juvenile justice system have at least one mental health issue
  • 46% of people living in homeless shelters live with severe mental health issues and/or substance use disorders (SUDs)

In the aftermath of such profound tragedy like the recent shooting in Las Vegas, or even natural disasters like recently with Hurricane Irma or Hurricane Maria, there should be a very direct conversation about mental health. We should also work diligently to ensure that while the world grapples with opioid addiction and drug abuse, that more people don’t turn to self-medicating to fight feelings of loss, terror or alienation.

For all survivors of recent tragedies, or those affected indirectly, there are ways to take care of yourself and monitor your own mental state. Make your own mental health a priority. Protect yourself from destructive behaviors, and reach out for help in the wake of such emotionally compromising events as what happened in Las Vegas.

The national crisis hotline also offers confidential and free services 24/7/365 Call (775) 784-8090 or text ANSWER to 839-863

Our hearts and prayers go out to all those touched by this tragedy.

If you or someone you love is struggling with trauma, don’t let substance abuse make it all even worse. Drugs or alcohol are not the answer. There is real help out there. Please call toll-free now.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

International Overdose Awareness Day 2017

International Overdose Awareness Day 2017

Today, August 31, marks International Overdose Awareness Day. The purpose of this day is to raise awareness and reduce the stigma of drug-related deaths. This day intends to acknowledge the pain and hardship felt by friends and family who have suffered the loss of a loved one due to a drug overdose.

International Overdose Awareness Day is a day that hopes to reduce the shame and guilt that is so often associated with addiction. The day aims to provide an opportunity for people to publicly mourn for loved ones without feeling guilt or shame.

International Overdose Awareness Day Focuses on:

  • Giving communities information about fatal and non-fatal overdoses
  • Sending a strong message to current and former drug users that they are valued
  • Providing essential information regarding resources available in their community
  • Raising a discussion about overdose prevention and drug policy
  • Preventing and reducing harm by supporting evidence-based policies and practices

The Shocking Reality

Drug overdoses are the number one cause of preventable death in America. Today is a day to spread awareness to others about the disease of addiction. Addiction does not discriminate. It affects everyone.

The United States is facing a major drug epidemic.

Facts & Stats:

  • The United States accounts for approximately one-quarter of the estimated number of drug-related deaths worldwide.
  • Overdose deaths continue to rise, and these overdoses are driven by opioid use.
  • Overdose deaths have more than tripled in the United States during the period of 1999-2015, from 16,849 to 52,404 annually.
  • A recent report by STAT states the opioid epidemic is predicted to get a lot worse before it gets any better if it gets better at all.
  • The third quarter of 2016, saw all drug overdose deaths peak at 19.9 cases for every 100,000 people, compared to the 16.7 in the same period last year.
  • Another report found that the number of drug overdoses involving opioids between 2008-2014 was likely underestimated by 24%.
  • Substances like fentanyl are close to 50 times stronger than heroin, and the increased presence of these opioid have significantly increased the number of opioid overdoses.

So what is an overdose exactly?

An overdose means taking too much of a drug or a combination of drugs for a body to tolerate.  Overdose symptoms vary depending on the drug abused. Opioids, benzos, and alcohol all cause overdoses. These drugs slow down the nervous system which includes breathing and heart rate. Too much of these substances can kill or cause permanent brain damage to the user.

Signs of a drug overdose on opioids include:

  • Shallow breathing or not breathing at all
  • Snoring or gurgling sounds (this can mean that a person’s airway is partly blocked)
  • Blue lips or fingertips
  • Floppy arms and legs
  • No response to stimulus
  • Disorientation
  • Unconsciousness.

If you think someone has overdosed, please seek help immediately. Not all overdoses happen quickly, and it can take hours for someone to die from an overdose depending on the severity. Naloxone, known by the brand name Narcan, is an overdose antidote that reverses an overdose from opioids.

Fight to Increase Access to Narcan

Narcan is now in the hands of first responders.  It can be found in schools and even over-the-counter depending on the area you reside. Please look into where you can purchase and receive training.

If you know someone who has overdosed, show your support on International Overdose Awareness Day. Now, more than ever is the time to share the truth about addiction. We need to end the stigma.

How to Get Involved

There are a variety of resources available on the International Overdose Awareness Day website. The website has an area where loved ones can write and grieve anyone they have lost. These tributes are where many share the impact drug use, and overdoses have had on their family and friends. There is also an overdose awareness app that shares information on what an overdose is, and the main overdose symptoms. Please see the website for more information and to look for events in your local area.

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How are you going to raise awareness of International Overdose Awareness Day? The impact of addiction continues to influence the lives around us. Let’s end the stigma. If you are struggling with substance abuse, do not wait for it to progress into an overdose. We can help you get back on track. Please call toll free today. Do not wait. 

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

Jimmy Harding: The Journey From Construction Mogul to Marketing Guru

 

When Jimmy Harding was just ten years old, he started mowing lawns around his neighborhood for extra cash. During these early years, he acquired an entrepreneurial spirit that has carried with him ever since.  Harding would spend the rest of his life developing his businesses and despite the ups and downs, achieve the personal freedom he always desired.

On an episode of The Real Deal On…, Harding sat down with Dug McGuirk for a conversation about reinvention. He discusses his business troubles and the pivotal moments that made reinvention possible in both his personal and professional life.

Harding started his career in construction, eventually becoming a construction mogul and dominating the industry. However, through a series of twists and turns, he fell into marketing. He is now a sought-after marketing guru who helps other businesses reach their full potential.

When it comes to reinvention, Harding has been through quite a few:

“I don’t believe there’s one reinvention per se.  I think we go through a series of them,” he says.

Harding started his career in construction and grew his construction firm from the ground up.

“It started off as basically me and a helper and a pickup truck, and by the time that business got to its height, we were building like ten to twelve fast-food restaurants per year and then like a luxury home every single month on the residential side, so we really grew that thing up.”

During his time in construction, Harding learned valuable lessons.

Often, people place their failure on a lack of resources; however, Harding always knew the importance of being resourceful.  Therefore, when he wanted to learn how to build a particular type of cabinet, instead of hiring someone to build it, Harding began working at a cabinet shop to find out how to build it himself.

“There was a particular type of cabinet that I didn’t know how to build and I went and got a job at a cabinet shop while I owned my own business just to learn how to build that so I can see the process, come back and use it in the project we were about to start,” he explains.

“There’s always a way. It’s just how do we figure it out. You can either pay someone to show you or you can pay someone to teach you to do it,” he continues.

Gaining Personal Freedom:

Ultimately, Harding’s goal was always to achieve personal freedom.  Entrepreneurship was a vehicle to achieve that goal, he says.  Over the years, he developed a passion for helping others achieve that freedom on their own. From the beginning, he always had a passion for helping others.

“I would go get my friends that would have you know $100,000 in debt from going to college, and they couldn’t even get a job. I’m like, ‘No, this is how you create your own economy,’ so I always would give people a hand up, people younger than me…,” he says

“That saying that it takes money to make money is B.S.,” he explains. “I’ve never had startup funding or whatever. Whatever I was going to do, I would go out and help other people, get paid for it, and use that [money] as the capital to start up my business.”

The Impact of Hurricane Katrina

Despite a struggling economy and weakening housing market, Harding’s construction firm continued to boom throughout the early 2000s. Then, Hurricane Katrina happened.

“All of a sudden, Hurricane Katrina comes along, and we’ve got 13 properties under construction, all in my name that I own,” he says. “We ended up having anywhere from like two to 13 feet of water in nine of the 13 properties, and it was pretty devastating. We had to recover from that and then there was a big need in the community.”

Despite the hurdles, Harding’s construction company thrived as they were able to help families rebuild their homes and contribute to the community in various ways.

“It was really a great time for us and contributing to the community, and we were rewarded handsomely for it because we helped like 87 people get back in their home,” he explains.

It was a hectic time. Families lived in FEMA trailers on the front lawn while their houses were being built, Harding says. The goal was to build these homes as soon as possible. Therefore, Harding’s company was able to grow and employ a lot of new people.

The business continued to boom for about 18 months; then suddenly things started to shift.

“It wasn’t that there was no need for any construction services but what happened is the stuff that we did or the stuff that we were capable of doing, was not available anymore,” he says.

Essentially, the only work left in New Orleans after 18 months was down to the most damaged stuff.

“If you were not a contractor that was set up to do 100 million dollar jobs like big infrastructure and improvement type of stuff, then it came down to very little left to be done,” he says.

Instead of changing his business model, Harding kept thinking things would get better. However, business started to dry up.  He had to figure out what to do next. He remembered how heavily competing companies were advertising, so he decided to dive into marketing in an attempt to save his business.

This was the start of a costly journey to understand how marketing and advertising worked.

The last $100,000:

Harding’s quest to figure out why his business was declining led him into the marketing industry.  He used the last $100,000 of his business finances to invest in advertising. He hired an advertising company to market his construction company to NFL games.

As a Saint Season holder, Harding thought the affluent market at these games would be a great place to gain new clients for his construction firm. He became the official construction sponsor for all the games.  Unfortunately, the results were far from promising.

“The only phone call I got was someone else trying to sell me advertising,” he laughs.
“The first thing that I learned from that is that just because someone sells advertising doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing,” he says.

The experience taught Harding a lot about advertising. He realized the way he was marketing the wrong way.

“In advertising, you need two things: you have to be able to make an emotional connection, and it has to be intellectually interesting,” he explains.

Despite the lessons learned, his construction firm shut down.

“Eventually I ran out of money, and I had to shut it down and give the properties back and start struggling for survival,” he says. “It seemed like everything I touched just fell apart during that time, so that was a long struggle period like from 2008 until 2010.”

After his business went under, Harding decided to go on the road doing disaster cleanup. He had become an “expert on disaster cleanup,”  and knew he had the tools to do the job. It seemed like the right direction to go.

“I said okay, I’m going to start going on the road and to these disasters and start doing our disaster cleanup and so I learned a lot of stuff at that time,” he says.

At first, Harding would knock on the doors of residents who had gone through a disaster and offer his services. He learned quickly that this was not the most efficient strategy. Soon, Harding began educating people on how to respond and react to disasters. He created educational brochures to hand out to people and acquired clients through becoming an expert in the field.

“When they would call me, I would go to their house, and I would expand on that education, and so really I was just consulting with them.  I was helping them, and like people were literally just pulling out their checkbooks,” he says.

This was a pivotal point in Harding’s career as he learned the importance of educational marketing. To this day, Harding continues to give away tons of information and advice to help people in their own pursuits.

Harding’s disaster cleanup business started to flourish, and he eventually partnered with a friend in the oil industry. Together, they developed a company.  During this time, he continued to learn more about marketing. Eventually, his efforts led him to the boardroom of a major oil company.

“That same marketing that was getting people to invite me into their home to educate them invited this big oil company to call us,” he says.

The BP Oil Spill Fiasco

The morning of the big meeting, Harding and his business partner were prepared to sign a seven-figure contract with the major oil company.

“All I had to do was go there, do my presentation, and basically sign contracts,” he says.

However, a major event got in the way: the BP oil spill.

“The morning that we show up in Houston, my partner and I walk into this big giant boardroom, and there’s a flat-screen TV on the wall, and there’s an oil rig on fire,” Harding remembers.

“That night, in the middle of the night before we got there, was the big BP oil spill of 2010,” he says.

“We get there, and all non-essential services are canceled indefinitely. Boom. So I’m going there to get money. We needed this money, and all of a sudden, boom and I was in shock,” he continues.

Despite his shock, Harding remembered something he learned from Tony Robin’s Date with Destiny seminar a few months earlier.  During the seminar, he learned “state management,” and knew not to keep repeating the same victim story. Instead of dwelling on the failure and asking why; he asked himself how he could use the experience to help others. That was the moment he decided to open up his own marketing company.

“It was the catalyst to opening a marketing company, and like mastering marketing and changing and moving into the way that I coach and consult now.  it was all based off of that thing,” he explains.

Advice to others in reinvention:

Harding went through various reinventions but ultimately learned to gain from his experience rather than create the same story in his head. His marketing company was a result of the ups and downs of his past businesses. Through his experience, he is now able to help others succeed.

“When something traumatic happens, you have to look at the good side, because you know there’s an opposite reaction to everything that happens,” he says.

Harding shares his advice for those wanting to pursue their goals:

“Figure out exactly what you want and then go after it. One of the big mistakes that I made along the way is I knew what I did not want, so I never got specific.  I got specific on what I did not want and what I found out is that’s not good enough. […] Figure out what you want and focus on that. Don’t be scared to fail. It’s not a failure unless you quit,” he says.


We highly encourage you to listen to the entire interview to hear more exciting stories from Jimmy Harding. Harding has had every obstacle thrown at him over the course of his career, but despite all of it, he managed to turn it all around.

Reinvention is about going in a positive direction when obstacles are thrown at you. In recovery, reinvention is crucial.  You need to stop telling yourself the same old stories of failure. Instead, focus on heading in a positive direction in your life. If you or someone you love is struggling, please call toll-free now.

 

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

 

Lady Gaga Brings Mental Health First-Aid Training On Tour

Lady Gaga Brings Mental Health First-Aid Training On Tour

Lady Gaga continues to pave the way for mental health awareness, and now she’s bringing that awareness on her upcoming tour.

Gaga’s Born This Way Foundation has partnered with the National Council for Behavioral Health to bring Mental Health First Aid training to every American city on her Joanne tour. Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia Germanotta, want fans to be better prepared to help those struggling with mental health and substance abuse.

The training, described as “CPR for the mind,” will consist of an eight-hour-long course that teaches and provides the tools needed to help someone with mental health challenges. While the training does not turn people into crisis counselors, it does help people better understand how to identify and respond to signs of mental illness. The objective is to train 150,000 people by the end of 2017.

Since 2008, over 1 million people received training in Mental Health First Aid.

“To us, [the training] is so vitally important because there’s still a very large stigma around mental health, and around talking about it and providing help for people who are experiencing a mental health crisis,” Cynthia Germanotta told Mashable. “It’s really been invaluable because there’s just a comfort level knowing that if you see someone in crisis, you can have a conversation with them and hopefully determine how severe it is.”

Earlier this year, the Born This Way Foundation released its report regarding factors that influence mental wellness in young people. The results were gathered through surveying over 3,000 young people between the ages of 15 and 24, and over 1000 parents.

The findings confirmed that having a network of friends, community support, and access to resources was crucial for the mental well-being of young people. The report also found a dire need for more resources for young people to take better care of their mental health.

Mental Health First Aid Training:

These findings make Mental Health First Aid training even more valuable. These training help people obtain the tools and confidence needed to encourage friends and family seek help. Often, young people are not willing to talk to older adults or their parents.

Germanotta told Mashable about how Gaga was bullied in middle school, which inspired them to be a part of this mission. In the past, Lady Gaga has opened up about her mental health challenges, including her PTSD diagnosis.

Back in December 2016, Lady Gaga first revealed during an emotional visit with homeless, LGBTQ teens in New York that she had struggled with PTSD.  She visited the Ali Forney Center to surprise teens with gifts as part of Today and NBC Universal’s #ShareKindness campaign.

“These children are not just homeless or in need. Many of them are trauma survivors. They’ve been rejected in some type of way,” Gaga said. “My own trauma in my life has helped me to understand the trauma of others.”

Furthermore, Gaga hopes her efforts during this upcoming tour will make an impact on the lives of young people.


What do you think about Gaga and her mother’s mission on the Joanne tour? Should other artists consider promoting similar programs? PTSD is not a laughing manner and if left untreated, can cause further mental health struggles, even substance abuse. Please reach out if you are struggling. No one should have to battle this on their own. If you or someone you love is struggling with mental illness or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-777-9588.

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

 

Death on the Tracks: South Florida Trains Plagued by Suicides

Death on the Tracks: South Florida Trains Plagued by Suicides

Just last week, a train hit a couple who were hugging and laying on the tracks in an apparent suicide pact.  The crash occurred on South Florida’s Tri-Rail and the train driver says he did everything he could to stop the train but was unsuccessful. Shockingly, the couple survived the crash and both are in critical condition at the Delray Medical Center.

Suicide by train is not anything new. In fact, the act has been depicted many times in movies and television shows. In the United Kingdom, suicide-by-train accounts for 3.5% of all suicides. A 2012 exposé revealed stories from train drivers who had killed people while operating a train. For some, the trauma from the experience lasts a lifetime.

Surviving a train crash is rare. It is difficult for trains to stop quickly enough to prevent crashes from happening. Still, Tri-Rail is fighting back, doing everything possible to prevent these fatalities. Palm Beach County, specifically, is the site of most cases of suicide-by-train. At least five people have been struck this year, four of them by Tri-Rail.

The crash is a reminder to Tri-Rail about the importance of suicide awareness and education, Tri-Rail spokeswoman Bonnie Arnold said.

“Unfortunately, suicide by train is a pretty sure thing. If someone wants to commit suicide, it’s pretty hard to prevent it.”

In response, Tri-Rail plans to put up crisis-intervention signs in vulnerable areas. They hope the signs will help people think twice about taking their own lives. The sign will also warn crews of the six problem spots along its 72 miles of track, which run from Miami-Dade to Palm Beach Counties.

Another Solution? Drones.

Tri-rail is also considering drones as a way of monitoring the tracks and deterring suicides. The drones would help alert train drivers of potential accidents further in advance. The drones would spot people on the tracks early enough to warn the drivers of potential issues.

Furthermore, The Florida Department of Transportation plans to launch a public-service campaign on radio, TV, and websites urging people to stay away from the tracks.

Florida’s New Brightline Trains Sees First Suicide

The newly constructed Brightline train has not even been open yet, and already has experienced their first suicide. The train is supposed to offer Floridians a much faster and relaxing way of commuting.

The website boasts:

  • Go from Fort Lauderdale to Miami in 30 minutes
  • Go from West Palm Beach to Miami in 60 minutes
  • Work or play while you travel, care free and car free.

However, with the speed and convenience comes a high potential for suicide attempts. The trains are still in the testing phase and already an 18-year old woman was struck and killed when a train was going southbound on Monday afternoon.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with those affected,” the company said in a statement. “We are cooperating with the local authorities as they complete their investigation.”

In preparation for the start of service, the company has been working to promote train safety through workshops and warning students about the dangers of walking along the tracks.

Overall, these recent suicides are a serious indicator of problems to come as more trains develop all across South Florida counties. As for the couple mentioned, we will have to see if they are able to make a full recovery.

On average, there are 121 suicides every day in the United States. Mental illness is a serious problem and it is important to raise awareness. If you are struggling with thoughts of hopelessness and suicide ideations, know you are not alone. There Is help out there. Do not wait. Call now.  

 CALL NOW 1-888-922-5398

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