News & Announcements

Black and Blue: On Being Black, Female and Depressed

Posted: September 10, 2014

The following is an excerpt from a posting by J.N. Salters on HuffingtonPost.com:

................ It has taken me years to openly talk about living with depression and even longer to not feel guilt or shame for needing pills to feel content at best. Growing up, I was taught that black people do not suffer from mental illness. Like HIV, depression is a "white thing." For them, it may be a mental disorder, but for us, it's just a sign of weakness (and part of a long history of black people using silence and shame as survival techniques and proof of our humanity, all the while failing to acknowledge that it is these same practices that keep us in pain and oppressed). Us black people, we learn early on, come from a lineage of strength and resilience. We are Negro-spiritual singing warriors. We shall (and always do) overcome. Despite records of slave suicides and recent statistical studies which show that one black person dies by suicide every 4.5 hours in the U.S., we are taught that we do not commit suicide. Nor do we need psychotherapy or antidepressants or alternative therapies. All we need to do is hold on to our faith, learn to "get over" things, put bandages on our unhealable wounds and pretend that our problems have disappeared.

These past two or three years I have met dozens of people with depression who publicly discuss living with the mood disorder (perhaps because I am older and in graduate school, a place that some studies and many students insist drastically impairs mental health). The people in these conversations are generally white, middle to upper-middle class, and have been seeing therapists since before I even knew what therapy was. While I find comfort in these newfound networks, I am still left without people who fully grasp the combined effects of particular historical and cultural circumstances and lived experiences on psychiatric disorders, the role of gendered racism and socioeconomic status on black women's mental health, why suicide is the third leading causing of death for black people between 15 and 24 and blacks are half as likely as whites to seek treatment for serious mental illness..............

Read the full post on HuffingtonPost.com.



Prayer Doesn’t Ease Symptoms of Anxiety-Related Disorders for Everyone, Baylor Study Finds

Posted: September 08, 2014

Whether the problem is health, enemies, poverty or difficulty with aging, “Take your burden to the Lord and leave it there,” suggested the late gospel musician Charles A. Tindley. But when it comes to easing symptoms of anxiety-related disorders, prayer doesn’t have the same effect for everybody, according to Baylor University research.

What seemed to matter more was the type of attachment the praying individual felt toward God. According to the Baylor study, those who prayed to a loving and supportive God whom they thought would be there to comfort and protect them in times of need were less likely to show symptoms of anxiety-related disorders — symptoms such as irrational worry, fear, self-consciousness, dread in social situations and obsessive-compulsive behavior — than those who prayed but did not expect God to comfort or protect them.

Read more on Baylor.edu. Read the abstract of the study — “Prayer, Attachment to God, and Symptoms of Anxiety-Related Disorders among U.S. Adults”.



President Announces Executive Actions to Improve Veterans’ Mental Health

Posted: September 07, 2014

President Obama announced 19 new executive actions that the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Defense will take to improve the mental health of service members, veterans and their families. Speaking to a convention of the American Legion, Obama said these new actions will help improve service members’ transition from military to civilian healthcare providers, improve access to and quality of mental healthcare at VA and DoD facilities, improve treatments for mental health conditions such as PTSD, and encourage individuals to seek help by raising awareness about mental health.

His announcement comes in the wake of the recently enacted veterans’ health bill, which includes support for the VA to contract with non-VA providers to expand veterans’ access to care.

Read more on TheNationalCouncil.org.



Oklahoma Teacher Unites Tribal Communities to Tackle Substance Abuse

Posted: September 05, 2014

When Susan Whitehorse Johnson went to her first Community Anti-Drug Coalitions of America (CADCA) event a few years ago, she was shocked to see only five representatives of Native American people in attendance. “That really made me mad to think that they [other Native Americans] were not putting an effort into something that effects our entire community,” recalled Johnson, a teacher and leader of the Walters Coalition, based in southwest Oklahoma. “I introduced myself to General Dean…and said I would go home and talk to people to see why they didn’t go.” And that is exactly what she did. In fact, she brought 22 people from different communities across southwest Oklahoma to CADCA’s 2014 Mid-Year Training Institute this past July.

Johnson has been involved with the Walters Coalition – also known as SMILE - since its inception over ten years ago, representing the Native American community in Walters, Okla. and based out of Walters High School, where she teaches. Through a Department of Education grant, she is able to work with students focusing on combatting issues like underage drinking and tobacco use. Johnson reached out to the tribe next to her, Comanche Nation, “absorbing as much information as possible and setting goals for their program.” Together, they attended another past CADCA conference and applied for a grant with the Oklahoma City Board of Health.

In three years, the Comanche Nation Prevention and Recovery center was formed and eventually started bringing in students from all communities in southwest Oklahoma, along with members of the Indian Health Service. “There are more tribes getting involved, including the Chickashaw, Shawnee and Arapho,” Johnson said. “You don’t have to be a member of a tribe to get involved. There’s law enforcement on our coalition, like the chief of police. We have been plugging along taking all of those things that we have learned. We are on the right track.” 

But Johnson faced many obstacles trying to combat rampant underage drinking.

Read more on CADCA.org.



Resources for National Suicide Prevention Week and International Suicide Prevention Day

Posted: September 04, 2014

The Suicide Prevention Resource Center (SPRC) has compiled materials and information from many organizations for National Suicide Prevention Week, and is continuing to add to the list. These resources and ideas can help you to raise awareness in your community and support the worldwide effort to end suicide. National Suicide Prevention Week is September 8-14, 2014 and the theme for this year is “Suicide Prevention: One World Connected.”

View resources on the SPRC website. Download the American Association of Suicidology’s Suicide Prevention Week Information & Media Kit (pdf).



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