PTSD Awareness Month Spotlights Veterans Programs, Resources

June is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) Awareness Month: To help spread the word about PTSD and effective treatments, the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs National Center for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder—created in 1989 by a congressional mandate to address the needs of veterans with military-related PTSD—offers an online initiative called “AboutFace,” which is focused on helping veterans recognize PTSD symptoms and motivating them to seek treatment (www.ptsd.va.gov/apps/AboutFace/). NCPTSD-Aware_FB

The VA’s website explains that PTSD is a type of anxiety disorder that can occur in different ways. It can begin after experiencing extreme trauma like combat exposure, a serious accident, an assault or abuse, natural disasters, or terrorism.

It’s estimated that 20 percent of the soldiers who’ve been deployed in the past six years have PTSD and many others can be experiencing signs of PTSD from previous deployments, according to the VA. It lists the following as possible signs of PTSD:

  • Apathy toward loved ones
  • Trouble sleeping, reoccurring nightmares
  • Experiencing flashbacks, bad memories of the event
  • Paranoia, being scared or startled easily, feeling irritable or angry
  • Uncomfortable reactions to daily activities, avoiding routine activities
  • Not wanting to talk about traumatic events, general feeling of the world being dangerous
  • Adverse reactions to crowds, feelings of detachment, emotional numbness, inability to concentrate

The “AboutFace” campaign introduces viewers to veterans from all eras who have experienced PTSD and turned their lives around with treatment. Through personal videos, viewers will meet veterans and hear how PTSD has affected them and their loved ones. They will also learn the steps to take to gain control of their lives.

For some people, treatment can get rid of PTSD altogether. For others, it can make symptoms less intense. Treatment also gives you the tools to manage symptoms so they don’t keep you from living your life.

The VA provides effective PTSD treatment and conducts extensive research on PTSD, including prevention. To learn more, visit www.ptsd.va.gov/about/ptsd-awareness/index.asp and get the VA’s booklet at www.ptsd.va.gov/public/understanding_ptsd/booklet.pdf.

To verify that a counselor or therapist is licensed, visit the website of DCA’s Board of Behavioral Sciences at www.bbs.ca.gov/quick_links/weblookup.shtml. You can also find service referrals and other mental health resources on their website at www.bbs.ca.gov/consumer/awareness.shtml and at the website for the California Department of Veterans Affairs at https://www.calvet.ca.gov/VetServices/Pages/Mental-Health-Program.aspx.

If you’re in crisis, get help right away. If you feel like you might hurt yourself or someone else, call the Veterans Crisis Line at (800) 273-TALK (8255) anytime to talk to a crisis counselor. The call is confidential and free. Chat online with a crisis counselor anytime at www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/. You can also call 911 or go to your local emergency room.

 

Give Yourself a Stress-Free Season

shutterstock_109629779Like it or not, they’re here: the holidays. For many, ‘tis the season of shopping, spiritual celebration, socializing, obligations, travel, and seemingly endless preparations.

Remember that everyone deserves to enjoy the holidays, including you. But if you’ve overcommitted, overspent, overindulged, or overaccommodated, and you feel overwhelmed, the holidays could take an emotional or physical toll. Having a plan in place to prevent stress and depression at this time of year is key. The Mayo Clinic offers the following tips:

  • Be realistic. Families change and grow, and traditions and rituals may as well. Choose a few to keep, and be open to creating new ones. For example, if your adult children can’t come to your house, find different ways to celebrate together such as sharing photos, e-mails, or videos. Consider planning visits for just before or just after the holidays to avoid the inconvenience of peak travel days.
  • Keep up healthy habits. Don’t let the holidays become a free-for-all. Overindulgence only adds to stress and guilt. Have a healthy snack before parties so you don’t go overboard on treats, appetizers, or drinks. Get plenty of sleep and incorporate regular physical activity into each day.
  • Stick to a budget. Before shopping for gifts or food, decide how much money you can afford to spend. Then don’t overspend.
  • Learn to say “no.” Saying yes when you should say no could leave you feeling resentful and overwhelmed. Friends and colleagues will understand if you can’t participate in every project or activity. If your boss asks you to work overtime and it’s not possible to decline, try to remove something else from your agenda to make up for the lost time.
  • Acknowledge your feelings. If you’re grieving the loss of someone or you can’t be with loved ones for other reasons, realize it’s normal to feel sadness. It’s OK to take time to cry or express your feelings. You can’t force yourself to be happy just because it’s the holiday season.

If the stress gets to be too much, employee assistance programs at work may provide access to confidential, no-cost counseling services and resources (check with your human resources department for access). The Department of Consumer Affairs’ Board of Psychology and Board of Behavioral Sciences offer links to mental health resources as well. In addition, our Board of Pharmacy offers fact sheets and publications to help ensure your good times or travel plans are not affected by minor illnesses.

Visit www.dca.ca.gov for more information.

Board of Behavioral Sciences produces videos to explain exam restructure

The license examination process for the Board of Behavioral Sciences (Board) will be changing effective January 1, 2016. New exams will be implemented for all Licensed Clinical Social Worker and Licensed Marriage Family Therapist candidates, and registrants will be mandated to take a California Law and Ethics Exam.

The Board has created instructional videos to show how the exam restructure may impact you, if you are a non-registrant, registrant or subsequent registrant.

Click below to view the videos and visit the examination news section of the Board’s website for more information.

Non-Registrant

Registrant

 

Subsequent Registrant

Stress Less During the Holidays

shutterstock_65364775The many joys of the holiday season—giving (and receiving) gifts, cheery decorations and sharing time with those you care about—always come with some level of stress. For some, loads of added stress.

There are worries over busting your spending budget at the mall; traveling itineraries, possibly with costly air travel involved; or perhaps hosting a holiday gathering with a house full of relatives who don’t always get along.

Several things can help you cope with stress during the holidays:

  • Temper expectations. Forget about the perfect gift, the perfect meal, the perfect celebration, the perfect family. Accept imperfections—yours and those of others.
  • Take care of yourself. Pay attention to your needs and feelings. Participate in activities that you enjoy and find relaxing. Be mindful of your diet, exercise (spending time outdoors when weather permits), and get plenty of sleep.
  • Stick to a budget. Decide how much you can afford to spend on gifts, and stay with it. Running up charge cards can trigger feelings of guilt later.
  • Make connections. Visit friends. Accept support from those who care about you.
  • Find healthy ways to manage stress.
  • Don’t automatically participate in family traditions or activities if they are particularly stressful solely because that’s just what you have always done—consider alternatives.

If you feel overwhelmed by stress, you may want to talk to a psychologist or other mental health professional. Here are some resources: