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Mental health education

Spring Cleaning for the Mind

Spring is a time for regrowth and renewal. Have you considered spring cleaning for the mind? It’s a great time to declutter negativity, drama and unnecessary stress from our lives. This rejuvenation period allows us to declutter our thoughts and feelings to help boost sense of self, recognize accomplishments, engage in new endeavors and start off the spring season feeling refreshed. What a great gift to give ourselves!

Declutter
Toxic Relationships
Bad Habits
Negative Talk
Negative Thoughts
Release Anger and Resentments

Rejuvenate
Gratitude
Creative Projects
Positive Friendships
Mindfulness

Check out this SPRING CLEANING CHECKLIST for tips on how to remove negative mental clutter and create welcoming space for positive changes

Stressful Times in Baltimore

The city of Baltimore is experiencing a difficult time. In the aftermath of the funeral of Freddie Gray, violence and the destruction of property occurred in parts of the city. The media has been showing constant coverage of the events. It may feel like it is impossible to escape newscasts and stories and images of the event. Many of you may live in the affected area while others of us are deeply concerned.
We are saddened by the death of this young man. Many of us may feel confused, frightened and not quite sure how to respond.
During a time like this, normal reactions include different feelings, thoughts and behaviors:
Feelings may include: sadness, anger, anxiety, uncertainty, irritability, vulnerability, helplessness, shock and disbelief.
Thoughts – difficulty focusing, disbelief, overwhelmed, confusion, preoccupation, sense of uneasiness
Behaviors – difficulty sleeping, appetite disturbance (can’t eat or eat too much), absentmindedness, withdrawal, isolation, increased use of substances (alcohol or drugs) restlessness and crying.
What can I do to help my children?
Children are especially frightened when they see what is happening.
Monitor or discourage children from watching media coverage.
Allow them to voice their fears.
Assure them that you will keep them safe.

What can I do to help myself?
Sharing your feelings but limit discussions in which you give your opinion for not everyone may feel the same.
Be a compassionate listener
Identify positive stress relievers – i.e. exercise, prayer, volunteering, etc.
Disconnect or limit media exposure about the disturbance for a time

In situations like this, the number one priority is safety for you and your family. If possible, avoid all areas where the disturbances are taking place. Here are some basic safety tips:
• Stay calm and keep your emotions in check
• Avoid confrontation
• Walk slowly and move away from the crowd as soon as you can
• Move to a safe, enclosed area whenever you are able
• If you live in an area where there is a disturbance, keep away from windows and doors and lock them
• If at all possible, plan an escape from the area
Remember your Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is available to you. Experienced counselors can offer support and structure to help individuals and groups talk about the issues. Feel free to call us at 667.214.1555 to schedule an appointment.

Anger Management Class-January 13, 2015

The EAP will be hosting an Anger Management class  beginning next week. 

It will be taught in a class-like format so you can learn how your background and family experiences taught you about anger.  The class will give you ideas of different ways to control and express your anger.

The class will be small, no more than 10 people, and will be non-judgmental.  We are all here to learn.  The class will be held at noon on Tuesdays. 

If you, or someone you know, could benefit from anger management, call the EAP now to reserve your spot in the class – 667.214-1561 (Counselor, Sue Walker)

Or email sue at swalker@psych.umaryland.edu

 

 

 

 

Gambling at the New Casino

Baltimore now has its own casino very close to campus. Most people will go there for entertainment, but some will feel a NEED to go. What is the difference? Do you, or someone you love, have a problem?

Maryland Problem Gambling

If you think you or someone you care about has a gambling problem call our confidential, 24/7 Helpline at: 1-800-522-4700. Specialists in problem gambling are there to assist you in finding local resources. Helpline services are available in over 100 languages with the use of ATT language line. TTY services are also available to all callers. Or, go to the website at www.mdproblemgambling.com.

What Is Problem Gambling?

Problem gambling is any gambling, betting or wagering that causes family, financial, legal, emotional or other problems for the gambler, their family or others. Gambling problems can be mild or quite severe and can worsen over time.

Also known as compulsive gambling or pathological gambling and first recognized by the American Psychiatric Association as an impulse control disorder in 1980 as a result of the pioneering work of Robert Custer M.D. Pathological gambling is classified in the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual, fourth edition (DSM IV), published by the American Psychiatric Association.

Problem Gambling Warning Signs

  • Gambling more frequently or for longer than intended
  • Lying about where money goes
  • Declining work or school performance
  • Borrowing money in order to gamble
  • Increasing preoccupation with gambling
  • Distancing or isolating from family or friends
  • Unable to pay bills or cover expenses
  • Chasing losses, or returning the next day to win back what was lost
  • Have you committed or considered committing a crime to finance your gambling
  • Have you made repeated unsuccessful efforts to control or stop your gambling

Help is Available

Call the Helpline 1-800-522-4700 and speak with someone who can get you to the help you may need.

  • All calls are free
  • All calls are confidential
  • Call anytime, 24 hours a day

Effects of Problem Gambling

  • Problem gamblers may resort to crimes to pay gambling debts, or to keep gambling. Often non-violent, or “white collar” crimes such as bad checks, forgery, credit card fraud, theft, embezzlement or tax related crimes.
  • Major depression is one of the most common co-occurring disorders among problem gamblers presenting for care at up to 70%.
  • Problem gamblers who present for care have one of the highest suicide attempt rate among the addictions. Two of every ten gamblers or over 20% have made a serious suicide attempt.
  • Children of problem gamblers may be victims of abuse and neglect as a result of their parents’ gambling.
  • Studies also indicate adolescents whose parents gamble too much have higher rates of gambling and other high risk behaviors.

Source: National Council on Problem Gambling

 

Depression in the News

Friends, family members, even celebrities can all suffer from depression.  It is a common mental health condition that affects nearly 10% of people in the United States.  It is a treatable medical condition, not a personal weakness. If left untreated it can lead to other health problems and if severe enough, even suicide.

Depression can be caused by many different things.  Some people are grieving over the loss of a loved one or a major life change.  Others have physical or other emotional problems contributing to depression.  Side effects of medication can also be to blame.  Depression seems to run in families.  The symptoms include sadness, hopelessness, irritability, feelings of guilt, crying spells, trouble sleeping and/or eating, inability to feel joy, loss of interest in things that used to bring happiness which can include hobbies, family or even sex.

People who do not understand depression think it is a “weakness” that the person just needs to “get over.”  It is not a weakness. Treatment through counseling can be extremely helpful.  Sometimes anti-depressants are also added to the treatment plan.  Generally, the combination of both, talk therapy and medication are the winning combination for many people to help lift them from their depressive states. If someone is suicidal, take that person to the emergency room immediately.  People can also access the EAP to be screened for depression and get connected to the right treatment providers for them. There are many things that can be done to help people who are suffering from depression so they can lead happy, productive lives.

Is a Loved One Gaming Too Much?

Internet Gaming can be Addictive

Do you have a young adult in your family who seems abnormally connected to the computer? Did you know that people can exhibit addictive behaviors to things like gambling, internet gaming, shopping, and even food? These are called Process Addictions. Just like substance abuse addictions (alcohol, drugs) it often starts out innocently enough but then certain people go further and further, “ingesting” more and more of the “substance.”

There is a neurotransmitter in the brain called dopamine. Dopamine makes a person feel good.  Years of research have determined that drugs, alcohol, gambling, sex, eating, and gaming involve changes in dopamine. The person becomes addicted to the “hits” of dopamine they receive through the behavior. They may try and cut back, only to fail and then end up increasing the time on the computer, or in the gaming, or in the drinking. A person with an internet gaming addiction can exhibit withdrawal symptoms similar to those who try and stop using drugs or alcohol.  The person could experience increased anxiety, anger, depression, irritability and social isolation.

“But, at least he’s not drinking!” We often hear that from parents. Many people play games on the computer. So, if you have a “computer person” in your family, how do you know if there is a problem?  Ask yourself these questions:  Does there seem to be a compulsive pattern to the gaming? Does the person have balance in his life? In other words, does the gaming behavior seem to interfere with one or more major spheres of his life: relationships, work, academic performance, health, finances or legal status?

There are people you can talk to about your concerns.  There are many resources on the internet, of course. there is even an On-Line Gamers Anonymous (www.olganon.org). For help with a gambling problem, go to www.baltimoregambler.org.  Of course, you can always make an appointment with an EAP counselor to discuss concerns about yourself or family members. Call 410.328.5860 to schedule an appointment.

Why Do You Worry All the Time?

Wait to Worry is the advice Steven Petrow dispenses in his article in the Washington Post on May 27, 2014.  Mr. Petrow references his father and himself as worriers who thought too much about the “What ifs” of the future. However, Mr. Petrow decided to break his habit of overindulging in worry.  He replaced it with some guided meditation which he practiced for 10 minutes three times a day.  He said after a few weeks of this he was able to regain “a sense of self-mastery, and with it a certain peace.  I grew less afraid of the what-ifs and stopped dwelling on them-and started to enjoy the right-now again.” Mr. Petrow said he adopted the mantra “Wait to Worry.”

It is a well known fact that people who stay focused on the present are happier than those who ruminate about the past, or worry about the future.  Enjoy yourself today!

For help in getting yourself to your happy place, contact the EAP and have one of our counselors assist you.

Recharge Your Battery in 15 minutes

 

New Year’s Resolution 2012:  “I’m going to start taking better care of myself.”

New Year’s Resolution 2013:  “I am REALLY going to take better care of myself.”

New Years’ Resolution 2014: “This year for SURE. I promise to take better care of myself.”

Let us help you achieve your promise to yourself.  Give us 15 minutes a week.  We will help you learn to de-stress, calm down, and be kinder to yourself.

The Employee Assistance Program (EAP) is offering a 15-minute instruction on how you can begin to take care of yourself. Every Tuesday in the EAP suite 560, from 12:15-12:30, Bridget Mixon, LGSW, will show you how you can feel better in 15 minutes.

February 4, 2014, a snack will be provided during the 15 minutes of Calm this week

February 11, 2014, a new technique will be introduced.

February 18, 2014, a different de-stressing activity will be taught

February 25, 2014, the final skill of the month will be shown to you.

 

In March, we will repeat the techniques again, so you can come and participate, fine tune what you already learned, bring your coworkers, or just use the time with us to force yourself to take a breath!

 

For more information, please call the EAP at 8-5860, or email Maureen at mmccarre@psych.umaryland.edu.