Showing posts with label mental health crisis. Show all posts
Showing posts with label mental health crisis. Show all posts

Friday, June 17, 2022

Peeving and perplexing problems to ponder on PTSD

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
June 17, 2022


Peeving because the following story has been repeated over decades of promises from the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs to do better addressing PTSD. A claim we've been hearing for decades. Not a typo because they started working on PTSD in the 80's.

Perplexing because I lost count of how many times this was reported on from different alerts. Not one of the reports had solutions and didn't seem to ask many questions. 

Like for starters, why is this such a huge story when there are so many other people, in the millions with #PTSD but reporters don't seem to report on any of us? How on earth will veterans finally understand that when humans survive trauma, that is the only way PTSD happens, if reporters don't report on the rest of us? Wouldn't that go a long way toward getting rid of the stigma for all of us?

Ponder this one.

KABC STUDIO CITY, LOS ANGELES reported a veteran refused to get help for PTSD until recently, but couldn't get an appointment. He shot a police officer.
"He kept saying 'I'm dead, I'm dead, I'm dead.' He kept saying that, but I'm sure he probably is experiencing some kind of PTSD," said Lewis. "He said he was in one of the bloodiest battles in Afghanistan, but he also said he had two platoon members this week to commit suicide."

Khosroabadi's family said they've been trying to get him help for years but he refused. He sought help from the VA recently but couldn't get an appointment until January.

"It hurt us a lot to see that because we do have family in law enforcement, so if we ever got that call, we would be really sad as well and we're so sorry," Shayesteh said.

You can find more information here from The National Center for PTSD. 6% of the population of adult Americans with PTSD. That means the vast majority of members of the PTSD club have PTSD while veterans, a minority in the country, have PTSD, but are the bulk of the news reports on PTSD. Doesn't make sense as it is but what is worse, is the fact

Did you know about this?
Child protection services in the U.S. get around three million reports each year. This involves 5.5 million children. Of the reported cases, there is proof of abuse in about 30%. From these cases, we have an idea how often different types of abuse occur:
65% neglect

18% physical abuse

10% sexual abuse

7% psychological (mental) abuse
Why didn't he call the VA Crisis Line? On their site, there is this,


If he couldn't get an appointment but knew he needed help, why did he still have a gun instead of making sure he couldn't use it? Why didn't he call the crisis line and get the help he was looking for?

His family says they tried to get him to go for help for years, but he wouldn't go. This is a common problem. Ask the family of any Vietnam Veteran and they'll tell you horror stories about trying to get their veteran to go for help. (Including me) The question use, why didn't he want to? It isn't like it was back in the 80's or 90's. Reporters have been covering veterans with PTSD for over 20 years because of Afghanistan and Iraq veterans using social media to share with others. Why aren't they sharing solutions as much as they share scams and stupid ideas like "raising awareness" veterans are committing suicide, when they already know that?

Top that off with the news report had the "22 a day" number which was debunked ten years ago. Do they mention how many Americans commit suicide every year is over 46,000 according to the CDC?


For Heaven's Sake! This is PTSD Awareness month but first we need to make reporters aware of what they are supposed to be reporting on or nothing will ever change for any of us!

Saturday, May 7, 2022

Navy suicides up, and so are cockamamie conclusions

The Navy wants to boost morale after several suicides. Some sailors say it's not enough.

NBC News
By Deon J. Hampton and Melissa Chan
May 5, 2022

Team-building events are in the works for sailors on the USS George Washington, where three shipmates died by suicide within a week in April.
NEWPORT NEWS, Va. — The Navy’s plan for repairing morale on a historic warship after a rash of sailors assigned to the ship killed themselves includes team-building exercises like a video game competition, recreation and moving sailors off the ship.

But some sailors who spoke to NBC News think the efforts don’t go far enough.

The Navy plans to host a day of team-building activities and has asked each department to submit ideas for how crew members could interact off the ship, according to Lt. Cmdr. Robert Myers, a Navy spokesman.

“It could be anything,” Myers said.

A Super Smash Bros. video game competition and a soccer tournament are some of the suggestions that have been floated, according to one George Washington sailor, who asked to remain anonymous out of fear of retaliation.

However, that sailor doubted whether such events would fix what appears to be a mental health crisis on the ship.
read more here


Well alrighty then! Seems like they got a plan. I hope you caught the solutions they wanted to try.

More than 200 sailors moved off aircraft carrier after multiple suicides “Leadership is actively implementing these and pursuing a number of additional morale and personal well-being measures and support services to members assigned to USS George Washington.”

Are they kidding? Seriously? Super Smash Bros and soccer will really fix a mental health crisis about the same way reminding suicidal veterans there were a lot of other veterans committing suicide. Insanity will not help the mental health of anyone.

As for Lt. Cmdr. Robert Myers saying "It could be anything." That is yet another head smack moment.



Here's  thought, how about actually knowing enough about PTSD, trauma, stress and a lot of other things first and then maybe, it would be a good idea to go from there? If they don't understand what causes a mental health crisis by now, it's time for the leaders to be held accountable, especially when they come up with these cockamamie conclusions!

Saturday, April 16, 2022

Not doing what was needed cost company $450,000

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
April 16, 2022

The headline on WLKY News "Kentucky man sues employer for throwing him birthday party, and now they owe him $450K" was a bad choice. Given the fact that an employee told his supervisor he needed her to skip honoring his birthday, she decided to do it anyway. Why? Why would someone want to do something for someone that was clearly going to hurt them? Was she so oblivious to the fact that even telling her he had a problem with it was not enough to get her to change her mind?

The employee found out about the party and was so stressed out about it that he went to his car instead of going to the lunchroom. He ended up being fired!
 
A Kentucky man took his employer to court after they threw him a birthday party he didn't want, and the jurors sided with him.

Now, his employer owes him $450,000.

The verdict was handed down this week in Kenton County Circuit Court in Northern Kentucky. The plaintiff, an employee of Gravity Diagnostics, sued his employer after he was fired following a birthday party they threw for him in August.
The employee asked the office manager days before his birthday in August to not arrange a birthday celebration as they did for other employees.

Then on Aug. 7, the employee's birthday, the office arranged for a lunchtime birthday party in the lunchroom, according to the lawsuit. The employee said that he found out about the party as he was headed to his lunch break, which triggered a panic attack.
read more here


This goes to show that not doing what was needed was not intended to be a good thing to the recipient. How many times have you told someone what you needed help with, but they ignored what you needed and did only what they wanted to do "for you" that you didn't want or need in the first place?

It happens all the time. It means they are doing it to make themselves feel good about themselves and not making your life any easier.

When you have a mental illness, you know what your triggers are and you do all you can to avoid them. You know what they will cause you to go through. This employee was caused to suffer for this "gift" given to him he didn't want. He must have had to explain it to his coworkers, causing even more emotional pain, and then had to face more with his supervisor, topped off with higher-ups who then fired him.

All the avoidable distress caused should be a lesson to everyone out there, especially in the workplace. How many of us have been in a forced situation like that? You tell family you don't want parties but they do it anyone because they think you deserve to have some fun. You tell them you don't want to go to a party or movie or in large crowds, and then they get angry because you won't go with them. 

You need to be left out of it without being punished for it. It is a no-win situation for you. Most of us cringe when it comes to the approaching event someone is talking about because we know it will cause us pain to go and more pain if we don't because the people who are supposed to know us don't understand us.

If you are going through something like this and need to let people know how much harm they are doing by doing what they want instead of what you need, show them this article so they will understand how much pain they can inflict instead of making you feel the way they want you to feel.

Saturday, April 2, 2022

Jonathan Pears was killed by lingering ignorance of what PTSD is

If a veteran being shot and killed by police after being called by a family because he was in crisis, doesn't bother you, you are not thinking. If they have PTSD and need help, but end up being killed, the rest of us don't stand a chance either. 

There are millions of American joining the PTSD club every year and none of us want to belong to it, but when we are not getting the help we need when we are in crisis, it doesn't make the news. When veterans are killed, it does. 

Veterans do, and always have had my heart. I got into working with veterans 40 years ago and have not stopped, even though now my efforts are for everyone struggling after surviving. I am one of them. 

When you read the following story about Jonathan Pears being killed by police officers after his family tried to get him help, understand that it could be you or someone you love this happens to. If the police still don't understand how to respond to someone in mental health crisis, even with so many officers dealing with PTSD, the rest of us can very well end up with the same fate. We survive what happens to us and then, too many cannot survive what comes afterwards. We've been doing this for far too long to still be losing so many lives out of lingering ignorance.


Family of veteran with PTSD killed by Alabama deputy wants answers, new body camera law

Associzated Press
Published: Mar. 30, 2022
Born into a military family, Jonathan Pears had served first as an airman and then as a contractor in Afghanistan. When he returned, he struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder and other mental health issues, according to his father, retired Air Force Col. Andy Pears.
Andy and Mary Pears stand with a photo of their son by the memorial to him in the front yard of their home in Elmore County, Ala., on Nov. 5, 2021. Thirty-two-year-old Jonathan Pears was shot and killed by deputies on July 28, 2021. The couple said their son, a military veteran suffered PTSD and depression after returning from Afghanistan, and they called 911 seeking help for him during a mental health crisis. The Elmore County Sheriff's Office said Pears was holding a large knife and refused commands to drop it. His parents maintain deputies were a safe distance away and did not have to shoot their son. (AP Photo/Kim Chandler)AP
When Mary Pears called 911 because her veteran son who had PTSD appeared to be having a mental health crisis, she had hoped to get him help and keep everyone safe.

Within minutes, 32-year-old Jonathan Pears was dead, fatally shot by a sheriff’s deputy in the front yard of his parents’ Alabama home.

“I wanted someone to talk him down. I wanted someone to come help us to get him calmed down. I absolutely did not want them to kill my son, nor did I ever think that would happen,” Mary Pears said.

The tragic end to their call for help didn’t have to happen, the family said. Now, they want changes in how officers respond to a mental health crisis and have filed a lawsuit accusing the Elmore County Sheriff’s Office of using excessive force.
read more here

Thursday, December 23, 2021

Mental Health Crisis calls cannot be solved with bullets

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 23, 2021

Why is it that people have no problem selecting someone to blame instead of knowing what is actually responsible? Mental Health Crisis calls cannot be solved with bullets.

Over and over again, we read news reports about police officers shooting someone after receiving a mental health crisis call. What we don't read is what comes afterwards. What happened to the family of the person in crisis? What happened to the officers responding?

The Concord Monitor just told the story of Meredith New Hampshire police officer Kevin O’Reilly after he received a call to respond to a man in crisis. The man was not a stranger to officer O'Reilly. He had responded because of the man "several times" before.

The article stated, "In New Hampshire, more than 60 percent of the people killed by police in the last decade struggled with mental illness, according to a Monitor analysis based on 10 years and more than 30 Attorney General reports."
 

Police are tasked with responding to mental crises. The results can be disastrous for officers and callers alike.

Concord Monitor
By TEDDY ROSENBLUTH
December 23, 2021
In New Hampshire, police officers, often not sufficiently trained on the intricacies of handling mental illness, are likely the first — and sometimes the only — response to those in a psychiatric crisis.
Last summer, Kevin O’Reilly sat around the Meredith police station with other officers and talked about a trend they noticed on the local news.

Stories of police shootings, specifically those that involved someone in a mental health crisis, seemed to pop onto the television every couple of months.

They listed off the recent ones: there was the middle-aged man shot in Belmont, about 16 miles south, whose parents said had been in and out of the psychiatric hospital for PTSD and bipolar disorder. About a year later, a 37-year-old man, who family members said struggled with delusions and paranoia for most of his adult life, was shot while running naked at a Thornton police officer about 20 miles to the north.
Every year, it seemed like more and more of O’Reilly’s job was consumed by mental illness. He estimated that on a typical night, three-quarters of his calls were to help someone in crisis.

“We’re not equipped or fully trained to deal with that,” he said. “We do our best: we try to talk softer and slower, bring them down. But we didn’t go to school for that.”
read more here
Sometimes the person has no one trying to help them. Others have family members facing their own turmoil, knowing someone they love needs help, but for whatever reason, the help they receive is not enough. Either way, families have to deal with the results and most of the time, they are unable to make peace with the fact they did the best they could with what they were not equipped to deal with.

For the officers involved, they may be able to come to terms with having to shoot a criminal easier than they can rationalize having to shoot someone who is only dangerous because their minds are sending them into the crisis the police had to respond to.

How many times does this have to happen before this nation actually comes to the conclusion that we have a mental health crisis in this country? January 9, 2020
Police officers opened fire on the man who was armed with a knife at about 10:22 p.m. at the Veterans Affairs Hospital at 4500 S. Lancaster Road. The man was at the hospital seeking psychiatric help, police said. At some point during the interaction, the man started to walk off and the VA officers followed him and tried to disarm him, according to the VA police. Their attempts to disarm him were unsuccessful and two officers opened fire, police said.
The worst thing of all is, police departments across the country are not taking mental health seriously in their communities or in the force itself. How do they expect officers trained to respond to criminals, suddenly become able to respond to people in crisis, when they cannot even respond to officers in crisis because of the jobs they do?

The only way is remember who is responsible for what. Officers are not trained to for mental health emergencies, anymore than psychologists are trained to deal with criminals. Knowing the limitations on humans will go a long way to changing the outcome.

Wednesday, February 24, 2021

"Please don't kill me" Navy veteran Angelo Quinto last words

Navy veteran died after police knelt on his neck for nearly 5 minutes, family says
Associated Press
FEBRUARY 24, 2021

A Navy veteran who was going through an episode of paranoia died after a Northern California police officer knelt on his neck for several minutes, his family said Tuesday. The family of Angelo Quinto called police on December 23 because the 30-year-old was suffering a mental health crisis and needed help.
This Nov. 30, 2017 photo provided by Isabella Collins shows Navy veteran Angelo Quinto in Moffett Field in Mountainview, Calif. CASSANDRA QUINTO-COLLINS / AP
His family says a responding officer knelt on Quinto's neck for nearly five minutes while another officer restrained his legs. Quinto lost consciousness and was taken by ambulance to a hospital, where he died three days later.

"He said 'Please don't kill me. Please don't kill me,' as they were putting him on the ground. They handcuffed him and one officer put his knee on the back of his neck the whole time I was in the room," said Quinto's mother, Cassandra Quinto-Collins


"I trusted the police because I thought they knew what they were doing but he was actually passive and visibly not dangerous or a threat so, it was absolutely unnecessary what they did to him," she said.

A video recorded by Quinto-Collins shows her son listless, with a bloodied face and his hands cuffed behind his back. She said she began recording after seeing her son's eyes were rolled up in his head.

The family filed a legal claim against the Antioch Police Department last week, which gives the department 45 days to respond. After that time has elapsed, the family will file a federal lawsuit, said John Burris, the Quintos' attorney.
read more here

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Not "tragically bound to the starless midnight"

Judge by the "content of their character"


Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 30, 2020

Our nation is facing an epidemic of historical proportions. We have a pandemic claiming over 100,000 lives in a span of about 3 months. We have over 40 million unemployed. Healthcare workers are dying while trying to save lives while many other providers are losing their jobs. Protests to reopen the states have included individuals showing up with guns. Many people are regarding the pandemic as someone else's problem. We have racists, no longer ashamed of how they view fellow citizens. Native Americans are dealing with the virus killing them in higher number, poverty, lack of services, at the same time they are under threat of losing their lands. This is a nation in crisis.
“THESE are the times that try men's souls. The summer soldier and the sunshine patriot will, in this crisis, shrink from the service of their country; but he that stands by it now, deserves the love and thanks of man and woman. Tyranny, like hell, is not easily conquered; yet we have this consolation with us, that the harder the conflict, the more glorious the triumph. What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly: it is dearness only that gives every thing its value. Heaven knows how to put a proper price upon its goods; and it would be strange indeed if so celestial an article as FREEDOM should not be highly rated”Thomas Paine, The Crisis
"What we obtain too cheap, we esteem too lightly." as Thomas Paine said so eloquently, applies to what this nation faces today. More and more people are forgetting how we got where we are and the price paid by generations who came before them. They forget that entire generations risked their lives in service to this country in times of war, as well as times of peace. They paid for the freedom so many others want to claim as their "right to enjoy" at the same time they want to remove the rights of others.

While those who entered the military were from all political sides, color, states and religious beliefs, they managed to set aside their differences and were willing to die for one another. We should take that to heart, especially now, but we have faced the crushing burdens before. The difference is, we learned from them.

In 1968, someone filled with hate assassinated Rev. King after he was willing to pay the price to achieve social justice for Black Americans, peacefully protesting and speaking out against using violence to respond to violence. I was alive then and remember it. Just as I was alive when President Kennedy was assassinated, and his brother Bobby was killed. Yet all of these men moved the majority of my generation to stop seeing people based on color of their skin. It was about the "content of their character" that mattered.

Looking at what is happening in this country right now, we have witnessed a reversal of that. Are there bad police officers? Yes, but not all police officers are bad, but while the majority are good, they are all being attacked for what the few bad ones do.

We see protestors flooding the streets, rioters and looters destroying property and burning down businesses in their communities during a pandemic. We see some others showing up to protest orders by the governors of their states with arms, attempting to intimidate their fellow citizens and politicians to yield the better judgement for the greater good to do their will. Are all protestors committing crimes? No, but again, they are all being blamed for what a few do.

“I have a dream that my four children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character." Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.


While anger and fear have gripped this nation, we are forced to expand our view aways from what is on the news and see what else is happening to find signs of hope.
“I refuse to accept the view that mankind is so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war that the bright daybreak of peace and brotherhood can never become a reality." Rev. Martin Luther King Jr.
The majority of people in this country are trying their best to do the right thing. Mankind is not "so tragically bound to the starless midnight of racism and war" because there is "peace and brotherhood" still alive in the shadows of one of the worst times in this country.

People of all political sides, color, states and religious beliefs are stepping up for their fellow citizens and the greater good. People are regarding the "content of character" that requires a heart that will not judge anyone by anything else. Thoughts are motivating action to fight against hopelessness. Prayers are motivating action to help others suffering by finding way to do whatever they can for total strangers.

Yes, these are bleak times in this country, but we have been in darkness before. We survived those days because others stepped up refusing to accept what "was" because they dreamed of what could be.

Tuesday, May 26, 2020

Veterans: "worst impacts to their mental health could come after the immediate crisis is over."

Suicide risk for veterans could grow as coronavirus crisis winds down


Military Times
May 22, 2020
Before March, about 15 percent of all VA mental health appointments were conducted over the phone or via video conferencing. Today that figure sits at 80 percent. Telephone appointments for those patients rose from about 170,000 a month before the pandemic to 768,000 in April alone.

Veterans’ isolation and stress from the coronavirus pandemic could increase their chances of suicidal thoughts, but health experts are warning that the worst impacts to their mental health could come after the immediate crisis is over.
An orthopedic technician takes a patient's swab sample during a screening for COVID-19 symptoms outside the Keesler Medical Center at Keesler Air Force Base, Miss., on March 23, 2020. (Kemberly Groue/Air Force)

That’s because of long-term problems with personal finances, lingering health issues and misplaced expectations of mental health issues disappearing with a return to pre-crisis life.

“During the actual crisis, suicides can go down. It’s in the aftermath that it gets worse,” said Barbara Stanley, a research scientist at the New York State Psychiatric Institute, during a press call sponsored by National Action Alliance for Suicide Prevention on Thursday. “We expect to see fallout in terms of possible increases in suicide as a tail going forward.”
read it here

Monday, May 11, 2020

Brace for Surge in Demand for Veterans Mental Health Care

Veterans Groups, VA Brace for Surge in Demand for Mental Health Care


The Associated Press
By SARAH BLAKE MORGAN, CLAUDIA LAUER and HOPE YEN
May 11, 2020

“After years of self-imposed isolation ... I was really in need of person-to-person contact,” said Goldsmith, now the assistant director of policy at Vietnam Veterans of America. “Flash forward almost 13 years now since I got out, and telehealth is right for me."
FAYETTEVILLE, N.C. — When Kristofer Goldsmith was discharged from the Army in 2007 he was in crisis.
Margo Jarvis takes part in video teleconference at Cohen Veteran's Network's on Wednesday, April 22, 2020, in Fayetteville, N.C. (AP Photo/Sarah Blake Morgan)

He had been trained as a forward observer — the person who spots a target and gives coordinates to artillery — but when he got to Iraq, the then 19-year-old instead found himself photographing dead bodies for intelligence gathering. A suicide attempt before his second deployment triggered a less than honorable discharge and a long fight to gain honorable status after being diagnosed with PTSD.
VA officials said telehealth medical appointments jumped from 20,000 in February to nearly 154,000 in April. Many of the department’s partners have moved most or all of their mental health appointments to telehealth, including the Cohen Veterans Network which transitioned 98% of patients at its 15 clinics.
read it here

UK:Ministry of Defence shut down a phone hotline for veterans just as need for help increased

Suicidal military veterans desperate for help as support calls triple during lockdown


The Mirror
BySean Rayment
10 MAY 2020

Rifleman Nathan Worner, 20, of the Rifles Regiment, was found dead at Bulford Camp, Wiltshire, last week.
Simon Maryan of Icarus Online (Image: Icarus Online)

Calls for help from mentally traumatised military veterans have soared by 100 per cent since the start of the lockdown, the Sunday People can reveal.

Support groups have been inundated with calls from suicidal veterans and current troops struggling to cope with isolation caused by the Covid-19 crisis.

Many of those seeking help have mental health conditions like post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety and depression.

Two veterans and a serving member of the Army have taken their lives in the past two weeks.

The deaths bring to at least 22 the number of veterans and serving members who are believed to have killed themselves since the start of the year.
The mental health crisis comes just weeks after the Ministry of Defence shut down a phone hotline for veterans and told them to ring the Samaritans instead.

The MoD has also stopped ­taking compensation claims from troops and veterans suffering from mental health conditions and physical injuries.
read it here

Saturday, May 9, 2020

Scots wounded war heroes had been failed by the Government

Ray of hope as Scots armed forces veterans wait two years for a mental health plan


Herald Scotland
By Martin Williams
Senior News Reporter
May 8, 2020
Earlier this week the military support group All Call Signs rescued five suicidal veterans during lockdown and issued a warning that more lives are at risk.
Ray of hope as Scots armed forces veterans wait two years for a mental health plan
ARMED forces veterans are facing a threat from an enemy they cannot see.

That threat is mental illness - and can deal a fatal blow long after a soldier has left the theatre of war and the military.

While Scottish armed forces veterans have waited over two years for a recommended mental health plan after concerns over suicides - a Scottish university is now playing a key role in a new UK-wide study on the psychological health and wellbeing of families of ex-service men and women.

Two years ago, a report by Eric Fraser, the first Scottish veterans commissioner revealed Scots wounded war heroes had been failed by the Government and a covenant to protect them was “meaningless”.
read it here

Thursday, May 7, 2020

Call to action for veteran experts on PTSD

Where are all the experts I learned from and taught?


Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
May 7, 2020

Most of the experts I learned from have retired. Most of the people I taught over the years have gotten out of this work because it is so damn hard to do. Right now you need to remember why you got into this work in the first place.


For readers who do not know much about me, I used to be famous. I was know as Nam Guardian Angel going back to the early 90's online. That is what happens when people see what is happening before most people do. My work was sought out by military brass, psychologist, psychiatrists, mental health workers and educators. It astonished me how far the reach went, considering it was all word of mouth and intended to help veterans understand what PTSD so they would also know they could heal.

I am married to a Vietnam veteran with PTSD and survived traumatic events that could have killed me 10 times. I know what a flashback is, experienced nightmares, mood swings, anger, paranoia, depression, the list goes on. The biggest thing I want readers to get right now, is I also know what is on the flip side of the doom and gloom.

WE HAVE THE POWER TO OVERCOME
I wrote about living with PTSD back in 2002 in my first book, yet no matter how much I wrote, by then, the younger generation wasn't getting the message. In 2006, I started making videos. By 2008, I was Certified as a Chaplain with the IFOC and won an award for PTSD I Grieve. It was intended for members of the National Guard, but the IFOC was using it to help police officers and firefighters.

In 2007, I started this site and it has been read all over the world.

Why am I telling you all this? So that you take what I am saying seriously.

The parade passed me by many years ago, but considering it started in 1982...it was a long time coming, I have been just doing my work and stopped competing with the influx of people getting into this for the wrong reasons and getting in the way. They left no room for me and I had no tolerance for them.

Lately I have been feeling really down about what has been going on with COVID-19 and our lives turned upside down. I have been searching for signs of hope that the power of trauma had not increased because educators mobilized to do crisis intervention. That search ended this morning when I read an article by an ER Doctor.
"The unfortunate truth is that the United States has never adequately provided treatment for mental and emotional health challenges, such as PTSD, for brave citizens who put their country before themselves. As we begin to imagine a post-Covid-19 America, we must do better by all of our veterans, including the hundreds of thousands of health care workers who have borne the trauma of this pandemic. That starts by destigmatizing mental health issues and making it easier for physicians, nurses and others to seek out the resources they need." 
Tsion Firew
Why am I still reading things like this? What hasn't the mental health community learned from the lessons people like me have been sharing for decades? Is it because they stopped looking or they stopped thinking?

I am wondering where the hell all the experts are? Where are you hiding? Did the parade push you out of the way too? Time to stop resting and get back into action because too many people need your expertise right now.

I don't do it for money and safe bet, you didn't either. It is a safer bet that you are grieving as much as I am for all the suffering going on right now.

You may believe that you will not be able to reach enough to make a difference. Is one enough for you? Do you remember what it felt like to change a life for the better? To be able to send them away knowing they will be happier ever after because of what you did for their sake?
"Whoever changes one life, changes the whole world.”

Read what the Doctor wrote and know that you have the power to make the difference right now before it is too late to wish you had done something when you had the chance!

Emergency doctor: We need help before it's too late


KITV 4 News
Opinion by Tsion Firew
Wednesday, May 6th 2020

Opinion by Tsion Firew Last weekend, I was on CNN discussing the importance of supporting the mental and emotional health of medical professionals. I likened this pandemic to an invisible bomb going off in our emergency...

Last weekend, I was on CNN discussing the importance of supporting the mental and emotional health of medical professionals. I likened this pandemic to an invisible bomb going off in our emergency departments.

Twenty-four hours later, I learned about the death of my colleague, Dr. Lorna Breen. A day later, I learned from media reports that she had died by suicide. It was a one-two punch, like she died twice.

Lorna had survived Covid-19 earlier this month. As her physical symptoms got better, the mental toll of the pandemic continued to get worse. And as I mourned, I reflected.

The world is hailing medical professionals as heroes, and don't get me wrong: The public praise has been a welcome shift. Our jobs were harrowing long before this crisis and will remain so long after we return to some semblance of normalcy. I am grateful for the acknowledgment.
Heed our call. The front line of this pandemic needs mental health resources and emotional support to process the destruction we cannot prevent, we cannot fix. The next wave is coming. We need help before it's too late for more of us.
read it here

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

The world now knows what trauma is and you can help them heal if you have PTSD

Advice getting through another crisis


PTSD Patrol
Kathie Costos
April 8, 2020

"So now go do the best things in life
Take a bite of this world while you can
Make the most of the rest of your life"
Disturbed - Hold on to Memories
I am going to start this the way I usually end a video...with what you are empowered to do. "...go do the best things in life...make the most of the rest of your life."


Right now the world is living through global pandemic trauma. Life as they knew it ended. As of yesterday "There are at least 387,547 cases of coronavirus in the United States and at least 12,291 people have died, according to Johns Hopkins University's tally of cases." according to a CNN running update. That means at least that many have experienced the trauma of fighting for their lives. Even more have experienced the trauma of it coming into their families and the fear of it happening to those who have thus far escaped it.

While some people take a callous attitude to take advantage of the trauma, many more are going out to make sure others stay alive, even if it means they are subjecting themselves to more trauma.

Aside from hurricanes and this pandemic, I survived life altering trauma 10 times. I know what it can do to lives, but the key is, only if we allow it to gain control.

This is from ABC News

Calls to US helpline jump 891%, as White House is warned of mental health crisis

Last month the “Disaster Distress Helpline” at the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) saw an 891% increase in call volume compared with March 2019, according to a spokesman for the agency, which is part of the Department of Health and Human Services.

In fact, this March – ending little more than a week ago – saw 338% more calls to the helpline than in the month before, when the deadly virus began to take hold inside the U.S. homeland, and government officials began taking more extreme measures to stop its spread.
There are 57.8 million Americans currently living with mental or substance use disorders, according to SAMHSA.
Two ways to look at the report are, it is terrible that many are in crisis, or, there are many more fighting for their lives and acknowledging they need help. Please take that as a sign it is OK to ask for help if you need it too.

But what else can we do against something we have no control over? Look at what we can control. We can control how we act and react.

We control what we do if we are healthy enough to help others.

We control if we act out of kindness and patience, or react with selfishness.

We control if we show that we are suffering too and are afraid to comfort someone else, or react with judgement unwilling to show we are not super-human.
read it here

Saturday, March 7, 2020

51-year-old man seeking psychiatric care shot at Dallas VA under investigation

Family struggling with questions after VA police shoot and kill Army veteran at medical center in Dallas

Dallas Morning News
By David Tarrant
Mar 6, 2020
January shooting during confrontation with 51-year-old man seeking psychiatric care remains under investigation by the Dallas Police Department
Dallas police squad cars park outside the Dallas Veterans Affairs Medical Center near where a man was fatally shot by hospital police Wednesday night.(Metro News Service)

On a Friday morning in early January, two cops showed up at Donovan Ashcraft’s house.

The 23-year-old from McAlester, Oklahoma, was at home with the mother of his new baby.

“Do you know Donald Ashcraft?” one of the officers asked him.

Donovan’s father, a 51-year-old Army veteran from Oklahoma City, had struggled with mental health issues for years. He’d been arrested months earlier for threatening violence with a knife. Donovan hadn’t spoken to his father since last summer. Now he feared the worst.

“Is he dead?” the son asked.

Yes, the officers told him.

Officers fatally shot the Army veteran on the night of Jan. 8 after he allegedly refused to drop a knife at the Dallas VA Medical Center.

Donald arrived at the southeast Dallas hospital seeking help "for psychiatric issues” and was seen holding the weapon, according to police statements. When he tried to walk away, VA officers followed him, trying multiple times to disarm him. “The man attempted to attack VA police with the knife, causing VA police to fatally shoot him,” according to the statement issued by the medical center.
read it here

Sunday, February 2, 2020

IMPROVE Well-being for Veterans Act not well researched on facts

IMPROVE Well-being for Veterans Act should have required facts

Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
February 2, 2020


"Senate VA Committee boosts veteran suicide prevention efforts" written by Senator John Boozman made a lot of claims, that are simply not true. This part sounds great.
That’s why I joined Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) to introduce the IMPROVE Well-being for Veterans Act. This legislation would create a VA grant program to leverage veteran-serving non-profits and other community networks and create a common tool to measure the effectiveness of programs in order to reduce veteran suicides and save lives
But it only sounds great until you get to the part where with all the groups out there, no one seems to be doing much to hold any of them accountable. What is worse, is when members of the House and Senate, write bills, they do not seem too interested in what was done before.

They also do not seem to interested in what they say is true...or not. What U.S. Sen. John Boozman claimed
The Annual Suicide Report released by the Department of Defense (DoD) four months ago shows an increase in suicide among active-duty personnel in 2018. The National Guard experienced the highest rate of suicides among active duty and reserve members.
What the truth is.
The Department of Defense released the suicide report for 2018 in August...not 4 months ago.
What U.S. Sen. John Boozman claimed
Suicide prevention has become a priority at DoD and the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) in recent years.
What the truth is.

Back in 2008
The VA said it has hired more than 3,000 mental healthcare professionals over the past two years to deal with the increasing number of PTSD cases, but the problems persist. In response to the federal lawsuit, the VA set up a suicide prevention hotline. The VA said it has received more than 43,000 calls, 1,000 of which were from veterans who were on the verge of suicide and were rescued.

What U.S. Sen. John Boozman claimed
From Fiscal Year 2010 to 2020, the mental health and suicide prevention budget at the VA increased by 83%. During that same period, the suicide prevention outreach budget alone increased by 233%.
What the truth is.
This will explain a lot of that increase in the budget, but also think about how much more money was given to private providers instead of into the VA itself.
What U.S. Sen. John Boozman claimed
Despite the $222 million in funding for suicide prevention, the VA estimates that around 20 veterans commit suicide each day. That number has unfortunately remained roughly unchanged even with this dramatic infusion of resources.
What the truth is.
Actually the latest report from the VA is the "number" is 17. But that is not really true either. Read it and you'll see what I mean.
What U.S. Sen. John Boozman claimed
There are more than 50,000 organizations that provide suicide prevention services for veterans. Allowing the VA to tap into this network is a commonsense approach to ensuring improvements that have the potential to make a difference.
What the truth is.
Donors who want to make contributions towards charitable programs that serve the military and veterans face an almost overwhelming volume of choices with, by some accounts, the existence of over 40,000 nonprofit organizations dedicated to serving the military and veterans and an estimated 400,000 service organizations that in some way touch veterans or service members.

But above that, we should also notice that while all of these groups popped up, the numbers got worse.

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Annual Mental Health Checkups: ‘This Is A Game Changer’

UPDATE The "game" changed back in 2012!

The headline was "Soldiers seeking routine medical care now get PTSD screening as well"

There were 63,000 soldiers who went to the doctor for all kinds of things and during the checkup, they tested positive for mental health problems!

First-Of-Its-Kind Bill Would Cover Annual Mental Health Checkups: ‘This Is A Game Changer’


CBS News Denver
By Shaun Boyd
January 29, 2020
“Rather than dealing with an epidemic of opioid addiction and alcoholism, we’ll be dealing with these issues at the primary care level where they are much less expensive,” said Larson.

DENVER (CBS4) – Rep. Dafna Michaelson Jenet has a radical idea: to make mental health care just as routine and relevant as physical health care.
“This is a game changer. This is history.”

She says mental health care is currently crisis management.

“Imagine you go to your doctor, and your doctor says ‘Hey your blood pressure is up. Give me a call when you have a heart attack.’ That is how the behavioral health care system is set up right now.”

Michaelson Jenet introduced a bill with Rep. Colin Larson that would change the system, starting with annual mental health checkups covered by insurance just like annual physicals. If it passes, it would be the first law of its kind in the country.

The lawmakers say the goal of the bill is to identify and treat mental health issues before they’re in a crisis. Just as a physical screens for things like high cholesterol, a mental health checkup would screen for things like depression.

“Rather than dealing with an epidemic of opioid addiction and alcoholism, we’ll be dealing with these issues at the primary care level where they are much less expensive,” said Larson.

The bill would also give people a primary care provider to turn to if they do find themselves in crisis.
read it here

Saturday, December 28, 2019

Those who serve this country now...those who served it before, and all those who will come afterwards are screwed!

Dereliction of the duty they provided


Wounded Times
Kathie Costos
December 28, 2019

A report on Military Times should have sent shockwaves to every military family. Considering what we have seen with the rise in suicides among those currently serving, it is an indication that things are about to get even worse.

Since 2012, the average number of suicides reported by the Department of Defense remains at about 500 per year but considering that most reporters really do not give a crap, most people do not know that.

Considering we cannot even get that through to the public, who has the time to talk about their family members committing suicide? After all, we cannot even manage to talk about what the troops are still going through after billions have been spent to prevent them from committing suicide.

Bet you didn't know a Captain in the Kansas National Guard quit in protest because of the lack of actual suicide prevention!

The rest of the report should have sent shockwaves into the veterans community as well. As more and more seem fine with the fact that the VA budget has ballooned to cover private practices picking up the healthcare of our veterans, we also need to think about the ramifications because it is not good in the real world.
"The report noted that the D.C. area is one of the most challenging in the country to hire mental health providers; more than 80 percent of psychiatrists, psychologists and license clinical social workers do not take insurance, operating on a cash-only basis."
Yes you read that right...cash only! How many others are operating the same way? How many veterans are also paying cash so that no one knows they are being treated for PTSD to avoid the threat of losing their guns, or jobs? Any idea how many are still working on jobs that require them to be able to carry weapons?

It is too easy to just assume that all veterans with PTSD are too dangerous to have a gun! Top that off with the providers taking cash only, will not be inclined to see patients sent from the VA, especially when their track record of paying is abysmal!

But is actually even worse than that. Back to the report on Military Times.
"The demand for mental health services has risen across the United States in the past decade as the number of providers is has not kept pace and is barely holding steady. The Health Resources and Services Administration projects a shortfall of 250,000 providers by 2025."
And even more damning...
"And some geographic regions are harder hit by the mental health provider shortage. In these areas, the Defense Department faces even more difficult challenges hiring and retaining an adequate number of personnel."
Take a look at what some want to subject veterans across the country to because if there are not enough providers for civilians, we just sent veterans to the back of the that line!

WWMT News reported in Michigan there is a shortage of mental health providers.
Studies show in Michigan about 330,000 people live with a serious mental illness, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, and nearly 60% don't receive treatment because help can be hard to find.

Like most of the country, Michigan is in desperate need of more psychiatrists - especially for children.

According to the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatrists, the state had just 239 psychiatrists trained to treat children in 2017, which is 11 psychiatrists for every 100,000 children across the state.

KFDA News reported that Texas Panhandle sees shortage of Mental Health Providers
The recent data shows that across the state there is an average of one mental health provider to 957 individuals, but in the Texas Panhandle there is one mental health provider to 4,400 individuals, which makes it hard for those with behavioral issues to get the help they need. Like the rest of the United States, the Panhandle is seeing an increase in patients seeking mental health treatment, but they can’t find enough doctors, nurses, and therapists to treat them.

KCUR NPR reported Kansas Sees Shortage Of Psychiatrists And Other Mental Health Providers
For years, the center has used remote appointments with local psychiatrists to reach patients in far-flung corners of its coverage area, which spans 20 largely rural counties. But recently, Hill said, it’s been almost impossible to find psychiatrists and psychiatric nurses to do even that. He’s had to turn to providers who conference in from Kansas City, Texas and Tennessee.
There are 431 psychiatrists actively licensed to practice in Kansas, according to the state’s Board of Healing Arts. One calculation by the Kaiser Family Foundation estimates the state needs 53 more to meet its needs.
So do you think that you have been told the truth about any of this? Or are you now aware as to why it has gotten steadily worse for those who serve this country now...those who served it before, and all those who will come afterwards? They are screwed unless we demand a hell of a lot better out of Washington!

Friday, September 27, 2019

Veteran casually mentioned suicide plans at routine appointment

VA staff’s instant action prevents a Veteran suicide


VAntage
by Kristen Parker
September 25, 2019
Many common risk factors for suicide are treatable. As a community, we can #BeThere and save Veterans lives through stories of hope and recovery.

In the photo above, Cleveland VA’s lifesaving team includes (from left) Jose Rivera (ED nurse manager), Kimberly Miller (infusion clinic nurse), Jennifer Davis (dietitian), Erin Valenti (infusion clinic nurse manager), Alexandra Murray (psychiatry intern) and Rocco Burke (police officer). 

It’s not often that we talk about suicide in terms of lives saved, but recently, the Cleveland VA team saved a Veteran from ending his life.

He came in for his medical appointment for treatment just like any other day. During a casual conversation with a VA team member, he shared his plan for suicide. He had lost hope and didn’t feel he had anything more to offer.

The VA team member wasn’t a mental health provider, a nurse or a doctor, but is a compassionate VA employee who knew how to #BeThere. The VA team member immediately engaged members of the Veteran’s treatment team.

They showed compassion and talked with the Veteran about his needs and together, then they developed a plan that helped him feel safe.

Every member of the VA team flawlessly executed their role to save this Veteran’s life. They got him to the emergency department and, eventually, to the psychiatric assessment and observation center for further treatment.
read it here

Sunday, July 21, 2019

Saved from suicide atop Bethlehem’s Steel Stacks

21 hours as a crisis negotiator atop Bethlehem’s Steel Stacks


Leighvalleylive.com
By Sara K. Satullo
July 21, 2019
Through it all, they just kept talking to 25-year-old Jonathan David Wallace, letting him know they were ready when he wanted to talk or come down. Authorities have said they believe Wallace was suicidal.

Kurt Bresswein | For lehighvalleylive.com

Over nearly 22 hours last weekend, the Bethlehem police crisis negotiation team’s delicate work played out hundreds of feet in the air above the city as negotiators tried to convince a 25-year-old man to come down from a beam atop the iconic and deteriorating former Steel blast furnaces.
As Wallace paced atop the SteelStacks shouting unintelligibly, police used a drone to capture a photo of the Berks County man and harnessed the power of social media to identify him by posting the photo to the department’s official Facebook page.

With the help of the Allentown police negotiation team, they worked in two-hour shifts, first through the dark of night on an unsafe structure and into Saturday’s unrelenting summer sun as temperatures climbed to 86 degrees and the rusting stacks became broiling hot.
Kott found herself several hours away at a family wedding as the situation unfolded in Bethlehem, assisting the team remotely as they tried to identify the climber, while Detective Moses Miller, the assistant team leader, took charge of the scene. (Kott declined to get into certain specifics about Wallace’s situation due to the pending criminal case.)

Wallace was taken to St. Luke’s hospital on an involuntary mental health commitment. He was arraigned on Thursday on a felony count of risking catastrophe and related charges and jailed after he could not post bail.
read it here

Tuesday, July 2, 2019

U.S. Rep. Susan Wild "without specific training in mental health, we cannot recognize and act on the warning signs"

Op-ed by U.S. Rep. Susan Wild: ‘I can only make sense of the loss of my partner in life if I can save someone else’s life’

THE MORNING CALL
JUN 30, 2019

I didn’t run for Congress thinking that suicide prevention and awareness would be a cornerstone of my platform. Yes, I was aware of the pressing problem of veteran suicide, and that the number of suicides has increased dramatically. Never, however, did I think that this issue would become so very personal to me. Sadly, on May 25th, it did. On that day, the person who was my best friend, confidante, and partner in life, took his own life.

I cannot begin to describe the impact of receiving a phone call from an unknown police officer, telling me that my beloved had committed suicide. Disbelief was my first reaction, so much so that I thought it was a prank call. Fairly quickly, however, my mind gathered the warning signs that had existed, and which, sadly, I did not act upon with enough urgency.

For those who think I am assigning blame to myself for this act, and who have rushed to reassure me that there was nothing I could have done to stop this act of madness, you should know I have gotten to a place of peace in terms of my role. Because I now realize that without specific training in mental health, we cannot recognize and act on the warning signs, unless we learn more.

So it has become a new part of my mission to do as much good as I can in this public position I now occupy. Having only recently experienced this tragic loss, I am not yet an expert on the subject. However, I intend to become one. I can only make sense of the loss of my partner in life if I can save someone else’s life, and, just as importantly, can save another family from the devastation of losing their loved one to suicide.
read it here