Misintent : Hazing Students | Mental Health

Notice:  This piece was selected for publishing as an open opinion piece by an unaffiliated contributor.


How is what YOU do, in any way similar to fraternity/sorority HAZING? Before you say “in NO way!”…stop and reflect a little.

I know, not all fraternity “hazing” ends in death, though it is now illegal in California. But no matter how benign it seems, having to jump a lot of hurdles in order to GAIN ACCESS, is a problem for people seeking mental health treatment…or even getting the listening ear of a friend or parent.

Can we prevent the emotional/social pain sometimes inflicted on someone SEEKING ACCESS? Getting access to faith-based or mental health services, to school counselors, to peers or even distracted parents, can sometimes feel like “hazing”…the things we are asked to do, the price we are asked to pay.

How bad does someone want or need access? To what extent are hurdles placed in the way to find out “how high they will jump”? Some people “do what they are told”…are they considered fools (even by those whose services they seek) for not knowing when to stop seeking?

This Atlantic story is sad, but thought provoking.

Checkout: UNAFFILIATED ARTICLE ON THE NEWS STORY

It brings to my mind, another old story about a woman seeking help for her ill daughter, which suggests that even caregivers can learn from care seekers. Her daughter dying, the woman bowed down before the healer (as required by custom) and begged him to help her. His first response was, “It’s not good to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.”, meaning…he’s only going to heal the really sick people, and those who are in my neighborhood, so to speak. To that, she said, “Yes, but even the dogs feed on the crumbs which fall from their owners’ tables.”. Comparing herself with hungry dogs seemed to make a difference. With that, he said, “Your faith is great and it shall be done for you as you wish.” And he healed her daughter at once.

I know scripture readers might argue with my interpretation here, but my point is, even Jesus felt he was only there for certain people and she had to do a little cajoling to get what SHE BELIEVED HE COULD DO. Compassionate or convicted – either way you interpret it – the healer, healed.

But why did she have to beg first? Did he know before she even started the conversation that he was going to help her? Was he “hazing” her a little? Did she have to prove her faith in him first? Or did he have to find her “worthy” of his time? Or did the “hazing” actually show him that his “treatment” was going to work on her prepared/faithful soul? Maybe there was another way to get THAT information…

In the end, she had her daughter back, healthy and whole. I wonder how SHE felt after that conversation. Of course, she felt grateful to the healer for his work. But I wonder if SHE felt healthy and whole, too.

 

“Advocate for mental health. Work to end STIGMA of mental illness.”

 

Exemplar: Mental Health Day at the Office

We’ve all heard that we should take a mental health day from time to time, but how many of us are brave enough to actually take one—and let our coworkers and boss know that mental health issues may be the reason for being out of office?

empty desksEFLON/FLICKR – FLIC.KR

Well, Madalyn Parker, a web developer, did exactly that in an email.

She sent an email to her team letting them know she was taking two days off “to focus on my mental health”—and was shocked by the CEO’s response.

She tweeted the email exchange, where it has over 30,000 likes and 8,400 retweets.

MADALYN PARKER/TWITTER – TWITTER.COM

Ben Congleton, the CEO who replied, was so stunned by the outpouring of support that he wrote about it on Medium.

“I wasn’t expecting the exposure, but I am so glad I was able to have such a positive impact on so many people,” he wrote on July 6.

“There were so many stories of people wishing they worked at a place where their CEO cared about their health, and so many people congratulating me on doing such a good thing,” he continues, adding:

It’s 2017. I cannot believe that it is still controversial to speak about mental health in the workplace when 1 in 6 americans are medicated for mental health.

Congleton is sourcing a Scientific American article from December 2016, which goes on to report that “just over one in 10 adults reported taking prescription drugs for ‘problems with emotions, nerves or mental health,'” sourcing statistics from a piece published in JAMA Internal Medicine earlier that month.

A top highlighted quote from Congleton’s Medium piece is “It’s 2017. We are in a knowledge economy. Our jobs require us to execute at peak mental performance. When an athlete is injured they sit on the bench and recover. Let’s get rid of the idea that somehow the brain is different.”

It’s even more difficult for people of color to not only receive mental health care, but to even discuss it.

HuffPost reported in October 2016, “according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services of Minority Health, black people are 10 percent more likely to report having serious psychological distress than white people. There’s a stigma when it comes to black men talking about their mental health.”

And it isn’t just about stigma. They continue: “Despite being disproportionately affected by mental health conditions, black men in America have to deal with a lack of health care resources, a higher exposure to factors that can lead to developing a mental health condition, a lack of education about mental health and other factors that serve as barriers to getting proper help.”

It’s also more difficult for people of color to feel as though others—even medical professionals—can relate to their mental health care; “African-Americans make up less than 2 percent of American Psychological Association members, according to a 2014 survey,” Mic reports. Even more, “Latinos are less likely to report mental illness,” with very few Latinos actually seeking help, according to Latina.

Which is why it’s so helpful and important for people like Congleton and Parker to speak openly about the need to take care of mental health.

“What if we talked about physical health the absurd way we talk about mental health?” ATTN: asked in a video posted on May 26.

Parker wrote about her previous hurdles in navigating a job while handling anxiety and depression, noting, “I struggle with illness. Just as the flu would prevent me from completing my work, so do my depression and anxiety.”

Her point is valid, mental and physical health are treated differently. As the video shows, you wouldn’t tell someone with a broken leg, “it’s like you’re not even trying to walk.” Why do we do the same thing to people suffering from mental conditions?

“Smiley” Depression

Staff Reports—

 

When many people think of depression, they often think of sadness — and not much else. This generalization can be harmful to people who experience depression, but may not “look” depressed. For some, depression may look like sadness or exhaustion. For others, depression might look like a smiling face, or a person who “has it all together” — something we think of as “smiling depression.”

It’s important to remember every person’s experience of depression needs to be taken seriously, no matter what it looks like on the outside.2 We wanted to know things only people with “smiling depression” understand, so we asked members of our mental health community to weigh in.

Here’s what they shared with us:

  1. “It’s easier to cheer people up but not myself. I can make them feel great when they’re going through the worst [times], but I cannot get myself happy, really happy. That happiness you see is just a way of not letting people [see] my problems.” — Sofia V.
  2. “I am so tired. So, so tired, all of the time. It doesn’t matter if I’m sitting and pouting or smiling and engaging. [It doesn’t matter if I’m] dancing, running, swimming, eating, brushing my teeth, by myself or in a room full of people or sleeping. I. Am. Exhausted.” — Rinna M.
“Other people don’t get it. What it’s like to feel so trapped and in darkness, because I appear ‘happy’ and strong — even though [it feels like] I’m slowly dying.”
— Nicole G.
  1. “[I] fake it because [I believe] no one wants to hear about [my] depression. [I] fake it because [I am] tired of hearing all the ‘expert’ advice insinuating that [I’m] just [not] trying hard enough.” — Lisa C.
  2. “[I] don’t always wear the mask for other people. Sometimes [I] wear it because [I] don’t want to believe [I] feel as miserable as [I do]. [For me], it isn’t always about making other people with [me feel] OK. Sometimes it’s wearing the mask so [I] don’t lose [my] job or so [I] can just get takeout without being asked what’s wrong.” — Melinda A.
  3. “I can still laugh and give a big belly laugh about things, but on the inside, I feel empty. It’s a weird feeling being happy as much as you can, but your mind won’t follow suit. [I] just feel empty and the happiness isn’t genuine. It’s fake but [I] can’t change that no matter how hard [I] try for it to be a real feeling. Depression drains everything out of me. It takes an enormous amount of strength to appear ‘normal,’ it exhausts me… [My] smile doesn’t reach [my] eyes.” — Rebecca R.
  4. “The problem lies in the fact that no one truly and honestly knows me. I feel like I’m alone every day — even when I’m surrounded by people.” — Jen W.
  5. “[I] constantly doubt whether [my] struggles are real. When [I] finally get the courage and strength to open up about [my] depression, [I] always hear, ‘But you don’t act like you have depression.’ It took me years to come to terms and believe my own struggles.” — Adrianna R.
  6. “Most days, I feel like I’m just barely surviving. Once I’m alone at the end of the day, all I have the energy for is crying. Crying because I’m just so exhausted with life and I’ll convince myself I can’t handle tomorrow and I need to call in sick. But when the next day actually comes, I’m too afraid to not show up. Eventually, after debating with myself for far longer than I should, I drag myself out of bed. The cycle [feels] never-ending. It’s like, if I choose one day to just stay in bed instead of getting up, it would be the most horrible thing in the world, so I eventually always get up, no matter how exhausted I am. It’s inevitable.” — Keira H.
  7. “I try to keep up appearances to protect my family because my depression upsets them. I’m not very outwardly emotional, so everything gets to me more than I show it. I can’t open up to them, because I just get told, ‘Change your thoughts,’ ‘You seem fine, why do you want to go to a therapist?’ It makes those times when I can’t control my emotions even worse. I feel alone, tired and lost.” — Jessica C.
  8. “Sometimes I really, like really want to show people how I’m really feeling, but I just physically cannot take the mask off. It’s like the walls just grow stronger the more I try to tear them down.” — Kira H.
  9. “[I thought] if I faked being happy enough, then maybe I could get a glimpse of what it’s like to be ‘normal.’ I always feel like such a burden on the people [who] love me. [I feel] I have no choice but to pretend.” — Bree N
  10. “The time I’m most encouraging to myself is when I’m telling myself, I can make them laugh so they never suspect anything! I’m funny, right?” — Shelby S
  11. “The physical pain as well as the emotional pain. It hurts to walk, get up, move, force [myself] to smile, try to look ‘normal,’ happy.” — Keara M.
  12. “[ I believe] we are the best actors in the world. Because if I have to explain depression one more time… it’s just easier to fake it until I get home.” — Lisa K.

 

If you or someone you know needs help, visit our suicide prevention resources page.

If you need support right now, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text “START” to 741-741.

 

Unique Hurdles to Managing Stress in College

Managing Stress

College requires significantly more effort from students than high school.  Once you enter college, you will probably find that your fellow students are more motivated, your instructors are more demanding, the work is more difficult, and you are expected to be more independent. These higher academic standards and expectations are even more evident in graduate school. As a result of these new demands, it is common for college students to experience greater levels of stress related to academics.

Many students find that they need to develop new skills in order to balance academic demands with a healthy lifestyle.  Fortunately, the University of Michigan offers many resources to help students develop these skills.  Many students find that they can reduce their level of academic stress by improving skills such as time management, stress management, and relaxation.

The Pros and Cons of Stress

Stress is anything that alters your natural balance. When stress is present, your body and your mind must attend to it in order to return you to balance. Your body reacts to stress by releasing hormones that help you cope with the situation.  That in turn takes energy away from the other functions of your brain, like concentrating, or taking action.  There are two different sources of stress: external triggers, like getting a poor grade or breaking up with your girlfriend/boyfriend, and internal triggers, like placing high expectations on yourself.

La Di Da by Asher Roth:
“How are you dealing?”

Watch this music video which shows how six college students deal with stress.
From halfofus.com

Stress is a part of everyday life. There are many instances when stress can be helpful. A fire alarm is intended to cause the stress that alerts you to avoid danger. The stress created by a deadline to finish a paper can motivate you to finish the assignment on time. But when experienced in excess, stress has the opposite effect. It can harm our emotional and physical health, and limit our ability to function at home, in school, and within our relationships. But the good news is that, since we are responsible for bringing about much of our own stress, we can also do much to manage stress by learning and practicing specific stress-reduction strategies.

Click here to learn more about academic stress.  This link will take you to information and helpful tips including a study skills checklist.

Are you experiencing too much stress?

Here are a few common indicators:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Increased worrying
  • Trouble completing assignments on time
  • Not going to class
  • Short temper or increased agitation
  • Tension
  • Headaches
  • Tight muscles
  • Changes in eating habits (e.g., “stress eating”)
  • Changes in sleeping habits

People with mental health disorders are more likely to notice that their specific symptoms reemerge or grow worse during stressful times. In many cases, stress can act as the “spark” that ignites a mental health episode. But this does not mean that every time you are busy or face a difficult challenge you will have a mental health episode. Not everyone responds the same way to potentially stressful circumstances. For example, during final exams many students feel very overwhelmed and anxious, while others are able to keep their stress under control. If you are one of the many people who have difficulty managing stress during difficult times, look for some helpful tips below.

Ways of reducing and managing stress

  • A feeling of control and a healthy balance in your schedule is a necessary part of managing stress. Learning how to manage your responsibilities, accomplish your goals and still have time for rest and relaxation requires that you practice time management skills.
  • Try setting a specific goal for yourself that will improve your mood and help you reduce stress. Start by filling out a goal-setting worksheet.
  • Avoid procrastination. Putting off assignments or responsibilities until the last minute can create more mental and physical stress than staying on top of them.  Procrastination can affect many aspects of daily life, such as the quality of your work, the quality of your sleep, and your mood.
  • Exercise regularly. Physical activity can help you burn off the energy generated by stress.
  • Practice good sleep habits to ensure that you are well-rested. Sleep deprivation can cause many physical and mental problems and can increase stress.
  • Try mindfulness meditation.
  • Limit (or eliminate) the use of stimulants like caffeine, which can elevate the stress response in your body.
  • Pace yourself throughout the day, taking regular breaks from work or other structured activities. During breaks from class, studying, or work, spend time walking outdoors, listen to music or just sit quietly, to clear and calm your mind.
  • Start a journal. Many people find journaling to be helpful for managing stress, understanding
    emotions, and making decisions and changes in their lives.
  • Realize that we all have limits. Learn to work within your limits and set realistic expectations for yourself and others.
  • Plan leisure activities to break up your schedule.
  • Recognize the role your own thoughts can play in causing you distress. Challenge beliefs you may hold about yourself and your situation that may not be accurate. For example, do you continuously fall short of what you think you “should” accomplish? When our minds continuously feed us messages about what we “should” achieve, “ought” to be, or “mustn’t” do, we are setting ourselves up to fall short of goals that may be unrealistic, and to experience stress along the way. Learn techniques for replacing unrealistic thoughts with more realistic ones.
  • Find humor in your life. Laughter can be a great tension-reducer.
  • Seek the support of friends and family when you need to “vent” about situations that bring on stressful feelings. But make sure that you don’t focus exclusively on negative experiences; try to also think of at least three things that are going well for you, and share those experiences.
  • Try setting a specific goal for yourself that will improve your mood and help you reduce stress. Start by filling out a goal-setting worksheet then help yourself stay on track.

Suicide Attempts and Immune Response

Suicide kills more than 40,000 people in the United States every year, an estimated 90% of them with a diagnosable severe psychiatric disease. Yet little is known about what causes some individuals to take their own lives, limiting the ability to reduce the number of such deaths.
Findings from a new study published in the Journal of Psychiatric Research suggest that identifying blood-based antibodies may offer a route to more personalized assessment and treatment of suicide risk and, ultimately, to more effective suicide-attempt prevention. The study compared antibody levels to viruses known to attack and inflame the nervous system in psychiatric patients with a history of suicide attempt and patients who had not attempted suicide.
Findings
In the study by Faith Dickerson and colleagues, 162 patients with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or major depression were assessed for suicide-attempt history and antibodies to neurotropic infectious agents including Toxoplasma gondii (T. gondii). All the patients were in psychiatric treatment and receiving medication during the study.
Among the participants, statistically significant correlations were found for:

  • Lifetime history of suicide attempt and the level of antibodies to T. gondii
  • Lifetime history of suicide attempt and the level of antibodies to a common herpes virus (cytomegalovirus or “CMV”)
  • Lifetime history of suicide attempt and current cigarette smoking.

Individuals with antibodies to both T. gondii and CMV were found to be at heightened risk of attempting suicide, suggesting that exposure to both viruses might be additive, according to the authors. Individuals with antibodies to both viruses were also more likely to have made multiple suicide attempts.
No statistical correlations were found for:

  • The deadliness of suicide attempt and the level of antibodies to either virus
  • Patient age at time of assessment, gender, race, diagnostic group, clinical care setting, cognitive score, psychiatric symptom score, or any of the medication variables

Implications
Suicide rates in the United States have been rising since the mid-2000s, with more individuals per 100,000 population killing themselves than previously. The 21stCentury Cures Act and other federal, state and local initiatives, as well as many national nonprofits, have focused on reducing suicide risk, but the task remains challenging without clarity about the underlying causes.
While “the mechanisms by which inflammation may be associated with increased suicide risk are not known with certainty,” the authors of this study wrote, “the successful identification of blood-based antibody markets would represent an advance in the prediction and prevention of suicide attempts” among psychiatric patients.
“Suicide, for which a previous suicide attempt is the greatest risk factor, is a major cause of death worldwide and is highly prevalent in patients with serious mental illness,” they conclude. “Unfortunately, the ability to predict suicide remains limited and no reliable biological markers are available. The identification of blood-based antibody markers should provide for more personalized methods for the assessment and treatment, and ultimately prevention, of suicide attempts in individuals with serious mental illnesses.”

Mental Health 101

How common are mental health issues?

Studies have shown that 1 in 4 individuals globally struggle with a mental health issue at any given time. If you expand that to the course of a lifetime, the number increases to 1 in 2. That means if it’s not you who is struggling, it’s someone you know or love.

Why is it important to talk about stigma?

When discussing mental health, two main types of stigma exist. One type is external stigma, which refers to the attitudes held by society that people with mental health issues are somehow lacking, incapable, incompetent, or not worthy of dignified and equitable treatment. The other type is internal stigma, which is the attitude held by the person with mental health challenges that they are unworthy, unlovable, and unvalued.

Stigma does a lot of harm to our society. For the people struggling with a mental health challenge, they often lack hope in recovery and don’t pursue treatment because they either don’t believe they can get better or fear discrimination from others. For those who don’t struggle but hold positions of power (such as law enforcement, educators, landlords, community leaders, etc.), stigma can lead to discrimination, which is the unfair treatment of those with mental health challenges.

Having honest conversations about stigma and sharing our personal stories of recovery are small steps we each can take to making our society more equitable and inclusive.

Is recovery actually possible?

Absolutely! One of the biggest misperceptions in society is that mental health issues are a life sentence.

Recovery means many things to many people and is personal in nature. For some, recovery is the complete absence of symptoms. For others, recovery means successfully managing symptoms as a normal part of life with no disruption to daily activities. Research has shown that even for those with the most serious mental illnesses, the right treatment can have someone living an independent, fulfilling, and successful life.

Does everyone with a mental health diagnosis need medication? What alternatives to medication exist?

It’s a common thought that the only cure to a mental health diagnosis is medication and if one stops taking his or her pills, it’s all downhill from there. While medication works for some people, it is hardly a cure-all. In fact, some medications can have side effects that are more harmful than the symptoms of the mental health challenge!

Deciding to try medication is a personal decision. The good news is that it is not the only option. Research has shown that other types of therapies can be extremely effective in maintaing a person’s level of wellness, including mindfulness, talk therapy, peer support, physical activity, and visual and performing arts, to name a few.

So, do I have to share my mental health issue with the world?

Not unless you want to! Some people are very open about their mental health issues because they value transparency and/or want to be an example of recovery. Others may not feel comfortable because they fear stigma, or simply don’t want the world knowing their personal business. Some may choose to tell family and close friends, but not coworkers or acquaintances. There is no right or wrong answer. You should do what makes you comfortable. If you want to start dialogue around mental health but aren’t quite sure if you’re ready to share your experiences, you can always frame the conversation around wellness, which applies to everyone, diagnosis or not.

What should I do if someone discloses their challenge to me?

Just listen. Providing a supportive ear is the best thing you can do for someone who chooses to open up. It’s not always easy to share something so personal with another human being, so taking a genuine interest and being free of judgment can go a long way and do a lot of good.

Far from respecting civil liberties, legal obstacles to treating the mentally ill limit or destroy the liberty of the person

By Herschel Hardin
The Vancouver Sun July 22, 1993
Republished with permission

Herschel Hardin is an author and consultant. He was a member of the board of directors of the Civil Liberties Association from 1965 to 1974, and has been involved in the defense of liberty and free speech through his work with Amnesty International. One of his children has schizophrenia.

The public is growing increasingly confused by how we treat the mentally ill. More and more, the mentally ill are showing up in the streets, badly in need of help. Incidents of illness-driven violence are being reported regularly, incidents which common sense tells us could easily be avoided. And this is just the visible tip of the greater tragedy – of many more sufferers deteriorating in the shadows and often, committing suicide.

People asked in perplexed astonishment: ” Why don’t we provide the treatment, when the need is so obvious?” Yet every such cry of anguish is met with the rejoinder that unrequested intervention is an infringement of civil liberties. This stops everything.

Civil Liberties, after all, are a fundamental part of our democratic society. The rhetoric and lobbying results in legislative obstacles to timely and adequate treatment, and the psychiatric community is cowed by the anti-treatment climate produced. Here is the Kafkaesque irony: Far from respecting civil liberties, legal obstacles to treatment limit or destroy the liberty of the person. The best example concerns schizophrenia.

The most chronic and disabling of the major mental illnesses, schizophrenia involves a chemical imbalance in the brain, alleviated in most cases by medication. Symptoms can include confusion; inability to concentrate, to think abstractly, or to plan; thought disorder to the point of raving babble; delusions and hallucinations; and variations such as paranoia. Untreated, the disease is ravaging. Its victims cannot work or care for themselves. They may think they are other people – usually historical or cultural characters such as Jesus Christ or John Lennon – or otherwise lose their sense of identity. They find it hard or impossible to live with others, and they may become hostile and threatening. They can end up living in the most degraded, shocking circumstances, voiding in their own clothes, living in rooms overrun by rodents – or in the streets. They often deteriorate physically, losing weight and suffering corresponding malnutrition, rotting teeth and skin sores. They become particularly vulnerable to injury and abuse.

Tormented by voices, or in the grip of paranoia, they may commit suicide or violence upon others. Becoming suddenly threatening, or bearing a weapon because of delusionally perceived need for self-protection, the innocent schizophrenic may be shot down by police. Depression from the illness, without adequate stability — often as the result of premature release — is also a factor in suicides. Such victims are prisoners of their illness. Their personalities are subsumed by their distorted thoughts. They cannot think for themselves and cannot exercise any meaningful liberty. The remedy is treatment — most essentially, medication. In most cases, this means involuntary treatment because people in the throes of their illness have little or no insight into their own condition. If you think you are Jesus Christ or an avenging angel, you are not likely to agree that you need to go to the hospital.

Anti-treatment advocates insist that involuntary committal should be limited to cases of imminent physical danger — instances where a person is going to do bodily harm to himself or to somebody else. But the establishment of such “dangerousness” usually comes too late — a psychotic break or loss of control, leading to violence, happens suddenly. And all the while, the victim suffers the ravages of the illness itself, the degradation of life, the tragic loss of individual potential.

The anti-treatment advocates say: “If that’s how people want to live (babbling on a street corner, in rags), or if they wish to take their own lives, they should be allowed to exercise their free will. To interfere — with involuntary commital — is to deny them their civil liberties.” Whether or not anti-treatment advocates actually voice such opinions, they seem content to sacrifice a few lives here and there to uphold an abstract doctrine. Their intent, if noble, has a chilly, Stalinist justification — the odd tragedy along the way is warranted to ensure the greater good. The notion that this doctrine is misapplied escapes them. They merely deny the nature of the illness. Health (Official) Elizabeth Cull appears to have fallen into the trap of this juxtaposition. She has talked about balancing the need for treatment and civil liberties, as if they were opposites. It is with such a misconceptualization that anti-treatment lobbyists promote legislation loaded with administative and judicial obstacles to involuntary committal.

The result, …will be a certain number of illness-caused suicides every year, just as surely as if those people were lined up annually in front of a firing squad. Add to that the broader ravages of the illness, and keep in mind the manic depressives who also have a high suicide rate. A doubly ironic downstream effect: the inappropriate use of criminal prosectuion against the mentally ill, and the attendant cruelty of commital to jails and prisons rather than hospitals. Corrections officials once estimated that almost one third of adult offenders and close to half of the young offenders in the correction system have a diagnosable mental disorder.

Clinical evidence has now indicated that allowing schizophrenia to progress to a psychotic break lowers the possible level of future recovery, and subsequent psychotic breaks lower that level further – in other words, the cost of withholding treatment is permanent damage. Meanwhile, bureaucratic road-blocks, such as time consuming judicial hearings, are passed off under the cloak of “due process” – as if the illness were a crime with which one is being charged and hospitalization for treatment is punishment. Such cumbersome restraints ignore the existing adequate safeguards – the requirement for two independent assessments and a review panel to check against over-long stays. How can such degradation and death — so much inhumanity — be justified in the name of civil liberties? It cannot. The opposition to involuntary committal and treatment betrays profound misunderstanding of the principle of civil liberties. Medication can free victims from their illness — free them from the Bastille of their psychosis — and restore their dignity, their free will and the meaningful exercise of their liberties.

The Vancouver Sun July 22, 1993

Reprinted with permission. Copyright 1993 The Vancouver Sun. All rights reserved.

Call To Action: ADDY Beverages Inc. “Addy Energy Drink”

Our Executive Director has launched a campaign to shed light on an Ohio Energy Drink manufacture, Addy Beverage Inc.

UPDATE: April 21, 2017 WLWT Interview by Hearst ft. our Founder

IMG_2740OUR STANCE

As an organization on the forefront of mental health advocacy in the collegiate setting,  we find it deeply disturbing to find an Ohio Energy Drink Manufacture using one of the most widely abused prescription medications to illicit buying behavior amongst the public. The can resembles in precise color and design the most commonly prescribed ADDERALL XR pill—in an appeal to buyers interested in having energy sourced in the same sense as what is commonly abused to gain rapid energy. It is a blatant correlation to the perceived benefits one gets from taking Adderall when abused to gain energy, speed, and altered minds and behavior.

Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 12.15.17 PM
Store Shelves Addy Beverage Display in Retail Gas Station
Screen Shot 2017-04-18 at 12.15.05 PM
Addy Beverage Home Page Scan

Goal

Campuses nationwide, have experienced considerable growth in misuse of prescription stimulants. Several national studies have found that approximately one-third of college students misuse, and a recent survey of students confirmed this.

Prescription stimulants (specifically Adderall) have seen rising popularity, as demonstrated by their presence in popular TV shows (such as Pretty Little Liars) and Youtube videos.

Consider This:

  • What does the film for example highlight about the effects of Adderall? What does it say about pressures?
  • They take Adderall, presumably to study for their exam, but what do they do instead? How do they feel in the morning?
  • What symptoms do they show after taking Adderall?

There are Blatant Risks of Misuse of Adderall or Other Stimulants Without a Prescription

  • For what purposes do students misuse Adderall?
  • Do you know what risks are involved when taking Adderall or other stimulants without a prescription?

What are stimulants prescribed for?

  • Attention Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
    • 7%-11% of children and adolescents are diagnosed with the disorder & two-thirds of them are prescribed stimulants
  • Narcolepsy
  • Obesity

How do stimulants work?

  • increase dopamine levels in the brain
    • neurotransmitter associated with pleasure, movement, and attention
    • creates a therapeutic effect with an increase in one’s ability to focus
  • prescribed in low dosages to increase dopamine in a manner similar to the natural release in the brain

Increasing Availability of Stimulants

  • ADHD diagnosis grew 17% between 2010 and 2011 and continues to rise
  • 19-25 year olds increased medicine use by 2% from 2010-2011
  • 2.7 million youth are prescribed the drug each year
  • 5.3% of college students prescribed stimulants

Public Perception

  • Little Risk
    • 40% of young adults believe that it is safer to abuse prescription stimulants than illicit ones
    • 30% of young adults believe that prescription stimulants are not addictive
  • High Reward
    • “Smart pill” that boosts GPA and academic performance
    • 65.2% use to improve alertness and concentration

Health Risks of Stimulant Abuse

  • Paranoia
  • Increased body temperature
  • Abnormal heartbeat
  • Hostility
  • Psychosis
  • Anxiety
  • …and even a drop in academic performance

Addiction and Withdrawal

  • High risk of addiction
    • Quick rise in dopamine can create sense of euphoria
    • Body becomes reliant on medication to produce dopamine
  • Withdrawal symptoms
    • fatigue, depression, disrupted sleep

Stimulants and Alcohol Use

  • Masks the depressant action of alcohol
    • Increases risk of alcohol overdose
  • May compound the stimulant health risks
    • higher risk of:
      • paranoia
      • hostility
      • anxiety

Prescription Stimulant Abuse at Vanderbilt

Anonymous Survey conducted on March 13-14, 2013

-242 students

-59% female

-88% greek life

-equal representation of all four classes

Survey Data: Prevalence on Campus

– 36% of students admitted to using prescription stimulants without a prescription

– 31% admitted to using prescription stimulants to help them focus on studying

-19% used prescription stimulants to pull an “all nighter”

-17% used prescription stimulants for recreational (for fun) use

-3% used prescription stimulants to lose weight or for athletic purposes

Survey Data: Supply

-How easy is it to obtain Adderall, Ritalin, Vyvanse, etc. from students on campus?

-0%: very difficult

-35.56%: somewhat easy

-35.15%: very easy

-8.37%: somewhat difficult

-20.92%: I’m not sure

Legal Consequences: Vanderbilt

The following are excerpts from the Vanderbilt Student Handbook at http://www.vanderbilt.edu/student_handbook/alcoholic-beverage-and-controlled-substances-policies/

Distribution or facilitation of distribution of illegal drugs (including unlawful distribution of prescription medication) may result in suspension or expulsion for a first offense; unlawful distribution includes incidents in which no money is exchanged. In addition, the possession of controlled substances or alcohol in such quantities as to create a presumption of possession with the intent to distribute on or off campus is a serious violation that may result in immediate suspension or expulsion. Evidence that a student has distributed drugs is grounds for interim suspension from the University and/or expulsion from University housing pending the findings of accountability proceedings. Students found to have distributed drugs to others may also be held responsible for personal injuries or property damages resulting from misconduct committed by the students under the influence of the distributed substances.

The presumptive sanction for a third violation of alcohol or controlled substances policies is suspension.

Violations involving behavior that injures persons, that damages property, or that injures or damages the community at-large, will increase the presumptive strength of the sanction given.

In addition, sanctions will be imposed for misconduct that results from the use of alcoholic beverages or other drugs. Students will also be held responsible for any damages that result from their misconduct. These sanctions will be imposed consistent with standards and procedures found in Chapter 3, “Student Accountability.”

Prescription Drugs:

Many medications and prescribed drugs have the potential for abuse. Those listed below are some of the most abused, addictive and dangerous.

  • Adderall, Concerta, Ritalin, etc. are stimulants and controlled by the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA). These drugs are often prescribed for students who have been diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) or ADHD. They are, however, used by some individuals who have do not have ADHD to increase alertness or recreationally for a “high.” Studies do not show improved academic performance when these stimulants are taken by students without ADHD. The risk from misuse of these drugs ranges from lack of sleep and weight loss to the more severe risk of psychosis with severely disorganized thinking. Individuals who develop psychosis have very poor insight and judgment and so continue to use the drugs in excess. For individuals abusing these stimulants, abrupt withdrawal may lead to significant mood changes including severe depression with a risk of self harm.
  • Codeine, Hydrocodone (Lortab and Vicodin), and Oxycodone (Percocet and OxyContin) are medications that are prescribed for severe pain. All these drugs can be addictive and may be abused for feeling anxious, sedation, falling asleep or to get a “buzz” or “high.” Addiction to pain medications is common and withdrawal can be very difficult to manage.
  • Xanax, Valium, and other benzodiazepine drugs are prescribed for acute anxiety and panic attacks. Use of all benzodiazepine compounds can lead to psychological and physiological dependence.  Symptoms associated with withdrawal from these drugs can be severe and include seizures. Barbiturates are also sedative medications that can be addictive. Barbiturates are no longer commonly prescribed, but are potentially addictive. As with all sedatives, withdrawal symptoms can be dangerous and severe. Combination of these drugs with other central nervous system depressants can be dangerous.

Warning Signs of Possible Substance Abuse

  • Withdrawal from social situations
  • Increased boredom or drowsiness
  • Change in personal appearance (increasingly unkempt or sloppy)
  • Change in friends
  • Easily discouraged; defeatist attitude
  • Low frustration tolerance (outbursts)
  • Violent behavior and vandalism
  • Terse replies to questions or conversation
  • Sad or forlorn expression
  • Lying
  • Poor classroom attendance
  • Dropping grades or poor work
  • Apathy or loss of interest
  • Change in sleep pattern ranging from excessive sleep to inability to sleep
  • Frequent excuses for absences from planned activities

When such signs appear in friends,

DO

  • Express your concern and caring
  • Be ready to listen
  • Communicate your desire to help
  • Make concrete suggestions as to where the student can find help or how he or she might cope with a given problem
  • Try to get the student to seek professional help
  • Ask for assistance from campus resources
  • Be persistent
  • Understand the definition of friendship to include making difficult decisions that may anger your friends

DON’T

  • Take the situation lightly or as a joke
  • Be offended if the student tries to “put you off”
  • Take “I don’t have a problem” as an answer
  • Try to handle the student alone-ask for assistance
  • Lecture about right and wrong
  • Promote guilt feelings about grades or anything else
  • Gossip: speak of it only to those who can help
  • Excuse behavior because “everybody does it”

References

Most Y’all Missed This ’13 Reasons Why’ Detail & It Sheds Insight Into Alex’s Story

If you haven’t finished 13 Reasons Why, exit out of this post right now because I am about to end all debates about the last episode.

Based on the best-selling novel of the same name, 13 Reasons Why is proving to be one of the best and most socially aware young adult series in recent memory. It accurately shows what high school parties are like, using the kind of language high schoolers truly use (yes, F-bombs come out in droves), and not pulling any punches on more sensitive material. From almost everyone who has seen the show (many critics excluded), it is a poignant, incredibly well-done series that hits home pretty hard.

Seeing as it’s been several weeks since the show aired, you’ve probably either finished the series or got most of the way through it, which is what brought you here. It was a compelling show that made you want to get to the end just because of what it was talking about. For the same reasons, you probably had a hard time finishing it. However, if you weren’t paying enough attention while watching, you’ll not have noticed this one moment that changes the show’s entire narrative completely.

'13 Reasons Why' [Credit: Netflix]
’13 Reasons Why’ [Credit: Netflix]

It’s All In The Little Details

Unlike Clay Jensen, I’m not going to drag this out and make you wait 13 hours to know the whole story of what happened to Hannah Baker. During the 13th and final episode of the series, the Baker family finally has their deposition against the school. Several of the students from the tapes are called in and we get to see a few of their recordings as they’re sitting there being interviewed.

If you look to the bottom left corner of the screen, you’ll see the date that the tapes were recorded. Taking into account that the show was released on March 31st, 2017, this date changes everything about the show.

Zach Dempsey's deposition. '13 Reasons Why' [Credit: Netflix]
Zach Dempsey’s deposition. ’13 Reasons Why’ [Credit: Netflix]

November 10th, 2017: None of this has happened yet. OK, well some of it has.

The Story So Far

Hannah went to the park with Justin Foley, sparking that ill-fated picture of her on the slide. Hannah met Jessica Davis and Alex Standall; they started going to Monet’s every day to get hot chocolate and whatever the hell Alex was drinking. The three of them had their falling out due to Alex’s stupid list. Hannah and Courtney Crimson found out that Tyler Down was Hannah’s stalker. Courtney painted Hannah as a lesbian to salvage her own reputation. Hannah went on a pretty crummy date with Marcus Cole, after which Zach tried to make things better, but it ended poorly for both Hannah and him.

The rest of it probably hasn’t happened yet, however. Now, I’m not entirely sure about whether Ryan Shaver’s tape happened, but the rest of it certainly hasn’t.

This means that Bryce Walker hadn’t raped Jessica, Sheri Holland hadn’t knocked over the stop sign that led to Jeff Atkins’s fatal car crash, Clay and Hannah hadn’t hooked up — resulting in Hannah being unable to show her true feelings for him out of past traumas, Bryce hadn’t raped Hannah yet, and Mr. Porter hadn’t told Hannah to just let go of what happened to her and act like it never happened.

Giving life one last chance. '13 Reasons Why' [Credit: Netflix]
Giving life one last chance. ’13 Reasons Why’ [Credit: Netflix]

But the biggest, most important takeaway from knowing this is that Hannah is still here. We still have the chance to help her and prevent this from happening. We can still save Hannah. There is still time.

When it comes to suicide, at any age, those closest to the victim wished they had seen the signs and had the time to stop it. This theme is very evident throughout the series, as every character wishes they had only known what could cause Hannah to want to end her life. As the show points out, it can be obvious that someone is depressed and looking to find a way to put an end to their pain (evident from both Hannah and Alex). However, it is difficult to see it in those closest to you, which is why everyone was so blindsided by what had happened.

The biggest message that the show is trying to push is that we don’t know what’s going on in each other’s lives. We just have to be there for each other and support each other not matter what rumors we hear. There’s too much hate in the world, especially in high school. We need to overcome it and learn to appreciate each other for who we are.

Screen Shot 2017-04-15 at 9.52.51 AM
A worthy share for social media! Don’t forget to tag @GriffAmbitions

We often don’t know if someone is depressed, no matter how evident the signs may be. However, if we can be there for each other, we can prevent something like this from happening again. And, in the case of Hannah Baker, we can prevent it from happening altogether.

With this in mind, it’s interesting to note that Jay Asher’s original ending included Hannah Baker actually surviving her suicide attempt. This original ending was actually included in the 10th anniversary edition of the novel released last December. Which was coincidentally released mere months before the Netflix series aired.

Now I’m not saying that’s suspicious or anything, but maybe, just maybe, it was released around the same time as the Netflix series with the intent to continue the series for a second season – or maybe in another format altogether. Assuming the series does well (as most Netflix series do) and with this small little detail snuck in the finale, the creators could easily turn around and say that Hannah never did kill herself and instead give us a sequel following Hannah and company in a plotline in which she’s still alive.

State Specific Suicide Hotlines

Suicide Hotlines in the United States

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