A gift of generosity and recovery at State Hospital North for Mental Health Awareness Month

From IDHW’s Todd Hurt, administrator of State Hospital North

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IDHW State Hospital North Director Todd Hurt and NAMI far North President Virginia “Gini” Woodward with new donated Frisbee disc golf baskets on the grounds of State Hospital North.

OROFINO, Idaho – On a beautiful, blue-sky May day, there was a feeling of gratitude flowing through State Hospital North. The first reason for the gratitude was that it had been a long fall, cold winter and wet spring. The second is that patients were able to get out on the grounds during that beautiful day and play Frisbee disc golf. This disc golf was even more special given that we used new disc golf baskets donated to the hospital from NAMI (National Alliance for the Mentally Ill) far North.

We have played disc golf for years at the hospital. It’s a great therapy tool that can be used for increasing mood, allowing for exercise, socialization, and joy. Continue reading

Mental illness is normal in our society, and it’s also normal to have a life of recovery

Today (May 11, 2017) the Idaho Division of Behavioral Health hosted an event recognizing Mental Health Awareness month and several Idahoans who are working to support recovery and end the stigma about mental illness. So, let’s talk about the reality of mental health. 

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Idaho Lt. Gov. Brad Little presented the 2017 Mental Health Awareness month proclamation at a public event in the Idaho Statehouse May 11, 2017.

Millions of Americans face the reality of living with a mental health condition, which is challenging enough. Add to that the stigma associated with mental illness, and it can cause people to avoid help and treatment. May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so it’s a great time to talk about it and help put an end to the stigma about mental health issues.

How many people really are dealing with a mental illness?

Generally, 1 in 5 adults and children have a diagnosable mental illness. That makes mental illness more common than cancer, diabetes, or even heart disease, and yet we hear much more about those diseases than we do about mental health. That’s why this month is so important. About half of the adults in the U.S. will develop a mental illness at some point in their lives. Mental illness is normal in our society. It’s also normal to live a life of recovery. Continue reading

Voice of Idaho award winner Lisa Koller: “Today my life is to help people overcome the stigma”

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May is national Mental Health Awareness month, and the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare is joining with Idaho Regional Behavioral Health Boards around the state to commend individuals who have worked hard to reduce the stigma around mental health and volunteered in their communities to inspire hope, recovery and resiliency.

The winner of IDHW’s first-annual Voice of Idaho award, Lisa Koller, is one of those individuals. Part of her journey to recovery and dedicating her life to helping others with mental illness was inspired by receiving help from an Idaho peer support specialist after she graduated from Mental Health Court in 2007. Lisa now works as a peer support specialist and recovery coach at The Center for HOPE recovery center in Idaho Falls.

Read more below about Idaho’s program of certified peer support specialists from Idaho Division of Behaviorial Health Administrator Ross Edmunds, and Lisa Koller’s personal story of her struggles with substance use disorder and mental illness as recounted in her own words:   Continue reading

Join us May 11 to raise awareness and erase mental health stigma

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When it comes to mental health, many people confuse feeling bad with being bad. Mental illness is not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing.

Many factors out of one’s control influence whether someone develops a mental health condition: genetics, environment and lifestyle. Being a victim of a crime or having a stressful work or home life can make some people more susceptible.

Yet even though most people with mental illness can be successfully treated and live productive lives, less than half of the adults in the U.S. who need services or treatment get the help that can make a difference.

One reason: Stigma. The isolation, blame, fear and secrecy that is often associated with mental illness can discourage people from reaching out, getting the needed support and getting healthy. Continue reading

DHW social workers “Stand Up” for Idahoans every day

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March is Social Work Month, a nationwide campaign to recognize and better educate the public about the professionally trained and certified social workers who “stand up” for vulnerable people every day, including the more than 300 social workers employed statewide by the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare (DHW).

DHW social workers serve in a variety of roles and job titles across several of the department’s divisions, including Family and Community Services, Behavioral Health, Licensing and Certification, Medicaid and Welfare. They come into daily contact with vulnerable Idahoans who are seeking help, comforting people who are experiencing illness, mental health crises and substance use issues and ensuring they receive the correct care, resources and assistance on the road to recovery.

For example, child and family social workers at IDHW stand up by protecting Idaho children who have been abused or neglected, helping displaced children find a nurturing environment through foster families, re-unification or adoption, and working to ensure young people have the opportunity to reach their full potential. Continue reading

Mental health resources are available for Idahoans in flooded and damaged areas

Idaho’s behavioral health officials would like to remind Idahoans that resources are available for those who are feeling overwhelmed by the effects of heavy snowfall and flooding.

Almost half of the counties in Idaho have been issued a state disaster declaration. Flooding is expected to continue and may even worsen in the weeks to come as temperatures increase and cause additional snow melt.

“It’s normal for people of all ages to feel a lot of stress and anxiety after a natural disaster such as a flood,” said Ross Edmunds, administrator of the Division of Behavioral Health in the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare. “Natural disasters can have profound effects on people‘s employment, mobility, well-being, relationships, and mental health, especially as they move beyond the flooding and are working on recovering their regular lives, property, and their relationships.” Continue reading

‘It’s About Me!’ highlights children in the developmental disabilities program

 

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A love of all animals, Star Wars, Boise State University, being an artist, a winking rainbow, doing gymnastics, reading “millions of books,” dancing — these are the things children in the Developmental Disabilities Program think of when they  describe themselves and their interests.

This is the first year for the Idaho Children’s art contest highlighting children who receive developmental disability services throughout the state.

“We want to highlight the children in our program, because they are the reason we come to work each day,” said Sarah Allen, a supervisor in the Children’s Developmental Disabilities Program in the Department of Health and Welfare. “This contest showcased the kids in our program — their interests, strengths, talents, and future aspirations. It was really fun learning more about the kids we serve.”  Continue reading