June is Alzheimer’s & Brain Awareness Month

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We all hear jokes about “senior moments,” like walking into a room and then promptly forgetting why. But Alzheimer’s disease and dementia is not the normal process of aging and really is nothing to laugh about. June is Alzheimer’s and Brain Awareness month so it’s a good time to remind people that Alzheimer’s is the 6th leading cause of death in Idaho, increasing 41 percent in 2015 compared to 2014 and is higher than the national rate. Alzheimer’s is the most common form of dementia, accounting for 60-80% of all dementias.

Tell us what Alzheimer’s actually is. It’s more than just memory loss, right?

That’s right. It is a progressive disease that starts with mild memory loss that could lead to a person not knowing how to speak or how to carry out their daily activities. It involves the parts of the brain that control thought, memory, and language. Scientists are learning more every day, but they still don’t know what causes it. Continue reading

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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

Holiday stress? Give yourself a break!

The overwhelming rush in the final countdown to the holidays has begun. And from the frenzied hum throughout the Treasure Valley and especially near its shopping malls, it sounds like we’re all caught up in it. It’s time to take a minute to consider all of the simple things you can do for yourself to reduce stress and enjoy the holidays.

If you’ve made it a goal to eat healthy, the holidays can be challenging, if not impossible. Should you stick to your goal, or surrender and start again in January?

Trying to eat healthy food at this time of year can challenge anyone’s fortitude — we’re going to parties and eating out more and have less control over what is being served. Generally, you should watch your portion sizes and eat lots of fruits and vegetables. But it IS the holidays, so you should allow yourself to splurge a little bit, especially for your favorites. Just don’t overdo it.  Continue reading