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Sigma Busting-2014

Sigma Busting-2014

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Published by wednesdayjournal
Shedding light on Mental health
Shedding light on Mental health

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Published by: wednesdayjournal on Jun 04, 2014
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Stigma Busting
Te persistent stigma of mental illness
ne in four people will be af-fected by mental illness, with 20 percent of youth ages 13-18 experiencing severe mental illness in any given year.The road to seeking help when you are faced with a potential mental health issue isn’t an easy one, but it’s a road that has been traveled by many families successfully. They have found that hope and resilience are keys to recovery, and yes, people can and do recover. The road to recovery is marked by challenges. Despite the prevalence of mental illness, stigma around mental health disorders persists, and is one of the most detrimental barriers to people seeking and ulti-mately getting the help they need. So, what can we do about it? We can talk about it openly just like you would if a family member experi-ences a health issue. We can get help for young children experienc-ing emotional issues as this may prevent escalating problems in the future. We can reach out to friends, neighbors and family members and ask about their treatment and listen to their story. We can do this until no one feels ashamed and no one feels alone, until those who need help are empowered to seek it. A solution is not only possible—it exists today.The following stories are exam-ples of what can happen when we get beyond the stigma and address some of these issues head-on. Other-wise talented and highly capable in-dividuals can be crippled by mental illness—especially when help isn’t sought. These courageous people are shining examples of the power of seeking help; shining a light on their journey toward recovery.
More at oakpark.com
June 4, 2014
Loving  Julia
Even a family steeped in mental health care, faces challenges within
Contributing Reporter 
o meet Julia Haptonstahl, 26, is to be-gin to understand what makes this petite and resilient, self-advocating and artistic, athletic redhead tick.In her mid teens, the young woman who fell in love with the art form of dance at age 2, says her life was interrupted by a diagnosis of depression, although she said there were signs in play prior to that.Now, more than a decade in, the profes-sional modern ballet dancer turned certi-fied Pilates instructor is healthy and here, thanks in part to the love and support she has from her parents, Michele and Jim Haptonstahl, and sister Elizabeth.“I guess when you are a teenager, all these hormones are changing and I didn’t really know what was going on,” says Julia.Between the ages of 15 to nearly 20, Ju-lia’s depression was mis-diagnosed and mis-medicated.From its onset, Julia’s mom, Michele, a clinical social worker who does psychother-apy with adults, says that she suspected that Julia was dealing with bipolar disorder, not unipolar depression, and questioned Ju-lia’s psychiatrist about prescribing SSRIs [Selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors] to treat her.Even so, early on, at age 15, Julia did ex-perience one of the side effects of an SSRI medication in teenagers. She attempted suicide.
DAVID PIERINI/Staff Photographer
 Julia Haptonstahl and her amily have spent a decade joined in efforts to understand issues o mental illness.
See LOVING JULIA on Page 4 
We proudly support Stigma Busting in partnership with
Wednesday Journal, June 4, 2014
Healthy body, healthy  mind 
Exploring the links between mental and physical wellbeing
Contributing Reporter 
t the end of first grade, Jan Tendick began getting e-mails from her daughter Kaiah’s teacher, informing her that the 7-year-old was losing focus and having crying episodes at school.Meanwhile on the homefront, at night Kaiah had begun seeking self-comfort by climbing into bed with Ten-dick, which was new, habitual and a probable sign that something deeper was going on with her daughter, says the 62-year-old retired occupational therapist. Tendick, a biological mother of two children, now is rais-ing three adopted daughters, ages 8 to 21, including Kaiah, as well as fostering a fourth little girl. All of her children possess a range of chronic health issues, that are being addressed by the health providers at the In-fant Welfare Society Children’s Clinic in Oak Park, she says, where medical, dental and mental health services co-exist.However, last year, at the time of this crisis, Tendick says she was a board member of the nonprofit, and “didn’t want other people to know that Kaiah was sleeping with me every night,” she says. “I knew that there was a series of things causing her change in behavior, and I finally sought out help out of sheer desperation,” she says. Kaiah underwent a mental health as-sessment last fall, and then started one-on-one counseling sessions with the clinic’s child therapist. Kaiah, now 8, has learned how to positively modify her behaviors. “When we would ask her why do you have trouble sleep-ing, she couldn’t even think of the words,” Tendick says. “That is why the play and art aspect of the therapy worked really well for her.”
Wake up call
 Disruptive and disorganized sleep patterns in children, says Colette Lueck, managing director of the Children’s Health Partnership, is a typical way that young children demonstrate distress. “Sometimes it is connected to a current issue that they are anxious about, or something that happened long ago, and they are suddenly feeling that they are in a safe enough en-vironment that now they can deal with their feelings about it,” says Lueck, who is also an Oak Park village trustee. “So, the sleep disorder can occur way after the precipitating event, and it is not an uncommon pattern at all.”Lueck adds that anytime a parent has a concern about their child, they need to seek out a mental health profes-sional to get an assessment. “Maybe it is something that is transitional and will work its way out…but maybe it isn’t,” she says. A good profes-sional will help the parents figure that out and decide what the best course of action is for that particular child.”Lueck adds that a parent not seeking out help because of the stigma surrounding mental illness is not uncommon ei-ther, particularly in a community such as Oak Park where parents are “so focused on child achievement, and if your child is not above average, it can be very isolating, and very difficult to feel comfortable about talking about the strug-gles you are having,” she says. But, talking to other parents who are struggling with some of the same kinds of concerns, whether that is around autism, or mental health issues, or other developmental impacts, can be important and helpful in terms of de-isolation and support.“Stigma is a major reason that some kids don’t get any treat-ment, or even get their mental health issues addressed because no one wants to admit that they have a mental health issue because there is so much stigma attached to it,” says Lueck.
When to seek help for your child
As parents we are usually the first to recognize our child is having problems either at home, at school or both. The decision to seek profes-sional help can be difficult. The first step is to gently try to talk to your child. An honest open discussion about feelings can often help. These emotions or behaviors may resolve themselves. If problems persist for longer than two months your child should be assessed by their primary care physician and/or a trained mental health professional. Early assessment and intervention can prevent further suffering, and can stop problems from getting worse.Following are a few signs which may indicate that a mental health assessment by a trained mental health professional could be helpful.
Infant and toddlers (birth to three years)
Feeding or sleeping problemsFrequently bites or hits others with no provocationAnxious and clingy attachment to care giverNo stranger anxiety; indiscriminate attachmentSad facial expression, avoids eye contactUncomfortable when heldToo easily upset and difficult to soothe
Preschoolers (3-5 year old)
Engages in compulsive behaviors, head bangingThrows wild, despairing tantrumsWithdrawn: shows little interest in social interactionDisplays repeated aggressive or impulsive behaviorDifficulty playing with othersLittle or no communication; lack of languageLoss of earlier developmental achievements
 Younger children (5-10 years of age)
Poor grades in school despite trying very hard Severe worry or anxiety, as shown by regular refusal to go to school, go to sleep or take part in activities that are normal for the child’s age Frequent physical complaints Hyperactivity; fidgeting; constant movement beyond regular play Persistent nightmares Persistent disobedience or aggression (longer than 6 months) Frequent, unexplainable temper tantrums Threatens to harm or kill oneself
Adolescents and teens
Marked decline in school performance Inability to cope with problems and daily activities Marked changes in sleeping and/or eating habits Extreme difficulties in concentrating that get in the way at school or at home Depression shown by sustained, prolonged negative mood and attitudeSevere mood swings Strong worries or anxieties that get in the way of daily life, such as at school or socializing Repeated use of alcohol and/or drugsThreats of self-harm or harm to othersPersistent nightmares Frequent outbursts of anger, aggression
DAVID PIERINI/Staff Photographer
Social worker Judy Crivolio and Kaiah endrick, 8, demonstrate play therapy at Te IWS Chil-dren’s Clinic on Lake Street.
We proudly support Stigma Busting in partnership with
Wednesday Journal, June 4, 2014
Standing up to stigma
Contributing Reporter 
ooja Nagpal, 28, a Peer Recovery Specialist at River-edge Hospital in Forest Park, says that as a young adult she was diagnosed with Attention Deficit Disor-der (ADD) and Major Depressive Disorder.In April, the aspiring comic learned first hand how writ-ing and performing jokes about the foibles of living with a men-tal illness can aid her as she pursues a life of ongoing recovery.Recently Nagpal was one of five from the National Alli-ance on Mental Illness (NAMI) mental health participants to take a multi-month stand up comedy training with David Granirer, the founder of Stand Up for Mental Health, and who this year was tapped to be the emcee at NAMI’s annual spring fundraiser, Nagpal says.In breaking stigma, says Granirer, who is living with de-pression himself, “The idea is that laughing at our setbacks raises us above them. It makes people go from despair to hope, and hope is crucial to anyone struggling with adversity. Studies prove that hopeful people are more resilient and also tend to live longer, healthier lives,” he writes on his website, http://standupfor-mentalhealth.com, where videos of him in action can be viewed.At the event, in front of about 300 people, Nagpal joked that “When I got depressed, I lost 10 to 15 pounds. After all, when you’re depressed who needs Jenny Craig. Every time I need to lose weight I just watch ‘The Bachelor’ and trigger a major depression.”So, on a cool spring day in Oak Park, Nagpal  joined Jeffrey Shapiro, 34, a Peer Recovery Spe-cialist at Thrive Counseling Center who is liv-ing with schizophrenia, and Peter Briggs, 43, a mental health advocate living with bipolar I dis-order to share their personal experiences deal-ing with the issue of stigma over a cup of joe.
What is stigma to you?Briggs:
 For me, it hurts that people think you’re crazy, but if they don’t accept that you do have something going on, that’s almost harder.
I’ve come across some stigma in the past, includ-ing outright discrimination. There are all sorts of stereo-types of what schizophrenics, or what a mentally ill person, would be doing… such as that a person may become violent, may not be intelligent, and that those individuals belong in the hospital all the time. It’s just not true.
 Stigma is directly equated to harsh judgment on your personality, a lack of understanding, and even a lack of interest in understanding, because it is an easy way to say “you’re weird, get away.”
Give me an example.Briggs:
When the mother of a girl I was seeing at the time heard the story about the gentleman (who was diagnosed as having bipolar diagnosis) having a (psychotic break) on a plane, she said to her daughter “you have to stay away from him forever, he’s crazy and he’s going to hurt you.” It’s those people who jump to the conclusion that you are going to harm somebody that is hurtful, especially when you are do-ing all your best, taking your meds, go-ing to meetings, seeing a therapist.
One of the stereotypes is that mental illness is equated with mental retardation, that people are less intelligent and less capable in functioning and fulfilling daily expec-tations in life or that there is no such thing as recovery. That’s not true be-cause I feel like I’m a living example of someone who’s come a long way.
In general I have been told you don’t have to take medication to get bet-ter, get your act together, you know, it could be a lot worse…or what’s your deal, you’re a bright person let’s just get over this and move on. So, my experience has been mostly subtle forms of judgment.
Any all-around advice?Briggs:
As soon as you accept that you have a mental illness, you can become so much more empowered as a person. Ac-cept that you take anti-depressants, and might need more sleep than the average person. I have learned not to judge anybody with or without mental illness. If you can have re-lationships where nobody is judging each other, then doors open up for you and relationships will get stronger.
 The heart of stigma and discrimination, too, are thapeo-ple aren’t educated about certain subjects so they assume some-thing about that individual. My father has been incredible for me. He recognized that I have a sickness. He’s watched me go through the stages, and that’s what has helped me get to where I’m at now.
 My dad took one of NAMI’s Family-to-Family classes, and that changed our relationship, because after that he communicates with me differently. My goal one day is to be able to overcome my own fears and share that [diag-nosis of major depression] with my extended Indian family. That is hard for me because that is a whole different culture and dynamic beast to tackle. But you know, baby steps.
Thrive at OPRF
Thrive Counseling Center and Oak Park and River Forest High School are partners to insure emotional support for students. Through our collaboration, Thrive has four Youth Therapists, one Substance Abuse Preventionist and one Student Advocate working as part of the Community Sup-port Service Program. Thrive’s staff pro-vide student assessments, interventions, referral and linkage services between the school district and the communi-ties of Oak Park and River Forest. Youth Therapists run 14 ongoing group therapy sessions at the high school in addition to helping student’s on an individual basis.
Ending the silence
In the health classes at Percy Julian Middle School, as well as Oak Park and River Forest, Fenwick and Trinity high schools, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) “Ending the Silence”programming is being taught, says Michelle Foskett, education coordinator at NAMI Metro Suburban.It is a free, 50-minute educational presentation that teaches students about the signs and symptoms of mental illness and the importance of early detection and treatment. The class is co-presented by young adults who are trained to share the story of their own mental illness and recovery. The presentation’s message of empathy and hope encourages students to actively care for themselves and for their peers, whether by reaching out for help, encouraging a friend or family member to seek help or by reducing stigma. Contact with a positive role model, in the form of the young adult presenters, can powerfully change their views of a common but stigmatized life experience. The discussion portion gives students a rare opportunity to ask questions and learn personal truths about mental illness. The supplemental class is offered in health, science or psychology classes by local teachers.Foskett adds that approximately 20 percent of youth ages 13 to 18 experience mental illness in any given year. About 50 percent of adults with mental illness reported that symptoms began by age 14 and 75 percent by age 24. “In real terms, at NAMI we believe the number one reason people living with a mental illness don’t get help is stigma, and we hope that this pro-gramming can help to address that in teens by exposing them to education about mental illness, and the resources that are available to help,”she says.
Pooja  Nagpal, Jeffrey Shapiro and Peter Biggs Jr.
DAVID PIERINI/Staff Photographer
This Stigma Busting effort is underwritten by

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