Thursday, February 27, 2014

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Energy Drinks and Alcohol Consumption

Cold Red Bull CanA recent study published in the Journal of Addiction Medicine explored the possible associations between the use of of energy drinks and soft drinks and the use of alcohol, cigarettes, and illicit drugs among nationally representative samples of adolescents in the United States.

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Tuesday, February 25, 2014

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Mental Health in Mississippi

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has released their Behavioral Health Barometer: United States, 2013 report, as well as state-specific reports. The Behavioral Health Barometer: Mississippi, 2013 report provides information about substance use and mental health issues in our state and shows how we compare to the national averages.

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Friday, February 21, 2014

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Stress Management is Important Part of Mental Health

StressSymptomsWe all experience stress, and many of us have learned to live with fairly high levels of stress. But it is important to recognize that excessive stress, especially when chronic in nature, is associated with a number of health-related problems, emotional difficulties, and reduced quality of life. Effective stress management is an important part of positive mental health.

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Monday, February 17, 2014

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Top Ten Parenting Reminders for Your Child’s Challenging Behaviors

Child and mother with Apple iPadParenting is not easy, especially when facing challenging behaviors from your children. Here are ten tips for parents dealing with challenging behaviors (e.g., noncompliance, aggression, inappropriate play) from Dr. Bonnie Nicholson's Positive Parenting Research Team in the Counseling Psychology Program at the University of Southern Mississippi:
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Friday, February 14, 2014

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Anxiety Appears to Increase Risk of Stroke

National Institute of Mental Health Clinical C...
National Institute of Mental Health Clinical Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We all experience feelings of fear, anxiety, and worry from time-to-time. These are common emotions that, while potentially unpleasant, are not necessarily harmful. Anxiety disorders, on the other hand, are potentially serious problems that can lead to great distress or difficulty meeting the demands of daily life.

Anxiety disorders are one of the most common mental health problems. Different anxiety disorders involve different combinations of symptoms, but some of the more common include feelings of panic or fear, excessive worries that may be difficult to control, problems sleeping, tension, restlessness, and stress. Fortunately, many anxiety disorders respond well to treatment, and brief counseling can often provide relief for the symptoms of anxiety.

Now there is another reason why individuals experiencing chronic anxiety should consider seeking help. The American Heart Association's blog reports that a study published last year in Stroke and funded by the National Heart, Lung and Blood Institute and the National Institute of Mental Health found that symptoms of anxiety were associated with an increased stroke risk. Thus, chronic untreated anxiety may be a risk factor for serious medical problems.

As we learn more about the relationship of various mental illnesses to other medical problems, the importance of seeking mental health treatment becomes clearer.
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Tuesday, February 11, 2014

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LGBTQ Resources in the Hattiesburg Area

Kennard-Washington Hall
Kennard-Washington Hall, University of Southern Mississippi
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered (LGBT) individuals are at increased risk for developing certain mental health problems, such as anxiety, depression, and substance use disorders. A 2014 study conducted in England by Youth Chances found that lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and questioning (LGBTQ) youth between 16 and 25 years of age reported higher levels of depression, anxiety, self-harm and suicidal thoughts. Carlos Maza, a researcher at Equality Matters, reported in a memo from the Center for American Progress that LGBT young adults are more likely to engage in self-harm and attempt suicide compared to their non-LGBT peers, and this is consistent with data summarized by the American Association of Suicidology.

It is apparent that there is a great need for mental health services for LGBTQ youth; however, finding safe spaces to discuss LGBTQ issues can be difficult. Listed below are some resources available in the Hattiesburg area, as well as a couple of state and national resources.

Resources in the Hattiesburg Area

Student Counseling Services (601.266.4829) – Located on The University of Southern Mississippi's Hattiesburg campus, Student Counseling Services provides counseling to current Southern Miss students and offers assistance on issues specific to the LGBTQ community.

Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic (601.266.4601) – Also located on the Hattiesburg campus of The University of Southern Mississippi, the Clinic provides a safe space for students and members of the Hattiesburg community age 16 and up to discuss a variety of issues relevant to the needs of the LGBTQ community.

USM Gay Straight Alliance – The Gay Straight Alliance at The University of Southern Mississippi is a group of students, faculty, and community members who believe in putting an end to homophobia, transphobia, biphobia, racism, sexism, and all other forms of discrimination. The GSA offers free education, support, and information to individuals at Southern Miss.

State and National Resources

Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition – The mission of the Mississippi Safe Schools Coalition is to ensure that all students have a safe learning environment by protecting students’ Constitutional rights, ending homophobia, transphobia, sexism, and all forms of discrimination, and fostering acceptance of students regardless of their actual or perceived sexual orientation or gender identity through public education and advocacy.

The Trevor Project (24/7 Crisis Hotline: 866.488.7386) – The Trevor Project is the leading national organization providing crisis intervention and suicide prevention services to LGBTQ youth ages 13-24.

- Post contributed by Daniel -
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Friday, February 7, 2014

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Addressing a Fear of Happiness in Counseling

Colours of happiness
(Photo credit: Camdiluv ♥ from Concepción, CHILE)
Recent research described in Scientific American suggests that some people with mental health problems may fear positive emotions. We usually think of happiness something worth seeking, but some people may avoid it out of a concern that if they are happy today, they are likely to feel worse tomorrow.

It is easy to imagine how a fear of positive emotions could complicate the counseling process. Many counseling approaches utilize methods designed to increase positive feelings, especially for individuals suffering from depression. These approaches might seem unrealistic or even threatening to someone with a fear of happiness.

For someone with a fear of positive emotions who is seeking counseling, it may be helpful to discuss this fear with one's counselor early in the relationship. Working to increase one's acceptance of happiness early in the counseling process could lead to a more positive and successful experience.
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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

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Warning Signs of Troubled Relationships

CoupleMany couples having problems in their relationships wait too long before seeking professional counseling. Relationship distress has a way of building over time as the bond between partners erodes with continued conflict. Minor problems that are not successfully resolved may resurface under periods of stress. Partners find themselves repeating unhealthy patterns but feeling stuck, knowing that something is wrong but not knowing how to change it.

At what point should a couple seek counseling? The answer will depend on the couple; however, there are some advantages to addressing relationship distress early. A couple who seeks help earlier is likely to have a stronger foundation on which to build. It is may also be easier to break out of unhealthy interaction patterns and acquire new relationship skills.

Debra Manchester MacMannis, LCSW, author of Parenting Tips on the PsychCentral Blog Network, shares seven warning signs that may indicate problems in marriages and other intimate relationships that should be addressed. The warning signs include:
  1. Realizing that one no longer feels warn or affectionate with one's partner
  2. Not creating sufficient time to engage in enjoyable activities together
  3. Significant reductions in the frequency of sex
  4. One or both partners stops taking care of themselves
  5. Blaming one's partner for feelings of unhappiness
  6. Feeling lonely even in the presence of one's partner
  7. Beginning to feel contempt towards one partner
MacMannis notes that even if one believes that all seven warning signs are present in one's relationship, it is not necessarily too late to benefit from counseling.

The Community Counseling and Assessment Clinic provides couples counseling for partners experiencing relationship distress, as well as those interested in strengthening their relationship and learning healthy relationship skills.
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