Mental Health 101

A mental illness is a disease that causes mild to severe disturbances in thought and/or behavior, resulting in an inability to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines. There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness. Some of the more common disorders are depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. Symptoms may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits and/or social withdrawal. Mental health problems may be related to excessive stress due to a particular situation or series of events. As with cancer, diabetes and heart disease, mental illnesses are often physical as well as emotional and psychological. Mental illnesses may be caused by a reaction to environmental stresses, genetic factors, biochemical imbalances, or a combination of these. With proper care and treatment many individuals learn to cope or recover from a mental illness or emotional disorder. Explore the links to the left under mental health to find out more about disorders, treatments and how to help yourself or someone else.

What is mental illness?

A mental illness is a disease that causes mild to severe disturbances in thought and/or behavior, resulting in an inability to cope with life’s ordinary demands and routines. There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illness. Some of the more common disorders are depression, bipolar disorder, dementia, schizophrenia and anxiety disorders. Symptoms may include changes in mood, personality, personal habits and/or social withdrawal. Mental health problems may be related to excessive stress due to a particular situation or series of events. As with cancer, diabetes and heart disease, mental illnesses are often physical as well as emotional and psychological. Mental illnesses may be caused by a reaction to environmental stresses, genetic factors, biochemical imbalances, or a combination of these. With proper care and treatment many individuals learn to cope or recover from a mental illness or emotional disorder. If you think you or someone you know may have a mental or emotional problem, it is important to remember there is hope and help. There are a number of support groups available as well as public programs to educate others on mental illness and how they can make a difference. You can also contact the Mental Health Assistance Center for additional help.

Recognizing the Warning Signs Most people believe that mental disorders are rare and “happen to someone else.” In fact, mental disorders are common and widespread. An estimated 54 million Americans suffer from some form of mental disorder in a given year. Most families are not prepared to cope with learning their loved one has a mental illness. It can be physically and emotionally trying, and can make us feel vulnerable to the opinions and judgments of others.

Accept Your Feelings Despite the different symptoms and types of mental illnesses, many families who have a loved one with mental illness, share similar experiences. You may find yourself denying the warning signs, worrying what other people will think because of the stigma, or wondering what caused your loved one to become ill. Accept that these feelings are normal and common among families going through similar situations. Find out all you can about your loved one’s illness by reading and talking with mental health professionals. Share what you have learned with others.

Address Unusual Behavior The outward signs of a mental illness are often behavioral. Individuals may be extremely quiet or withdrawn. Conversely, he or she may burst into tears or have outbursts of anger. Even after treatment has started, individuals with a mental illness can exhibit antisocial behaviors. When in public, these behaviors can be disruptive and difficult to accept. The next time you and your family member visit your doctor or mental health professional, discuss these behaviors and develop a strategy for coping.

Seek Counseling Therapy can be beneficial for both the individual with mental illness and other family members. A mental health professional can suggest ways to cope and better understand your loved one’s illness. When looking for a therapist, be patient and talk to a few professionals so you can choose the person that is right for you and your family. It may take time until you are comfortable, but in the long run you will be glad you sought help.

Establish a Support Network Whenever possible, seek support from friends and family members. If you feel you cannot discuss your situation with friends or other family members, find a self-help or support group. These groups provide an opportunity for you to talk to other people who are experiencing the same type of problems. They can listen and offer valuable advice.

Taking Time Out It is common for the person with the mental illness to become the focus of family life. When this happens, other members of the family may feel ignored or resentful. Some may find it difficult to pursue their own interests. If you are the caregiver, you need some time for yourself. Schedule time away to prevent becoming frustrated or angry. If you schedule time for yourself it will help you to keep things in perspective and you may have more patience and compassion for coping or helping your loved one. Only when you are physically and emotionally healthy can you help others. Many families who have a loved one with mental illness share similar experiences. It is important to remember that there is hope for recovery, and that with treatment many people with mental illness return to a productive and fulfilling life.

Common Disorders

Click on the links below to find out more about a specific disorder or condition.

If you think you need help with diagnosis or treatment of any disorder or condition, please contact our J. Speed Thomas Mental Health Assistance Center.

 

Medications/Treatments: General Guidelines

A Guide For Families, Friends, Board And Care Homes, Caregivers And Patiens Prescription medications are helpful in reducing symptoms in people suffering with a mental illness. As with any medication, there are precautions to be taken, and careful monitoring is needed to reduce any risk and maximize the benefits of medications. It is important for you and others to be familiar with how these medications are used. How Do Medications For Mental Health Work? Some mental illnesses are due to chemical imbalances in the brain. These chemicals are neurotransmitters. They are the messengers within the brain which enable communication between different areas of the brain and the body. When there are disturbances in the functioning of these neurotransmitters, the communication system in the brain can be disrupted. Medications can correct the imbalance of these chemicals in the brain and restore healthy neurotransmitter communication. Medications can reduce the symptoms of an acute attack and prevent recurring illness. Tell Your Doctor If You:

  • Have had allergic reactions to drugs or food
  • Are taking any other medications
  • Are pregnant or breast-feeding
  • Have diabetes, kidney, liver or heart disease
  • Are on a special diet or taking any supplements
  • Smoke or drink alcohol
  • Stop taking the prescribed medications
  • Feel side effects

There are 5 major categories of mental health medications: Lithium, anti-anxiety, anti-psychotic, anti-depressant, and stimulant medications. Ask your doctor what category of medications you are taking. Remember:

  • Take all medications only as prescribed by your doctor.
  • Check your prescription with your pharmacist.
  • Know your medication.
  • Follow directions and read the label carefully.
  • Store medications properly.
  • Never stop medications on your own.
  • Ask about special precautions.
  • Find out about possible side effects.
  • Keep your doctor informed about any side effects you may have.

If you have any questions or problems call your doctor, therapist and/or pharmacist. Please Note: These medications should only be prescribed by your doctor. There are 5 Major Categories Of Mental Health Medications ANTI-DEPRESSANTS

Generic Names Brand Names
Amitriptyline Elavil, Endep
Amoxapine Asendin
Desipramine Norpramin
Doxepine Sinequan, Adapin
Fluoxetine Prozac
Imipramine Tofranil
Maprotiline Luidomil
Nortriptyline Aventyl, Pamelor
Paroxetine Paxil
Phenylzine sulfate Nardil
Protriptyline Vivactil
Sertraline Zoloft
Trazodone Desyrel
Buproprion Wellbutrin

What Are They Used For? Anti-depressant medication may be used to treat certain kinds of depression: depressed mood, loss of interest, lack of pleasure, decreased need for sleep and food. These drugs treat depression by supplying some of the missing chemicals that make you feel well and happy. Anti-depressants can help you come out of the depression and help prevent its recurrence. Side Effects: Dizziness, sleepiness, dry mouth, low blood pressure, blurred vision and constipation may occur. These effects often decrease in 1 to 2 weeks. Precautions: Anti-depressants may take 2 weeks or more to take effect.

  • Avoid barbiturates and alcohol.
  • Do not operate a car or machinery if feeling sleepy.
  • If you are pregnant or breast feeding, consult your doctor about the risks of using anti-depressants.
  • Stopping these medications may result in relapse.
  • There may be dietary precautions while taking MAO inhibitors.

ANTI-PSYCHOTICS

Generic Names Brand Names
Chlorpromazine Thorazine
Fluphenazine Prolixin
Haloperidol Haldol
Loxapine Loxitane
Mesoridazine Serentil
Molindone Moban
Perphenazine Trilafon
Thioridazine Mellaril
Thiothixene Navane
Trifluoperazine Stelazine
Clozapine Clozaril*
Risperidone Risperdal*

*Atypical anti-psychotic (ask your doctor about side effects) What Are They Used For? Anti-psychotic medications are used to treat Schizophrenia. This disease causes distorted thinking, confusion of reality and fantasy, and hallucinations. Anti-psychotics can reduce or stop these experiences. What Do They Do? Anti-psychotics treat schizophrenia by supplying some of the chemicals that make you feel organized and concentrated. Anti-psychotic meds help reduce excitability, confusion, and withdrawal. They improve your ability to communicate, to separate reality from fantasy and control hallucinations. Side Effects: Sleepiness, dry mouth, dizziness, blurred vision, rapid heart beat, stuffy nose and constipation may occur. Also, muscle spasms, restlessness, muscle stiffness, trembling, and shaking hands may occur. These effects often disappear in 1 to 2 weeks. Tardive dyskinesia, which is an involuntary movement of the face or mouth may occur while taking anti-psychotics. It is sometimes irreversible. Precautions: The same precautions apply as with anti-anxiety medications, however, anti-psychotics are not addictive. ANTI-ANXIETY

Benzodiazepines Non-Benzodiazepines
Alprazolam Buspirone HCI*
Clonazepam Buspar
Chlorazapate Zolpidem
Chlordiazepoxide Ambien
Diazepam
Flurazepam
Lorazepam
Oxazepam
Temazepam
Xanax
Klonopin
Tranxene
Librium
Valium
Dalmane
Ativan
Serax
Restoril

*Buspirone lacks sedative and muscle relaxant effects. What Are They Used For? These medications may be used to treat anxiety (an unreasonable state of tension and uneasiness, not ordinary tension), insomnia (difficulty sleeping), tension, and sometimes muscle spasms. What Do They Do? Anti-anxiety medications treat anxiety by supplying some of the missing chemicals that make you feel relaxed and calm. They can provide mild sedation and relief from tension and anxiety. Side Effects: Sleepiness, slurred speech, confusion, headaches, nausea, breathing difficulties (rarely), nervousness, or excitement may occur. Precautions:

  • Avoid barbiturates and alcohol if taking these meds. The combination can be DEADLY.
  • Do not operate a car or machinery until you are sure that the medication does not adversely affect you.
  • If you are pregnant or breast feeding consult your doctor about possible risks.
  • If taken for a long period of time, these medications can be addictive.

LITHIUM

Generic Name Brand Name
Lithium carbonate Eskalith
Lithane

What Is It Used For? Lithium may be used to treat mania (overly self-confident, reckless, uncontrollable, sleepless, and excited), or manic depression (alternating between mania and depression). What Does It Do? Lithium adjusts some of the chemicals that make you feel happy and confident, stabilizes your mood, and controls highs and lows. It helps prevent mania and manic-depression from recurring. Lithium may take 4-14 days to take effect. Side Effects: During the first 5 days of treatment it may cause nausea, cramps, thirst, and muscle weakness. 5 to 6 weeks after treatment has begun muscle weakness, fatigue, weight gain and slightly impaired memory may occur. Other more serious effects include diarrhea, vomiting, severe shakiness, and lack of coordination. Precautions:

  • Be aware of your salt intake. A low salt concentration in your body can cause fatigue, slurred speech and trembling. In severe cases, coma or death may result.
  • Blood tests are necessary to make sure Lithium levels are safe and effective.
  • If you are pregnant or breast feeding, consult your doctor about possible risks.
  • Stopping this medication may result in relapse.

STIMULANT MEDICATION

Generic Name Brand Name
Methylphenidate Ritalin
Pemoline Cylert
Dextroamphetamine Dexedrine

What Are They Used For? This medication is used to treat attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. What Do They Do? Stimulant medications can improve attention span, decrease distractibility, increase ability to finish tasks, improve ability to follow directions, decrease hyperactivity and improve ability to think before acting. Side Effects: These often stop after two weeks or if dose is lowered by the doctor; trouble falling asleep, headaches, stomach aches, crankiness, rapid pulse, or increased blood pressure. Serious side effects include muscle twitches or tics, sadness which lasts more than a few days and unusual behavior. These should be reported to your doctor immediately. Precautions: Addiction is not seen in young children using this medication as recommended for hyperactivity, but may occur in adolescents or adults using it without proper supervision. For this reason, keep this medication where it will not be abused by others. Note: A child may not grow as fast as usual while taking this medication. Growth usually catches up once medication is stopped. Height and weight should be monitored regularly. Helpful Links www.needymeds.com www.phrma.org www.themedicineprogram.com www.togetherrxaccess.com www.pfizer.com

Women’s Mental Health

Contrary to popular belief, clinical depression is not a “normal part of being a woman” nor is it a “female weakness.” Depressive illnesses are serious medical illnesses that affect more than 19 million American adults age 18 and over each year. Depression is a treatable medical illness that can occur in any woman, at any time, and for various reasons regardless of age, race or income.

Prevalence

Approximately 12 million women in the United States experience clinical depression each year.

About one in every eight women can expect to develop clinical depression during their lifetime.

Depression occurs most frequently in women aged 25 to 44.

Contributing Factors
Many factors in women may contribute to depression, such as developmental, reproductive, hormonal, genetic and other biological differences (e.g. premenstrual syndrome, childbirth, infertility and menopause).

Social factors may also lead to higher rates of clinical depression among women, including stress from work, family responsibilities, the roles and expectations of women and increased rates of sexual abuse and poverty.

Gender Differences
Women experience depression at roughly twice the rate of men. Girls 14-18 years of age have consistently higher rates of depression than boys in this age group.

PMS/PMDD

Twenty to forty percent of women may experience premenstrual syndrome and an estimated 3 to 5 percent have symptoms severe enough to be classified as Premenstrual Dysphoric Disorder (PMDD). For more information on this disorder, go to www.pmdd.com.

Marriage/Childbirth
Married people have a lower rate of depression than those living alone. However, unhappily married people have the highest rates of depression; happily married men have the lowest rates.

Approximately 10%-15% of all new mothers get postpartum depression, which most frequently occurs within the first year after the birth of a child.

Co-occurring Illnesses
Research shows a strong relationship between eating disorders (anorexia and bulimia nervosa) and depression in women. About 90-95% of cases of anorexia occur in young females. Reported rates of bulimia nervosa vary from one to three out of 100 people.

Research shows that one out of three depressed people also suffers from some form of substance abuse or dependence.

Suicide
Although men are more likely than women to die by suicide, women report attempting suicide approximately twice as often as men. An estimated 15 percent of people hospitalized for depression eventually take their own lives.

Treatment
Depression in women is misdiagnosed approximately 30 to 50 percent of the time. Fewer than half of the women who experience clinical depression will ever seek care.
Fortunately, clinical depression is a very treatable illness. More than 80 percent of people with depression can be treated successfully with medication, psychotherapy or a combination of both.

Women’s Attitudes Toward Depression:
According to a National Mental Health Association survey on public attitudes and beliefs about clinical depression:

  • More than one-half of women believe it is “normal” for a woman to be depressed during menopause and that treatment is not necessary.
  • More than one-half of women believe depression is a “normal part of aging.”
  • More than one-half believe it is normal for a mother to feel depressed for at least two weeks after giving birth.
  • More than one-half of women cited denial as a barrier to treatment while 41% of women surveyed cited embarrassment or shame as barriers to treatment.
  • In general, over one-half of the women said they think they “know” more about depression than men do.

For more information, see Depression under Disorders.

The Sandwich Generation

Do you feel “sandwiched” in between caring for your aging parents and your children? You are not alone. Thousands of Americans face the same situation each day. Caring for an aging parent and raising a child are very stressful tasks when they are done separately, but what if you are doing both at the same time? Many times “sandwiched” caregivers do not pay enough attention to their own mental health. Here are some warning signs that you need to take better care of yourself.

  • You cry frequently
  • You have given up your hobbies
  • You have given up your time with friends
  • You become angry over small things
  • You have gained or lost more than five pounds in the past few months without trying
  • You are exhausted all the time
  • You visit the doctor more frequently than before

If you are experiencing these symptoms and have been feeling persistently helpless or hopeless most every day for two weeks, you may be experiencing clinical depression. See your doctor for more information.

Take care of yourself! If you don’t take care of you, you can’t take care of anyone else. These tips can help you take better care of yourself.

  1. Consider joining a support group.
  2. Ask other people for help
  3. Take a break!
  4. Rest and relax
  5. Eat Well
  6. Laugh
  7. Exercise
  8. Reward yourself for a job well done.

Call our Aging Services staff at 615-269-5355 for more information on “The Sandwich Generation” and caring for your aging parents.

For additional resources on depression, please see support groups or call 615/269-5355.

 

Men’s Mental Health

According to a recent poll by the National Mental Health Association, a large proportion of adult American men does not understand that depression is a disease. When asked if depression is a disease or a “state of mind that a person can snap out of,” 64% of women said it was a disease compared to 46% of men.

This lack of understanding manifests itself in a number of tragic ways. American and international business continue to celebrate a work ethic that praises and rewards top executives who can handle more and more stress with less and less sleep. Stress is not only a leading cause of cardiovascular problems; it destroys serotonin, the lack of which causes depression.

Depression is the leading cause of disability in the United States, costing businesses $70 billion in lost productivity and medical expenditures. Depression is also the leading cause of suicide. The vast majority of individuals who fall victim to suicide are men at the prime of their business and professional careers.

Despite significant advances in the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness, American culture continues to stigmatize mental illnesses. Business and governmental policies also continue to discriminate against the treatment of mental health policies.

In addition, men often perceive that asking for help is a sign of weakness. For that reason, many men who suffer from depression or another mental illness may not seek treatment.
For more information, see Depression under Disorders.

The Sandwich Generation

Do you feel “sandwiched” in between caring for your aging parents and your children? You are not alone. Thousands of Americans face the same situation each day. Caring for an aging parent and raising a child are very stressful tasks when they are done separately, but what if you are doing both at the same time? Many times “sandwiched” caregivers do not pay enough attention to their own mental health. Here are some warning signs that you need to take better care of yourself.

  • You cry frequently
  • You have given up your hobbies
  • You have given up your time with friends
  • You become angry over small things
  • You have gained or lost more than five pounds in the past few months without trying
  • You are exhausted all the time
  • You visit the doctor more frequently than before

If you are experiencing these symptoms and have been feeling persistently helpless or hopeless most every day for two weeks, you may be experiencing clinical depression. See your doctor for more information.

Take care of yourself! If you don’t take care of you, you can’t take care of anyone else. These tips can help you take better care of yourself.

  1. Consider joining a support group.
  2. Ask other people for help
  3. Take a break!
  4. Rest and relax
  5. Eat Well
  6. Laugh
  7. Exercise
  8. Reward yourself for a job well done.

Call our Aging Services staff at 615-269-5355 for more information on “The Sandwich Generation” and caring for your aging parents.

For additional resources on depression, please see support groups or call 615/269-5355.

 

Children’s Mental Health

What Every Child Needs for Good Mental Health (Reprinted by permission of the National Mental Health Association) A child’s physical and mental health are both important. It is easy for parents to identify their child’s physical needs: nutritious food, warm clothes when it’s cold, bedtime at a reasonable hour. However, a child’s mental and emotional needs may not be as obvious. Good mental health allows children to think clearly, develop socially and learn new skills. Additionally, good friends and encouraging words from adults are all important for helping children develop self confidence, high self-esteem, and a healthy emotional outlook on life.

BASICS

Basics for a child’s good physical health:

  • nutritious food
  • adequate shelter and sleep
  • exercise
  • immunizations
  • healthy living environment

Basics for a child’s good mental health:

  • unconditional love from family
  • self-confidence and high self-esteem
  • the opportunity to play with other children
  • encouraging teachers and supportive caretakers
  • safe and secure surroundings
  • appropriate guidance and discipline

Give children unconditional love. Love, security and acceptance should be at the heart of family life. Children need to know that your love does not depend on his or her accomplishments. Mistakes and/or defeats should be expected and accepted. Confidence grows in a home that is full of unconditional love and affection.

Nurture children’s confidence and self-esteem. Praise Them – Encouraging children’s first steps or their ability to learn a new game helps them develop a desire to explore and learn about their surroundings. Allow children to explore and play in a safe area where they cannot get hurt. Assure them by smiling and talking to them often. Be an active participant in their activities. Your attention helps build their self-confidence and self-esteem.

Set Realistic Goals – Young children need realistic goals that match their ambitions with their abilities. With your help, older children can choose activities that test their abilities and increase their self-confidence.

Be Honest – Do not hide your failures from your children. It is important for them to know that we all make mistakes. It can be very re-assuring to know that adults are not perfect.

Avoid Sarcastic Remarks – If a child loses a game or fails a test, find out how he or she feels about the situation. Children may get discouraged and need a pep talk. Later, when they are ready, talk and offer assurance.

Encourage children – To not only strive to do their best, but also to enjoy the process. Trying new activities teaches children about teamwork, self-esteem and new skills.

GUIDANCE AND DISCIPLINE

Provide appropriate guidance and instructive discipline Children need the opportunity to explore and develop new skills and independence. At the same time, children need to learn that certain behaviors are unacceptable and that they are responsible for the consequences of their actions. As members of a family, children need to learn the rules of the family unit. Offer guidance and discipline that is fair and consistent. They will take these social skills and rules of conduct to school and eventually to the workplace. Suggestions on guidance and discipline Be firm, but kind and realistic with your expectations. Children’s development depends on your love and encouragement.

Set a good example. You cannot expect self-control and self-discipline from a child if you do not practice this behavior.

Criticize the behavior, not the child. It is best to say, “That was a bad thing you did,” rather than “You are a bad boy or girl.”

Avoid nagging, threats and bribery. Children will learn to ignore nagging, and threats and bribes are seldom effective. Give children the reasons “why” you are disciplining them and what the potential consequences of their actions might be.

Talk about your feelings. We all lose our temper from time to time. If you do “blow your top,” it is important to talk about what happened and why you are angry. Apologize if you were wrong! Remember, the goal is not to control the child, but for him or her to learn self-control.

Provide a safe and secure home. It’s okay for children to feel afraid sometimes. Everyone is afraid of something at some point in their life. Fear and anxiety grow out of experiences that we do not understand. If your children have fears that will not go away and affect his or her behavior, the first step is to find out what is frightening them. Be loving, patient and reassuring, not critical. Remember: the fear may be very real to the child.

PLAY

Encourage Children to Play To children, play is just fun. However, playtime is as important to their development as food and good care. Playtime helps children be creative, learn problem-solving skills and learn self-control. Good, hardy play, which includes running and yelling, is not only fun, but helps children to be physically and mentally healthy.

Children Need Playmates Sometimes it is important for children to have time with their peers. By playing with others, children discover their strengths and weaknesses, develop a sense of belonging, and learn how to get along with others. Consider finding a good children’s program through neighbors, local community centers, schools, or your local park and recreation department.

Parents Can be Great Playmates Join the fun! Playing Monopoly or coloring with a child gives you a great opportunity to share ideas and spend time together in a relaxed setting.

Play for Fun Winning is not as important as being involved and enjoying the activity. One of the most important questions to ask children is “Did you have fun?’’ not “Did you win?” In our goal-oriented society, we often acknowledge only success and winning. This attitude can be discouraging and frustrating to children who are learning and experimenting with new activities. It’s more important for children to participate and enjoy themselves.

TV use should be monitored Try not to use TV as a “baby-sitter” on a regular basis. Be selective in choosing television shows for children. Some shows can be educational as well as entertaining.

School should be fun! Starting school is a big event for children. “Playing school” can be a positive way to give them a glimpse of school life. Try to enroll them in a pre-school, Head Start, or similar community program which provides an opportunity to be with other kids and make new friends. Children can also learn academic basics as well as how to make decisions and cope with problems.

Just for Kids

The Erasing the Stigma program of Mental Health America of Middle Tennessee provides educational and interactive presentations for children and youth to address concerns such as bullying, body image and self esteem, stress and depression, and other mental health and wellness-related topics

I.C. HOPE® for Children and Youth

Several mental health and wellness modules with accompanying activities are available free of charge to be presented by MHAMT staff to your classroom, club or faith-based group.  Our I.C. HOPE® for Children and Youth curricula is a wonderful supplement to health and wellness class curricula.  All presentations are made age/grade-appropriate and uses puppets, storytelling, and crafts to teach students.  Teachers, school counselors, social workers, school personnel and others who work with children and youth are encouraged to utilize these curricula to educate their students on topics such as:

  • ADHD
  • Stress and Anxiety
  • Bipolar Disorder
  • Depression
  • Body Image and Self-Esteem
  • Dual Diagnosis
  • Eating Disorders
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Bullying

I.C. HOPE® Story Time
Mental Health Curricula for grades K-6

With Story Time, a book is read to your class focusing on a mental health topic and a discussion is led afterwards. Each presentation is approximately 30 minutes.  Some of the curricula available include:

  • Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day – by Judith Cruz
    A book about a rotten day when nothing goes right
  • I Was So Mad – by Mercer Mayer
    A book about anger and anger management
  • Stop Picking on Me – by Pat Thomas
    A book about bullies
  • Too Much Pressure – by Stan and Jan Berenstain
    A book about planning ahead and reducing stress
  • When Dinosaurs Die – by Laurie and Marc Brown
    A book to help talk to kids about death and grief

I.C. HOPE®, the Ambassador for mental health, is a puppet used in every presentation to talk about these issues in a non-threatening way. By introducing the topic of mental health in a way that is not overwhelming or scary, children and youth become aware that we ALL have mental health and just like we want strong and healthy bodies, we want strong and healthy brains too. Educating children about mental health helps to reduce the stigma of mental illness, which is one of the main obstacles to treatment.

To see a featured video of our Erasing the Stigma program that aired in June 2011 during a Nashville Public Television special on Children’s Mental Health, click here.