November Aware

So while trying to decide on which November Awareness Month topic to write on, it struck me that November has too many great things to write about to be aware of to just pick one. It might be more difficult, this month, to choose just one or two, so I am going to mention several and let you decide what you want to learn about on your own. We just may have to write more than just one or two updates, this month, just to make sure we cover some major topics. With that said, what are some of the most important awareness topics for the month of November… at least to me? Well, November is:

National Diabetes Awareness Month and National Diabetic Eye Health Month, National Career Development Month and National Train-Your-Employees Month, Red Ribbon (Drunk Driving) Awareness Month, Vegan Awareness Month and Try-New-Veggies Month and Pepper Awareness Month, National Long-Term Care Awareness Month and Family Caregivers Awareness Month, National Hunger Awareness Month and Good Nutrition Month, Lung Cancer Awareness Month and COPD Awareness Month, as well as other full-month awareness items that you may be aware of.

In addition, there are some special days, beginning with Veterans Day and Election Day in the United States. Since I am a veteran who cares about the health and welfare of other veterans, these days are very important to me. Another important day is November 21st, which is International Survivors of Suicide Day, and we pray for all of those who survive suicide (not only those who attempt, but those who are left behind). How about the Great American Smoke-out which is on November 19th, this year and will feature lots of events like a local “kick butts soccer tournament” to raise funds for the American Lung Association.

With all of these observances, I think there is one more that I might point out that should be important to everyone: On November 26, 2020, we will be observing National Family Health History Awareness Day. Do you know your family’s health history? Have you noted your health history for the health and wellness for your future generations? It is important for families to know what genetics can and will bring and how signs and symptoms will manifest through your family history, so treatments can start early, if necessary. You can save the lives of your family members with knowledge and the attitude that it is okay to get help at the first signs.

That is not November in a nutshell, because there is so much more, but for today, it will have to do. We begin the holiday season with some things to be aware of and will talk about things as we move forward. Happy November to you, friends and neighbors!

I am pretty excited to see that the virtual Mental Health First Aid certification classes are receiving raving reviews! Many people have been hesitant of, not only taking them, but also teaching them!

Most instructors have been telling me that they are afraid of losing the warmth and welcoming nature of the in-person classes which invite people to share and practice talking about mental health with each other in ways that are easy and comfortable. While an online form of training seems like it might be cold and lacking warmth, Zoom helps bring capabilities which can bring people together. It also gives participants ideas of how to connect with their family and friends in a way that they didn’t have while social distancing.

Overall, the virtual course evaluations are much, much higher than we expected, and this encourages us all.

October 30th, last year, my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer… not just breast cancer, but a fast-growing, invasive, triple negative breast cancer… one of the hardest types to have. In addition, she is over the age of 65, and the recommended treatments for this type of breast cancer are considered way too harsh for the majority of people over the age of 65. It was a tough year, but Mom is doing very well.

One interesting thing the breast surgeon who lead the cancer team said to my mom that first day, had little to do with the cancer treatment, although that is important. It was that Mom should not get upset at the amount of information, propaganda, advertising, and exposure that breast cancer gets from October 1st through about the first week of November, because October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. There are lots of activities and advertisements going on to remind us, to raise awareness, and to raise money for research… and it is ultimately important. As we found out in the next 6 month, that is so true.

Because of the impact that Breast Cancer Awareness Month has brought about, we now know much more about breast cancer, the different types of cancer, and that there are many types of treatments that match perfectly to many different types of cancers. We have been instrumental in the amount of money that has lead to massive research and development and the number of scientists that can work on breast cancer science. While triple negative cancers still must use the harshest of chemotherapies and surgical removal to have the most effective treatment, scientists have learned that other types of breast cancer don’t all even need to use chemotherapy, and testing has been perfected to be able to identify many specific types of those cancers.

It is simply amazing what Breast Cancer Awareness month and its activities has brought about. Essentially, please support breast cancer awareness month. what can you do? Of course, you can donate your time or money; however, you can do other things, so don’t think that is the only thing available. If you have no time or no money, you can still do something: There are so many other things you can do during Breast Cancer Awareness Month. How about some of these ideas:

  • Join or host a Relay team for one of the fundraisers
  • Host or take part in a Pink Ribbon Fashion Show
  • Take part in a breast cancer awareness lunch-n-learn program – teach or learn!
  • Pink Ribbons! – wear them, make them, sell them, pass them out
  • Neighborhood PINK Garage Sale Day – neighbors donate the proceeds
  • Make & Donate Caps/Headbands to a cancer center
  • Learn from any of the many Breast Cancer experts available
  • Provide pink cupcakes to a women’s organization, girl’s club
  • Write about your personal experiences – Share with others! try to balance the bad with the good.
  • Create a yearly workplace program or fundraiser for November – the sky’s the limit for these ideas!
  • Post your support for cancer patients and cancer survivors on Social media

What we all benefit from just may save your life, your mom’s life… your friend, your neighbor, your co-worker, your sister, your aunt, your girlfriend, your daughter, your granddaughter, your wife… November is Breast Cancer Awareness Month

So we have completed the trials for the new fully virtual and the new blended (part online and part in the class) Mental Health First Aid (MHFA) and YOUTH Mental Health First Aid certification courses. In July, all instructors were invited to take the training, and the new programs were rolled out. Not all of the instructors want to teach the virtual and blended classes, but many have taken the training and are trying it out.

It seems to be slow to be implemented, and the National Council is still working out some bugs with the digital parts of the new system, but we are FINALLY teaching the new MHFA and YOUTH MHFA courses using the internet options. So far, my participants have really indicated that they really enjoy the classes. That makes me happy. One participant said, “Pam, I really needed this training, but my anxiety about getting out in public with COVID-19 was stopping me from doing anything. This has relieved my anxiety, tremendously.” I think many of us can relate!

What I really like about the digital format is that I can have people from all over the USA, from all walks of life, from any culture or background, and from any perspective with any needs all come together to discuss how to help others who may be dealing with mental health challenges. I had a class, last week which included really phenomenal women. Two were college students looking forward to careers in medical and psychological sciences careers, 2 who do community outreach, one who is the founder of a women’s empowerment outreach program, an EMT, a software engineer, and a musician. Mental health and the desire to help others brought them together.

The next step is bringing out the new in-person course. The National Council for Behavioral Health announced, earlier this year, that all instructors would have to be trained to teach it by the end of October in order to remain instructors, so I am guessing that it should be ready to be rolled out very soon. They have updated EVERYTHING! Of course, ALGEE is the same, but the look and design of the program and manuals has changed (and been updated), the course has been reformatted and updated, we have new videos, artwork, activities, and more. The things that were most asked for in the participant evaluations, like talking about the effects trauma, culture, and ACEs have been integrated into the course, and it has been put more in line with the current version of the DSM with updated information and statistics (the ones that are available, that is).

For those of you already certified in the past: I think you are going to like the new Mental Health First Aid. For those of you who have yet to certify: You are in for a treat!. This is a great course, and has been shown to save lives, and at the very least be beneficial for those who do not know a lot about mental health. Interested in a fully virtual certification course? Email us or give us a call to get information!

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