Congratulations to our lead instructor, Pam Tina. She has been recognized as a Summer Champion by the National Council for Behavioral Health. As a Mental Health First Aid instructor, she is reaching people and reducing the stigma associated with mental illness while she is helping people learn skills which they can use in their real lives to assist people they come across who are suffering from mental health challenges and crises. As she always says, “We can all have a hand in making life better for people touched by mental health issues: Let’s go save some lives!”

Our Lunch n” Learn Lecture at Prime Life Enrichment Center in Carmel, this week, was about one self-help strategy we can offer to people suffering from a mental health crisis, such as suicidal thoughts or extreme anguish from depression: Crisis Hotlines. Offering a hotline number to people who just don’t want to leave their home or don’t want anyone they know to see they are suffering may just be the key to starting treatment. This may seem like a small, insignificant gesture, but giving a person an outlet for information, understanding, and a chance to express their feelings during a mental health crisis may be the one source of help that the person will try at a time of peak anguish.

What happens when you call a crisis hotline, like the National Suicide Prevention hotline (800-273-TALK)? When they answer the call, experienced and trained call center personnel will gather a little bit of information about the person who needs help, information like “Are you a child?,” “Are you a veteran?,” and “Are you feeling like you want to die by suicide?” They then direct your cal to experts who are specialized in your population type or the type of crisis that you are feeling. From there, you get to talk, answer some simple questions, and get the information that you may need. If they can’t help you, they will try to find someone who can.

They do not require that you tell them your name or other identifying information, but the caller can tell them as much as they  think they need to. If the person wants the hotline technician or doctor to have that information or wants them to call emergency services for you, the caller can still provide that information. The call and the ensuing process can be completely anonymous if that is what the caller needs. For someone who is in extreme distress, but feels like they can’t let anyone else know what is happening, this can be very comforting and may be the key to them asking for help that can save or change their life.

There are many types of hotlines which meet the needs of many populations of people, but they are difficult to find in an easy-to-use listing, so we at the Education & Wellness Coalition created one for you. By far, it is not a fully comprehensive listing, but it does meet the needs of many of our partners and friends, as well as those who come to our Mental Health First Aid certification classes in the State of Indiana. If you would like a copy of our hotline list, please email us at, and we will email you a copy. In the meantime, remember that the Suicide Prevention Hotline is one of the best self-helps a suffering person can utilize, and you can access them through phone, text, and Twitter:

Phone: 1 (800) 273-Talk

Text:  741741

The Lifeline on Twitter: @800273TALK

We will be starting the 8-week Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) course for those of you who have been suffering from a TBI and your care takers and loved ones. This class is for the person suffering from the brain injury and one or more caretakers. We meet for 2 hours a week for 8 weeks and cover the signs and symptoms of TBI, different supports which are available within Indiana and your community, and what you can do to aid inrecovery and adapting to life with a brain injury. If you live near Elwood, Indiana and are interested in joining us, please email us at

Do you know someone suffering from “SAD”?  SAD stands for “Seasonal Affect Disorder.” We used to call it the “holiday blues.” We found, however, that SAD is much more than feeling sadness or depression during the holidays. It is usually linked to the seasons, but since we often see people we care about during the holidays, we may not notice the symptoms of SAD the rest of the season.

SAD is most common during the Autmn or Winter months; however, there are some people who suffer from SAD in the Spring or Summer months. During the other seasons, those who suffer from SAD tend to be happy and well-adjusted. We have read many articles and studies about how or why SAD occurs, but there is really no consensus. Like other types of major depression, we can probably assume that it has many causes, both physiologically and situationally, and depends upon the person who is suffering and the environment in which he or she lives or works.

You may know a few people who suffer from SAD, but how would you know? SAD is a kind of depression which happens only during certain times of year. It is characterized by the typical symptoms of other types of depression: sadness, loss of energy, feelings of hopelessness, sleep issues, difficulty with concentration, increased agitation, loss of interest in the activities and people once enjoyed, and thoughts of suicide or death. People who suffer from Winter-forms of SAD may sleep much more than usual, have strong cravings for carbohydrates, overeat during Winter months, and seem to be retreating from civilization. Summer-forms of SAD may be characterized by high anxiety and agitation, lack of appetite, and insomnia.

The symptoms of SAD may be mild and managable, but they may also be strongly felt by the person suffering and can be serious, even debilitating. Like all mental health issues, if SAD affects a person’s ability to function in any one important part of his or her life, professional help may be helpful. Psychotherapy and a few medications have been shown to be helpful. In addition, a simple blood test could indicate if a person has a vitamin deficiency related to the season or the lack of sunlight, and a vitamin suppliment could be all it takes to help a person get through the season. Other types of therapy have been shown to be effective, as well. One of the most effective is called light therapy and is simply the use of a certain type of light which mimicks sunlight, once or twice per day.

SAD is treatable, and you may be able to help someone who is suffering from it. Don’t be afraid to ask the person if he or she would like to talk. Tell them you noticed something and ask about it. If you suspect the depression is severe, ask if the person is thinking about suicide. Suggest professional help. Just asking may be the key to jolting a person into realizing something is wrong and help is available.


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