TOWNSEND — Chief James Sartell wishes to share mental health support resources and services in honor of World Suicide Prevention Day.
World Suicide Prevention Day is recognized each year on Sept. 10 to further raise awareness about suicide prevention and to reduce the stigma surrounding the topic. September is also Suicide Prevention Month.
“The COVID-19 pandemic put incredible stress and strain on many people’s lives, and as a result, it’s more important than ever to help those who are in need have access to support and resources,” Chief Sartell said. “This is a difficult time for many of us, and it’s important to remember that help is available for you or a loved one.”
The following resources are available for those looking for support:
- If you or someone you know is in an emergency, call 911 immediately.
- If you are in crisis or are experiencing difficult or suicidal thoughts, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273 TALK (8255)
- If you’re uncomfortable talking on the phone, you can also text NAMI to 741-741 to be connected to a free, trained crisis counselor on the Crisis Text Line.
- The National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI) has also developed a guide on how to support a loved one during a crisis.
Online Support Groups
- Online Alcohol Anonymous (AA) Groups are available at various times and days during the week.
- Smart Recovery Online Meetings for individuals who are in recovery or struggling with substance misuse. Different formats and group sizes are available to choose from.
- Al-Anon has both online and phone support meetings for anyone affected by alcoholism, including family and friends.
- The LifeLink provides peer-to-peer phone support for mental health or substance misuse related concerns. To use this service, please call 855-466-7100.
- The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance is offering free online support groups for individuals facing depression, bipolar disorder and anxiety, as well as friends and families with those struggling with mental health issues.
- Turn 2 Me hosts free online support groups for anxiety, suicidal thoughts, depression, stress management and general mental health issues.
- 7 Cups has online forums for all different mental health concerns. You can also speak online or over the phone with staff one-on-one. Volunteers are available to speak 24/7 either online or over the phone 24/7. Phone numbers can be found on the site. Users can also speak with a licensed therapist. Those sessions cost $150.
- Well Connection is available to those with Blue Cross/Blue Shield Health Insurance. Users can speak live with a real doctor for both medical and mental health concerns. Meetings are secure and confidential, and doctors are available 24/7.
- Advocates Psychiatric Emergency Services: If you are experiencing a mental health or emotional crisis, please call 800-640-5432 to speak to an Advocates crisis clinician. Staff are available to help 24 hours a day, every day.
The Townsend Police Department would also like to share the following guidance from the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) on common warning signs and how to prepare and prevent a mental health crisis.
Warning Signs and Symptoms
Though symptoms can vary, the following are common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents:
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling excessively sad or low
- Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Changes in sex drive
- Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
- Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or anosognosia)
- Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
- An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance
Young children may also develop mental health conditions and their most obvious symptoms are often behavioral changes, such as:
- Changes in school performance
- Excessive worry or anxiety, for instance fighting to avoid bed or school
- Hyperactive behavior
- Frequent nightmares
- Frequent disobedience or aggression
- Frequent temper tantrums
Preparing for a Mental Health Crisis
A Wellness Recovery Action Plan can be developed to help plan an individual’s overall care, and avoid crisis. This plan should include the following information:
- Phone numbers for your loved one’s therapist, psychiatrist and other healthcare providers
- Family members and friends who would be helpful, and local crisis line number
- Phone numbers of family members or friends who would be helpful in a crisis
- Local crisis line number (you can usually find this by contacting your NAMI Affiliate, or by doing an internet search for “mental health crisis services” and the name of your county)
- Addresses of walk-in crisis centers or emergency rooms
- The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255)
- Your address and phone number(s)
- Your loved one’s diagnosis and medications
- Previous psychosis or suicide attempts
- History of drug use
- Things that have helped in the past
- The Emergency Services Program/Mobile Crisis Intervention phone number: 877-382-1609.
More information and resources can be found on NAMI’s website at www.nami.org.