A youth’s teen years can be such an exciting time in her or his life. Enjoying some independence for the first time, beginning to plan for and think about the future ahead, and of course often this is a time when youth first experience romantic relationships and even love.
Unfortunately this is not a positive experience for all teens. According to the National Council on Crime and Delinquency, one in three adolescents is a victim of physical, sexual, emotional or verbal abuse from a dating partner. According to the organization Break the Cycle, teens that experience abuse in a relationship are more likely to abuse drugs, drop out of school, engage in high-risk sexual behavior, act violently and even attempt suicide. The repercussions of such dating experiences as a teen can unfortunately follow them into adulthood as well, as without the proper support and intervention they typically find it difficult to change those abusive patterns as they become adults, and thus are more likely to continue to experience abuse in their adult relationships.
It’s important that we spread awareness of the issue, as lack of awareness is contributing to the prevalence of the problem. According to one study, 81% of parents say that they don’t think teen dating violence is an issue or they admit they don’t know if it’s an issue. And only one third of teens who experience this type of relationship ever tell a trusted adult about it. It’s up to us to recognize the signs and engage youth on the topic.
Check out the infographic below for even more about teen dating violence, as well as these great sources of information so that members of your community can learn more about Teen Dating Violence and how to prevent it:
About Teen Dating Violence Month
Love Is Respect
Break the Cycle
It’s hard to fathom that slavery still exists in these modern times, but the truth is human trafficking and slavery is a $32 billion industry. It’s also the fastest growing and second largest criminal activity in the world. Just some of the types of slavery and/or human trafficking include forced participation in armed conflicts, prostitution, child pornography, and sweatshop work. While people of all genders and ages can fall victim, sadly children are especially vulnerable and subject to victimization.
January is National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. The infographic below outlines some facts on the topic. And check out these 20 Ways You Can Help Fight Human Trafficking.
December 1st is designated as World AIDS Day, and this year’s theme is “Focus, Partner, Achieve: An AIDS-free Generation.”
In a blog from the US Department of Health and Human Services, they share that 35 million people are living with HIV worldwide, with 13.6 million receiving critical antiretroviral therapies. And thankfully, new infections are declining yearly. There were 2.1 million new infections in 2013, a 38% decline from new infections reported in 2012. According to the World Health Organization, 70% of new cases each year occur in Sub-Saharan Africa. Access to drugs and diagnostics is absolutely essential to achieving an AIDS-free generation.
The world is making great progress towards having a generation free from AIDS, but much still needs to be done. The Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS has identified “90-90-90” targets to achieve by 2020. These milestones aim to have 90% of people living with HIV know their status, 90% of people who know their status receive treatment, and 90% of people on HIV treatment having a suppressed viral load so their immune system remains so strong that they are not infectious. But to achieve those goals and have a lasting response to the worldwide AIDS epidemic, sustaining AIDS/HIV treatment is key.
Currently 1 in 7 people living with HIV/AIDS don’t know they are infected. This means they may be unknowingly passing the virus to sexual partners, and are not accessing life saving treatments. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention encourages everyone to get tested and anyone can access listings for testing sites at gettested.cdc.gov. In Canada you can find a local Provincial/Territorial HIV/AIDS hotline here. People can also call their local helpline or Information and Referral center like 211, as they can also typically help people find their local testing site.
Together, through education, prevention, testing, and life saving treatments, we can achieve a generation that is free from AIDS.
This week countries all around the world honor the sacrifices made by members of their armed forces. Remembrance Day, celebrated in Canada, the UK, and Australia among other nations, honors the brave men and women who gave their lives in the line of duty. In the US, those who have lost their lives are honored during Memorial Day earlier in the year, while November 11 is a day to honor and celebrate living members of the military.
Each of these holidays, whether in remembrance of fallen soldiers or in recognition of those still with us, is a chance to reflect on the service and sacrifice of our military personnel, and is a time to ask ourselves if we’re doing all we can to thank them, support them, and give back to them.
Military service is honorable, and extremely rewarding. Members of the armed forces experience a bond with their fellow service members that is unlike any other, a built-in family and network of support. Military service means receiving world class skills training and professional experience that can lead to an amazing career path. For those who wish to see and experience places and cultures all around the world, and help members of other nations as well as their own, the military can be a wonderful place to achieve those goals.
But as we well know, members of the military face a range of unique challenges on and off the battlefield. They experience long periods of time away from loved ones. If they receive injuries during service it can mean long and laborious recovery, and sometimes permanent physiological damage. They also encounter psychological injury from the trauma of war. According to the US Department of Veterans Affairs, sometimes in an effort to cope with these experiences, and sometimes for other reasons, substance abuse can become an issue for veterans. In America, 22 veterans each day die by suicide. The National Coalition for Homeless Veterans reports that about 12% of homeless adults in the US are veterans. One in four women in the US military, and one in one hundred men, reports an experience with Military Sexual Trauma, according to the US Department of Veterans Affairs. Certainly, much more should be done to combat these issues.
Each person who enlists is aware of the hardships and dangers, and yet they serve anyway because they love and wish to serve and protect their nation. Regardless of their country, or whether it’s a time of war or peace, the members of our military make an immense sacrifice for their nation and they deserve the highest quality of care and support to face the unique challenges that come with their service.
Most of our clients’ helplines serve veterans in some way, even if their line is not set up or advertised specifically as a veteran’s line. By providing them with crisis intervention, emotional support, advocacy, and information and referral to services, these helplines are doing their part to give back to and honor the members of the military.
In honor of this week’s holidays, we thought you might be interested in some of the following resources and articles:
Canadians share their thoughts on Remembrance Day
Studies Link Mental Issues and the Rigor of the Military
US Department of Veterans Affairs: Mental Health Facts and Resources
NAMI Blog: My Time of Service is Over, But My Time to Serve Never Ends
Relieving veterans’ PTSD through horses, water — even yoga
Suicide claims more Canadian soldiers than those killed by Afghan combat
Remembrance Day — Get Involved
9 Simple Ways You Can Help Veterans
This week our business development team will convene in Nashville to participate in the CUSA/NASCOD conference. This event is going to be a particularly special one for us because so many members of our team will be together at once, someone’s even travelling internationally to be there; Britt will be coming all the way from Germany to meet our North American clients!
After Friday’s sessions, we invite you to join us and CONTACT of Mercer County, NJ for a special session at 5pm. We will highlight the TxtToday pilot project; a national Texting Helpline. This pilot is a partnership between CONTACT of Mercer County New Jersey and CONTACT Crisis Line in Jackson, with iCarol as the software platform that accommodates the data aggregation and load balancing of the texts among the centers. We’re excited to talk about iCarol’s role in this partnership and to listen to the centers’ experiences in the pilot.
If you’ve ever considered the benefits of having your center join a national network, then this session is definitely for you. The pilot participants wish to expand this network by adding on more participating centers, so we invite you to come and find out how you might become a part of this exciting venture to reach help seekers all over the nation via this extremely popular and growing channel of text communication. And if you’re still not convinced whether you should join us, we’ll have some treats to share with our audience. Everyone enjoys something to snack on after a busy day of learning and networking! 😛
So if you’ll be one of the many people in Music City later this week, please stop by our booth and say hi! If you use iCarol at your helpline then we’d certainly love to get to meet you face to face! If you’re not a current user, we’d be grateful for the opportunity to tell you about iCarol Helpline Software and how it’s used by helplines all over the world, many of whom will be represented at this conference. Hope to see you there!
Artist Gilbert Baker created the rainbow flag as the symbol of LGBT pride because it embodied diversity and hope. Each color represents something different. Red for Life, Orange for Healing, Yellow for Sunlight, Green for Nature, Blue for Art, and Purple for the Human Spirit. The flag sometimes also includes Pink which symbolizes sexuality, and Indigo for Harmony.
Spirit Day, presented by GLAAD, encourages everyone to wear purple to embody that spirit and to show support and solidarity with LGBT youth. Millions of people, schools, organizations, universities, and corporations participate.
GLAAD offers up a lot of ways to get involved and show your support. You can simply wear purple or choose to change your profile picture on Facebook or Twitter to have a purple overlay using a tool they have available. You can also install an app on your smartphone or tablet that provides anti-bullying resources and calls to action.
The show of solidarity is important, but a big part of Spirit Day is also about educating others on the impact of LGBT bullying. For that, they have resource kits available.
We hope you’ll consider taking part in Spirit Day and show LGBT youth everywhere that it’s okay to be who they are, and that they have lots of support.
World Mental Health Day, observed on October 10th each year, promotes raising awareness of mental health issues around the world and mobilizing efforts in support of mental health. Worldwide much still needs to be done, including better education and awareness to combat stigma, and improving access to quality, affordable care.
This short film follows filmmaker and physician Delaney Ruston on her journey to uncover mental health stories spanning the globe. It’s striking how universal these experiences are. The video also touches on the movements that have been made to help remove stigma from mental health, and how countries worldwide are committed to addressing mental health needs, according to the World Health Organization’s mental health action plan for 2013-2020.
For more on World Mental Health day, we thought you might also like to check out:
The World Health Organization
Five ways we could improve our mental health today, by former heavyweight champion Frank Bruno
World Mental Health Day 2014: The misconceptions broken down
People face many barriers on the path to receiving mental health care. Some of the most common are:
Stigma continues to be one of the toughest barriers to take down.
- Properly recognizing the signs and symptoms of mental illness
- Knowing where to go for help
- Availability of services
- Cost of accessing services
- The stigma associated with accessing the service
Every day people are still made to feel ashamed for having a mental illness in spite of these being legitimate medical issues. We’d never dream of making someone with cancer feel as though they did something to “deserve it.” We couldn’t imagine looking at someone with diabetes and telling them that taking medication everyday to stay healthy wasn’t normal. I can’t comprehend telling someone with a broken leg, “If you put your mind to it you can walk without using crutches.” And yet these are the attitudes that those living with mental illness are still facing every day. Some people still fail to see the medical legitimacy in mental illness, causing many to be too embarrassed or ashamed to seek help.
Courtesy of SAMHSA below are some suggestions for messages to share the helps reduce stigma:
Support People with Mental Illness –
Society needs to understand that people with mental illness are not the “other,” they are our family members, friends, neighbors, and co-workers. They deserve understanding and support.
Learn More about Prevention –
Behaviors and symptoms that signal the development of a behavioral health condition often manifest two to four years before a disorder is present. Effective prevention and early intervention strategies reduce the impact of mental illness.
Help is Available –
Treatment and mental health services are available and effective. Local crisis lines can be a wonderful source of emotional support and an access point for referrals to professional mental health treatment. If they are in crisis or suicidal, Americans can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Canadians can dial their local crisis centre if they are suicidal or in crisis. Local helplines, crisis lines, and distress centres, or 2-1-1 Information and Referral lines can also be excellent sources of support and referral.
Recovery is Possible –
Most people are able to successfully overcome or manage mental illness, including serious mental illness, with the right treatment and support. Spread the message of recovery.
So during mental illness awareness week, I hope that we’ll all recommit ourselves to educating others about mental illness, and continue to chip away at that stigma. Helplines are on the front lines of this fight. Every day, people who haven’t yet talked to their doctor or a loved one about their symptoms choose to reach out to a helpline. Being greeted with the understanding, knowledge, and validation that helpline workers provide plays a huge role in reassuring someone that it’s okay to seek help.
Domestic Violence has been a much-discussed topic in the media these past few months, due in large part to NFL star Ray Rice and other notable professional athletes being involved in incidents of domestic violence. The fact that some famous athletes are perpetrators of domestic violence shouldn’t surprise us; the numbers tell us that domestic violence, particularly violence against women, is unfortunately common all over the world and effects people of all professions, socioeconomic statuses, races, sexual orientations, and genders.
The attention these stories receive brings the issue out into the light and educates the masses on the facts and figures, but it also brings out the victim blaming and shaming. People who aren’t familiar with the insidious nature of domestic violence are quick to simplify a situation by saying, “Why doesn’t she just leave?” Hashtag campaigns such as #WhyIStayed and #WhyILeft have been helpful in explaining that the answer to that question is far from simple.
We know that domestic violence touches millions of people every day who aren’t famous. Their stories are sometimes kept secret from friends and loved ones, and they certainly don’t make headlines, except perhaps when they result in a homicide. The World Health Organization states that up to 38% of murders worldwide are committed by the intimate partner of the victim.
According to the US Justice Department, in the mid 1990’s the domestic violence rate started to drop, but it’s hard to tell whether this was due to the overall drop in violent crime, a result of the Violence Against Women Act, or other factors. But the numbers are still far too high, estimated at around 1,000 incidents each day in the United States. And even though the need for shelter, legal support, counseling, and other services is great, funding for programs is insufficient and these services are struggling to meet the demand.
Eventually this topic will fade from the public’s consciousness so it’s important that we all keep talking about it and raise awareness and understanding of the issue. Advocate for prevention programs that help teach young people about healthy relationships, which experts say is key in reducing domestic violence since many men and women who are in such relationships as adults were first assaulted as adolescents. Support your local domestic violence helpline or shelter so that they can continue doing great work and meeting the needs of your community.
Today we recognize World Suicide Prevention Day and in its first ever global report on suicide, the World Health Organization reports that a staggering 800,000 lives per year are lost to suicide worldwide; one person every 40 seconds.
The report goes on to say:
- National prevention plans endorsed by governments could go a long way in preventing suicide, but currently only 28 countries have such strategies.
- Most people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental illness. It’s extremely important for mental illness or substance abuse issues to be identified, diagnosed, treated, and managed as early as possible.
- Follow up care plays a huge role in keeping someone safe if they have previously had thoughts or made attempts at suicide. Phone calls, visits, and other regular contact with health professionals is key, as well as vigilance among family and friends.
- In almost all regions of the world, people over age 70 have the highest rate of suicide.
- Globally suicide is the leading cause of death for 15-29 year olds.
- Removal of means is a key component to suicide prevention
You can read that full report by the WHO here.
If we could impart just one thing on society it’d be this: Suicide is preventable, and it’s everyone’s business. It takes all of us, every single person out there, to help prevent suicide. Of course social workers, therapists, psychologists, doctors, and nurses all have an important role to play. But it’s the teachers, coaches, colleagues, professors, employers, friends, and family who are arguably the ones on the front lines of suicide prevention. They are the ones with the opportunity to recognize the warning signs, be aware of the risk factors, and know the difference between myths and facts. They are some of the first ones who should ask the direct question about suicide, and be ready and accepting of an honest answer. They can make a world of a difference by being there to listen without judgment even though the conversation can be uncomfortable and scary. They are the ones who can help most in reducing the stigma and shame all too commonly associated with mental illness and suicide. Suicide prevention is everyone’s responsibility.
And of course we have to give some major recognition to all of the suicide prevention helpline workers all around the world who save countless lives every single day through the simple act of being there. You are there for people at all hours to listen, empathize, normalize and validate feelings, and provide resources. For many people that phone call, text, or chat session is the first step at getting help, and your warm, accepting demeanor reassures them that they will encounter kindness and understanding along the way, and that there is hope. Thank you, we at iCarol are honored to play a small part in the incredible work you do.