Counseling Corner: Making sports a healthy part of a child’s life

American Counseling Assoc. | 5/5/2019, noon
We live in a society that places a great deal of emphasis on sports. We see professional athletes paid astronomical ...
The Dallas Examiner graphic

• 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. lives with a mental health condition.

• 1 in 17 adults in the U.S. lives with a serious mental illness.

• 60 million people in the U.S face the day-to-day reality of living with a mental illness.

• Nearly 1 million Texas adults have a serious mental illness.

• About 220,000 Texas veterans have a mental health condition.

• Each year, about one-half million children and adolescents in Texas experience a serious emotional disturbance.

• 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the U.S., but suicide is preventable.

Mental health disorders include psychotic disorders like schizophrenia; mood disorders like depression and bipolar disorder; personality disorders; post-traumatic stress disorder; substance use; anxiety and eating disorders, among others.

“In Dallas, we’re experiencing a behavioral health crisis,” said Celeste Johnson, vice president of Behavioral Health at Parkland. “North Texas has lost close to 500 inpatient psychiatric beds in the last year while at the same time area hospitals have seen a spike in patients with behavioral healthcare needs in our emergency rooms. These patients are the most vulnerable in our community, are primarily indigent and have no other resources.”

Nevertheless, Johnson said, providing appropriate care can change lives.

“The best treatments for serious mental illnesses are highly effective. Between 70% and 90% of individuals have significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life with the right treatments and supports. These can include medications, therapy or counseling, and other treatment modalities that can help people lead healthier lives.”

For most people, a mental health condition isn’t the result of one event.

“Research suggests multiple, linking causes,” said Rebecca Corona, Ph.D., Parkland’s lead psychologist. “Genetics, environment, biochemical processes and lifestyle influence whether someone develops a mental health condition. Stressful situations at home or work can make a person more susceptible, as do traumatic life events.”

She and a team of mental health counselors provide outpatient services to thousands of patients annually at Parkland’s Community Oriented Primary Care health centers. Mental health counselor Litza Bodden, LPC, works with patients in Parkland’s women’s mental health program. Bodden said that helping women let go of the stigma of mental health issues and focus on self-care are important steps in therapy.

“More than 10% of women experience postpartum depression, which can range from sadness to severe depression,” Bodden said. “It’s vital for women and their partners, as well as other family members, to understand that asking for help from a mental health professional is okay. Mental illness should not be stigmatized, any more than a physical ailment. There are many taboos and myths still surrounding mental illness, but through education we can erase the feelings of shame and fear that prevent many women from seeking treatment.”

In 2015, Parkland became the first health system in the nation to administer a universal suicide screening program to identify persons at risk and help save lives through early intervention. The program screens not only adults but also youth, ages 10 to 17, regardless of their reason for seeking care. Since initiating the program, more than 2.3 million suicide risk screenings have been completed with patients in the Emergency Department, Urgent Care Center, inpatient units and COPC health centers.