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Friday, October 26, 2012

The Cost of Depression in the Workplace

Every year millions of Americans suffer from one type of mental illness or another. Mental illnesses are a serious matter and can greatly decrease one’s quality of life on a number of different levels. Depression is one of the most common forms of mental illness that people suffer from, affecting millions of teenagers and adults in many different ways. Sadly, most cases of depression go untreated which affects both the patient and society greatly.

A new medical study has found that depression is at the top of the list of health-related productivity costs in the workplace. Apparently, it was that way before and after the economy tanked in the 2008 recession and it is still the same to this day

The Cost of Depression: An estimated $44 billion in lost productivity annually

Depression is a clinical diagnosis “with specific criteria, which severely impact a person’s ability to function.” It can thwart an employees’ ability to concentrate, be effective, and stay healthy enough to hold down a job, according to the National Institute of Mental Health.

“Some companies will only tune into the effects of these strains when they experience negative outcomes like losing a customer or losing key talent,” says Clare Miller, Director of the Partnership for Workplace Mental Health, a program of the American Psychiatric Foundation.

What Can Companies Do?

Fortunately, as society understands and becomes more accepting of mental illness, so too can we better combat and work with or around the problem to minimize the costs. The Partnership for Workplace Mental Health and Employers Health, an Ohio-based employer coalition, is joining forces on a project, designing a new workplace human resources toolkit. Such a toolkit will help employees to spot signs of depression and help decrease the stigma that comes with depression.

If you feel you might be struggling with depression, do not be discouraged - there is help out there...

Friday, October 19, 2012

Living With Depression And Discrimination

On the Threshold of Eternity
On the Threshold of Eternity (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Living with depression

In case you didn't know, October 11th was National Depression Screening Day. If you missed it, then it is still not too late to take an anonymous online assessment. Living with depression is difficult, but how much do we really understand of how depression impacts the person suffering from depression? The person with depression clearly understands that depression is not just a phase, but a real disorder that sets them apart and leads to isolation.

New study examines depression and resulting discrimination

This week U.S. News and World Reports' HealthDay published an article on a new study that examined a global pattern of perceived or anticipated discrimination reported by those who suffer from major depressive disorder. Here is an overview of this study:
  • The research was conducted by British researchers using a questionnaire.
  • 1082 people from 35 countries completed the questionnaire.
  • 79% of the respondents reported experiencing discrimination in at least one life domain
  • 37% reported that anticipated discrimination stopped them from initiating close personal relationships
  • 25% reported that they had not applied for work because they expected to be discriminated 
  • However, even though many patients anticipated discrimination, did not experience it. This includes 47% who thought they would face discrimination when applying for a job and 45% who were concerned they would face discrimination in personal relationships. 
  • Importantly, 71% of the patients said they tried to conceal their depression. (This could keep patients from seeking treatment.)
You can read more about the study's details on The Lancet's Early Online Publication (October 18, 2012).

Revisiting the question: "Are you living with depression?"

Just about a month ago we told you about a CNN iReport assignment. CNN asked for input: "If you suffer from depression - or have suffered - we want to hear your story." It turns out that 167 iReports were filed and CNN chose six stories to profile and you can listen to their stories here.

Understanding depression

Discrimination, actual or perceived, is usually born out of ignorance, misinformation or fear. We grow up learning from our parents, our extended family, our teachers and our friends. Often misconceptions held by one generation are passed on to the next in very subtle ways. This is particularly true when it comes to mental health issues. The only way to move forward and beyond the fear of what we don't know or understand is to get informed and stay informed.  Perhaps your life has not been directly or indirectly impacted by someone who is suffering from depression; however, it is important to remember that globally it is estimated that 121 million people suffer from depression.  Here is a booklet on depression prepared by the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

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Friday, October 12, 2012

A Sober Neil Young Pens His Memoir "Waging Heavy Peace"

Remembering a time long ago with Neil Young...


Few would argue that there is more than one generation who has enjoyed the musical adventures of Neil Young. If you came of age in the mid to late 60's then you remember him from his early days with Buffalo Springfield and certainly relish his work with Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young. Perhaps you enjoyed a concert or two in the old days when concerts were free and life seemed care-free. If you became a parent in those days, then there is a good chance that your own children grew up listening to Neil Young or maybe your younger siblings latched on to some of the albums that featured Neil Young's songs and performances. If you like old movies, then you probably have watched the amazing and Academy Award winning 1970 documentary movie Woodstock which featured Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young.

What you may not know or remember about Neil Young


Reading news headlines often encourages us to leaf through a current magazine, page through a newspaper or click on a link that takes us to an article about someone with whom we feel familiar and, yes, even comfortable. During the past few weeks there has been more than one article written about Neil Young's new memoir Waging Heavy Peace. Reading through many of these articles (some shared in our Related Articles section below) made us realize how much we didn't know or frankly didn't remember about Mr. Young. Here are a few outtakes:
  • Neil Young is 66 years old, born in Toronto, Canada, he remains a Canadian citizen
  • He once promised never to write a book about himself
  • He has epilepsy and suffered from polio
  • His son Ben, now 34, is a quadriplegic born with cerebral palsy and cannot speak
  • Neil and his wife Pegi have dedicated their lives to caring for Ben and Ben goes on every tour
  • Neil Young's other children are Zeke (also suffers from cerebral palsy) and his daughter Amber Jean (has epilepsy)
  • Neil Young has been sober now for just over a year

Neil Young pens Waging Heavy Peace


Young took on this project of writing his memoir without a ghostwriter. This, in and of itself, is unusual in today's times, but perhaps writing comes more easily to Young as his father was a well-known journalist and author in Canada. We know he has written ever so many songs and he has directed a number of movies.

Mr. Young was advised by his doctor to give up alcohol and marijuana. The doctor cautioned him that given his previous aneurysm and the fact that his father suffered from dementia, this might be a good time to clear his head. He admits that he wrote all of his songs "high" and he wasn't sure he could write anything sober, particularly a memoir. The reviews are mixed, but one gets the impression from reading some of the reviews that this narrative reads more like a compilation of a number of conversations one might have had with a close friend over many years of friendship, not necessarily or at all delivered in the memoir in a linear fashion.


Neil Young continues to perform with Crazy Horse

If you are wondering what else keeps Neil busy these days, aside from promoting Waging Heavy Peace, it may not surprise you to learn as the Long Beach Press-Telegram reported yesterday:
"NEIL YOUNG/FOO FIGHTERS BENEFIT RAISES INCREDIBLE $1.3 BILLION Neil Young and Crazy Horse, The Foo Fighters and The Black Keys co-headlined the Global Citizen Festival on Sept. 29 in New York City's Central Park before 60,000 fans. The televised concert that was created to raise money for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF, the Half the Sky Movement, charity: water and Global Partnership for Education, aimed at ending extreme poverty around the world, raised an incredible $1.3 billion in pledge commitments."
Next Wednesday, October 17, 2012, Neil Young and Crazy Horse will appear at the Hollywood Bowl, Hollywood, CA.  You can see his complete schedule here.

The Needle and the Damage Done


According to New York Times writer David Carr, Young continues to perform The Needle and the Damage Done. The melody we know by heart...but probably many who recognize the melody didn't always know how they felt about it. Watch Neil Young performing The Needle and the Damage Done.


If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

Recognizing yourself in sobriety...


Rolling Stone quotes Neil when talking about his life in sobriety...
"I did it for 40 years," he says. "Now I want to see what it's like to not do it. It's just a different perspective." In the book, he elaborates: "The straighter I am, the more alert I am, the less I know myself and the harder it is to recognize myself. I need a little grounding in something and I am looking for it everywhere."
Sobriety and recovery are possible and bring many wonderful changes.
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Friday, October 5, 2012

Staying Alive In Sobriety - Inspiring Video For Alaskan Young People

Mount McKinley, or Denali, in Alaska is the hi...
Mount McKinley, or Denali, in Alaska is the highest mountain peak of the United States and North America (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
Have you ever been to Alaska? It is a beautiful state, filled with natural wonders, incredible wildlife and vital cultures. Alaska is our largest state, but the total population for the State of Alaska is only 722,718, with about half of this population clustered in the Anchorage area. Alaska has a rich history both before the United States purchased it from Russia in 1867 all the way through to statehood in 1959 and continuing to the discovery of oil in 1968 and the development of the North Slope and the Alaskan Pipeline. In 1971 President Nixon signed the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act transferring land titles to 12 Alaska Native regional corporations and eventually adding a 13th corporation for those Alaska Natives who no longer live in the State of Alaska. Ahtna Inc is one of the 13 Alaska Native regional corporations.

Alcoholism and drug abuse in Alaska

According to the State of Alaska's Department of Health and Social Services "Alcoholism and chemical dependency have long been recognized as Alaska’s number one behavioral health problem." Here are a few statistics:
  • As of 2010, Alaska ranks number 13 in the US for heavy drinking. 5.6% of Alaskans are classified as heavy drinkers.
  • Alaska's ranking for binge drinking in 2010 moved from number 11 in the US to number 2.
  • Binge drinking in Alaska is highest among males
  • Between 2006 and 2008, Alaska's rate of alcohol-induced deaths was approximately 3 times the U.S. rate. The alcohol-induced death rate is significantly higher for Alaska Natives than for non-Natives.
  • According to SAMHSA's National Survey on Drug use and Health, illicit drug use among those ages 12 and older has been consistently higher in Alaska than in the U.S. as a whole. In 2009, Alaska ranked number 4 in the nation for illicit drug use. 
  • Alaska’s suicide rate has consistently remained among the highest rates in the nation and almost twice the national average. Between 2001 and 2009, the age-adjusted rate for suicides in Alaska increased 22 percent, from 16.5 to 20.2 deaths per 100,000. 
  • The suicide rate among Alaska Natives in 2008 was almost double the rate for Caucasians. Intentional self-harm or suicide remained the sixth leading cause of death in Alaska. Between 1999 and 2008, on average 36.1 years of life were lost prematurely for each suicide death.
  • The number and rate of deaths by suicide among Alaskans aged 15 to 19 decreased between 2008 and 2009. Between 1994 and 2007, the rate of teen suicide (ages 15 to 19) in Alaska averaged almost 5 times the U.S. rate for this age group. 

Ahtna Inc board member envisions a video to curb alcohol use among Alaska's young people

Often when we attend the funeral of a family member or friend we wonder why they had to die. We ask this question even if death came to our loved one after they lived a long and productive life. But sometimes we find ourselves at the funeral or memorial service for someone whose life was cut short due to their own abuse of alcohol and/or drugs or as a result of another person's abuse of alcohol and/or drugs. This experience can be jolting and force you to take action to help curb the abuse of substances that cause these senseless deaths.

It was one such funeral that inspired an Ahtna Inc board member to act. The board member is Ken Johns. He set a goal to help produce a video that might just reach a vulnerable population - Alaska's young people. He wanted to create a video with a message of sobriety and so he met with Bruce Cain, Ahtna's vice president of administration and finance. Cain, in turn, suggested that Johns meet with Paul Gray of Soldotna, best known for his weekly television show "Exploring Alaska" which is seen across Alaska, the United State and many foreign countries.

A collaborative effort was pursued with the Ahtna Heritage Foundation in Glennallen, the Ahtna Heritage Dancers, and Ken Johns' nephew Samuel Johns. Samuel Johns is in recovery and had written a rap-style song "Stand Up" with lyrics that speak to the problem of addiction:
"There's a lot of problems in this world/But anybody or anyone/It doesn't matter who you are/You can have a solution to anything/It's up to you to let it out/Let's not point fingers but put our heads together/Everybody stand up with your faith."
And so, the video was produced using both "Stand Up" and the Bee Gees 1977 hit "Stayin' Alive".

Stand Up and Stay Alive (Music Video)



If you are having trouble viewing the video, you can see it here.

As the YouTube video's description says:
"The broad smiles and sparkling eyes of elders and youth, images of dancers swaying in time to traditional rhythms, the processing of freshly harvested berries and salmon. The message becomes more powerful compared to scenes of addiction-caused disasters... a powerful and joyous story of a sobriety-lived life in this new music video produced for Ahtna Incorporated by Paul Gray Producer of Exploring Alaska TV Show. Directed by Ken Johns, Associate Director Liana Charley-John Ahtna Heritage Foundation, Administer Bruce Cain."

Staying Alive in sobriety...

When someone seeks recovery they gradually learn that it is possible to live life sober. Part of the transition is finding your passion in life. That passion can be as simple as learning to draw, to becoming involved with volunteer work, to writing, to sharing your experience, strength and hope with others. Recovery happens one day at a time, but you need to take the first step
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