Promoting good mental wellness has been a practice since the mid-19th century.
The American psychiatrist Isaac Ray, one of the 13 founders of the American Psychiatric Association, said mental hygiene is an art to protect the mind against incidents and influences that could inhibit or destroy its energy, quality or development.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, good mental health, or wellness, is characterized by a person’s ability to learn, to feel, express and manage a range of positive and negative emotions; to form and maintain good relationships with others; and to cope with and manage change and uncertainty.
May is National Mental Health Month, and the core message being shared by many mental health advocates is that wellness is essential to living a full and productive life. Wellness isn’t simply the absence of disease, or disorder. It is the overall well-being that can be linked to the balance among a person’s emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health, according to Mental Health America.
Every individual experiences stress presented by daily activities at school, work or other situations, and it is important to recognize someone in need of support. Common signs in children or adults include a noticeable change in daily activity, said Calming Connections Clinical Director Dr. Laurna Champ.
“Common signs that there may be something going on mental health-wise or behavior health-wise is significant or sudden changes in behaviors – from sudden changes in a child’s or an adult’s actions or reactions or interaction styles. For example, if the child or the adult is generally involved in everyday activities and suddenly withdraws or significantly decreases that, it’s something to be aware of,” she said. “Or, if they’re moving along in life pretty smoothly and all of a sudden they start being gone every evening or not coming home at the same general time they did. Or significant change in activities at school, grade changes. It doesn’t mean there’s something wrong, but it means you might want to look at what’s going on here.”
Other changes could be significant changes in eating or sleeping habits, Champ said.
“With children particularly, we get growth patterns going on. Sometimes children eat a lot more right before they start growing or a lot less. And the same with sleep,” she said. “If it’s the week school’s out or the week before Christmas, they might sleep less. But if it’s a regular, typical time of the year and we see the child, or an adult, sleeping a lot more or a lot less, that could be something to look at.”
Steps recommended by MHA to build and maintain well-being include a balanced diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, a sense of self-worth, development of coping skills that promote resiliency, emotional awareness and connections to family, friends and the community. Making regular visits to a medical or mental health professional is also suggested.
When a person knows he or she may have a problem, it is important to talk to a trusted person, said Champ.
“Find somebody in the community you trust, whether it’s with the church or someone you work with, and certainly in Tahlequah there are many mental health, behavioral health agencies if you have insurance,” she said. “You would want to call your insurance and find out what agencies cover your insurance. If it’s a child and you have SoonerCare, you would want to make sure the agency takes SoonerCare. You may just want to go to talk your pastor or youth director. Or if it’s during the school year, children can go talk to their teachers or their school counselors.”
Solutions Behavioral Health, at Tahlequah City Hospital, is a 10-bed inpatient behavioral health unit for people over 60 years old, said SBH Program Director Christy Hern.
“We provide inpatient care for individuals who require mental or emotional treatment in a setting that can also address medical needs. Each patient participates in an individualized course of treatment, combining group therapies, individual counseling, therapeutic activities, family support and family education,” she said. “Our goal is to rehabilitate the whole person and return him or her to a more useful, productive and positive life.”
Hern said challenges patients may be facing include loss of a lifetime companion, loss of family and friends, declining physical and mental health, loss of independence, financial constraints, changes in self-image, unrealized expectations about the golden years, and changes in their professional, personal and financial life due to retirement.
To help reduce suicide and accidental gun-related injuries or death, Cherokee Nation Behavioral Health is providing gun locks through a grant provided by the Garrett Lee Smith Memorial Suicide Prevention Program. Lee was a senator’s son who committed suicide, and Congress set aside funds for suicide prevention efforts, said CNBH Prevention Program Supervisor Melissa Pitts Johnson. The grant program is its second year.
“One of the things research shows us is that in states where there is a high percentage of gun ownership, we typically have higher rates of completion for suicide,” she said. “One of the ways that we can combat that is through what’s called means restriction. Just locking up your gun can be a deterrent, and it’s basic violence prevention. It’s just good safety and gun ownership [practice].”
Johnson said 5,000 Master Lock units, which come equipped with sticker-labeled locks presenting a toll-free suicide prevention hotline, have been purchased through the grant. About 1,500 to 2,000 units have been distributed so far, and scheduling of times and dates at clinics in the 14-county area is under way to distribute the remaining locks.
“The state has been passing them out in a concentrated area, mainly around Oklahoma City, for several years now, and they’ve have been able to track, anecdotally, that it has decreased incidents of suicide,” said Johnson. “ And they’re working with the life line to track how many people are calling that life line because they read that number on the lock. Creek Nation has a grant, too, as does the Kiowa Nation. So we’re all kind of working together to strategically spread out our money for suicide prevention across Oklahoma and trying to work together so the messaging is consistent. So all over Oklahoma we’re doing similar things, and we’re engaging in the same kind of activities so that nobody is missed.”
Promoting good mental wellness has been a practice since the mid-19th century.
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Plea deal arranged for ex-fire chief
A former Cherokee County volunteer fire chief has agreed to plead guilty to forgery and embezzlement charges in exchange for a suspended sentence and payment of restitution.
Third Thursday Art Walk
Shoppers will have a chance to visit downtown merchants in the evening during the Tahlequah Main Street Association’s first Third Thursday Art Walk and After Party on Thursday, March 20.
Participating downtown businesses will keep their doors open to offer specials until 8 p.m., and artists will display their work at different locations. Art exhibitors, including the Cherokee Art Center’s Spider Gallery, will stay open late.
Sex offender bill reaches House
By a unanimous 44-0 vote of the Oklahoma Senate, a bill that would make it more difficult for registered sex offenders to change their names has reached the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
Senate Bill 1421, authored by Kyle Loveless, Oklahoma City Republican, underwent its first reading in the House on Feb. 27.
Cherokee County Undersheriff Jason Chennault said he did not know of any instances, during his service with the department, of registered sex offenders evading detection with new names for any length of time.
SB 1497 may aid transparency
Government transparency advocates were pleased, and some were surprised, when a proposed bill designed to strengthen Oklahoma’s Open Meetings Act passed the Senate Judicial Committee recently.
Senate Bill 1497, by Sen. David Holt, R-Oklahoma City, would allow citizens who are denied access to public meetings to bring civil lawsuits, and if the court rules in favor, to collect attorney’s fees. A continuing resolution has already been filed.
Should the legislation pass into law, it would become effective Nov. 1 this year.
Moulton: Sovereignty is John Ross’ legacy
When describing the Cherokee people, the words “well-educated” and “independent” may come to mind. Those attributes were principles held most dear by John Ross, principal chief of the Cherokees from 1828-1866.
Dr. Gary Moulton, University of Nebraska Thomas C. Sorensen emeritus professor of American history, discussed Ross’ history during a presentation at the Tahlequah Armory Municipal Center Thursday. The event was organized by the history department at Northeastern State University.
The bear facts
A joint project linking two state agencies with researchers at Oklahoma State University is gathering the “bear facts” on a growing population in the northeastern part of the state.
A six-year study on black bears in Cherokee, Adair and Sequoyah counties is being conducted as a precursor to possible establishment of a controlled hunting season in Green Country. The Oklahoma Department of Wildlife Conservation, Oklahoma Cooperative Fish and Wildlife Research Unit, and Department of Natural Resource Ecology and Management of Oklahoma State University have partnered for the endeavor.
Drug task force seizes K2 at a Tahlequah house
The District 27 Drug and Violent Crimes Task Force seized between $200 and $300 worth of synthetic drugs during a bust Friday.
The Tahlequah Police Department and the Cherokee Nation Marshal Service were also in on the raid. Members of the task force hope the seizure will aid in an ongoing investigation to find larger suppliers.
“We received information that sales were being made from a residence off Choctaw Street,” said Michael Moore, task force director. “Further investigation led to a state search warrant based on the federal Schedule I list of drugs.”
Citizens can report sight obstructions to city
On Feb. 25-26, the Tahlequah Fire Department responded to motor vehicle accidents at South Muskogee Avenue and South Street, and since that time, a few citizens have expressed concern about the sight lines at the intersection.
A visit to the intersection showed that, for traffic westbound on South, the view south down Muskogee is partially obstructed by shrubbery and a tree that appear to be on private property.
Spears: OSRC should help boost business
In a little over 25 years, Arrowhead Resort owner Jack Spears has grown his business from being the smallest float operator on the Illinois River to the second-largest, and he’d like to continue on that path.
Spears believes tourism is vital to the Tahlequah area. He says if the Oklahoma Scenic Rivers Commission would eliminate a zoning issue along the river, both the agency and his own business would reap the benefits.
Spears recently asked the OSRC to consider doing away with recreational floating zones. Commercial flotation device licenses are granted to operators in each area for a total of 3,900 licenses.
Last-place swine earns top sale bid
Local businessmen drew regional attention through a record-setting bid of $10,000 at the Cherokee County Spring Livestock Show last Saturday, but now they say they don’t want the recognition.
The annual show, which ends with a premium sale featuring top winners, is a fundraiser for local FFA and 4-H participants. Proceeds help cover the animals’ expenses or are used for future projects or showings. Community members, organizations and businesses bid on the livestock, but it is not a purchase. The children showing get to keep their animals.
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