• Mental Health First Aid Training and Certification

    Imagine this scenario:

    One day, while walking your dog in the local park, you notice a neighbor up ahead on the trail. Suddenly, he's staggering, stumbling and then grasping onto the back of a park bench.  His breathing is labored. His complexion has turned ashen.

    What would you do?

    You would take out your cell phone to dial 9-1-1.   Then, while waiting for the emergency team to arrive, if you knew CPR and/or First Aid, you would try to save your neighbor until the ambulance actually got there.

    Now, what if you could learn those same CPR-style skills to help someone who is experiencing a mental health crisis? 

    Mental Health First Aid Training and Certification is an 8-hour training to teach participants how to help someone who is developing a mental health problem or experiencing a mental health crisis. The evidence behind the program demonstrates that it helps trainees to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illlness and substance use disorders.

    Read more >

  • New Year’s Resolutions: Making Your 2017 Health Changes Stick

    This is the time of year when we vow to eat better, exercise more, practice mindfulness or seek professional treatment for mental or physical health issues. 

    It’s wonderful to make those New Year's Resolutions, but how can we make these behavioral modifications actually stick? How can they help us to make a long-term lifestyle change?

    Here are some tips for making long-term healthy changes:

    Read more >

  • Our 10 Tips for Holiday Wellness

     

    1. Say ‘yes’ to your health:  Create a list between now and New Years of healthy and joyful things that you will do for yourself.   Practice saying a polite “no” if you are asked to participate in events that are beyond your comfort zone or not included on that healthy to-do list that you have created. Or check out these tips for sharing holiday meals with people in your life who may add to your stress. 

    2. Breathe and be present:  Practice a simple breathing, meditation or centering technique to help you keep a sense of calm.  As you join the flurry of pre-holiday shopping or parties (or not), make sure you are truly present for each person and event and place.

    3. Plan ahead for the workplace holiday party: Nervous about the workplace holiday bash? Prepare ahead of time for how you will act, how much you will drink, when you will arrive and leave, and how you will get home safely. Newly in recovery from problem drinking or alcoholism? Pre-planning for the workplace party is even more crucial. Or, better yet, bring along a non-drinking friend or support person. Don’t go it alone. 

    4. When is it more than holiday blues?  Learn and recognize the signs of depression. Ask for professional help. Speak to your doctor about the many resources on the North Shore and in the Merrimack Valley that will help you to cope with depression, grief or loss before or during the holidays (see # 10, “Ask for help”).

    5. Get exercise: Find time every day to walk outdoors. In the winter, when light is low, our systems slow down and outdoor light can help to lift our spirits.  Exercise will also offset those extra holiday treats and calories. This doctor helps you to keep to a consistent 30 minutes’ exercise per day. 

    6. Role models for your kids:  Children and teens need to see a consistent policy around drinking and other drug use in your home. If you need to, create new family memories with healthy meals and alcohol-free celebrations with your children.

    7. Sleep: It’s not uncommon to lose sleep as our holiday activities increase. Have fun while maintaining your regular sleep patterns.      

    8. Trust your values: Test your friends’ and loved ones’ requirements or expectations against your own values. Be clear about those values and why they mean so much to you. For example, if you would rather donate to charity than purchase or receive gifts, be clear about your preference and invite them to join in activities which will bring you both together in joy.

    9. Be a good host: If you’re hosting that party or holiday dinner, you are responsible for all your guests’ safety. Serve a variety of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. Use standard, measured drinks. Never serve anyone under 21, and ensure that all guests have a safe and sober ride home. The Massachusetts Social Host Law defines your responsibilities. 

    10. Ask for help:  If the holidays bring you more stress than joy, or if they evoke unhappy feelings or memories, our local newspapers often have health-event calendars and updates on local support groups. Your local hospice has support groups for those who are grieving around the holidays. Your local 12-step group will give you a support system if you are trying to stay clean and sober. Your doctor will recommend (or call our agency) for an outpatient counseling option. Or check out the local branch of NAMI for resources near your home. 

    Note: This article is informational only, and does not, as such, constitute or replace clinical treatment or intervention.

    Doing a media story on holiday wellness? Contact us for expert commentary. 978-968-1736 or .

  • Dr. Mary Anna Sullivan Presented with MITSS’ Annual HOPE Award

    For more info, 978.968.1736 or 781.744.9665

    Boston, MA –Mary Anna Sullivan, MD, Chief Medical Officer of Lahey Health Behavioral Services, was presented with the HOPE Award at the Medically Induced Trauma Support Services, Inc. (MITSS) at its annual meeting in Boston.

    MITSS, Inc. is a non-profit organization founded in June of 2002 whose mission is to support healing and restore hope to patients, families, and clinicians who have been affected by an adverse medical event.  Medically Induced Traumas are unexpected outcomes that occur during medical and/or surgical care that affect the emotional well-being of patients, family members or clinicians. MITSS was founded to create awareness, promote open and honest communication, and provide services, support and advocacy to patients, families, and clinicians affected by medically induced trauma.

    The MITSS HOPE Award was established in 2008 to recognize patients, families, healthcare providers, hospitals, academic institutions and others that exemplify the mission of MITSS: Supporting Healing and Restoring Hope to patients, families, and clinicians impacted by adverse medical events.  Dr. Sullivan received the award because throughout her career, she has worked on both the provider and patient sides of this issue, as both an advocate for the safety and well-being of physicians and nurses, as well as ensuring the safety of patients as the Chair of Physician Services at the Massachusetts Medical Society and through her leadership of the Coalition for Prevention of Medical Errors.

     “I am honored and humbled to receive the MITSS HOPE Award,” said Dr. Sullivan. “It has been a wonderful privilege over the years to work with Linda Kenney and so many others dedicated to better, safer care for patients and caregivers alike.”

    In her role as Chief Medical Officer of Lahey Health Behavioral Services, Dr. Sullivan oversees the integration of behavioral health and addiction services throughout the Lahey Health system. She is also a clinical assistant professor at Tufts University School of Medicine.  Dr. Sullivan was chief resident in psychiatry at Brigham and Women’s Hospital from 1984-85, joining Lahey in 1986. She is a graduate of Dartmouth College and the Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons in New York, and is board certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology.

    “When I learned Mary Anna Sullivan was this year’s recipient of the HOPE Award, I was thrilled,” said Linda Kenney, President and Executive Director of MITSS. “Mary Anna has always made sure patients were in the forefront of the patient safety work and she’s been equally committed to make sure frontline staffs’ needs were addressed as well.”

    For additional information about MITSS or the MITSS HOPE Award, visit www.mitss.org.  For more information about Lahey Health, including lists of services and physicians as well as what separates it from other healthcare systems, visit www.laheyhealth.org, follow the Lahey Health Twitter feed, or become a fan on Facebook.

    About Lahey Health

    Lahey Health is what’s next in health care, providing a full continuum of integrated health services close to where you live or work. It is comprised of nationally recognized, award-winning hospitals—including an academic hospital and medical center, and community hospitals—primary care providers, specialist physicians, behavioral health services, post-acute programs such as home health services, skilled nursing and rehabilitation facilities, and senior care resources located throughout northeastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire.

    Lahey Health offers nearly 1,400 locally based physicians providing clinical excellence and an exceptional patient experience in adult and pediatric primary care and every medical specialty, including kidney and liver transplantation; neurosurgery, cancer, cardiovascular and orthopedic medical and surgical care; local emergency and trauma care; urological surgery; chronic disease prevention and health management; and pediatric emergency, newborn and inpatient care provided in collaboration with Boston Children’s Hospital physicians.

    Lahey Health includes Lahey Hospital & Medical Center—a teaching hospital of Tufts University School of Medicine—and Lahey Clinic physician group with practices in Burlington, Peabody and other locations throughout northeastern Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire; Beverly Hospital; Addison Gilbert Hospital in Gloucester, Mass.; Winchester Hospital; Lahey Health Senior Care and Lahey Health Behavioral Services as well as more than 30 primary care physician practices and multiple outpatient and satellite specialty care facilities.

    Together, we are making innovative, integrated healthcare more personal and more accessible. For more information, visit LaheyHealth.org and its member websites Lahey Hospital & Medical Center, Beverly Hospital, Winchester Hospital, and Lahey Health Behavioral Services.

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  • The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation Funds Substance Use Program for Adolescents, Families on the North Shore

    The Team 14 team with Nick Randell (rear, right), Program Officer, The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation.  

    Earlier this year, The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation awarded a grant of $264,066 to Lahey Health Behavioral Services (LHBS).  

    This fall, the three-year grant has allowed LHBS to launch Team 14, a specialized individual and family therapy services for local youth with substance use concerns. The team is now working with its first group of adolescents and their parents or guardians.

    The Team 14 initiative addresses a documented lack of mid-range level and community-based substance use treatment services (for adolescents) by offering youth and their families access to treatment at home or at school during convenient afternoon and evening hours.

    The clinical team is comprised of outreach mental health counselors and case workers with expertise in substance use treatment. The team will provide evidence-based, family-centered and highly focused interventions.   

    Team Fourteen will serve youth ages 12-25 and their caregivers who live on Boston’s North Shore.

    For referrals, contact the program at 978.867.7137.  All inquiries and services are 100% confidential and provided at no cost to the youth or family.

    About Lahey Health Behavioral Services

    Lahey Health Behavioral Services is a non-profit agency that provides a range of outpatient, inpatient and residential care, including mental health clinics; addiction treatment; family services; mobile crisis teams; psychiatric treatment and school-based programs for children and teens.  The agency serves communities in greater Boston, the North Shore and the Merrimack Valley, Massachusetts.

    About The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation

    The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation seeks to support community programming that will result in children, adolescents, and young adults affected by substance abuse, learning disabilities, mental illness, and intellectual disabilities achieving their full potential. The Foundation makes grants totaling 7-8 million dollars annually. For more information on The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, please visit thetowerfoundation.org.

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  • Two New Medical Directors for Lahey Health’s Mental Health and Addiction Treatment Programs

    Barry Ginsberg, M.D. has been appointed as the medical director for Lahey Health Behavioral Services’ Addictions Treatment Services Division.  In this role, Dr. Ginsberg will oversee clinical care across 11 treatment programs in Boston, the North Shore and the Merrimack Valley. 

    Lahey’s addiction treatment programs provide various levels of inpatient and outpatient care for adults with substance use disorders, ranging from medical detoxification services, to residential care and medication‑assisted treatments for opioid dependency.

    In addition to this new role, Dr. Ginsberg serves as medical director for Lahey Health Behavioral Services’ Population Health and Emergency Services Division as well as its Inpatient Psychiatric Services. 

    He is certified by the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology in both psychiatry and psychosomatic medicine, and is a distinguished life fellow of the American Psychiatric Association.  He is a Certified Physician Executive and member of the American Association for Physician Leadership. He is an assistant professor of psychiatry at Boston University School of Medicine, from which he received their first voluntary faculty award in 2009.

    Medical Director, Outpatient Division

    Patrick R. Aquino, MD has been appointed as medical director for the Ambulatory Services Division at Lahey Health Behavioral Services. In this role, Dr. Aquino will oversee  care delivery across 7 outpatient clinics and outreach programs in the Merrimack Valley and on the North Shore.

     The clinics provide various modalities of outpatient mental health care for adults, teens and children.

    In addition to this new role, Dr. Aquino oversees Lahey’s acute and primary care-embedded behavioral health services and chairs the Department of Psychiatry & Behavioral Medicine for Lahey Hospital & Medical Center.

    Dr. Aquino is board certified in psychiatry and psychosomatic medicine and is a graduate of the University of Maryland School of Medicine.

    In addition to his clinical leadership at Lahey Health, Patrick is assistant clinical professor at Tufts University School of Medicine.

  • Back to School Blues (and other issues)? We Can Help With That

    Students in North Shore schools will have access to specialized counseling resources for the 2016/`17 school year—thanks to local funders.  

    The North Shore United Way (NSUW) has led the funding to provide and support teen counseling services in the Beverly schools and several other North Shore communities. The funding is part of the NSUW’s 2016 Community Impact Grants and supports the Student Assistance Program, a school-based program provided by Lahey Health Behavioral Services.

    Other funders include the Greater Boston Council on Alcoholism and the Bruce J. Anderson Foundation. Services are available in a total of five schools in Gloucester, Ipswich, Beverly and Danvers. Watch the United Way’s video to hear from one teen who benefited from the program.

    The Student Assistance Program is responding to a growing need for local teens to get in-school help with issues such as depression, anxiety, bullying, cyberbullying, eating disorders, peer pressure and drug use. Last year, most students sought support and help for anxiety.

     Specialized counselors from Lahey Health Behavioral Services are imbedded in the schools to collaborate with teachers and counseling departments to provide assessment, counseling, teacher or parent consultations and, if needed, referral to health services outside the school.  

     “We are grateful to the North Shore United Way and all of our funders,” says Satya R. Montgomery, Ph.D., Vice President for Children and Youth Services at Lahey Health Behavioral Services. “Their generosity and hard work show  a real commitment to services for local teens.”  

  • Elite Athletes, The Competitive Sports Lifestyle and Depression

    Americo Mello, Psy.D., Clinical Psychologist, Lahey Health Behavioral Services

    Most people would think that elite athletes have nothing to be depressed about.

    Yet, many world-competing athletes have publicly acknowledged their struggles with depression.

    There  are a number of stressors that are distinct to an elite athlete’s lifestyle, such as concerns about being injured, under performing, being replaced, losing sponsors, and money. They also contend with training demands, which may mean never being home, missing family events, and missing social time with friends. Add to these stressors the fact that they lead very public lives, and are often the focus of media attention and fans.  

    Traditionally, the sporting culture values top performance, and sporting institutions may not fully prepare their elite athletes for the mental demands involved.  Many are expected to endure pain, so they may keep their depression a secret, struggle with depression alone and delay seeking help. Eventually, as depressive symptoms worsen,  athletes may begin to self-isolate, feel lethargic, experience emotional outbursts, or lose their passion for the sport.

    Their playing and personal behavior start to change,  including increased conflicts with coaches, teammates and family. These changes in behavior may be misinterpreted by coaches as an indication of an athlete’s lack of motivation or willingness to train and not a sign of depression.

    The best news? Depression is a condition that, once diagnosed, is fully treatable. The other good news is that, these days, some sporting institutions have started to incorporate mental wellbeing and psychological treatment as part of their training programs.

  • Tower Foundation Funds Substance Use Program for Adolescents, Families on the North Shore

    Nick Randell (right), Program Officer, The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, with the Team-14 clinicians

    L-R:   Nick Randell (right), Program Officer, The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, with the Team-14 clinicians.

    Earlier this year, the Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation awarded a grant of $264,066 to Lahey Health Behavioral Services (LHBS).  

    The three-year grant has allowed LHBS to launch Team 14, a specialized individual and family therapy services for local youth with substance use concerns. 

    The Team 14 project addresses a documented lack of mid-range level and community-based substance use treatment services (for adolescents) by offering youth and their families access to treatment at home or at school during convenient afternoon and evening hours.

    The clinical team is comprised of substance use specialists who will provide evidence-based, family-centered and highly focused interventions.  The Team Fourteen clinical group includes outreach mental health counselors and case workers.

    “We’re excited to receive this grant from the Tower Foundation,” said Kevin Norton, CEO of Lahey Health Behavioral Services. “Our clinical team will help educate families about substance use and how best to support a child and his or her family who is struggling.” 

    Team Fourteen will serve youth ages 12-25 and their caregivers who live on Boston’s North Shore.

    About Lahey Health Behavioral Services

    Lahey Health Behavioral Services is a non-profit agency that provides a range of outpatient, inpatient and residential care, including mental health clinics; addiction treatment; family services; mobile crisis teams; psychiatric treatment and school-based programs for children and teens.  The agency serves communities in greater Boston, the North Shore and the Merrimack Valley, Massachusetts.

    About The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation

    The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation seeks to support community programming that will result in children, adolescents, and young adults affected by substance abuse, learning disabilities, mental illness, and intellectual disabilities achieving their full potential. The Foundation makes grants totaling 7-8 million dollars annually. For more information on The Peter and Elizabeth C. Tower Foundation, please visit thetowerfoundation.org.

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  • Tragedy, Trauma and Mental Health

    In the wake of harrowing tragedies like police and civilian shootins—plus the Orlando massacre—people far and wide can experience trauma—even if they were not directly involved in the event. And the signs don’t necessarily manifest themselves right away.

    They may appear later. But we can help. All of us can help someone who struggles with trauma—whether you work in the medical community, you are just another caring individual or you are a mental health or addictions provider.

    Here are some tips and guidelines.

    How To Speak to Your Children About Tragedies

    How the Orlando Tragedy Can Broadly Impact the LGBTQ Community

    Find this useful resource at the National Council for Behavioral Healthcare
     

    10 Signs Someone May Be Experiencing Trauma

    Find the signs here.

     10 Tips To Help Someone Experiencing Trauma

     Find 10 ways to help here.

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  • Moira Muir, LMHC, is new VP of Population Health and Emergency Psychiatric Services

    Moira Muir, LMHC, has been appointed to the position of Vice President, Population Health and Emergency Psychiatric Services at Lahey Health Behavioral Services. As vice president, Ms. Muir is a member of the Agency’s Senior Leadership Team.

    The VP of Population Health and Emergency Psychiatric Services is a newly created position to provide strategic oversight for our evolving healthcare model that integrates medical, psychiatric and psychosocial services.

    In keeping with our Agency vision, this treatment model provides the right service in the right place and at the right time to the population for whom the Lahey Health system is responsible.

    In addition to guiding and implementing a broad-based constellation of integrated services, Ms. Muir will collaborate with the Lahey Health’s accountable care structure. She will also promote new opportunities for Lahey/LHBS to manage the healthcare of additional populations or patient groups.

    Moira Muir has 25 years’ experience in behavioral health. Most recently, she served as the Vice President for Network Management for Massachusetts Behavioral Health Partnership/Beacon Health Options.

    She holds a Master of Science in Psychology from Northeastern University.

  • Welcome to Jean Jackson, Vice President, Human Resources

    Jean Jackson will be leading our HR strategy and providing executive leadership to our Human Resources team. She will be responsible for overseeing all areas of human resources including talent acquisition, talent management, and talent development as well as promoting a culture of positive employee relations.

    Jean comes to Lahey with over 15 years of executive leadership experience, most recently as the VP of HR for Ascentria Care Alliance, a $70m social services organization based in Worcester, MA with programs throughout New England. Prior to that Jean served over 5 years as the VP of Workforce Planning and Talent Acquisition at Baystate Health in Springfield, MA. Jean has extensive experience in Behavioral Health as she was the VP of Administration and Human Resources at South Shore Mental Health in Quincy, MA and began her career at McLean Hospital.

    View the entire HR team and their respective roles on the HR page at StaffMatter.

    Need to contact Human Resources? Email or call the person listed who can meet your specific need.  

  • Adolescent Anxiety: Symptoms, Triggers and How To Help — Two North Shore Events For Parents, Teachers

    Our Student Assistance Program works with local middle and high schools to provide specialized services and referrals for teens.

    Last year, the students came to us for help with a variety of issues, including depression, substance use, bullying and anxiety. Among those, anxiety was the big and recurring concern for youth and their parents (see word cloud below). 

    This year, in response to this identified and growing need, with the support of our primary funder, The North Shore United Way, we are presenting two events for parents on the North Shore. These events are free to the public, hosted by licensed clinicians and will allow lots of time for attendees’ questions and discussion.  

    News media and health bloggers: Our presenters and clinicians are available for interview before and after these April events. 

    Anxious Adolescent Minds in a Hectic World - for Parents, Teachers, Youth Workers

    Danvers - April 13

    What: A presentation for adults about the symptoms and triggers of adolescent anxiety and how we can help. Presented by licensed clinicians with extensive experience working with adolescents.

    When: Wednesday April 13, 2016, 6:30-7:30 PM

    Where: Holten Richmond Middle School, 55 Conant St, Danvers, Multi Purpose Room (Danvers Middle School)

    Cost: Free

    Presented by: The Student Assistance Program of Lahey Health Behavioral Services and the North Shore United Way

    More info: 978-867-7137. There will be lots of time for audience questions.

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    Ipswich -  April 27

    What: A presentation for adults about the symptoms and triggers of adolescent anxiety and how we can help. Presented by licensed clinicians with extensive experience working with adolescents.

    When: Wednesday April 27, 2016, 6:30-7:30 PM

    Where: Ipswich YMCA, 110 County Rd., Ipswich, MA — Located at the Schoolage Center

    Cost: Free

    Presented by: The Student Assistance Program of Lahey Health Behavioral Services and the North Shore United Way

    More info: 978-867-7137. There will be lots of time for audience questions.

  • Recent State and Federal Legislation Around Opioid Addiction, Prevention

    In a near-unanimous vote, the U.S. Senate approved the Comprehensive Addictions and Recovery Act (S.524), the first standalone bill to pass the Senate in years. Known as CARA, the legislation authorizes much-needed funding for evidence-based prevention, treatment and recovery programs to help Americans struggling with addiction to heroin or other opioids. The bill passed the Senate with a bipartisan vote of 94-1 and now moves to the House for consideration.

    Read more about the bill here.

     Meanwhile, here in Massachusetts, a new law that aims to enhance substance use disorder prevention, care and services was signed by Gov. Charlie Baker on March 14.

     The law includes new regulations that impact providers throughout the state, and aside from a small number of provisions, most regulations are now in effect.

    Read more about the Massachusetts law here

  • Visiting Dad in Treatment: Now It’s Much Better— Thanks to Bright Horizons Foundation For Children

    Tewksbury, Mass—The Transitions residential program just got a bright new children’s play area for families who are visiting a loved one (father, brother) who is in treatment for addiction.

    Transitions, our residential home for men in recovery from addiction, is the first all-male program to receive funding and assistance from Bright Horizons Foundation for Children.

    Founded in 1999, Bright Horizons for Children is a nonprofit organization that creates comforting places for children in crisis.

    The organization creates learning, play areas, arts and crafts opportunities and comfortable nooks in homeless and domestic violence shelters, prisons, hospitals and other facilities that serve at-risk children.  

    “We are so grateful to Bright Horizons for this wonderful makeover of our family visiting area,” says Marty Dunphy, Transitions’ Program Director. “This space will allow the men in our program to spend time with their children in a welcoming and child-friendly area.” 

  • Two New Program Directors For Addiction Treatment Services on the North Shore and the Merrimack Valley

    Mary Crockett, Medication-Assisted Treatment, Gloucester 

    Mary M. Crockett, LMHC, LDAC (left) has been appointed Program Director, Opiate Addiction Treatment Services, Gloucester.   In this role, Crockett will oversee all staff and clinical care delivery for medication-assisted treatment (methadone) for clients and patients on Cape Ann and beyond.

    Located on Washington Street, the clinic provides medically-assisted treatment and counseling for men and women struggling with addiction to opioids.  

    Mary comes to Lahey Health Behavioral Services with over 15 years’ experience in addiction treatment, counseling and leadership.  Prior to this appointment, she served as the assistant program director, Middlesex Sheriffs Office.  From 2006 – 2009, she served as the program director for our medication-assisted programs in Danvers.

    Mary holds an M.Ed in Counselor Training  and a B.Sc in Psychology from UMassBoston. 

    Jennifer Faretra, LADCII, Tewksbury Treatment Center

    Jennifer Faretra, LADCII (right) has been appointed Program Director, Tewksbury Treatment Center.

    Located on the grounds of Tewksbury Hospital, the Treatment Center is a 32-bed inpatient detoxification service that treats and cares for clients (men and women, 18 and older) in need of medical detoxification from illicit drugs and alcohol.

    Licensed by the Mass. Department of Public Health, the Center was opened in 2013 to serve towns within and beyond the Merrimack Valley.

    Faretra comes to the position with a long career in substance use treatment and case management, and has worked with Lahey Health Behavioral Services since 2010.

    Prior to this appointment, she served as an assistant program director for a residential treatment program in Lynn.

  • Taking Care Of Yourself When Your Child Is Using Drugs

    When we have conversations with parents about their substance-using children, we often ask: What are you doing right now for your own well-being? Parents react to the self-care suggestion in many ways, but the two most common responses include   

    1) I’ve already tried and it did not help or 

    2) I don’t have time

     Often, when someone in your household (whom you love) is using substances, he or she is also engaged in associated difficult behaviors, such as pushing boundaries, leaving home without permission, spending time with scary friends and involved in legal issues. Amid all these, it can be challenging to set aside time for yourself.  

    It is possible, however, to support a loved one and  take care of yourself at the same time. In fact, experts suggest that in order to be truly helpful, it is necessary. For an analogy, let’s look to the airlines. During the in-flight safety instructions,  the attendant always tells us to put on our own life masks before assisting someone else.

     Where to Turn?

    There are two categories of self-care that can be very helpful for parents and loved ones: stress reducing activities and social support.

    Stress-reduction: Speaking with a counselor is a great option, but it’s not the only one. Also,  at our SUN Program, we will often ask parents to think back to what they enjoyed doing before their family’s current situation. A sport or fitness activity? Reading? A creative or artistic activity? Now is a great time to rediscover what worked in the past. And, if past options aren’t available, developing a new hobby can work just as well.

    Social supports: Connecting with other parents or loved ones with similar experiences can help you to feel less alone. Although it may feel disloyal to your loved one to share his or her struggles with others, talking about your experiences as a parent increases your resilience and allows you to be more helpful to your loved one in the long run.

    Thanks to the internet, you can join forums, email chains and Facebook groups where people with a common struggle “meet” and discuss issues. However, when using social media or other sites, make sure you use these sites’ privacy settings to protect your privacy and to separate this online identity from your professional one. Also know that, in certain legal and other cases, information posted online may be accessed in response to a legal request.

    More Resources for your self-care:

    http://learn2cope.org  Learn to Cope is a peer led support network for families dealing with addiction and recovery. The website offers a forum and schedules for their meetings.

    http://www.familiesanonymous.org/ A free support group originally founded in 1971 by parents. Website offers a meeting list and e-meetings.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/karen-hornefferginter-phd/gps-guides_b_1632700.html Article written for the Huffington Post by author Karen Horneffer Ginter PhD. Includes a colorful image featuring “50 Ways to Take a Break” that can serve as great self-care inspiration!

    For additional support related to youth substance use, contact the SUN Project. For no cost, we can speak directly to affected youth as well as provide coaching to providers, parents and concerned others. Access our website by clicking the sun in our banner or the link below.

    Substance Use Navigation (SUN) Project, a program of Lahey Health Behavioral Services, provides free support and navigation services to Essex County youth and families, as well as training and consultation for professionals and community members. To spread awareness related to youth substance use, the SUN Project shares information and resources that you might find helpful.

    www.sunprojectma.org

  • Our 10 Tips for Holiday Wellness

    1. Say ‘yes’ to your health:  Create a list between now and New Years of healthy and joyful things that you will do for yourself.   Practice saying a polite “no” if you are asked to participate in events that are beyond your comfort zone or that healthy to-do list you have created. Or check out these tips for sharing holiday meals with people in your life who may add to your stress. 

    2. Breathe and be present:  Practice a simple breathing, meditation or centering technique to help you keep a sense of calm.  As you join the flurry of pre-holiday shopping or parties (or not), make sure you are truly present for each person and event and place.

    3. Plan ahead for the workplace holiday party: Nervous about the workplace holiday bash? Prepare ahead of time for how you will act, how much you will drink, when you will arrive and leave, and how you will get home safely. Newly in recovery from problem drinking or alcoholism? Pre-planning for the workplace party is even more crucial. Or, better yet, bring along a non-drinking friend or support person. Don’t go it alone. 

    4. When is it more than holiday blues?  Learn and recognize the signs of depression. Ask for professional help. Speak to your doctor about the many resources on the North Shore and in the Merrimack Valley that will help you to cope with depression, grief or loss before or during the holidays (see # 10, “Ask for help”).

    5. Get exercise: Find time every day to walk outdoors. In the winter, when light is low, our systems slow down and outdoor light can help to lift our spirits.  Exercise will also offset those extra holiday treats and calories. This doctor helps you to keep to a consistent 30 minutes’ exercise per day. 

    6. Role models for your kids:  Children and teens need to see a consistent policy around drinking and other drug use in your home. If you need to, create new family memories with healthy meals and alcohol-free celebrations with your children.

    7. Sleep: It’s not uncommon to lose sleep as our holiday activities increase. Have fun while maintaining your regular sleep patterns.      

    8. Trust your values: Test your friends’ and loved ones’ requirements or expectations against your own values. Be clear about those values and why they mean so much to you. For example, if you would rather donate to charity than purchase or receive gifts, be clear about your preference and invite them to join in activities which will bring you both together in joy.

    9. Be a good host: If you’re hosting that party or holiday dinner, you are responsible for all your guests’ safety. Serve a variety of non-alcoholic and alcoholic beverages. Use standard, measured drinks. Never serve anyone under 21, and ensure that all guests have a safe and sober ride home. The Massachusetts Social Host Law defines your responsibilities. 

    10. Ask for help:  If the holidays bring you more stress than joy, or if they evoke unhappy feelings or memories, our local newspapers often have health-event calendars and updates on local support groups. Your local hospice has support groups for those who are grieving around the holidays. Your local 12-step group will give you a support system if you are trying to stay clean and sober. Your doctor will recommend (or call our agency) for an outpatient counseling option. Or check out the local branch of NAMI for resources near your home. 

    Note: This article is informational only, and does not, as such, constitute or replace clinical treatment or intervention.

    Doing a media story on holiday wellness? Contact us for expert commentary. 978-968-1736 or .

     

     

  • The “S” Word and Addiction

     

    When our  staff from the SUN Project (Substance Use Navigation) participate in public events (info forums, lectures, health fairs), they encounter one word again and again: stigma.

    Stigma. These days, we use this word so often that we almost miss its meaning and potential consequences.   A stigma is a mark of disgrace that sets a person or group apart.  

    Young people who struggle with substance use (and their families) face stigma in the form of labeling, shame, stereotypes, prejudice and social exclusion. Among a youth’s own peer group, stigma happens when children or adolescents pick up on cultural attitudes and taboos from the adults in their lives. 

    Make no mistake, stigma is more than a damaging word or label. It could keep a youth who needs help silent. It could make a parent or guardian think twice about reaching out.

    Bottom line:  When substance use is mislabeled as a result of bad parenting or rebellious, disrespectful or lazy kids, it can keep someone from getting treatment or help. 

    Deleting the “S” word: Can You Do It?

    We can all stop using damaging labels when talking about substance use. When it comes to the young people in your life, you can ask your son, daughter, nephew or neighbor about substance use in the same way that you ask about any other health issues.  You can assess and check your own prejudices and how you talk about others in your social or professional circle.

     Additional Resources:       

     - #StateWithoutStigMA - A Massachusetts Department of Public Health program that provides action steps, a quiz to test your knowledge of addiction and detect any negative bias. Check out or follow this movement in social media;

     - Many Faces1Voice: The social movement behind the powerful documentary, The Anonymous People and book, Many Faces One Voice

    For additional support related to youth substance use, contact the SUN Project. For no cost, we can speak directly to affected youth,  as well as provide coaching to providers, parents and concerned others.   This is a free, 100% confidential service to local families and anyone who works with youth. 

  • Women In Recovery: Healing and Hope

    L-R: Judy Girard, Marty Dunphy, Program Directors; Dr. Mary Anna Sullivan, CMO; Hilary Jacobs, VP, Addictions; and Kate Donahue, Program Director

    On October 20, Lahey Health Behavioral Services hosted the “Women In Recovery Celebration.”  This year’s event theme was “Hope and Healing.”
    The annual event celebrates the unique challenges and successes of women in recovery from addiction and mental health conditions.

    Speakers included Dr. Mary Anna Sullivan, Chief Medical Officer, and Kevin P. Norton, CEO.

    Also, J and H, two women who have received treatment in our programs, spoke about their paths into addiction, treatment and recovery.

    Here is an excerpt from J’s presentation:

    “Methadone treatment has such a stigma that it makes It hard for me to be proud of all I’ve accomplished. Being in the methadone program is not just about getting the methadone dose; it’s about being part of something much larger, including the drug screens, groups, visits with the doctor and seeing the nurse daily. I have an incredible counselor here at Lahey, and I thank God every day for the life I have now.”

    Here is an excerpt from H’s presentation:

    “I have a full-time job that I love. I’m finishing my Bachelor’s degree in Business. My afternoons and weekends are spent with my three-year-old daughter.  This time last year, my life was NOT wonderful… . This time last year, I was a different person: unreliable, un-employable and un-trust-able.”

  • Massachusetts Bill S.2341 and Navigating the Treatment System For Youth and Adults

    October 1st, 2015 marked a major milestone for the treatment of addiction in Massachusetts. On that day, the final portion of Massachusetts bill S.2341 becomes law. The new law will mandate that in the state of Massachusetts, any person requiring treatment for substance use can receive up to 14 days of inpatient care without the need to seek authorization from his or her insurance company ahead of time. This removes a major barrier to treatment for adults in the state.

    While the SUN Project works most directly with adolescents, addiction is a family disease.

    If adults in a family are suffering from substance-related challenges, there is a greater risk that younger members of that family will also use or abuse substances. Adults who seek treatment can not only model healthy lifestyles, but positive decision-making as well.

    If you know an adult who needs support in combating a substance use problem, a good first option is to call 800-327-5050 to receive information on treatment options, or visit helpline-onling.org. Both of these resources are operated by the Institute of Health and Recovery, a major provider of services for accessing treatment. Or visit our menu of addiction treatment options on this website. 

    Addiction Treatment for Adolescents Is Often More Accessible

    If you know a youth who needs support , but you don’t know where to start, call the SUN Project at 978-867-7137 or contact us confidentially through our website.

    If your son, daughter or student is actively using substances and you know that he or she needs treatment, you can call the Central Intake service, also of the Institute for Health and Recovery. This service can be reached at 617-661-3991. This resource is able to steer youth and families to treatment and recovery resources across the state.

    If someone of any age is under the influence and posing a risk to his or her own safety, or to the safety of others, call 911 and report as much information as possible to the operator.

    For additional support related to youth substance use, contact the SUN Project. We can speak directly to affected youth as well as provide coaching to providers, parents and concerned others. Thanks to generous funding, our services are free. 

    Substance Use Navigation (SUN) Project, a program of Lahey Health Behavioral Services, provides free support and navigation services to Essex County youth and families, as well as training and consultation for professionals and community members. To spread awareness related to youth substance use, the SUN Project shares information and resources that you might find helpful to you, one of your students or a patient in your pediatric practice. 
     

  • Back to School Woes? On the North Shore, There’s Help for That

    Students in North Shore schools will have access to specialized counseling resources for the 2016/`17 school year—thanks to local funders.  

    The North Shore United Way (NSUW) has led the funding to provide and support teen counseling services in the Beverly schools and several other North Shore communities. The funding is part of the NSUW’s 2015 Community Impact Grants and supports the Student Assistance Program, a school-based program provided by Lahey Health Behavioral Services.

    Other funders for the Student Assistance Program include the North Shore Community Health Network, the Greater Boston Council on Alcoholism, The Foundation for Alcohol Education, the Town of Ipswich, and the Bruce J. Anderson Foundation.  Together, the funders are supporting the Student Assistance Programs in a total of five schools in Gloucester, Ipswich, Beverly and Danvers.

     The Student Assistance Program is responding to a growing need for local teens to get in-school help with issues such as depression, anxiety, bullying, cyberbullying, eating disorders, peer pressure and drug use. Last year, most students sought support and help for anxiety.

    Watch the United Way’s video to hear from one teen who benefited from the program.

     Specialized counselors from Lahey Health Behavioral Services are imbedded in the schools to collaborate with teachers and counseling departments to provide assessment, counseling, teacher or parent consultations and, if needed, referral to health services outside the school.  

     “We are grateful to the North Shore United Way and all of our funders,” says Satya R. Montgomery, Ph.D., Vice President for Children and Youth Services at Lahey Health Behavioral Services. “Their generosity and hard work show  a real commitment to services for local teens.”  

  • Hilary Jacobs Appointed As Vice President of Addiction Treatment Services

    Hilary Jacobs, Vice President, Addiction Treatment Services

    Hilary Jacobs, LICSW, LADC I has been appointed to the position of Vice President, Addiction Treatment Services, Lahey Health Behavioral Services. 

    In this role, Ms. Jacobs will oversee all of Lahey’s substance use treatment programs, including its residential, detoxification, outpatient and medication-supported services. The addiction-specific programs and clinics are in Gloucester, Danvers, Boston, Tewksbury and Lynn.

    Ms. Jacobs comes to Lahey Health with a strong background in addictions treatment leadership, public policy and training.

    For the past nine years, she has held various leadership roles in the Mass. Department of Public Health Bureau of Substance Abuse Services (BSAS). Most recently, she served as a policy advisor since September 2014, and was the Bureau’s director from August 2012 to July 2014.

    Prior to leading BSAS, she was the director of addiction treatment services at North Charles Institute for the Addictions. Jacobs has also been a teaching associate in the psychiatry department at the Harvard University Medical School at Cambridge Hospital.

    Hilary Jacobs has received regional and national recognition for her leadership of various projects to advance the governance and delivery of addiction treatment services.

    She holds a Master of Social Work from Boston University Graduate School of Social Work and a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Bates College.

  • Stigma of Addiction Treatment: Boston Globe Column By Yvonne Abraham

    This week, we were delighted to be a resource for “Sunday Boston Globe” columnist Yvonne Abraham’s piece, “Shame of Methadone Use Clouds Heroin Addicts’ Recovery:” 

    DANVERS — I should be able to write their full names. But because we have made so little progress when it comes to opiate abuse, because we cling to the stereotypes, feeding the stigma, there will be no last names, no identifying details. They are Elizabeth, Josh, Brian, and Tracey. They are recovering heroin addicts. And they are just like you and me. They are raising children, and have loving families. They work hard, at good jobs.

    Read the entire column here.

Reporters, health bloggers, producers:

Types of stories and commentary: Mental health, teenage wellness (bullying, suicide, drug use, depression), family health, domestic abuse, sexual assault, drug use, alcoholism and related or proposed state and federal legislation.

Timelines: Usually, we have been able to set a reporter up with an expert interview within 24 hours (or less) of the initial call. While we are often restricted by federal HIPAA laws, we will make every effort to help you to tell your story, meet your deadline and to put a human face on the issues.

Beat: Our programs serve towns and cities in Essex County, the Merrimack Valley and Greater Boston.

Contact: Call us at 978.968.1736 or email us. Check out some recent stories (left), or follow our news ideas on Twitter. 

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