Risky Business — May is Mental Health Month

Let’s talk about Risky Business. It’s important to learn about habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illnesses, or could be signs of mental health problems themselves. These dangerous actions include risky sex, prescription drug misuse, internet addiction, excessive spending, marijuana use, and troublesome exercise patterns. Mental Health America put together tools and resources to help raise awareness of the risks these types of behaviors present—especially to young people—and help people who may be struggling to detect early warning signs and seek help.

If you think you or someone you know may be engaged in Risky Business, complete the interactive What’s Too Far quiz on Mental Health America’s webpage. You should also complete a relevant screening on the Partners screenings page, if you are concerned about substance use or mental health issues not addressed in the quiz.

Whether you are actively in treatment or just maintaining good mental health, the following list offers many fulfilling ways to work on your wellness every day.

Track gratitude and achievement with a journal – include 3 things you were grateful for and 3 things you were able to accomplish each day.

Check up on your mental health. Take a on the Partners screenings page. It’s free, anonymous, and confidential.

Set up a summer get away. It could be camping with friends or a trip to the tropics. The act of planning a vacation and having something to look forward to can boost your overall happiness for up to 8 weeks.

Work your strengths. Do something you’re good at to build self-confidence, then tackle a tougher task. You’ve got this!

Keep it cool for a good night’s sleep. The optimal temperature for sleep is between 60 ̊ and 67 ̊F.

“You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.“- Martin Luther King Jr. Think of something in your life you want to improve, and figure out what you can do to take a step in the right direction.

Experiment with a new recipe, write a poem, paint or try a Pinterest project. Creative expression and overall well-being are linked.

Show some love to someone in your life who you hold dear. Close, quality relationships are key for a happy, healthy life.

Feeling tired? Go ahead and yawn. Studies suggest that yawning helps cool the brain and improves alertness and mental efficiency.

Boost brainpower by treating yourself to a couple pieces of dark chocolate every few days.  The flavonoids, caffeine, and theobromine in chocolate are thought to work together to improve alertness and mental skills.

If you are living with a mental illness or in the recovery process, visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net/feelslike. Remember – you’re not alone!

Sometimes, we don’t need to add new activities to get more pleasure. We just need to soak up the joy in the ones we’ve already got. Trying to be optimistic doesn’t mean ignoring the uglier sides of life. It just means focusing on the positive as much as possible.

Feeling anxious? Channel your inner child and do some coloring for about 20 minutes to help you clear your mind. Pick a design that’s geometric and a little complicated for the best effect.

Take time to laugh. Hang out with a funny friend, watch a comedy or check out goofy videos online. Laughter helps reduce anxiety.

Go off the grid. Leave your smart phone at home for a day and disconnect from constant emails, alerts, and other interruptions. Spend time doing something fun with someone face-to-face.

Dance around while you do your housework. Not only will you get chores done, but dancing reduces levels of cortisol (the stress hormone), and increases endorphins (the body’s “feel-good” chemicals).

Relax in a warm bath once a week. Try adding Epsom salts to soothe aches and pains and help boost magnesium levels, which can be depleted by stress.

Has something been bothering you? Let it all out…on paper. Writing about upsetting experiences can reduce symptoms of depression.

Spend some time with a furry friend. Time with animals lowers the stress hormone – cortisol, and boosts oxytocin – which stimulates feelings of happiness. If you don’t have a pet, hang out with a friend who does or volunteer at a shelter.

What lies before us and what lies behind us are small matters compared to what lies within us. And when you bring what is within out into the world, miracles happen.” – Henry David Thoreau

Be a tourist in your own town. Often, people only explore attractions on trips, but you may be surprised what cool things are in your own backyard.

Try prepping your meals or picking out your clothes for the work week. You’ll save some time in the mornings and have a sense of control about the week ahead.

Work some omega-3 fatty acids into your diet–they are linked to decreased rates of depression and schizophrenia among their many benefits. Fish oil supplements work, but eating your omega-3s in foods like wild salmon, flaxseeds or walnuts also helps build healthy gut bacteria.

Practice forgiveness – even if it’s just forgiving that person who cut you off during your commute. People who forgive have better mental health and report being more satisfied with their lives.

What appear to be calamities are often the sources of fortune.” – Disraeli. Try to find the silver lining in something kind of cruddy that happened recently.

Feeling stressed? It may not be the easiest thing to do, but smiling can help to lower your heart rate and calm you down.

Send a thank you note – not for a material item, but to let someone know why you appreciate them.  Written expressions of gratitude are linked to increased happiness.

Do something with friends and family – have a cookout, go to a park, or play a game. People are 12 times more likely to feel happy on days that they spend 6-7 hours with friends or family.

Take 30 minutes to go for a walk in nature – it could be a stroll through a park, or a hike in the woods. Research shows that being in nature can increase energy levels, reduce depression and boost well-being.

Make sure to enjoy 15 minutes of sunshine, and apply sunscreen. Sunlight synthesizes Vitamin D, which experts believe is a mood elevator.

Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein. Try something outside of your comfort zone to make room for adventure and excitement in your life.

Member Navigator

What are my rights if I am less than 18 years old?

If you are under the age of 18, you are considered a minor. As a minor, you have the right to:

  • Proper adult supervision and guidance
  • Age appropriate activities, special education, and vocational training
  • Appropriate structure and treatment separate from adults
A minor has the right to agree to some treatments without the consent of his or her parent or guardian:

  • Treatment of venereal diseases or communicable diseases
  • Care for pregnancy
  • Treatment for substance or alcohol abuse
  • Treatment for emotional disturbances (mental health)

According to North Carolina law, a minor must have parental consent for an abortion, a reproductive sterilization, or to be admitted to a 24‐hour mental health or substance use treatment facility.

In an emergency, a minor with mental illness or a substance use disorder may be admitted to a 24-hour facility with their own consent, if a parent or guardian is not present and cannot be found. Within 24 hours of admission, the facility must notify parents and legal guardians of the admission unless the facility is unable to identify, locate, or contact them. More information can be found in G.S. 122C‐223.

Emancipated minors have rights similar to those for adults over 18 years old. Many laws also have contingencies for life-threatening situations. For more information about rights and responsibilities, visit Partner’s Rights and Responsibilities web page. For an overview of consent for medical treatment for minors, see Jill Moore’s report on the UNC School of Government website.

In the Community 


Overcoming Mental Illness and Addiction: Successful Strategies for Mental Health & Recovery
National Alliance on Mental Illness for Rutherford, Cleveland & Burke Counties and Shelby Wellness and Therapy are hosting a two-day behavioral health conference on May 5-6, 2017, at Gardner-Webb University, in Hamrick Hall, 110 S. Main Street, Boiling Springs, NC. Please register online and contact Diane Krisanda at 828-247-9001 with questions.


Mental Illness touches the lives of every family. Awareness and discussion will help eliminate the stigma associated with Mental Illness as well as promote acceptance, treatment, and recovery.

You are invited to participate in the discussion each Wednesday during MENTAL HEALTH MONTH. For more information, call Michael Smith at 828-325-4693.

Week 1—Depression and Anxiety
Presenter: Debra Katz, LPC
Wednesday, May 3, 2017, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Hickory Soup Kitchen, 110 2nd Street Place SE, Hickory, NC

Week 2—Bipolar and Psychosis
Wednesday, May 10, 2017, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Hickory Soup Kitchen, 110 2nd Street Place SE, Hickory, NC

Week 3—Suicide Prevention: Question, Persuade, Refer (QPR) Training
Presenter: Michael Smith
Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 12-1:30 p.m.
Catawba Valley Community College, Cuyler A. Dunbar Building (Rm 205), 2550 Highway 70 SE, Hickory, NC. Please Register Online

Week 4—Co-Occurring Disorders
Presenters: Aveary Walsh, MSW, LCSW-A, Debbie Punch, MA, NCC, LPCA, LCAS-A
Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Hickory Soup Kitchen, 110 2nd Street Place SE, Hickory, NC

Week 5—What Do I DO NOW?
Wednesday, May 31, 2017, 1:30-2:30 p.m.
Hickory Soup Kitchen, 110 2nd Street Place SE, Hickory, NC


Adult Mental Health First Aid Training

You are more likely to encounter someone in an emotional or mental crisis than someone having a heart attack. Learn how to help a friend, family member, coworker or neighbor in need. Get trained in Mental Health First Aid for free. Sometimes first aid isn’t a bandage, or CPR, or calling 911. Sometimes, first aid is YOU. The adult Mental Health First Aid course is appropriate for anyone 18 years and older who wants to learn how to help a person who may be experiencing a mental health related crisis or problem. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, psychosis, and addictions.

Wednesday, May 3, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge, Lake James Conference Room, 2201 South Sterling Street, Morganton, NC. Call Linda at 828-580-5636 to register.

Wednesday, May 10, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at Hildebran First Baptist Church, 8831 Old NC Highway 10, Hildebran, NC. Call Linda at 828-580-5636 to register.

Tuesday, May 16, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., at Lincoln County EMS, 720 John Howell Memorial Drive, Lincolnton. Please Register Online or contact Karen Creech at 704-772-4314 or kcreech@partnersbhm.org. The registration deadline is Friday, May 12.

Wednesday, May 17, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at Oak Hill Methodist Church, 2239 Highway 181, Morganton, NC. Call Linda at 828-580-5636 to register.

Wednesday, May 24, from 8:30 a.m.-4:30 p.m. at Waldensian Presbyterian Church, 109 Main Street E., Valdese, NC. Call Linda at 828-580-5636 to register.

Youth Mental Health First Aid Training

Youth Mental Health First Aid is recommended for individuals over the age of 18 who regularly have contact with young people—teachers, coaches, social workers, faith leaders and other caring citizens are highly encouraged to attend. Learn how to interact with and assist young people having a mental health or addiction problem.

Thursday, May 25, from 8 a.m.-5 p.m., at First Plaza Building, First Floor Conference Room, 1985 Tate Boulevard SE, Hickory, NC. Please Register Online by Friday, May 19. For more information, contact Michael Smith at msmith@partnersbhm.org or 828-325-4693.

Wednesday, May 31, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., at Western Piedmont Community College, Foothills Higher Education Center (Room 211), 2128 S. Sterling Street, Morganton, NC. Please Register Online or call Kim at 828-323-8049.

QPR: Question, Persuade, Refer Suicide Prevention

QPR training provides three simple steps anyone can learn to help save a life from suicide. Just as people trained in CPR and the Heimlich maneuver help save thousands of lives each year, people trained in QPR learn how to recognize the warning signs of a suicide crisis and how to question, persuade, and refer someone to help.

Friday, May 19, from 9-11:30 a.m., at Western Piedmont Community College, Foothills Higher Education Center (Room 211), 2128 S. Sterling Street, Morganton, NC. Please Register Online or call Kim at 828-323-8049.

Tuesday, May 23, from 4-6 p.m., at Western Piedmont Community College, Foothills Higher Education Center (Room 211), 2128 S. Sterling Street, Morganton, NC. Please Register Online or call Kim at 828-323-8049.


North Carolina Medicaid and NC Health Choice Transformation
The Department of Health and Human Services is requesting public input from April 25-May 25 at 11:59 p.m. on Medicaid and NC Health Choice transformation. Comments will be accepted on any area relevant to this effort, but the Department is particularly interested in feedback on:

  • Physical and Behavioral Health Service Delivery
  • Supporting Provider Transformation
  • Care Management and Population Health
  • Addressing Social Determinants of Health
  • Improving Quality of Care
  • Paying for Value
  • Increasing Access to Care and Treating Substance Use Disorder


May 10, 3-5 p.m., Greenville
Greenville Convention Center
303 Greenville Boulevard SW, Emerald Ballroom

May 12, 2-4 p.m., Asheville
Asheville-Buncombe Technical College
340 Victoria Road, Ferguson Auditorium

May 16, 6-8 p.m., Raleigh
McKimmon Conference & Training Center 1101 Gorman Street

See www.ncdhhs.gov/nc-medicaid-reform for speaker guidelines.


Email: MedicaidReform@dhhs.nc.gov

U.S. Mail: Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Health Benefits, 1950 Mail Service Center, Raleigh NC 27699-1950

Drop-off: Department of Health and Human Services, Dorothea Dix Campus, Adams Building, 101 Blair Drive, Raleigh, NC

Questions can be submitted to: MedicaidReform@dhhs.nc.gov.

Behavioral Health Focus is published on the first and third Tuesday of each month and is intended to be a source of information for those working or interacting with behavioral health care in Burke, Catawba, Cleveland, Gaston, Iredell, Lincoln, Surry and Yadkin Counties. If you would like to contribute, contact Jeff Brucato at 704-884-2564 or jbrucato@partnersbhm.org. Items should be submitted by Wednesday at 3 p.m. for the next week’s issue.

Volume 2 – Issue 21
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