June is National Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Awareness Month

Mental Health Month is over…but that doesn’t mean we stop talking about mental health. Throughout May, Mental Health America (MHA) challenged you to boost your mental and physical health through the #4mind4body challenge and, in doing so, help raise awareness on the brain-body connection.

Posttraumatic stress disorder is a perfect example of this brain and body connection. Not only can trauma itself be physical or mental, but so can the signs and symptoms of having lived through a traumatic event.


Natural disasters like hurricanes and tornados, acts of mass violence, assaults, explosions, and combat are examples of traumatic events. When you live through or witness these disturbing events, it is natural to have stress, anxiety, or anger afterward.

You may have bad dreams or replay memories while you are awake. You may constantly look over your shoulder waiting for the next bad thing to happen. You may be irritated with others, have a hard time trusting people, or avoid interacting them. You may sweat a lot, have a racing heart, or have an upset stomach. The good news is, these reactions tend to get better and then go away entirely after a couple weeks.

If the symptoms don’t go away, drastically affect your personal and work life, or get worse, you may have Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, commonly referred to as PTSD. You must get help.

Posttraumatic stress disorder Treatment

Several treatment options are available, but you need a professional to find out what works best for you. Simply talking to a counselor can help.

Cognitive Behavioral Therapy is one form of talking with a counselor. You two will discuss how you feel about the trauma, what sort of things make your symptoms worse, and how you can redirect your thinking into more positive feelings. You may also find that sharing your story with others who have PTSD will make your symptoms improve. Group and family therapy can help you understand your feelings and the effects your PTSD has on others.

Sometimes medications are used in tandem with therapy. Some drugs known as selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRI), which also treat depression, are effective for PTSD. Short-term use of anti-anxiety medications may help in reducing anxiety and stress. Or your doctor may prescribe you specific drugs to reduce or suppress nightmares.

Signs in Adults

The American Psychological Association describes common reactions and responses to disaster.

Following disaster, people frequently feel stunned, disoriented or unable to integrate distressing information. Once these initial reactions subside, people can experience a variety of thoughts and behaviors. Common responses can be:

  • Intense or unpredictable feelings
  • Changes to thoughts and behavior patterns
  • Sensitivity to environmental factors
  • Strained interpersonal relationships
  • Stress-related physical symptoms

Find Help

Take an anonymous online screening or read more about PTSD. The American Psychological Association and the Anxiety and Depression Association of America offer many tips for helping yourself and others cope with trauma. If you feel like you need professional help, talk to your doctor or counsellor, or call Partners anytime, every day at 1-888-235-HOPE (4673).

Signs in Children

Children react differently based on their personality, age, and circumstances. Children rely on the support of parents and teachers to help them deal with their emotions during and after traumatic events. Parents should decide how much information their children can handle.

The Anxiety and Depression Association of America says most children and teenagers will recover from their fear. But you can watch for these signs of ongoing distress:

  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Change in eating habits
  • Clinginess
  • Re-experiencing the event through nightmares, recollections, or play
  • Avoidance anything reminiscent of the event
  • Emotional numbing or lack of feeling about the event
  • Jumpiness
  • Persistent fears about another disaster

Partners Earns URAC Accreditation in Health Network, Health Utilization Management, and Health Call Center

On Thursday, April 26, 2018, the URAC Accreditation Committee granted Partners Behavioral Health Management full accreditation in the three programs applied for. Partners received perfect scores during reviews for all three. The accreditation award period is effective from June 1, 2018 to June 1, 2021 for Health Network, Health Utilization Management, and Health Call Center programs.

“To meet the growing demand to provide quality healthcare services at a reasonable cost, Partners Behavioral Health Management distinguishes itself in the marketplace by having earned Health Network Accreditation from URAC,” said URAC President and CEO Kylanne Green. “With rigorous standards created by a broad array of stakeholders, Partners’ independent accreditation from URAC demonstrates its commitment to bringing together qualified, credentialed, and well-managed providers for their patients.”

URAC’s Health Network Accreditation includes key quality and accountability benchmarks for network management, provider credentialing, quality management and improvement, and consumer protection. URAC’s standards require health networks to establish self-monitoring practices, emphasizing quality assurance and improvement.

URAC’s Health Utilization Management standards are designed to ensure organizations conducting utilization management follow a clinically sound process and respects patients’ and providers’ rights. The program assures organizations establish consistency and maintain the highest confidentiality in Utilization Management processes.

A URAC-accredited health call center must have an exceptional infrastructure meeting specific standards for clinical staff qualifications, training and roles of non-clinical staff, telephone performance thresholds, clinical staff response times, handling of triage calls, information sharing, and feedback to physicians. The call center ensures protection of medical information, secure sharing, and compliance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) privacy laws.

“Partners is committed to improving lives through a quality service delivery system and the hard work of our staff,” says Rhett Melton, Partners’ CEO. “URAC accreditation validates the high standards Partners adheres to in managing our communities’ behavioral health care.”

For more information about URAC and its accreditation programs and standards, visit www.urac.org.

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Fraud or Abuse; How do I know when I see it?

We are all supposed to tell authorities when we see health care fraud and abuse. If we do not, fraud and abuse can take away money to pay for the help that those in our communities may need and give these types of programs a bad name. When that happens, voters lose confidence and their desire to keep paying for the needed help.

How do I know when fraud or abuse is happening? The United States Department of Health and Human Services has defined fraud and abuse in 42 Code of Federal Regulations, Part 455.2. When you look at that regulation you will see that the definition can be complicated, so let’s break it down. Fraud and abuse are very similar, the primary difference is that fraud happens when someone meant to lie about what they did. On the other hand, abuse can happen when someone is not very careful about how they create, manage, or store their paperwork.

If you know about any of the following you should contact Partners BHM’s Program Integrity Department right away.

  • The consumer is pressured to receive unnecessary or excessive services
  • The consumer’s medical records are altered
  • The medical provider claims to provide services for free
  • The medical provider pays the consumer to use their Medicaid ID number
  • The provider sees the consumer for less time than they are supposed to
  • The provider does not give the consumer the treatment promised or agree to

Still not sure if what you have seen is fraud or abuse? Not to worry, Partners’ Program Integrity Department can help. There are two ways to report your concerns. The first is the Alert Line at 1-866-806-8777, where a live person can assist. Another is online at https://partnersbhm.alertline.com.

In the Community 

Partners 2018 Needs Assessment Survey

We need input from every person and from every perspective to find out what people living across eight North Carolina counties think about the accessibility of services for mental health needs, substance use issues, and intellectual or developmental disabilities in their local communities. Please take 5 minutes to complete our 2018 Community Needs Assessment at https://www.partnersbhm.org/community-needs-assessment-survey/. And tell your friends, neighbors, coworkers, and family members to take this survey, too.

Mental Health Town Hall Meeting

A mental health town hall meeting will be held from 7–8:30 p.m., on Thursday, June 7, 2018, at New Hope Baptist Church, 2024 Redbud Drive, Gastonia. Gastonia City Councilman Robert Kellogg has partnered with New Hope Baptist Church to hold this event for the public. Doors will open at 6:30 p.m. Attendees can talk with participants and get information from the booths set up. Participating organizations include Partners Behavioral Health Management, Phoenix Counseling Center, CaroMont Psychiatric Associates, Gaston County Public Health, and Gaston Family Health Services.

Connect Catawba Resource Forum

The quarterly Connect Catawba Resource Forum is coming up on Tuesday, June 12, 2018, from 8-10 a.m., at the Newton Recreation Center, 23 S. Brady Ave., Newton, NC (back entrance, lower level). The June forum will focus on poverty. You will hear from agencies and programs that provide services and resources to help people in our community that are living in poverty and how to connect those you serve. Our ultimate goal is to improve the ways our community accesses the important services you offer. It is our hope that everyone will have an easier time being CONNECTed to CATAWBA County services and resources! Please RSVP online by Friday, June 8, 2018.

The 2nd Annual Phoenix Community Outreach Center Community Cookout

Phoenix Counseling Center invites everyone to a free community event benefiting the homeless on Saturday, June 23, 2018, from 10 a.m.-1 p.m., at Phoenix Community and Outreach Center (PCOC), 809 W. Airline Ave., Gastonia, NC 28052. Please bring nonperishable items to be donated to the community center.

Healthy Living: Enjoying Healthy Living: Enjoying Life, Physically, Mentally, and Emotionally

Tabernacle Baptist Church and Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity, Inc. present this mental health symposium on Saturday, June 30, 2018, from 9 a.m.-3 p.m., at 519 W. 19th Ave., Gastonia, NC. Learn the connection between your physical and mental health through sessions on suicide prevention, mental health basics, Alzheimer’s disease and dementia, opioids, and the Community Resilience Model. Lunch is provided. For more information, call 704-864-4051.


The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Connection Recovery Support Group is a free, peer-led support group for adults living with mental illness. You will gain insight from hearing the challenges and successes of others and the groups are led by NAMI-trained facilitators who’ve been there. NAMI’s Support Groups are unique because they follow a structured model to ensure you and others in the group have an opportunity to be heard and to get what you need. The Statesville meeting is now held at Statesville YMCA, 828 Wesley Drive, Statesville, NC 28677, from 2-3:30 p.m. on every 1st Saturday of the month. No registration is required.

NEW LOCATION: NAMI Family Support Groups

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Family Support Group is a free, family-led support group for family members who have relatives living with mental illness. You will gain insight from hearing the challenges and successes of others. The groups are led by NAMI-trained facilitators who’ve been there. The Statesville meeting is now held at Statesville YMCA, 828 Wesley Drive, Statesville, NC 28677, from 2-3:30 p.m. on every 3rd Saturday of the month. No registration is required.

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 3 – Issue 21
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