Art as Medicine

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Most who have had a friend or relative with Alzheimer’s or dementia knows how trying neurodegenerative diseases are, both for the afflicted and those around them. Memories are lost and simple interactions can lead to confusion. In a relatively new method of helping these types of patients, the Sun Valley Center for the Arts has offered a six-week program of free, museum-based art therapy that it calls “Stepping Out of the Frame.”

The program was designed specifically for people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, but is open to anyone suffering a neurodegenerative disorder. Started on July 23, the program meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays through Thursday, Aug. 29, at The Center in Ketchum. Run by the center’s Art Therapist & Enrichment Educator Jordyn Dooley, each session focuses on a different activity or directive as well as a way of interacting with the center’s current exhibition, Mirage: Energy, Water and Creativity in the Great Basin.

Dooley first came to The Center as an enrichment educator, working mostly at local schools. Her Master’s in art therapy that she received from Florida State University, one of the first schools to use museum-based art therapy, gave her the idea to present a therapeutic art program for people in Sun Valley who suffer from neurodegenerative diseases.

Youth Empowerment Services (YES) Needs Your Input

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and other state agencies are in the process of transforming the children’s mental health system. The implementation plan that will make changes to the system includes training parents and caregivers about the new system of care, services and how to access these services. The plan is also looking to engage families in outreach and in educating other stakeholders. ******Would you please take a few minutes to provide us with your thoughts and ideas regarding how you like to be trained, what types of training you prefer, and the approach we should take to engage, educate and involve parents/caregivers in the training process. Please complete this survey by April 30, 2018. It should take about 10 minutes of your time. Thank you! or go to the YES website at

Special-needs kids find results through aquatic therapy

, KTVB 10:27 p.m.
MST January 12, 2016

BOISE – Lullaby Waters is not your typical occupational therapy clinic. It focuses on the healing power of water, and children with special needs are seeing real results from this unique form of therapy.

“We call it the lullaby effect,” said Nicole Nickell, an occupational therapist. “We wanted it to embody what we were going for and that was that peaceful, easy feeling.”

Nickell is passionate about helping children with special needs, but getting her idea off the ground was a big undertaking. The first challenge came in finding a landlord that would accept the installation of a pool. Nickell found a spot in a building on Broadway Avenue.

“We had the pool installed,” she said. “It’s state of the art – an endless pool.”

Now six months after opening, the indoor aquatic therapy center is a dream come true for Nickell.

“It’s been a big venture,” she said. “But I would say that it’s already worth it.”

Her clients agree.

“I was expecting a hospital setting with a big waiting room, but when I came here it was very intimate and relaxed and just what we were looking for,” said Isabella Hale, whose baby daughter, Leona, loves getting in the water. “It’s definitely one of her favorite therapies. A time when she can smile and play in the water because she is free.”

Nickell says the serenity provided by aquatic therapy is second to none, especially for children with special needs.

“Leona has cerebral palsy and she has very high muscle tone, so we’ve been working with Leona to try to help her relax and find that peace, that calm, decrease her pain,” said Nickell.

From one teen to another: Saving a friends’ life means speaking up

by Dee Sarton


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BOISE — Like a lot of young adults, Kaitlyn Carpenter has a tattoo, “It says ‘I’m the hero of this story.’ I got it my senior year because of everything I went through.”

This BSU freshman is a survivor, and now she’s helping others survive the very real danger of depression and suicidal thoughts.

“It’s extremely terrifying not to be able to trust your own mind,” said Carpenter.

Kaitlyn has dealt with depression since she was in high school. At first, she did what a lot of teens do, reached out to friends and often in the middle of the night with a text.

“It wasn’t until I went though treatment that I realized how dangerous it was to only rely on friends for support,” Carpenter said.

Now she shares her story and her warning to adolescents in schools and churches. Her biggest concern is that teens are texting in their darkest hour — a form of communication that is superficial and doesn’t convey the possible urgency of the moment.

“I would say the number one reason these kids who receive texts don’t say anything is because they feel an obligation to text them until they go to sleep then count that as a victory if they don’t hurt themselves and they feel an obligation not to say anything about it and keep it to themselves,” said Carpenter. “It’s a game that’s so dangerous, It’s becoming deadly and that’s something I want high school kids in particular to understand.”

Sleep Can Reduce Anxiety in Worriers, Study Shows

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New research published this June in the Journal of Neuroscience suggests that the lack of sleep commonly associated with anxiety disorders may actually exacerbate symptoms of worrying. Results from the study strongly support the theory that sleep loss triggers the excessive anticipatory brain activity associated with anxiety, indicating that maintaining a healthy sleep pattern can help alleviate symptoms of anxiousness.

While past research has shown that people with anxiety disorders tend to show hyperactivity in two major emotional brain regions known as the amygdala and anterior insula cortex, researchers from the present study were the first to establish a pattern of causation by directly testing the impact of sleep deprivation on anticipatory brain responses preceding emotionally salient events.

The study conducted at the University of California, Berkeley examined the brains of 18 healthy adults, once while sleep-deprived and again while well-rested. Researchers used fMRI scans to monitor brain activity while participants viewed a series of either neutral or disturbing images. Prior to viewing the images, participants were primed with visual cues intended to trigger anticipatory anxiety. The cues depicted a red minus sign to warn for unpleasant images, a yellow circle to warn for neutral images or an ambiguous white question mark intended to provoke feelings of more intense anticipation in viewers.

Mental Health in Schools: A Role for School Resource Officers

click here to be directed to the NAMI site
By Laura Usher, NAMI CIT Program Manager

In the wake of the tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School, NAMI has been flooded with questions about how to recognize when a young person has an emerging mental health condition and how to keep schools safe. We’ve responded with resources on what to do when a child might have a mental illness and strong advocacy for the early identification of mental health conditions. The early treatment of mental illness helps children and youth stay on track in school and meet developmental milestones. With support, young people with mental health conditions can succeed in school, get a job and maintain healthy relationships.

The risk of violence by people living with mental illness, especially children, is very low. Myths and perceptions to the contrary are driven by misunderstanding and fear. Still, schools and communities want to know how to keep everyone safe and how to respond effectively in a crisis. Many mental health crises can be prevented, especially if schools, parents and community members know what to look for. Schools can start by training staff on the early warning signs of mental health conditions and connecting children and youth exhibiting those warning signs with mental health services. Children and youth spend the majority of their waking hours in school, and staying in school is crucial to their success.

Unfortunately, these are not new issues for NAMI. In 2009, NAMI embarked on an effort to expand CIT for Youth programs, which equip school resource officers (SROs) with skills to recognize mental health concerns, safely de-escalate a crisis and work with schools, parents and children’s mental health providers to link students with mental health care. As part of that effort, NAMI sat down with SROs to get their perspective on the mental health needs of children and youth in schools.

Their input and ideas, published in this report, echo the concerns we hear from families and community members around the country. They said:

Schools are overwhelmed and struggle to respond to the mental health needs of youth. School counselors focus primarily on testing and college preparation, not mental health needs, and teachers often don’t know how to cope when a child’s behavior changes due to a mental health condition.
Mental health needs are not addressed early, so school based officers and school leaders frequently encounter children who are in crisis, self-injuring or suicidal. Although they can often recognize a crisis, they do not feel adequately trained to respond and there are not adequate services to help a child in crisis.
There are not enough psychiatrists, psychologists and case managers to provide services and supports to youth. And when a child is able to get an appointment, lack of transportation and other barriers make it difficult for the family to get the child to the appointment.
Families need more support. They are often overwhelmed and don’t know how to cope with a child’s changing behavior. They also do not know how to get mental health services for their children.
These SROs have identified the key issues that schools, law enforcement, mental health provider agencies and families are struggling with and need to work together to address.

As part of his post-Sandy Hook policy initiatives, President Obama is calling for an increase in the number of SROs in schools. This proposal has led to concern from many that SROs in schools will increase the number of students involved in the juvenile justice system, and that arming school-based officers will make schools less safe. These are legitimate concerns because far too many youth get caught up in the “school to prison pipeline” when their needs and behavior are not addressed proactively. Fortunately, SROs, when well-trained to respond to a mental health crisis, can play a vital role in ensuring that students get the help they need and school environments are positive, healthy and conducive to learning. SROs should not be working alone; entire communities need to come together to help meet the needs of youth with mental health conditions. When schools, provider agencies and law enforcement work together, and provide adequate training and support to respond to youth in crisis, SROs can be powerful allies in linking children and youth to needed services.

To learn more about NAMI’s position on a variety of issues, check out our Public Policy Platform. To learn more about responding to children and you with mental health needs, visit our CIT for Youth Resource Center.

NAMI Idaho

NAMI Website
NAMI Idaho was organized as the state organization of NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) to serve those impacted by mental illness in the state of Idaho. Pursuant to its Bylaws, NAMI Idaho will:

1. Serve as the Idaho state organization chartered by NAMI;

2. Agree to endorse the mission, values and policies of NAMI;

3. Develop statewide positions on issues relating to mental illness and advocate for such positions at the state level;
4. Assist in the coordination of local, state and national mental health advocacy efforts;

5. Serve as a conduit in communicating NAMI and NAMI Idaho issues to the local community-based NAMI Affiliates in Idaho (hereinafter referred to as “Affiliates”) and in communicating NAMI Idaho and Affiliate issues to NAMI;

6. Monitor and keep the Affiliates informed of the activities of state agencies relating to mental illness issues;

7. Assist in the formation, growth and/or development of Affiliates in Idaho;

8. Support Affiliates by providing training, support and technical assistance for the delivery of NAMI signature programs and other educational, support and advocacy programs;

9. Promote the understanding of mental illness as a neurobiological disease through public education and community involvement and thereby assist in decreasing the stigma related to mental illness;

10. Advocate for the timely and effective delivery of services for Idaho residents affected by mental illness;

11. Promote the process of recovery and the integration of persons living with mental illness into the community and into appropriate employment and/or community service placements; and

12. Conduct fund raising activities in support of the above activities.

We hope this website will help you learn more about NAMI Idaho and our efforts to improve the quality of life for persons living with mental illness and for their families and friends.

Idaho’s suicide prevention hotline expands hours



Posted on June 27, 2013 at 10:55 AM

Updated today at 1:04 PM

BOISE — Just a year ago, Idahoans in need of emotional support had no local hotline to call when faced with suicidal feelings or thoughts.

Now, just months after staffing a call center to help those in need, the Idaho Suicide Prevention hotline will add an evening shift to its hours of operation.

The hotline can be reached at 1-800-273-TALK.

The newly expanded hours will be from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Friday beginning July 1.

The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation and St. Luke’s Health system gave gifts of $37,500 each to fund the expansion.

Those in need of help can call the hotline, and will be connected to trained Idaho phone responders who can refer them to key resources in their communities. The ISPH also will be able to offer follow-up calls to individuals seeking help.

“We are incredibly fortunate that St. Luke’s Health System, the J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation, and United Way of Treasure Valley have taken a clear stand on the serious problem of suicide in our state and demonstrated their commitment to saving lives by supporting the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline,” Hotline director John Reusser said.

Hotline organizers say the $75,000 donation is a great start to the program’s long-term fundraising effort.

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Suicide of 6-year-old stresses need to watch for signs

by Scott Evans
Bio | Email | Follow: @ScottEvansTV

Posted on June 12, 2013 at 5:03 PM

Updated yesterday at 1:44 PM

BOISE – Childhood suicide, it’s a sobering topic. KTVB recently learned about a child in Payette who committed suicide at the young age of six.

Normally KTVB has a policy as a station not to report on suicides because over 50 worldwide studies have found that certain types of news coverage can increase the likelihood of suicide in vulnerable people. However, this case is unique due to the boy’s age.

This is a difficult topic to address, but it’s one, that if addressed, can hopefully save lives.

In kids ages 10 to 14, suicide is in one the top five leading causes of death. But for younger children, especially six year olds, there really aren’t any statistics available.

KTVB spoke to the mother of the young boy, as well as police. They say there could be a number of things that led to his death.

KTVB also spoke with a licensed professional counselor about what parents should know so they can address troubling signs early.

Robin Harviel with Warm Springs Counseling Center says those signs, both verbal and non-verbal can be a warning.

Warning signs:
•Withdrawing from family and friends
•Looking and being sad
•Acting out
•Kicking things
•Bashing toys together

Kids typically do those kinds of things, but Harviel says it’s when these behaviors are combined – and continue to get worse that you should think about seeking help.

“You just have to know your child and know when the behavior begins to change in a negative way,” said Harviel.

Something else Harviel says, talk to your kids.

“It’s okay to have a frank conversation about it and to talk to your child about it,” Harviel says. “It doesn’t put the thoughts there, sometimes the thoughts are already there and it’s just good to be able to get it out into the open, ‘Oh, my parents aren’t afraid of me saying these things, it’s okay for me to talk about it.’ Let them know that you’re available for those kinds of discussions.”

The reality is, many, if not most kids that age don’t completely comprehend the finality of death. That’s why, Harviel says, research shows it’s better to have it in the open than to not talk about it, because statistics show one in three kids has had some sort of thought about suicide.

If someone you know needs help one place to start is the Idaho Suicide Prevention Hotline. The number is 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

For more resources on suicide prevention, click here or here.

NIMH vs DSM-5: No One Wins, Patients Lose

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The flat out rejection of DSM-5 by National Institute of Mental Health is a sad moment for mental health and an unsafe one for our patients. The APA and NIMH are both letting us down, failing to be safe custodians for the mental health needs of our country.

DSM-5 certainly deserves rejecting. It offers a reckless hodgepodge of new diagnoses that will misidentify normals and subject them to unnecessary treatment and stigma.
The NIMH director may have hammered the nail in the DSM-5 coffin when he so harshly criticized its lack of validity.

But the NIMH statement went very far overboard with its implied promise that it would soon find a better way of sorting, understanding, and treating mental disorders. The media and internet are now alive with celebrations of this NiMH ‘kill shot’. There are chortlings that DSM-5 is dead on arrival and will perhaps take psychiatry down along with it.

This is misleading and dangerous stuff that is bad for the patients both institutions are meant to serve.

NIMH has gone wrong now in the very same way that DSM-5 has gone wrong in the past — making impossible to keep promises. The new NIMH research agenda is necessary and highly desirable — it makes sense to target simpler symptoms rather than complex DSM syndromes, especially since so far we have come up empty. And the new plan will further, and be furthered, by the big, new Obama investment in brain research. But the likely payoff is being wildly oversold. There is no easy solution to what is in fact an almost impossibly complex research problem.