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This article is part of PAR’s Mental Health Awareness Month series, in which we will be focusing on the multifaceted issue of mental health in the U.S. 

“Waking up on the wrong side of the bed” is more than just a saying—we all have experienced the impact of a poor night’s sleep on our daily activities. Quality sleep is an essential component to good mental health, and there is a significant body of research showing the impact of sleep on anxiety, depression, suicide risk, PTSD, addiction, and much more. 

In support of Mental Health Awareness Month, we sat down with Melissa Milanak, PhD, Clinical Assessment Advisor at PAR and sleep expert, to get some tips on how to get a more restful night’s sleep and debunk some of the common misperceptions of sleep. 

Dr. Milanak, what do you think people need to know about the importance of sleep? 

People have come to believe the myth that the body can get used to less sleep. We have such busy days that we cheat our sleep to try to fit more in but fail to realize that on too little sleep, we are less productive and less efficient. This means it can actually take us longer to do things than if we had gotten more sleep! Research finds that both short- and long-term sleep deprivation can have significant negative effects on your body and your brain, proving that your body doesn't adapt to lack of sleep. 

We have to make sure that we're giving ourselves the opportunity to have quality restorative sleep without it being fragmented. It’s important for us to prioritize sleeping straight through the night and get the full amount of sleep that our bodies need. 

From a short-term standpoint, if you don’t have a good night’s rest, you may have some difficulties concentrating, some decline in mood or memory, or even feel fatigued. But longer term, we can see a significant negative impact on work performance or cognitive functioning. Lack of sleep can even increase the risk for dementia. 

Does everyone need the same amount of sleep? 

The standard of 8 hours of sleep is not actually a one-size-fits-all number. Eight hours is only an average. We are all unique and our needs vary. Some individuals require a shorter amount of time to be fully rested, while others need more. Also, this changes throughout our lives based upon many factors such as age and physical activity. 

As we sleep, we go through a process of cycles of sleep made up of stages of sleep. So much of this is dependent on how quickly we cycle through the different stages of sleep. Over the course of the night, the percentage of time spent in each stage of sleep changes, so we have to build up enough sleepiness to sleep all the way through the night to complete the process. We need to make sure we are getting to spend enough time in the stages of sleep that occur more frequently later in the process, in the early morning hours. 

This is also why we need to reduce the number of times we wake up. Each time we wake up, the process has to start over, so we can end up cheating ourselves out of those later stages of sleep that are responsible for cognitive processing and emotional wellbeing. 

Also, the older we get, typically the less sleep we need. If you think of it logically, sleep is designed for repair, rejuvenation, and growth. As we age, our cells are changing at a much slower pace. Think of how much sleep a newborn needs versus a baby or an adolescent. 

How do you know what your ideal amount of sleep is? 

When you have achieved your ideal amount of sleep, you will fall asleep within 10–15 minutes, sleep straight through the night (minus a possible bathroom break) and wake up feeling rested without daytime fatigue. 

Can I catch up on sleep if I take a nap or sleep late on the weekends? 

Catching up on sleep is something that people are constantly talking about trying to do. But research shows us that if you are not getting the adequate amount of sleep that your body needs, it can take at least four days for the body to make up for one hour less sleep. 

If you're trying to make up that sleep debt and you take that nap and go to bed earlier, you may wake up the next day and not feel as tired, but it doesn't mean that your body made up for the lost sleep the night before. 

Additionally, research has shown catching up on sleep doesn't immediately right the impact lack of sleep can have on our metabolism. We want to get ourselves right back on track to get to a place where we're getting the adequate amount that our bodies need. It's not as simple as just taking our weekends to try and “catch up” on sleep. It's going to be a much longer process to get back to what our bodies need. 

When you go to bed at different times, it can confuse your brain and make it harder to fall asleep over time. Your brain doesn't know when to feel tired. Think of it just like if you eat dinner at the same time every night, your brain knows to get hungry at the same time. 

What should I do if I can’t fall asleep? 

If you are trying to get to sleep and are awake for more than 15 minutes, get out of bed and do something boring in low light until you are sleepy enough to return to bed. 

The longer you spend in bed when you are not sleepy or are worrying, the more you will associate your bed with fear, worry, anxiety, and frustration. You want your body to associate your bed with sleep and not those feelings. 

Any tips for waking up in the middle of the night? 

If you wake in the night, do not check the clock! This adds to your stress as you begin calculating how much more sleep you might get. If your alarm has not gone off, then it does not matter what time it is. All that matters is that it is not time to be awake yet. 

If you truly cannot fall back to sleep, get out of bed. You can also do things to trigger sleep like redoing your wind-down routine to help your body and brain know it's time to sleep. 

What is the most important thing people should focus on to improve their sleep? 

One of the most important things we can do to improve our sleep is to have a consistent sleep and wake time seven days a week. If you go to sleep one night past your bedtime, it is very important to still wake up the next day at your regular wake up time. Although you will feel sleepier throughout the day, it is important to stay awake until your normal bedtime. Consistency with your sleep schedule is key. 

If you have a night where you did not sleep well, do not go to bed earlier the next night trying to catch up on sleep. When you try to force yourself to spend more time in bed than your body needs, you will wake up more often and get less quality, sustained sleep. 

And finally, make sure you reserve your bed for sleep—not reading, watching TV, or eating. Otherwise, your brain gets confused as to whether it should be asleep or awake when in bed.

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Mental Health Awareness Month takes place each May to promote awareness about the critical role mental health plays in overall health and well-being. 

Throughout this month, PAR will be sharing information on the state of mental health as well as resources you can share to support individuals and communities who may be in need of mental health information and support. 

Mental Health Awareness Month seeks to raise awareness about the importance of mental health and reduce the stigma surrounding mental health disorders. Please join us in playing a crucial role in promoting awareness and taking action to improve the mental health of our communities. 

History of Mental Health Awareness Month 

Mental Health Awareness Month began in the United States in 1949 as Mental Health Week, but expanded to a month-long observance in 1980. 

The goal of Mental Health Awareness Month is to raise awareness about mental health and wellness, reduce the stigma surrounding mental health conditions, and promote greater access to mental health services and resources. 

Why is Mental Health Awareness Month important? 

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, more than 1 in 5 adults in the U. S. are living with a mental illness. And despite how common mental health concerns may be, discrimination and stigma are still cited as being significant barriers to treatment and recovery, meaning many people fail to receive the support and care they need. 

Why is it important to talk about mental health? 

Mental Health Awareness Month provides an opportunity to fight stigma and break down misunderstandings about mental health by raising awareness. It also helps people know about resources available in their communities. By speaking openly about mental health, we can encourage people to seek support, normalize the conversation around mental health, and help provide access to much-needed services. 

What can mental health professionals do to get involved? 

Mental health professionals play an important role in promoting mental health awareness. Here are a few things you can do during Mental Health Awareness Month: 

1) Use your platform and expertise to educate others about mental health and wellness. Share information about Mental Health Awareness Month on social media and within your professional networks. 

2) Connect with local organizations and community groups to promote mental health awareness. Offer to speak at events or host workshops on mental health and wellness. Collaborate with other mental health professionals and organizations to create events and initiatives that promote mental health awareness and reduce stigma. 

3) Promote advocacy efforts that resonate with you. Contact your elected officials to express your support for mental health legislation and advocate for increased funding for mental health services and research. 

 

Throughout the month, PAR will be providing education and resources that will help clinicians as well as those you serve. Come back each week to continue the conversation!

 

 

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According to the latest numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the prevalence of autism spectrum disorders (ASD) in the United States are rising—with about 1 in 36 children and 1 in 45 adults being diagnosed with ASD. As more individuals navigate their world with autism, it’s important that true acceptance—not simply awareness—is at the forefront of the conversation not just during Autism Acceptance Month, but throughout the year. 

The following are three examples of how people, communities, and companies are promoting greater acceptance of individuals with ASD. 

 

Training first responders 

One in every 5 individuals with autism will interact with a police officer before they turn 21 years old. Adequately training emergency personnel to work with neurodiverse individuals is essential to creating protocols in a way that best support the needs of a person with autism. 

Recent research from Australia demonstrates that many individuals with autism report negative experiences with law enforcement as well as limited understanding of the events surrounding those experiences. 

The York-Poquoson Sheriff’s Office in Virginia began a program last April to help its deputies to better interact with people who have autism. In addition to training their staff on ASD awareness, the department provides decals to drivers as well as a form they can fill out to inform first responders that someone in the house may have autism. This has led to more positive interactions and better understanding in the community. 

Fighting misinformation online 

Although more people are turning to social media for information on ASD, new research out of Drexel University delves into the accuracy of that information. Researchers found that 41% of the autism content found on Tik Tok was inaccurate. Moreover, there was no significant difference in engagement between accurate and inaccurate or overgeneralized videos, meaning misinformation and false content is being consumed and spread widely. 

It’s important for providers and professionals to be aware of the autism-related content that is available and understand the amount of misinformation to better engage with people who may be getting much of their content from social media. By better understanding the questions that people are asking that lead them to Tik Tok for answers, clinicians can learn what information is needed and provide knowledgeable and research-based answers. 

Creating autism-friendly workplaces 

Companies are realizing the importance of creating spaces that are designed with individuals with autism in mind. Individuals with neurodiversity are important parts of the workforce and many organizations are realizing how critical it is to design office spaces that are sensory friendly. This may mean avoiding open-concept or cubicle setups or creating calm, quiet areas where employees can go when they feel overstimulated. Simple swaps—like using lamps instead of fluorescent lighting—are being made in many offices to create a more autism-friendly environment. 

 

PAR understands how important early intervention and identification are when it comes to an ASD diagnosis. Learn more about the PDD Behavior Inventory™ (PDDBI™) family of products and how it can help screen, diagnose, monitor, and intervene throughout the life span. 

 

Visit PAR Training for on-demand autism assessment information 

Looking for training on autism assessments? PAR Training offers on-demand webinars and interactive courses on your schedule. Browse our library of autism content, including:  

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With March being Women’s History Month, PAR is proud to spotlight female leaders within our organization. Throughout the month, we will share inspiring stories to recognize and celebrate the remarkable women who contribute to the success of PAR. 

Each of these profiles will explore the unique experiences and perspectives of our women leaders, shedding light on their paths to success. We will explore the challenges they've overcome, the lessons they've learned, and the impact they've had on our organization. 

We share their hopes and aspirations for the next generation of women. By unveiling these stories of inspiration and resilience, we aim to not only celebrate the accomplishments of our women leaders but also to inspire and empower others within and beyond our organization. 

To kick off Women's History Month, the first “In Her Own Words” profile features PAR CEO Kristin Greco. 

Kristin Greco, is the Chief Executive Officer for PAR, Inc. Kristin is responsible for the development and implementation of the company’s core strategic goals and objectives and ensuring the company stays true to its core values and mission. 

Inspirational Influences 

Q: Who has been the most significant inspiration in your career? 

A: I have had so many—I really enjoy observing and learning from others. At the top are my parents—what they have managed to do and create is inspiring. Not only did they build a successful company, but they did so with a wonderful culture and focus on giving back to others. An amazing accomplishment while raising three children. I feel so fortunate to have them as role models. I come from a background of strong females: 

  • My grandmother was in the United States Marine Corps and a working mother. 
  • I have very accomplished aunts and role models. 
  • While I worked for Johnson & Johnson, my leaders were a wonderful mix of driven, inspiring, supportive, and approachable leaders. 

Q: How did these people impact your leadership style and approach? 

A: Each of these role models and mentors influenced me by focusing on the importance of the person. I witnessed that accomplishments are attained through the people. Having a leader who understands and cares and connects with the people in is critical to success. In observing this in others, it has served as a powerful example to inspire me to find my own leadership style, showing me where my strengths and my opportunities to grow are. 

Professional Challenges and Resilience 

Q: Share a significant challenge you faced in your career that you overcame. 

A: After living in Rome for a few years, I moved back to the United States, and it took me a while to reintegrate and find a job. I was able to gain a position in New Jersey working for a boutique advertising agency. Moving up from Florida for the role, I knew no one in the state. After a short period, I learned how toxic the work environment was and soon found myself without a job. It was a humble and scary experience. I ended up having to take unemployment benefits and fortunately soon found a role (through a temp agency) for Johnson & Johnson. It was a blessing in disguise as it led to a wonderful opportunity to work for an amazing company with strong leaders, which was quite a difference from the toxic work environment I had left. It was there that I met my husband as well. This challenging career obstacle helped to strengthen my belief in myself as in staying the course, trusting and knowing that things will work out in the end. 

Q: How has resilience played a role in your career journey? Are there moments where resilience was crucial, contributing to your personal and professional growth? 

A: They often say that you learn from the difficult times and that has certainly been the case for me. I found myself and my personal grit when I chose to move to Italy. It was important to me to have an experience in another country, and I moved there only knowing one person—an Italian physician I had met while working in Rhode Island. The experience was much harder than I had imagined—finding a place to live, learning the language, supporting myself, and making friends. It was very lonely at times—and I almost quit six months into my one-year goal. But I stayed and ended up living there close to four years. For me, it was a life-changing experience and one that I look back on when I need to find my inner strength. 

Inspirational Quotes 

Q: Do you have an inspiring quote you use to remind yourself that you can get through anything? 

A: Yes, I have a few “go to” quotes that inspire me. 

I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel. —Maya Angelou 

Be the change that you wish to see in the world. —Ghandi 

It always seems impossible until it is done. —Nelson Mandela 

Talk to yourself like you would to someone you love. —Brene Brown 

The most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart. —Helen Keller 

To the world you may be one person, but to one person you may be the world. —Dr. Seuss 

Advice for Aspiring Women Leaders 

Q: What advice do you have for women aspiring to leadership roles? 

A: Know what your values are and feel confident in those. Find the people who support you and inspire you and spend time with them. Believe in yourself and the value that you provide. You will never please everyone so don’t get caught up in feeling that you need to. There is always something to be learned in each part of your journey. 

Work & Life Balance 

Q: How do you balance your professional and personal life? 

A: I am always in pursuit of this balance—it is an ongoing focus because the needs of work and home are always evolving and shifting. I think for me, most importantly it is removing my self-imposed (high) expectations and simply trying to do my best, asking for help when needed, and making decisions based on priorities. I give myself flexibility in my schedule when it is needed and hopefully model this for others. Along the way, I make sure I build in enough downtime, so I am at my best to give to others when needed. The hardest part for me is striking the balance between feeling like to need to get things done vs. relaxing and recharging. I know a lot of women are constantly in the same ebb and flow, so it helps me to know we are all in this balancing act together. I try to remember that there is no perfect way to do anything, and self-care is not a nice-to-have, it has to be a priority if I want to have any kind of harmony. 

Q: On this note, are there any specific strategies or practices that help you maintain a healthy work-life balance? 

A: I rely on to-do lists and I revise them on a daily basis depending on what needs my attention. I stay open to shifting priorities at work and at home. With my family, I sit down with them to talk through the week ahead. My family gives me so much joy, I prioritize quality time with them. The family connection fills me up each day and keeps me grounded. I also believe in service work. When I serve others, it always renews my energy and gives me perspective, so I make sure I build in community service time. For example, sometimes during the work week I’ll disappear at lunchtime because I’m out in the community delivering Meals on Wheels. It completely renews my spirit, especially when I’m feeling out of steam, somehow it gives me more energy and perspective. 

Q: What passions or activities bring you joy and rejuvenate you outside of work? Any hobbies your colleagues do not know about? 

A: I turn to yoga, meditation, listening to music, dancing with my kids, and enjoying time in nature/walking (especially around the beach). I appreciate quiet and meaningful interactions with people that make me feel connected. I can’t think of an actual hobby, but maybe I’ll come up with one once the kids grow up. 

Closing Thoughts 

Q: Any final words of wisdom or life advice you would give your younger self? 

A: I would offer this: Let it be ok to say No more often because it means saying Yes to yourself. And I’ll end with this: Speak up and risk sharing your bold perspective and ideas because our world needs the voice of more women leaders. 

 

We hope you will come back each week in March to learn more from our women leaders at PAR.

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Each year, PAR asks our customers to select a charity to be the recipient of an annual donation on behalf of our customers. We are proud to announce the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) is the recipient of this year’s annual donation. 

NAMI is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization. It is dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. 

“We began our Pay It Forward campaign several years ago as a way to honor the important work our customers do. While we provide our customers with insights and information to assist clients and patients throughout the year, this allows us to support them in a different way,” said PAR CEO Kristin Greco. “As a company, we feel so fortunate to be able to pay it forward on behalf of our customers.” 

PAR will be donating $5,000 to support the important work NAMI is doing in communities throughout the country. 

“NAMI is dedicated to raising awareness and providing support and education on the topic of mental health. This is vitally important work and dovetails with the work we do at PAR,” said Greco. “We are grateful to be able to contribute toward that purpose during this year’s Pay It Forward initiative.” 

To learn more about NAMI, visit nami.org.

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Former First Lady Rosalynn Carter spent much of her life as a prominent advocate for mental health. On Sunday, November 19, she passed away at her home in Plains, Georgia at the age of 96. We take this opportunity to showcase some of her important work in the field of mental health advocacy.

Advocated for mental health reform in Georgia 

When her husband Jimmy Carter was running for governor of Georgia, Mrs. Carter met a woman who had just clocked out from the night shift. She mentioned that she was on the way home to take care of her daughter who had mentally health concerns. Mrs. Carter campaigned the rest of the day and then stood in line at one of her husband’s rallies. When Mr. Carter asked her what she was doing on the rope line at his rally, she said, “I came to see what you are going to do to help people with mental illnesses when you become governor.” He replied that Georgia was going to have the best program in the country and he would put her in charge of it. 

Mrs. Carter served as a member of the Governor’s Commission to Improve Services to the Mentally and Emotionally Handicapped during her husband’s governorship.

Served as an advocate for mental health as First Lady 

Once Mr. Carter was in the White House, Mrs. Carter served as the honorary Chair of the President’s Commission on Mental Health and testified before the Senate on behalf of the Mental Health Systems Act, which led to the passage of the Mental Health Systems Act of 1980. The Mental Health Systems Act provided grants to community mental health centers. It was considered landmark legislation and has created a framework for much of the mental health legislation since that time. 

While in the White House, the Carters helped establish 123 community mental health centers.

Focused on improving mental health and health care 

After leaving Washington, DC, Mrs. Carter continued to advocate for mental health. The Rosalynn Carter Symposium on Mental Health Policy has focused on improving mental health care by engaging thought leaders on topics such as how to promote access to appropriate and affordable behavioral healthcare services, issues related to improving the quality of mental health services, and concerns about reducing the stigma related to mental health and substance abuse. 

In addition, she was pivotal in the Carter Center Mental Health Task Force, the Rosalynn Carter Fellowship for Mental Health Journalism, and the Rosalynn Carter Institute for Caregivers (RCI). Through these initiatives, Mrs. Carter was able to address the concerns of caregivers, promote mental health awareness, and advance public and social policies by shining a light on mental health issues. 

Mrs. Carter cowrote several books on mental health and caregiving topics and received many honors for her work, including the 2018 Bill Foege Global Health Award, Volunteer of the Decade Award from the National Mental Health Association, the Dorothea Dix Award from the Mental Illness Foundation, the Nathan S. Kline Medal of Merit from the International Committee Against Mental Illness, the Rhoda and Bernard Sarnat International Prize in Mental Health from the Institute of Medicine, the United States Surgeon General's Medallion, induction in the National Women's Hall of Fame, and the Presidential Medal of Freedom, America's highest civilian honor. She was an Honorary Fellow of the American Psychiatric Association. 

Mrs. Carter once reflected why it was important to make mental health her priority: “I wanted to take mental illnesses and emotional disorders out of the closet, to let people know it is all right to admit having a problem without fear of being called crazy. If only we could consider mental illnesses as straightforwardly as we do physical illnesses, those affected could seek help and be treated in an open and effective way.”

 

Rosalynn Carter was a tireless advocate for mental health causes. The Carter Center plans to continue this important work.

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This week, schools everywhere will be celebrating National School Psychology Week (NSPW)

NSPW is more than just a yearly observance; it's a way to acknowledge school psychologists who work tirelessly to nurture the mental health and emotional well-being of students. It also serves as a reminder of the multifaceted support that school psychologists provide. From addressing academic challenges to fostering emotional resilience, these professionals are dedicated to ensuring that each student receives the personalized support they need to thrive. 

The importance of mental health in education cannot be overstated. NSPW serves as a platform to raise awareness about mental health issues among students, parents, and educators. By fostering a culture of openness, school psychologists contribute to reducing the stigma associated with seeking mental health support. 

Being a school psychologist has always been crucial, and given the current shortage of school psychologists along with the increasing demand for their services, NSPW is just one way to recognize that this role is more demanding—and more important—than ever. 

Sponsored by the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP), the theme for NSPW this year is “Let’s Grow Together.” This theme brings to the spotlight the essential work school psychologists do to help students to flourish. 

PAR would like to thank all school psychologists for the essential services they provide to their students, and for placing your trust in our instruments. Celebrate this week by showing your school psychology pride—download our complimentary virtual background here for use on your teleconferencing software. 

 

Looking for more information about PAR school resources and assessments? Visit our school resources page

 

 

How to use a virtual background on Zoom: 

Sign in to the Zoom desktop app. Click your profile thumbnail, then go to “Settings.” Navigate to “Background & Effects.” Download the complimentary image here and click the “+” icon to upload. 

How to use a virtual background on Teams: 

From the Calendar, click “Join” on a meeting. In the pre-meeting screen, turn on your camera. Select the background filters icon and a panel will appear on the right with all the available background options. Download the NSPW image here. Select “Add new” and upload the image from your computer.

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Halloween festivities often bring exciting anticipation for many children. However, scratchy uncomfortable costumes, flashing lights, spooky effects, and scary décor may not spell fun for every child. The following are a few things to keep in mind during this spooky season in order to make it inclusive for all. 

Show your house is inclusive to children with ASD 

Think you may have a child with ASD or other sensory differences visiting your home on Halloween? Autism Speaks offers free printables so trick-or-treaters will know your home is an autism-friendly stop. If you are trick-or-treating with a child who has ASD, Autism Speaks offers many Halloween resources, including a downloadable social story, All About Halloween, that may be a helpful way to explain many Halloween traditions like jack-o-lanterns, trick-or-treating, costumes, and the sights and sounds of the holiday. 

Create opportunities for children with allergies 

A simple step you can take is to offer non-food treats in a teal pumpkin; this is a way to signal to the 1 in 13 children in the U.S. who have food allergies that you have a treat they can participate in without concern for their allergies. If you can’t get your hands on a teal pumpkin in time, simply using a separate bowl for your non-food items can make children with allergies feel included. 

Be understanding of a variety of abilities 

Saying “trick or treat” and “thank you” may seem like the basics of trick-or-treating, but there are many kids who may have difficulties doing so. Do not require kids to do anything in order to get their treat. You may have visitors who are nonverbal, have anxiety, point to communicate, are not wearing costumes, or may seem too old for the festivities. Don’t force kids to say “trick-or-treat” or explain their costume before putting something in their bag. 

Create a clear path for trick-or-treaters 

Keep in mind that individuals celebrating Halloween may have mobility issues—so keeping your path clearly lit, avoiding stairs, and stationing your treats where it’s easy to approach your home makes the night safer for everyone. 

 

Halloween should be a fun time for children and adults. Being mindful of accessibility and inclusivity concerns can help make sure this holiday can be enjoyed by more people—and making some simple changes to your Halloween routine can help create great memories.

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October is National Domestic Violence Awareness Month. It serves as a reminder of this pervasive issue that affects countless individuals and families worldwide. Learn more about the background behind this month, the impact of domestic violence, and the resources available. 

The origin of National Domestic Violence Awareness Month 

National Domestic Violence Awareness Month was first observed in October 1989 as an effort to raise awareness about intimate partner violence and to promote advocacy, support, and education on this critical issue. Since its inception, organizations, individuals, and communities across the United States have joined forces to support survivors and raise awareness about domestic violence. During October, numerous events, campaigns, and educational programs are organized to shed light on the issue and provide information and resources to help individuals and communities confront domestic or intimate partner violence.

The impact of domestic violence 

Domestic violence exists in every community and has an impact on individuals across the life span—and cuts across all boundaries, with no exceptions for age, race, socioeconomic status, sexual orientation, gender, or religion. Domestic violence includes both physical and emotional abuse. The devastating consequences of intimate partner violence can result in physical injury, psychological trauma, and even death. 

According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, nearly 20 people in the U.S. are physically abused by intimate partners each minute—with more than 10 million abuse victims annually. One in every 3 women and 1 in every 4 men have been physically abused by an intimate partner. 

Domestic violence isn’t just something that happens between intimate partners—more than 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, with 90% of these children witnessing these acts of violence. Domestic violence can have long-lasting negative effects on children's emotional well-being and social and academic functioning. 

Furthermore, new research investigates violence in teen relationships. Up to 19% of teens report that they have experienced sexual or physical dating violence, with half reporting experiences of stalking or harassment. Violence in teen relationships is associated with long-term adverse outcomes, including becoming involved in intimate partner violence in adulthood, drug and alcohol use, and an increase in other high-risk behaviors.

Increase in domestic violence since 2020 

According to the American Journal of Emergency Medicine, the lockdowns that occurred in response to the COVID-19 pandemic brought about a global increase in domestic violence cases of 25–30% globally. The World Health Organization believes that number may have been as high as an increase of 50–60% due to hotline call volume. This underscores how widespread the issue of domestic violence is, and the importance of awareness, support, and resources to help survivors. 

Resources for individuals experiencing domestic violence 

There are a number of places to turn for support and education on domestic violence. Some of these resources include: 

  • The National Domestic Violence Hotline (1-800-799-SAFE) is a 24/7 hotline that offers immediate support and access to resources for those in crisis. 
  • The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence offers an online template for a personal safety plan. This template can be used by anyone who may anticipate violence, providing a way to prepare and plan to get to safety. 
  • The National Online Resource Center for Violence Against Women provides a rich collection of full-text, searchable electronic materials and resources on domestic violence, sexual violence, and related issues.
 
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This Thursday, October 5, is National Depression Screening Day. This day is dedicated to raising awareness about depression, its prevalence, and the importance of early screening and intervention. 

Major depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting more than 21 million American adults each year. National Depression Screening Day is dedicated to helping the 8.4% of adults who experience a major depressive episode each year. 

The prevalence of depression 

Depression is a widespread mental health condition that affects millions of people worldwide. According to the World Health Organization, depression is the leading cause of disability globally. Depression can occur throughout the life span and can touch individuals of all genders and of all races. Yet only about one-third of people experiencing depression will seek mental health help. 

Why National Depression Screening Day? 

National Depression Screening Day was established to combat the stigma associated with mental health issues and to encourage individuals to seek help when they are struggling. 

It is just as important to screen for depression as it is to screen for other physical health concerns. Though a depression screening is not a professional evaluation, it can help people spot early signs and help them seek treatment sooner. 

Here are some key reasons why this day is crucial:

  • Stigma reduction and promoting awareness: There is still a significant stigma surrounding mental health disorders, including depression. This stigma can discourage individuals from seeking help and support. National Depression Screening Day aims to reduce this stigma by fostering open conversations about depression and mental health. 
  • Early detection: Depression can be insidious, with symptoms often going unnoticed or dismissed. Early detection through screening can significantly improve outcomes. 
  • Education: National Depression Screening Day provides an opportunity to educate the public about depression, its symptoms, and available treatments. Knowledge is a powerful tool in promoting mental health awareness and reducing misconceptions.

Resources for individuals and professionals 

Anonymous online screenings for depression are offered by Mental Health America and MindWise Innovations. These assessments can help individuals gauge their risk and provide guidance on seeking professional help. The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Helpline can help guide individuals to find treatment. 

For professionals, PAR offers a variety of products to help assess individuals for depression. Learn more about our assessment tools.

A focus on mental health 

National Depression Screening Day serves as a reminder that mental health is an integral part of our overall wellbeing. Depression is a common and treatable condition, but it often goes unrecognized or untreated. By dedicating a day to depression awareness and screening, we can reduce stigma, encourage early detection, and provide vital resources to those in need. On October 5, take a moment to spread the message of hope, support, and understanding in the fight against depression. Together, we can make a positive impact on the mental health of individuals and our communities.

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