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Before undergoing bariatric surgery, it’s essential to investigate a candidate’s mental health status. 

The PAI Bariatric compiles the results of the PAI into a convenient report targeted to your bariatric surgery candidates. The results allow you to evaluate psychological factors that, if left unattended, may negatively impact bariatric surgery outcomes. 

How does the PAI Bariatric work? 

The PAI Bariatric uses the PAI to assess symptoms of depression, anxiety, mania, psychosis, suicidal ideation, substance abuse, history of abuse, family history of mental health issues, and any adverse treatment experiences. It organizes PAI results into a convenient report focused on bariatric patients. The PAI Bariatric includes bariatric presurgical candidate norms—not just comparison group profiles—to provide users with the information needed to determine bariatric surgery eligibility in less than an hour. 

The report provides information to help you identify and treat preexisting psychopathology prior to surgery, determine which patients may need additional postoperative care, and provide alternative treatment strategies if the patient is not deemed a candidate for the procedure they are seeking. 

The PAI Bariatric e-Manual Supplement describes the domains of focus, the development of bariatric norms, and basic psychometric information. 

How to use the PAI Bariatric 

To assess your clients with the PAI Bariatric, use PARiConnect to administer the PAI either in your office or remotely. Using the PAI Bariatric Score Report to view results based on bariatric presurgical candidate normative data. The results of the report can be shared with other members of your client’s care team. 

The diagnostic possibilities featured in the PAI Clinical Interpretive Report are conveniently included in the PAI Bariatric Score Report. 

If you have already administered the PAI and have the responses, you do not need to readminister the PAI. You can simply run those scores with a PAI Bariatric Score report. 

What is the difference between the PAI Plus bariatric overlay and the PAI Bariatric Report? 

The PAI Bariatric Score Report includes information specifically for bariatric surgery patients, and results are based on bariatric surgery candidate norms. The PAI Bariatric Report includes bariatric reference group normative scores. It is based on a different sample than the PAI Plus bariatric overlay. A subsample (n = 931) of approved bariatric surgery candidates was derived from archival data collected during psychological evaluations at an outpatient health psychology clinic. Approved surgery candidates underwent bariatric surgery at a local medical center for weight loss surgery. Patients’ surgeries were considered successful if they had received follow-up care after surgery for at least 1 year and achieved 50 percent or more loss of excess body weight as recorded during the last follow-up appointment. 

Who can purchase the PAI Bariatric Score Report? 

The qualification level required to purchase, administer, and interpret the PAI Bariatric Score Report is C, which means you must have an advanced professional degree that provides appropriate training in the administration and interpretation of psychological tests or license or certification from an agency that requires appropriate training and experience in the ethical and competent use of psychological tests. A trained psychologist is needed to administer and evaluate the results of the PAI. 

 

Learn more about the importance of accurate bariatric assessment

 

Learn more about the PAI Bariatric.

 

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On Valentine’s Day, people’s thoughts often turn to love. And whether you spend your day focusing on the hearts and flowers related to romantic love or the love from friends, family, or pets, both all of love can have an important influence on mental health. 

In honor of Valentine’s Day, we take this opportunity to point to a few interesting facts related to love and mental health. Love is important—not just on Valentine’s Day, but throughout the year. 

People who are happy with their marriages may feel less pain. According to a study of octogenarians, those who reported having happy marriages stated their mood didn’t suffer even on days they reported more physical pain. Alternately, those who said they were in unhappy marriages reported more physical and emotional pain. 

Having strong relationships may lead to a healthier and longer life. According to the Harvard Study of Adult Development, the longest longitudinal study of adult happiness, individuals who have warm and supportive connections tended to be the happiest and stayed healthiest as they aged. Quality relationships were the strongest predictor of which individuals would report being happy and healthy as they got older. The psychologists behind this study believe that people need to exercise social fitness just as you would physical fitness—by putting in regular work to strengthen relationships. 

Your brain may be responsible for any bad decisions you’ve made early in a relationship. Although your body will release feel-good chemicals like oxytocin and dopamine when you are in the early stages of a romantic relationship, your brain deactivates the neural pathway for emotions like fear and judgment. This essentially shuts down the ability to make critical assessments of people—which explains why people don’t always see their mate’s flaws until those initial intense feelings calm down. 

The majority of singles aren’t looking for romance. If you aren’t in a relationship and don’t want to be, you are not alone! According to a recent study from Pew Research, 56% of singles said they are not looking for a relationship. Near three-quarters of the group who is not looking to date say it is because they enjoy being single. Of those who are dating, nearly half report that their love life is a cause of stress, saying it is harder to date today than it was 10 years ago. 

There are neurobiological differences between romantic and parental love. Different areas of the brain are involved in parental versus romantic love. In romantic love, the hypothalamus is activated, which is responsible for testosterone and other hormones. Furthermore, part of the reward system that gets activated in romantic love comes from the knowledge that your love is being reciprocated by another person. This brain area is not as important in parental love—which explains why parents can love their babies even before they can smile back at them.

 

 

 

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PAR is excited to see you next week in New Orleans for the National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) Annual Convention. Whether you will be attending online or in person, make sure you don’t miss these PAR authors and experts who will be presenting throughout the conference. 

Be sure to stop by the PAR booth to catch up with our staff, learn about what new ways we are trying to meet the needs of school psychologists like you, and use your conference discount! Be sure to check out these informative sessions:

 

Publisher sponsored special session: Trauma Assessment Using the Feifer Assessment of Childhood Trauma (FACT) 

Wednesday, February 14, 2024 

2–2:50 p.m. 

Steven G. Feifer, DEd

 

Using a Process Oriented Approach for Identifying and Remediating Dyslexia

Thursday, February 15, 2024 

8–9:50 a.m. 

Steven G. Feifer, DEd, and Jack A. Naglieri, PhD 

 

The Neuropsychology of Reading Disorders: Diagnosis and Intervention 

Friday, February 16, 2024 

2–3:50 p.m. 

Steven G. Feifer, DEd 

 

Wean From the Screen: Harm Reduction for Media Device Use 

Thursday, February 15, 2024 

8–9:50 a.m. 

Jessica L. Stewart, PsyD, Christy A. Mulligan, PsyD, Ray Christner, PsyD 

 

Advanced CBT: Conceptualization, Evidence-Based Practice, Pop Culture, Metaphor, and Improv 

Friday, February 16, 2024 

10–11:50 a.m. 

Ray W. Christner, PsyD 

 

Blueprint for Success: Navigating Entry Into the Test Publishing Industry 

Friday, February 16, 2024 

1–1:50 p.m. 

Carrie A. Champ Morera, PsyD, NCSP, LP, and Terri D. Sisson, EdS 

 

Stop by the PAR booth (#111) and meet Steven Feifer, PhD, author of the FAR, FAW, FAM, and FACT! (Thurs. & Fri., Feb. 15 & 16). You can also save 15% on any PAR product you order at the booth. Hope to see you there!

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In honor of February being Black History Month, we take this opportunity to recognize and acknowledge the accomplishments Black Americans have made in the field of psychology. Far too often, these contributions have been overlooked. The following are several notable individuals who are responsible for historic contributions to the field. These individuals and their work deserves to be amplified in order to build a future based on equity, inclusion, and opportunity. 

Na'im Akbar (1944–present): A clinical psychologist, Akbar has written extensively on the psychological and cultural aspects of African American identity and mental health. He is an internationally known scholar, author, lecturer, researcher, and expert. He created the Black psychology program at Morehouse University, Norfolk State University, and Florida State University. 

Kenneth B. Clark (1914–2005) and Mamie Phipps Clark (1917–1983): This pioneering husband-and-wife team conducted influential research on the impact of racial segregation on children. Their famous “doll study” showed that Black children, when asked to choose a doll most like themselves, would disproportionately choose White dolls. This research was used in the Brown v. Board of Education case in 1954 and played a key role in exemplifying why racially separate schools were psychologically harmful and violated the 14th Amendment. 

John Hope Franklin (1915–2009): Franklin was primarily a historian, but his work on race relations and African American history contributed significantly to the understanding of the psychological impact of racism. President Bill Clinton awarded him the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995. Franklin also served on President Clinton's Advisory Board for the President's Initiative on Race from 1997 to 1998. 

Alvin Poussaint (1934–present): A psychiatrist whose research emphasized the impact of racism, Poussaint is well-known as an advocate for racial equality. He contributed to research on race and mental health and has been involved in efforts to reduce racial disparities in healthcare. He served as a professor and dean of students at Harvard Medical School. 

Inez Beverly Prosser (unknown–1934): Prosser was the first Black woman to earn a PhD in psychology. She spent much of her short life focused on research concerning the impact of segregation on the educational achievement of Black children. She was instrumental in helping Black students obtain funding for college and graduate studies. 

Joseph L. White (1932–2017): White has been referred to as the “godfather of Black psychology” due to the significant contributions he made during his career. Much of his work focused on the importance of addressing the needs of minorities through multicultural counseling. 

These are just a few individuals who have played important roles in advancing the field of psychology and addressing issues related to race, identity, and social justice. Their work continues to influence and inspire new generations of psychologists.

 

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This week, we welcome guest blogger Sylvia Hall from GAB-on! As a parent of a child with learning differences, Sylvia was able to take her family’s challenges and build a unique way to help families connect. 

 

In the delicate fabric of human relationships, connection is the thread that binds us together. It is a core, fundamental need for human development and helps us get the most out of our lives. For parents and children, communication is the cornerstone of the relationship that cultivates connection and the ability to give and experience love. 

Dr. Ned Hallowell says, “Connection should be the life blood of all families, schools, and organizations.” However, children with learning differences often face a lack of sustained connection due to their unique challenges. This disconnection can result in various struggles in their lives, including difficulties forming relationships at school, in their community, and within the family. Consistent and positive connections play a transformative role in empowering these children. Nurturing such connections over time, children can lead more connected, relationship-rich, and fulfilling lives. 

I’ve always described our son as a “boy full of joy.” He could light up any room with his smile and energy from the time he could walk. When he was entering sixth grade, he was so excited to begin the school year at a new school as he was eager to meet friends. 

After the first several days, a recognizable pattern emerged: “How was your day?” “Fine.” “What did you do in school today?” “Nothing.” Although this dialogue seems to have become a rite of passage, for our family it wasn’t something we were comfortable with. We recognized that, although our son may desperately want to share parts of his day with us, given his executive function challenges (particularly in working memory), he was struggling neurologically to do so. 

Our son Austin inspired us to create GAB-on!, an app that connects children and their parents through simple, meaningful conversations about their daily experiences both in and out of school. We built it for all kids because these simple conversations can nourish healthy connections and conversations. 

Throughout the day, children enter GABs, short 3–5 word entries on any device such as a laptop, tablet, or phone, These serve as summaries of key events that occurred throughout their day to spark their memory at home to drive conversations. Parents receive the GAB entries and serve as a starting point for conversation. 

“Onion skin and lake water” was the very first GAB that Austin sent home. It was a game changer. It didn’t just spark a simple conversation about his day, it was a glimpse into his world. I was so curious to hear the story he wanted to share from his science class that night at the dinner table and it didn’t disappoint. We heard about walking down to a pond with his class and holding a vial to fill with water, bringing the vial back to class and looking at the water under a microscope, seeing a bug in the water and naming her Robeta, and then creating a newsletter to share Robeta’s journey with his classmates. 

We were in awe at everything he shared and what we learned, not just about his school lesson but about where that lesson led him. We felt so connected and I was excited to share our experience the next morning at school drop-off. However, as no other parents had heard any of this experience from their child, no one could share the excitement with me. 

Conversations between parents and children provide a window into the child's world. They allow us to understand our child's experiences, perspectives, and challenges. Conversations are a key ingredient in strengthening the bond between parents and their children. But child-led conversation opens a door to understanding where a child is challenged and, as importantly, where they find their joy. Developing a child’s voice and agency to communicate their interest and passion can help lay out an aspirational roadmap. They also enable the child to feel heard, understood, and know they matter. 

Trust and emotional security are fundamental to a child's well-being. For children who learn differently, these elements are even more critical. They often face additional challenges and uncertainties, which can lead to feelings of insecurity or anxiety. Consistent child-led conversations with parents can help alleviate these feelings. They provide a safe space where the child can express their fears, frustrations, and hopes. They reassure the child that they are loved, accepted, and valued for who they are. This cultivates trust and emotional security, which are essential for a child's emotional and psychological health. 

A few months into eighth grade, Austin entered a GAB that read “armor.” That evening we had company at the dinner table and, when the GABs came up for discussion, he didn’t recall what “armor” meant. I jumped in (not recommended) and asked if it had to do with his welding project and he nodded. The conversation then dove deeper into his welding creations, which he enjoyed sharing. However, the next morning at breakfast, Austin shared with me that he remembered what his “armor” GAB meant. It had nothing to do with welding. It was a reminder to talk with me about two boys in his class that were setting him up to take the fall for things they were doing in the classroom. He didn’t know how to prevent it or what to do about it, and sometimes he wasn’t even aware that it was happening. This conversation allowed me to help him navigate the steps he can take to change his situation (and also caused me to pick up the phone and have a discussion with his wonderful teacher). 

We developed GAB-on! because our son wanted to share his day with us while he was away from home but the tidbits he was able to tell us were like pieces from different puzzles. He didn’t yet have the tools to retrace and recall whole parts of his day and he didn’t know how to start to tell us about it. With the GABs, Austin has the agency to choose what he wants to talk about with us and a few words that he captures at school are enough of a hint to remind him of that moment later in his day. What starts out as a conversation about a lesson or activity in a certain subject often leads to bigger conversations. 

Conversations between parents and children with special needs are about building a strong, loving, and supportive relationship that nurtures the child's development and well-being. They are about empowering the child to express themselves, to help understand their emotions, and to navigate their world with confidence and resilience. They can change a child’s trajectory (and outs). Simply put, conversations build connections and it’s what both children and parents need most. 

 

 

Sylvia Hall is the proud mom of two teenagers and co-founder of GAB-on! GAB-on! connects and empowers children and their parents through simple, meaningful conversations about their daily experiences both in and out of school.

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School psychologists play a key role in collaborating with teachers, parents, and other professionals to assess, diagnose, and intervene when a student may be at risk for learning disorders and dyslexia. Assessing and determining the appropriate educational placements for students influences their academic journey in an important way. 

Here are examples of some unique ways some schools are addressing the needs of students with reading and learning disabilities in order to set learners of all styles up for success.

Encouraging movement and passions 

In one K-8 school in Maryland, the schedule, the environment, and the curriculum are all designed to help students with language and learning differences learn to advocate for their specific needs. The school creates movement opportunities throughout the day to give students an opportunity to work out their energy and gather focus. 

Teachers also incorporate student passions and interests into their lessons in order to ensure a positive and creative school experience for students who may have felt frustrated or left behind in their regular public school environment. Some curriculum examples include: 

  • Integrating topics the students are passionate about into the lessons. 
  • Creating activities that utilize fine and gross motor skills during art class. 
  • Working on a passion project over the course of the school year. 
  • Integrating card games into the daily small group reading instruction.

Putting reading first 

Some charter schools are seeing success building their schedule around an extended period of specialized reading intervention. For example, a school in Staten Island, New York, has students attend an hour-long period of reading instruction, followed by an independent reading period that gives them time to apply the literacy skills learned. The groups are fluid and based on students' reading readiness levels. In order to make time for this extra focus on reading skills, the school day is extended an additional hour. 

Focusing on strengths 

According to Greater Good Magazine, it is critical that school psychologists work with students with learning disabilities to concentrate on their strengths. One way to do this is to put less focus on labels. Even a subtle shift in language can influence how students see themselves and help overcome any stigma they may feel. 

One article suggests that when a label is required, it is helpful to describe why it is needed to the student. One explanation can be, "Labels help us understand why reading is hard for you and what the research says about how to help. But we will all focus on what we can do to help, not what we call it." 

Another suggestion is to focus on a student's strengths. Research suggests these “hidden strengths” of students with dyslexia and other learning disabilities include: 

 

School psychologists are essential in supporting students' well-being, particularly for those students facing reading and literacy challenges. Learn more about how one school district was able to use the Feifer Assessment of Reading (FAR) to help more students with literacy and reading concerns. 

 

Further reading 

Learn more about selecting appropriate reading interventions 

A quick guide for parents of struggling readers 

How targeted reading assessments can unlock student success

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As we embark on a new year, people worldwide are establishing their New Year's resolutions. Although resolutions may be time-honored tradition, many resist the urge as an endeavor that is bound to fail. Let’s delve a bit deeper into the psychology behind New Year’s resolutions and what helps people to achieve their goals. 

According to a recent survey conducted by Forbes Health, the attitudes of 1,000 U.S. adults toward their New Year's resolutions and the types of goals they prioritize have undergone a significant shift. 

Although fitness and weight loss remain popular for the new year, 36% of participants expressed a commitment to improving their mental health. In fact, 55% of participants acknowledged that mental health should be given equal significance as physical well-being in their resolutions for the coming year. So, as we move into 2024, prioritizing mental well-being may be the focus for many.

 

The psychology behind goal setting 

The same Forbes Health poll also revealed that 60% of people feel pressured to set a New Year's resolution. Among these individuals, 37% have specific goals for 2024, and 66.5% plan to create 3 or more goals for the upcoming year. 

What drives people to set goals and make New Year's resolutions? 

Although the answer may be different for different people, there are some common factors for goal setting; these include: 

The fresh start effect: The “fresh start effect” motivates individuals to pursue aspirational goals immediately after a big landmark, such as at the start of a new year. These moments are natural opportunities for positive changes, and aligning with a time frame can help in working toward goals. Research on the fresh start effect show that creating these new mental periods of time helps individuals to put past periods of imperfections behind them and can help motivate aspirational behaviors that make it more likely to stick to those goals than ones that were made with no mental benchmarks. 

Purpose and motivation: Goals provide direction and purpose, driven by a fundamental desire for personal improvement and growth. This intrinsic motivation aligns with psychological theories emphasizing the natural human drive for fulfillment and self-actualization. 

Social connection and executive function: Goals foster social connection and are crucial for building communities. Whether in families, teams, corporations, or nations, shared goals are essential for collective success. Goal setting is integral to the brain's executive function, distinguishing humans by enabling planned and purposeful actions. 

Reward center and dopamine: Setting goals triggers the release of dopamine, commonly known as the “feel good” chemical. Dopamine helps to manage pleasure and reward centers in the brain while regulating emotional responses. Neuroscientists have found that pursuing goals can significantly impact our emotions as it triggers pleasure centers in our brains, regardless of the outcome. This suggests that pursuing a goal is just as important as achieving it, providing a biological basis for the well-known saying emphasizing the significance of the journey over the destination. 

 

Why resolutions fail 

A common reason people fail to achieve their New Year's resolutions is false hope syndrome. This happens when individuals, often fueled with overconfidence, set unrealistic goals, leading to frustration, and eventually giving up on the resolutions altogether. 

False hope syndrome is particularly common when resolutions are related to technology and the internet. Although there is so much technology to help people succeed at resolutions—such as online support groups, habit-tracking apps, smart watches, and social media platforms—these may create a negative circle of reinforcement. The ubiquity of these tools to make habit change easier may actually hinder resolution success. 

While it is important to remember that setbacks are a normal part of any journey, it’s also important to learn that failure can be a constructive part of the process toward eventual success and personal growth. 

Negative thought patterns also can stand in the way of achieving self-improvement goals. Always expecting failure can lead to negative thinking, undermining the outcome of our efforts. The internet can make this worse by reinforcing negativity. 

 

Creating lasting habits 

Surprisingly, too much support can hinder success. Studies suggest that an optimal level of assistance is more effective, emphasizing quality over quantity. Clear and specific goals also play a crucial role. In one study, researchers investigated New Year’s resolutions to understand how successful individuals were in maintaining their resolutions and whether specific support mechanisms could improve success. Participants were divided into three groups with different levels of support: Group 1 had no support, Group 2 had some support, and Group 3 had extended support, including guidance on effective goal setting, formulation of SMART goals, and information on the benefits of involving friends and family. 

The researchers aimed to determine if the support provided, including guidance on effective goal setting, influenced individuals' success in sticking to their resolutions. The study employed various measures, such as self-assessment of success, surveys on quality of life, procrastination, and self-efficacy, along with assessments of participants' confidence in achieving their goals. 

Results from the study indicated that individuals with approach-oriented goals (focused on achieving something) tended to be more successful than those with avoidance-oriented goals (focused on avoiding something). Interestingly, the group with some support performed better than those with extended support. 

Building on these insights, the following are practical tips to help you or those you support to stay on track with your resolutions. 

 

Tips for effective goal setting 

Set SMART goals: Set SMART Goals instead of resolutions. SMART goals refer to goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound.

  • Be specific about what you want to accomplish and why it is important. 
  • Ensure measurability by quantifying progress toward the goal. 
  • Make goals achievable, breaking long-term goals into smaller, more manageable steps. 
  • Determine the relevance of goals in your current life situation, especially in professional settings. 
  • Set a specific deadline in order to create a sense of urgency and motivation to act and create a healthy reward system for meeting each small goal. 

Focus on one behavior at a time: Trying to change everything at once can be overwhelming and lead to discouragement, ultimately hindering progress. Instead, it's better to focus on changing one habit or behavior at a time, allowing for gradual progress and a greater chance of success in the long run. Taking small steps can lead to creating long-lasting positive changes. 

Share your experiences: Talk about your goals with family and friends. Finding support, whether a workout class or a group of coworkers with similar goals, can provide encouragement and understanding. Discussing your struggles and successes with others makes the journey less intimidating. 

Expect setbacks: Perfection is unattainable. Minor setbacks are expected when working towards goals, so don't give up entirely due to minor mistakes. Resolve to learn from your missteps and get back on track. 

 

Key takeaway 

New Year's resolutions are an excellent opportunity to set goals that align with our aspirations for personal growth and well-being, but goals can be set at any point in the year. With the right mindset and approach, any goal is achievable.

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With the holidays in full swing, many Americans are stressed out—but that stress is coming from different sources this year. According to a poll from the American Psychiatric Association, this year, funding the festivities is causing many individuals anxiety this holiday. 

The top three areas people reported causing them stress were all economic:

Affording holiday gifts was cited by more than half of participants Finding and securing those gifts is causing stress for 40% of individuals Affording holiday meals is causing anxiety for 39% of respondents 

Additionally, 37% of individuals said challenging family dynamics were causing them holiday worry, with 1 in 4 respondents saying they were worried about discussing politics or current events with family members around the dinner table. On the positive side, 44% of those surveyed reported they are looking forward to seeing family and friends over the holidays. Eating good food (20%) and taking time off (9%) were also giving people things to look forward to this holiday season.

Stressed about the holidays? 

If you or someone you know are stressed about the holidays, here are a few tips that may help mitigate stress. 

Say no: If you are finding yourself overwhelmed with holiday commitments, remember it is OK to say no. Prioritize the traditions that you value and simplify where you can. Read some advice from PAR CEO Kristin Greco on how she focuses on being present with her family during the holidays. 

Practice mindfulness and meditation: Practicing mindfulness and meditation doesn’t need to take a lot of time and it can be done for no cost. There are many free resources that can help teach you the skills, such as this online program offered by the University of Minnesota

Get moving: Aim to get 20 minutes of moderate intensity exercise four to five times a week. Whether that’s getting outside for a walk, joining a gym, or just stretching in your house, maintaining activity can help combat seasonal affective disorder and provides a boost of serotonin to improve your mood. 

Be realistic about resolutions: Although we all have the best of intentions, sometimes it may seem that New Year’s resolutions are doomed to fail. Instead of sweeping resolutions, break your goals up into smaller pieces or plot them out on a calendar to make them more likely to happen. And just because you didn’t succeed at first doesn’t mean your goal for the year is over—be kind to yourself and know that change is a process.

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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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