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May: Stroke & Mental Health Awareness Month

Posted Date: 5/1/2014
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A stroke occurs when the blood supply to the brain is blocked, ischemic, or when blood vessels in the brain rupturing causing the tissue to die. Every 4 minutes someone in the United States dies from a stroke, roughly 800,000 people a year. Many people who experience a stroke suddenly begin to feel numbness in half of their body, have trouble speaking, difficulty with vision in one or both eyes, have dizziness, lack of coordination, and may experience a severe headache.

Richmond University Medical Center is proud to be a recipient of the American Heart Association/American Stroke Association’s Gold Plus Quality Achievement Award for four straight years.

Since 1949, May has been the National Mental Health Awareness Month. Most people believe that mental disorders are rare and “happen to someone else,” but in fact, mental disorders are actually common and widespread. It is estimated that about 54 million Americans suffer from some form of mental illness. There are more than 200 classified forms of mental illnesses, some of which include depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, post-traumatic stress, and in more severe cases, eventually could lead to suicide. Today, more people die from suicide in the United States that from traffic accidents or homicides, and we lose 25 soldiers to suicide for every soldier lost in combat. Major symptoms can be seen in children and adults including serious mood swings, personality changes, social withdrawal, confused thinking, excessive fears or worries, delusions or hallucinations, denial, or suicidal thoughts. These are illnesses that can strain every part of persons’ life, but are certainly treatable. Talking about the problem with someone you trust is the first step, and consulting with a health care provider is the next best thing. 

For more information or to request an evaluation, please call 718-818-6132 

Can I pass on my anxiety to my child?

In recognition of Children’s Mental Health Awareness Week (May 4th-11th), I would like to address a question I am often asked by Staten Island parents. Can I pass on my anxiety to my child?

The simple answer is yes. Every day we strive to set a good example for our children. We tell them to speak politely to others, clean up after themselves, and treat teachers with respect. But it’s often the things we don’t say to them that leave a lasting impression. Our actions do speak louder than words.

Kids can tell when mom and dad are stressed -they can tell by your expression. They hear your cell phone conversation when you assume they aren’t listening. Children are attuned to emotions, and while they might not understand your cause of stress, they do know it affects you.

So what happens when your child begins picking up on your fears? A family trip to Florida must be driven because mom is afraid to fly, or dad despises visits to the doctor because of a fear of needles. Children pick up on things you avoid, and you must begin to consciously reverse the impact.

Think Big, Start Small.
Start with little things; don’t try to tackle your greatest fear. If you feel claustrophobic and need to sit at the back of a theater or near the door in a restaurant, switch seats. Do things gradually but make the effort to address these fears. If just the thought of addressing anxiety brings more anxiety, consider seeing a therapist or psychiatrist to see you through a plan. In cases of severe anxiety in children, its best to enlist a therapist early on to address. If you don’t feel you can handle it alone, help is always available.

You may not feel in control of your own emotions, but you have the ability to set the tone for your child. Be a role model, they are watching. If you don’t suffer from anxieties, try to understand your child and never belittle their emotions. Anxiety is a real emotion; it can cause panic attacks, vomiting, and other physical symptoms. To make their fear sound absurd may further isolate them and heighten fears.

Teach Them How to Act.
Teach them by example how to be anxiety free, but also teach them how to cope through their own self confidence. Talk to your child when you know their anxiety is building, help redirect the thought process as they anticipate something they fear. If your child is young, role play with dolls. Address an emotion in the pretend play and let the doll face their fear. Act out the situation and the time building up to it, this will reinforce belief that it can be accomplished because the dolls believed in themselves.

Teach ways for them to address their fear and how to calm down. Teach breathing techniques, redirect them to drawing when nervous, or identify a stuffed animal that brings them comfort and have them cuddle when the fear builds.

Sometimes, helping others through an anxiety can help us address our own fears. It works in adults but it works in children too. Let them know you or a sibling really needs help when they seem consumed in their anxiety. Their desire to care for their loved one may bring them to focus on the situation in front of them.

Every Step of Success Deserves Praise.
Lastly, reward them. Verbal praise is just fine and really stays with a child throughout their life. Let them know how proud you are, even if they’ve made a baby step in their progress. Give yourself a little pat on the back when you address your own fear as well!

For more information or to have yourself or child evaluated, please call 718-818-6132.

Dr. Pankaj Patel is the Clinical Chair of the Department of Psychiatry at Richmond University Medical Center

Every day, nurses step forward embracing new technology, resolving emerging issues, and accepting ever changing roles in their profession. They lead the way for their patients, colleagues, organization, and the health care industry as a whole. It is important to honor and celebrate the nurses within your community and in the country for their heroic acts, years of service, exemplary courage, and commitment to their profession of helping lives every day. It is a week to recognize how these nurses motivate their staff and continue to work extremely hard as a team to benefit the lives of others in every aspect. RUMC is grateful for the nurses that dedicate themselves every day to the success of our patients and hospital. We salute their commitment and celebrate them this May!