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Advice

Living Our ‘Best Lives’. Or Are We?

THE FLORIDA STAR — With drastic advances in technology and the overuse, and oftentimes misuse, of social media research indicates that heavy social media use may also lead to fewer meaningful in-person (or real) human interactions. Without meaningful social interactions, it is virtually impossible for friends, family and loved ones to detect that there may be any issues or mental health concerns. Let’s face it, we post our best pictures on social media, snap shots of our favorite meals from those 5 star restaurants, fast and expensive cars, lavish vacations riding horses on the beaches of Aruba, jet-skiing on South Beach in Miami, the best and biggest houses, the nicest cars, clothes and jewelry and the list goes on. These images on social media often depict the persona of a life that is unbothered, free from stress, what can appear to be ‘perfect’.

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By Dr. Sheila D. Williams

With drastic advances in technology and the overuse, and oftentimes misuse, of social media research indicates that heavy social media use may also lead to fewer meaningful in-person (or real) human interactions. Without meaningful social interactions, it is virtually impossible for friends, family and loved ones to detect that there may be any issues or mental health concerns. Let’s face it, we post our best pictures on social media, snap shots of our favorite meals from those 5 star restaurants, fast and expensive cars, lavish vacations riding horses on the beaches of Aruba, jet-skiing on South Beach in Miami, the best and biggest houses, the nicest cars, clothes and jewelry and the list goes on. These images on social media often depict the persona of a life that is unbothered, free from stress, what can appear to be ‘perfect’.

This ‘perfect’ persona that many portray of themselves and the lives they live, is unrealistic and promotes a false image that many children and young adults feel immense pressure to live up to. By constantly being bombarded by the need to ‘fit in’ and overwhelming feelings of not measuring up, the unhealthy comparison to those on social media who have ‘perfect lives’ has led to increased rates of depression, thoughts, attempts and completion of suicide. Sure many of us can discern between what we see on social media and what is truly ‘reality’, but for children and those already suffering from low self-esteem, or emotional and/or psychological disorders, the constant images of others living their ‘Best Lives’, can lead to increased levels of stress and depression for those that are observing.

While income inequality and the percent of uninsured adults in the US has drastically increased, so has the rates of suicide. Did you know that suicide occurs in the US approximately once every 12 minutes and that suicide now claims two-and-a-half times as many lives in the U.S. than homicides? So why is it that we are not focusing more attention on this epidemic? Why are we not addressing this issue and the factors that lead up to suicidal ideations and attempts? Why are we not addressing the need for mental health services for children in schools, prisons or even hospitals?

I propose we take a minute to regain focus. Let’s be real with ourselves, FIRST. We have to get back to the basics of understanding that we are all a work in progress. None of us are perfect. In fact, to even think that we have perfect bodies, perfect hair, perfect relationships, perfect finances, perfect careers/jobs, and relationships is unrealistic and a set-up for disastrous thinking. Let’s get back to having ‘human interaction’. Let’s talk to one another (face to face) and develop real and meaningful relationships. You know, like we used to do. Let’s turn off and unplug from social media sometimes and simply enjoy one another and this thing called ‘life’. Let’s learn to enjoy the moment, be present in the moment. In fact, rather than quickly pulling out our smartphones to take pictures of those 5 star meals, let’s thank God for allowing us to be able to afford the meal, the health to enjoy the meal and even the company (if you have company) that is dining with you. As a person who loves to post and share on social media myself, I’m learning that everything doesn’t require a post and it’s okay to unplug and that, in my opinion, is how we Live Our Best Lives!

www.DrSheilaDWilliams.com

If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.

Dr. Sheila D. Williams, Ph.D.
Mental Health Advocate
Best-Selling Author of
‘My Mother’s Keeper’
Internationally Certified Speaker,
Trainer and Coach
www.DrSheilaDWilliams.com
Facebook: @DrSheila
Instagram:
@DrSheilaDWilliams
LinkedIn: @DrSheilaDWilliams
Twitter: @DrSDWilliams

This article originally appeared in The Florida Star

Activism

New 988 Behavioral Health Crisis Number Launches in Marin County

“We hope that calling 988 in a behavioral health crisis becomes as second nature as calling 911 in a medical or safety emergency,” said Dr. Jei Africa, BHRS Director. “Everybody has a role to play in crisis response and suicide prevention and that’s why we’d like everyone to be aware of this new number.”

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Marin HHS oversees government-funded behavioral health and recovery services on a local scale. More resources are on the BHRS webpage.
Marin HHS oversees government-funded behavioral health and recovery services on a local scale. More resources are on the BHRS webpage.

Courtesy of Marin County

A new phone number for behavioral health crisis needs will soon launch nationwide. Instead of dialing 911, people should call 988 to report when someone is in danger of self-harm or suicide. Marin County agencies are raising local awareness of the new option and explaining when to use it.

Beginning July 16, 988 is the number to dial or text for urgent help in a time of mental health or substance use crisis, or even witnessing another person deal with a behavioral health challenge. The federal Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) envisions 988 as a first step toward a transformed national crisis care system. The service is a universal entry point to a trained crisis counselor regardless of the caller’s location. Marin will be among the first counties to launch 988, as other areas across the U.S. plan to launch later in 2022.

“We hope that calling 988 in a behavioral health crisis becomes as second nature as calling 911 in a medical or safety emergency,” said Dr. Jei Africa, BHRS Director. “Everybody has a role to play in crisis response and suicide prevention and that’s why we’d like everyone to be aware of this new number.”

The local provider of the Suicide Prevention Lifeline is Novato-based Buckelew Programs. Staff who receive 988 calls or text messages will quickly evaluate the emergency and use trained crisis counselors to provide an appropriate intervention. Urgent calls requiring an in-person mobile crisis response are directed to clinical staff in the Marin County Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and its Behavioral Health and Recovery Services (BHRS) division.

“Buckelew Programs is proud to lead the 988 transition, providing life-saving services for Marin residents,” said Buckelew Programs Chief Executive Officer Chris Kughn. “It means greater access for those experiencing mental health, substance use or suicidal crises. Our trained counselors can provide callers with de-escalation, safety planning, connection to resources, and engagement with mobile and emergency response teams as needed. The hotline helps a person experiencing any level of distress with inclusive, multilingual and culturally sensitive services. 988 is about understanding the caller’s urgent mental health needs and is an alternative to our current emergency response systems.”

The creation of the 988 line is an expansion of the free 24-7 services and confidential support to callers in emotional distress that have been available since 2005. The federal government designated the 988 number to operate through the existing National Suicide Prevention Lifeline in 2020 and went to work creating the infrastructure and training counselors fluent in many languages to respond to caller needs. States can now raise money to fund the call centers and related mental health crisis services by attaching new fees to phone lines. In California, Assembly Bill (AB) 988 is under review in the state senate and would assist with hotline launch and provide funding for local service providers to handle calls.

The launch’s timing this summer ties in with the COVID-19 pandemic, which has added stress to many lives. The national suicide rate has climbed nearly 30% since 1999 and is now the second leading cause of death among young people, according to federal sources. About 20% of the American population has a documented mental health condition.

Recently, high-profile acts of violence against innocent people — especially in the U.S. and especially with firearms — have brought more attention to the need for mental health services. It is estimated that victims in 25% of all officer-involved shootings are people in a mental health crisis. Thus far, law enforcement agencies across the country have supported the 988 program.

“While our 911 dispatchers will continue to be trained in crisis communications, de-escalation and recognizing those experiencing a mental health crisis through our inhouse Crisis Intervention Team post certified training program we welcome the opportunity to work cohesively with 988 operators,” said Heather Costello, Communications Manager for Marin County Sheriff’s 911 Call Center. “Cross-system partnerships are critical to 988’s success because the dedicated phone number will utilize resources from various disciplines, such as mental health, police, and fire, depending on which services may be needed by the person in crisis.”

Marin HHS oversees government-funded behavioral health and recovery services on a local scale. More resources are on the BHRS webpage.

If you or someone you know is in mental health distress, find resources on Prevention.MarinBHRS.org or contact:

Marin Suicide Prevention Hotline: (415) 499-1100

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1 (800) 273-8255 y en Español: 1 (888) 628-9454

The Trevor Lifeline: 1 (866) 488-7386

Friendship Line (for 60 and older): 1 (800) 971-0016

Crisis Text Line: Text MARIN to 741741

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Activism

Center for Elders’ Independence Celebrates 40 Years in the Community

“More than 5,000 senior participants and their families have benefited from CEI and PACE during the 40 years we have served the East Bay and we look forward to being able to serve 5,000 more,” said CEI President and CEO María Zamora.

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CEI participant Ervin Vinson (left) speaks to - geriatric aide O'Nesha Hogroe (center) and Maria Zamora (right), CEO of CEI.
CEI participant Ervin Vinson (left) speaks to - geriatric aide O'Nesha Hogroe (center) and Maria Zamora (right), CEO of CEI.

Senior residents of the East Bay gathered at the Center for Elders’ Independence in San Leandro to celebrate the organization’s 40th anniversary on July 12. About 100 participants and executives from CEI were there to celebrate the milestone with dancing, live music, food, trivia, and activities.

“Our organization has grown so much over the last 40 years that now we have more than 1,000 participants taking part in our programs,” CEI President and CEO María Zamora said. “We recognize the great responsibility we have to everyone who take part and our staff does an amazing job of meeting their needs every day.”

CEI’s participants are served through PACE, a personalized healthcare and services program, which allows seniors to receive the care they need, all while continuing to live at home.

“More than 5,000 senior participants and their families have benefited from CEI and PACE during the 40 years we have served the East Bay and we look forward to being able to serve 5,000 more.” Zamora said.

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Advice

A Wedding and Evening Sail on the Matthew Turner

This mock wedding shows “how sometimes we are so caught up in the celebration, and full of elation that we don’t make sure this partnership will contribute to our elevation,” said Gregory. The event heightened “the awareness of the right-Ship, relation-Ship, and friend-Ships so you won’t be emotionally Ship-wrecked and can sail together to your destination of purpose.”

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By Godfrey Lee

Sharika Gregory hosted an evening program on July 9, 2022, encouraging adults to develop healthy relationships. The program took place on the tall ship Matthew Turner owned and operated by Call of the Sea, the nonprofit that also contributed to the cost of the event.

Sailing on the ship becomes an analogy of how a husband and wife can make a marriage work. The captain and his first mate on a ship are like a husband and his wife in a marriage, Gregory said.

The single man and woman need to know if they are the best fit for each other before they get married. The couple will also need to know how a marriage works, like how the captain, his mate, (and the crew) need to know how the ship works in order to safely sail it. The married couple needs to trust each other, like the captain and the mate need to trust each other in order to sail their ship.

Top: Sharika Gregory, Neferttiti and Bronchè (Photo by Sierre Salin); Neferttiti and Bronchè arguing; Kee-Beez, Sierre Salin, Diamond, Chase Banks, Aleta Toure, Chris Ragland. Oshalla Diana Marcus, Johnetta Newton, Trevor Palacio, Raul Cedeno III. Bottom: The Matthew Turner ship (From modelshipworld.com).

Top: Sharika Gregory, Neferttiti and Bronchè (Photo by Sierre Salin); Neferttiti and Bronchè arguing; Kee-Beez, Sierre Salin, Diamond, Chase Banks, Aleta Toure, Chris Ragland. Oshalla Diana Marcus, Johnetta Newton, Trevor Palacio, Raul Cedeno III. Bottom: The Matthew Turner ship (From modelshipworld.com.

The event started in front of the Bay Model Visitor Center with a mock wedding between Nefertiti and Bronchè Steward, where Bronchè suddenly realized that he needs to be committed to his wife. The second half of the program began on the ship with Nefertiti and Bronchè arguing, and Nefertiti runs away to the front of the ship.

This mock wedding shows “how sometimes we are so caught up in the celebration, and full of elation that we don’t make sure this partnership will contribute to our elevation,” said Gregory. The event heightened “the awareness of the right-Ship, relation-Ship, and friend-Ships so you won’t be emotionally Ship-wrecked and can sail together to your destination of purpose.”

Around 40 people attended and enjoyed the event, which offered food and drinks donated by the Strawberry Village Safeway. The ship sailed to the middle of the Bay with its engines and then the crew hauled up two of the sails. But there was not enough wind to sail the ship.

The Matthew Turner, a brigantine, is a tall ship owned and operated by the Call of the Seas. She will be used to help the crew on her sister ship, the Seaward, teach sailing and marine environmental programs to adults and middle school-aged youth. The Matthew Turner was designed after the ship Galilee, which was built in the late 1800s by the ship designer and builder Matthew Turner. The length of her deck is 100 feet long, and has a total of 7,200 square feet of sails. She is docked at the Bay Model Visitor Center’s Pier in Sausalito.

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Photos courtesy of Ella Baker Center, photography by Brooke Anderson
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