National Prescription Take-Back Day

27 April, 2011 (13:41) | Uncategorized | By: Michele Lee

UBH Denton wants you to know:

Prescription and over-the-counter (OTC) drug abuse among 11- 17 year old youth is rapidly increasing.  The National Prescription Take-Back Day is this Saturday, April 30, 2011.  Please see the following link for locations in the N. Texas area to turn in unused prescription and over-the-counter medications.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

26 April, 2011 (19:23) | Uncategorized | By: admin

EmailPrint..– Mon Apr 25, 1:00 pm ET
ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 25, 2011 –

Mental Health Conditions Common, But Treatable; Individuals Go on to Live Productive Lives

ALEXANDRIA, Va., April 25, 2011 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — May is Mental Health Month, and Mental Health America is raising awareness about the 1 in 4 American adults who live with a diagnosable, treatable mental health condition and the fact that they can go on to live full and productive lives.

Mental Health Month was created more than 50 years ago by Mental Health America to raise awareness about mental health conditions and the importance of mental wellness and promoting good mental health for all.

One theme of this year’s activities, “Do More for 1 in 4,” is a call to action to help the more than 54 million adult Americans who have a diagnosable mental health condition.
“We want everyone to know that while mental health and substance use conditions are common, they are extremely treatable and individuals go on to recover and lead full and productive lives,” said David Shern, Ph.D., president and CEO of Mental Health America.

Dr. Shern said too many people who are living with a mental health condition never seek or receive help due to stigma, lack of information, cost, or lack of health care insurance coverage—as high as 50 percent.

“We need to change that,” he said. “It’s important that everyone have access to treatment and services because we have a tremendous amount of knowledge about how to identify, treat and even prevent mental health conditions.”

Dr. Shern noted there are many programs available in the workplace and the community that provide help and assistance to individuals who have a mental health or substance use condition. Mental Health America’s over 300 affiliates also provide critical resources and services in their communities. For a directory of affiliates, go to

The federal mental health parity and addiction equity act, passed in 2008, also expands access to care. That law, which applies to groups of more than 50 employees, doesn’t require coverage for mental health and substance use conditions. But if an insurance policy includes coverage for these conditions, that coverage must be on a par with coverage for other medical conditions. Higher deductibles, steeper co-pays, visit limits and other restrictions are no longer allowed for mental health and substance use treatment.

“The parity law and the new health reform law recognize what we have known for a number of years: mental health is integral to our overall health and well-being,” he said.

“Mental health is a major factor in all aspects of our lives. We see it play out in our relationships, in our performance at work or school and in health issues. All of us live with these daily threats to our mental health, whether it is major tragedies or common life changes.”

Dr. Shern said it could be someone coping with the stress of care giving or divorce or losing a loved one.

“Sometimes, people are dealing with depression associated with a chronic disease such as diabetes, cancer or hypertension. Or it could be a veteran struggling with the invisible wounds of war. And traumatic events like the BP oil spill can take a huge toll on mental health.”

But he noted that there are tested tools available that can help every person face difficult times and challenges and improve their resiliency.

Mental Health America’s Live Your Life Well program ( offers ten tools based on extensive scientific evidence that can help people respond to stress. It was designed to help increase the number of people who take action to protect and promote their mental health so they can handle life’s challenges, build resiliency and flourish.

Visit Mental Health America to find out more about its work and this year’s Mental Health Month ( activities.

Mental Health America ( is the nation’s largest and oldest community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives. With our more than 300 affiliates across the country, we touch the lives of millions—Advocating for changes in mental health and wellness policy; Educating the public & providing critical information; and delivering urgently needed mental health and wellness Programs and Services.

SOURCE Mental Health America

April is Alcohol Awareness Month

26 April, 2011 (18:57) | Uncategorized | By: Michele Lee

Experts estimate that one in four children in the U.S. is affected by or exposed to a family alcohol problem. This exposure puts children at increased risk of immediate and future problems. Among them are physical illness, emotional disturbances, behavior problems, and lower educational performance, as well as a much higher susceptibility to alcoholism or other addiction later in life.

“Youngsters who get involved in drinking before age 15 are at far greater risk of more severe forms of alcoholism, so anytime you see drinking at such an early age, it is a dangerous situation,” NishenduVasavada, MD said.

Generally, Vasavada pointed out, children who drink before they are 15 are already starting to get in trouble at school when it comes to following rules or controlling their behavior. “With more of a risk-taking nature, these young adults experiment with alcohol,” Vasavada said. And at that age, he added, it is more likely that their brains will get sensitized to the alcohol consumption and, in effect, need alcohol in order to feel “normal.”

Teen Suicide

26 April, 2011 (18:56) | Uncategorized | By: Michele Lee

Written by Dr. Nishendu Vasavada, Corporate Medical Director of University Behavioral Health (UBH) of Denton

It was 1962. He was a tenth grader that showed up at our house unannounced. He wanted to meet with my Dad.  Dad was the principal of our school and was very popular among the students. I often watched with jealousy as students would come to the house and carry on conversations with him about every subject imaginable from Cricket to politics. This visit was different though. He was a quiet fellow who never said a lot. He came inside, politely talked to my father, but uttered only a few sentences. I wondered why he walked all the way to our house when he did not really have a whole lot to say. As he was leaving, he kept looking at the mature trees around our house, gazed at the sky. He never turned back to say good bye.

The next day, his body was found. He had jumped in the lake and taken his life. Now that I look back as a practicing psychiatrist, warning signs were there. We just did not know what they were. He was withdrawn. His grades had fallen. His family thought that he was acting strange. Few of the students had made fun of him, but he would never respond to them, neither with anger or sadness.

Warning signs can be subtle or obvious. A teen can become very jovial like the one in Lewisville did a while back before he took his life, although that is rare. More common signs are social withdrawal, poor grades, isolation, comments about suicide, expressing hopeless thoughts, turning to drugs or excessive anger. Sometimes unusual physical complaints. Sometimes a suicide pact with a friend. Lack of sleep, low energy and irritability are other signs of depression that we should look for.

Now the aftermath of the suicide by my Dad’s student. Dad felt really bad. Meal times were quiet. He did not know what he could have done or said to prevent this tragedy. The boy’s parents wondered what our family knew about him since we were one of the last ones to see him. We had no answers. Even now when I talk about teen suicide, I bring him up.  After all, he did not die in vain. I may have become interested in mental health because of him. A few tears are still in the back of my eyes when I see his face. We were there and we missed it.

Even simple statements about suicide should be taken seriously. A gesture of suicide can turn into a real tragedy if the means are lethal. Lethal does not have to mean a gun. Cold medications and a combination of alcohol and pills can be deadly. Prevention should include peer training and openly asking questions if there is concern. Prevention of alcohol and drug abuse is important, as well as prevention of bullying.