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County Children and Youth workers certified as mental health responders

LOCK HAVEN — Tina Deavor and Martie Buck, two representatives of the Clinton County Children and Youth Services program, recently spent three days in Hershey at a conference for the American Mental Wellness Association (AMWA), where a mass of information and instructional guides were presented and mental health responders were exposed to various scenarios that an individual can face.

“With the holidays approaching, it is the perfect time of the year to talk about mental health,” Deavor explained as she presented a report from AMWA to the Clinton County commissioners on Monday morning.

“We have become certified through the AMWA as medical responders. It is a three-year certification, then at that point, we will take another course for recertification,” Deavor said.

“We went over a lot of the complexities of the brain, and the potential for injury with the brain being so fragile, and the impact of diet and self-care in how individuals take care of their body. That could involve taking vacation time instead of letting it pile up, or taking sick days when you are sick instead of pressing on. During stressful times it is important as an individual to know how to reduce that stress,” Deavor explained.

“We have recently been working with a veteran dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD. One thing that is interesting, with brain injuries and concussions… you may think of football players … but we are seeing the same in post-military studies on the brain, even just in training,” she said.

“The conference was overwhelming at times with all the new information. There is a lot of money being spent on suicide preventation services, but mental health is usually the underlying issue. Awareness is key, mental health is not a bad thing to talk about. Mental health problems are not a bag thing to have and it is important to discuss and take care of these issues in a healthy way,” said Buck.

Prevention of mental disorders and substance abuse in children and young adults is critical to America’s behavioral and physical health.

“So why are we spending so much money on suicide prevention and the opioid epidemic? For true system-level impact to reduce the number of people suffering from addiction and other mental health problems, focusing on prevention of mental illness is paramount for success,”the presentation quotes Sharon Engdahl, the executive director of AMWA.

“There is an information highway from your gut to your brain,” also notes the AMWA, and Deavor urges that healthy eating can be critical to brain development and the retention of mental health and wellness.

“So that phrase, ‘you are what you eat?’….so that is true?” asked commissioner Robert “Pete” Smeltz.

“That is very true,” answered Buck. “It can also be helpful to stretch, exercise, walk, work out, or otherwise get some sort of physical activity. Physical activity can be a very natural and healthy response to stress.”

Deavor and Buck also note that they work towards recognizing symptoms of poor mental health in their case studies at a very young age, “at the earliest possible time”, any time they are dealing with depression or anxiety, and that they try to help people deal with the underlying core problems of their unhappiness before the issues develop into mental disorders.

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