January 2021/Issue XVI
24/7 Phone Line for Those in Crisis:
Substance Use and Teens - A Special "Must See" Pandemic Zoomcast

Photo Credit: Greta Scholderle Moller

No matter your age, this pandemic is tough. But it may be particularly tough for teenagers when friendships are more important than ever, and teens are programmed to push for independence. It's also a time when the brain's ability to exercise judgement is still developing, and depression and other mental health disorders can develop.

In this timely and insightful Zoomcast, you'll learn about substance use trends during the pandemic and how to recognize substance misuse in teens. Nick Thelen, Director of Substance Use Services, and David Chmielecki, MA, Licensed Alcohol and Drug Counselor, also talk about how to engage with teens frankly. Did you know that genetics can contribute to substance misuse by a factor of 30%? Early intervention helps the teenage brain while it's still flexible enough to develop lifelong defenses. Chris Seibel of Hanover High School moderates. 
Need to set up your first appointment? Call our "New Client" Appointment Line:


Teletherapy and in-person appointments available
Masked Marvels: The Sequel

Introducing ... West Central's
Pandemic Pioneers
You knew them in the beginning when, suited up with powerful masks made by the Upper Valley Mask Makers, they went out into the world to serve, comfort, and inspire. Now they're back - but in a new and even more powerful form - to seek out the evil COVID-19, and vanquish this enemy at every turn with the
u l t i m a t e w e a p o n ...
Featuring Matt Mooshian, Case Manager, and Anna West, Adult Team Leader

Our powerful Pandemic Pioneers will be making appearances on our Facebook and Instagram pages. Follow them as they receive their first and second vaccines against COVID-19, share CDC-approved scientific facts about the vaccine, and encourage all humans on earth (with a few exceptions) to get vaccinated and assist the noble cause of good health!

Pandemic Pioneer Words of Wisdom...
FACT: COVID-19 vaccines will not give you COVID-19
None of the COVID-19 vaccines contain the live virus that causes COVID-19. They do, however, teach our immune systems how to recognize and fight the virus that causes COVID-19 by developing antibodies. Sometimes this process can briefly cause symptoms, such as fever. These symptoms are normal and are a sign that the body is building immunity. It typically takes a few weeks for the body to build immunity after vaccination. That means it’s possible a person could be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 just before or just after vaccination and get sick. This is because the vaccine has not had enough time to provide protection, and is one of the reasons it will still be important for you to wear a mask after you are vaccinated.

FACT: COVID-19 vaccines will not cause you to test positive on COVID-19 viral tests
Neither of the currently available vaccines will cause you to test positive on a common viral test checking for infection. It is possible you could test positive on an antibody test after your immune system learns to protect itself from the virus, but that's a good thing. Antibodies are a sign of immunity!

Join us, on Instagram and Facebook, to celebrate these and other Pandemic Pioneers as they work tirelessly to battle COVID-19 and save the world!
It's Finally Here - West Central's 2020 Report on Philanthropy!!!

We love this time of year, because it's the time that we get to say "Thank You" to all of our supporters who make it possible to do our work in the community! Our 2020 Report on Philanthropy is now on our website. If you would like a hardcopy, just let us know at info@wcbh.org.
Want to Help?
Photo Credit: Ayana Wyse

We can't ask for better donors than the ones we have, but we would love to add you to that list! Now that the holidays have died down, if you're feeling grateful for what you have, and want to share that by helping someone in need, please consider making an online donation to help our most at-risk clients. With your help, we can provide these clients in need with personal mental health or substance misuse care from our expert and compassionate clinicians. As the non-profit community behavioral health center serving the Upper Valley and Sullivan County, we know there is no better gift than the gift of mental health! Thank you!!!
Headlamps for Mental Health - West Central Receives Community Support for an Unusual Solution Photo Credit: Steve Halama

Keeping our clients healthy these days isn't only about mental health, but physical health, too. We make sure all of our clinicians and staff wear masks and other PPE at work, stay home if they're feeling sick, and provide screening and masks for those who come to our offices for treatment. We also offer teletherapy and video-conference appointments to most clients, depending on their treatment needs. But how to offer community-based services as the days grow shorter? We collaborated with community partners to find a fun, creative solution with headlamps! If you missed it in the Valley News or Eagle Times, read about it, here.
Living with Schizophrenia: What is it, and What Does it Feel Like?

Photo Credit: JR Korpa

Many of us have heard the term "schizophrenia," but unless you're a professional or an individual living with this mental illness, do you really know what it is? Generally speaking (and without treatment), people with schizophrenia experience altered reality - at least some of the time. This means they may hear, smell, feel or see things that are not actually there. They may also have delusions (thinking things are happening that are not actually happening) and cognitive issues that may affect speech, memory, or focus. The illness tends to develop in late teens or early adulthood, and can affect the way a person thinks, feels and behaves.

While no two people are the same, and the symptoms of any mental illness vary from person to person, living with schizophrenia is challenging. Luckily, the illness is treatable. You may even know a person receiving treatment for schizophrenia, and be unaware of their diagnosis.

If you do learn that someone you know is living with schizophrenia, how should you behave if you realize they're experiencing symptoms? First, know that people living with schizophrenia are no more apt to be dangerous than any other person. It may also help to know that, despite what you may have seen in scary movies, people with mental illnesses are more likely to be victims of crime than perpetrators. Second, remember that those with schizophrenia are people first - and deserve to be treated as such. If someone with schizophrenia seems confused or upset, and you think they may be experiencing symptoms, try to be reassuring and don't argue with them about what they are experiencing - ask how you can help.

As for how it feels to live with schizophrenia? One person living with schizophrenia summed up his experience and needs succinctly...

...My diagnosis doesn’t mean misery: It just means I, and the people around me, need to learn how to live well by making adjustments. Cancelling last minute, leaving early, or changing plans to be in a more helpful environment based on my symptoms is all part of the flexibility it takes to be the healthiest version of myself...

Another said...

...The stigma can sometimes be worse than the disease itself...

Rest assured that schizophrenia isn't contagious, and many people who live with the disorder have jobs, families, interests, dreams and hobbies like anyone else. As one individual living
with the illness said recently, "it's a disorder, and it doesn't define me."

For more information about schizophrenia and how to help a person living with it, see the National Institute fo Mental Health's page on the topic, or the American Psychiatric Association's page.
A Day to Remember -
Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

We thank this man who gave his life for equality and justice for people of color while, in the process, making this country a better place for all. His words give us inspiration to move forward.

"You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step"
The (Other) Epidemic

New data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) shows that more people are dying from drug overdoses in this country than at any
Photo Credit: Michael Longmire

time in our history. In the 12-month period ending in May 2020, this country lost more than 81,000 people to this scourge. Many of these overdoses were not the result of a single drug, such as fentanyl (a factor in the majority of overdose deaths), but a mix of drugs that overload the system.

More than 40 states reported annual increases in opioid-related overdose deaths, with the pandemic triggering or worsening substance use disorder as people search for ways to cope with the stress. Overdose deaths in July of 2020 were 45% higher than the same period in 2019 - a trend reflected in all but one month (June) in a month-to-month comparison. Sheila Vakharia, a Director at the Drug Policy Alliance, explains that the "depression, the anxiety, the uncertainty, the loneliness, the isolation - all of these factors aren't good for mental health." Economic woes and an increase in joblessness only compound the situation.

We at West Central have seen this tragic trend in our area. Calls to local police and our own Emergency Crisis Line are increasing. And after a dip earlier in the pandemic, the number of clients receiving treatment at our SUD services office in Claremont has risen by approximately 25% in the last three months.

If you are struggling with substance use, symptoms of depression, or other symptoms of mental illness, know that West Central is here and providing mental health treatment, and treatment for substance use disorder, including medication-assisted treatment (MAT). If you think you may be misusing drugs or other substances, or are concerned about your mental health, call us at 603-542-5128 to find out how to make an initial appointment. If you (or someone you know) is experiencing a mental health or substance use crisis, call our 24/7 crisis line: 1-800-564-2578.
Letters to the Editor

Do you have an experience to share, a question about West Central, or a resource people should know about? Send us an email - we want to hear from you! While we can't promise to publish Photo Credit: Joel Muniz
everything, we will do our best to share the most appropriate (non-commercial) information. Please include your name and a way we can reach you for questions or clarifications. If you would prefer we not use your name due to privacy concerns, just let us know! Email info@wcbh.org.
We're Open...
If you aren't already a client, and you want to make your FIRST appointment, call us at: (603) 542-5128.
In-Person and Teletherapy Visits Available
Share This Newsletter: You Might Save a Life!
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This newsletter is sent monthly to all West Central staff, Board and Committee members, and our many friends and supporters with heartfelt thanks. Please share it with your friends and family so people remember our name and the work we do as this region's community mental health and
substance use center.

When people in need know who we are,
they'll contact us when they need help.
(for past newsletters click here)

Nurturing Dreams...Transforming Lives
West Central Behavioral Health serves clients in the Upper Valley and Sullivan County, and has offices in Lebanon, Claremont, and Newport, NH.
WCBH is a tax-exempt, 501(c)(3) organization.