The Caledonian-Record: “The Path To Normalcy”

A young teacher is murdered by a couple pretending to need help. Her 2-year-old child is left in the car unharmed. Amy Ash Nixon, a reporter from the local St. Johnsbury, Vt newspaper, The Caledonian-Record, turns to Pace’s Dr. Richard Shadick to ask how their community can recover from a horrifying violent crime like this.

The abduction, assault and murder of Melissa Jenkins – a popular teacher at St. Johnsbury Academy – has left the community searching for answers, reports The Caledonian-Record in the article, “The Path To Normalcy.”

Many people have been in both shock and disbelief, a feeling that things like this aren’t supposed to happen here.

Dr. Richard Shadick, director of the counseling center and an adjunct professor of psychology at Pace University in New York City, offered his insight into the tragedy that has rocked St. Johnsbury and neighboring towns this week in an interview with Reporter/Columnist Amy Ash Nixon.

“How to help the community heal is the question. It really helps for the local government to have a clear plan in mind about the situation or the traumatic event that occurred. We saw a great example of that with 9/11 in New York City with the mayor providing information that was clear and accurate,” said Dr. Shadick. “People tend to heal faster from traumatic events when they know what is going on.”

“Information about trauma should be disseminated to the community. It’s a horrific situation, but that doesn’t mean that everyone is going to submit to a post-traumatic stress disorder, or get depressed or anxious,” he said Friday afternoon. “Most people are resilient when it comes to circumstances like this. So to get information out about the fact that people are resilient and they can take certain steps to heal from this trauma and not become incapacitated by it,” said Dr. Shadick.

On hearing the signs of community support, about the pink balloons and ribbons tied everywhere, Dr. Shadick said, “that can be very healing.”

“Providing information about what is the process for healing is helpful, too. And to provide guidance when healing isn’t going right,” he said. “If someone is having great difficulty eating or sleeping for weeks and weeks on end, if they are feeling depressed or suicidal, these are all signs that help from a mental health professional is indicated.”

“There are different groups of people that may need different things. Children may need to have a different type of intervention, if you will, than adults, and people who knew the victim may need more support, and an opportunity to grieve differently than the rest of the community,” said Dr. Shadick. “Memorials are helpful. Scholarship funds, those kinds of things, fundraising for the family and many people respond very positively to taking an active role in helping the victims, and that can be very healing.

NEWS RELEASE: Ask a Question; Save a Life. Pace University Receives Grant for Online Training of Faculty and Staff in Suicide Prevention

QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) is a nationally recognized suicide prevention program designed to educate persons to recognize and respond to the signs of suicidal thinking or behavior. Research has shown that those who ultimately attempt suicide often provide numerous direct or indirect clues as to their intentions. Contact Dr. Richard Shadick at shadick@pace.edu or 212-346-1526 to sign up for online training and learn how you can save a life.

Pace University Receives Grant for Online Training of Faculty and Staff in Suicide Prevention;  Gatekeeper Approach Strengthens “Community Connectedness” to Detect and Treat At-Risk Individuals

 – Suicide is the third leading cause of death for 15-24 year olds –

NEW YORK, NY, March 21, 2012 – Pace University’s Counseling Center, New York City campus, has received a one-time, $6,000 mini-grant from the QPR Institute for the implementation of a local online suicide prevention training program.

“Suicide remains the third leading cause of death among the 15-24 year old age group, of which most college students fall within,” said Richard Shadick, Ph.D., Director of Pace’s Counseling Center in New York City and an adjunct Professor of Psychology.Stigma of mental health services can prevent students from getting the attention they need.  Seventy-five percent of students who die by suicide never come for counseling.  While suicide is one of the most preventable forms of death, doing so is quite complex.  Pace will use this grant to train faculty and staff in a simple gatekeeper procedure that follows CPR and can save lives.”

QPR involves these three simple steps:

  • Question … a person about suicide
  • Persuade … the person to get help
  • Refer …the person to the appropriate resource

To date, more than one million Americans have been trained in the QPR Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention program. QPR (Question, Persuade, Refer) is an evidence-based, Suicide Prevention Resource Center/American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (SPRC/AFSP) registered “best practice” program taught in classrooms by more than 5,000 Certified Instructors throughout the U.S. and abroad.

Ask a Question; Save a Life 

“What can be done to help individuals who are suicidal? Knowing the warning signs and symptoms of suicide can help,” advised Dr. Shadick. ”Suicidal individuals can be depressed, hopeless, angry, or socially isolated. They often have difficulty with sleeping or eating and demonstrate obvious changes in their appearance. Students who are suicidal have significant academic or financial problems or experience a significant loss, such as a relationship break up, divorce, or move. Suicidal individuals also talk about dying-either indirectly, such as saying that they want to end their pain or make it all go away, or directly, such as stating that they want to kill themselves. Students whom have attempted to kill themselves in the past are particularly at risk for future suicide death. Finally, with college students a significant proportion of suicides involve drug or alcohol use.”

QPR’s online suicide prevention program “gatekeeper” training takes about an hour.  A gatekeeper is someone who knows the basics about suicide and intervention skills, believes that suicide can be prevented and can assist in the aftermath of suicide.  The three formal goals of the program are:

  • Goal 1: Build community capacity to prevent suicide by strengthening community connectedness through gatekeeper training designed to detect and treat at-risk persons before a suicide attempt or completion occurs.
  • Goal 2: Reduce the frequency and base rates of suicide attempts and completions in communities experiencing increasing and high rates of suicide events (attempts and fatalities).
  • Goal 3: Establish sustainable suicide prevention programming and staff infrastructure at the community level through a public-private partnership. 

If someone is talking about killing themselves or is experiencing some of these symptoms, it is essential to intervene,” added Dr. Shadick.  “One should listen without judgment and acknowledge the pain they are suffering. Even if they downplay their symptoms, one should take them seriously. It is essential to get them to a psychologist quickly. Sometimes a college student may feel that there is a stigma connected to going to a campus counseling center. One should let them know that the counseling center is another form of academic support just like a writing center or tutoring service and that many students go to these centers for a wide variety of concerns, not because they are mentally ill.”

Members of the Pace Community who are interested in participating in the QPR Gatekeeper Training for Suicide Prevention program should contact Dr. Shadick directly at rshadick@pace.edu, 212-346-1526.

About Pace University

For 105 years Pace has produced thinking professionals by providing high quality education for the professions on a firm base of liberal learning amid the advantages of the New York metropolitan area. A private university, Pace has campuses in New York City and Westchester County, New York, enrolling nearly 13,000 students in bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral programs in its Lubin School of Business, Dyson College of Arts and Sciences, College of Health Professions, School of Education, School of Law, and Seidenberg School of Computer Science and Information Systems. www.pace.edu

Media Contact: Samuella Becker, sbecker2@pace.edu, 212-346-1637 or 917-734-5172 

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Prevention Magazine: “8 Ways to Beat the Holiday Blues”

It’s hard to tell when all the joyous merriment of the season tips over into a seemingly undue case of the blues. From social, work and family celebrations, to financial pressure of gift-buying, to the hurry-up-and-party mentality, to skipped workouts, erratic eating and overblown New Year’s Resolutions … the fact is, holiday blues are nearly inevitable. Here’s a spoonful of coping advice from Pace’s Dr. Richard Shadick.

“Remember, holidays are often stressful. Holidays require more of us–more socializing, more shopping, and more running around,” says Richard Shadick, PhD, Director of the Counseling Center and Associate Adjunct Professor of Psychology at Pace University, in an article appearing in Prevention magazine and online at MSN Health.  “All of this can be taxing, so adjust your expectations and you won’t be as disappointed if the holidays don’t feel like great fun.”

Don’t go for broke

“Financial pressures are common during the holidays, particularly given the state of the economy in the past few years,” says Shadick. “Don’t assume that you are required to give lavishly if you cannot afford to. Complete a budget and stick to it.” Find thoughtful ways to reach out to people—whether it’s offering to pick up items for a neighbor when you’re hitting the grocery for the sixth time in a week, or just texting a friend who’s entertaining a houseful to see how she’s doing.

Forbes.com: “Ilya Zhitomirskiy: With Grief, A Dialogue On Depression, Stress And Anxiety Takes Shape”

In the wake of the suicide of a promising tech entrepreneur this weekend, Dr. Richard Shadick helps us – and Forbes.com readers – to understand the mindset of young founders in a startup culture who may be dealing with issues of isolation/stress/depression.

In the wake of the passing this weekend of Ilya Zhitomirskiy, one of the four founders of much-hyped open-source social network Diaspora, an unsettling conversation has begun within the tech community. Zhitomirskiy’s death, rumored to be a suicide but officially the cause is unknown, has ignited what many see as a much-needed and long-awaited dialogue in the industry: the mental health repercussions of the immense pressure and scrutiny—both internal and external—that young tech founders weather in their quest for the new American Dream.

“These are the new masters of the universe,” says Richard Shadick, Ph.D., the director of Pace University’s counseling center and adjunct professor of psychology in an interview with Forbes.com. “We saw the same profile with Wall Streeters in the 80s: lots and lots of pressure and enough money to motivate them to keep striving for more.” Entrepreneurs, especially those in the high-risk-high-reward startup game tend to have a specific type of personality profile, he says: exceedingly driven, creative, often idiosyncratic thinkers with what can be overwhelmingly high ideals. “It takes a little bit of craziness just to undertake such a huge endeavor to begin with.”

But are entrepreneurs any more prone to depression than the rest of the world? New research does link the creative thought process and capacity for highly focused work so often seen in founders with depressive thinking. Amongst themselves, founders point to isolation, pressure and lack of adequate health care as fuel to the fire of depression. One fund-raising entrepreneur notes that looking for funding might make it especially difficult for a young founder to address any mental health issues he might face. “I do believe it is an impediment to getting investor backing,” he says. “Depression is not well understood by people who haven’t experienced it.”

In the wake of a tragedy like the death of a member of the community, an outcry for a solution is natural. By all accounts the opening of a dialogue on the mental health issues of entrepreneurs—a possible predisposition to depressive thinking and the insurmountable pressure of attempting to reach superstardom by 30—is a step in the right direction.

But Shadick thinks it’s imperative that the conversation surrounding mental health become an industry priority.“The prototype of a Zuckerberg can be quite dangerous for someone to try and attain,” he says. To that end he says it’s essential to address the issue of stress management within the community and the encouragement of realistic work-life balance. “Particularly for founders. Because if someone is starting a company, they’re going to be the model for all future employees and the health of the corporate culture.”

And if work-life balance plays even the tiniest part of the mental health of an individual, that seems like one place where the risk just isn’t worth it.

WebMD: “Coming Out as a LGBT Teen”

Coming out as gay, lesbian, bisexual or transgender can be tough at any age, but teens have a lot more to think about. Is it safe to come out at school? Will your mom or dad reject you? Will you be kicked out of the house?

If you’ve spent the past few months or years figuring out that you’re gay, bisexual or transgender, you may want to tell someone else. You want to be true to who you are.  How can you do that safely and with support?

“You need to be firm in your own identity and work through some of the issues you might have with your sexuality first,” says Regina Hund, PhD, a clinical psychologist at the Pace University Counseling Center in New York, in a WebMD feature story. “It’ll be easier to allow other people to go through their process of understanding if you are comfortable with yourself first. You’ll be less vulnerable to rejection.”

Carolina Parent: “Easing Your Teen’s School-Related Anxiety”

Back-to-school = back-to-stress?

As the demanding school year draws near, many teens begin to experience higher stress levels. Here are tips from Pace’s Dr. Richard Shadick as to how you can help your teen get a handle on stress before it wreaks havoc on their psyche.

“Often teens feel stress about the start of the school year because their schedule is quite different during the summer,” says Richard N. Shadick, director of Pace University Counseling Center and adjunct professor of psychology, in Myrna Beth Haskell’s back to school/August column which has a circulation of over 500,000 readersand appears in a number of parenting publications across the country, including Carolina Parent.  

“They are used to fewer demands and expectations. Also, during the summer, some teens tend to lose their social network. This makes for an awkward transition and the need to get reacquainted with peers after much time has passed.”

Teens might be concerned about considerable changes as well, such as more intense academic loads or new school environments.

“Depending on the year, teens may be facing major challenges such as starting high school, applying to colleges or looking for work,” Shadick says.

Don’t underestimate stress

“Signs that your teen’s stress is getting out of hand include drastic changes in grades, personality or habits,” Shadick says. “For example, if a neat and orderly teen starts to become disheveled and disorganized, parents may need to be concerned.”

Parents can help

Shadick believes planning a structured summer is essential because this alleviates a drastic transition. He also advises maintaining your teen’s social activities and connections.

“Encourage your teen to stay in contact with their friends from school so that they will have the social support they need when they return to classes,” Shadick says. He also says it’s a good idea for parents to talk frequently with their teens about the transition from summer vacation to school, and to work with them on being properly prepared for the change.

San Diego Red/San Diego Union-Tribune: “Mental health professionals analyze murder-suicide cases that claim eight lives in San Diego area in little more than a week, including four children”

San Diego recently experienced back to back murder suicides involving Hispanic families. Looking for insight, San Diego Red, the bilingual partner of the San Diego Union-Tribune, reached out to Pace’s Dr. Richard Shadick, asking him to shed light on these tragedies, put them into context of economic times and address cultural factors.

What are the warning signs of potential murder suicide; how rare is it and what resources are typically available?

Dr. Richard Shadick, director of the Counseling Center at Pace University in New York, said people who want to kill themselves usually give warning signs.

“Most notably, if someone has a history of violence they report feelings of depression, anger management difficulties, a sense of hopelessness and helplessness,” Shadick said. “There is social withdrawal from the family, community and friends. Substances can be involved.”

“Typically there are some difficulties that have occurred prior to a murder-suicide, financial difficulties, perhaps domestic violence,” he said.

The SanDiegoRed, the bilingual partner of the San Diego Union-Tribune, reported that according to health experts, Latinos suffer from mental illness about the same rate as the rest of the population but are less likely to seek help. In San Diego County, Latinos make up one-third of the region’s population but are just 20 percent of the adults who seek help at county mental health facilities.

“There is some shame associated with it,” Shadick said, echoing a well-known cultural barrier. There is an expectation among Latinos, he said, that “men should be able to handle their problems on their own, that they should be able to make money for the family and handle marital or relationship difficulties without relying on others.”

EverydayHealth: “5 Questions Doctors Ask When Screening for Depression”

Mental health professionals rely on a number of screening tools to accurately diagnose depression. Here’s a peek at the questions they ask — so you can assess your own risk.

Not everyone experiences the same warning signs of depression, according to a just-published article on EverydayHealth.com.  Some people may endure sadness, hopelessness, feelings of guilt; others may lose interest in their favorite activities, have trouble thinking clearly, or face fatigue and changes in their sleeping or eating patterns.

“Diagnosing depression requires a complete history and physical exam,” says Richard Shadick, PhD, associate adjunct professor of psychology and director of the counseling center at Pace University in New York City. Doctors must also rule out medical problems such as thyroid disease and consider coexisting emotional health issues like anxiety disorder, post traumatic stress, and substance abuse.

What goes into a depression screening? “There are many types of depression scales and depression screens,” explains Shadick. “The questions asked look for common symptoms as well as how much these symptoms might be affecting a person’s ability to function and maintain relationships.”

American Medical News: “Doctors confront burst of mental health problems after disasters”

Disaster planning tends to focus on responding to the immediate physical needs and injuries of victims. But experts such as Pace’s Dr. Richard Shadick say more must be done to address the mental health impact in the aftermath of tornadoes, earthquakes, wildfires, floods, hurricanes and terrorism attacks.

In the first 24 hours, disaster survivors such as those in Joplin, Mo., often exhibit confusion, despair, disbelief and disorientation.  The emotional distress often is compounded by concerns about safety and finding shelter.

But mental health professionals urge doctors to be cautious about prescribing medication to ease symptoms. They say drugs sometimes can hinder a person’s ability to cope properly with a traumatic event.

“The goal is to help an individual make sense of their world being overturned. If one is overmedicated, that makes it much more difficult to do the psychological work of moving beyond the trauma,” said Richard Shadick, PhD, director of the Pace University Counseling Center in New York City, in a featured article in this week’s American Medical News.

In cases of terrorism — such as the Sept. 11, 2001, attacks — fear is a common response among victims.  Some survivors develop acute stress disorder shortly after a traumatic incident, Shadick said. The condition can last up to a month and is characterized by anxiety, disorientation, and difficulty sleeping or eating.

EverydayHealth.com: “Why Are So Many Gay Teens Depressed?”

Too often, hostile environments at school and at home make gay and lesbian adolescents depressed. Dr. Richard Shadick, director of Pace’s NYC Campus Counseling Center, suggests how teens in the LGBT adolescent scene can find the emotional support they need.

A recent National School Climate Survey of 7,000 lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) students, ranging in age from 13 to 21, found that 80 percent had been verbally harassed, 40 percent physically harassed, 60 percent felt unsafe at school, and one in three had missed a day of school in the last month due to fear of violence.

Given these struggles, it’s no surprise that a LGBT teen may experience depression.

“Family members and friends can provide needed support for a loved one who might be depressed,” advised Richard Shadick, PhD, director of the Counseling Center and an adjunct professor of psychology at Pace University in New York City, in an interview with EverydayHealth.com.  “Warning signs include a change in how a gay teen relates (they become withdrawn and isolated), how they look (they may become unkempt, sad, or dispirited), or how they act (they may give away prize possessions, talk of wanting to die, and/or engage in impulsive and dangerous behavior).  They may also drink or use drugs heavily.  And if a teen has a family member that has died because of suicide or they have tried to kill themselves before, then there should be extra concern,” said Shadick.

Click here to read more of the article – “Why Are So Many Gay Teen Depressed?” – which appears on EverydayHealth.com, a leading provider of online health solutions with more than 28 million monthly unique visitors.