Classes of Mental Health Disorders

…it is such a relief to finally get help after experiencing issues for a long time–

According to the WHO (World Health Organization), mental health is:  “… a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.”

Mental health is all about how we think, feel and behave.  It refers to our cognitive, behavioral and emotional well-being.   It also impacts our ability to enjoy life – to find a balance between the stressors and activities we face and our ability to be resilient.  The lack of good mental health can affect our daily lives, our relationships and even our physical health.

We all have the potential to develop mental health problems, no matter how old we are, whether we are male or female, rich or poor, or which ethnic group we belong to.

2019 research shows:

  1. In the United States, almost half of adults (46.4 percent) will experience a mental illness during their lifetime.
  2. 5 percent of adults (18 or older) experience a mental illness in any one year, equivalent to 43.8 million people.
  3. Of adults in the United States with any mental disorder in a one-year period, 14.4 percent have one disorder, 5.8 percent have two disorders and 6 percent have three or more.
  4. Half of all mental disorders begin by age 14 and three-quarters by age 24.
  5. In the United States, only 41 percent of the people who had a mental disorder in the past year received professional health care or other services.
  6. In the U.S. and much of the developed world, mental disorders are one of the leading causes of disability

Out-Patient Psychotherapy

Provides a regular time and space for you to talk about your thoughts and experiences and explore difficult feelings with a trained professional. This could help you to:

  • deal with a specific problem
  • cope with upsetting memories or experiences
  • improve your relationships
  • explores thoughts, feelings and behaviors and seeks to improve an individual’s well-being
  • develop more helpful ways of living day-to-day.

The Main Classes of Mental Illness Are:

 Mood disorder

These are also known as affective disorders or depressive disorders. Patients with these conditions have significant changes in mood, generally involving either mania (elation) or depression. These include disorders that affect how you feel emotionally and they can disrupt your ability to function. Examples of mood disorders include

Major depression – the individual is no longer interested in and does not enjoy activities and events that they previously liked. There are extreme or prolonged periods of sadness.

Bipolar disorder – previously known as manic-depressive illness, or manic depression. The individual switches from episodes of euphoria (mania) to depression (despair).

Persistent depressive disorder – previously known as dysthymia, this is mild chronic (long term) depression. The patient has similar symptoms to major depression but to a lesser extent.

SAD (seasonal affective disorder) – a type of major depression that is triggered by lack of daylight. It is most common in countries far from the equator during late autumn, winter, and early spring.

Bipolar and related disorders. This class includes disorders with alternating episodes of mania — periods of excessive activity, energy and excitement — and depression.

  • Other Depressive disorders, not all   inclusive:
  • Pre-menstrual Dysphoric Disorder
  • Persistent Depressive Disorder
  • Disruptive Mood Regulation Disorder

Anxiety disorders

Anxiety is an emotion characterized by the anticipation of future danger or misfortune, along with excessive worrying. It can include behavior aimed at avoiding situations that cause anxiety.  Anxiety disorders are the most common types of mental illness.  The individual has a severe fear or anxiety, which is linked to certain objects or situations. Most people with an anxiety disorder will try to avoid exposure to whatever triggers their anxiety.  Examples of anxiety disorders include:

Generalized Anxiety Disorder – Continual worry, feeling nervous and on-edge, difficulty concentrating, fearful that something awful might happen

Phobias – these may include simple phobias (a disproportionate fear of objects), social phobias (fear of being subject to the judgment of others), and agoraphobia (dread of situations where getting away or breaking free may be difficult). We really do not know how many phobias there are – there could be thousands of types.

Panic disorder – the person experiences sudden paralyzing terror or a sense of imminent disaster.  

Obsessive-compulsive and related disorders

These disorders involve preoccupations or obsessions and repetitive thoughts and actions. The person has obsessions and compulsions. In other words, constant stressful thoughts (obsessions), and a powerful urge to perform repetitive acts, such as hand washing (compulsion).

•           Obsessive-compulsive disorder

•           Hoarding disorder

•           Hair-pulling disorder (trichotillomania).

Trauma- and stressor-related disorders 

These are adjustment disorders in which a person has trouble coping during or after a stressful life event. Examples include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and acute 

stress disorder. This can occur after somebody has been through a traumatic event – something horrible or frightening that they experienced or witnessed. During this type of event, the person thinks that their life or other people’s lives are in danger. They may feel afraid or feel that they have no control over what is happening.

Dissociative disorders

These are disorders in which your sense of self is disrupted, such as with dissociative identity disorder and dissociative amnesia.

Somatic symptom and related disorders

A person with one of these disorders may have physical symptoms with no clear medical cause, but the disorders are associated with significant distress and impairment. The disorders include somatic symptom disorder (previously known as hypochondriasis) and factitious disorder.

Feeding and eating disorders

These disorders include disturbances related to eating such as:

           Anorexia nervosa

           Binge-eating disorder

Elimination disorders

These disorders relate to the inappropriate elimination of urine or stool by accident or on purpose. Bedwetting (enuresis) is an example.

Sleep-wake disorders

These are disorders of sleep severe enough to require clinical attention, such as insomnia, sleep apnea and restless legs syndrome.

Sexual dysfunctions

These include disorders of sexual response, such as premature ejaculation and female orgasmic disorder.

Gender dysphoria

This refers to the distress that accompanies a person’s stated desire to be another gender.

Disruptive, impulse-control and conduct disorders

These disorders include problems with emotional and behavioral self-control, such as kleptomania or intermittent explosive disorder.

Substance-related and addictive disorders

These include problems associated with the excessive use of alcohol, caffeine, tobacco and drugs. This class also includes gambling disorder.

Personality disorders

A personality disorder involves a lasting pattern of emotional instability and unhealthy behavior that causes problems in your life and

relationships. Personality disorders include the Paranoid, Schizoid, Schizotypal, Anti-social, Borderline, Histrionic, Narcissistic, Avoidant, Dependent, Obsessive-Compulsive types, and others.

Paraphilic disorders

These disorders include sexual interest that causes personal distress or impairment or causes potential or actual harm to another person. Examples are sexual sadism disorder, voyeuristic disorder and pedophilic disorder.

Neurocognitive disorders

Neurocognitive disorders affect your ability to think and reason. These acquired (rather than developmental) cognitive problems include delirium, as well as neurocognitive disorders due to conditions or diseases such as traumatic brain injury or Alzheimer’s disease.

Schizophrenia spectrum and other psychotic disorders

Psychotic disorders cause detachment from reality — such as delusions, hallucinations, and disorganized thinking and speech. The most notable example is schizophrenia, although other classes of disorders can be times.

Neurodevelopmental disorders

This class covers a wide range of problems that usually begin in infancy or childhood, often before the child begins grade school. Examples include autism spectrum disorder, attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) and learning disorders.

Other mental disorders

This class includes mental disorders that are due to other medical conditions or that don’t meet the full criteria for one of the above disorders.

One Who Doesn’t Have a Laugh

What a sad state of affairs when you don’t have a laugh.  Laughter is a key ingredient to good mental health.  It calms the soul and relaxes the body.  In fact, research shows that laughter is an excellent medicine that can actually change the physical well-being of those suffering from illness.  Laughter reduces the stress hormone, Cortisol when you laugh.  It also expands the lungs, allowing the oxygen to flow to the lungs and exercises the muscles in your body.  It also increases your energy.

Laughter also helps calm emotions.  Try being angry or anxious when you are laughing.  It is hard to feel negative when you are chuckling.    It also helps you be more self-confident and spontaneous when around others. 

Apparently, our brains are involved with the emotion of laughter, especially the limbic system and hypothalamus.   It affects our decision-making, our well-being, our judgments and in solving problems.   As endorphins are released into the brain when laughter occurs, it magically changes our mood and lightens our heart, and problems seem more manageable. 

So, what can help this “One Who Doesn’t Have a Laugh”, laugh?  An article by Marelisa, “How to Laugh More – 22 Ways to Bring More Laughter into Your Life”, has some good suggestions that help improve laughter skills.  As she points out, at least initially, there has to be intent.  You may have to work at it.  Setting a goal to increase your laughter helps you follow-through, just like setting goals to exercise.  Other suggestions include: Smile more, befriend a funny person, find a little kid you can hang out with, get a pet, play fun games with friends, learn to laugh at yourself, put laughter quotes up on a bulletin board, do more of what makes you laugh, imagine something that you find really funny and stay with it…. and reading and expressing jokes or funny stories.  So, this is an effort to get you started: 

OwlCityOfficial, found in Funny Beaver Jokes, gave a great example of a funny short story:  “One time in 1st grade I caught a daddy long legs and put it in a jar and brought it to school for show and tell and all the boys cheered and all the girls screamed and then I opened the jar and let the spider crawl onto my hand and suddenly the girl sitting in the front row screamed so loud and shrilled that I violently jumped back in surprise and the spider got so emotionally confused it jumped off my hand and sailed across the room and landed on some kid’s forehead and the kid immediately went insane and started thrashing around and headbanging and punching himself in the face and kicking desks and chairs and other kids trying to get it off and the entire class erupts into a volcanic explosion of prepubescent chaos and everyone is running around in circles screaming and crying and shaking and then my teacher jumps onto a desk and shouts “FOR NARNIA” at the top of her lungs and dives headfirst into the crowd and takes out the entire class with a flying tackle and everyone goes down in a hog pile of 1st graders and the whole time I’m just standing there in awe and the whole time the spider is like, ‘Ugh, seriously guys, I don’t need this right now’”.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSw, LICSW

St. Williams Mental Health

www.stwilliamslivingcenter.com

218-338-5945

How to get the help you need when you are experiencing mental health problems

If you are having difficulty coping with life’s stressors or your anxiety, depression or other emotional struggles spill into your daily life, how do you know when it is time to seek mental health services? It may be difficult to know when to seek treatment as stressors in life come and go, and oftentimes eventually resolve themselves in their own time.  A good measure oftentimes depends on the length and degree of suffering and how it is impacting your ability to manage your day-to-day responsibilities, such as at your job or school, or your ability to do routine tasks at home, or its effects on your relationships with family or friends, or your involvement in the community, and mostly on you. 

Oftentimes, the first rule of thumb is to seek consult about your concerns, be it your physician, your minister or even contacting a mental health provider yourself about scheduling an appointment.  It is likely most helpful to also contact your insurance provider to ensure coverage so that finances don’t add to the stressors you are already experiencing.

Mental Health Professionals are usually the profession recommended to be the primary mental health provider.  This is decided by most insurance companies and the Department of Human Services.  Mental Health Professionals include psychologists, licensed independent clinical social workers, marriage and family therapists, and others who have attained a Master’s degree and specialized training.  Therapists within each profession typically specialize in working with certain types of people and treatment modalities.  Most have specialized skills working with different age groups (e.g., children, adolescents, older adults). Others address certain issues (e.g., drug or alcohol abuse, eating disorders, depression).  All these professionals must have a license to practice, granted by the state, and, if they choose, have the ability to accept reimbursement from insurance companies.

Initially, after receiving a referral, a Mental Health Professional works with you to better understand the reason you are requesting services and the problems you are facing, such as your current stressors or struggles, areas of concern, and your current symptoms.  The Mental Health Professional asks you more information as well, including your current life situation, your family constellation and background, previous trauma history, any previous mental health treatment you may have received, your medical history, current condition and a listing of your medications, a family history of mental health or medical issues, substance abuse issues, cultural issues that may impact treatment, a review of risk factors and any other areas not included that would be relevant for treatment.  If you believe it would be helpful, information from your medical clinic, previous treatment providers or family members/friends could also be requested with your authorized consent so that a more thorough assessment can be developed.  Usually, this gathering of information takes approximately 1-2 sessions.  The clinician then formulates a comprehensive assessment (“Diagnostic Assessment”) that summarizes and examines your current condition so as to best capitulate recommendations for treatment.

Part of the Diagnostic Assessment includes making recommendations about the type of treatment that would most likely be effective for you.  This includes a wide assortment of mental health services, depending on your eligibility and need. 

  • Out-patient Psychotherapy for children and adults provides mental health treatment in the office setting, usually covered by third party payers.  Sessions are usually 45-60 minutes in duration and scheduled weekly or alternate weeks, depending on the need and time line.  The length of treatment is dependent on the progress made on a treatment plan which is developed with the therapist and yourself after the Diagnostic Assessment is completed, and then reviewed on a quarterly basis. 
  • Adult Rehabilitation Mental Health Services for adults and Children Therapeutic Support Services for children are programs that assist individuals within the home to learn skills so that they are more able to function at home, work/school or with friends and social settings.  This service is paid by MA or PMAP’s and is not covered under commercial insurance.
  • Case Management is a service that helps children and adults get hooked up with and monitor mental health services you may be eligible for.  Individuals receive this service if their mental health symptoms are severe to a point in which they require more intensive services, such as psychiatric hospitalization, residential services or intensive aftercare or outreach services.  If eligible, this is a free service usually provided by the county or subcontracted out.
  • Psychological Evaluation is a service in which children and adults get tested to determine current diagnosis and recommendations for treatment (e.g., IQ testing, personality testing, ADD/ADHD testing, gastro by-pass testing, etc.).  As third-party payers are particular about what battery of tests they will cover, it is important to contact your insurance carrier to ensure coverage.
  •  Psychiatric Monitoring/Consultation is a service in which adults and children are reviewed and monitored for the effectiveness of psychotropic medications.  Although psychiatrists can provide counseling services, they oftentimes can only do so on a time limited basis due to the high demand for psychiatric time, especially in rural areas
  • Other services may also be referred or recommended based on the findings of the Diagnostic Assessment, and can include vocational, medical, educational, public assistance, transportation options, school-based services, etc.

At St. Williams Mental Health Services, there are two primary mental health programs:

  1. Out-patient psychotherapy for children and adults
    • Criteria
      • Third party coverage and signed fee agreement
      • Condition requires a mental health diagnosis identified in the Diagnostic Assessment
      • Condition can be improved/treated and a treatment plan is devised and tracked
  2. ARMHS for adults in Otter Tail and Douglas counties.
    • Criteria
      • Reside in Otter Tail County or Douglas County
      • Third party coverage with MA or a PMAP and signed fee agreement
      • Individual requires skill-based services to reduce effects of mental health issues

**St. Williams is offering a one-time ½ hour free consultation to those that have not received services from St. Williams previously.  This could be used to review your current struggles and consider treatment options.  This can be scheduled with the mental health professional.

St. Williams Mental Health has two main offices at this time.  One office is located in a separate section on the east side of the St. Williams Living Center complex, at 212 West Soo Street in Parkers Prairie.  The other office is held at the Marian Building, Office 264, in Alexandria, MN at 700 Cedar Street SE. Contact Us today to learn more, you can reach us at 218-338-5945.

If you have any questions or concerns, please do not hesitate to contact us.  We would much appreciate the opportunity to further explain our services and how we better serve you.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW, Out-patient Psychotherapist/Supervisor

Kayla Svor, BSW, ARMHS Director

LPN for a Day: What It’s Like to Be a Licensed Practical Nurse

Where would we be without nurses? These exceptional people care for us when we’re sick, hold our hands when we need support, and lend an ear when we need someone to listen.

It’s true that a skilled nursing facility like St. William’s couldn’t function without the care provided by nurses. And this goes for any long-term care facility, hospital, and surgical center in the country.

If you’re considering a career change, becoming a licensed practical nurse (LPN) might be just the right move! Nursing is a rewarding profession that will keep your brain and body active. And give you the satisfaction of knowing that you’re doing great work for those in need.

Keep reading to learn all about the duties of an LPN in a skilled nursing facility.

What Is a Licensed Practical Nurse?

If you’ve ever looked into healthcare professions, you might know that there are several types of nurses and assistants.

A certified nursing assistant (CNA) provides basic, hands-on care for residents. They help with feeding, bathing, and cleaning up rooms.

Registered nurses (RNs) provide the most advanced level of care. They administer and analyze diagnostic tests, come up with treatment plans, and manage the nurses below them. Because of their advanced duties, RNs require longer, more in-depth education.

Which brings us to an LPN, the Goldilocks version of “just right” in nursing! LPNs do some of the work of CNAs, like dressing and bathing.

But they also take on more advanced care tasks like administering medication and measuring vital signs. And becoming an LPN is faster and easier than training to become an RN.

Duties of an LPN

A day in the life of an LPN usually starts with an update from the RN on duty. The RN will give you your schedule for the day and let you know if there are any special tasks to do. Then you’ll make your first rounds to the residents.

One of the most important tasks of an LPN is administering medication. This includes oral medications, eye drops, nebulizers, skin creams, and blood sugar checks.

Not only do you administer medication, but you will keep track of the timing of medications for different patients. And you’ll also be in charge of preparing and sanitizing the medical tools. You might also dress wounds, change catheters, and report any issues to the RN in charge.

You’ll also be assigned administrative tasks to work on when you aren’t making medical rounds. This might include organizing files and writing reports. And you may be in charge of supervising the CNAs on duty.

At meal times, you’ll help residents move to and from the dining hall. Then you’ll help them eat and provide them company while they enjoy their meal.

Afternoon tasks usually involve making additional rounds to administer medications. And helping residents groom themselves, take showers, and providing assistance with moving to and from the toilet.

Are You Considering This Rewarding Career?

Becoming a licensed practical nurse might be one of the best decisions you ever make! LPN training programs are usually 12-24 months long. And you can find them at many local community colleges.

There’s always a need for LPNs. Alexandria Technical & Community College has a practical nursing program that has 100% job placement for those who complete the course. Earn a great wage, care for those in need, and get the job security you deserve with an LPN degree!

At St. William’s Living Center, we are rated as a 5-star facility by Medicare.gov’s Nursing Home Compare. We offer the benefits you want and the positive work environment you need. Visit our careers page to join over 100 other people who have chosen to work for St. William’s!

Physical Therapy Facts: Debunking the Top 3 Myths About Physical Therapy

Our bodies are miraculous machines. They are made to move in all sorts of different ways to keep us alive and active, both mentally and physically.

So when pain crops up anywhere in your body, it’s important to take notice. Because pain isn’t normal.

Did you know that physical therapy (PT) is an option for anyone in pain? It can relieve pain without strong medication or invasive surgery. And it can help improve your range of motion, functional mobility, and flexibility too.

In this article, we’ll debunk the top 4 PT myths and replace them with the physical therapy facts you need to know.

Myth: It Hurts

Is your pain tolerance is about as high as a postage stamp? Many people believe that the pain they’ll feel from the treatment will be worse than the pain of the injury.

Rest assured that your therapist has years of schooling and experience under their belt. They know how to treat physical ailments in a way that’s sensitive to your pain threshold. You’ll receive a personalized therapy plan that treats your issue at your pace so there’s no need to worry.

And when you’ve completed your treatment sessions, your therapist will educate you on how to avoid injury at home. This saves you much more pain in the long run.

Myth: I Can Do My Own PT

We’re lucky because we have access to more medical information than any generation before us. We have YouTube and WebMD right at our fingertips. And many people believe that they can treat their own injuries and illnesses by simply Googling around.

When it comes to pain though, it’s always best to see a professional. Your therapist knows how far your joints and muscles can safely move. They’ll supervise your movements so that you don’t hurt yourself worse.

Myth: PT Won’t Treat That

There’s a common misconception that PT is strictly for people who have been injured. But really, PT can be a useful tool to aid in healing many of physical ailments.

In some cases, physical therapy is a good option to avoid painful surgery. Discuss this option with your doctor if you believe you might be a good candidate.

Many neurological issues can be treated using physical therapy, including stroke, head trauma, or Parkinson’s Disease. It can also help with things like arthritis or carpal tunnel syndrome. And it’s known to help with back pain, text neck, and even headaches.

Ditch the Myths: Get the Physical Therapy Facts

These are just a few of the myths that float around about PT. And hopefully, we’ve shown you that these myths are bogus.

But if you want to learn more about PT, get the physical therapy facts by checking out our outpatient therapy website. You can see all the amazing therapy services we offer at St. Williams Living Center.

Don’t live in pain any longer! Check out our website today.

We’ve Remodeled! Join Us for a Grand Opening Event

We’ve Remodeled! Join Us for a Grand Opening Event

On May 20th, something very exciting happened at St. William’s Living Center. Our new addition was completed and residents officially moved in! 

This new addition has been in the works for several years now. And we couldn’t be more excited to give our residents a beautiful new facility to enjoy. And now we want to share it with you!

Keep reading to learn everything you need to know about our upcoming grand opening event.

About the New Addition

The new addition to St. William’s started with a groundbreaking ceremony on April 27, 2018. Since then, we’ve been working hard to complete this new beautiful new space. 

The project included the construction of 14 private resident rooms, each with its own private bathroom and shower. Before the renovation began, there were 16 shared rooms at St. William’s. Now that the new addition is complete, there are only three shared rooms at our facility. 

This change has also increased the number of private bathrooms from nine before the renovation to 29 after. These new rooms and spacious bathrooms offer our residents a more modern feel with a greater sense of privacy. 

Not only do residents get to enjoy more private space, but they get additional common areas as well. There is a large new kitchen, a beautiful new lobby, and a spa room too. Plus, residents have access to a brand new handicap-accessible courtyard. The outdoor area offers a safe and peaceful environment for residents to enjoy our beautiful Minnesota summers.

Renovation Update

But it’s not only the new addition that we’re excited about! We’ve been working on renovations to our existing skilled nursing facility too. 

We’ve replaced our roof and added state-of-the-art heating and cooling systems. These changes will make our residents more comfortable by adding efficiency and humidity controls. There were also new electrical receptacles added in every existing room. 

We upgraded our security camera system to provide a safer environment for residents and staff. The fire alarm system got an update as well. And we renovated our tub room and spa. 

Our entrances are improved now too, with handicap accessibility on Jackson St, Soo St, and McCornell Ave. New sidewalks surround the entire facility. Plus, there was an additional parking lot added near the Jackson St entrance to accommodate outpatient therapy, residents, and their visitors. 

More Room and Expanded Services

All of this extra room means we can offer more services to our residents and to the community. The new addition features an outpatient therapy clinic that provides physical, occupational, and speech therapy. 

Therapy is so important in helping those recuperating from illness or injury to get back on their feet. The new addition houses a large gym with two private treatment rooms. It also includes an occupational therapy kitchen, bathroom, and laundry. 

And our therapy services aren’t only for residents. With this new facility, we can treat people of all ages in the surrounding communities. This includes physical therapy for student-athletes. 

We’ll See You at Our Grand Opening Event!

We are so excited to show you all these wonderful changes! Join us on Tuesday, August 20th from 3:30 pm to 6:30 pm. When you visit, you’ll receive a map showing you around our new facility. There will be tours of all the new areas, including our exercise gym and therapy rooms, our new mental health office, and the new resident rooms. 

Therapy Gym

There will be finger foods and appetizers available throughout the building. And we’ll have live music in the south dining room from 4:00 pm to 6:00 pm. Stop by our grand opening event for a great time!


St. William’s Living Center consistently receives 5-star ratings in the Medicare Nursing Home Compare program. Which means we are well above average among other nursing homes in the country. We’re proud to serve our residents and the Parkers Prairie community!

Reward Yourself: How to Become a Certified Nursing Assistant

How rewarding is your career?

Whether you’re just starting out or looking to change things up, it’s important to find something that keeps you motivated. You want a job that provides stability and offers the opportunity for advancement. And everyone deserves a career that makes them smile!

We just happen to know of a career that wraps all those things up into one, easily-obtainable package. Becoming a certified nursing assistant (CNA) means you can have a real impact on people’s lives. 

In this article, we’ll give you the scoop on how to become a CNA and why you need to do it now! 

What is a Certified Nursing Assistant?

CNAs are what make a nursing home run smoothly. They tackle the day-to-day needs of the residents. 

As a CNA, you’ll help residents take care of themselves by providing physical and emotional assistance. Typical duties include helping residents move around their rooms and the living center. This often includes bringing them to and from activities and therapy sessions. 

You’ll also help deliver meals, feed those who can’t feed themselves, and record daily food intakes. Many residents need help with basic hygiene, so you’ll help with bathing, brushing teeth, and brushing hair. You may also be in charge of preparing rooms for new admissions and resupplying the rooms of current residents. 

Plus, you’ll be there to answer resident questions and respond when they need help. It’s your job to make their days easier and more comfortable. 

Why YOU Should Consider Becoming One

There’s nothing more fulfilling than helping those in need. The nursing home residents depend on CNAs to help them live fuller lives. That makes your job one of the most important jobs on the planet!

You’ll get to see people recover from injuries and cheer them on as they reach their goals. You’ll hear about their lives, their children, their grandchildren. And you’ll learn to love the people you care for. It’s an incredibly rewarding experience!

Plus, there’s always a need for CNAs, so the job stability is second-to-none. And there’s plenty of room to move up in the field. 

Many CNAs continue their education and get a higher nursing degree. Working as a CNA gives you the real-world experience that other nursing candidates may not have. Plus, you’ll receive a full list of benefits including health insurance, dental insurance, and scholarships. 

Here’s How…

The best part about starting a career as a CNA is that it’s not a difficult field to get into. Start by enrolling in an approved nursing assistant course at a 2-year technical college. Alexandria Technical and Community College and Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Wadena are two local options. 

Programs like these will usually require a background check and tuberculosis skin test before you start. And you must be over the age of 16 with a valid ID card. The course takes about 84 hours to complete and will give you everything you need to become a successful CNA. 

At the end of the course, you’ll take your certification exam. The exam consists of a written exam with multiple-choice questions. This is followed by a skills exam where you’ll demonstrate the CNA skills you’ve learned in the training program. 

Another option is to take a test out challenge. This involves taking the test without completing the course beforehand. You’ll be able to review a handbook prior to the exam and take a practice exam online before you take the actual exam. 

Ready for a Rewarding Career? Become a CNA

Becoming a certified nursing assistant is one of the most rewarding decisions you can make. You’ll find that being a CNA offers you the job stability and growth potential you’re looking for. And you’ll have the opportunity to help others in the process. It’s a win-win scenario!

At St. William’s Living Center, we care about our employees. Visit our Career Page to learn more about all the opportunities available for your next career!

Chronic Pain

Can Childhood Trauma also be a Precursor to Adult Chronic Pain?



Several research studies indicate the relationship between childhood suffering and adult chronic pain. In fact, one study revealed that 73% of women with chronic pain also have experienced some childhood trauma (www.instituteforchronicpain.org/…/complications/trauma).  Woah!! – for those suffering from chronic pain, this likely draws your back hairs to stand straight up, shuddering at the notion that the pain “is not real.  Most of us have recognized that depression and anxiety are oftentimes results of chronic pain, or that pain is worsened when experiencing depression or anxiety based on a person’s thoughts about the pain.  However, to consider childhood trauma as an instigator for adult chronic pain is far-fetched for many that are suffering.

Truly, most of us know that much of chronic pain is due to a diagnosable anatomical cause, such as degenerative disc disease or spinal stenosis, or the result of physical trauma or accident, or genetic anomalies, or hereditary factors, and the list goes on.  However, diagnosticians note that more and more often, chronic pain has no clear anatomical cause or identified pain generator, as in tailed back surgery syndrome or chronic back pain. In such cases, specialists identify the pain is in itself to be the disease. However, this is not to say that there aren’t biological impacts of childhood adversity.

When we are threatened, our bodies have what is called a stress response, which prepares our bodies to fight or flee. However, when this response remains highly activated in a child for an extended period of time without the calming influence of a supportive parent or adult figure, toxic stress occurs and can damage crucial neural connections in the developing brain. Scientists also report that DNA is stored in every cell of the body and transferred from generation to generation. As mental and emotional levels are also stored by the cells, emotional imprints are left on the cellular memory by the traumatic incidents from the past.  Although every experience is not remembered by the conscious mind, the cells encode the memory of every experience.

Past negative experiences, personal beliefs and unresolved emotions create emotional blockages, suppressing and bottling up inside the person experiencing them. These emotional blockages perform as a defense mechanism in deep emotional pain produced during these traumatic or dysfunctional situations, resulting in physical manifestations like chronic pain, anxiety and depression.

www.health.harvard.edu/blog/chronicpainand-childhood

Specifically, it appears that children who have experienced one or more of the following 10 ACE (Adverse Childhood Experiences) descriptors, are much more likely to develop chronic pain as an adult.  These descriptors include: physical abuse, sexual abuse, emotional abuse, mental illness of a household member, problematic drinking or alcoholism of a household member, illegal street or prescription drug use by a household member, divorce or separation of a parent, domestic violence towards a parent, incarceration of a household member, and death of an immediate family member.  The higher the score, the more chances these children will eventually have to deal with adult chronic pain.

The good news is that psychological care for those with a history of childhood trauma may help tame their overactive stress response, and in turn provide some complementary health benefits for those also dealing with physiological diseases.   As there is more and more concern about those addictive tendencies with pain medications, it is interesting to consider that possibly pain medications may be a band-aid for many. Maybe, a primary consideration for treatment is dealing with the root of the problem, working through the suffering of emotional pain as a child as well as an adult already dealing with chronic pain.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

St. Williams Mental Health



Conflict

Why Be in Combat When There is No War?

How often do you Draw your Weapon and are Ready to Fire, when there is no Battle?

In a non-war zone, such as in our home or community, we may find ourselves in battle against others, using the weapon of defense mechanisms against those we find unreasonably critical.  We may fear that our integrity is at stake when we feel unjustly judged by others and/or want to protect ourselves from someone else’s control. To make matters worse, when one responds with conflict by being defensive, the other oftentimes joins in and the battle ensues.  As the walls go up, the underlying reason for the argument becomes irrelevant as the focus turns to a matter of winning or losing.

Being protective of ourselves is a God-given trait, and we are hard-wired to defend ourselves when legitimately threatened (e.g., being chased by a bear, a break-in, etc.).  However, oftentimes we react to illegitimate threats and become defensive when, in fact, what is called for is being more open and forthcoming.

Conflict is normal.  It helps us communicate and work through issues so that reconnection can occur.  During a struggle, all of us at some time or other become unnecessarily defensive.   It becomes problematic when our defensive posturing remains stuck and we have a hard time letting it go, even when we realize what we are doing.  It can also become habitual, especially if there is that strong need to protect ourselves.

Our responses to criticism depend on several factors.  Some people struggle with disapproval by others due to brain chemistry or how their brain is wired.  They may have a nervous system that is over-sensitive and a temperament that reacts to perceived danger more readily. Some people refer to this as being “thin-skinned”.

Our childhood history also has a lot to do with how we respond to criticism.  If parents or caregivers oftentimes shamed their children and punished them harshly, it’s likely that, as an adult, their impulse is to quickly self-protect whenever they see someone upset and angry about something.

Regardless of the reason, self-esteem issues are a common thread that impacts our level of defensiveness in relationships.  With self-doubt comes either reactive defensiveness and belligerence or, the opposite, someone who takes on the role of a “people pleaser” to avoid any possible criticism.  Reactive defensiveness keeps people away and “People pleasures” don’t allow conflicts to occur, so honest communication is replaced by underlying resentment.

Relationships give us the opportunity to be more loving and accepting of one another.  Learning to hear the others’ complaints with curiosity and openness deepens our connection and puts away unnecessary defensiveness and any potential illegitimate war.

Claudia Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

Psychotherapist at St. Williams Mental Health program

Obstacles

Success is not to be Measured by the Position Someone has Reached in Life But the Obstacles he has Overcome

How do we get through some of the tough experiences in life’s journey?  We all go through challenging times, be it dealing with the death of someone close, having a serious illness, being separated from loved ones or feeling rejected, or losing a job and having financial restraints.  The list goes on…


Some tragedies allow for some preparedness while others are abrupt and unexpected, leaving us feeling punched in the gut or knocked down at the knees.  Some people have to endure a life full of misfortunes while others squeak by with only a few calamities along the way. The discrepancy for this is unknown, and answers to those “Why?” questions will likely not be known to us until we meet our Maker.  

Of course, most of us try to adapt to these life-changing events.  However, sometimes the burden is too much to bear. Oftentimes, “giving up” or not being able to “get up from off the floor” is influenced by the load by which we carry.  However, despite the level and degree of burden, it is also based on the character of the person. Here is another “Why?” question: Why are some able to “bounce back” while others remain overcome by the tragedy and are stuck in their own grief?  You may ask yourself what special personality traits are needed to get through these life’s battles., or how much can we actually recover on our own volition? It is interesting that those with a spiritual faith are much more likely to be resilient than those that don’t; another “Why?” question.

Resilience.  That’s the word.  Resilience is when you can change and adapt how you respond to a crisis or while in the face of tragedy.    It is about changing how you interpret and respond to the problem or circumstance. It is about challenging your thoughts and behaviors so that you create a more positive outlook.  It provides you with a pat on your back and encouraging words so that you will continue walking through the muck, believing that somehow, someday, you will get through all this and be better for it.  

Resilient people oftentimes have these suggestions, noted through the American Psychological Association in “The Road to Resilience”:

  • Make connections with others: Having close relationships with family and friends are very important and may be key to building resilience. Accepting help from other local groups are also very helpful during this difficult time
  • Avoid seeing crises as insurmountable problems:  You can’t change the crisis, but you can change how you manage it.  Look beyond the present to how future circumstances may be a bit better  
  • Accept that change as part of living.  Alter your goals to what you can attain and accept circumstances that you can’t.  
  • Move towards your goals:  Praise the subtle or small accomplishments you have made
  • Make decisions to problems and move in the direction you want to go rather than wishing they would go away
  • Look for opportunities for Self-Discovery:  Recognize your increased internal strengths and growth due to your ability to get through the hardships you have experienced
  • Nurture a positive view of self:  Develop increased confidence in your ability to solve problems and trust your instincts
  • Keep Things in Perspective:  Look at a broader framework and keep a long-term perspective of problems.  Avoid taking the situation out of proportion
  • Maintain a hopeful outlook:  Visualize what you want, rather than worrying about your fear
  • Take care of yourself:  Pay attention to your own needs and feelings.  Engage in activities you enjoy and find relaxing, Exercise regularly
  • Journaling:  Writing down your deepest thoughts and feels related to the trauma.  Meditation and spiritual practices oftentimes help people build connections and restore hope.

Actively participating in your life’s journey through resilience is so much better than responding with lingering vulnerability to the obstacles that come your way.  It may be a difficult task, but overcoming obstacles allows you to get up from off the floor.

Claudia A. Liljegren, MSW, LICSW

St. William’s Mental Health