3 Ways Mental Illness Can Trigger Suicidal Thoughts

Guest post by Adam Cook, creator of www.addictionhub.org.

There is a wide assortment of mental illnesses that can be linked to suicide. Depression is, of course, the most common. But what people may not realize is that any mental illness has the potential to trigger suicidal thoughts. Even if depression is not necessarily a symptom, anyone with a mental illness should know and understand their risks. Here are a few of the ways a mental illness can bring about suicidal thoughts.

Lack of Treatmentclip_image001

Too often, people suffering from mental illness remain undiagnosed and untreated. Whether social stigma is to blame or basic lack of funds, too many people are not receiving the help they need for their mental illness. Without treatment, a mental illness can take over a person’s daily life. The symptoms will grow worse, affecting relationships and the ability to manage everyday life.

Seeking professional treatment is critical for the wellbeing of a person with a mental illness. It is the only way to ensure that symptoms are controlled and that the person knows how to cope with the effects of their illness in an efficient and positive way. It is also an important step in preventing suicide.

Self-Medication in Lieu of Proper Treatment

For many people who aren’t receiving treatment, self-medication is common. Self-medication occurs when a person abuses a substance in an attempt to control the symptoms of a physical or mental illness. Consequently, addiction is also more common in those with mental illness than those without. With self-medication, suicide becomes even more likely as it typically means the person is not receiving proper treatment, is experiencing worsening symptoms, and is now also struggling with an addiction.

Substance abuse may seem to reduce the symptoms of a mental illness for a short period of time but in reality, it is making them worse. Substance abuse can give a person hope that their symptoms are under control while the high lasts, but at the end, they feel their symptoms become more severe. Thoughts of suicide during this time are not uncommon. Furthermore, substance abuse makes suicidal actions easier to contemplate. Alcohol, in particular, is often used during suicide attempts.

Depression as an Illness or a Side Effect

Depression is a very common mental illness and takes many forms. Untreated depression can cause a person to feel hopeless and as though they will never enjoy life again. Therapy, coping tactics, and possibly medication are necessary for a person with depression.

For people with other mental health concerns, depression is often an underlying, secondary condition. It is common for people struggling with mental illness to become depressed or hopeless as they fight to regain control over their lives. Regardless of the diagnosis, it is important to know that depression and suicidal thoughts are always a potential risk.

Suicide remains, unfortunately, common, particularly in those with mental health problems. Substance abuse and addiction fall under the category of mental illness and are some of the top contributors to suicidal thoughts. Even if you or your loved one is not self-medicating, depression often comes alongside other diagnoses. Always be aware of and on the lookout for the signs of suicidal thoughts and make treatment a top priority.

Learn more at http://www.addictionhub.org. Visit http://www.caminar.org for information on the mental health services we provide.

Image via Pixabay by Unsplash


Caminar’s 2nd Annual Mental Health Symposium

By Angelica Chisolm

A new era of paradigm shift was the theme of Caminar’s 2nd Annual Mental Health Symposium at the historic, renaissance inspired Filoli Gardens on May 25, 2016. On a beautiful spring afternoon, here sits this magnificent piece of 16-acre property that is a product of northern California’s eclectic style from different elements of architectural eras.

In attendance at the symposium were representatives from different government agencies, social organizations, medical institutions, school districts, donors, legal and private business sectors, volunteers and advocates. In full support were Caminar’s Executive Management Team, Board of Directors and employees. All guests were treated to a late afternoon of fine wine and hors d’oeuvres while enjoying and being amazed by this wondrous and pristine nature. Volunteer docents acting as tour guides were visibly offering detailed history and background of the picture perfect ambiance. Lead Visitor Services representative Gina Rossi proudly shared how Filoli’s 1,000+ volunteers were generous with their time and talent in keeping up with operations and maintenance. “We call the ladies working in the spice garden our ‘spice girls’,” Gina quips. The estate is under the umbrella of the National Trust for Historic Preservation and is open to the public. For a minimal fee, members and guests can enjoy fun events like concerts, exhibits and outdoor activities. Visit Filoli.org/programs to learn more.


Commencing the Symposium was Caminar CEO Mr. Chip Huggins, who officially welcomed distinguished guests and thanked numerous sponsors. Special mention to friend of Caminar and world renowned photo journalist Michael Collopy for covering the event.


Caminar’s mission is improving the quality of life for people with mental disabilities. The goal is to provide avenues of opportunity to live with dignity and independence in the community. A video of Sheri Gomes’ story was shown as testimony of a once-upon- a-time Caminar client. She was an addict and homeless, and everything she owned was in her car. She attempted suicide by jumping out of a five story building and miraculously survived. Hopeless and depressed, she thought her life was not worth living. With Caminar’s assistance, she turned her life around. Sheri was in attendance at the Symposium, and coincidentally it was also her birthday! She now works as a Job Coach for Caminar, helping people recover from mental illness. More inspiring stories are available at www.caminar.org.


Leading the introduction was Caminar Medical Director Dr. Jake Treskovich who shared his essential role in working with and treating Caminar clients. He turned over the floor to Moderator and Speaker Steven Adelsheim, M.D., a Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science at Stanford University. Recognized as a national leader, Dr. Adelsheim specializes in the development and implementation of early detection and intervention programs for young adults. He spoke of programs for depression, anxiety and first episodes of psychosis. More of his work and expertise are available at https:med.stanford.edu/profiles/steven-adelsheim.


The podium was then turned over to Speaker Leanne Williams Ph.D. to cover the subjects of depression, anxiety and finding tests to help match patients to the best treatment. She is a Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science also at Stanford University School of Medicine. Her research created programs on how to change the narrative of mental disorders by deconstructing diagnostic groups using brain imaging, physiological, behavioral and genetic data. Her goal is to characterize dysfunction at the individual person level and to identify biomarkers that will guide prognostic and treatment decisions in real world clinical settings. For more information, see Leanne Williams, Ph.D.


Next Speaker to take the stage was Dr. Stephan Sanders, BMBS, Ph.D. He gave an informative talk on the topic of Autism, its genetic linkage to Schizophrenia and early detection of both. He stressed how genetics play an important role in mental illness. He is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychiatry at the UCSF School of Medicine. His research is being used to identify multiple Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) genes to understand the cause of Autism. More details at http:profiles.ucsf.edu/stephan. sanders.


The last Speaker was Karan Singh, MS, MBA who spoke about the subject of Technology in Behavioral Health Care Delivery. He is Co-founder of Ginger.io, a technology-enabled mental health provider for people with depression and anxiety. It is a new kind of behavioral solution approach through technology. They invented an app (available on Google play and Apple app store) that directly connects individuals to health coaches who will identify needs and make clinical assessments. Behind every member at Ginger.io, there is a team of data scientists and clinicians to provide care, whenever needed, in a most convenient, personal and private way. It is the go-to place for high quality, accessible and affordable mental health care. More information available at https://ginger.io/about.


The finale was a Question and Answer portion where audience opinion was raised on many topics, including the possibility of Federal funding to alleviate support for more research projects; also on the chance that health insurance companies provide a wider coverage for mental illness treatment.

It was truly a night filled with information on cutting edge research and treatment modalities. A female representative from The Department of Rehabilitation, Liezel Taube, expressed how impressed she was on the different approaches and studies made by the speakers. We are fortunate to have limitless technology and unrelenting hands of those who burn lamps to discover the cause and effects of mental health issues.

At the mid-point of the event, a special recognition was awarded to Caminar patriarch and CEO Mr. Huggins for his generous contributions and dedication to the organization. Thereby declaring May 25, 2016, Chip Huggins Day. In acknowledgement, Mr. Huggins stated, “Knowledge is the key to mental health.” Take it from the man who knows his business. Caminar thanks everyone who attended and spoke at this year’s symposium. We can’t wait to see what exciting information is shared at next year’s event!


Watch Sheri’s Story: From Crisis to Independence

At our 2nd Annual Mental Health Symposium back in May of this year, we premiered a very powerful video of one of our former clients. The subject of the film, Sheri, faced serious depression, which led her to engage in self-destructive behavior and attempt to take her own life. Thankfully she survived and was referred to Caminar, where she received services that have helped her in the long road to recovery. Please take a few minutes of your time to watch this very inspirational story.

The Positive Effects of Nature on Mental Health

An Easy and Inexpensive Way to Boost Mental Wellness Can be as Simple as Going Outside 
                                                                                                                                                                                 We live in a time where we are constantly on the move- from one job to the next, picking up the kids, going to the grocery store and so on; but how often do we slow down and really “smell the roses”? Science says we need to.
    Recently, many studies have discovered that there is a positive effect on mental health when people are in outdoor settings. It’s even been discovered that it’s not necessary for someone to spend the entire day outdoors to experience the full benefits—though if you’re on vacation you may wish to do just that. 10-15 minute breaks at work are a perfect time to grab some fresh air and take in all of the natural sights, smells and sounds that indoor environments lack.
    While psychiatrists have proved that even looking a photographs of the great outdoors can give a boost to your levels of serotonin—that feel good hormone—in the brain, actually being out in nature is more beneficial. The best spots outdoors aren’t along the street or road, but where there are a lot of trees, bushes, and flowers. Although, even when landscaping is man-made, it can still have some great benefits to making you feel happier.
    Exercise is great for brain health, and joining a gym is a positive step towards better health. However, exercising outdoors can amplify the benefits even more. If possible, get away from the city and out onto those forest paths for a good walk, or by the beachside to enjoy the view. The more “natural” the nature, the better the health benefits.
    Being away from the big city can calm your mind. You’re not inundated with information such as cars zooming by, horns honking, and people yelling—(just remember to put away the electronic devices and really soak it in). Your mind can even benefit from listening to birds sing and watching wildlife in its natural habitat.
    Try doing things you normally do inside outside. For example, if you like to read, go to a park and read. If you like to run on the treadmill, try running a trail. If you like to walk, try a hike. You may notice that you’re better able to cope with stress. Increased feelings of happiness and better self-esteem are likely to develop as well. Who knows, you might make some friends while you’re out there too!
    Please visit www.caminar.org to learn about our organization and the mental health services we provide.

Annual Garden Show Fundraiser Right Around the Corner


The annual garden show organized by John Ward will be held on Sunday, June 26 from 1:00 to 5:00 pm.

This year, and for the first time, there will be three homes with very different garden experiences on the tour, including historic 792 Willborough Road in Burlingame, 469 Edgewood Road in San Mateo Park neighborhood and 125 Redwood Avenue in Hillsborough.

We encourage Caminar supporters to visit Steve and Patty Porter’s home first at (469 Edgewood Road) where we will highlight Caminar’s programs and client artwork from our Art Therapy Program.  Attendees may donate to Caminar in any of the three garden locations by check, cash or credit card.

Visitors will see close to 1,000 plant species in beds and containers throughout John Ward’s Willborough Road landscape, including a striking succulent garden as well as a vast array of unusual perennials along with antique ironwork. Steve Porter’s garden in San Mateo Park features a meandering path taking one to an exquisite formal garden down to a creek side setting complete with waterfall and up again to a terraced vegetable garden overlooked by numerous fruit trees. Local artists will have their work on display at the upper level of this San Mateo garden. Lauren Michaels, a succulent designer will have her creative work on display and set within a lush landscape at the Hillsborough property.

Two non-profit organizations in San Mateo County will be the beneficiaries of this fund-raising event, including LifeMoves (formerly InnVision Shelter Network) and Caminar for Mental Health. Donations in any amount will be accepted as your admission to all three locations. 100% of the proceeds will go directly to the beneficiaries. LifeMoves provides interim housing and supportive services for homeless families and individuals. Caminar has been providing support services for more than 50 years to improve the quality of life for individuals with mental health disorders. Caminar’s mission will be featured at the San Mateo residence while LifeMoves will display its programs at the Burlingame home.

Caminar Hosts Job Fair June 23rd, 2016


When: June 23rd, 4pm-7pm

Where: 2600 S. El Camino Real, San Mateo, CA

Caminar Mental Health is looking to hire:

  • Case Managers
  • Assistant Case Managers
  • Community Support Workers

Caminar is a nonprofit agency with 50 years of experience providing community-based support services for people with disabilities. Caminar services are designed to enable adults and older adults with mental health, physical and developmental disabilities to live and work in their community in accordance with their ability and desire.  Our mission is to improve the quality of life for people with disabilities by providing opportunities to live in the community with dignity and independence. The agency employs approximately 300 of the most dedicated and professional staff serving the communities of San Mateo, Solano and Butte counties.

Case Manager (FT)

Under the supervision of the Program Director, the Case Manager provides rehabilitation services to adults with psychiatric disabilities living in or in transition to the community in San Mateo County. The case manager is responsible for overseeing the provision of individual services to these clients and works in conjunction with community support workers that are assigned to provide medication support and assistance with activities of daily living. The case manager assists in the design and implementation of treatment goals, is an advocate for clients; provides crisis prevention and intervention when necessary; and helps plan a program including the utilization of community resources to enhance the individual’s quality of life.


  • Candidates registered with the California BBS are strongly encouraged to apply; licensed supervision hours available.
  • BA/BS in a mental health related field.  Absent BA/BS, a minimum two-years (4000 hours) of verifiable program experience in the provision of direct services to individuals with severe mental illness is required.

Assistant Case Manager (FT/PT)

Under supervision of the Program Director, the Assistant Case Manager provides services to clients including but not limited to assessment, counseling, crisis intervention, and medication management.


  • High School Diploma or GED is required. Bachelor’s degree in psychology or mental health related field is preferred.
  • Minimum one year of demonstrated work experience with SMI/DD is preferred

Community Support Worker (PT)

The CSW is responsible for providing community-based support services to mentally ill adults using a recovery based model and systems integration approach to services delivered.  CSW’s are expected to work a schedule of no less than 15 hours per week.  Candidates must be flexible to adjust to the needs of a fast paced environment, demonstrate effective problem solving skills and prioritize duties daily.


  • High School Diploma or GED is required.  BA in psychology or related field preferred.
  • Must be available to work morning, evening and weekend shifts on a short notice and overtime when required.  Ability to work no less than 15 hours weekly with a flexible work schedule required.
  • One year of demonstrated work experience with SMI/DD preferred.

Also hiring Job Coaches!

Hope to see you there!


What to do When Someone You Know May Have a Mental Health Problem

There’s a 25% chance that, at some point in your life, you will be affected by some form of mental health difficulty. This is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about, and the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Whether talking to a professional, a family member, or a friend, there is always help available to you. But what happens when you notice that a friend may be having mental health difficulties of their own? What should you do? Here are some tips and guidelines so that you can help that friend or loved one as best you can.

Recognize the Signs

The first step is to recognize the signs that someone could be experiencing a mental health issue. Although these may vary depending on the specific mental illness, these signs are the most common:

  • Withdrawal from social life
  • Difficulty functioning in school or work
  • Problems with memory or simply thinking things through
  • Showing signs that they are disconnected from reality
  • Changes in sleeping, eating, and hygiene habits
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Conversations about suicide

Some of these symptoms and the possible outcomes can seem scary, but you must remain calm and not let your fears stop you from helping them to get help. Ignoring these signs will not make them go away and will only make this person’s feelings of isolation and lonelieness worse. Even simply asking if there is anything they would like to talk about, and offering an ear to listen, can make a huge difference. There is absolutely no shame in being diagnosed with a mental illness, it is often the first step to a real and lasting recovery.

How to Help

If a family member or a friend is showing any signs of having mental health difficulties, you can help them by offering support in the following ways:

  • Find out if that person is getting the help that they want or need, and if they are not, assist them in finding that help.
  • Let them know that you are concerned about them, and that you are there for them if they need any help.
  • Remind them that mental health problems are nothing to be ashamed of and that help is out there for them.
  • Don’t ignore signs. If they start a conversation about mental health, be supportive and responsive, and reiterate the fact that there is always help out there.
  • Offer to help them with simple everyday tasks to reduce their stress level and lessen their potential feelings of loneliness.
  • Continue to invite them to events and gatherings but do not be overbearing. Assure them that you want them there, but if they aren’t feeling up to attending, that is okay.
  • Educate those around you about mental health problems and never discriminate.
  • Always treat those with mental health problems with compassion, empathy, and respect.

When helping a friend get the help that they need, you may experience some difficulties with your own emotions. This is perfectly normal, and you should not hesitate to talk to someone about these problems for yourself. For information on the mental health services Caminar provides, please visit http://www.caminar.org.