• Changing police culture: raising awareness of the importance of mental health

      Dombroski, Mary; Daku, Mike; Duke, J. Robert; May, Jeff; Boldt, Frank (2017-08)
      The suicide rate involving police officers has produced alarming statistics for decades. Until recently, however, little has been done to prevent suicide in law enforcement and even fewer efforts have been made to change the root of the problem. This paper reviews why a law enforcement officer may choose to take their life, looks at preexisting programs and resources that departments can choose to embrace, and supplies departments with a new approach to destigmatizing suicide within the police culture starting at the academy level.
    • Concurrent Validation Of Alaska's Juvenile Justice Suicide Risk Screening Measure

      Gonzales, Jaymes; Boeckmann, Robert; Allen, James; Gonzalez, Vivian; Sandberg, Patricia (2012)
      Incarcerated youth face elevated rates of mental health problems and are at greater risk for suicide. The Alaska Division of Juvenile Justice (AKDJJ) uses the Mental Health/Suicide Screening (MHSS) measure to screen incoming youth for mental health problems and current suicide risk. This research examined the concurrent validity of the MHSS, exploring the relationships of the MHSS with the Beck Depression Inventory 2nd Edition (BDI-II; Beck, Steer, & Brown, 1996) and a measure of current suicidal ideation, the Positive and Negative Suicidal Ideation Inventory (PANSI; Osman, Guiterrez, Kopper, Barrios, & Chiros, 1998b). Statistically significant correlations were found between the MHSS, BDI-II, and negative ideation subscale of the PANSI; however, the effect sizes were not large enough to suggest concurrent validation within the study sample or to advise the continued use of the MHSS as a suicide risk measure. Future research directions and practical implications are provided.
    • Helping veterans through outreach

      Ebersole, Rodney B.; Daku, Mike; Boldt, Frank; Duke, Rob (2017-12)
      The present Master's project seeks to develop a better understanding of Veterans and what they are going through. Research methods include extensive data on the high suicide rates of Veterans. Veteran and service members are in need of a service to them that will address the issue of suicide and what can be done to help and eliminate this problem. The programs that need to be designed to help needs should be in locations that have Veteran populations so as to serve them with their needs. Ultimately, Veterans Affairs (VA) officials have boosted their mental health personnel and suicide hotline staff in recent years, but at this time their data does not reflect it helping Veterans getting the help that they so desperately need.
    • Meeting the bereavement needs of older adults with cognitive challenges

      Glendinning, Terry; Renes, Susan; Dahl, Heather; McMorrow, Samantha (2017-06)
      Approximately 5.5 million people in the United States are living with cognitive challenges such as Alzheimer's and other dementias. People with cognitive challenges, following the death of a loved one, often experience unacknowledged grief. This paper first describes grief as it occurs in older adults who are not cognitively challenged. This is followed by a review of literature focusing on the grief of older adults with cognitive challenges. The project looks at methods for accommodating the cognitive and communication needs of this population as they work through their grief process.
    • Resilient spirits

      Apok, Charlene Renee; Brooks, Cathy; Carroll, Jennifer L. L.; Jones, Jenny Bell; Carothers, Courtney; Ramos, Judith (2016-05)
      The following is a report of a project, "Resilient Spirits", which took place in Nome, Alaska. This project aimed to highlight stories of healing through survivorship. This work focuses on the assets within Alaska Native culture, community, and people. Development of strategies to address violence need to include healing. The project selected a mixed methodology of talking circles and photovoice to highlight the themes of healing, strength, and resilience. These methods served to engage participants in a culturally appropriate manner, in a safe space, and could be utilized at their comfort level. The first phase of the project was the introductory talking circle. It was used to discuss the themes and set up the photo activity. The second phase, photovoice, was chosen as a project activity to assist in sharing stories. Participants used digital cameras in their everyday lives to represent what healing and strength looked like from their perspective. The final third phase was another talking circle. It was a time to reflect on the first talking circle and the process of photovoice. From the unique combination of talking circles and photovoice, stories emerged on healing where there is often silence. Photographs provided a rich illustration of a sense of holistic healing and strength. Knowledge on healing and strength can be found within our Alaska Native communities. Healing is a renewable resource and experienced inter-generationally.
    • Secondary Trauma In Mental Healthcare Providers In Alaska

      Johnson, Erin L.; Lampman, Claudia; Petraitis, John; David, EJR; Lower, Tim (2012)
      Secondary trauma (ST) is vicarious traumatization caused by empathetic engagement with another's trauma, which may lead to burnout/turnover for mental healthcare providers (MHPs). ST and associated risk or protective factors have not been studied in Alaska. This research explored the prevalence and predictors of ST. The study population was 450 licensed MHPs and 14 Behavioral Health Aides (BHAs) who were randomly selected to complete the Secondary Traumatic Stress Scale (STSS) and a questionnaire created for this research, which inquired into aspects of their work. Bivariate analyses, mediator analyses, and multiple regressions tested which variables were associated with levels of overall ST and three sub-types of ST labeled Intrusion, Avoidance, and Arousal. 4 of the MHPs who responded to the survey also participated in a focus group to explore the survey results in greater detail. In total, 232 (50% response rate) licensed professionals and BHAs (47.08% urban and 48.15% rural) responded to the online survey. The Total STSS score across all participants indicated a "mild" level of ST among the MHPs. Approximately 20% of the sample met criteria for posttraumatic stress disorder as a result of their work; 47.6% experienced intrusion, 32.9% experienced arousal, and 29.9% experienced avoidance symptoms. As hypothesized, MHPs who reported working in rural locations, treating long-term and casual acquaintances, being less satisfied with their social support and self-care levels, and feeling more embarrassed to discuss ST reported higher levels of ST. Spending a higher percentage of one's workweek providing direct client services, however, was associated with less ST. Other hypothesized predictors of ST, including being younger, time spent debriefing, having a trusted supervisor, hours spent in self-care, treating a family member or friend, having a similar trauma history as a client, and gender were not associated with ST. Focus group participants shared that all clinicians may be susceptible to ST, that MHPs cope with ST by emotionally withdrawing, and that organizations can help reduce ST by providing support that reduces overall job-related stress. The information obtained can assist training programs, organizations, and providers in addressing ST, which may help reduce burnout/turnover rate.
    • Spiritual coping in counseling with trauma survivors

      Bronson, Damaris; Renes, Susan; Gifford, Valerie; Swisher, Kimberly (2016)
      Instances of past trauma are common in clients who are seeking help working through feelings of anxiety and depression. This research project will investigate the use of spiritual coping with clients who have experienced trauma involving intimate partner violence. The literature will identify areas that are important to consider when working with this population. Spirituality will be explored and along with Existentialism serve as the framework for working with trauma survivors. Due to the concentration of Alaska Native and American Indian individuals in Alaska, culture specific interventions are described. The application for this project, based on a review of the literature, is a training for master's level counseling students designed to educate future counselors about spiritual coping.
    • A treatment planner for severely emotionally disturbed (SED) youth in residential treatment programs

      Lotze, Brian; Renes, Susan; Gifford, Valerie; Morotti, Allan (2016)
      Writing treatment plans is a necessary but time-consuming step for busy counselors and mental health workers. Treatment plans are an important way of documenting and showing (a) the need for treatment, (b) the goals or objectives of treatment, and (c) how progress in treatment is measured. A well-written plan is critical to successfully treating clients, but must also allow agencies and counselors to document their work. Treatment planners assist counselors and other mental health workers when developing treatment plans, but existing planners are broadly focused to appeal to a wide audience. A review of the literature, and data from a residential treatment program for Severely Emotionally Disturbed (SED) youth was used to create a more narrowly focused treatment planner.
    • "We did listen": Successful aging from the perspective of Alaska Native Elders in Northwest Alaska

      Boyd, Keri M.; Gifford, Valerie M.; Whipple, Jason; Lewis, Jordan; David, Eric John (EJ) (2018-05)
      Alaska's older adults are growing faster in proportion to the overall population creating concern regarding how adequate care will be provided in the coming years. Statewide, rural community members are looking for innovative, culturally appropriate ways to promote successful aging for their growing population of elders, allowing them to age in their home communities. This qualitative, phenomenological study sought to establish a deeper understanding of how Alaska Native Elders in Northwest Alaska understand and experience successful aging to inform program development and service delivery. The present project was embedded within a larger community-based participatory research study and conducted in collaboration with community members and an Alaska Native Elder Advisory Committee. The 14 community-nominated Elder participants universally identified engagement with family and community, self-awareness and care, and a sense of gratitude as essential elements of successful aging. Elders who age successfully listened to and learned from their Elders, enact their traditional values and practices, and pass their wisdom and knowledge to future generations. The results provide a culture and context specific understanding of successful aging that will help communities develop Elder-centered programs and service delivery and contributes to field of successful aging by presenting a perspective of successful aging that is not currently represented in the literature. Finally, by recording the Elders' knowledge and stories of successful aging this project also helped preserve some of the traditional cultural knowledge held by Elders in this region to be shared with generations to come.