Overcoming Stress and Anxiety Workshop Rough Notes
Overcoming Stress and Anxiety Workshop
Rough Notes

• Senate Democratic Conference Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins
• Senator Jesse Hamilton
• Assembly Member Nick Perry

Panelists (see flyer for full degrees/backgrounds of panelists):
• Dr. Phillip Murray
• Dr. Elisa English
• Susan Cameron
• Alisha Alleyne
• Samuel Williams

• Stress
o often begin to see it as normative – leads to unhealthy coping skills
ex: overeating, over drinking, yelling, screaming, doing things that negatively impact the quality of our life and our health
Estimated 40 million Americans suffer from an anxiety disorder
o There is some healthy stress
• Covering today:
o What is stress, causes of stress, strategies to reduce stress
• Stress
o can be felt and over time can accumulate and impact parts of your life – especially oftentimes goes unaddressed with accumulation over time
o And anxiety – symptoms can be simple
o Note- stress is something that leads to anxiety
Heart races, blood flowing – in ancient past re: getting away from a predator
With wrong response to wrong stimulus,
o The body spreads symptoms in various ways – for example - can have fever from numerous causes
• Anxiety
o Estimated attributes to 10 emergency room visits per year by an individual before it is diagnosed
o Panic attacks- one part of diagnosis- is feels likes impending doom, and feeling like you’re going to die
palpitations can be involved, feels like you’re having a heart attack
Can be very debilitating
• A support system is better than every system
• Understanding how stress impacts the mood
o often when we experience stress our mood changes –
becoming irritable towards loved ones (for reason that may be unknown to them, and sometimes it is even unknown us),
may lose interest in things that we used to find pleasurable,
may manifest in form of feeling depressed
o How impacts young children, e.g. Ages 12 and under
Children experience levels of sadness, and trauma
• famous study – re: adverse childhood experiences
• The higher the exposure to trauma, adverse childhood experiences, the higher the chance for poor outcomes
• Parents
o Should definitely pay attention to changes in behaviors and moods of their child
o With children – may present itself as changes in behavior - like being more irritable (especially as they may not express verbally), appearing in school context as well
• Children
o Behavioral change, what it looks like
Can manifest as: angry outburst, tantrums, overeating, under-eating, listlessness, not doing homework, lack of motivation, not finding enjoyment in things child enjoyed in the pat
Children don’t have as many tools to defend themselves. They may be unable to express how they’re feeling
Subject of ongoing study: how many adverse childhood experience one has had, and figure out connections to school performance, or ending up in juvenile justice system, or hospitalizations, or going onto medication
o Example positive – parent always lit up when a child came into her presence, and thus fostered a sense of security it built in the child.
o Note: there are things we can’t always protect children from as parents – e.g. Bullying
o Don’t want to underestimate the power of what children are exposed to in the home
on the adults and caregivers to be alert to issues of nonverbal cues that children offer to say: I’m in pain, hurt, or suffering
Note also: grown ups also suffer from these issues – not being able to articulate how they are feeling, thus requiring reading cues
o Personality – developed between ages 0-5 – often; many thing that impact them, explored at early age in developmental process
How we should act when we are around children, so we’re aware
• Understanding how stress impacts adults behavior
o Stress a major factor in how people react to situations – e.g. When someone is very angry, agitated
o Key to identify stressors, and appropriate coping techniques. Ex. Coping: support network, deep breathing
o Co-occurring disorders
sometimes people self-medicate with alcohol or drug abuse
o Important to – identify stressors and find appropriate coping skills
• Addiction – how can you treat the mental challenge if don’t treat addiction first
o Sometimes treat the addiction and fail to deal with the other items
o Actually – best to treat both at the same time
o People are abusing drugs because they’re trying to deal with the primary things that’re wrong
o Most people don’t start out abusing drugs (addiction as developing over time)
o Addiction – note it can start as early as 13 or 14 years old – experimenting with drugs
o As many as 86 million Americans have experimented with illicit substances
• Reducing stress and anxiety
o Having an awareness
Knowing your triggers is important for managing stress
Triggers may not be prominent for some people
Stress exists in everyone’s life and we deal with on a daily basis
May build up over time, with negative consequences in failing to address it
o Techniques for reducing stress and anxiety
May vary based on individual
Maybe – deep breathing techniques, support system – relying on others in our lives, people there to support people through stress – may be difficult to take advantage of support systems for us to be vulnerable in that way. Support system can be family, friends, clergy, for example.
• Note - A collective responsibility to this work
• Financial hardship –what should we be dealing with – coping, for example with bills
o nearly ¾ of Americans report feeling anxious about money frequently
o Recent CDC seminar presenter commented re: those making the most money live the longest, and those with high education live the longest. Suggestions of go back to school and ask for a raise
o If you are working – do take that CDC presenter’s remarks into consideration, re: asking for a raise
o Note there are folks out of work and some in circumstances where they can’t ask for a raise
o Stressors – may be, rent increases, cost of living going up – for example
o About:
Being resilient, asking for help when you need help, also taking stock of how you are doing, self-awareness
Especially re: asking yourself questions like: are there things I an delegate? Or change?
Being pro-active and planning
o One’s health is number 1
• Q and A
o If noticing symptoms in child as a parent. How do you address them, so child can open up re: what’s going on?
Observing the nonverbal cues. Probing. Sometimes, relate to children through various exercises, activities, events. Allows insight into behavior and gaining knowledge as to cause
Having open dialogue is important. Also important, how the topic is broached. May be approaching in a gentle way, and an atmosphere where there’s comfort in disclosure. For example – at an activity, where it emerges more naturally and organically rather than a formal, sit down discussion
Also – maybe explore who else child is talking to. Do: check social media outlets. –re: information as to what on is going through
The “why?” question is the language of adults. School age and younger kids, can give outlines and not details, and not do the “why?” question as well.
Knowing the network of the child: teachers, and friends of the child, guidance counselor, or a mentor
Note: self harm and suicide rates among young children a serious concern
When children act this out in school – often sent to he emergency room
o Comment
issue of traumatizing children in the morning. Getting through that. Also, note, when picking up children – how relating to child and not bringing your day to your child in negative way
Trying to be sure child’s experiencing being awoken with chaos and being greeted with chaos being picked up from school
Do know, the child has nothing to do with all the things that are happening with the rest of your day; other worries/stresses of parent not brought to child
Making for instance, mornings of not being running, encourages smile when we see them. A warm place, safe space, thus developing a context where child feels comfortable coming to parent
o Importance of mental health. Many HIV positive people assigned a mental health provider end up doing better. Bring mental health provider along with testing in the community (connect the two). So people have a better idea of what that looks like. Asking to speak to that and broaching the mental health conversation. How to open up conversation about mental health in the community?
One of the huge barriers, is the stigma associated with mental health – re: weakness for example
Need to recognize that the brain, like any part of the body, can also get sick.
Definitely a mental health component re: HIV
Need incorporate all the parts of our community, become part of the conversation
Mental health – often uncomfortable, scary, confusing; - there is an origin to stigma
• Exposure needs
• Addressing anyone with co-occurring illness – we see that outcomes are better when mental health components are addressed.
• Also important – aspect re: knowing the family support system
• Clinic example – with co-occurring location of treatment – with multiple sources
• Integration of mental health and physical health
Starting the dialogue is important – being in forum and being in the conversation.
• We all age mental health needs
• Part of normalizing – whether one has a clinical diagnosis or not
• May be with primary care doctor- example: how are you feeling today
o Comment: Issue of mental health – re: kids and parents
o Note that spirituality and religion often plays a role. What do you suggest re: incorporating spirituality and mental health together? Re :raising awareness about this topic.
God can be a great support, coping mechanism. A faith may form the context
Using the terms that people are comfortable with – may include the way they use prayer, meditation
Sometimes a disease of the brain is not taken as seriously as it needs, in a faith community
Educating – family, congregation, spiritual leaders
Not something that just happens with a faith community
Thinking about – spiritual community's role in lives of people of color
o Comment: importance of self-image and self-esteem. Starting from place where comfortable with who you are. Being ok with what life brings. Happiness as a key to success. Starting in the home.
o One them of conversation – importance of support. Church has historically been place of support. May be disconnect at times, re: breaking stigma, and encouraging support. Mental illness – encompasses a whole range of mental health issues. Functioning people can be in recovery/treatment. Opportunities for the church to be more sensitized to this – so not secret or shameful.
o What are signs, re: seeking professional help?
When you see it in daily functioning. Ex. Not able to function, or able to get to work, or at work and unable to do functions. Talk to someone about what you’ve been experiencing.
Also is helpful – training for people. Training and education of people – so we are more able/equipped to help ourselves and our friend. Mental health first aid – teachers, clergy
Also note – informing that there is hope on the other side. There are resources
Personal responsibility around our own bias re: mental illness, and wellness.
As a support system – we need care
Note, you can refer yourself. No harm to getting checked out.
o How people of color express themselves, often policed. How to modify policy, when country and media are built on discrediting black lives? What children of color are going through – issue re: creating environment where teaching children abut themselves.
Race, class, and gender – impacting the spectrum, scope of the issues.
Note: big disparities re: resources that are addressing these concerns
Children of color – often penalized, with ending up “get them the out of my classroom”; connects to issues of jailing of young people
Is a work in progress, on the radar, and needs 110% of our efforts.
Policing emotions in communities of color – the field is trying to address this. Trying to introduce cultural competency training – as helping to inform diagnosis, treatment, and treatment planning.
Getting a more diverse workforce in terms of serving people
• Closing – thanks.
• Mental health legislation- we need your help

For more information about the next workshop please email us at Hamilton@nysenate.gov or call us at 718-284-4700.

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