May is also National Pet Month! For many who have pets, they know that animals can enrich lives and even help with stress management.
The aims of National Pet Month include:
- Promoting the benefits of pet ownership – they are companions and have been shown to help reduce blood pressure and overall stress levels (which, in turn, can help reduce high cholesterol, high blood pressure, and other chronic stress-related health issues)!
- Supporting pet adoption - resources like Petfinder.com, Adopt-a-Pet, and your local humane society or SPCA can help you to find the best furry friend for your needs. Also look for local rescue groups and shelters – adopting a homeless pet can save a life.
- Increasing public awareness – there are a variety of services available from professionals who work with animals in many fields, including elder care, correctional facilities, health care, counseling, and working with special needs children. Pets are wonderful because they are the best listeners and are never judgmental. Working companion animals, also known as service dogs, have a valuable contribution to society to help those who are blind or have conditions like Multiple Sclerosis to live a happier and more fulfilling life. (But remember, these dogs are at work! Ask the person first if it’s okay to pet or interact with a service dog.)
Pet ownership is a big responsibility, whether it’s a 10-gallon fishtank or a purebred puppy. Make sure that you are ready for a long-term commitment before adopting! I will also add in the immortal words of Bob Barker, when he concluded The Price is Right for many years – “Help control the pet population…have your pets spayed or neutered.”
This May celebrates the 14th annual National Military Appreciation Month!
From Yahoo –
The recognition was designated by the United States Congress in 1999 and in 2004, as a means for Americans to say “Thank You” to the men and women of the of the U.S. Armed Forces — all branches of the services, National Guard and Reserves (“Citizen Soldiers”), those who have served throughout our history, and all of their families — over 90 million Americans still living today and to those sacrificed throughout America’s 237 year history. The month-long recognition provides an opportunity for all Americans to express their appreciation for the contributions our armed Forces have made to the building and safeguarding of this nation.
Through many events and recognition venues including Victory in Europe Day May 8, Military Spouse Day May 10, Armed forces Day May 18, and Memorial Day May 27, we say “Thank you.” Sadly, many Americans have forgotten the reasons for the traditions surrounding these events. National Military Appreciation Month serves to increase the recognition of these traditions, foster patriotism and love of country, expand our knowledge of our flag and what it stands for and thereby develop pride in our rich American history.
“America’s military has played a major role in the development of our country chronicled through their unbending honor, dedication to duty, and love of country,” Ms. Wax states. “It all began as a simple idea: to gather America around its military family to honor, remember, recognize and appreciate those who have served and those now serving and to know the history behind it all.”
This idea was legislated in the United States Congress first in 1999; in April 2004 more comprehensive legislation was passed by unanimous consent of both houses of Congress, H. Con. Res. 328, further supporting May as National Military Appreciation Month in perpetuity and “urging the President to issue a proclamation calling on the people of the United States, all Federal departments and agencies, States and localities, organizations and media to annually observe a National Military Appreciation Month with appropriate ceremonies and activities.”
NMAM is now in its 14th year of nationwide celebrations and recognitions by citizens, schools, groups and municipalities giving the nation a time and place to focus and express our appreciation and thanks to our military family. Ms. Wax states, “Our military represents the highest caliber of professionalism and technology. We ask them to willingly risk their lives on a moment’s notice; should we not willingly and openly recognize their contributions and their sacrifices as well? Americans are encouraged to fly the flag throughout May and for all national observances!”
There are many people who were not at the Boston Marathon who may have their PTSD triggered by what occurred yesterday. If you’re feeling scared, anxious, depressed or alone, please reach out – call a friend, family member, or the EAP.
You can also call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990. It is (like the EAP) free, confidential, and 24/7.
From the Disaster Distress Helpline website:
Stress, anxiety, and other depression-like symptoms are common reactions after any natural or human-caused disaster.
Signs of distress may include any of the following physical and emotional reactions:
- Sleepling too much or too little
- Stomachaches or headaches
- Anger, feeling edgy or lashing out at others
- Overwhelming sadness
- Worrying a lot of the time; feeling guilty but not sure why
- Feeling like you have to keep busy
- Lack of energy or always feeling tired
- Drinking alcohol, smoking or using tobacco more than usual; using illegal drugs
- Eating too much or too little
- Not connecting with others
- Feeling like you won’t ever be happy again
- Rejecting of help.
Please visit their website for additional information, including downloadable brochures and information on coping tips, warning signs, and talking to children about disasters. And of course, let us know if there is anything that we can do to help. You are not alone, and asking for assistance is not a sign of weakness.
April is National Child Abuse Prevention Month!
Now is the time to recognize that we each can play a part in promotiong the social and emotional well-being of children and families in communities. The US Department of Health and Human Services has a website dedicated to this effort, and there you will find a variety of information: Preventing Child Abuse and Neglect, Prevention Programs, Creating Public Awareness, a Resource Guide to Prevent Child Maltreatment and Promote Well-Being, a list of Six Protective Factors, Tip Sheets for Parents and Caregivers (in English and Spanish), and much more.
If you are a witness to child abuse or neglect — any injury, pain, or impairment to a child — please do not hesitate to call and report it. Each state has a system to receive and respond to reports of possible child abuse/neglect, and anyone can call statewide hotlines, local child protective services (such as Children and Youth Agencies), or law enforcement agencies to share their concerns. In Pennsylvania, the statewide 24-hour ChildLine number is 1-800-932-0313. Nationwide, Childhelp® offers a 24/7 hotline to help you find local resources — their number is 1-800-4-A-CHILD (1-800-422-4453).
Mazzitti & Sullivan EAP are Mandated Reporters, which means that any report of child abuse must be reported to ChildLine. However, if you need help coping with past or current abuse, we are always here to help you begin the healing process.
If you haven’t already completed your state, local, and/or federal income taxes, you may want to start! Yes, they can be confusing and sometimes costly, but waiting until the last minute can cause a lot of stress — which can lead to errors. Being prepared and taking your time can reduce those errors as well as any tax-time related stress!
One resource is the Internal Revenue Service website. You can learn about free online filing, how to take advantage of the Earned Income Tax Credit and other credits, and (if you’ve already filed) check on the status of your refund.
Many states offer online filing at no extra charge – check with your state’s department of revenue or look for more information with your tax booklet. One great advantage of doing your return online is that it does all of the math for you; another advantage is that if you are due a refund, you can usually have it directly deposited into your bank account in around two weeks from when you file.
A growing number of local municipalities are also moving to online filing. Your local tax bureau can direct you to the appropriate website and provide the necessary registration information to complete your taxes online.
Online filing is usually faster, more accurate, and (for most taxpayers) free of charge. It also conserves paper, because in addition to the ability to save your returns as a digital file, future notices about your taxes come in the form of a letter instead of a booklet. Finally, it saves on postage – and because you receive confirmation that your return was accepted, you also don’t have to worry that it has been lost in transit.
Still concerned? One option is to do your taxes on paper, and then try one of the free online services to see how they compare. Until you digitally “sign” your return and click “submit,” you have the option to discard your information if you change your mind about online filing. Some taxpayers find out that they are eligible for certain credits that they didn’t know about until they tried the online services!
If you’ve already filed for this year, don’t worry — there’s always next year.
Here at the EAP, we are often asked about FMLA (the Family Medical Leave Act) and how it relates to depression and other mental illnesses. Although covered employees (and their covered family members) can use the EAP to see a qualified mental health professional to obtain a diagnosis and have the paperwork completed for FMLA, it depends on what the employer’s paperwork requests when it comes to what sort of mental health professional is permitted to complete the paperwork. For example, if you have a Licensed Social Worker complete the FMLA forms, but your employer requires a doctorate-level psychologist, you will have to have the assessment done by (and the paperwork completed by) the doctorate-level psychologist in order to qualify for FMLA (pending employer approval).
I know, it’s all very confusing at times! Please talk to your HR department for specific details on what your employer requires for FMLA.
For some general information, check out this article: Can I Use FMLA to See a Psychologist? | eHow.com.
|Pennsylvania’s Yellow Dot Program was created to assist citizens in the “golden hour” of emergency care following a traffic accident when they may not be able to communicate their needs themselves. Placing a yellow dot in your vehicle’s rear window alerts first responders to check your glove compartment for vital information to ensure you receive the medical attention you need.|
|The program is a cooperative effort among the Pennsylvania Departments of Transportation, Health and Aging; the Pennsylvania State Police, the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission and First Responders and local law enforcement.|
|How does it work?
Participants complete a personal information form, which includes the participant’s name, contact information, emergency contact information, medical history and medications, allergies and the particpant’s doctors’ names. A photo – showing only the participant’s head and shoulders – is then taped to the front of the completed information sheet.
The yellow dot decal provided in the program kit is placed in the lower left corner of the participant’s vehicle’s rear windshield. The decal should be no higher than 3 inches from the bottom of the windshield. This decal alerts first responders that vital information can be found in the vehicle.
Place the completed information sheet, with the attached picture, into the Yellow Dot folder, and then place the folder into the vehicle’s glove box.
|How can I participate in Yellow Dot?
Another service PennDOT provides that’s accessible even when you’re not in your vehicle is our Emergency Contact Information program. To learn more or to register for this free service visit the program website.
In other states, check with your Department of Transportation to see if they have a similar program!
Here’s an interesting website about 12 Step Groups and 12 Step Programs, which are for all sorts of addictions!
If you think you may need a 12 Step Program, or would like to know what’s in your area, please contact us for a referral.
This just in from the Pennsylvania Department of Health….
The PA Securities Commission, the state agency that regulates the investment industry and investigates investment fraud, is distributing electronic and hard copies of the new “Financial Field Manual For Military Families.” It includes information geared for military personnel and families on basic finances, how to save and invest for retirement and other goals, and how to avoid and report financial scams that specifically target military personnel.
This booklet is educational and non-commercial in nature. Hard copies are available at no cost, while supplies last. Individual as well as bulk quantities are available to anyone who may want to distribute them. Anyone who wants hard copies should e-mail Doug Hassenbein, Pennsylvania Securities Commission, at firstname.lastname@example.org with their quantity request, address and other relevant contact information.
I also have a few more links to be added into our Resources for Veterans page, so be sure to check them out if you’re interested. If you don’t know your company’s login, give us a call at 1-800-543-5080 or email us at email@example.com!
Go4Life , an exercise and physical activity campaign from the National Institute on Aging at NIH, is designed to help you fit exercise and physical activity into your daily life. Motivating older adults to become physically active for the first time, return to exercise after a break in their routines, or build more exercise and physical activity into weekly routines are the essential elements of Go4Life. Learn more