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News Items – February 25, 2015

Happy Golden Retriever Rescue Dog

Emotional support animals can live in dorms, help students reduce stress
Colorado State University Collegian
Walking through the Colorado State University campus, students are likely to run into a dog in a vest. While many people are familiar with trained service dogs, another kind of support animal gets less recognition. Emotional support animals can provide companionship, relieve loneliness and help with depression, anxiety and phobias, according to a publication from the Americans with Disabilities Act National Network. “Regardless of what kind of day you’ve had, dogs are always forgiving and always want to give you love and attention and affection,” said Jasmine Marie, trainer and Denver coordinator for Human Animal Bond in Colorado. HABIC is a program in the CSU School of Social Work that provides animal assisted activities as well as therapies using volunteers and their dogs. Some of their activities take place in schools, nursing homes and hospitals, according to Marie.

Dennis McNamara is a member:
Woman sentenced in stabbing case
Mail Tribune (Medford, OR)
Soon after the stabbing, Dennis McNamara, a licensed clinical social worker with Jackson County Mental Health, visited Everman in jail. He said at that time she was unable to aid and assist in her own defense, and suffered from a serious mental disorder. “While in jail she remained in separation due to her being uncooperative, assaultive with deputies, unpredictable, and not eating,” McNamara wrote in an October letter to Everman’s defense attorney. “She spends a good deal of her time standing at her door blankly staring out.”

The writer, Melinda Kavanaugh, is a member:
Youth caregivers need more of our support
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Some years ago, as a clinical social worker at the Huntington’s Disease Center of Excellence at Washington University in St. Louis, I started a support group for kids who had a parent with Huntington’s disease, including youth caregivers. While we bowled and played putt-putt golf, they told me about learning to tube-feed their parent, long nights watching parents and then falling asleep in school. I heard the extent to which we neither recognize nor understand their daily lives and challenges. From that practice and my ongoing research on youth caregivers, I learned of the things we can do to change that. Here are just three, for school personnel, friends and family members and professionals.

Kevin Polky is a member:
PTSD: Not Just a Combat Problem
WIFR (Rockford, IL)
At least 60 percent of men and 50 percent of women will experience at least one traumatic event in their lifetime, anything from a car crash, to the loss of a loved one. Twenty percent of women and eight percent of men will actually develop PTSD, according to the National Center for PTSD. Clinical social worker and owner of KP Counseling, Kevin Polky says, he sees clients who suffer from the anxiety disorder. “The natural tendency is to try to suppress those feelings and suppress those memories, and the memories come back later with some type of triggering event.”

The First 1,000 Days: Investing in WV Children When It Counts
West Virginia Public Broadcasting
The First 1,000 Days: Investing in WV Children When It Counts introduces us to early childhood development and how this critical time is shaping the future of West Virginia. We take a look at a few of the most successful programs that are helping children develop normally, programs that provide families with the very best child developmental testing and services.

Social workers challenge state on gay marriage
“The idea that one family is better than the other based on sexual orientation or gender identity is false,” said Amy West, a social worker, who represents the Nebraska chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. “I’ve met a lot of children and talked to a lot of children about this very issue and what these kids want is love,” she said.

Jenny Gadd is a member:
Group Home Funding Runs Dry
North Carolina Health News
“Food is a real issue,” said Jenny Gadd, the group home manager for Alberta Professional Services, which runs several group homes for people with mental health issues. “We buy more stuff that’s canned and frozen, not many things that are fresh. You make sure you hit all the sales.” Gadd bemoaned the lack of stimulating activities for her residents; for example, trips to museums, drives, time at the YMCA. “Those things have gotten whittled away at until you never go on a drive to Jordan Lake because you can’t afford the gas,” she said.

Myke Selha is a member:
Transgender Iowan seeks public’s understanding
Des Moines Register
The confusion may be part of the reason that acceptance for transgender people has lagged gays and lesbians, experts say. “It can be a very isolating experience. A lot of people feel like they are the only person going through this,” said Myke Selha, a West Des Moines social worker who specializes in work with the transgender population. “The people you expect to be there are rejecting you, and you feel like you have nobody to turn to.” [Leelah] Alcorn wrote that she wasn’t accepted by her parents, who have been lambasted in online comments. “But there’s been a lot of progress in the last five years,” Selha said. “I’m now seeing people coming in to me in their 20s or later in life, and, in the last year, even parents who say my child is saying this, and I want to understand it better.”

Jill Levenson is a member:
Sex offender ruling sparks discussion of law’s real value
Legal News
“The truth is these laws are very popular with politicians and the public and sound good in theory,” said Jill S. Levenson, who teaches social work at Barry University in Florida. “There have been numerous studies that show there is no relationship between where a sex offender lives and the likelihood to re-offend.” Levenson added that forcing offenders to scour an area for housing opens them to the possibility of re-offending. “The best predictor of a successful re-entry into society is stable housing, employment and a social support system,” Levenson said. “Policies that disrupt those factors actually increase the likelihood of resuming a life of crime.”


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