The Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute’s 11th Annual Conference Focuses on Managing Anxiety Participants Share Moving Stories
June 4, 2012–The Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute (NRCI) at TCSPP hosted a conference on June 3, 2012, where more than 325 attendees heard Dr. Mark Pollack, Dr. Rick Zinbarg and Susan Richman speak about managing anxiety in children, adolescents and adults. The panel members each spoke about the disease, and helped both the public and professionals learn about new options for treatment and work that still to be done to improve the lives of 25% of Americans dealing with this condition. In addition, experienced professionals led 15 discussion groups, giving further information on anxiety and related issues. Every year, 37 organizations exhibit at the conference, providing a wealth of additional resources available in the community.
Drs.’ Pollack and Zinbarg explained symptoms of anxiety disorder: What is normal, what is dysfunctional, and that anxiety is not a person’s fault, but a medical condition we can treat. They explained the new treatment options that are having great success in helping those suffering work toward having a normal life. The goal for those who need treatment is to get it; only one half of those who need treatment receive it, and of that number, only half are successful. “Listening to the professionals gave me so much insight in to this disease and the treatments that can help,” stated one attendee. Another said, “The program was superior, very informative and well structured.”
Susan Richman, a conference attendee, has suffered from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD) since she was in her 20s. She told her moving story of a three-year bout with the disease, which hospitalized her for 20 months, during which she received numerous treatments and finally found the proper treatment–Exposure Therapy. As Susan explained, “if one treatment doesn’t work, try another. OCD cannot be cured, but it can be treated.”
Another attendee said, “I have OCD and I think that this conference has helped me in that I am taking away parts of what people said, and I am going to try to incorporate into my therapy.”
Following a short break there was an opportunity for participants to ask the panel questions. Topics included parenting a child with anxiety, medication, and symptoms of anxiety. The panel made the following suggestions to the audience: Discuss your anxiety, don’t hide it, find treatment, and replace anxiety with balanced thoughts, not unrealistic goals. The panelists felt strongly that peer support is important in recovery because it normalizes the experience when you see someone else with anxiety or OCD. Questions were raised regarding sleep, and the panel explained that sleep is critical to coping with anxiety, and not during the day when a person is busy with other thoughts, but at night when many find themselves having difficulties. There are excellent treatments available such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy and Exposure Therapy. Once a person learns how these therapies work, the patient can do his or her own therapy. Also, medication does play an important role in the process of dealing with these illnesses.
Rev. Scott Mitchell gave the closing remarks. Having the conference at a place of worship added a special dimension to the day. There is hope and the Institute will continue its work to eliminate the stigma of mental illness.
The Naomi Ruth Cohen Institute does not turn anyone away for financial reasons. Many attendees were grateful for scholarships and the opportunity to attend. The Institute will hold their 12th Community Health Conference on Trauma on June 2, 2013.