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SEARHC hosts Living Well chronic disease support group

CRAIG, Jan. 13, 2012 — Do you or a loved one have a chronic disease, such as diabetes, heart disease or rheumatoid arthritis? Have you noticed how the chronic disease can be affected by or cause stress, depression or other behavioral health issues?

The SEARHC Behavioral Health Division on Prince of Wales Island is partnering with the primary health care providers at the Alicia Roberts Medical Center in Klawock to offer a “Living Well with Chronic Conditions” support group. The free support group will meet at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesdays, starting on Feb. 29, at the SEARHC Behavioral Health Office in Craig (located in the Thibodeaux Mall). The support group is modeled after the Living Well Alaska workshops about chronic disease self-management offered by the State of Alaska, but instead of being a set number of sessions this will be an ongoing group and participants can start and stop at any time.

This support group is open to anybody who wants to learn more about how to take charge and self-manage their chronic diseases. Living a healthy life with a chronic condition can be challenging, and participants will learn how to explore and meet these challenges. They will learn how to manage their symptoms, how to set goals and solve problems, how to deal with depression and emotions, how to use relaxation techniques, how to work with their health care team, and how to eat well and be active. Some of the chronic conditions that may lead to people participating in this group include arthritis, asthma, chronic pain, diabetes, heart disease, lung problems, and just being sick and tired of being sick and tired.

It is widely recognized that behavioral health issues contribute to primary health concerns. For example, stress can cause higher blood sugar numbers for people with diabetes and people with anger issues can cause a heart condition to get worse. On the other hand, having a chronic condition can lead to depression or other behavioral health issues. For example, someone with chronic pain can become addicted to pain medication. This support group will help people find ways to cope, so they don’t make their chronic conditions worse or feel overwhelmed by the disease’s challenges.

For more information about this group, contact SEARHC Behavioral Health Division POW Clinical Supervisor Pete Ryan, LCSW, MAC, at 755-4935. The SEARHC Behavioral Health Division on POW hopes to offer additional support groups in the near future with topics such as grief and loss support, anxiety reduction and support, parenting toddlers to adolescents, and children of divorce. To learn more about the Living Well Alaska model of chronic disease self-management, go to http://www.hss.state.ak.us/dph/chronic/smp/ to download a brochure.

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