Alaska Behavioral Health Spring Education Series

March 17 @ 12:00: Sleep Wellness

Presenter: Pamela Kennedy

Register here!

Sleep hygiene is an important part of your overall health and wellbeing.  Studies show significant lack of sleep impairs your ability to manage even small daily stressors.  All areas of life can be impacted by poor sleep hygiene such as: driving a car, functioning at work, problem solving, managing your mental health, managing complex situations.  The process to make lasting change in your sleep habits takes commitment, consistency, practice and problem solving.  It is possible to improve your sleep behaviors and as a result improve your mental health.

In this brief introduction to sleep hygiene we will cover the impact poor sleep has on preexisting anxiety and depression symptoms, as well as new emerging symptoms of depression and anxiety exacerbated by poor sleep.  We will briefly explore clear, direct sleep hygiene activities and routines you can do to improve your quality of sleep.  Lastly, we will briefly touch on diet and fitness, use of meditation and use of smartphone applications to assist in tracking sleep as well as providing a soothing atmosphere to encourage sleep.


April 13 @ 6:00 pm: The Original You – Thriving, Not Surviving, Part 1: Introduction to Teenage Mindfulness

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Military teens are high-risk for feelings of isolation, depression and anxiety – with frequent moves, school transitions and worry about deployed parents – all on top of the regular teenage stress in a rapidly changing world. This webinar will teach teens ages 12-17 about the effect of trauma and chronic stress on the brain through a hands-on art project (materials provided) and teach skills for mindfulness activities that promote greater connection between thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. This webinar is the first of four presented as part of the Cohen Clinic’s partnership with the Hollister Confidence Project to address youth mental health.

April 14 @ 6:00: Building Resilience through Safe Connections: A Sexual Assault Awareness Month presentation Co-hosted with STAR Alaska

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Alaska unfortunately leads the nation when it comes to sexual assault rates – nearly 4 times the national average. Most of the victims are women, many are younger than 18 years old, and most assaults take place at a residence or home. Add in a pandemic that has people feeling isolated and disconnected, and it’s a tough reality. But therapists are finding methods that are helping victims recover and seem to reduce their chances of becoming repeat victims, by focusing on positive, safe connections as a way to build resilience.  Learn about the importance of safe connections and what makes them safe, and about opportunities for building those connections. Presenters are Christine Alvarez, LPC, Chief of Clinical Operations for Adult Services at Alaska Behavioral Health, and Eden Lunsford, LPC and trauma therapist with Star Alaska.

May 12 @ 6:00: Managing Depression & Anxiety: Role of Medications

Presenter: Dr. Curt Wengel

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Dr. Wengel will discuss the uses and limitations of psychiatric medications in the treatment of anxiety, depression and other common mental health disorders.

Dr. Wengel completed medical school in south Texas. He went on to a general psychiatry residency at Brooke Army Medical Center, the Veterans Administration and University Health Systems before completing a child and adolescent fellowship at San Antonio State Hospital and Clarity Child Guidance Center. He strives to help every child and adult live their fullest life and takes a team approach to providing care.

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