By Kevina “Liz” Mitchell, Employee Benefits Account Specialist
Like many of the other 10 million single mothers in America, I have one beautiful princess who my life revolves around. Yet, whether we be single parents, two parent homes, or even individuals, this past year has likely affected each of our metaphorical family orbits. Once inflation took flight last year and refused to land, I was faced with a hard decision: either leave my current job (which I love) or take on a second part-time gig. Neither choice is appealing, but I have chosen the second. A) Because again, I love my job and B) because although the job market is hawt, the jobs I do qualify for either do not pay what I need, or they just seem really sus.
I do wonder when the last time the State of Alaska updated their assistance eligibility requirement was. Though I have by all accounts a respectable white-collar job, I still struggle to pay my bills, often having to choose between buying food or paying said bills. There’s no extra. The things my daughter and I were able to enjoy before this inflationary period are now unattainable because they cost money that I simply don’t have. As she grows… so do her interests. She wants to take classes that there are no funds for. Even I would like to take a class or two to grow my interests but cannot. But, according to Alaska, I make too much money. So, help is not available to me.
My remaining option then becomes to work more hours, having even less time with my little girl who needs me, and exhausting myself more than I already am. I suppose I could don a nice dress and hunt for a rich man… but I’m anemic so I don’t have the energy for that, hahaha! I do, however, think this is an opportunity for some creativity. My mother has been pestering me to start painting again. Allegedly I have a growing fanbase on JBER that would like to purchase my art pieces. I’ve also decided that this is a wonderful time to monetize my stunningly straight teeth and infectious personality via the Food & Beverage Industry.
Either way, I know I’m going to be just fine. While this isn’t how I envisioned my life going I can’t say that it’s boring. At least I have this life and the wonderful daughter within it. I’m also pretty excited about the possibilities! Especially the part where I will have no excuses to not leave my house anymore…or maybe that part was just anxiety, I don’t know. But darn it all, it’s happening, and life goes on.
By Ashley Snodgrass, Employee Benefits Analyst
As of July 16, 2022, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline is changing to be more easily accessible. Now help is only a three-digit number (988) away.
According to Alaska Department of Health Division of Behavioral Health, this change has been planned for many years. The goal is to make it easier to connect anyone in distress to “compassionate, accessible support,” including trained crisis counselors.
I’d like to highlight some statistics that support why this hotline is needed. These are taken directly from the State of Alaska’s FAQ about the new 988 hotline:
“Alaska and the nation are experiencing a mental health crisis. But the crisis is not irreversible.
- In Alaska in 2020, suicide was the leading cause of death for American Indian and Alaska Native youth ages 10-19, and for youth ages 10-14. Suicide was the 2nd leading cause of death overall for all Alaska youth and young adults, ages 15-34.
- According to the most recent Youth Risk Behavior Survey in 2019, over 1 in 3 Alaska high school students reported feeling sad or hopeless almost every day for 2 or more weeks in a row; 25% seriously considered attempting suicide; and nearly 20% attempted suicide.
- When fully implemented, 988 will improve Alaska’s system of care that responds to individuals experiencing a behavioral health crisis.
- Those statistics are sobering, but there is good news:
- Suicide is most often preventable. For every person who dies by suicide annually, there are 316 people who seriously consider suicide but do not kill themselves.
- Over 90% of people who attempt suicide go on to live out their lives.”
An FAQ about the 988 Hotline has been made available on the State of Alaska’s webpage, accessible at https://health.alaska.gov/dbh/Pages/Prevention/988/default.aspx#faq
I’ve compiled some additional resources for mental health services in Alaska below:
- Alaska’s Careline: 1-877-266-4357 (HELP) or text “4help” at 839863
- 24/7 free and confidential crisis line
- UAA Psychological Services Center: 907-786-1795
- Telehealth counseling services available at reduced costs to all members of the community.
- Veterans Crisis Line: 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and press 1 or text to 838255, or use Veterans Crisis Chat on the web
- The Veterans Crisis Line is a free, confidential resource that connects veterans 24 hours a day, seven days a week with a trained responder. The service is available to all veterans, even if they are not registered with the VA or enrolled in VA healthcare.
- State of Alaska Behavioral Health Links & Resources
- Including links to Community Treatment and Recovery Providers with Websites:
In case of emergency, always call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room for treatment.