Saturday, March 17, 2018

Communicating with a Person Who Is Having Delusions

Todd Belok serves as a mental health technician at the Temple University Hospital Episcopal Campus in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Todd Belok comes to this role with seven years of experience in psychiatric care, during which time he has built an in-depth knowledge of delusions and other symptoms of mental illness.

A symptom of many different mental disorders, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorders, a delusion manifests as an irrational and often strange belief. The most common involve believing that one is a person of grand importance, that one is being tracked or persecuted by the government, or that extraneous events specifically relate to the individual’s personal life. 

The individual with a delusion holds onto his or her belief with extreme conviction and cannot easily dismiss it, even in the face of objective evidence. One cannot eliminate the delusions by challenging them, as doing so is likely to cause the person to become defensive and hold more tightly to their convictions. Unfortunately, it is also unwise to play along with the delusion, as the person then feels that the delusion has been confirmed as true.

According to experts, the more effective and therapeutic alternative is to be empathetic but inquisitive. It is possible to say that one understands why an individual with delusions would be upset given a certain set of thoughts, even if the person speaking must honestly admit that he or she does not fully understand the thought process. 

This empathetic expression can lead into non-judgmental questions about how a person came to his or her beliefs and how he or she will respond to them. This requires the individual with the delusion to explain it, which can help him or her to begin to realize the lack of logic in the situation. It is important not to jump on this moment and force an admission of irrationality or dismiss the delusion, but rather allow the person to process his or her own thoughts at his or her own pace.

Saturday, December 16, 2017

Suicidal Ideation - Risk Factors and Warning Signs

According to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 1 million adults attempt suicide each year in the United States. Suicide attempts are most common among individuals with depression, though anxiety, substance dependence, and other mental health conditions increase a person's risk. Attempts are increasingly likely among those who have a personal or family history of suicide attempts, as well as among those who have current or past stressors associated with their illnesses.

Many individuals who are considering suicide indicate their intentions to others, either through words or actions. They may speak of feeling hopeless, in pain, and like a burden to those around them. They may even talk about wanting to die or actively threaten to kill themselves. 

Some may seek out lethal means, such as guns or pills; others may reach out to others to say goodbye or give away their possessions, while still others self-isolate. In many cases, the individual engages in reckless behavior that is outside of his or her norm. 

It is important for those who notice such behaviors and topics of conversation to talk to the suicidal person. They might ask if the person has a plan for killing himself or herself, and express an interest in connecting the person with help. If the individual has immediate access to lethal means, however, immediate medical intervention is critical.

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Tent Camping Considerations for First-Timers

Todd Belok earned a master’s degree in biomedical science from Drexel University in Philadelphia. Now, he works as a mental health technician at Temple University Hospital-Episcopal Campus. When he is not working, Todd Belok likes to go camping.

If you have never gone camping in a tent, these three tips may help make your experience memorable for the right reasons:

1. Before you set off on your trip, make sure you know how to set up your tent. Test yourself by setting up the tent in your yard. Assembling your tent at home will also let you check to make sure the tent is in good condition.

2. Warmth is crucial to enjoying your night, and a tent is nothing but a thin layer of fabric separating you from the elements. A sleeping bag is a must, but also consider taking blankets to lay both on top of you and underneath you. You are always better off having too many blankets than too few.

3. If you need silence to sleep, consider taking a pair of earplugs. Any noise outside may keep you awake, from a dog barking in the distance to nearby fellow campers.

Wednesday, May 17, 2017

The Importance of Quality Running Shoes

Philadelphia, Pennsylvania mental health technician Todd Belok serves patients at Temple University Hospital. Previously, he assisted at the Children’s National Medical Center as a patient care technician and at the Psychiatric Institute of Washington as a psychiatric technician. Outside of work, Todd Belok enjoys running and biking to stay in shape. 

Running is a great way to maintain both physical and mental health. Running shoes can carry expensive price tags, but quality shoes can help you sidestep blisters, rubbing, and sore feet or shins. 

Most sports stores have qualified salespeople or mechanized gait tests to help you identify what kind of shoe you should use for any sport, including running. The shoe you select should account for your unique degree of pronation, or the degree to which your foot rotates during a run. Some runners rotate too much and others don’t rotate enough - the proper shoe can correct this imbalance.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Recent Advances in Emergency Medical Service Care

Todd Belok serves as a mental health technician at Temple University Hospital - Episcopal Campus in Philadelphia. In addition to his work in mental health services, Todd Belok possesses several years of experience as an emergency medical technician (EMT) and remains interested in developments in emergency medical services (EMS).

EMS care has changed dramatically in the United States over the last several years. Improvements in technology and best practices allow EMTs to provide a higher standard of care than they could in years past, and better technologies continue to emerge.

Ambulances are now better equipped to handle serious emergencies. Many emergency vehicles are equipped with X-ray and ultrasound equipment as well as automated CPR machines and other lifesaving devices.

Many vehicles can even transmit data to the emergency room, preparing doctors before the patient arrives. This is a dramatic change from the manual CPR and improvised equipment of previous decades.

Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Communicating with the Psychotic Patient


Todd Belok serves as a mental health technician at Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, where he works with a diverse inpatient population. In that position, Todd Belok has cultivated an ability to communicate with all types of patients, including those suffering from psychosis.

Patients in a psychotic episode may be difficult to reach in conversation. They are likely to be experiencing delusions or hallucinations, as one of the hallmarks of psychosis is an apparent break from reality.

The most important thing to remember is that these experiences seem very real to the patient. They are, moreover, extremely persistent and do not respond to logic or reason. It is not advisable to attempt to convince the patient that his or her beliefs are false, as this tends to engender mistrust.

Instead, the caregiver or loved one can respond to the emotional reality of the situation. It is possible to acknowledge the patient's fear, sadness, or anger without mentioning the false beliefs that underlie it. If the patient will allow a change of topic, the caregiver can redirect the conversation to a neutral subject, such as the weather, sports, or entertainment.

The caregiver can also strive to ease the patient's mind by removing sources of stress from the environment, so that the patient can relax as much as possible. Meanwhile, the caregiver and others in the household should take care to avoid any confrontation and should show concern for the patient's emotional and physical well-being. This helps the patient to feel cared for without drawing attention to the psychosis.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department Holds Cancer Fundraiser

A mental health technician at Temple University Hospital, Todd Belok is also dedicated to offering emergency medical assistance. Todd Belok has been an EMT since 2008, and he uses his skills to give back to the community as a volunteer EMT for the Capitol Heights Volunteer Fire Department (CHVFD).

For over 100 years, the CHVFD has utilized volunteer firefighters to protect the citizens of Capitol Heights, Maryland. The department also does community service and fundraising for other worthy organizations. Over the Christmas 2015 season, the CHVFD held a fundraiser to support the Firefighter Cancer Support Network and St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in their fights against cancer.

The fundraiser centered around the Tree of Courage, a Christmas tree memorializing loved ones who have lost the battle with cancer. The tree was named after the CHVFD’s fire engine Courage, which is painted pink to raise awareness of breast cancer. For each ornament placed on the tree, a $5 donation was made to the cancer-fighting groups, for a total of $500.