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September 2023 Newsletter

Welcome to the first edition of our Expedition Mental Health newsletter! Our newsletters will feature information about our clinic as well as mental health research, resources and events that have us feeling excited or curious. We desire engagement with a community that’s just as passionate as we are about improving mental health!


Upcoming Events


September is National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month.

There are a number of incredible organizations working hard to raise awareness for suicide prevention and care for those individuals impacted by suicide. The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention has long been a resource for clinicians and community members interested in suicide prevention efforts and ways to support individuals impacted by suicide loss.


The grief experienced after losing someone to suicide can be quite different than the grief experienced from other causes of death. Dr. Dawson interviewed University of Kentucky suicide researcher, Dr. Julie Cerel on the Wild Health podcast to understand suicide bereavement better. You can listen to their discussion about suicide loss here or check out Dr. Cerel’s book, Seeking Hope - Stories of the Suicide Bereaved to learn more.


Saturday, September 9th

There are two noteworthy events happening on September 9th and we couldn’t choose just one of them. At Expedition Mental Health, we embrace 7 Pillars of Health including the pillar of Living with Purpose. Both of the organizations featured here were founded by individuals who experienced unimaginable loss. Over time, they found purpose and meaning by engaging in suicide prevention work. We are grateful for their heartfelt efforts.


Chloe’s Petals for Hope

Chloe's Petals was launched by the family of Chloe Rogers after her death in 2020. The organization is working with Kentucky colleges and communities to promote mental health and suicide awareness. Their event on Saturday, September 9th will be held from 11 AM - 2 PM at Anderson Dean Park and include food trucks, speakers and a silent auction.


Brothers’ Run 3K Run/Walk

For those of you near Versailles, consider joining our Expedition Mental Health Team and run or walk in this 3K event. Fundraising efforts provide support to a number of adolescent mental health and suicide prevention programs in memory of two brothers, Mason and Ethan Gilbert.


Check out Brothers' Run Team to sign-up.


Saturday, September 23rd

Dr. Dawson is over-the-moon about joining headline speaker, Dr. Temple Grandin at the Visual Thinkers Conference on Autism in Mt. Sterling later this month. The event is sponsored by The Learning Curve of Kentucky, a new business led by an incredible mom dedicated to developing recreational and vocational opportunities for individuals with autism. If you are interested in learning more about autism services in the Bluegrass, please consider joining us!


New Research Comparing Ketamine to the Gold Standard Treatment for Treatment Resistant Depression


Treatment Resistant Depression (TRD) is a relatively new term used to describe depression that doesn’t improve after treatment with at least two different antidepressant medications. A medication “trial” means that an individual took the recommended dose of the medicine daily for at least four to six weeks. Recognizing treatment-resistant depression is important because there are different types of interventions that are much more likely to be effective for it.


Electroconvulsive Treatment (ECT) is considered the gold-standard treatment for TRD but it is not used very often. Many people are turned off by lingering stigma surrounding ECT or don’t have access to an ECT provider. Other patients may be worried about possible side effects related to cognition and memory.


The ELEKT-D Study was designed to compare two treatment options for Treatment Resistant Depression: the gold-standard treatment ECT versus the newer option of ketamine infusions. The group funding the study wanted to make decision-making for patients and clinicians easier. This was a large study involving 403 people with Treatment Resistant Depression. Study participants received either ECT three times per week or IV ketamine treatments twice per week for a total of 3-5 weeks.


The major finding of the study was that the ketamine treatments worked as well as ECT. Fifty-five percent of the individuals had clinical improvement with ketamine versus 41% of those treated with ECT. Both groups had similar improvement in their quality of life. ECT participants reported having more musculoskeletal side effects and more difficulty with memory 3 weeks after the treatment.


This study may be helpful to anyone thinking about their treatment options for a depressed episode that hasn’t improved with standard antidepressant medications. As well, we hope that it has some influence on insurance coverage for ketamine infusion treatments in treatment resistant depression.



Featuring the 7 Pillars of Health - Focus on Nutrition

Nutritional psychiatry is having a moment and we ask you, is there anything that brings Dr. Dawson more joy than giving away local, organically-grown vegetables? Next time you are in clinic, take some veggies home and find out.


Expedition Mental Health launched its Farm-to-Clinic program this summer and we hope to see it grow and grow. The idea for the program was inspired by Dr. Steven Chen and his behavioral health farm-acy sourced from an urban, regenerative farm in Alameda, California. Dr. Dawson partnered with the Teaching Garden at The Kentucky Castle to distribute colorful vegetables, berries and herbs. We have been giving produce away on a first-come-first-serve basis. If you have enjoyed our clinic veggies, consider paying it forward in some way. An act of kindness has its own mental health benefits!


Questions for the Experts

Dr. Dawson and “Doc” Askins will be interviewing two mental health experts this month - we can’t wait to learn from them!


Dr. Temple Grandin has been a source of insight and inspiration for myself and so many of my patients with autism. She describes her experiences as a woman with autism in Thinking in Pictures and acts as a guide for neurotypicals seeking to understand autism. Her latest book, Visual Thinking, challenges parents, educators and employers to appreciate the incredible value that visual thinkers possess and urges us to collaborate with them. What would you like to hear Dr. Grandin speak about?


We will also be interviewing Dr. David Jobes, the developer of a highly researched therapy that effectively treats suicidality. We plan to ask Dr. Jobes about his CAMS model and a study that combines CAMS treatment with ketamine infusions. What else would you like to know about his work as a suicidologist?


We would love to hear from you! sam@expeditionmentalhealth.com


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