Author Archives: Nebraska Mental Health Centers

About Nebraska Mental Health Centers

We are a family owned and operated mental health practice that offers services for people from all walks of life. Located in Lincoln, Beatrice, and Fremont, Nebraska.

Valentine’s Day

By Aiswary Ganapathy, M.S., MFT

“All of us, from cradle to grave, are happiest when life is organized as a series of excursions, long or short, from the secure base provided by our attachment figure(s).”

–Susan Johnson

As Valentine’s Day approaches, it’s fit to talk about love! What is love? Everyone defines love differently. As a marriage and family therapist and someone who likes science, I want to know how relationship experts and love researchers define love. Susan Johnson, a relationship expert, explains love as “…deep trust that partners matter to each other and will reliably respond when needed.” She also says that love is constantly turning in, connecting, missing and misreading cues, disconnecting and repairing, and finding deeper connections. I love this statement because it normalizes disconnection between partners. Even healthy couples sometimes have arguments but can find their way back to each other.

Now that we’ve defined love let’s look at how relationships have changed over the years. If we think about marriages that happened before, it was mainly focused on a rational bargain. For women, marriage provided a community, shelter, protection, status, and financial security. In contrast, for men, a wife provided lifelong companionship and children. These were the main reasons for people to get married back then. Now, people get married for emotional connection and affection.

We must remember that in the past, we lived in a big community where everyone knew each other and their business and had several close relationships. But unfortunately, research says that we are growing lonelier and more people live alone, and mental health issues like anxiety and depression are increasing. In addition, as technology increases and people become more distant socially, this forces people’s partners to fill the void that once other relationships did, like friends, family, lovers, village, and community.

We have so many expectations of our partners. Still, we constantly give out the message in our society that being dependent is wrong and bad. Researcher John Bowlby found out that we as humans are biologically wired and evolutionarily designed to want to be emotionally connected with others. As a result, we seek and maintain emotional and physical closeness with others, especially when we feel stressed, unsure, or anxious. Sometimes before I do something I am nervous about doing, I imagine my husband’s smile, which is very soothing. Take some time today to think about your loved ones and ways to appreciate them this Valentine’s Day!

If you have some free time today, watch this fun video of kids describing what love is.

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Helpful Tips for a Healthy Relationship

By Aiswary Ganapathy, M.S., MFT

Have you ever felt that no matter how often you tell your partner about something that bothers you, nothing has changed? Have you ever felt like talking about things that bother you in a relationship always leads to miscommunication or an argument? Do you feel like this causes an emotional disconnection between you and your partner? Then, you’re at the right place.

When I was in graduate school, my professor said that the greatest gift for humans is to be known by our loved ones. To be able to talk about things that bother us, to be able to show up in a relationship as who you are, is a great thing that most of us want. But, sometimes, our genuine intentions to help ourselves, our partner, or the relationship goes sour. John and Julie Gottman are outstanding relationship experts and researchers contributing to the science of intimate relationships. Their research found terrific things foundational to a relationship’s success, including friendship, admiration, fondness and trust. However, they also identified four things that are detrimental to a relationship. He named them ‘The Four Horsemen of Apocalypse’- criticism, defensiveness, contempt, and stonewalling. Luckily, he also talked about these antidotes in his research and tips on how we can change. So today, we’re just going to focus on criticism.

Criticism is when we tend to attack a person’s character and personality flaws in a conversation. For example, let’s say it bothers you that your partner does not take the trash out when it’s full and you have had a long day at work.. So, criticism is when you say, “You never take the trash out. You are so lazy”. And here, you are targeting the person rather than targeting the problem. And this usually causes the partner to defend themselves and thus making it hard for you to be heard. This, when repeated, can lead to emotional disconnection in a relationship. So, the antidote to criticism is what Gottman calls, A Gentle Start-Up.

A gentle start-up is when you consider an appropriate time to bring up what bothers you to your partner and when you focus on the behavior that needs to change, not personal flaws. For example, having a difficult conversation when both of you have been drinking or having difficult discussions past midnight in bed might not be the best idea. But on the other hand, choosing a time to bring up issues in the relationship can also be a good conversation to help set up a time of day that works for both of you. When you are targeting the problem and not the person, it might look like, “I get frustrated when the trash is full and is left to be taken out. Could you please take the trash out tonight?”. You also notice that the Gentle Start-Up sentence uses more I statements, focusing on how I am feeling and what I need, rather than what my partner did not do or attacking their personality. This is because criticism creeps in while you’re talking without us realizing most of the time and it takes an intentional effort to change.

A relationship’s ups and downs are expected, but sometimes it can get a lot, and it is normal to feel stuck and hopeless. Suppose you are facing difficulties in your relationship; therapy can act as a safe space to explore your problems and patterns in your relationship. Please also reach out and talk to someone in your support circle.

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ADHD Awareness Month

By Autumn Tindal, Undergraduate Intern

October is ADHD (Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder) Awareness Month. ADHD awareness is growing around the world but often people who are not recognized for ADHD are not getting treated which takes a toll on their well-being. It is important to spread the word about what ADHD is and is not so more people can be helped. ADHD can be present in children but also adults. ADHD during childhood can affect their school and social environment. Parents can effectively manage their child’s symptoms, leading to positive outcomes at home and in school. It is important to not forget that adults may also struggle with ADHD which can affect performance at work on in their careers as well as affecting day-to-day responsibilities. The goal of this month is to highlight misunderstandings while providing people with information about ADHD and resources available.

First, I want to talk about some myths about ADHD that may perpetuate stigma

  • MYTH: “People with ADHD just can’t concentrate”
    • FACT: Individuals with ADHD can concentrate if the activity they are doing is of interest to them
  • MYTH: “ADHD is caused by bad parenting”
    • FACT: The disorder comes from environmental and genetic risk factors
  • MYTH: “All children grow out of ADHD”
    • FACT: Symptoms persist in 50-86% of people with ADHD
  • MYTH: “Children with ADHD just need more discipline”
    • FACT: Relationship or discipline problems are not the cause of ADHD behavior problems,  they are the consequences of it

As you can see there are some misconceptions out there. Healthcare providers use the guidelines in the APA DSM-5 to help diagnose ADHD. This ensures that people are appropriately diagnosed. People with ADHD show a persistent pattern of inattention and hyperactivity. From the CDC website here is more information about symptoms that may be present.

Inattention symptoms (present for at least 6 months) can include:

  • Having trouble holding attention on tasks or activities
  • Does not seem to listen when spoken to directly
  • Fails to finish schoolwork, chores, or duties in the workplace
  • Loses things necessary for tasks and activities (pencils, books, keys, paperwork, glasses)
  • Trouble organizing tasks and activities; often easily distracted

Hyperactivity symptoms (present for at least 6 months):

  • Often fidgets with or taps hands or feet
  • Is often “on the go” acting as if “driven by a motor”
  • Often talks excessively
  • Often has trouble waiting their turn
  • Often interrupts on others or intrudes

While almost everyone may have symptoms similar to ADHD it is important to note that ADHD is diagnosed when symptoms are severe enough to cause ongoing problems in your life. ADHD can be managed in adulthood as well as childhood. Here are a few ways to manage ADHD

  • Create a routine and schedule
  • For parents, give clear, effective directions
  • Learn to meditate and practice mindfulness
  • Avoid multitasking
  • Practice self-compassion
  • Break tasks down to smaller steps
  • Use alarms and reminders
  • Medication

There are so many ways to still live your life if you have ADHD. There are a ton of resources out there with tips and tricks. As a parent, it can be hard to manage the challenges that ADHD presents. Remember that you are not alone and there is help and support out there. I hope this post gave more insight on what ADHD is, how it can affect someone’s life, and ways to manage it.

October is ADHD Awareness month so spread the word and we can reduce the stigma behind it while highlighting the supports available.

**Information obtained from and

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A Positive Attitude

By Autumn Tindall

Happy October which means it’s Positive Attitude Month! A positive attitude can make a huge difference and provide many lasting physical and psychological health benefits. A positive attitude can make any difficult situation a lot easier to handle. Positive energy can result in greater motivation, better relationships, greater resilience, lower stress levels, and strengthened coping skills.

Of course, life can be stressful and speedbumps will always present themselves. So it’s worth a try to make the best of any given situation.

If you struggle to keep a positive attitude here are a few steps you can take to overcome that.

  1. Surround yourself with positive people. It’s easier said then done but when you surround yourself with more upbeat people, you’ll start to think the same way.
  2. Give yourself time to breathe and think in a difficult situation.
  3. Release unrealistic expectations. Negativity can stem from having unrealistic expectations about yourself or others so remember that nobody is perfect and we all have imperfections.
  4. Start a gratitude journal. I did one of these for my positive psych class and it really helped me reflect on all of the good things in my life. Even just writing down one to two things at the end of the day can help.
  5. See challenges as growths not failures. With optimism and determination, you can change that “I won’t do good” into a “I got this and can do this” mindset.
  6. Treat yourself to self-care. Whether it’s getting your favorite coffee, getting your nails done, listening to music, or whatever your heart desires, don’t forget that self-care is important!
  7. Start your morning strong. Starting the day with a bad attitude can lead you to have a negative attitude all day. Think about how you can make your morning the best part of your day. Try reading or mediation, make a home-cooked meal, or put on your favorite music or show.
  8. Cherish the little things 😊 Pat yourself on the back for small accomplishments. We are conditioned to think of success as big, but the little things can be just as important as the big things. Find the small stuff in the moment.
  9. Try positive affirmations in the morning and/or at night. Here are a few that you can say, “I am kind and brave”. “Today is going to be a great day”. “I am confident in my skills and abilities”. “I will trust the process”. “I am worthy”.
  10. Visualize success. Visualize yourself achieving your goals. This can help you maintain a positive attitude in difficult circumstances.

By having a positive attitude, you may notice better work performance, higher optimism, healthier relationships, a stronger self-esteem, and a greater ability to overcome day-to-day challenges. It’s not to say that you have to be bubbly and joyous 24-7, but it can be a really good thing to look at the brighter side of things. I myself know how stressful it can be to balance so much in life. From being a full-time college student, working part-time, being involved in campus organizations, and having a social life, I know it can be overwhelming. Through all of my stress and worry I’ve learned to live more in the present moment and see the good in tough situations. Living in the present moment and changing our attitude/mindset can help ease the stress while also helping us live a more fulfilling life. With all of that being said, if you are having a bad day or are feeling down, find a friend, family member, or someone you trust to vent to. Sometimes all we need is someone to talk to so we can release all of that worry and stress.

Since October is a month full of positivity, I challenge you to smile more, cherish the little things, say two positive affirmations to yourself daily, practice gratitude, and take a mental break if you need it. Encourage people around you to try and turn negative things into positive things. Everyone deserves positivity in their lives. 😊

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Suicide Prevention Month Wrap-Up

By Autumn Tindall

As September comes to an end, there are a few words I wanted to say about suicide prevention. It is important to bring awareness to suicide and ways to deal with thoughts of suicide. It can be hard to approach a loved on who may be in danger of harming themselves but this post will hopefully give you different ways you can help. If someone is suicidal, they may be feeling extreme sadness, anger, pain, and believe that these feelings will never end. It is important to remember that they will not last and there are steps you can take to stop from acting on your suicidal thoughts. Find what is best and works for you. Here are some tips people have found helpful when they are having suicidal thoughts.

  • Take things minute by minute
  • Distract yourself with coping techniques to prevent self-harm
    • Examples: hold an ice cube in your hand until it melts and focus on how cold it feels or tear up something into hundreds of pieces
  • Focus on your senses – what can you smell, touch, hear, and see around you
  • Look after your needs
    • Examples: get a glass of water, write down your feelings, eat something if you’re hungry
  • Find your reasons to live
    • Examples: write down what you’re looking forward to, make plans to do something you enjoy, think about people you love
  • Be kind and tell yourself you can get through this
    • Examples: repeat positive thoughts, talk to yourself as if you were talking to a friend

It can be hard to focus on the good if the pain seems like it won’t go away. However, the tips listed above are ways you can help get through suicidal ideation. If you are feeling suicidal there is also a 24/7 hotline available, 988.

When someone tells you they may be in danger of harming themselves it can be difficult to know how to approach the situation. You may feel shocked, helpless, angry, or other difficult emotions.

If you notice a loved one is in danger of harming themselves it is important to try not to overreact or panic because it can reduce how much the person opens up to you about their self-harm. How you relate to them and your attitude towards them can help them feel supported.

  • Try to be non-judgemental and don’t force them to change.
  • Let them know that you are there for them. Remind them of the positive qualities they have and different things they do well.
  • Relate to them as a whole person, not just their self-harm.
  • Do not label their self-harm as “seeking attention.”

Being supportive when someone you know is self-harming can be difficult with its many ups and downs.

Don’t forget to take care of yourself and get support and help if you need it. It is important to have an honest conversation with your loved one and be aware when things are getting to be too much. This honesty may end up saving a life.


988 – National Suicide Prevention Line

402-475-6695 – Centerpointe Crisis Response Line (for Nebraskans)

911 – if they are in immediate danger

***Information obtained from Mind Infoline**

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Earth Day: Worries and Anxiety over Climate Change and how to deal with both

By Canyon Skare, NMHC Undergraduate Intern

Today is Earth Day. First celebrated in 1970, Earth Day now brings environmental awareness to the forefront of our minds each year on April 22nd. However, this awareness can also bring with it anxieties and stressors about our changing climate. This feels especially relevant this year, as just last week stories of scientists being arrested for protesting climate change reached the news cycle.

Most notably, NASA climate scientist Peter Kalmus broke down before being arrested after he and another colleague chained themselves to the Los Angeles J.P. Morgan Chase building as part of a worldwide protest of over 1,200 scientists in 26 countries calling themselves the “Scientist Rebellion.” This story comes in the wake of Don’t Look Up’s recent release. A Netflix film that satirized common narratives that deny and spawn misinformation surrounding climate change, Don’t Look Up starred Leonardo DiCaprio as Dr. Randall Mindy, a climate scientist much akin to the real-life Kalmus.

With experts like Kalmus becoming increasingly emotional in their pleas to the public to take climate change seriously, it can be easy to spiral into anxiety and worry over climate change. Anxieties about reducing our carbon footprints, recycling effectively, and limiting our fossil fuel emissions can feel overwhelming with sustainability reminders that come alongside Earth Day celebrations, especially as it gains more and more media prominence. Such personal stressors almost evaporate entirely, however, when one looks at the national and global levels of emissions, numbers that can provoke almost existential dread. What can we as individuals do against such a challenge? Are we doomed along with the climate? And if we are doomed, what’s the point in continuing to fight against the inevitable?

Fortunately, this doom-and-gloom is not the case. Since 2010, sizeable steps have been taken to prevent the worst outcomes of climate change. Scientists are confident that even if current climate policies stagnate, we’ll be able to avoid the apocalyptic level of change that provokes dread. Renewable sources of energy are becoming more and more widespread (see the increasing number of TESLA cars on Lincoln’s streets for a local example), and overall increases in emission levels have actually been going down since 2010. While the anxieties surrounding climate change are well-founded, it’s important to give ourselves grace and look at the picture with a factual view. Climate change is a serious problem that we must solve, but we’re making progress, and that itself is something to celebrate this Earth Day.

I also encourage you to watch the following video for more details on our fight against climate change!

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Important Dates for Mental Health Awareness for the Month of April

By Canyon Skare

While the coming of April often brings to mind April Fool’s pranks, this month also brings special awareness to multiple communities, services, and dimensions of well-being. Here at NMHC, we’re looking to highlight a few of them this month, reminding everyone to stay mindful of their mental health.

First launched in 1972 as “National Autistic Children’s Week,” April quickly evolved into Autism Acceptance Month, with World Autism Awareness Day itself being observed on April 2nd. Autism refers to a broad range of conditions, characterized by challenges with social skills, repetitive behaviors, speech, and nonverbal communication. These are just common challenges, however, as there are many subtypes of autism along a spectrum with 1 in 44 people being affected. So throughout April, we encourage everyone to keep their neurodivergent friends and family in their thoughts, remembering to be accommodating of the needs of these individuals, meeting them with kindness and understanding. 

April is also Child Abuse Prevention Month. First observed by way of presidential proclamation from Ronald Reagan in 1983, Child Abuse Prevention Month has been a staple of the national conversation. In 2016, Barack Obama released an official statement during April, stating that “during National Child Abuse Prevention Month, we recommit to giving every child a chance to succeed and to ensuring that every child grows up in a safe, stable, and nurturing environment that is free from abuse and neglect.” His words ring true, as 2020 studies from the Children’s bureau showed that approximately two million children received Abuse Prevention services and around 1.2 million received response services. In our own efforts to “recommit to giving every child” a safe home, April should also find us keeping an eye on the children in our lives. 

In addition, the Stress Management Association first observed stress awareness month in April of 1992, and it continues to today. As a third-year undergraduate at UNL, I can certainly relate to this. This time of the semester, tests, projects, and papers start piling up, causing folks like me a lot of stress. Aside from measures of Acute Stress or types of short-term stress that go away quickly after the stressful event is over, it’s highly important to be aware of Chronic Stress this month. Chronic stress lasts for longer periods of time, going from multiple weeks to months. For those with chronic stress, they can often fail to realize that it’s a problem, and if they don’t find ways to manage stress, it can also lead to other mental health concerns like Anxiety and Depression. One great way people have kept their stress in check during April is through the 30-day stress awareness challenge. This 30-day challenge encourages people to do one action each day that will benefit their physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing.

April is also Alcohol Awareness Month, National Counseling Awareness Month, and the first week of April is National Workplace Wellness Week! Regardless of where you’re at this month, we at NMHC encourage you to be a little more mindful of these communities, services, and dimensions of well being throughout April. And of course, find time to enjoy those April showers.

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Seasonal Affect Disorder – What it is, and What to do about it

By Jamie Monfelt, LIMHP

As we move forward to the end of the year there is so much people look forward to; the fall and winter holidays, a new year…some look forward to cooler winter temperatures and snow. But there is a reality that this time is also incredibly difficult for people. There is a misconception about the holidays that they are one big party filled with happiness, laughter, and joy. This is what we see on the television during every commercial of our favorite show; people dressed up in their fanciest clothing, spending time with their families, and giving expensive cars and jewelry as gifts. It’s what we hear on the radio in the “holly jolly” songs of past and present. If you are a shopper, you also see this in the storefront windows of every store wanting you to buy their products for your “special someones”.

Many persons find the holidays and the colder months of the year to be extremely difficult for various reasons. Some persons don’t have loved ones to share their holidays or have lost loved ones. For others it the financial burdens, and socialization of holiday gatherings (or lack of social gatherings due to cold and more recently, a pandemic). These situations and others evoke what is known as Seasonal Affect Disorder (SAD). About 5% of persons in the United States experience SAD (which is slightly less than the 6.7% of persons who experience Depression**).

SAD is a mental health disorder which includes symptoms similar to Major Depression Disorder (MDD). Symptoms may include the following: feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day, losing interest in activities typically enjoying, changes in appetite or weight, problems with sleep, lack of motivation/energy, feelings hopeless, helpless, worthless, social withdrawal, and trouble concentrated. In most severe cases it may also include frequent thoughts of death or suicide. This particular disorder typically lasts for persons through the winter months (approximately 40% of the year), and subsides in the spring season.  Persons who experience MDD typically experience exacerbated symptoms (as described) during the fall and winter months.

Why do persons experience increased symptoms during the fall/winter months? One such reason is the lack of Vitamin D our body receives from the sun. There is a known correlation between Vitamin D from sun exposure and mental health symptoms.  Because we have less hours of sunlight in our day, our bodies naturally receive less Vitamin D which can impact our mood. Also from a scientific perspective, our bodies revert to “pre-historic times” in which our eating and sleeping patterns change. Our prehistoric ancestors also dealt with climate changes and harsh conditions which led to hibernation; eating more obtained foods if hunting was poor or unavailable, staying in shelter away from the elements. Therefore, in the winter months, you may experience craving “heavier” foods filled with more carbohydrates and starch. People also may eat more based on these factors (as the body prepares for “hibernation” conditions). You may find yourself wanting to sleep more, and go to bed earlier in evenings, or sleep later into the morning (while it is still dark).  

How does one minimize Seasonal Affect Disorder and Depression during the winter months?

There are multiple methods that may be of benefit. Traditional methods may include participation in outpatient therapy to learn effective coping strategies that work best for you. Those coping skills will likely include increasing physical activity (exercise, meditation), and maintaining social activities or contact with supports. Another traditional method may be medication management to provide biochemical benefit and hormonal balance. Research has identified multiple medications which provide mood regulation, including those that optimally impact our Serotonin and Dopamine responses. Other options include Light Therapy (to increase Vitamin D), and Aromatherapy. If you or someone you know experiences SAD or Depression, consider self-help options, talking to a therapist, or other trusted professional.

And, as always, be kind, as you never know what another person is facing in their own life.

**Information obtained from National Institute of Mental Health Disorders (NIMH)

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Talking about Suicide

I woke up this morning to read the tragic news that celebrated television personality, chef, and author Anthony Bourdain died of an apparent suicide. This just mere days after iconic fashion designer Kate Spade also completed suicide. It’s times like this that we hear a lot of people talk about suicide. Some of the discussion is helpful. Some of it isn’t.

What is important to understand about suicide is that open and honest discussion is vital, and may even save a life. Stigmatizing it by calling it a “selfish” decision or avoiding the subject entirely, for fear that discussion may “plant the idea” in someone’s head are two still very prevalent and very wrong modes of thinking.

The QPR Institute (Question, Persuade, Refer) encourages people to do the following if they believe a loved one is considering suicide.

QUESTION – Ask the person directly, but gently, if they have suicidal thoughts or are considering suicide. If they answer yes, then ask if they have a plan or means to do so. It is well-established that if asked directly, people with suicidal thoughts will answer honestly. It is very important to ask this very directly (not “Is everything okay” or “Is there something you want to tell me”) and very kindly (not “You’re not gonna kill yourself are you!?”) in order to take the next step.

PERSUADE – Now it is imperative to try and persuade this person to seek help. The key is to listen intently and offer hope. Be empathetic. Be understanding. Using forceful language or trying to guilt the person will not be productive.

REFER – Let the person know there are resources available to help them. Some of those resources will be listed at the bottom of this post.

Anything that halts this discussion or prompts someone who bay be considering suicide to stay quiet is harmful. Note that I wrote at the beginning of this post “completed” rather than “committed.” This is part of the ongoing effort to de-stigmatize suicide and encourage open and honest discussion. The discussion that starts with a very difficult question may end up saving a life.


1-800-273-8255 – the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

402-475-6695 – (for Nebraskans) Centerpointe Crisis Response Line

You can also call 911 at any time or seek out your local hospital

There is also a Mental Health Association of Nebraska “Warm Line” for non-emergencies. They can be reached at 402-975-2032

To learn more about QPR please go to The Institute provides educational materials and trainings in the QPR process. Contact them to find out more.


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Sleep Awareness Week 2018

By Alex Zurek, Staff Therapist

March 2nd through the 9th is Sleep Awareness Week 2018. Initiated by the National Sleep Foundation, the theme of this year’s Sleep Awareness Week is “Begin with Sleep,” reminding us all of the importance of a restful night sleep. For more information about Sleep Awareness Week 2018:

While a proper sleep regimen is certainly a great place to begin your journey toward physical and mental health, we at Nebraska Mental Health Centers also believe that this is a good time to state the importance of self-care in general. One resource that may be helpful in beginning to think about the role of self-care in your life is Blurt. Blurt is an organization aimed at increasing awareness and understanding of depression, though their focus on self-care can benefit anyone who is feeling overwhelmed or encountering challenges in life. For more information about Blurt and how you can implement self-care in your life:

Of course, if you need more than a strong self-care regimen to overcome your challenges, please contact Nebraska Mental Health Centers for an evaluation. And if you are concerned that you may harm yourself, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room.


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