Mental Health Professionals: There’s a Right One for You

You know you need mental help. Your friends tell you to go see a therapist or counselor. But you are now having a hard time on where to go or who to consult to. You opened your laptop and made a search on the types of mental health professionals that can help you with your mental health issue. You were surprised that there were so many in the health care practice that describes mental health professionals. So, where will this lead you?It is true. With all the specializations that one can get in medical science, there are now several counselors, therapists, and other mental health professionals to choose from. But it’s not really up to you to choose; your doctor will refer you to the right person that can help you with your current issues. That is because “Therapy can be an important component of our professional identity as we learn from our own therapists.” Tyger Latham Psy.D. said.

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Categories of mental health professionals

First of all, let us categorize the mental health professionals into three aspects – those who can provide psychological assessments and therapies, those who can prescribed medications, and those who can provide counsel and advice.

In the first category, we have the Clinical Psychologist and School Psychologist. They can provide psychological assessments and from these assessments, can come up with diagnosis. They can also offer psychological advice; however, they cannot prescribe medications that can help the patient manage the symptoms that are caused by mental disorders. “A mental illness cannot be willed away or brushed aside with a change in attitude. Ignoring the problem doesn’t give it the slip either.” Deborah Serani, PsyD said.

The second category comprised of mental health professionals that can prescribed medications. Because of the medical education and training, they can diagnose and provide specific medications to manage psychiatric conditions. Examples of these mental health professionals are the Psychiatrists, Child or Adolescent Psychiatrist, and Psychiatric or Mental Health Nurse Practitioner. In contrast with the first category of mental health professionals, the second category cannot provide counseling services or therapy sessions to their patients. That’s why they complement each other and work cooperatively to help the patient recover.

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The third category of mental health professionals are more specific to the type of mental help the patient needs. They can offer counselling and with proper training, they can also do assessments; however, they cannot prescribe medication. Examples of the mental health professionals in this category are:

  • Clinical social worker
  • Licensed professional counselor
  • Mental health counselor
  • Certified alcohol and drug abuse counselor
  • Nurse psychotherapist
  • Marital and family therapist
  • Pastoral or religious counselor
  • Peer specialist
  • Art therapist or Music therapist

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How to choose the right one

As stressed out earlier, the person may go to a mental health professional to seek advice but will not consider the specialization that this therapist or counselor has. You may feel that a pastoral or religious counselor can help you because of your marital problems, but there’s a marriage counselor or family therapist who is trained for these types of problems, thereby able to assist you appropriately. Your primary care doctor will be able to provide referral to the right mental health professional. Your part on this search is to check and verify their credentials, educations, years of training and experience. Everybody can give advice, but not everyone has the foundation and training of psychology and psychiatry to establish this advice from. Make sure that you are receiving appropriate services only from a credited mental health professional. “A good therapist should be open and willing to understand your concerns. If your counselor doesn’t take your concerns seriously or is unwilling to accept feedback, then it’s probably in your best interest to consult with another therapist about it.” Noah Rubinstein, LMFT, LMHC said.

 

 

 

Staying Calm Despite Life’s Storms

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When something alarming happens at work, your first reaction might be to freak out. Regrettably, you can suffer from a breakdown with all the stress and anxiety you’re feeling, causing you to lose your ability to perform efficiently and ultimately the capacity to take care of your physical and mental health.

If we read about the world’s most successful individuals in sports, business, or art, we will learn that part of what helped them reach the top was because they were able to focus on their goals without letting stress and anxiety get to them. Their motivation was far stronger than their fears. They have effectively instilled resilience, physical endurance, and mental readiness.

Whether you’re a sports enthusiast or a business owner, composure is a requirement for optimal performance. When you are calm and composed, you are prepared for success. Besides, “The sensation of pressure doesn’t have to be negative—it can be a positive challenge and motivating.” Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D. said.

 

Below is a list of some essential tips to keep you cool, composed, and calm despite life’s stressful circumstances.

  • Don’t Be Impulsive. Don’t be so thoughtless in your reactions. Instead, control your temper and be patient. If you are, you will be able to gather as much data as possible. Also, before confronting a stressful situation hastily, ask yourself if the situation will matter to you after a month or a year. If you think that it will, then perhaps you should get out of that situation. Remain passive and view the situation from the outside, where you can think rationally and not involve so much of your feelings.

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    • Learn And Practice A Coping Mechanism. A stressful circumstance in life may force you to work long hours at your office or spend fewer hours with family during the weekends because of a deadline. If you continually allow yourself to be consumed with this stress, your physical, mental, and emotional health may be damaged, and you may not be able to make reasonable choices. To avoid this, you can develop a habit that you enjoy. You might want to learn how to meditate during your free time. You can start a walking routine or a regular short physical activity to increase your endurance. These strategies are effective in helping you feel confident and empowered to tackle any stressful situation. Just think about Jennifer Bradley, Psy.D., HSPP, Clinical Psychologist has to say, “When we are imbalanced, we develop various types of difficulties, including psychological and/or physical symptoms, and we begin to use ineffective or damaging coping mechanisms.”

     

    Be Positive. When confronted with a devastating problem, you may feel so lost, and your mind may wander to different unpleasant directions, mostly towards the negative. However, the more your mind is off tangent, the harder it is for you to keep calm and composed. So remind yourself to imagine a great scenario where only positive thoughts run in your mind.

    • Work To Find Solutions. Don’t question what you did by asking, “What if?” This may cause you to be anxious and panic and may even provoke you to think more about the problem. Instead, find ways to solve the problem – the faster you can do that, the better.

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  • Take Care Of Yourself. Amidst life’s storms, you should never forget to care for your body and mind. Try to eat right as much as possible. Exercise regularly and get enough sleep. The toxins that are released from exercise allows for the happy hormones to work and the stress hormones to disappear. When your health improves, so does your behavior and your emotional health. These are important qualities that will help you know what to do in emergency cases. “Prioritizing daily self-care and making efforts to take action. Accepting that daily self-care is hard work and challenging.” A remidner from Edna M. Esnil, PsyD.
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    Conclusion

    These tips may not work immediately and may not even work at the same time. But take heart. When you learn to do all these, it won’t be that difficult to face life’s storms with composure and calmness. Approach the problem with a fresh, positive perspective and live an easier, less stressful, and happier life.

     

 

Recognizing And Challenging Your Fears

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The most prominent of anxiety disorders is that which is accompanied by fear. Some of those who have anxiety are aware that their fears are unreasonable while others are oblivious about them.

Here are some examples of people’s fears that might be linked with anxiety disorders and the corresponding consequences:

My husband looks sick. I’m afraid he’s dying (generalized anxiety).

Result: She will force her husband to have himself checked until she finds something wrong, including having him go through tests and procedures despite finding concrete evidence that her husband is well. This might eventually cause conflict, and ironically, she will be the one suffering from anxiety and depression.

If I go to the party, people might laugh at me, and I’ll be more embarrassed than ever (social anxiety).

“If you find yourself avoiding parties, work gatherings, or even your own friends and family, there may be a fear of judgment or underlying feelings of inadequacy.” – Dr. Marisa Alter, PsyD, a clinical psychologist

Result: If he doesn’t overcome this, he will never be able to socialize and keep in touch with friends and a possible partner in life, and will end up being insecure, anxious, and alone for the rest of his life.

I might have a panic attack if I drive and go straight for the other cars (agoraphobia).

Result: He’ll end up not driving at all, which may mean that he won’t be able to continue working and seeing other people, causing major depression.

Unreasonable or irrational fears are dangerous and deceitful. Fortunately, there is a way of facing these fears so they won’t take over your life, though it’s not very easy. It is by challenging these fears mentally and behaviorally.

How To Challenge Your Fears

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When you begin the process of challenging your fears mentally, you will initially need to think about the result of these thoughts coming to reality, as well as evaluating the actual outcome of his fears.

Considering the first example, an anxious wife who is so scared that her husband is dying. With the help of a therapist, it is beneficial for her to think about her husband’s feelings when she pushes her to do tests because of her fears. What’s worse is if he is just all tired from work, but there’s nothing wrong with him but his wife insists that he’s dying! The therapist will need to guide the wife through the process of controlling her fears and focusing on what’s in front of her – a husband who needs more of her care rather than her negativity.

“Fear is our internal alarm bell for danger,” says Dr. Orma. “Without the ability to feel fear, we wouldn’t live very long because we wouldn’t be aware of, or care about, the threats around us.” – Steve Orma, PsyD, a clinical psychologist

Confronting Your Fears Head-On

Challenging your fears behaviorally entails an attempt to face the fear head-on and find out what happens. This is more difficult to do than just mentally challenging your fear. With the third example in mind, the person will attempt to get into a car and drive. If he experiences a panic attack, he is asked to stay calm, pull over, and wait until his attack subsides. When it does, he is to resume driving. This can be pretty stressful for him, but it is a very effective method of overcoming his irrational fear. Eventually, he will learn to control that fear and become more confident that he can master the technique. He will then look forward to driving and confronting his phobia head-on, leading to the mastery of the technique.

Taking The Challenge Of Therapy

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“Therapy is intended to be a place to carefully and safely start to turn toward whatever it is you’ve got.” – Molly Bowman, MS, LPC

If you or a loved one are suffering from anxiety with irrational fears, or fears that you think are just reasonable, but others may not have, you have only to seek the help of a therapist and go through cognitive behavioral therapy, a specific method that teaches the principles mentioned above. Do not be hindered by the fears that limit you from achieving the life you want. Challenge your fears, confront them, and learn to get rid of them mentally and behaviorally, and have the life you deserve.

Therapy Can Help You Recover From A Breakup

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Some people go to therapy for almost anything, while others don’t have any idea why they need professional help at all, believing that they’ll feel better through their own means. This is true for those who experienced the pain of going through breakups. Yes, the hurt from a breakup may not be as tough for some people to deal with, but others find it difficult to manage and recover. They seek the help of a therapist simply because although they understand why the relationship had to end, the pain, anger, and unhappiness just seem to disappear. Their broken heart syndrome seems to linger and disrupt their normal day-to-day living.

Phases Of Breakup Recovery

For the past two decades, therapy and counseling have been providing emotional and mental support necessary to recover from a breakup or loss of a loved one. These techniques have given people the tools to manage and survive despite the pain. It’s more than just about seeking and finding another love but also about learning, coping, improving, and growing from the depressing experiences. It is about realizing your worth and attracting happiness and all positivity that you so deserve. As Dr. Chantal Gagnon PhD LMHC often says, “Happy people do things differently. They make their emotional wellbeing a priority and practice daily and weekly habits that help them create joy, happiness and satisfaction in their lives.”

Therapy Stage One

This stage involves healing. People who reach out to a therapist may be at different phases in their journey towards healing. Some may just be at the starting line and are mostly doing a lot of thinking and feeling lonely, hurt, anxious, depressed, insecure, and lost. Others attempt to forget about their pain by numbing themselves or denying the breakup ever happened. They may manifest this by acting angry and violent and may get into binge eating and alcohol or drug abuse. What’s worse is they might jump right into another relationship, leading to what we often call a rebound love (and we know this won’t do us any better!). “Give yourself permission to do some serious emotional healing to become your happiest self and remember, it is a process more than a destination.” Roya R. Rad, MA, PsyD explains. 

It is important that in this initial stage, we internalize how we really feel about the breakup and process the whole experience. Linger on it for a short while. Ask yourself where you went wrong – or if you were wrong in the first place. Recall the relationship and all its aspects. After you do this, tell yourself that you must move on from this part of you. You were only allowed to reflect on the damaged relationship, to grow from the experience, and then move forward.

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Going through a healthy recovery involves acceptance, forgiveness, and letting go. It’s easy to say but really hard to do, as this is where most people usually get stuck. It’s just so difficult to forget the pain. You will have trouble understanding why you deserve all this anguish and maybe even regret you lost it. Negative behavioral patterns may manifest, all of which they think are helping them but are just prolonging the pain. Remember that your life is special. Decide whether or not you want to move on and live it successfully. If you decide that you value your life and want to move on, then certainly therapy can help you.

Therapy Stage Two

After a breakup, your self-esteem may often be suffering. You feel like you’ve lost a part of yourself as your partner left you for some reason. You may feel that he’s taken that part of you and you’ll never be complete again. The feeling of not knowing one’s identity is still strong. But in stage two, the focus is on repairing your self-esteem and confidence. Eventually, you will not need so much guidance from the therapist, but you will be your coach. This is done so that you will learn to become whole on your own and will successfully regain your life.

Also, in this phase, the therapist will walk you through getting you in a good place where you begin to believe and motivate yourself, love yourself, and being able to value your thoughts and ideas. These are some of the ‘warrior’ characteristics that will help you establish self-love. Soon, you will be capable of letting in the people you think are good for you and get rid of those who are toxic for your new life. Just remember, “When trying to keep a positive attitude, you must avoid people who thrive on negativity.” Fran Walfish, PsyD. says.

Therapy Stage Three

The final stage is where the renovation of your life happens. At this time, you are assumed to be strong, resilient, and possess a self-identity that is as whole as when you were once in love – only that you did it all by yourself. So now you are ready to take on the challenge of knowing what you want out of your new life. What do you want to do? Where do you want to go? You might start by getting a new job or opening a new business that will hone your newly found skills. You can travel and rejuvenate. Or perhaps you can start dating!

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Whatever you decide, you have to remember that things will go your way because you are now replenished with energy, strength, and love. Your whole life can change for all you care. The most important realization in this last stage is that you have a great relationship with yourself, and if you love again, you will never allow yourself to break that easily. Everything that happens from here on begins with you!

 

How To Master Emotions And Improve Mental Health

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In psychology, experts believe that the emotional instability of a person is one of the causes of mental illness. That’s because when he encounters a life problem, the way that person reacts to it becomes a more significant impediment of the original thing. Meaning, it consists of a cascade of emotions that catches the individual off-guard. That’s understandable though. Because as human beings, it is reasonable to react and respond to things around us that seem to matter. However, other people forget to realize that some of the life struggles they are facing are only coming from a single perspective. They somehow don’t acknowledge that there are these different views of why a particular issue happens as well as tons of ways to resolve it.

Shift Perspective

Since a lot of individuals believe that an instant reaction is a manifestation of truth, they get themselves caught up in failure and wrong decisions. They believe in their self-made truth, and it becomes their loss. It becomes the reality of the death of their vision of themselves being capable of something. That’s perhaps due to the idea of “being perfect” or at least becoming “better than” someone. But it should never have to be this way. The only possible way to achieve emotional and mental stability is by shifting one’s perspective. There is a need to create a different kind of reaction to things. People need to start looking at problems at different angles to be able to recognize mistakes. From there, the possibility of creating a breakthrough becomes endless. Understand that  “Self-compassion is being gentle with yourself, not beating yourself up over your past decisions, and accepting that you are human and make mistakes.” therapist Kimberly Hershenson, LMSW said.

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Be Bold And Different

Another way to reach emotional education is through noticing the world and how it affects human lives. There is this need for encouragement to become more aware of the things useful for each people’s existence. It is not enough that individuals only know they are not perfect. They have to try hard to always become different and unique without the fear of judgment and humiliation from others. There must be an acceptance of individuality for all to avoid emotional and mental pressure. “The sensation of pressure doesn’t have to be negative—it can be a positive challenge and motivating.” Alicia H. Clark, Psy.D. said. Yes, there are others who will have a hard time accepting it, but people should realize that all of us are worthy in a various way. That no matter what others think of them, it doesn’t matter because they are born to be different.

Choose To Learn

One hindrance of emotional stability is the avoidance of getting hurt. There is this mentality of people that picture “hurt” as something that pulls them down. They keep away from things that make them unhappy and devastated. Yes, it is sometimes a good thing to remove one’s self away from all the stress and anxiety. However, avoiding feeling the inevitable will only make things worse. Instead of trying to distance into the emotional negativity, why not try and embrace it. Learn something from it and use to encourage self-confidence and self-awareness. Getting hurt is part of every life challenges that people will face. But it’s not something that should stop them from being a better version of themselves. People should learn to accept and understand how their emotions contribute to their overall development.

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Practice Emotional Discipline

“Emotional health plays a critical role in our overall health and life enjoyment.” Agnes M. Boksa, PsyD, LP explained. A lot of individuals find it hard to control their emotions. That’s because they either can’t or don’t want to. They somehow don’t put self restrictions and allow themselves to get affected by their emotional state. As humans, it becomes reasonable to create decisions based on emotions. However, there are a lot of instances that the particular practice is not as effective as what everybody thought. That is because emotions get sometimes used as an excuse for not thinking straight. Not because it is something that people often feel; it becomes a reliable source of critical thinking and decision making. Therefore, people should practice emotional discipline to be able to understand the use of emotions in addressing life struggles.

Life problems are not the issue. It is the way how people look through it. When they finally realize that mistakes, failures, and life struggles exist to teach lessons and instructions, things will become a lot better. And once they get to understand the advantage of mastering emotions, their mental health will also benefit from it.

 

BATTLING STRESS IN LIVING WITH A CHRONIC ILLNESS

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Being told that you have a chronic health condition can be very disorienting. Aside from the confusion, the news may even lead to depression, anxiety, and stress. And instead of going after the probable cure or treatment, most people in such a situation would sulk and then lead to a troubling emotional state. This condition will not help people in their healing process.

Stress has a significant impact on one’s health. It is also a fact that stress can do more harm than good. Examples of stressful situations on top of suffering from a chronic illness are:

  • The stress in which the pain and discomfort of the disease brings
  • The stress of managing the condition and self-care or relief
  • The stress on adjusting to the limitations of the condition on your physical body
  • The stress of managing financial pressures especially now that more money is necessary for the treatment
  • The stress of coping with confusion, frustration, and isolation because of the disease

Stress is pretty much normal in such situations and while it is understandable, will you let it destroy your life? You need to learn to fight back, get the treatment you need, cope and take control of the situation.

Learn To Understand The Condition

Educate yourself with the facts regarding your condition. You can ask your doctors, do your research and talk to people who have the same health ailment. Most importantly, know the factors that may have caused it, the symptoms and the treatment. Being knowledgeable in all these will help you fully understand what you are going through right now.

Aside from the knowledge, you also need to be very observant with your body. Take note of the changes, the situations wherein the condition will start to arise, when it attacks the body and the effects of the said to the body. Make sure that you tell your doctor about your observations and also listen to the recommendations.

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Manage Yourself

Managing yourself throughout the ordeal will be of help in gaining control with your life and improve its quality. Being observant and following your doctor’s recommendation will help you manage your illness and its symptoms. You should have everything tracked down.

Your present lifestyle, your decisions, and your actions will be of help in fighting the stress brought by the illness. Steps should also be taken to manage your emotions, behavior, attitude, and relationship with other people. Whittney Thoman, Senior Exercise Physiologist used to advice that “The more you are active, the more you decrease your risk for chronic diseases, including cancer.”

Emotional Management

The chronic illness all-encompassing nature has its way of ruining one’s plans and even its life. This could bring in a lot of emotions. The emotions are as follows:

  • Anxiety
  • Grief
  • Fear
  • Depression
  • Stress
  • Rage

You need to experiment with managing the stress and with some painful feelings. When you find something that works, you can add it up to your routine. The following are some ideas:

  • Being with loved ones
  • Working out
  • Reading
  • Stretching
  • Cooking
  • Listening to music
  • Cooking
  • Meditation
  • Deep breathing
  • Journal writing

Have a schedule on the stated activities above. It is always recommended that you take some break off your routine and take care of yourself.

Relationship Management

Managing relationships while you have this chronic condition is essential. Fact is, your condition limits you from socializing and that your friends may misinterpret this. “If your intention is to live a meaningful and healthy life, you will make decisions that support this intention, and feel good about yourself when you succeed in this purpose.” Deborah Khoshaba Psy.D. said. Therefore, you needc to focus.

But instead of letting the illness keep you, bear in mind that this should be the case. Instead, find ways to get the life you wanted. Have it planned, get rid of those factors that can add to your stress and go on with your life. Make sure that you bridge yourself to other people.

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Develop Adaptability

Approach and attitude can initiate a difference in one’s life. With the condition you are into right now, it is essential that you learn to adapt with it. Accepting it will also help in developing the ability to survive with the obstacles.

Being adaptive with your new condition enables you to initiate things that will help you get over your condition. It will allow you to develop new traits, skills, and habits that enable you to do problem – solving strategies that you will benefit from. You will far better once you have overcome your challenges.

Conclusion

Chronic illnesses can bring in a lot of stress not only to the affected person but the people around him as well. But learning more about the diseases and the treatments needed will help you a lot. Follow your doctors and try learning other things that can be of help in curing the health issues that you have. Instead of going down with your chronic illness, make some ways to uplift yourself. Having a positive outlook in life will help you get the cure you need. April Lau, LMHC once said, “Learn how to stand up for yourself with compassion for others, deal with stress better, improve your mood, and learn to like yourself.”

 

Improve Yourself, Physically And Mentally

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The only way for you to improve on yourself, both mentally and physically, is to make changes in your life. What are these changes? You need to do the things that you don’t usually do. For others, it can be positive thinking, socializing, learning about arts, or going to therapy. On that note, you can also follow these things:

Value Your Self-Esteem.

How can you value your self-esteem? Stop criticizing yourself and think of good things only. Be optimistic and believe that there’s hope – it’s the only way for you to end unwanted thoughts since negativity can pull your self-esteem down. On things that can enhance your self-regard, you have to do things that you love at least a few minutes each day.

If you love journaling, then, do it. Spend time with your loved one or kids, if you are with the family. You can also find ways to advance in your career like take up additional courses for your added credentials. Whatever you can do to improve yourself positively will also enhance your self-esteem. This is how you value it. In Dr. Nikki Martinez, Psy.D. blog, she says, “If you are struggling with low self-esteem, it is encouraged that you seek some type of help and support to work through this issue, and to help you be the best version of yourself that you can be.”

 

Love Your Body And Mind.

How can you love your body? It’s very simple. Nourish it with healthy foods. You can nourish your mind, as well. For example, when preparing your food, it has to be a well-balanced meal. You can check the internet for suggestions from food experts on how to make affordable but healthy food.

It is also important to steer clear from substances like alcohol and cigarettes. These can hasten the deterioration of your cells, and that is not loving your body and mind. Drink lots of water instead so that you are well-hydrated. It is also advisable to exercise at least 15 minutes each day. A brisk walk around the neighborhood will do, just to start. Lastly, rest, as in total rest at night. “Whether you suffer from seasonal affective disorder or not, the evidence is strong that getting outside just for a little bit can be very helpful,” says Andrea Bonior, PhD, clinical psychologist.

Choose People Who Bring Positivity In Your Life.

Look at the people within your circle. Are they supportive and encouraging? Do they bring positive words and actions to you? If they do, then, these are the people who should be in your life. They will inspire and motivate you to feel better about yourself. That’s what you need. If there are bad influences or toxic relationships, be ready to shut them out completely. Deborah Khoshaba Psy.D used to say, you should “Bring the right people into your life.”

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Help Others.

Volunteer your time and energy to help others. You’ll like accomplishing something substantial to help somebody in need, and it’s another great way to meet new people to develop friendships.

Manage Stress And Pressure.

Like it or not, stress is a part of life. With that, practice and adapt pressures and stress. Try one-minute stress strategies. Do Tai Chi. Work out every day. Go for a nature stroll. Play with your pet or write in your diary. These things can lessen stress and pressure within you.

Additionally, make sure to welcome these adversities with a smile. Research demonstrates that smiling or laughing can help your mind, ease annoyance, loosen up your body and lessen the pressure. As said, exercise can also be a vital way of eliminating and managing stress in your daily lives. Our body is relaxed when we do some kind of sweat-releasing activity.

Calm Your Mind.

Unwinding activities, meditation, and supplication can improve your perspective and point of view. Self-reflection a few minutes each day can make you calm.

Set Realistic Objectives In School Or At Work.

Set what you need to accomplish academically and career-wise. For example, you are still in school. Set your objectives and try to achieve it. Write down your goals and plan out how you are going to reach it.

At Times, Be Spontaneous.

One way to improve yourself is by going out of your comfort zone, healthily. How can you do that? Be spontaneous! Separate yourself from a monotonous schedule and insert activities to liven it up. For example, instead of staying in the office on your 30-minute break, go out to the park and take a stroll.

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Regulate Your Consumption Of Alcohol And Prescription Drugs.

As much as you can, stay away from drinking alcohol and from taking in prescription drugs. These substances contain chemicals that can destroy your mind frame. At times, it can even push you to depression when done in overage and habitually.

Find Your Purpose In Life.

Looking for help is an indication of strength — not a shortcoming. Know that treatment is a good thing. Individuals who get proper treatment can recoup from psychological issues and then, lead them to a more beautiful life.

Everybody has a mission in life, and it’s up to us to find that mission. Don’t be discouraged by problems. Challenges are there so that you can overcome it. In going about the Why’s and How’s, one must learn to improve himself, since this is the only way for us to move forward – if our body and mind are one.

 

Mental Health Curriculum In New York A Mental Health Milestone

A psychotherapist could very well agree that the stigma associated with mental illnesses stands as a barrier which gets in the way of creating social environments that are conducive to recovery. The alarming thing about this reality is as the stigma gets louder, more and more people suffer from mental illnesses in silence.

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How Widespread Are Mental Illnesses?

The National Institute of Mental Health conducted studies revealing that in the US, about 20% of adults experienced an anxiety disorder in 2017 and around 31% will experience it at some point in their lifetimes. Also, approximately 7% have experienced at least one major depressive episode in their lives. On the other hand, among children, about 23% of more than 10,000 adolescents have been diagnosed with severe mental issues. Still, in other studies, it was discovered that half of the mental illnesses begin at as young as 14 years old, while 75% of mental disorders find their onset at the age of 24.

With the prevalence of mental health issues nowadays especially among children, New York States recent decision to include mental health as part of the curriculum in schools is both timely and essential.

“Mental health is complex, and it would be a lot easier if we were like cars.” – Dr. Mitch Keil, clinical psychologist

What Will Happen In This Curriculum Change?

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According to Bill Number A3887B issued by the New York State Assembly, school districts are being called upon to ensure that their health education programs recognize the various dimensions of health and as such, include mental health alongside physical health in health education. A new paragraph is thereby added to the Education Law 504, effective ever since July 1, 2018.

Note that this is a change that will happen across the board. Even kindergartens will get exposure on mental health education at their tender age. According to Kristen Purcell, Assistant Coordinator for Innovative Teaching and Learning at OCM BOCES, mental health education in kindergarten would look like a teacher sitting in the midst of a circle of five and six-year-old toddlers. They will devote portions of the school time just talking about how they feel and what makes them happy, sad, or upset. On the other hand, for high school and college students, instructors will go on a deep dive for a more comprehensive take on the subject matter.

Why The Need For This Change?

Legislators justify this curriculum change as a way to update the New York State law. It keeps public education at par with the recent advancements in the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses. The said law is already 40 years old. It is the right time to make it at pace with the changing times.

“Awareness is the beginning of all change.” – Karla Helbert, LPC, E-RYT, C-IAYT

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The inclusion of mental health topics in the curriculum is also a statement about how people ought to recognize the importance of mental health. It should have as much importance as physical health. State law is practically telling everyone that mental illnesses aren’t as visible as other diseases. However, it does not diminish their intensity and harmful effects. The World Health Organization considers health to be a state of complete physical, mental, and social well-being. Mental health is just as significant as other aspects of wellness.

Moreover, teaching mental health to students allows them to be more self-aware. People who are knowledgeable about mental health are more likely to recognize it when they start to feel it. Thus, know when and how to seek help. Understanding of mental diseases also allows them to think through their feelings properly. They do not just dismiss their feelings as fleeting emotions. They tend to be more confident to speak up.

Finally, an initiative from the State to recognize mental health and espouse it in educational institutions is a progressive move. This creates a society that is more embracing of differences in mental states among people. It has a huge role in breaking the stigma against mental illnesses and those who experience it. By teaching the young generation, people with mental health concerns will get both assistance and acceptance.

New York is the first state in the US to require mental health to be a part of education programs. This progress gives us a glimmer of hope. Soon, more states and countries all over the world can also embrace mental health as a social concern. Our educational institutions can adequately address this issue. In no time, we will be able to recreate a society that embraces differences and disabilities. It is possible even at the level that is not visible to the naked eye.

“Mental health struggles are real. They can be painful. You may feel alone. In some of the darkest times, you may feel like something is “wrong” with you to the core.” – Erica Thompson, LMFT, LPCC

 

Why Your Family’s Mental Health Matters

We live in the comfort of our homes with our family. They have always been there for us from as early as we were born. However, for some of us, this may not be the case. After all, a family is not limited to having a father or a mother. It is sometimes extended out to our relatives or to someone who has adopted us. Such a presence in our life can have lifelong effects in the future. Have you always wondered how your family’s mental health could affect you? Here are four ways how.

Damaged Relationships

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When someone is mentally ill, it affects factors such as communication and actions. They keep themselves in the confines of their thoughts and problems. Your relationship as a family is not the only relationship affected by isolation. It also affects your relationship with your friends or partner. Damaging your relationships limits your opportunities in life. Have you ever heard of the quote, “No man is an island?” Social isolation has similar health risks as smoking cigarette or obesity.

Stress Arises

“Everyone handles positive and negative stress differently. And yes, for some, positive stress can lead to a negative response to stress, depending on the situation.” Jessica Harris, LCPC, LPC used to say. Knowing that one of your loved ones is struggling with a mental illness can be very stressful. It can become tough when you take care of them while balancing your everyday tasks. Stressed people often share the same experiences when managing their mental health. It can build up tension in your homes making your home feel very uncomfortable. Stress can also have significant physical effects on your body as well. Certain studies have linked stress to heart disease and high blood pressure. It is also known to lower your immune and digestive systems.

Affects An Individual’s Growth

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For example, since you were always busy with work, you never realized that your son is a victim of bullying. The bullies would laugh at what he wears, thus lowering his self-esteem. They would call him names that were funny to the bullies but were verbally abusive. This bullying continued causing him significant psychological damage. You never noticed this because he always appeared to be okay, until one day you find out that he decided to take his own life. Now, the future you have wished for him has now disappeared. As exaggerated as this example may sound, it is still not too far from happening. Bullied victims have suicidal thoughts two to nine times more likely than non-victims. However, “Not all people who have thoughts of suicide end up acting on those thoughts. But for those who do, generally there is deep emotional pain combined with a belief that things will never improve.” Dr. Chantal Gagnon PhD LMHC explained. 

Exhaustion

Dealing with someone’s mental illness can become both emotionally and physically draining. An individual loses their motivation to do everyday activities due to exhaustion. Lack of motivation can affect one’s lifestyle from schooling to work. It can also affect both their professional and personal relationships. Certain diseases such as heart disease and a weakened immune system may also arise from this. I have experienced this back then, and losing the motivation to do anything often leads to giving up. It taught me the value of moving on and pushing onwards.

Tips For Handling Your Family’s Mental Health

It is tough to watch over a member of your family’s mental health. It can be very frustrating and challenging at times, but here are some tips to help you.

  • Always Get Together

Devote some of your time to bond with your family. It doesn’t have to be every day; a simple Sunday dinner would be enough. Let this serve as a form of a breather for whatever you may be going through.

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  • Communication Is The Key

Try to get informed on how things are at work or school. Make sure to check up on them from time to time. You don’t need to know everything since some actions may tell you a difference in their stories. Encourage them to open up to you from time to time.

  • Keep The Feeling Of Love Alive

Feeling loved gives you a sense of security and healthy self-esteem. Make sure to show your trust and care for one another. Doing this may help develop positive relationships in the future.

  • Avoid Abuse

Abuse is never a good thing. It is capable of mentally damaging your children or partner. You should avoid it at all costs since it is a leading factor for depression and low self-esteem.

  • Be Careful Of Your Actions

“A mental illness cannot be willed away or brushed aside with a change in attitude. Ignoring the problem doesn’t give it the slip either.” Deborah Serani, PsyD said. In some cases, the cause of one’s mental illness comes from their own family. Your words and actions may affect both your children or partners, so always be sensitive. It is essential to take note of how to handle fights. Remember to say sorry sometimes.

  • Knowledge Of Any Existing Mental Illness

We know that some mental illness needs daily care while others are episodic. You will be able to select the appropriate actions to take if you know your loved one’s condition.

Do you want to be more attentive to your family’s mental health? Check out this website regularly for more information.

Acceptance: Moving On From A Break Up Is The Only Way To Heal Yourself

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We were supposed to be staying together, forever. That was the plan. Actually, it was our promise to each other. He was going to be faithful and loyal to me and me with him. Twenty years ago, we made that pact in front of our family, friends, and loved ones. God himself blessed this pact we made. We were wed, and it was the happiest day of my life. I didn’t know that it would change and or that he would break his promise.

He got tired of you as his woman.”

 

My grandfather said that in such a blunt manner that the sting of his words cut me to the core. People get tired of loving other people? Was I so blind that I didn’t see it? What happened to me? Why was I clouded with my love for him that I forgot to put my feet on the ground and check reality as it is happening in the four corners of our home? Why didn’t he say something?

 “We should examine the inextricable role that self-love plays in any and all human connection.” – Clinical Psychologist and relationship expert Molly Gasbarrini, Ph.D.

Is it so easy to fall out of love? I tried my best. I know I did. But like James Ingram said in his song, “I did my best, but my best wasn’t good enough.” I mean, why wasn’t I good enough? I know I am pretty. I may be a bit old, but I am still physically beautiful. I didn’t become overweight. In fact, my body is as slim as I was when we first met. I took care of my health, as well, and exercised several days a week. I wanted to be pleasing to his eyes, and I did my absolute best on that.

“Anxiety is often used as a tool to help you push yourself to your limit of achievement. The downside is that there are often negative meanings attached, such as not being good enough or not valuing rest.” – Kristine Tye, MA, LMFT

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As for my attitude towards him, even his mother told me, “You are such a kind person, Belle.” Does that mean he doesn’t like a kind woman? Maybe he likes someone who is chubby or naughty? Did I bore him to death? I mean, this is me. This is all me. This is all I can be and how I am for him. Maybe, he just didn’t like the real “me.” But he should have been honest.

 

And so, I look at the right side of my bed, and it’s been empty for a while now. He won’t be coming back. That’s what he said. He said he doesn’t love me anymore and that he doesn’t want to pretend. He said he’d been acting for the last five years. Five long years. He should have told me sooner.

 “If emotions become heightened, it’s a good idea to implement a safe word prior to the discussion which indicates that one of the partners needs to take a break,” – Michelle Smith, LMHC

I guess it’s okay. I mean, there’s nothing else I can do but learn how to live life without his surname. Now, it is real. He doesn’t want to be with me, and I have to accept that. I need to move on from that.

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So far, the ways for me to cope is to listen to music whenever I feel bad. I open YouTube and type MISSING YOU by Diana Ross. I also check out Jorja Smith’s TEENAGE FANTASY and BLUE LIGHTS, just to get my groove going. Sometimes, it forces me to dance. Bonnie Raitt was right in her song; I CAN’T MAKE YOU LOVE ME:

 

‘Cause I can’t make you love me if you don’t

You can’t make your heart feel something it won’t

Here in the dark, in these final hours

I will lay down my heart, and I’ll feel the power

But you won’t, no you won’t

‘Cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t

 

In time, I will get there. I have to be. I need to be. There’s no other way for me to be.