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    1. Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT): Effective Treatment for Extreme Emotions and Destructive Behaviors

      Dialectical behavior therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based cognitive-behavioral treatment that provides individuals with tools to help reduce negative behaviors and regulate intense emotions. Although it was originally created to treat borderline personality disorder (BPD), it has been effectively adapted to treat other mental health conditions, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders. Its objective is to help people understand and accept difficult and often contradictory feelings, and then learn the skills to manage them. Read our overview to learn how it works, who can benefit from DBT, and what treatment looks like.
      What is Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT)?
      DBT is a comprehensive treatment that includes many aspects of other cognitive-behavioral approaches, such as exposure, problem-solving, and stimulus control, as well as cognitive restructuring. In plainer terms, DBT focuses on helping individuals to change unhelpful ways of thinking and behaving while at the same time focusing on self-acceptance. DBT teaches four sets of behavioral skills: mindfulness, distress tolerance, improved interpersonal skills, and emotion regulation, so that individuals have the tools to make positive and healthy changes in their lives.
      The key to DBT is the term, dialectical. Here, dialectical means learning to understand how two seemingly opposing perspectives can both be true. In this way, DBT promotes balance and avoidance of “black and white”, “all-or-nothing” styles of thinking. For example, accepting yourself and changing your behavior might feel contradictory, but DBT teaches that it's possible to achieve both goals together. At the heart of DBT are acceptance and change.
      Who can benefit from DBT?
      DBT has been adapted to treat those with mental health issues such as eating disorders, suicidal and self-harming behavior, bipolar disorder, treatment-resistant depression, and substance use issues. The thinking is that since these disorders are often associated with unhealthy attempts to control intense, negative emotions, DBT’s emotion-regulation approach can help. 
      Indeed, multiple research studies have shown that DBT can be effective in treating substance use issues, and decreasing suicide ideation, hopelessness, anger, and depression, and also that the effects of DBT treatment can last for sustained periods of time.
      What does DBT treatment look like?
      Although highly effective, DBT can take many therapy sessions and multiple months (sometimes over a year) of treatment in order to see change. It typically involves weekly one-on-one therapy sessions, weekly group skills training sessions, homework, and regular therapist check-ins (often by phone or video).
      According to the research, DBT treatment consists of four stages which go in order, with each phase having specific goals, such as:
      Treating issues related to past trauma
      Reducing therapy-interfering or quality-of-life-interfering behaviors, such as suicidal ideation or self-harming
      Developing renewed self-esteem and improving day-to-day behavioral skills
      Developing the capacity for optimum life experience and for finding a higher purpose.
      Please note, if you or a loved one have thoughts of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), Option 1.
      If you or a loved one are living with disorders such as depression, an eating disorder, or other self-harming behaviors, consider DBT
      DBT treatment requires fairly extensive training in order for behavioral health specialists to offer it to clients. Some get trained in DBT in graduate school or postdoctoral work, and others can get DBT-certified with supervised, on-the-job training. A qualified mental health professional will first assess your symptoms, treatment history, and your goals, and from there, figure out which type of therapy treatment is best for you. Because each illness responds differently to treatment techniques, you’ll want to go with what’s been shown most effective for your diagnosis and symptoms.
      Many of Telemynd’s clinicians are DBT-certified. If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today! If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
      Sources Indian Journal of Psychological Medicine BMC Psychiatry Borderline Personality Disorder and Emotion Dysregulation
    2. Trauma-Informed Care: Understanding Patients’ Life Experiences to Deliver Better Treatment

      Health care providers in the medical and behavioral health fields are increasingly recognizing that experiences of past trauma significantly influence our overall health, our relationships, school, work, and our ability to adopt healthy behaviors. And while we often associate trauma with things like soldiers in war settings, victims of crime, or the death of a loved one, it turns out that multiple life experiences clinically qualify as traumatic. In this article, we explore how the concept of holistic, trauma-informed care can improve the outcomes of mental health treatment.
      What is meant by ‘trauma’?
      Recent studies show that by the time they reach college, 66-85% of 18 year-olds report lifetime traumatic event exposure, with many reporting multiple exposures. That’s a lot. According to the American Psychological Association, trauma is an emotional response to a terrible event like an accident, rape, or natural disaster. But a person may experience trauma as a response to any event they find physically or emotionally threatening or harmful - for example, bullying and other character attacks; loss of a friend or loved one whether through death, moving, or a break-up; emotional, physical or sexual abuse; or even seeing something violent or disturbing. What matters is how the individual perceives an event, not how society judges how an individual should perceive an event.
      According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, “the effects of traumatic events place a heavy burden on individuals, families and communities. Although many people who experience a traumatic event will go on without lasting negative effects, others will have more difficulty. Emerging research has documented the relationships among exposure to traumatic events, impaired neurodevelopmental and immune systems responses and subsequent health risk behaviors resulting in chronic physical or behavioral health disorders.”
      What is a trauma-informed approach to care?
      Trauma-informed care changes the opening question for those seeking mental health services from “what is wrong with you?” (i.e., patient or consumer) to “what has happened to you?” (i.e., survivor). Trauma-informed care is based on the assumption that every patient seeking services is a trauma survivor who can inform his or her own path to healing, facilitated by support and mentoring from a mental health provider.  A trauma-informed approach to care acknowledges that providers “need to have a complete picture of a patient’s life situation — past and present — in order to provide effective health care services with a healing orientation.”
      The six key principles of a trauma-informed approach are:
      Safety Trustworthiness and transparency Peer support Collaboration and mutuality Empowerment, voice, and choice Humility and responsiveness In addition, potential biases and stereotypes based on race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, and age are recognized and addressed within the context of trauma-based care.
      Clinicians who train in trauma-based care also learn there are 10 domains of implementation of this approach, including governance and leadership, policy, physical environment, training and workforce development, progress monitoring and quality assurance, and more.
      Why is trauma-informed care important?
      It’s a win-win for everyone. For patients, trauma-informed care offers the opportunity to engage more fully in their own mental health care, develop a trusting relationship with their provider, and improve long-term outcomes. Studies have found that adopting trauma-informed practices can potentially improve overall patient engagement and adherence to treatment. It also reduces the need to relive experiences and retraumatize the patient. In addition, trauma-based care has been found to improve provider engagement. 
      Overall, adopting a trauma-informed approach to care has the potential to improve patient health outcomes as well as the well-being of providers. If you feel you or a loved one could benefit from trauma-based care, consult your doctor or mental health provider.
      If you or a loved one need help with mental health issues, consider contacting a qualified telebehavioral health professional
      If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today. Our mental health professionals are trained in multiple mental health disorders and have experience treating them via online appointments - from the convenience and privacy of your home or wherever works for you. If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
      Sources
      Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA)
      Center for Health Care Strategies
      National Council for Mental Wellbeing
    3. PTSD & Military Veterans: What Are the Latest Treatment Options?

      It’s estimated that 9% of people in the US will be diagnosed with PTSD in their lifetime; the numbers are much higher for veterans of military service: between 11 and 20% are diagnosed with this debilitating condition. And it’s no wonder - PTSD is a mental health disorder that occurs in response to experiencing or witnessing disturbing and distressing traumatic events - which is common to most vets who have seen combat. By way of detailed explanation, Matthew Friedman, MD, Ph.D., Vice-Chair for Research in the Department of Psychiatry at the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth, says that PTSD is common, especially among recent veterans, because deployed military personnel “have at some point felt helpless to alter the course of potentially lethal events; been exposed to severe combat in which buddies were killed or injured; been exposed to uncontrollable and unpredictable life-threatening attacks such as roadside bombs; or experienced exposure to the consequences of combat, such as observing or handling remains of civilians, enemy soldiers, or US and allied personnel.” We can all agree that that’s a significant amount of trauma for an individual to experience.
      Thankfully there is hope for those who are seeking treatment for PTSD. Due to the many military veterans living with PTSD (and more diagnosed every year), scientists at government and educational institutions are constantly researching new ways to help those living with this mental health condition. Our goal is to shed light on some of the latest PTSD treatments that have been found to be effective.
      Traditional Treatment For PTSD: One Size Does Not Fit All
      A few months ago, we wrote about the science of PTSD; how experiencing trauma impacts different parts of the brain and ultimately changes it, causing the parts of the brain responsible for thinking and memory to stop functioning correctly. When this occurs, it’s hard to separate safe and “normal” events happening in the present from traumatic events that happened in the past. Because of this, PTSD can impact daily routines, making it difficult to do normal tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating. It can significantly impact work and relationships and left untreated, it can cause dependence on drugs or alcohol.
      Traditional treatment for PTSD has been a combination of medication and therapies, such as Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT). These treatment methods are an attempt to help minimize, or even eliminate, the distressing symptoms that people with PTSD experience.
      However, a 2020 study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association found that a “one-size-fits-all” treatment prescription for PTSD does not work. It may be that traditional therapies work for one individual, but newer, innovative therapies work better for the next. The study concluded that it is vitally important that each patient is evaluated within the context of their unique set of PTSD causes and symptoms, and that their behavioral health professionals help them find the right combination of treatments that work for them, rather than use a one-size-fits-all approach. Further, it’s important for patients and medical professionals to keep trying different treatments until they find one that works - something that isn’t often done, as many sufferers give up after trying one or two treatment attempts.
      What Are The Latest PTSD Treatment Options For Veterans?
      Below are just some of the latest evidence-based treatments for PTSD. This list is by no means exhaustive. To keep up on treatment developments, watch the news or subscribe to military and scientific / health journals, some of which you can find here.
      Non-Traditional Approaches Like Meditation & Acupuncture
      Researchers have found that non-traditional treatments like yoga, meditation, acupuncture,  acupressure, and doing repetitive, peaceful tasks such as sanding wood, knitting, crocheting, restoring cars, or tying fly-fishing flies can be very effective tools in managing trauma symptoms. Horseback riding or having a service or companion dog can also help some PTSD patients. 
      Trauma-Focused Psychotherapy
      A 2021 study published in Biological Psychiatry showed that trauma-focused psychotherapy can significantly reduce the symptoms of PTSD. This treatment, used specifically for PTSD, involves techniques such as "in vivo exposure," which involves directly facing a feared object, situation, or activity in real life, and "imaginal exposure," which involves facing the trauma memory. A person who is afraid of crowds, for example, may be repeatedly exposed to large gatherings. After a while, the person recognizes there is no actual danger, so this process eventually promotes new learnings in the brain.
      Eye Movement Desensitization & Reprocessing (EMDR)
      You may have recently seen Prince Harry, on his mental health series The Me You Can’t See, undergoing this kind of therapy on camera in an attempt to show us (and de-stigmatize) how he is healing from childhood trauma and loss. EMDR works by having the individual with PTSD pay attention to a back-and-forth movement or sound (like following a moving finger, a flashing light, or a tone that beeps in one ear) while calling to mind the upsetting memory – until shifts occur in the way that the memory is experienced. A similar therapy is the Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as ‘tapping’.
       Stellate Ganglion Block (SGB)
      This treatment involves a shot of local anesthetic in either the stellate or C6 ganglions on the side of the neck, which numbs the nerves for 8 hours. When the numbness wears off, patients report immediate relief of PTSD symptoms. A recent study published in JAMA Psychiatry found that SGB therapy significantly reduced the severity of PTSD symptoms over a period of 8 weeks.
       Three Key Takeaways
      If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with PTSD, know that there are multiple proven treatment options available. Perhaps some of these newer therapies may work for you. And remember, it’s likely that your medical professional will recommend a combination of more than one therapy to reduce your symptoms.
       In summary, the three most important learnings to take away from this post are:
       One size does not fit all when it comes to treating PTSD; what works for one person may not work for the next. Mental health specialists must view each patient as unique, requiring highly individualized therapy combinations.
      The most effective PTSD treatment may actually be a combination of several therapies and medications; rather than just one.
      If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again: Keep trying different treatments until you find the ones that work. It may feel like a slow healing process, but persist and you’ll find the combination that’s right for you.
       Please note that any treatment must be done in conjunction with a trained mental health or medical specialist and not attempted outside of medical care.
      Sources
      American Psychiatric Association
      National Institutes of Health
      Journal of the American Medical Association
       
    4. Choosing A Career In Mental Health - The Guide To Making A Difference

      Thinking about a career in mental health? Good! You are needed! An estimated 31% of U.S. adults experience an Anxiety Disorder at some time in their lives, and almost 20% will experience Major Depressive Order. Mental health disorders are not at all uncommon, yet over 89 million Americans are not able to find or get the treatment they need from mental health professionals because there just aren’t enough. This article provides an introduction to the types of jobs available in the field, the traits needed, and general schooling and licensure requirements.
      “Making A Difference” Is The Biggest Reason Many Chose This Career Path
      Clinicians already in the field say that their desire to help people better their lives is the biggest reason why they chose a mental health career. They agree that personality traits like compassion, empathy, patience, caregiving, and good communication are typical of those in the field. And while those traits may seem obvious, there are other less obvious traits necessary for a successful career in mental health:
      Flexibility - The field is ever-evolving, clients’ needs change, and your own daily work schedule may need to adapt to your patients’ schedules - ‘nine to five’ is not typical in this field.
      Confidence - You’ll be helping clients to reconsider and relearn their thinking patterns, so you’ll need to be aware of your own issues, challenges and expectations before treating others.
      Tech-Savvy - Not only is the field itself making more and more use of technology to solve privacy, productivity, and access issues, but you’ll need to understand your clients’ technology habits as it may impact their mental health.
      Life-Long Learner - The requirements for licensure and accreditation are typically ongoing annual coursework in updated theory and treatment, so a natural curiosity and openness to new ideas is an important trait for anyone considering the field.
      Multiple Types Of Professionals Can Choose A Career In Mental Health — Each Has Its Own Schooling & Licensing Requirements
      If you feel these traits describe you, you’ll have multiple paths to choose from as you think about what kind of mental health professional you want to become. Professional job titles and specialties can vary by state, but the list below is a general overview of the most common, along with schooling and licensure requirements. 
      Regardless of job title, as a mental health professional, you may work in an inpatient facility (hospitals and psychiatric facilities) or an outpatient facility (community mental health clinics, schools, private practice) depending on what patient population you want to serve. You may even choose to see and treat patients virtually as the technology to do so has matured and the pandemic has created the need for remote patient visits.
      Psychiatrist - licensed medical doctor who has completed psychiatric training; can diagnose mental health conditions, prescribe and monitor medications, and provide therapy; MD plus completion of a residency in psychiatry required; need to be a licensed physician in the state where they practice; may also be designated as a Board Certified Psychiatrist.
      Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner (NP) - can provide assessment, diagnosis, and therapy for mental health conditions; qualified to prescribe medications depending on the state; requirements also vary by state as to the amount of supervision by a licensed psychiatrist; requires M.S. or Ph.D. in nursing with a specialty in psychiatry; must be a licensed nurse in the state where they are practicing. 
      Psychologist - trained to evaluate patients’ mental health using clinical interviews, psychological evaluations, and testing; can make diagnoses and provide individual or group therapy but not prescribe medicine; need a Ph.D. in clinical psychology or other specialties such as counseling or education; licensed by licensure boards in each state.
      Counselor, Therapist - trained to assess mental health and use therapeutic techniques based on specific training programs; requires master’s degree (M.S. or M.A.) in a mental health-related field such as psychology, counseling psychology, marriage or family therapy, among others; licensure varies by specialty and state but examples include LPC (Licensed Professional Counselor) or LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist).
      Clinical Social Worker - trained to evaluate mental health and use therapeutic techniques based on specific training programs; are also trained in case management and advocacy services; master’s degree in social work (MSW) required; licensure examples include LICSW (Licensed Independent Social Worker) and LCSW (Licensed Clinical Social Worker).
      Social Worker - provide case management, inpatient discharge planning services, and other placement services; requires B.A. or B.S. degree in social work.
      Job Growth Outlook For Careers In Mental Health: Excellent
      The field is experiencing growth, so if you’ve been thinking about jumping in, now is the time. In fact, employment for all professionals in the field of mental health is expected to increase 22% through 2028, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. 
      If you’re considering a career in mental health, take a look at the types of jobs available with Telemynd - to get an overview of the number and range of choices in this field. 
      Already a mental health professional and seeking a way to expand your career or practice? Telemynd is a nationally delegated telebehavioral health provider offering a safe and convenient way to see patients or meet with providers using our secure cloud-based solution. Check out recent reviews from your peers, and consider joining our network with access to millions seeking virtual behavioral health!
      Sources
      Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA): Behavioral Health Workforce Report
      National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI): Types of Mental Health Professionals
    5. Advantages Of Telemedicine For Mental Health Professionals & Their Patients

      The Covid-19 pandemic has led to a dramatic increase in the use of virtual mental health services, (also known as telemedicine or telebehavioral health). The lockdowns and fear of infection have left patients in need of more care, yet with little choice but to move away from in-person care, and clinicians to quickly figure out how to adapt to new technology to order to offer it.
      The CDC has urged greater adoption of telemedicine, saying it “can facilitate public health mitigation strategies during the pandemic by increasing social distancing. These services can be a safer option for clinicians and patients by reducing potential infectious exposures.”
      Among the benefits, many clinicians are finding that telemedicine has allowed them to make behavioral health access available to more patients than ever before – which has positive implications for addressing the well-known shortage of mental health services in the US (which we wrote about in last week’s blog).
      Studies Show Patients Prefer Virtual Visits With Their Clinicians
      How well does telebehavioral health work? And are patients receptive to it? A resounding ‘yes’ say multiple studies done over the past few years. Overall, most show virtual mental health care to be as effective as in-person care in treating disorders such as Depression, Anxiety, and PTSD.
      For example, a 2016 meta-analysis of 452 studies of telepsychiatry found high patient satisfaction and quality equal to in-person care. A 2020 Veterans Administration study found telemedicine was as effective as in-person office-based care for treating Depression and PTSD in veterans and military personnel. And in another recent study on telebehavioral health, Accenture reported that 46% of patients “would choose to receive mental health appointments virtually.”
      What Are The Benefits To Telemedicine When Treating Mental Health Issues?
      Obviously, telemedicine isn’t appropriate in some cases  – for instance in most emergency situations we recommend patients seek immediate help. But for many others, the convenience and accessibility make Telemedicine a preferred care solution.  Benefits for patients and clinicians alike include:
      Improves affordability of care.
      Enables screening and evaluations to be done virtually, saving time, and getting patients quicker access to care.
      Offers more access for those with chronic conditions and medication management needs.
      Expands access for patients who have difficulty accessing care (e.g., those who live in rural areas, older adults, or those with limited mobility). Allows access to residents in long-term care facilities or other specialized residential facilities.
      Enables access to mental health specialists and specialized treatment centers that normally are geographically distant from some patients.
      Provides more personal care: patients receiving care from the comfort of their own homes feel more relaxed and open to new ways of thinking.
      Helps remove the “stigma” of mental health: patients can seek care from their homes rather than having to drive to an office where they may feel more “out in the open” or “exposed”.
      In addition, telemedicine has these further benefits to clinicians:
      Clinicians don’t need the overhead of a brick & mortar practice.
      Enables greater flexibility in scheduling and a better work-life balance.
      Removes the need to commute.
      For those clinicians who want to and are able to travel, they can see patients from virtually anywhere within the country.
      With Telemedicine, Clinicians Can Be Better At What They Do
      With all its benefits, study after study reveals that telemedicine is now a fundamental component of our healthcare environment. The American Journal of Managed Care says it predicts that telemedicine will continue to gain adoption and become a staple of modern-day patient care, even post-pandemic. And given that, telemedicine with an easy-to-use, award-winning EHR platform like Telemynd is a great way to expand your practice geographically and demographically - allowing you to reach new populations of patients you may not have had access to before. 
      And With Telemynd, Clinicians Build A Practice On Their Terms
      Telemynd clinicians say things like “...plenty of referrals to choose from so my caseload was full within two months. Gentle entry into telehealth with user-friendly EHR”, and “...work-life balance… family and community atmosphere even though I am states away”, and “...feeling like you did something worthwhile that day”.
      If you’re a mental health professional and are looking for a way to expand your career or practice, Telemynd is a nationally delegated telebehavioral health provider offering a better way to see patients and deliver care through our secure cloud-based solution. Check out more recent reviews from your peers, and consider joining our network with access to millions seeking telebehavioral health!
      Sources
      Centers for Disease Control (CDC): Using Telehealth to Expand Access to Essential Health Services during the COVID-19 Pandemic
      Harvard Business Review: Digital Tools Are Revolutionizing Mental Health Care in the U.S.
      American Journal of Managed Care (AJMC): Patient and Clinician Experiences With Telehealth for Patient Follow-up Care
    6. Why Is There A Stigma Around Seeking Mental Health?

      Research shows that over half of the people who need mental health care in the United States go untreated. A variety of reasons can contribute to this, including lack of mental health professionals, access in a given geographic region, or even limited insurance coverage. More often than not however, the common barrier to overcome involves our own stigmatization of what seeking mental health services means about us. Study after study reveals that many people avoid or delay seeking treatment due to their perception that they may be treated differently, or that seeking treatment may impact their jobs or social status.
      Despite Progress, Studies Show Many Still Have A Negative View Of Mental Illness
      According to the American Psychiatric Association, “a review of studies on stigma shows that while the public may accept the medical or genetic nature of a mental health disorder and the need for treatment, many people still have a negative view of those with mental illness”. Another study concluded "there is no country, society or culture where people with mental illness have the same societal ranking as those without mental illness." These views and perceptions cause public and self-stigma around mental health issues:
      Self-Stigma is internalized negative attitudes people with mental illness may have about their own condition.
      Public Stigma is negative or discriminatory attitudes that may be held by others about mental illness.
      Media Stereotypes Contribute To The Stigma
      The media has been guilty of exploiting both types by sensationalizing mental health disorders in an effort to amplify character personality traits or storytelling. A study revealed how entertainment and news media dramatize, distort, or over-simplify mental illness. The portrayals are often overly dramatic, distorted, and over-simplified characterizations that emphasize danger and unpredictability, or describe people with mental illness as ‘helpless’ with little chance of recovery. 
      We can all probably think of a news story, movie, or series that distorted characterizations. The popular Netflix series “Behind Her Eyes”, based on a novel of the same name, is a good example of a simplistic and negative portrayal of stereotypical (and not inherently true) characteristics related to mental illness and trauma, which propels the notion of hopelessness and acts as a deterrent by someone wanting to seek help with their symptoms but because don’t want to “be like the characters” . Fortunately, people are starting to recognize the media’s role in stigmatization and are proposing steps to address it. More on that below.
      What Are The Harmful Effects Of Stigma Around Mental Health Issues?
      As you can imagine, the most harmful effect of stigma is a reluctance to seek help for mental illness or maintaining a regular treatment plan. Other negative impacts include:
      Worsening Of Mental Health Conditions
      Reduced Hope
      Lower Self-Esteem
      Self-Sabotage
      Impaired Recovery
      Social Isolation
      Difficulties At Work And In Relationships
      How Do We Address The Stigma Around Mental Health Issues?
      The good news is that many influential organizations and institutions are aware of the problem and are working hard to develop ways to address it. The two approaches that look to have the greatest impact are:
      Educating the public broadly to alter stereotypical stigmatizing beliefs and attitudes.
      Enhancing individual skills for coping with self-stigma through improvements in self-esteem, self-empowerment, and improved help-seeking behavior.
      On the public side, experts have suggested and are already making in-roads in implementing required mental health issues training for journalists, including expert input from psychiatrists in movie or TV productions (and including disclaimers or further information at opening or closing credits), using non-individualized descriptions of mental illness (i.e., “a person with an addiction”, rather than “an addicted person”), and using mental-health terminology with more precision, fairness, and expertise.
      On the individual side, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has come up with some tips to guide conversations with those who may be feeling stigmatized, and to improve our own potentially-stigmatized thinking about our mental health issues:
      Don’t Underestimate The Unfortunate Power Of Self-Stigma. Assume that your family member, friend, or patient is experiencing self-stigma, given its prevalence. Try to identify and understand its potential consequences. We often don’t want to admit that stigma impacts us as much as it does. Consider if you have made stigmatizing comments, even if unintentionally, and be prepared to recognize this behavior.
      Use Facts & Resources To Prove That Common Stigma Examples Are False. Talk about common examples of stigma to show your familiarity and experience with them. You may also note common emotional reactions triggered by stigma, for example, sadness and anger.
      Be Aware That Although It May Not Seem Reasonable For Them To Believe Stereotypes To Be True, They May Still Be Feeling Them. Be cautious about delegitimizing, diminishing, or dismissing emotions by saying things like, “you shouldn’t feel that way” or “why do you feel that way?” This may provoke an emotionally defensive response.
      When Someone Is Willing To Discuss Their Self-Stigma, Simply Listen. Empathize and validate their emotions. Engaging with peers, including conversations about stigma, can help normalize the feelings associated with self-stigma and allow for a “collaborative” resistance to stigma.
      Increased Availability Of Telebehavioral Health Services Can Also Help Alleviate The Stigma Around Mental Health
      The recent increased availability of telebehavioral health services has also been shown to help decrease self-stigma in accessing treatment for mental health issues. Since people don’t have to leave their house to access mental health professionals, no one is aware they’re receiving treatment. For those who worry about being treated differently because of their mental illness, this extra level of privacy has had significant positive effects. Virtual behavioral health services obviously also increase access for those with mobility issues or who live in areas that don’t have enough mental health providers.
      Considering A Career In Telebehavioral Health Or Know Someone Who Could Benefit From Virtual Access To Licensed Professionals?
      Telemynd offers patients the ability to connect with providers from the safety and convenience of their homes. Providers can join our network by applying online. If you’re a patient, choose your current insurance provider to request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today!
      Sources
      Mental Health America (MHA): Access to Care 2020
      National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI): The Many Impacts of Self-Stigma
      American Psychiatric Association: Stigma and Discrimination Around Mental Health
    7. Barriers To Accessing Behavioral Health Care - And How Virtual Care Can Help

      It’s estimated that almost half of all Americans will experience a mental health issue at some point in their lives. We’ve discussed some of these issues in previous posts - Generalized Anxiety Disorder, Major Depressive Disorder, PTSD, Bipolar Disorder to name a few. Although research shows that 76% of Americans believe behavioral health is just as important as physical health, and 56% want to access a mental healthcare provider, there are many barriers. This article discusses those hurdles, as well as possible solutions to getting every individual the care they deserve.
      Reasons For Not Being Able To Access Behavioral Health Services
      Lack of access to behavioral health providers does not come as a surprise to most Americans. 74% of us do not believe such services are accessible for everyone, and almost half of us (47%) believe options are limited. This is a situation that must be addressed, as without readily accessed mental health services, there can be a significant impact on jobs, relationships, and overall physical health on the individual level. And these individual impacts ultimately affect the economy as a whole.
      There are a multitude of reasons for not being able to access behavioral healthcare.
      Shortage Of Providers. There are mental health professional shortage areas in every state, according to a study by the Kaiser Family Foundation. This same study showed that nearly 40% of Americans live in regions with a shortage of mental health providers, leading to limited or delayed access to services. Regional shortages cause long wait times (38% of those trying to get help waited longer than a week for care), and some people simply give up rather than wait. Unfortunately, one of the main issues resulting from the behavioral healthcare shortage is that 60% of mental healthcare visits are through a primary care provider and not the specialty care that is necessary to truly address mental health. 
      Transportation To Facilities. Related to the above is the fact that not all individuals have reliable transportation to healthcare - whether that is because of the distance they have to travel to seek help or the fact that they have their own mobility issues. This issue often impacts low-income communities, disabled individuals, and those who live in rural areas. 46% of patients report that they or someone they know has had to travel more than an hour to access care in a timely manner.
      Lack Of Awareness Or Understanding Of Where Or How To Get Help. While most Americans do try to find care, research shows that 29% who wanted treatment for themselves or loved ones did not seek it because they didn’t know where to go. Leading to a greater need for visibility and education to help identify behavioral health issues and understanding the right type of care to seek for treatment.
      Stigma. Several weeks ago, we wrote about the stigma around behavioral health that causes people to avoid or delay seeking treatment due to their perception that they may be treated differently, or that seeking treatment may impact their jobs or social status. In fact, research shows that nearly one-third of Americans worry about others judging them when they told them they sought mental health services. And a study specific to older adults found that the most commonly reported barrier to treatment for that age group was the personal belief that "I should not need help". 
      How Virtual Behavioral Health Care Can Help
      So how do we address this problem? The issues are complex and will likely require further study and changes to public policy and education. But virtual behavioral health care (also called telebehavioral health) may be one of the solutions. Virtual care expands access to providers, eliminates the problem of transportation or mobility, reduces wait times, and eases concerns about the stigma since visits take place in the privacy and convenience of patients’ homes.
      The CDC recently concluded that “telehealth… can improve health care access outcomes, particularly for chronic disease treatment and vulnerable groups.” Another published, peer-reviewed study found that “behavioral health virtual visits deliver the same outcomes as in-person visits for many conditions, and meet the same standards of care set by the National Committee for Quality Association.” And the good news is that 45% of Americans who have not already tried virtual behavioral health services said they would be open to the idea of trying it to address a current or future mental health need.
      Considering A Career In Telebehavioral Health Or Know Someone Who Could Benefit From Virtual Access To A Licensed Mental Health Professional?
      Telemynd offers patients the ability to connect with providers from the safety and convenience of their homes. Providers can join our network by applying online. If you’re a patient, choose your current insurance provider to request an appointment or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today!
      Sources
      UnitedHealthcare
      National Council for Behavioral Health
      NIH
    8. How Friends Can Strengthen Mental Health

      It may seem obvious that having supportive friends makes us feel better, but did you know scientists have proven a link between our friendships and mental health? In one study, people who lacked social support were more likely to suffer from mental health disorders such like anxiety and depression. In another study, the presence of social support systems correlated to faster remission of major depressive symptoms. As the saying goes, friendship - defined as affection, emotional attachment, intimacy, and trust between two people - is “having someone who understands your past, believes in your future, and accepts you just the way you are.”
      But why is this? How can something as simple as having friends have such a positive psychological impact on us?
      Five Mental Health Benefits Of Friendship
      Humans are social animals by nature. The power of true friendship can be invaluable, but at times, we need a little extra help. If you are living with a mental health condition such as depression or anxiety, you know how comforting it can feel to just talk with someone. Good friendships also have additional benefits, such as increased feelings of belonging, increased levels of happiness, as well as improved self-worth and confidence. Here are five benefits of friendships that can help our mental health.
      Improve Our Mood. Friends can boost our mood by being there for us, whether it’s virtually or socially distanced. There is a simple pleasure in being in the company of other people we like, and it can be a relief to talk to someone else about how you’re feeling. Friends can also provide a distraction: a good laugh with friends releases endorphins (the feel-good hormones) into our bodies. Perhaps even better, research suggests maintaining strong friendships can help you cope with stress more effectively and help lower your chances of facing some types of stress in the first place.
      Provide A Sense Of Belonging. We all want to know that we matter to others — and that our life has purpose. Knowing you have a supportive network of friends can help you feel more secure in your life. Even when your friends are in different places, you still have those connections to trusted individuals who always have your back. And when you care for others, you take on the responsibility of offering compassion and emotional support, which can make you a stronger, better person too.
      Avoid Feelings Of Loneliness. Loneliness and social isolation can affect mental and physical well-being. A chat with friends can reduce the stress of feeling alone and provide us with a much-needed distraction. And even when you can’t get together in person, simply knowing you share a strong connection with friends can help you feel less alone.
      Keep Us Motivated. If you want to create positive change in your life, friends can help you maintain your resolve to practice healthier habits. They’ll cheer you on and might also support your choices by making changes with you. This encouragement can boost your self-confidence, increasing your chances of success. And friends can also help us make changes for the better by providing good examples.
      Support Us Through Challenges. A good friend can help cheer us up and offer support when we need it most. Knowing that support is available can improve feelings of security and help to protect against compounded stress. In fact, research suggests that if you have strong friendships, you’ll probably find it easier to handle the challenges that life throws at you. This study also found that while family support also helps boost immediate resilience, good friendships are an even better predictor of greater resilience throughout life.
      Talking To Friends About Mental Health Issues
      So there are many positive impacts of having good friends. No matter what you’re going through, healthy and close friendships encourage better mental health and well-being. But sometimes it can feel hard to talk to them about mental health issues. If you decide to tell your friends about your mental health condition, don’t be frustrated if they don’t understand right away. Answer questions they may have and remember that they are trying to understand your experience in their own way. If they are still unable to grasp it, be thankful for your time with them and the effort taken to try and comprehend what you’re experiencing. If you are the friend or relative, consider doing some more research to learn about the condition, and remember to check in on your friend regularly, your support can make a huge difference.
      Getting Together Safely During The Pandemic
      Recently the CDC has amended its guidelines for casual get-togethers with friends. While most of the time, we must continue to socially distance and wear masks, we may now “visit with other fully vaccinated people or those who have a low risk of serious infection indoors without wearing masks or staying 6 feet apart.” Read more about CDC guidelines here.
      Considering A Career In Telebehavioral Health Or Know Someone Who Could Benefit From Virtual Access To Licensed Behavioral Health Professionals?
      Telemynd offers patients the ability to connect with providers from the safety and convenience of their homes. Providers can join our network by applying online. If you’re a patient, choose your current insurance provider to request an appointment or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today!
      Sources
      National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI): Friendship and Mental Health PLOS One: Social network structure is predictive of health and wellness
      NIH: The correlation of social support with mental health: A meta-analysis
    9. Building Support For Those Struggling With Mental Health Issues

      Last week, we wrote about how a good social support system of friends can help strengthen our mental health. Friends benefit us by providing a sense of belonging, keeping us motivated, and supporting us through challenging times, among other things. So in this article, we thought it would be a good idea to demonstrate specific ways that friends and family members can support those struggling with mental health issues, as well as to highlight support resources in the community beyond friends and family.
      How To Support Friends Or Family With Mental Illness
      First, know that there is no ‘one size fits all’ way to support someone with a behavioral health issue. How you provide support depends on their issues and needs, as well as your relationship with them. But at the top of the list is knowing the warning signs of mental health problems; in fact, you may be able to spot these before someone recognizes them in themselves. For example, if someone withdraws from social interaction, or has unusual problems functioning at school or work, or has dramatic changes in sleep and appetite, it may be a good idea to encourage them to see a medical professional to rule out specific mental health issues. 
      The following are additional ways to offer support:
      Offer to be available for support. They may not even realize you are ready to be there for them, so make sure that they know they are not alone. Reassure them that you care about them – even if they don’t always feel like talking or being with you, it can be a comfort just to know that you care.
      Ask what you can do to help. You can leave this open-ended (“I want to know how I can best support you.”) or suggest specific tasks that might be helpful (“Can I drive you to your appointment?”).
      Don't try to diagnose or second guess their feelings. Try not to make assumptions about what is wrong or jump in too quickly with your own diagnosis or solutions. 
      Listen patiently. Allow the person to talk openly with you without hearing dismissal of their thoughts or feelings. If they choose to share personal information with you, don’t share it with others. (However, if you hear talk of suicide, contact the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255), Option 1)
      Stay calm and low-key. It’s possible that the person you care for may have very challenging and complex behavior. 
      Talk about suggestions for wellbeing. For example, ways of de-stressing or practicing self-care like exercising, eating a healthy diet, and getting a good night’s sleep.
      Experts advise that in supporting a friend with mental health issues, you don’t need to be available 24/7. Nor should you put yourself in danger to watch over your friend, or stay in a relationship that’s not working for you. At the end of the day, you aren’t responsible for another person’s mental health, so take care of yourself while you are taking care of them.
      Finding Local & National Support Mental Health Resources
      Beyond the support of family and friends, there are also community resources for mental health, and even resources at the national level – all of which can provide helpful information and services. To find help at a local level, reach out to medical professionals, and also check your local library, place of worship, or community center to learn about nearby resources. The National Association of State Mental Health Program Directors lists the names and contact information of public officials who head up each state’s mental health program.
      Also consider joining a virtual or in-person support group to connect with people who are facing similar mental health diagnoses or are caring for someone with similar issues. The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has an online resource that can direct you to local support groups, as does the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.
      At the national level, we have a Mental Health Crisis Resource Center to locate not-for-profit organizations and government entities provide high-quality information and resources for various types of behavioral health issues.
      Considering A Career In Telebehavioral Health Or Know Someone Who Could Benefit From Virtual Access To Licensed Behavioral Health Professionals?
      Telemynd offers patients the ability to connect with providers from the safety and convenience of their homes. Providers can join our network by applying online. If you’re a patient, choose your current insurance provider to request an appointment or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today!
      Sources
      American Psychiatric Association: Helping a Loved One Cope with a Mental Illness
      Psychology Today: How to Help a Loved One with Mental Illness
      National Alliance on Mental illness (NAMI): Community Support Builds Better Lives
    10. Study Correlates Stress & Lack Of Sleep To Experiencing Concussion-Like Symptoms

      Most of us know that a good night’s sleep is important to good health. It’s critical to maintaining brain cognition, concentration, and productivity. Sleep also improves immune function, staves off serious conditions like diabetes and stroke, and maintains our ability to deal with the challenges of everyday life. A new study has also found that many of us could be coping with concussion-like symptoms such as confusion, low energy, and memory loss due to a lack of sleep and compounded stress. 
      Participants Included Cadets From U.S. Military Academies & College Athletes
      The research published in the January issue of Journal Sports Medicine was conducted by the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium, a founding alliance between the NCAA and U.S. Department of Defense. Participants included cadets within U.S. military service academies – who undergo rigorous training and are required to participate in athletics – and students who competed in NCAA sports at 26 U.S. colleges.
      Study Results
      Researchers found between 11% and 17% of healthy college or military academy athletes with no history of recent concussion were reporting multiple symptoms – such as memory loss, low energy, and dizziness – that met the criteria for post-concussion syndrome (also known as PCS). The study found lack of sleep, pre-existing mental health conditions, and stress were the most common predictors for these concussion-like symptoms. Furthermore, between 50% and 75% of the athletes surveyed had at least one concussion symptom, with the most common being fatigue, low energy, or drowsiness.
      Women who participated in the study reported more symptoms than men: among cadets, 17.8% of men and 27.6% of women experienced concussion-like symptoms, and among NCAA athletes, 11.4% of men and 20% of women. The study concluded that a history of depression or ADHD were key contributing factors for NCAA athletes who experienced PCS-like symptoms.
      "The numbers were high, and were consistent with previous research in this area, but it is quite shocking," said lead researcher Jaclyn Caccese, assistant professor at The Ohio State University School of Health and Rehabilitation Sciences. "These are elite athletes who are physically fit, and they are experiencing that many symptoms commonly reported following concussion. So looking across the general population, they'd probably experience even more."
      What Are Typical Symptoms?
      A concussion can affect your memory, judgment, reflexes, speech, energy level, balance, and muscle coordination. Individuals who have had a recent concussion or are experiencing PCS-like conditions may act confused or dazed. Other symptoms can include:
      Headaches
      Nausea or vomiting
      Memory loss
      Ringing ears
      Difficulty concentrating
      Sensitivity to light
      Loss of smell or taste
      Fatigue and drowsiness
      A key takeaway related to those who have not had a recent concussion may be experiencing identical symptoms due to lack of sleep and/or the burden of stress being carried.
      What Do Experts Recommend?
      The research was originally designed to gather additional information regarding the effects and recovery of concussion for student-athletes at colleges and military service academies. Concussions are a known problem in sports, particularly contact sports such as football. 
      Scientists who performed the research stated the results have implications for how we treat concussions in college athletes as well as how the general population manages sleep and stress.     For example, they suggest athletes recovering from concussions be assessed and treated on a highly individualized basis. In addition, knowing athletes' medical history and baseline symptoms can help clinicians predict which pre-existing factors contribute to concussion recovery times, and ultimately improve treatment and recovery.
      For those of us who’re not college athletes, self-awareness and recognizing when our sleep cycle is being disrupted or how stress has been negatively impacting our daily lives is essential. Place greater emphasis on addressing the issues as they arise or develop healthier mechanisms for coping with the guidance of a mental health therapist. Difficulty sleeping or stress related to underlying mental health disorders such as anxiety or depression should always be diagnosed by a qualified and licensed behavioral health specialist.  
      Consider Telebehavioral Health
      Telemynd offers patients the ability to connect with providers from the safety and convenience of their homes. If you’re someone seeking mental health services, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today! If you’re a behavioral health provider wanting to join our network, apply online. 
      Sources
      Journal Sports Medicine, 01.11.21: Factors Associated with Symptom Reporting in U.S. Service Academy Cadets and NCAA Student-Athletes without Concussion: Findings from the CARE Consortium
      Concussion Legacy Foundation: What is Post-Concussion Syndrome
    11. Telebehavioral Health — The Accelerated Adoption & Growing Demand

      I believe it is safe to say that Covid-19 has caused widespread disruption to life as we knew it. School, work, travel, relationships - all shaken up during the pandemic - and with it, our mental health. Some of the latest research has found that 25% of US adults are experiencing significantly more anxiety this year than in the past, and 20% are experiencing more symptoms of depression now than in the past. The research also shows that the volume of calls to helplines has increased significantly over the past year.
      The disruptions to everyday life have increased the need for behavioral health care – which has put an even greater demand on what was an already limited supply of mental health providers. Here at Telemynd, we’ve found that providing mental health care virtually, also known as telebehavioral health, has proved to be an effective way to make sure everyone seeking quality care has access. In fact, we believe that if there’s a silver lining to the pandemic, it’s that the adoption of telemedicine by the industry and consumers alike, has been accelerated by at least 5 years. Every indication points to telebehavioral health being here to stay, and if you’re a provider, there may be no need to return to your brick and mortar office.
      Research Supports Overall Satisfaction & Effectiveness For Patients & Providers
      One study published in JIMR Formative Research suggests that more than half of people using telehealth want to keep receiving that care virtually post-pandemic. Another study found that 78% of patients who use telebehavioral health are very or extremely satisfied with their telehealth experiences, and 75% are more likely to continue to use it after the pandemic.
      In addition, in a recent survey of employers who offer healthcare benefits, 90% report that their focus on telemedicine increased during the pandemic, and 52% say virtual medicine will continue to be an important priority within their organization’s health care activities following the pandemic.
      It’s clear that the demand is there for telebehavioral health - but is it effective? The answer is a resounding ‘yes’. A published literature review found without question that “behavioral health virtual visits deliver the same outcomes as in-person visits for many conditions, and meet the same standards of care set by the National Committee for Quality Association.” 
      Our Own Data Shows Record Growth Levels Beyond The Pandemic

      At Telemynd, we’re seeing strong indications from payors and patients that telemedicine is their preferred method for the delivery of behavioral health care services. Between third quarter 2020 and second quarter 2021 we experienced 4X growth in new patients seeking mental health services, an upward trend we continued to see as we move through 2021 at a record-setting 61% increase in demand. Both clinicians and patients have demonstrated their ability to quickly adapt to telemedicine with no sign of slowing down, even in a post-pandemic world. 
      Telebehavioral Health Benefits — For Patients & Clinicians
      Many challenges have been addressed through the implementation of telebehavioral health, including:
      Minimal wait to connect with a quality mental health professional
      Expanded access for patients who may live in a rural area, have limited mobility, or reside in long-term care facilities
      Saving time with virtual screenings and evaluations
      Better treatment for chronic conditions and medication management
      Personalized care from home, which promotes willingness to share in settings they’re already comfortable in
      Eliminating the stigma often associated with seeking mental health services and providing additional patient privacy
      For clinicians, telebehavioral health has many benefits as well, such as:
      Removing the overhead and upkeep of a physical location
      More flexibility to schedule clients at a pace and level that supports your needs
      Added freedom to travel while seeing patients anywhere in the country
      Simple and reliable weekly income direct deposited with complete remittance reports from our finance team
      All of these benefits lead to a true work-life balance. Telebehavioral health is a win-win for clinicians and their patients!
      Telebehavioral Health Allows Clinicians To Be Better At What They Do
      With all the benefits and studies showing adoption and effectiveness, telebehavioral health can now be considered a fundamental component of our healthcare environment – in other words, it’s here to stay. Telemynd helps each provider who joins to expand their practice and eliminate the administrative burden. Giving reliable income and the ability to focus on what matters most — delivering quality mental health care to patients.
      Sources
      Futurity
      Willis Towers Watson
      American Psychological Association
      Journal of Internal Medicine
    12. Self-Care While Working at Home: Tips for Maintaining Healthy Work-Life Balance

      The COVID-19 pandemic has created a ‘new work normal’ for many of us. While around 7% of Americans worked from home regularly before the pandemic, now 33-50% regularly work from home. Working remotely seems great on the surface, as we get to avoid lengthy morning routines (especially if you’re also getting other family members ready for the day), long commutes, and common office distractions, like the cubemate who talks loudly on the phone. However, many of us have found that when those lines of separation between work, family time, and relaxation are blurred, it can actually lead to more stress. 
      Why is this? Mental health professionals say that things like lack of social contact with others, overworking, and loss of good sleep and eating habits - all of which can happen when we work from home - contribute to a more stressful work experience. They advise that in order to work smarter, and to reduce the chances of mental health issues like anxiety and depression, we should adopt a set of boundaries and routines when working remotely.
      Tips to maintain a healthy work-life balance while working from home
      The most important tip is to separate “work” and “life”. This means both dedicating a physical space to do your work that isn’t your bedroom, and separating your work and home activities throughout the day. For example, it can be tempting to use the time between meetings to do the dishes or the laundry, but this can ultimately lead to burnout.
      Other tips include:
      Establishing a routine. Routines and schedules help us feel a sense of control - so  when work routines are significantly altered, it can feel like we don’t know where to begin or how to be productive. Creating a new schedule can be a good way to regain that sense of control. Start with a robust morning routine – take a shower, meditate, get dressed, etc.  - before logging on for the day. And just like before the pandemic, it pays to remain flexible, as sometimes routines can change. 
      Taking regular breaks. In a normal in-office workday, you probably would have stopped to chat with a coworker, gotten up to refill your coffee or tea, or left the office for lunch. When you’re working from home it can be more difficult to find those break times. So try to schedule breaks on your calendar and hold yourself accountable to those times. During a break, you could go for a quick walk, play with your dog, or meditate if you are so inclined. By regularly removing yourself from the work environment for 10 or 15 minutes, you’ll feel refreshed and productive instead of feeling exhausted and unable to focus.
      Keeping a consistent sleep schedule. Even if you don’t have a meeting until 10am, get up on time anyway. Resist the urge to binge-watch Netflix late at night. The same wake and bedtimes are critical to self-care because they contribute to better overall sleep quality. Otherwise, you may find yourself feeling groggy during the day, or with fluctuations in energy. (And if that happens, it's much more productive to go outside and take a brief, brisk walk instead of taking a nap.)
      Eating healthy food. Stay hydrated throughout the day by filling up a water bottle and keeping it next to you at your desk. Resist the urge to snack all day long - it's so easy  to keep running to the fridge - especially if you are stressed. But if you're particularly challenged by this, consider making your lunch in advance, just as you would have for the office. And be sure to have lots of healthy snacks and less junk food in the house.
      Having a clock-out time. It’s very easy when you work from home to keep working into the evening - to “just answer an email or two to get caught up”. But that can lead to burnout over time. To be as effective as possible at your job, know when to start and to quit for the day. Set your ‘do not disturb’ notifications between 5pm and 8am for example. Resist the urge to check email in the evening and on weekends. Turn off the sound on your phone or laptop so you don't hear the email and message notifications as they come in.
      Making an appointment for “you time”. Self-care isn’t just about long baths and glasses of wine. It means prioritizing the things that you love - whether that’s reading, hiking, visiting with friends, or whatever makes you feel happy and relaxed. It's about finding healthy ways to comfort yourself, setting priorities, staying connected, and creating structure. In this way, you build a stronger foundation for yourself and your career. 
      If you or someone you love shows signs of too much stress or anxiety, consider consulting a behavioral health professional
      If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today! If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
      Sources
      Wall Street Journal
      The National Sleep Foundation
      Griffis, Hailley
    13. New Survey Reveals How Stress Can Significantly Impact Our Ability To Make Decisions

      Do you find yourself having trouble thinking about big decisions like whether to switch jobs, start or end a relationship, or move to a new city? Or even more basic daily decisions like where to go on vacation, or how to organize your day? If so, you’re not alone - and stress may be having an impact on your decision-making ability.
      The American Psychological Association (APA) in concert with The Harris Poll just released the results of their 2021 Stress in America survey. This online survey was conducted in August among adults who reside in all parts of the U.S., and reveals that the uncertainty associated with life during the pandemic has caused day-to-day stress to feel overwhelming for the majority of us. Further, this stress has made daily tasks and decision-making more difficult, particularly for younger adults and parents. This post looks at the startling results of this survey and includes suggestions for dealing with everyday stress.
      61% say the pandemic has made them rethink how they are living their lives
      Major sources of stress, according to the survey, include:
      Work (66%)
      Money / finances (61%)
      The economy (59%)
      Family responsibility (57%)
      Personal health (52%)
      The top 2 sources of stress (work and money) are up
      More than one-third of survey respondents said it has been more stressful to make both day-to-day and major life decisions compared with before the pandemic. Younger adults were more likely to feel both kinds of decisions are more stressful now (daily decisions: 40% of Gen Z adults, 46% of millennials, and 39% of Gen Xers vs. 24% of boomers, and 14% of older adults; major decisions: 50% of Gen Z adults and 45% of millennials vs. 33% of Gen Xers, 24% of boomers, and 6% of older adults). 
      Over 60% of all respondents say they have begun to question how they are living their lives and whether they are making the right decisions about it - and increased stress plays a big part of this: 63% say that uncertainty about what the next few months will hold causes them even more stress, and 49% say that the pandemic has made planning for their future virtually impossible.
      Parents are citing significantly more stress over the past 18 months
      ‘Decision-making fatigue’ seems to have had a disproportionate impact on parents, given the big changes to schedules and everyday routines during the pandemic. Many say they are struggling to manage households divided by vaccination status, with one set of rules for vaccinated adults and kids over 12, and another for the younger, unvaccinated kids (although this should resolve soon as the FDA recently authorized a COVID-19 vaccine for 5- to 11-year-olds).
      According to the survey, parents with children under 18 were more likely than those without children to say that both day-to-day decisions and major life decisions are more stressful than pre-pandemic (daily: 47% vs. 30%; major: 44% vs. 31%), with 54% of those with younger children under 5 reporting that day-to-day decisions have become more stressful.
      The real science behind our inability to make decisions when feeling stressed
      Multiple research studies have found that stress has a broad impact on the brain regions involved in decision-making processes. One study found that not only is the methodology of our decision-making altered under stress, but also our ability to make reliable cost-benefit evaluations necessary for bigger life decisions. Stress can cause us to focus too much on potential rewards and too little on potential risks; or put another way, stress biases our decisions toward comfortable (but potentially negative) habits rather than on goals. This obviously becomes problematic when weighing life-changing decisions, such as changing careers or having a baby, for example.
      Suggestions for coping with everyday stress
      It’s not all bad news. The survey did find that U.S. adults maintain an overall positive outlook. 70% said they were confident that everything will work out after the pandemic, and 77% said that overall they are faring ok. What to do if you are feeling more stressed than usual these days? Experts suggest things like:
      Building in regular exercise to your routine - even a brisk, 20 min walk can work wonders to relieve stress
      Eating a balanced diet and limiting alcohol
      Getting enough sleep
      Connecting with supportive friends and family (and the key here is ‘supportive’)
      Making time for hobbies and fun
      Spending quality time with a pet
      Trying meditation, journaling, or yoga if you don’t already practice these 
      Feeling prolonged stress or anxiety? Consider Telemynd
      Request an appointment online or call our care team for assistance in scheduling a session today. Our mental health professionals understand the link between current stresses and mental health. If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our team, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
      Sources
      American Psychological Association
      Journal of Neuroscience Research
      The Decision Lab
    14. Long-COVID And Its Impact On Mental Health

      As the pandemic nears the 21-month mark, we’re hearing from more and more COVID-19 survivors that the virus’ impact can last beyond the first few weeks of symptoms. For some patients, COVID-19 has a long-term, far-reaching effect on their daily lives, impacting them physically, cognitively, and even emotionally - this is what’s being called “long-haul COVID”, “post-acute COVID” or just “long COVID”. 
      Research shows that about 10% of those who’ve had COVID-19 get long COVID. The odds go up to 22% for those 70 or older. Experts don’t yet know exactly why people get long COVID, although many now believe that it’s not caused by just one thing; that there are multiple diseases happening. One thing we do know are its symptoms. People with long COVID may experience joint pain, headache, stomach cramps, a pins-and-needles feeling, heart palpitations, and more. One study found that even after 100 days, patients still reported fatigue, shortness of breath, loss of memory, concentration difficulties, and sleep disorders.
      Long COVID also appears to impact mental health - studies show that about 1/3 of those who experience long COVID also develop a mental health issue - primarily depression or anxiety disorders. In this article, we discuss what the latest research says about long COVID’s impact on mental health and what can be done to address it.
      Multiple explanations exist for the link between long COVID and mental health
      Scientists now know that in general, COVID-19 isn't just a respiratory illness, but a disease that affects many critical organs, including the brain. COVID-19 patients often experience neurological complications, such as confusion, delirium, and other cognitive impairments - which may help explain some of the psychological effects of the disease.
      In addition, patients living with long COVID may be unable to exercise, socialize, or work - or otherwise live their lives as before. They may be battling feelings of hopelessness and fear that COVID could affect the rest of their lives. All of this can have a significant impact on emotional well-being. Some patients may have spent long periods of time in the hospital and/or in the ICU, which can be deeply stressful or even traumatizing. 
      Echoing this, researchers at University College London interviewed Long COVID patients and found five “themes” which influenced their mental well-being, including: the availability (or lack of availability) of care and understanding from others, perceived lack of treatment options, disruption to ordinary living caused by their symptoms, the lack of clarity about the outcome of their illness, and the changes it caused to their identity
      How can we address the mental health impacts of long COVID?
      As with most mental health disorders, the first place to turn is to a qualified mental health professional. The American Psychological Association reports that many existing psychological and behavioral therapies — like talk therapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), group therapy, and peer support, for example — seem to be effective treatments for aspects of long COVID’s psychological symptoms.
      Family members and friends should be validating and supportive when Long COVID patients report psychological symptoms. The University College London research mentioned above found that, as expected, people who felt supported and cared for by their social network and by health professionals were less anxious or depressed than those who did not.
      Interestingly, treating the mental health symptoms of long COVID can also help alleviate some of the physical symptoms, as long COVID has a bidirectional association with physical and mental health. In other words, the ‘mind-body relationship’ may be driving some symptoms, and so addressing them on multiple fronts can be highly effective in reducing their impact.
      If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of long COVID or showing signs of anxiety or depression, consider consulting a behavioral health professional
      If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today. Our mental health professionals understand the link between COVID-19 and mental health. If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
      Sources
      Journal of Infection
      NPR
      The Lancet Psychiatry
      The American Psychological Association (APA)
    15. Parental Burnout: The Symptoms & Science Behind It

      Parental burnout is real. In fact, it's a diagnosable mental health condition. And the pandemic has made it worse. A survey called “Stress in the Time of Covid-19,” conducted by the Harris Poll with the American Psychological Association, found that 46% of parents with children under 18 said their stress level was very high. Whether it's working longer hours, coordinating working from home with child care, adjusting to new sets of rules, making sure school-aged kids do homework assignments and get to sports practice on time, or just worrying about keeping them safe in the pandemic (and thankfully, the CDC has recently approved vaccines for kids aged 5 and over), there’s a lot on the minds of parents these days. In this article, we look at the research behind parental burnout and ways to mitigate it.
      What are the symptoms of parental burnout?
      Parental burnout is a distinct psychological phenomenon separate from parents feeling generally stressed and tired (and the latter is pretty normal). Parents typically don’t burn out overnight - it's a longer process - although those feelings of irritability and exhaustion may be early warning signs of something bigger. The World Health Organization recently recognized parental burnout syndrome in its International Classification of Diseases as an occupational condition linked to symptoms such as fatigue, changing sleep habits, and substance use. 
      To receive an official diagnosis of parental burnout, you need the following four specific symptoms:
      You feel so exhausted you can’t get out of bed in the morning You become emotionally detached from your children; you might even have trouble showing them how much you love them You take no pleasure or joy in parenting, and have become less productive in the process These feelings are a marked change in behavior for you The science behind parental burnout
      Much of the recent understanding of parental burnout came from a peer-reviewed, published study done at a Belgian university in 2018. Scientists there found that burnout is much more common than previously understood and that it is associated with four primary factors: exhaustion in the parenting role, contrast with previous parental self, feelings of being fed up with the parenting role, and emotional distancing from children. Primary researcher Isabelle Roskam, PhD, concluded that, “...Parental burnout can be very damaging. As regards to the parents themselves, it can give rise to suicidal and escape ideations, which are much more frequent in parental burnout than in job burnout or even depression. This finding is not surprising considering that one cannot resign from one’s parenting role or be put on sick leave from one’s children.”
      A follow-on study done at the same university and published in Frontiers in Psychology, found that although mothers with parental burnout syndrome seem to share some of the same characteristics as postpartum depression, parental burnout differs in that it occurs in mothers with children over 18 months old, and the depressive feelings are not generalized, but experienced specifically in relation to one’s parenting role and tasks.
      Ways to address parental burnout
      The first thing to do if you are feeling symptoms of parental burnout is to talk to a qualified behavioral health professional. This condition is real, so take it seriously. They can help diagnose your condition and come up with a treatment plan that may include some combination of therapy and medication. 
      In addition, experts suggest the following:
      Try to reduce perfectionism. Ask yourself “do I actually have to do everything I think I have to do at this moment?” Set up a structure or framework for each day (although it can be flexible). Experts suggest talking with family members and prioritizing by dividing activities into 3 categories: absolute non-negotiables, things you want to see happen, and things you would like to see happen. In this way, everyone’s expectations are on the same page. Look for the positives - even if it feels as if you are forcing yourself at first. Gratitude has been scientifically linked to improved mood. One way to feel more effective might be to keep a journal in which you write down one thing you did well as a parent every day. Schedule time for fun and relaxation - for you and for your family. It's easier said than done, but engaging in activities, guilt-free, that are good for you, not just good for your kids, will make a big difference. Take a walk outside, call a friend, make time for the gym, or promise yourself one episode of a favorite show at least once a week. If you or someone you know are experiencing symptoms of parental burnout, consider consulting a behavioral health professional
      If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today. Our mental health professionals understand parental burnout and have experience treating it. If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
      Sources
      New York Times
      American Psychological Association
      Journal of Affective Science
      Frontiers in Psychology
    16. Horsing Around: Telemynd Team Member Explains Recreational Therapy For Veterans

      Caroline Kocot, MS, BSW, describes her equine (horse) therapy work with veterans and their families as “incredibly rewarding.” Caroline, who has a degree in social work from Indiana University, is currently a Provider Relations Coordinator with Telemynd, routinely meeting with new providers interested in joining Telemynd’s extensive behavioral health network. 
      Before Telemynd, Caroline worked with innovative therapeutic programs like Bradford Woods Outdoor Center and Battle Buddies, employing therapy techniques like equine therapy - a type of recreational therapy (also called therapeutic recreation). Evidence-based programs like these use outdoor activities - in this case, games and exercises with horses - to help veterans transition back to civilian life while living with the effects of PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injury, or other combat-related disabilities. Caroline says she enjoyed it so much that she continues to spend her weekends at the programs as often as she can.
      Caroline spoke with us recently about her experiences working with veterans and about how therapists use the connection between people and horses to enhance physical or emotional healing.
      Veterans face unique challenges when they separate from military service and return to civilian life
      Even the most resilient of our veterans can find re-adjustment stressful, and unfortunately, these challenges are also often associated with mental health issues like PTSD, depression, and anxiety. And it's not just soldiers who suffer - studies have found that lengths of deployments are associated with emotional difficulties among military children and spouses too - which is why the programs that Caroline works with involve the families of veterans too.
      Traumatic military events such as combat, accidents, or deaths in the field involving themselves or colleagues can have long-lasting negative effects on vets - such as trouble sleeping, anger, nightmares, and alcohol and drug abuse - all symptoms of PTSD. A JAMA Psychiatry study found the rate of PTSD to be 15 times higher in returning veterans than in civilians. The same study found the rate of depression in returning vets to be 5 times higher than for civilians. Worse still, almost 10% of veterans reported a recent suicide attempt in the last year. These are behavioral health trends that must be addressed.
      What is recreational therapy, and how does it help veterans?
      The National Council for Therapeutic Recreation defines recreational therapy as “treatment services and recreation activities using techniques including arts and crafts, animals, sports, movement, drama, music, and community outings. Recreational therapists are specially trained therapists who treat and help maintain the mental and emotional well-being of their clients by seeking to reduce depression, stress, and anxiety, build confidence, and socialize effectively.”
      Recreational therapy offers an innovative approach to managing mental health issues such as behavior management, anger management, coping and adjustment, stress management, and substance abuse. This type of therapy engages individuals and their families to collaborate and cooperate - in activities that may feel like play - in order to accomplish their goals. Caroline’s work with individuals and horses included activities like walks and (easy) obstacle courses with horses, grooming horses, and even finger painting on the sides of horses (she says the horses love this, as it feels like being groomed). She says, “...but it's more than play. This is evidence-based therapy, and it's working.”
      Research shows that as a result of participating in recreational therapy, individuals develop a better sense of self-control and competency - which may be missing from their lives. Riding and caring for horses appears to improve self-esteem and anxiety. Other benefits may include:
      Promoting general well-being and health Enhancing mood and lessening psychological stress levels Improving teamwork, trust, communication, and social interaction with others Enhancing resilience and helping to overcome negative past experiences Diminishing the focus from disability toward ability, increasing independence, and restoring quality of life Lessons learned from working with veterans and recreational therapy
      Caroline says her experience has taught her that there is a multitude of approaches to addressing behavioral health issues with which many veterans live and that recreational therapy may be the right fit for many. However, she stresses that it's really important to stay the course and not give up if one therapeutic approach does not work. She says, “there are resources and help out there; keep asking for it, and don’t give up if one method doesn't seem to work. As the old adage says, “try, try again”.”
      If you or a veteran you know are experiencing symptoms of PTSD, depression, or anxiety, consider consulting a behavioral health professional
      There are recreational and equine therapy programs located across the U.S. Many involve outdoor activities like the programs Caroline works with. A behavioral health professional is a good place to start to find out more about recreational therapy, local programs, and if this kind of therapy is the right fit for you. If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today. Our mental health professionals understand the issues facing veterans and their families and have experience treating them. If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
    17. More Than a Cute Face: How Companion Animals Can Help Us Manage Stress

      70% of US households have at least one pet and most of us view our companion animals as valued members of our families. We love them, we share our homes, our food, and our lives with them. And it turns out that they give back - in spades. Not only do our companion animals love us back and provide friendship, joy, and fun - but it turns out that they can help reduce stress and anxiety too. And by the way, a pet doesn’t have to be a cat or dog - rabbits, guinea pigs, birds, even reptiles can also provide stress relief. In this article, we’ll discuss the science of this human-animal bond, and explain why it's so beneficial.
      Multiple research studies confirm the benefits of companion animals
      The human-animal bond is defined as “the mutually beneficial relationship between people and other animals that is influenced by behaviors that are essential to the well-being of both.” Studies show an increase in oxytocin levels in the brains of both humans and animals when they interact positively with each other, and it may be that this explains the neuroscience of the bond.
      Taking this a step further, research has found that “pets are able to provide unique emotional support as a result of their ability to respond to their owners in an intuitive way, especially in times of crisis and stress.” Another study showed that the presence of a companion animal “buffers against the negative consequences of stress.” Yet another study on military veterans showed significant findings for the “benefits of animal companionship for veterans with PTSD, including effects on reducing feelings of loneliness, depression, worry and irritability, and increased feelings of calmness.” 
      How do companion animals help reduce stress?
      One of the reasons for these beneficial effects is that companion animals fulfill the basic human need for touch. Intuitively, we know that patting or hugging an animal - a form of sensory stress relief - can calm and soothe us. And, animals tend to live in the moment — they don’t worry about what happened in the past or what might happen in the future. Therefore, they can help us become more mindful and to appreciate the present moment with less worry.
      In addition, companion animals help us in the following ways:
      Increase exercise and play. Taking a dog for a walk or hike - or even playing with a cat in the house - are fun and rewarding ways to fit daily activity into your schedule. In fact, studies have shown that dog owners are far more likely to meet their daily exercise requirements. And the more exercise and activity you get, the less stress you’ll feel. Keep us connected. Pets can be a great way to feel part of a community of “dog people” or “cat people”, for example, and can help spark conversations and meet new people in pet stores, clubs, or training classes. Staying social and feeling connected is a great way to reduce stress. Provide a sense of security and calm. The presence of a companion animal at home can help provide a sense of security, ease separation anxiety in kids, and make us feel important -  therefore helping to maintain a positive self-image. Add structure and routine to the day. Most pets require a regular feeding, cleaning, and exercise schedule. Having a consistent routine keeps our pets balanced and calm—and works the same way for us, too. Having a pet to care for makes us get out of bed in the morning, no matter how bad the day may seem. Animals in therapy
      Companion animals can be a valuable complement to regular therapy for individuals dealing with anxiety or depression. A study published in Frontiers in Psychology concluded that animal-assisted intervention may prove a good complementary option for trauma and other mental health issues. This study found that ‘therapy animals’:
      can act as a comforting reminder that all is calm and safe, act as a base for mindful experiences in the present, and  elicit positive emotions and warmth. To this end, you can find many successful therapy animal programs which visit hospitals, retirement homes, hospice centers, nursing homes, and schools. If this is something you might be interested in, a behavioral health specialist is a good place to start to find out more about these programs and to learn if a companion animal might provide stress relief for you.
      If you or a loved one are experiencing symptoms of stress or anxiety, consider consulting a behavioral health professional
      If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today. Our mental health professionals understand how to recognize and treat stress and anxiety, and can help explore animal-assisted interventions. If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
      Sources
      Journal Animals
      BMC Psychiatry
      NIH News in Health
      Frontiers in Psychology
    18. 10 Books To Better Understanding Mental Health Issues In 2022

      New year; new resolutions, right? Let this be the year we try to better understand issues surrounding mental health - for ourselves and for our friends and loved ones who may be dealing with them. In this spirit, we’ve curated 10 books that may be helpful to both clinicians and individuals who want to learn more about mental health issues such as depression, anxiety, bipolar disease, PTSD, OCD, postpartum depression, and more. We broke them into two categories for ease of organization. The factors we considered when choosing which books to feature included: positive reader reviews, consistently high ratings, and author qualifications. All of these books are available at amazon and other online retailers, as well as in independent bookstores. Which books would you add to the list?
      Books about and/or authored by people living with mental health disorders
       
      A Beautiful Mind: The Life of Mathematical Genius and Nobel Laureate John Nash by Sylvia Nasar
      This iconic and Pulitzer Prize-nominated story of mathematical genius John Forbes Nash, whose brilliant career was cut short by schizophrenia, was published in 1997 but remains a classic, especially after it was turned into an award-winning movie starring Russell Crowe. Nash was eventually honored with a Nobel Prize in Economics, but struggled with schizophrenia his whole life. The book describes his mental health journey and its effects on his family, friends and career.
       
      Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me: Depression in the First Person by Anna Mehler Paperny
      After hitting a breaking point in her early 20s, journalist Anna Paperny decided to do what she does best - use her investigative skills to find out everything she could about her own debilitating condition - depression. And thanks to that quest for knowledge, readers benefit from her concise descriptions of everything from types of therapy available to the effects of medication to the stigma around mental illness. Includes interviews with leading medical experts in the US and Canada.
       
      Everything Here Is Beautiful by Mira T. Lee
      One sister starts hearing voices while the other struggles to find a way to support and protect her in this book about how mental illness impacts friends, family, and caregivers. The book chronicles bipolar disease from the caregivers’ perspective - how one must always walk a bittersweet tightrope between helping and protecting, and backing off to provide independence.
       
      The Man Who Couldn’t Stop: OCD and the True Story of a Life Lost in Thought by David Adam
      The author is a noted scientist and editor at The Journal Nature, and has lived with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD) for 20 years. This multiple award-winning book is an exploration of both his mind and the history of the condition that makes his mind a hectic place. He explains what it's like to be plagued by intrusive and obsessive thoughts and compulsions, like hoarding and his multiple but necessary home rituals, and provides research into the history of OCD diagnosis and treatment.
       
      Down Came the Rain: My Journey Through Postpartum Depression by Brooke Shields
      When actor Brooke Shields welcomed her daughter Rowan Francis into the world, something unexpected followed – debilitating postpartum depression. She assumed she’d bounce back in a few days - but things only got worse. This honest memoir offers a first-person perspective on the devastating condition faced by millions of women after giving birth. Shields talks candidly about her struggles and offers hope for recovery by describing her own.
       
      Irritable Hearts: A PTSD Love Story by Mac McClelland
      Human rights journalist Mac McClelland spent 2010 reporting on Haiti’s earthquake but when she returned home to California, she was surprised by the lasting effects of the trauma she’d witnessed - nightmares, anxiety, insomnia, crying jags and more. After a diagnosis of PTSD, and in an attempt to help herself heal, she began investigating PTSD, its symptoms and treatment, and how she experienced it in her own mind. 
       
      Books written to help those living with mental health disorders
       
      Permission to Come Home: Reclaiming Mental Health as Asian-Americans by Dr. Jenny Wang
      The author is the founder of the Asian, Pacific Islander, and South Asian American (APISAA) Therapist Directory and created this comprehensive resource especially for Asian-Americans, immigrants, and other minorities who may be experiencing behavioral health issues, to provide resources for improving self-care and mental health - a community she feels is underserved for various reasons.
       
      It Didn't Start with You: How Inherited Family Trauma Shapes Who We Are and How to End the Cycle by Mark Wolynn
      Research has recently shown that the roots of mental health disorders may not just reside in our own current life experiences or in the chemical imbalances inside our brains, but in the lives of our parents, grandparents, and even further back. The author is a leading expert in the field and in this book, he looks at how trauma experienced by relatives may be passed down to the next generation and how to address those issues.
       
      Black Pain: It Just Looks Like We're Not Hurting by Terri Williams
      When successful business executive and mental health advocate Terri Williams was diagnosed with depression, she found that the topic was still taboo especially in the Black community. In this book, she discusses the emotional pain of depression and how it uniquely affects the Black experience, encouraging readers to seek help without feeling ashamed. She reminds readers that they are brave for facing emotional difficulties head-on and finding solutions with the help of others.
       
      This Too Shall Pass: Stories of Change, Crisis and Hopeful Beginnings by Julia Samuel
      This may be a useful resource for clinicians. In it, psychotherapist Julia Samuel uses hours of conversations with patients to show how individuals act and adapt differently in the face of hardship. Backed by research, her analysis of the stories she shares explains how mental health is different for everybody, yet evidence-based treatment and coping skills work across multiple populations.
       
      If you need help with behavioral health issues, consider contacting a qualified mental health professional
      If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today. Our mental health professionals are trained in multiple mental health disorders and have experience treating them. If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
    19. Access to Mental Health Care Is Not Equal Across All Populations: What Can Be Done?

      Recent research shows that 42% of U.S. adults are reporting anxiety and depression symptoms - up 11% over previous years. While that is alarming news, many of us are able to reach out to a qualified professional to seek help for mental health conditions if we need it. However, the reality is that the gap between individuals who need mental health care and those who receive it is sizable and grows bigger every year. Certain communities - for example, those who live in rural areas, certain ethnic communities, and even those within the military community - are often unable to find and receive the care they need. 
      As far back as 1999, the Report of the Surgeon General on Mental Health found that “despite the existence of effective treatments, disparities lie in the availability, accessibility and quality of mental health services for minorities, and those living in some rural and urban areas.” In this article, we look at underserved communities, the reasons why they are underserved, and what can be done about the problem. 
      Communities that are often underserved
      Ethnic minority communities. Studies show that ethnic minority populations are as much at risk for mental health issues as the population as a whole, but receive substantially less treatment. For example, for individuals diagnosed with depression, 69% of Asian-Americans, 64% of Latinos, and 59% of African-Americans do not access mental health treatment, compared with 40% of the general population.  Rural communities. Studies have shown that 20% of residents of nonmetropolitan counties in the US have a diagnosable mental health disorder but have significantly less access to care than those who live in metropolitan areas. In this case, the gap is most often due to a chronic shortage of local mental health professionals and facilities. Underserved urban communities. The CDC says that individuals living below the poverty level in urban communities were nearly 2.5 times more likely to have depression than those at or above the poverty level. And recent research finds that that depression may be linked to characteristics of the neighborhoods in which they live - poor-quality housing, few resources, and unsafe conditions impose stress, which can lead to depression. Yet, these individuals are less likely to be able to access the quality mental health care they need. Veterans. Thousands of returning military personnel struggle with mental health conditions, including PTSD, depression, and substance use disorders. But studies show that only 50% of returning vets receive the mental health treatment that they need. Some of the barriers have included long wait times and mental health stigmas.  Older adults. Studies show that up to 20 percent of adults aged 65 and over have a mental health condition, yet this population also struggles to get the help it needs - most often due to inability (lack of transportation) to get to treatment, or inability to navigate complex medical insurance systems. What are the barriers to accessing mental health care?
      There are many reasons why certain communities aren’t getting the mental health care they need. These include:
      Lack of local availability and resources. Underserved city neighborhoods and rural areas often lack the resources needed to maintain necessary community services, and private treatment facilities tend to locate in areas where they can guarantee a steady income stream - which may not be the case in these areas. Hence the chronic lack of mental health facilities and providers.  Transportation issues, including difficulty finding childcare or taking time off work. Cultural stigmas about mental health. Even when resources are available, cultural stigmas about the nature of mental health prevent many individuals in some communities from seeking proper care when needed. Racial/Ethnic implicit bias. Unfortunately, multiple studies found levels of implicit bias between patient-provider interactions and health outcomes. Concluding that a more rigorous examination should be conducted as it may be contributing to health disparities for people of color. Language barriers and an insufficient number of providers who speak languages other than English. Lack of adequate health insurance coverage. Despite the reduction in the number of uninsured Americans since the ACA was implemented, there are still 28 million lacking any type of health insurance. As well, even for those with insurance, high deductibles and co-pays sometimes make care difficult to afford.  What can be done to address behavioral health access issues?
      Interest from academics, practitioners, communities, patients, and families to address the gap in mental health care is growing - and that’s promising. Here are some of the ways we can address the problem (note that none of these will change the problem overnight - all of these suggestions need additional research and validation):
      Expanding outreach efforts outside of clinic walls with mobile clinics and technologies like digital and virtual treatment. Technology for telebehavioral health services has shown to help break down barriers, remove stigmas, and increase access Creating local marketing and communication campaigns designed to reduce mental health stigma and educate communities about treatment options. Inviting feedback from individuals about their mental health needs and obstacles to care, in order to better understand the issues. Encouraging mental health organizations to include underserved community members on staff or boards of directors. Contacting legislators—both local and federal—to support efforts to improve access to and the quality of mental health services in local areas. Improving payment options Whether you have personally experienced the challenges associated with mental health care access, or whether you’re advocating for a better mental health system, all of us can help make a difference.
      If you need help with mental health issues, consider contacting a qualified mental health professional
      If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today. Our mental health professionals are trained in multiple mental health disorders and have experience treating them. If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
      Sources
      Journal Administration and Policy in Mental Health
      American Psychological Association
      National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI)
      Journal of the American Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry
    20. Telebehavioral Health Will Continue Strong in 2022

      Where is telehealth in 2022? The pandemic showed how telemedicine could change how we think about health care interactions, with virtual visits increasing almost 40 times, according to data from McKinsey. Today, telehealth utilization has stabilized at levels 38 times (yes, that’s 38 times!) higher than before the pandemic. And consumer and provider attitudes toward telehealth have also improved since before the pandemic. Telemynd’s CEO, Patrick Herguth, said only 6 months ago, “between third quarter 2020 and second quarter 2021 we experienced 4X growth in new patients seeking mental health services, an upward trend we continued to see as we move through 2021 at a record-setting 61% increase in demand. Both clinicians and patients have demonstrated their ability to quickly adapt to telemedicine with no sign of slowing down.” 
      In this article, we look at the most recent trends, why telebehavioral health works, how to address any remaining barriers, and predictions for the future.
      Consumer demand for virtual health care remains high going into 2022
      One study found that 78% of patients who currently use telebehavioral health are very or extremely satisfied with their telehealth experiences, and 75% are more likely to continue to use it going forward. In another recent study, 40% of surveyed consumers (including those who have never used telehealth) said they would try it or continue using it — up from 11% prior to the pandemic.
      Why has telebehavioral health been so successful?
      For providers, it remains a convenient, cost-effective way to diagnose and treat many behavioral health issues. As well, it removes the overhead and upkeep of a physical location.
      Consumers continue to see the following benefits of telebehavioral health:
      Creates unprecedented convenience - appointments can be done wherever and whenever is most convenient. Removes the stigma associated with physically going to an office or treatment facility. Saves time with virtual screenings and evaluations. Expands access for those who live in a rural area, have limited mobility, or reside in long-term care facilities. Shortens delays to meet with providers. What’s the future of telebehavioral health?
      Most experts who study trends in health care see telebehavioral health expanding further in the future, where it makes sense. The American Medical Association says that providers and practices “have built successful telehealth systems that are making care more accessible and convenient for patients—there should be no turning back now.” Telemynd’s Patrick Herguth says, “The pandemic exposed and exacerbated the mental health crisis. It is a highly personal matter that requires a real human connection in order to succeed. Telemedicine expands our ability to match the right provider to patients, irrespective of where they’re located. People-oriented technology advancements will lead to even greater innovative care models that improve outcomes while lowering the cost of care for everyone.”
      Telehealth issues like the following will need continued work to create an even better experience for providers and consumers:
      technology security care payment mechanisms patient feedback methods  education and promotion so that more Americans know they can access telehealth As long as we continue to address these, what started off as just ‘a necessity’ during the pandemic will become the norm for health care even beyond 2022. 
      If you need help with mental health issues, consider contacting a qualified telebehavioral health professional
      If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today. Our mental health professionals are trained in multiple mental health disorders and have experience treating them via online appointments - from the convenience and privacy of your home or wherever works for you. If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
      Sources
      McKinsey
      TechCrunch
      Yale Medicine
    21. Listen And Be Inspired: 8 Podcasts About Mental Health

      Are you a podcast fan? If so, you’re with 41% of Americans who regularly listen to a podcast. If you haven’t jumped on the podcast trend yet, grab a pair of headphones, turn to Apple, Spotify, or any of the many independent broadcasters, and listen in to be educated, entertained, and inspired by the amazing audio content available. Podcasts are like a mini-radio show, but about a specific topic in which you are interested - and they're free and typically easy to find. Thousands of podcasts are available on every possible topic from business and sports to technology and health - and everything in between.
      We’ve curated eight popular and highly-rated podcasts about mental health and listed them here. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, addiction, and more. Whether you are living with a mental health disorder, caring for a loved one with mental health issues, or are a clinician treating patients, we think you’ll find these podcasts informative and inspiring.
      The Anxiety Podcast - Host Tim JP Collins suffers from anxiety and panic attacks himself and now supports others with anxiety. Each week on this top-rated podcast, Tim interviews relatable guests of all ages who talk about their own anxiety stories and how they’ve learned to cope with the disorder.
       

       
       
      The Hilarious World of Depression - Humor is not the first thing that comes to mind when thinking about depression - but give this 5-star podcast a chance before writing it off. It’s a series of conversations with comedians who suffer from depression - that’s right, comedians (it's a lot more common in the industry than you’d think), and how they’ve dealt with (or not dealt with) the symptoms of depression. Very inspiring. 

       
       

      Dear Therapists - Each week, therapists Lori Gottlieb and Guy Winch (who are also popular authors and TED speakers), give advice to ordinary (but anonymous) people looking for help with mental health issues. The audience gets to be a “fly-on-the-wall” and hear the informative and relatable conversations - including actionable advice - between the hosts and the patients.
       
       

      Therapy for Black Girls - Licensed psychologist Dr. Joy Harden Bradford offers a weekly discussion about all things mental health, personal development, and personal care - aimed specifically at issues experienced by black women in America.
       
       
       

      Terrible, Thanks For Asking - One of our personal favorites; Lest you think your friends and neighbors all seem ‘fine’ on the outside, host Nora McInerny asks real people to share their complicated and honest feelings about how they really are. It’s happy, sad, funny, and truly relatable. We all have issues, and sometimes it's nice to have that feeling validated.
       
       

      The Gratitude Diaries - Regularly acknowledging feelings of gratitude has been shown to be a coping skill for anxiety and depression, and in this podcast, host Janice Kaplan explores how gratitude can transform relationships, careers, health, and well-being. She explains the science behind the practice of gratitude and how to make it a regular habit. Also in book form, the podcast can stand alone.
       
       

      Latinx Therapy - Host Adriana Alejandre, LMFT, engages in conversations about mental health and well-being issues specific to the Latinx community. She tackles tough subjects and interviews experts in the field. Some episodes are in Spanish. 
       
       
       

      The Mental Illness Happy Hour - 500 episodes in and it remains a top podcast in the category. The Mental Illness Happy Hour delivers weekly conversations with comedians, artists, doctors, psychologists, and friends of host Paul Gilmartin - about all things mental illness, trauma, addiction, and negative thinking. There’s something for everyone here.
       
       
      What podcasts would you add to this list?
      If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today. Our mental health professionals are trained in multiple mental health disorders and have experience treating them via online appointments - from the convenience and privacy of your home or wherever works for you. If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
    22. Watch & Learn: Top Ted Talks About Mental Health

      Last week, we curated 8 informative podcasts [link] about mental health, and this week, we continue our mental health resources series in a more visual medium. Listed below are 8 compelling and illuminating TED Talk videos about mental health. TED Talk videos are described as “the best talks and performances from the TED Conference, where the world's leading thinkers give the talk of their lives in 18 minutes or less”.
      Topics range from depression to PTSD to schizophrenia and everything in between; and from mental health issues for teens to mental health issues for veterans. The nice thing about TED Talks is that each video is short - meaning you can watch and learn a lot in a small amount of time - maybe even squeeze one in between classes or meetings, or while waiting in line at the coffee shop. 
      Feel free to bookmark this page, go through the videos, and share with friends, family, or if you are a clinician, patients who may also benefit.
      There's no shame in taking care of your mental health - Entrepreneur Sangu Delle found himself suffering from anxiety and depression but up against the stigma that seeking help meant weakness. In this inspiring TED Talk, he describes confronting his own deep prejudice: that men shouldn't take care of their mental health, and then shares how he learned to handle anxiety in a society that's uncomfortable with emotions.
      The voices in my head - She started off college like every other student: hopeful, energized, and ready to meet the world. But author Eleanor Longden soon began hearing voices in her head. Soon the voices became antagonistic, turning her life into a nightmare. Finally diagnosed with schizophrenia and hospitalized, she describes the moving tale of her years-long journey back to mental health.
      Confessions of a depressed comic - “For a long time, I felt like I’d been living two lives…” So starts comedian and perpetual “life of the party” Kevin Breel’s story of the night he realized he had to admit he was suffering from depression in order to save his life. Inspiring and relatable tale of how what looks like a happy life from the outside might not necessarily be so.
      We train soldiers for war. Let's train them to come home, too - Frontline psychologist Hector Garcia urges society to help our soldiers better learn how to transition from the battlefield back to civilian life. He tells stories of real soldiers suffering from PTSD and explains how we can improve our care of veterans’ mental health.
      Why students should have mental health days - Teen mental health advocate Hailey Hardcastle describes how school days can be rife with stress, anxiety, panic attacks, and burnout – but there's often no formal policy to help students prioritize their mental well-being. We have “sick” days but no “mental health” days. She advocates for that to change.
      The brain-changing benefits of exercise - Author and Professor of Neuroscience and Psychology at New York University, Wendy Suzuki discusses the science of how exercise boosts our mood and how it can be used to work alongside therapy and pharmaceutical solutions to address mental health issues.
      How to connect with depressed friends - Very useful and actionable discussion on how to approach friends who may exhibit symptoms of depression or have been diagnosed with depression. Comedian and storyteller Bill Bernat provides ‘dos and don'ts’ for talking to people living with depression - and how to handle the conversation with grace and maybe even a little humor.
       
      Break the silence for suicide attempt survivors - Host JD Schramm addresses this very sensitive topic with care and concern. He advocates for resources for suicide attempt survivors because “it gets better”, and hopes that those who have tried and failed but found their way back to a meaningful life may be willing to speak up to convince those thinking about suicide that their lives matter. [If you or a loved one have thoughts of suicide, call the National Suicide Hotline at 800-273-8255.]Are there any TED Talks that you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments.
      If you or a loved one need help with mental health issues, consider contacting a qualified telebehavioral health professional
      If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today. Our mental health professionals are trained in multiple mental health disorders and have experience treating them via online appointments - from the convenience and privacy of your home or wherever works for you. If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
    23. DoD Recognizes Military Children with Awareness Month

      In April, the Defense Department recognizes military children in an awareness campaign to make sure the well-being and mental health of the youngest members of our military community are brought to light. The DoD says about the Month of the Military Child that the goal of the campaign is to “highlight the unique challenges of military children. Our goal is to improve their quality of life and help mitigate the demands they experience from all the transitions, such as frequent moves, parental separations for military training, and worrying about their parents when they're deployed.”
      Unique challenges faced by military children
      Unlike kids whose parents are not military, this community of children moves 6 to 9 times on average during their school years. In the past, we’ve written about this particular challenge and have highlighted research that shows that military kids who move frequently are significantly more likely to have mental health issues such as depression or anxiety and that in fact, age is an important predictor of the impact on mental health, i.e., military kids aged 12-17 are four times as likely to need help from a mental health professional as military kids aged 6-11. This makes sense intuitively, as teens are already going through the changes and stresses of puberty. In addition:
      Students involved in sports who move later in the year can miss team tryouts, or the new school may not offer the same athletic programs. Kids who move may feel the loss of having to end close relationships with friends at a previous school. It’s more difficult for kids to gain acceptance in a new school where cliques and social networks are already established. In addition to frequent moves, other stressors of military life impact kids. For example, when their parents are deployed, they may miss big milestones such as birthdays, holidays, school and sports events, and graduations. 
      Resources for families
      We’ve written articles in the past about how parents, teachers, and other community members can help monitor military kids for signs of mental health issues. For example, these warning signs should not be ignored:
      Kids who talk about fears or worry frequently Complain about frequent stomach or headaches with no known medical cause Are in constant motion and cannot sit still  Sleep too much or too little, have frequent nightmares or seem sleepy during the day Are spending more and more time alone, are not interested in playing with other children, or have difficulty making friends Struggle academically or have experienced a recent decline in grades Repeat actions or check things many times out of fear that something bad may happen. Have lost interest in things that they used to enjoy As part of publicizing Military Children Awareness Month, the Department of Defense also wants military parents to know that support exists for their kids year-round. For example, at the installation level, there are typically child development centers, youth centers, Military and Family Support Centers, and family life counselors. Off the installations, there is community-partner support for military children through schools and organizations such as 4-H and the Boys and Girls Clubs of America. In addition, the DoD’s militaryonesource.mil website has updated resources and events which are dedicated to the Month of the Military Child.
      A DoD spokesperson said, "I'd like us to remember what military children's lives are like and how unique their challenges are. It's quite incredible when we think about the transitions they go through that most children don't, and our military children are so resilient through it all." 
    24. These Films Got it Right: Top Films About Mental Health

      This week, we continue our mental health resources series by curating 8 inspiring and engaging films about mental health topics - from PTSD to depression to bipolar disease and more. We think these films are sensitive and worthy portrayals that explore the nature of mental illness - and ultimately help us get the word out - and more exposure equals greater understanding. 
      Most of these films can be found on the major streaming networks. Share the list with friends and family, or if you are a clinician, with patients who may also benefit. Then grab the popcorn (and possibly a box of tissues) and start watching.
       
      Silver Linings Playbook - This popular, Oscar-winning 2012 romantic comedy is based on Matthew Quick's novel of the same name, and follows two main characters dealing with mental illness. Bradley Cooper plays Pat who is diagnosed with bipolar disease, and Jennifer Lawrence plays a widow dealing with her own mental illness in the aftermath of her husband's death.
       
       
       
      The Perks of Being a Wallflower - 2012 was a good year for quality films addressing mental health issues and this one continues the trend: it explores the social-psychological effects PTSD has on young adults and how love can help heal the wounds. Based on a novel of the same name.
       
       
       
       
      Girl Interrupted - This best-selling memoir turned movie is a firsthand account of a young woman's experience inside an American psychiatric hospital in the 1960s. Care wasn’t as good as it is now - which is hard to watch in the film - and although we still have a long way to go, it's good to see how much treatment for mental illness has improved. 
       
       
       

      Good Will Hunting - The main character (Will - played by Matt Damon, who also wrote the screenplay with friend Ben Affleck) was abandoned as a young boy and suffers from attachment disorder because of it. The film details how his mental health has an impact on the choices he makes - he’s clearly a genius who belongs inside the classrooms that he cleans for a living at MIT. The success of his work with a local therapist ultimately gives viewers hope for the future.
       
       
       
      A Beautiful Mind - Tells the true-life story of brilliant mathematician John Nash (Russell Crowe), a Nobel Laureate in Economics and Abel Prize winner, who develops paranoid schizophrenia and endures delusional episodes while watching the burden his condition brings on his family and friends.
       
       
       
       
      The Soloist - A Los Angeles Times columnist (Steve Lopez) finds and writes about a homeless street musician (Nathanial Ayers) who possesses extraordinary talent. In his attempt to help Ayers, Lopez has to also deal with the mental illness that landed Ayers on the street in the first place, as well as the stigma against those with mental health issues.
       
       
       
      When Love Is Not Enough: The Lois Wilson Story - Deals sensitively with addiction. Winona Ryder plays the wife of the founder of Alcoholics Anonymous, Bill Wilson, who made it big on Wall Street before the Crash of 1929 - which wreaked havoc on his sense of worth  - and founded Alcoholics Anonymous in 1935 after getting sober himself. Lois Wilson later founded Al-Anon to help the loved ones of those struggling with addiction.
       
       
       
      Cyberbully - Takes a realistic and thoughtful approach to the issue of online bullying as seen through the eyes of a teen victim who attempts suicide. Ultimately has positive messages about tolerance, resilience, getting help and support, and standing up to peer pressure. This would be a good film to start a discussion with any teens in your life.
       
       
       
      Are there any films that you would add to the list? Let us know in the comments.
      If you or a loved one need help with mental health issues, consider contacting a qualified telebehavioral health professional
      If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today. Our mental health professionals are trained in multiple mental health disorders and have experience treating them via online appointments - from the convenience and privacy of your home or wherever works for you. If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
    25. Facts About LGBTQ Youth Suicide Risks In 2022

      It is no doubt alarming to learn that LGBTQ youth experience more violence, victimization, and report higher suicide risk than their peers; in fact, they are more than 4 times as likely to attempt suicide. Another study found 42% of LGBTQ youth have seriously considered attempting suicide in the past year. Everyone has the right to feel safe and accepted in their community - especially children - and in this article, we discuss some of the things that can be done to address this issue. And to be clear, LGBTQ youth are not inherently more prone to suicide risk because of their orientation or gender identity but are put at higher risk because of how they are stigmatized in society.
      Key risk factors for LGBTQ youth suicide
      Research shows that multiple factors are key risk factors for LGBTQ youth suicide. Like anyone who experiences highly negative emotional experiences, lack of acceptance amongst family and peers, lack of what would be considered a “safe place” to find peace and comfort, and outright discrimination can cause stress, anxiety, and depression in this group. Research backs up the following experiences that correlate with mental health issues:
      Only a third of youth in this group find parental acceptance, another third experience outright parental rejection, and another third do not dislcose their LGBTQ identity until they are adults due to fear of rejection.  Young adults who report high levels of parental rejection are 8 times more likely to report attempting suicide and 6 times more likely to report high levels of depression. 75% of LGBTQ youth report that they have experienced discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity at least once in their lifetime, and more than 50% said they experienced this discrimination in the past year. Those who experienced discrimination attempted suicide at more than 2x the rate of those who did not. 72% of LGBTQ youth reported symptoms of anxiety in the past year, including more than 75% of transgender and nonbinary youth. 62% of LGBTQ youth reported symptoms of depression in the past year, including more than ⅔ of transgender and nonbinary youth. What can we do to help LGBTQ youth?
      As with others experiencing mental health issues, nearly half of LGBTQ youth have wanted counseling from a mental health professional in the past year - but in this case, they were not able to receive it for one reason or another. Helping LGBTQ youth find and get good mental health counseling is a good place to start. Telebehavioral health services - qualified therapy done virtually - may be a way to break down barriers, remove stigmas, and increase access for this group.
      Studies have also found that LGBTQ youth who had access to spaces that affirmed their sexual orientation and gender identity reported lower rates of attempting suicide. As well, affirming transgender and nonbinary youth by respecting their pronouns and allowing them to change legal documents is also associated with lower rates of attempting suicide.
      When asked in a survey what helps them get through daily challenges and feel better about themselves, LGBTQ youth mentioned things like:
      Connection with others Identity pride events Art and creative expression Feeling seen and validated Faith and spirituality Moving away from unsupportive situations and people Representation in media Online and offline support groups LGBTQ support in school If you or a loved one need help with mental health issues, consider contacting a qualified telebehavioral health professional
      If you’re a client, request an appointment online or call our live support for assistance in scheduling care today. Our mental health professionals are trained in multiple mental health disorders and have experience treating them via online appointments - from the convenience and privacy of your home or wherever works for you. If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
      Sources
      The Trevor Project
      MMWR/CDC
      The Trevor Project
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