Jump to content

Welcome to our center for all the latest content and information. We encourage you to register in order to connect to the topics and communities that matter most to you.

  • Blog Filters

      or   All / None
      or   All / None
    1. How’s Our Mental Health in America? New Report Says We Are Struggling

      A growing number of Americans are struggling with mental health every year. In fact, 1 in 5 Americans live with mental health issues on a daily basis. We know this from Mental Health America’s 2022 State of Mental Health in America Report. For the 8th year in a row, MHA released its annual report, which looks at our mental health based on 15 prevalence and access measures for youth and adults. The report confirms the trend that mental health in the US continued to worsen leading into the pandemic and remains problematic. In this article, we summarize key findings and highlight a few policies that can improve access to mental health resources.
      Key findings from the 2022 report: Overall mental health
      Suicidal ideation continues to increase among adults in the US: 4.6% of adults report having serious thoughts of suicide, an increase over prior years.  Rates of substance use are increasing for youth and adults: 7.5% of adults and 4.1% of young people had a substance use disorder in the past year - an increase over the prior year.  A growing percentage of young people in the US live with generalized depression. In fact, 15.1% of young people experienced a major depressive episode in the past year, a 1.3% increase over last year. Another 10.6% of young people in the US have severe depression (depression that severely affects the ability to function), and multiracial youth are at greatest risk for severe depression. These statistics indicate that mental illness is a common problem for many. Most of us will be impacted by it at some point in our lives - or know a loved one who struggles. And if untreated, mental health issues lead to other health problems like insomnia, eating disorders, heart disease, diabetes, arthritis, and other chronic disorders.
      Key findings from the 2022 report: Access to mental health treatment
      Over 50% of adults with a mental illness do not receive treatment - often because in-person treatment is not offered locally, because they do not know how to access treatment, or due to stigma around treatment. The percentage of adults with a mental illness who report unmet need for treatment has increased every year since 2011.  Over 60% of young people with major depression do not receive mental health treatment. Even in states with the greatest access to treatment, nearly 33% go without treatment, and in states where access is the most difficult, nearly 75% did not receive mental health treatment.  Some adults and young people continue to lack adequate insurance coverage for mental health treatment.  Are there policies and programs that can help address the state of mental health in America?
      The MHA report also suggests policies that may improve access to mental health resources in the US - and one has just been implemented. The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a national network of more than 200 crisis centers around the country. The 988 Lifeline provides 24/7, confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress - which they can reach just by dialing 988.
      The report’s second recommendation is to increase mental health education and support in schools to address disparities in access to mental health treatment for youth of color. The report found that students of color disproportionately access their mental health care at school, often because they don’t have access to mental health services elsewhere. Given this data, the report recommends that “increasing access to school-based mental health services can promote equity and reduce disparities in access to care”.
      Read more about the Report’s findings and recommendations here.
      Mental Health America (MHA): 2022 State of Mental Health in America Report
    2. Dial 988: The New Mental Health Crisis Line Launches

      In case you missed it, the new national mental health crisis line launched in July. For those in any kind of mental health distress, including thoughts of suicide, dialing 988 (24/7) immediately connects you with trained mental health counselors who can help you figure out critical next steps. The national health hotline has been several years in the making. Read on to learn how the mental health version of 911 came about. 
      What is the 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline?
      The 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline is a national network of more than 200 crisis centers that help thousands of people overcome crisis situations every day. These centers are supported by local and state resources, as well as the Department of Health and Human Services Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The 988 Lifeline provides 24/7, confidential support to people in suicidal crisis or mental health-related distress. 
      Modeled after 911, the new three-digit 988 number is designed to be a memorable and quick number that connects people who feel they are in any kind of mental health crisis, with a trained mental health professional. Currently, the number automatically routes calls by area code to the nearest crisis center.
      Sources of federal funding for 988 are separate from those of the 911 system, so the new hotline is not pulling any funds away from 911.
      Note that veterans can press “1” after dialing 988 to connect directly to the Veterans Crisis Lifeline which serves our nation’s Veterans, service members, National Guard, and Reserve members.
      What’s behind the development of 988?
      In the past, the majority of people experiencing a mental health emergency ended up dialing 911. The problem is that 911 wasn't set up to address mental health needs, so callers may end up in long lines in an ER, or interacting with law enforcement who may not be trained to handle their specific mental health crisis. Mental health advocates pushed for the new 988 hotline in the hopes that it would become a widely known, safer, and more effective alternative.
      In mid-2020, the FCC adopted rules to establish 988 as the nationwide, 3-digit dialing code for people in crisis, and later that year, the National Suicide Hotline Designation Act of 2020 was signed into law. The FCC adopted additional rules in November 2021 to expand access to the hotline by establishing the ability to also text to 988. As a result, covered phone service and text providers in all of the US states and territories were required to direct all 988 calls and texts to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline by July 16, 2022.
      There is significant government investment to back up the new service - Congress and the current administration have dedicated $432 million toward building the capacity of local and backup call centers, and providing associated services, including a subnetwork for Spanish speakers.
      "One of the goals of 988 is to ensure that people get the help that they need when they need it, where they need it. And so, when a person calls 988, they can expect to have a conversation with a trained, compassionate crisis counselor who will talk with them about what they're experiencing. If it's the case that they need further intervention, then likely the crisis counselor will connect with a local mobile crisis team," says Dr. Miriam Delphin-Rittmon, the administrator of SAMHSA.
      The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline's 10-digit number — 1-800-273-8255 — will remain active, but calls will be routed to 988.
      Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): How does the new 988 work?
    3. How to Form Healthy Behaviors for Improved Wellness

      We all have a sense of the big things we should be doing to stay healthy in mind and body: things like eating well, exercising, and getting enough sleep. But sometimes life gets in the way, and as much as we want to add healthy behaviors to our routine, we just don’t. So how exactly do we form those good habits to improve wellness? In this article, we explain the steps. 
      And we know that healthy habits are good for both physical and mental health, so as a bonus, we’ve included 6 top healthy behaviors to try today.
      How to form healthy habits
      Start by making it easy and simple. Research says we’re more likely to form new habits when we clear away the obstacles that stand in our way of doing them. And don’t try to completely change your life in one day. It’s easy to take on too much. For example, start by packing your gym bag and putting it by the door the night before, or walking for just 10 minutes at first, or choose an exercise that doesn’t require you to leave the house at all.
      Here are four additional tips to help you form healthy behaviors:
      Make a plan for the behaviors you want to change. Include small, reasonable goals and specific actions you’ll take to move toward them. Consider what you’ll need to be successful and get those things in place. For example, stock up on healthy foods, or plan a special spot to relax in advance. (And don't forget to plan for obstacles. Think ahead to what will happen when you're faced with extra stress or temptation.) Keep a record. Use a journal or mobile app - whatever makes most sense to you - to track things like diet, exercise, stress levels, or sleep patterns. Experts say that even if you think you’re about to ‘fall off the wagon,’ continue to track your behavior, as sometimes when you feel like you’re failing, you learn the most. Do the behavior every day. Research says the amount of time it can take for a behavior to become a habit ranges from 18 to 66 days, but they form faster when we do them more often, so start with something easy and simple, and do it often. Once the habit is formed, you can explore more complex or harder behavior changes. Reward yourself - early and often This is an important part of habit formation - especially as some results of habit changes take longer to show up. So, build in some immediate rewards to help you reinforce the habit, like listening to an audiobook while running, or watching a favorite Netflix series while on the treadmill. Lastly, be patient with yourself! Healthy habit-forming is hard work and even though the payoff is big, there may be missteps along the way - and that’s ok.
      How do you form healthy behaviors? Leave a comment below or tell us on social media.
      Experts say these are top behaviors for improved wellness
      Now that you know how to form a healthy habit, here’s how experts weigh in on some of the top healthy behaviors that benefit body and mind (besides the big ones - eating healthy, exercising, and getting enough sleep). Some may be familiar but others may be a surprise.
      Drink lots of water. Check with your doctor to find out how much is right for you. If it gets boring, add fresh mint, lemon, or cucumber slices to switch it up. Plan your meals. Experts recommend you get into this habit, as it reduces the chances for unhealthy eating, and also saves time and money (and who doesn’t need more of both?!) Train your muscles. Strength training helps replace body fat with muscle - so you burn more calories overall. And it’s really important for women - especially as they get older. Go offline. So hard to do! But this gives our eyes and brains a big break and frees up time for other healthy habits. Learn something new. New skills keep our brains really healthy and may even provide you with new free-time activities and friendships. Get outside in nature. More and more, researchers are learning the benefits of fresh air, sunshine (vitamin D), and the peace that comes from being in green spaces.  Healthy habits ensure a better quality of life. Commit to forming healthier behaviors by starting with just one today.
      The New York Times: How to Build Healthy Habits
      Harvard Business Review: Building Healthy Habits When You’re Exhausted
      NIH News in Health: Creating Healthy Habits
    4. What’s the difference between stress and burnout?

      Stress and burnout are concerning - especially regarding our work lives. A recent Deloitte study found that 91% of people say that having an unmanageable amount of stress negatively impacts the quality of their work. Additionally, 77% say they’ve experienced burnout at their current job, with more than half citing more than one occurrence.
      But is there a difference between stress and burnout? Is burnout a kind of stress? Is stress at work always bad? And what can be done about both? In this article, we look at what the research says about the difference between stress and burnout, and how to prevent chronic stress from becoming burnout. 
      What is burnout? What is stress?
      In 1974, psychologist Herbert Freudenberger first coined the term “burnout” - which he said usually occurs within the context of work - to mean emotional exhaustion, depersonalization, and feelings of inefficiency or lack of accomplishment. His studies found that burnout diminishes productivity and ultimately leads to a lesser quality of work. 
      Stress is a physical or mental response to any external cause. A stressor may be a one-time or short-term occurrence, or it can happen repeatedly over a long time (chronic stress). Stress can be a negative factor (scientists call this dysfunctional stress) or a positive one (called functional stress or eustress). 
      Surprised about that last part? Yes, stress can be good - in the right context. The American Psychological Association defines functional stress as “stress that involves optimal levels of stimulation resulting from challenging but attainable, enjoyable or worthwhile tasks. It has a beneficial effect by generating a sense of fulfillment or achievement and facilitating growth, mastery, and high levels of performance.” So for example, functional stress can help you perform better in an athletic event or get a job done more quickly at work.
      When too much stress becomes burnout
      However, if stress interferes with your everyday life, causes you to avoid doing things you normally like, or seems to be always present, you may have tipped the scales over into burnout. A recent research review suggests burnout is on the extreme far end of the stress continuum. When you are stressed, although it may feel miserable, you can still take steps to cope with pressures. But once burnout takes hold, you’re emotionally fatigued and have more than likely given up hope of overcoming obstacles. You have less ability to cope with regular stress. Your interests and motivation dry up, and you may fail to meet even the smallest obligations. 
      Here are additional symptoms of burnout:
      Lowered immunity to illness Withdrawal from coworkers and social situations Job absenteeism and inefficiency Sleep deprivation Foggy thinking and trouble concentrating Lack of joy Recent research on the relationship between stress and burnout found that work stress and burnout are mutually reinforcing; however, the effect of work stress on burnout is smaller than the effect of burnout on work stress. This means that the more severe a person's burnout becomes, the more stressed they’ll feel at work. 
      Try these tactics for keeping burnout in check
      Bottom line, don’t let negative stress tip over into burnout if you can help it. Experts suggest these self-care tips for keeping burnout in check:
      Focus on very short-term and realistic goals and wins Make time for yourself Take a break from the situation, if at all possible Exercise, and make sure you are eating healthy, regular meals Stick to a sleep routine, and make sure you are getting enough sleep Avoid drinking excess caffeine Identify and challenge negative and unhelpful thoughts Reach out to friends or family who help you cope in a positive way If none of these tactics work, speaking with a mental health professional is your next step before you experience severe burnout. They can help you develop new coping skills and provide a safe space to vent. They may suggest trying a combination of medication with your therapy. Each person is unique and will respond differently to each technique. Your therapist can help you find the right combination for you.
      Journal Personality and Individual Differences: Stress and burnout: The significant difference
      NIH: Work Stress and Burnout Among Nurses: Role of the Work Environment and Working Conditions
      Frontiers in Psychology (Journal): Is Burnout Primarily Linked to Work-Situated Factors? A Relative Weight Analytic Study
    5. 8 Tips for Coping with Travel Anxiety

      Summer is upon us and many of us are anticipating a return to travel. Whether staying stateside or going overseas, travel conjures up images of exciting new places, beautiful or unusual sights, visiting with family or friends, and in general, lots of relaxation and fun. But for many people, travel can also create feelings of discomfort and worry — a sensation psychologists refer to as "travel anxiety." If this describes you, you are not alone: feeling anxious about travel - before and during a trip - is very common.
      And of course, if you have a mental health diagnosis, you’ll want to check with your medical professional before your trip as they can make sure you are up-to-date on prescriptions, and even provide travel advice for your condition. In addition, this article offers 8 ways to cope with travel anxiety, from giving yourself extra time for transportation transitions to packing a calming item or book that provides comfort during stressful situations. Hopefully these suggestions will help reduce the anxiety and allow you to enjoy the journey! 
      Alleviate potential anxiety before you go
      Experts suggest you start by thinking in advance about what situations on the trip might cause anxiety, recognize when your anxiety may be disproportionate, then challenge it with facts and planning. It’s a good idea for any traveler to do upfront research to make sure destinations and activities are safe. But if your fears about possible disaster get in the way of fully enjoying your experience, your anxieties may be at least partially unfounded. It may help to look at statistics to see how rare certain scary events really are. You can also find out in advance where to go or who to call if you do have an emergency. Often these upfront methods can provide a better sense of control and therefore alleviate some of the advance anxiety.
      Other Tips for coping with travel anxiety during your trip
      Build in extra time. This probably goes without saying. Almost every form of transportation - plane, train, even car rental - will almost certainly experience delays, lines, or schedule changes - causing even the most patient among us to feel overwhelmed. It makes sense to allow for extra time for each, as well as to plan what you’ll do in case of delays (bring a book, load up a movie on your phone, etc.), and learn to accept - rather than fight - these common inconveniences. Keep important documents handy. To reduce freak-outs at the airport or at border crossings, always keep your passport and ID in the exact same holder or bag while you travel (as well as in the same spot at home when not traveling!). Make paper copies of important documents just in case. Consider printing out copies of maps or have an up-to-date, hard copy guidebook in case GPS doesn’t work. Establish a routine that sets the tone for your trip. Familiarize yourself with your surroundings, and if you can, integrate activities that you’re used to doing at home (e.g., getting coffee at a local coffee shop each morning, reading before bed, etc.) to bring a sense of comfort and routine. Practice relaxing breathing exercises. Use these in traffic, in security lines, and whenever necessary. Also integrate physical activity like walking and stretching to relieve stress. Get the appropriate amount of sleep, eat a healthy diet, and stay hydrated.  Try to stay positive — or at least neutral. Frustrating or disappointing situations are bound to happen while traveling. However, your attitude may make a difference. Boston University clinical psychologist and phobia expert, Dr. Todd Farchione, says,  “A lot of times, by pulling from a mindfulness and acceptance-based approach, you can go into a situation in a way where you’re not judging it so negatively… To be calm, you have to act calm.” Know your mental and physical limits. Regularly reassess your original plans and change them to minimize stress levels. Let your fellow travelers know in advance that you will be prioritizing your mental health and that there may be activities along the way that you may not partake in. Finally, give yourself time on the back end of a trip. If possible, plan an extra day or two off after you return, to mentally and physically recover from your trip. This will help you get back into your daily routine with less stress. If you are still facing travel anxiety after trying these stress-reducing tips, a qualified mental health professional can help you work on further coping strategies for dealing with travel anxiety, or help you consider whether medication can help fulfill your wanderlust with as little stress as possible.
      International Association for Medical Assistance to Travelers (IAMAT): Travel and Anxiety
      Conde Nast Traveler: What Does Travel Anxiety Look Like?
      CDC: Mental Health and Travel
    6. Setting Healthy Boundaries for Your Mental Health

      Are you one of the many people who have a hard time saying “no”? You’re not alone! There are many reasons experts say we don’t always set the boundaries that we need for good mental health - including wanting to people-please, playing the role of ‘rescuer’, feeling manipulated, or being put on the spot. In this week’s article, we explore ways to set healthy boundaries for better mental health, and why setting boundaries is important for self-care.
      What are boundaries and why set them?
      A boundary is a limit or space between you and another person, or persons; a clear place where you begin and the other person ends. Setting boundaries is an important part of establishing one’s identity and is a crucial aspect of well-being. Boundaries help us feel safer and more comfortable. Boundaries can be physical or emotional, and they can range from loose to rigid, with healthy boundaries often falling somewhere in between. When healthy boundaries are not present, people may feel angry or sad due to interactions that create a feeling of being taken advantage of, devalued, or unappreciated. In addition, we often feel exhausted by the responsibilities brought on by saying “yes” all the time - leading to what some experts call the “treadmill of over-commitment”.
      So why don’t we set boundaries more firmly and frequently? Sometimes we think that saying “yes” will make other people happy regardless of our own feelings. Sometimes, we think saying “yes” all the time confirms that we are needed. And sometimes we respond to the guilt that others may employ to try to break down our boundaries. When we say “yes” for these reasons, we’re out of balance - we’ve inadvertently placed more value on the needs of others than on ourselves.
      How to set healthy boundaries
      First, know the characteristics of effective boundaries:
      Limits are clear and decisive, yet reasonable Value is placed on your needs The focus is on authenticity and self-care, not on pleasing others or playing the rescuer Next, give yourself permission to set personal limits with people. If you feel that love and approval are tied to pleasing others, or that you’re somehow being selfish for setting boundaries, or if it feels “risky” to set boundaries, then consider consulting with a mental health professional who can help you see that it's not selfish to take care of your own needs. 
      Next, define your boundaries. This might include things like:
      How you will and won’t spend your time and energy Who you will or won’t engage with and when What types of interactions you will or won’t engage in What activities and projects you will or won’t participate in You may find it helpful to practice communicating your boundaries beforehand. Practice staying calm in the face of others’ reactions to your boundary-setting. They may be surprised at first especially if they have come to believe you will always say “yes”, but don't let that stop you! It may feel uncomfortable in the short-term, but there’s definitely a long-term payoff.
      And finally, heed the warning signs - and stay away from those who repeatedly don’t respect boundaries you’ve set; who may be invading your space for their own end. 
      If you find this all difficult to do, you’re not alone. It’s a big - but very positive step - to take for better mental health. Qualified behavioral health counselors can help with things like learning how to set and maintain boundaries, and recognizing when and what to do when others try to cross those boundaries. As part of improving self-care, consider getting guidance about this from a mental health professional.
      Forbes: The Importance Of Setting Healthy Boundaries
      Harvard Business Review: Set Better Boundaries
      Psychology Today: 7 Tips to Create Healthy Boundaries
    7. How Gaming Can Play a Positive Role in Mental Health

      Gaming is wildly popular. 60% of Americans say they play video games daily, and 75% of US households own a device they can play games on: phones, tablets, big screens, and other devices. Not unexpectedly, video games saw a 73% growth in sales during the pandemic, as people went online to socialize and escape.
      As popular as they are, games are also controversial; some believe they are addictive and others think they interrupt normal social interaction. However, recent scientific studies have found gaming can play a positive role in mental health, and in this article, we’ll tell you about those studies and debunk a few gaming myths along the way. 
      Survey finds gaming can provide stress relief
      Video games can be a fun way to pass the time, and for those with challenges, they can provide a much-needed distraction from difficult situations. Games can be a low-stakes outlet for people to let off steam when they feel frustrated by school or work. Games which encourage exercise and socializing can even promote emotional wellness. Dr. Alok Kanojia who researches game addiction at Harvard Medical School says on the very positive side, “video games literally allow us to escape negative emotions and suppress them.”
      A 2019 survey found that almost 80% of gamers say video games provide them with mental stimulation, relaxation, and stress relief. The same survey found that some gamers - like competitive athletes who ‘live and breathe’ their sport - also report anxiety associated with game performance and expertise. The key here, like anything, is balance - and having tools and supports in place to manage mental health issues. 
      Two studies find positive correlation between gaming and mental health
      Several research studies have found that some games can play a positive role in mental health. For example, a study at Oxford University which focused on those who play Nintendo’s Animal Crossing, found that people who played more games tend to report greater wellbeing. In fact, Animal Crossing is part of the ‘cozy game’ movement - a new genre of video games that rose in popularity during the pandemic, whose beautiful graphics, clever storylines, soaring soundtracks, and fluid end goals make them feel “approachable, stress-free and bite-sized.” Gamers who play cozy games say these games provide a way for them to “chill out with cute and colorful graphics, meditative tasks, and feel a sense of accomplishment” - all of which can contribute positively to mental health.
      Another study on location-based, mobile games like Pokémon GO (a game that lets players combine gameplay with real-world exercise), found that these games may be able to help alleviate depression symptoms in players, because they encourage exercise, contact with nature, community, and social connection. The researchers reported they were “able to connect use of Pokémon GO to a ‘significant short-term decrease in depression-related internet searches’, which is a common and reliable method of monitoring mental health, and therefore the game may help with mild, non-clinical forms of depression.”
      On a positive side note, the game maker community appears to be tackling the depiction of mental illness within games. Negative tropes about mental illness have existed in games since the beginning, but lately, creators have been trying to change that - even hiring psychologists to make sure there are no negative stereotypes in their games (even if inadvertently). 
      If you or a loved one need help with mental health issues, consider contacting a telebehavioral health professional
      As with anything, if you or your loved one is a gamer and is experiencing symptoms of depression or anxiety, it's best to turn to a qualified mental health professional who can distinguish between everyday stress and something more serious.
      Frontiers in Psychology: Gaming well: links between video games and flourishing mental health
      The Guardian: Video gaming can benefit mental health, find Oxford academics
      Journal of Management Information Systems: Location-Based Mobile Gaming and Local Depression Trends: A Study of Pokémon Go
    8. Understanding Common Phobias

      Over 12% of adults in the US meet the diagnostic criteria for a specific phobia. However, phobias come with much misunderstanding: some people believe they are just ‘overrated fears’ while others believe phobias can’t be overcome. On the contrary - phobias are a mental health issue. And they can be treated. In this article, we’re setting the record straight about common phobias - what they are, what they aren’t, how they are diagnosed, and how to get help.
      What is a phobia?
      Phobias are a kind of anxiety disorder; so they’re in the same diagnostic category as generalized anxiety disorder, but manifest differently. A phobia is defined as an overwhelming and debilitating fear of an object, place, situation, feeling or animal. But phobias are more pronounced than fears. They develop when a person has an exaggerated or unrealistic sense of danger about a situation or object. If a phobia becomes very severe, a person may organize their life around avoiding that thing that's causing them anxiety - so phobias can become debilitating. And in some cases, even thinking about the source of a phobia can make a person feel anxious or panicky (known as anticipatory anxiety).
      Types of phobias
      According to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, 5th Edition (DSM-5), there are three main types of phobias: 
      Specific phobias. Refers to an intense, persistent, and marked fear of a specific object or situation (such as flying, insects, or heights). People with specific phobias may be aware that their anxiety is out of proportion but feel helpless to control it. Agoraphobia. Refers to a deep fear of being in an environment (often outside or with many other people) where escape might be difficult or help unavailable in the event of developing panic-like symptoms. Social phobia. Also called social anxiety disorder; involves acute fear and self-consciousness in social situations. Can lead people to avoid attending events, meeting new people, or even seeking employment. Studies indicate that specific phobias concerning heights and animals/insects are the most common, but here is a list of other common specific phobias for which people seek treatment:
      Acrophobia - fear of heights Aerophobia - fear of flying Aquaphobia - fear of water Astraphobia - fear of storms Claustrophobia - fear of confined or tight spaces Dentophobia - fear of dentists Hemophobia - fear of blood Nosocomephobia - fear of hospitals Zoophobia - fear of animals In all cases, these intense fears are real for the people experiencing them. They are not figments of imaginations nor deliberate exaggerations of fear.
      People with phobias feel very specific and often debilitating symptoms when they come into contact with the source of their fear. Symptoms may include the following if you find yourself around the phobia source:
      unsteadiness, dizziness, lightheadedness nausea sweating increased heart rate or palpitations shortness of breath trembling or shaking upset stomach Risk factors for phobias
      The causes of anxiety disorders like phobias are unknown but likely involve a combination of genetic, environmental, psychological, and developmental factors. Anxiety disorders can run in families, suggesting that a combination of genetics and environmental stresses can result in a diagnosed phobia.
      Help for phobias
      Mental health professionals can diagnose a phobia - and they can be treated successfully. Often treatment involves a combination of exposure, medication and coping strategies - all of which a qualified professional can provide. 
      Scientists are finding that the phobias start out less intense and grow in acuteness over time - suggesting the possibility that interrupting the course of phobias with treatment early on could reduce their prevalence. A recent study, published in Lancet Psychiatry found that, “phobias can persist for several years, or even decades in 10-30% of cases, and are strongly predictive of the onset of other anxiety and mood disorders. Their high comorbidity with other mental disorders, especially after onset of the phobia, suggests that early treatment of phobias could also alter the risk of other disorders.”
      The key takeaway? Consult with a mental health professional as early as possible if you or a loved one believe you have symptoms of a phobia.
      Lancet Psychiatry
      Current Topics in Behavioral Neuroscience
      National Institute of Mental Health
    9. 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.
      Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA)
      Center for Health Care Strategies
      National Council for Mental Wellbeing
    10. 4 Facts About The Connection Between Addiction And Mental Health

      Addiction to drugs and alcohol (often called Substance Use Disorder or SUD) is a mental health problem. It can be caused by a combination of behavioral, biological, and environmental factors, and like other mental health issues, can disrupt the ability to function at work or school, maintain healthy relationships, and cope with stressful situations. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA), over 20 million people aged 12 or older have a substance use disorder related to their use of alcohol or illicit drugs.
      It’s important to know that mental health problems and substance use disorders often occur together (you’ll hear medical and mental health professionals refer to this as comorbidity) - but sometimes it's hard to predict which came first. In this article, we’ll discuss the close connection between addiction and mental health, four facts about that connection, general warning signs, and how to get help.
      What causes the connection between addiction and mental health issues?
      Multiple scientific studies have found that about half of those who experience a mental illness during their lives will also experience a substance use disorder at some point and vice versa. The 2019 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found that an estimated 9.2 million adults aged 18 or older had both a mental health problem and an addiction to at least one substance in the past year, while another 3.2 million adults had a co-occurring severe mental health problem and substance abuse. Medical and mental health professionals theorize that these problems frequently occur together for various reasons, such as:
      Certain kinds of illegal drugs can cause people with addiction issues to experience one or more symptoms of mental health problems Some people with a mental health problems may misuse drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication Mental and substance use disorders share some underlying causes, including changes in brain composition, genetic vulnerabilities, and early exposure to stress or trauma The bottom line is that dealing with substance abuse and drug addiction is never easy, and it’s even more difficult when you’re also struggling with mental health problems. And to make matters worse, these co-occurring disorders can affect each other. For example, when a mental health problem goes untreated, the substance abuse problem usually gets worse. And when alcohol or drug abuse increases, mental health problems usually increase too.
      To expand on the information above, here are 4 important things to know about the connection between addiction and mental health.
      Untreated mental health disorders increase the risk of substance abuse. People who suffer from mental disorders are often more likely to turn to drugs or alcohol to relieve their symptoms. And although the substances may provide temporary relief, they can exacerbate symptoms in the long run, leading to further addiction problems and ultimately, an unhealthy cycle.  Substance abuse can cause depression, anxiety, and other mental health problems. Although not everyone who misuses substances like drugs or alcohol will develop mental health problems, if someone is predisposed to a mental health disorder, those symptoms can be triggered by substance abuse.  Substance abuse shares common symptoms with some mental health issues. Alcohol and other central nervous system depressants can trigger symptoms of depression. Conversely, stimulants, such as cocaine, can cause drug-induced psychosis - a symptom usually associated with schizophrenia. In both cases, chronic use can result in irreversible changes to brain chemistry. Mental disorders and substance use disorders - even when occurring together - are treatable. The good news - whether a person has a mental disorder, a substance use disorder, or both, there are a number of treatment options that can result in effective and long-term management of symptoms.  Getting help for co-occurring substance use and mental health disorders
      It can take time to tease out which symptoms are associated with a mental health disorder and which are associated with a drug or alcohol addiction problem. The signs and symptoms may also vary depending on the type of mental health problem and type of substance being abused. However, there are some general agreed-upon warning signs that someone may have a co-occurring disorder:
      Using alcohol or drugs to cope with unpleasant memories or feelings, or to control pain or mood intensity Feeling depressed, anxious, or plagued by unpleasant memories when using drugs or alcohol  Feel depressed or anxious even when sober A family member who has also struggled with both a mental disorder and alcohol or drug abuse Mental health professionals can help diagnose and treat co-occurring disorders, so the first step if you notice any of these symptoms in yourself or a loved one, is to consult a professional. Although the combination of mental health and addiction issues may seem complicated, there is help. Some people respond to treatment right away. Others will need to try different treatments before finding a combination that works for them. But stick with it as they have been proven effective.
      If you or a loved one need help with substance abuse or 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.
      Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA) National Institute on Drug Abuse MentalHealth.gov
    11. Mental Health & Aging: All You Need To Know

      It’s estimated that 20% of people aged 55 years or older experience some type of mental health issue - the most common are anxiety and depression. Indeed, more common later-life events such as chronic medical disorders, loss of friends and loved ones, and the inability to take part in once-cherished activities can take a heavy toll on a person’s emotional well-being. But mental health problems are not a “normal” part of aging and should be identified and treated, not tossed off as unavoidable. In this article, we look at the facts about mental health issues in older adults and what can be done to address them.
      Facts about mental health and aging
      Mental health problems are a risk for older adults, regardless of history. While some adults go through life managing a chronic mental illness, mental health problems can also suddenly appear late in life. Changing bodies and chemistry, changes in family and friendships, and changes in living situations – all have an effect on mental health and need to be considered in treatment. Some sobering facts about older adults and mental health include:
      Adults 85 and over have the highest suicide rate; those aged 75 to 84 have the second highest. 75% of those who commit suicide have visited a primary care physician within a month of their suicide. It's estimated that only 50% of older adults who discuss specific mental health problems with a physician receive the right treatment. Up to 63% of older adults with a mental disorder do not receive the services they need. On the good news side, research also shows that if older adults are diagnosed with a mental health disorder, and are able to access services, then 80% will recover or receive the tools to live successfully with their disorder.
      Is there such a thing as psychological aging?
      Recent studies have shown that how old we “perceive” ourselves contributes to our level of well-being also. This is known as psychological aging. Essentially, our ‘subjective age’ (how young or old we perceive ourselves to be regardless of physical age) has a significant effect on our health decisions - the idea being that if we ‘feel’ younger than we are, we will make more healthy lifestyle decisions - including decisions that may help our mental health.
      Depression is common in older adults - what we can all do to help
      One of the most common mental illnesses affecting older adults is depression. Depression can have a negative “halo effect” on the health of older adults in many ways. According to the American Psychological Association, depression “can lead to eating habits that result in obesity or, conversely, can cause a significant loss of appetite and diminished energy levels, sometimes resulting in a condition known as geriatric anorexia; it can also cause higher rates of insomnia and memory loss, and longer-than-normal reaction times'' - making driving, cooking, or self-medicating more dangerous than normal. However most older adults see an improvement in their symptoms when treated with anti-depression drugs, therapy, or a combination of both - so the key is to get help as early as possible.
      Watch for these warning signs in yourself or loved ones that may signal a mental health issue:
      Noticeable changes in mood, energy level, or appetite Feeling flat or having trouble feeling positive emotions Difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much Difficulty concentrating, feeling restless, or on edge Increased worry or feeling stressed Anger, irritability, or aggressiveness Ongoing headaches, digestive issues, or pain A need for alcohol or drugs Sadness or hopelessness Suicidal thoughts And experts say to be tactful when talking to an older loved one about potential warning signs. An older person with fragile self-esteem may interpret well-intentioned encouragement as further proof of their declining condition. Some may even resent attempts at intervention. And because older people tend to be less amenable to lifestyle changes, they may be reluctant to adopt new, healthier habits. A trained mental health specialist who understands aging issues can help friends and family members craft positive approaches for talking about sensitive issues, and can help tailor an individualized therapeutic strategy to combat depression.
      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.
      CDC: The State of Mental Health and Aging in America
      National Institute of Mental Health: Older Adults and Mental Health
      American Psychological Association: Aging and Depression
    12. 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.
      The Trevor Project
      The Trevor Project
    13. 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.
    14. 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." 
    15. 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.
    16. 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.
    17. After the Games are Over: Olympic Athletes & Mental Health

      As the 2022 Olympics and Paralympics wind down in Beijing and athletes return home, the glow of their accomplishments is sure to last for a while. But what happens after the glow dies down - after the hometown celebrations, victory parties, and media interviews subside? Holly Brooks, a well-known therapist to Olympic athletes, says, "A lot of athletes fall into a deep depression after the Olympics… (They) need a lot of support, a lot of people reminding them of their worth beyond just their athletic achievements and results."
      In this article, we look at the mental health issues that returning Olympians often face, and what can be done to address this.
      Post-competition mental health issues are not uncommon
      It is estimated that one-third of elite athletes around the world experience symptoms of depression or anxiety. In recent years, athletes like Simone Biles, Chloe Kim, and Michael Phelps have helped raise awareness and normalize mental health issues by talking openly about their own anxiety and depression. At the same time, the number of research studies around this topic has increased - confirming the high incidence of mental health issues in this group.
      Studies have found there are several reasons that athletes may experience post-competition depression. Some athletes are dealing with disappointment over performances that didn't seem to measure up. But even for those who walk away with gold, that post-competition, somewhat “lost” feeling of “what do I focus all my energy and attention on now?” can loom large. One athlete said, “When you get home it’s really lonely… It’s quite depressing, and it is a little bit overwhelming, starting from square one again.”
      Sports psychologist and director of the Performance Psychology Center at the University of Michigan, Scott Goldman, explains it this way: “This ninety-mile-per-hour ride comes to a screeching halt the second the Olympics are over. …This emotional drop is not that different from the drops we all feel after major milestones, such as getting married or giving birth…. But in the case of Olympic athletes, some find themselves at such a loss they can’t stop the slide—and wind up in clinical depression.”
      What can be done to address mental health issues faced by athletes?
      Some experts suggest that athletes should have a plan in place for what to do after the excitement of the competition ends - from going on vacation to beginning a degree, a new job, or even a new athletic season. The key may be in an athlete’s willingness to build and maintain an identity off the playing field - and this may be where these other life goals come in.
      Support is also critical: The U.S. Olympic and Paralympic Committee formed a mental health task force in 2020 and among other things, made sure Olympic athletes now have access to a dedicated team of counselors and other mental health resources, such as wellness and meditation apps and support groups - during and after the games.
      One athlete summarized the challenge this way: "People are finally recognizing that these athletes are not superhuman robots like everyone thinks they are. It's like, 'Oh they're a normal person who has their own mental health issues.'" 
      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.
      Frontiers in Psychology
      British Journal of Sports Medicine
    18. 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.
      Yale Medicine
    19. What Toll Do Natural Disasters Take On Our Mental Health

      The news is full of stories of natural disasters - hurricanes, tornadoes, blizzards, forest fires, floods, and more. In fact, the number of disasters has increased 5 times over the past 50 years - driven by climate change and the weather extremes caused by it. And the trend won’t be changing anytime soon. But beyond the dramatic pictures on the news of homes and businesses underwater or destroyed by fire - what is the psychological toll that natural disasters take? In this article, we look at the link between natural disasters and mental health, and what can be done to address it.
      Research shows a clear link between natural disasters and mental health
      The impact of a natural disaster is often measured by obvious numbers such as fatalities and injuries, number of homes and buildings destroyed, and the cost of cleanup and repair. But those numbers don’t account for the emotional wounds suffered by survivors. Last year, the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) said, “the toll that disasters put on mental health is well documented… and more Americans are affected by climate-driven disasters every year”. 
      Multiple studies show that natural disasters often result in a  large number of ‘psychological casualties’. One well-known study, conducted after Hurricane Katrina, found that suicide and suicidal ideation more than doubled in survivors, with 1 in 6 people meeting the diagnostic criteria for PTSD. The study went on to say that the potential for immediate and severe psychological trauma after a natural disaster is high, and related to “personal injury, injury or death of a loved one, damage to or loss of personal property (e.g., home) and pets, and disruption in or loss of livelihood”.
      Another report suggests that natural disaster survivors are at higher risk for depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions; even more specifically, people whose homes had suffered from adverse weather events had a 50% increase in risk for mental health issues. Following Hurricane Sandy, a telephone screening of local residents 6 months afterward, identified 15% of adults still suffering from PTSD.
      How does our body and brain react to trauma like natural disaster?
      When any kind of trauma occurs, the brain stem - the part of the brain which is responsible for the most vital functions of life (breathing, blood pressure, heart rate, etc.) - takes over. The brain stem kicks in the “fight or flight" response and all nonessential body and mind functions are shut down so that we can focus only on what we need to survive. When the threat ceases, the parasympathetic nervous system - that part of the brain that controls activities that occur when the body is at rest - steps in again and resumes the higher functions that were recently shut down. 
      However, for some trauma survivors, after-effects remain. Some survivors become so distressed that they become withdrawn or increase their use of drugs and alcohol. Even after the disaster ends, many people continue to feel an enormous amount of stress and anxiety that, if not dealt with, can turn into long-term mental health problems. Chronic stress can impair the parts of the brain which govern reason and self-control — leading to more unhealthy choices and an increased likelihood of addiction. 
      To add to the suffering, after a natural disaster many are unable to return to work, lack strong social support, or suffer the added financial burden of repairing or replacing damaged property. The long rebuilding process can perpetuate feelings of uncertainty and chronic stress. More vulnerable populations - children and the elderly, for example - are especially susceptible to mental health impacts of natural disasters. They may experience changes in behavior, memory, or executive function.
      Other common psychological responses in the days and weeks following a disaster can be:
      Disbelief Fear and anxiety about the future Disorientation; difficulty making decisions or concentrating Apathy and emotional numbness Nightmares about the event Irritability and anger Sadness and depression Feeling powerless Changes in eating patterns; loss of appetite or overeating Headaches, back, or stomach pains  Difficulty sleeping or falling asleep What can be done to better help survivors of natural disasters?
      Implementing targeted psychological care is critical to saving lives, jobs, and families after a natural disaster. Many have advocated for local and federal government agencies to incorporate psychological recovery programs into their disaster preparedness plans - and that has been happening - but slowly.
      On a local level, experts urge survivors to recognize that symptoms of mental health issues after a disaster are normal. And asking for help is not a weakness. To move toward healing, survivors can:
      Talk about the event: share experiences with others in order to relieve stress. Spend time with friends and family: stay in touch with family outside the area by phone if possible.  Get plenty of rest and exercise, and eat properly. Avoid drugs and excessive drinking: drugs and alcohol may seem to temporarily remove stress, but in the long run, they create additional problems. Limit exposure to images of the disaster: it’s tempting, but watching news about the event over and over increases stress. Take one thing at a time: pick one urgent task and work on it, then once you accomplish that task, choose the next one, and so on. Join a support group of individuals with similar life experiences. Ask for more help when you need it: if you have strong feelings that won’t go away or if you are still struggling more than 4-6 weeks after the event, seek professional help.  Don’t try to cope alone. If you’ve been involved in a natural disaster and 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.
      Journal Family Medical Primary Care
      Current Psychology
      International Journal of Emergency Mental Health and Human Resilience
      Scientific American
    20. 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.
      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
    21. 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.
    22. How Cognitive Behavioral Therapy Helps Reframe Dysfunctional Thoughts

      You may have heard the term mentioned in the context of ways to address behavioral health issues. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (also known as CBT) is a form of talk therapy that has been found to be effective for multiple mental health conditions including depression, anxiety, alcohol and drug abuse, and eating disorders. Considered a ‘problem-solving strategy’, CBT seeks to change dysfunctional (and often unhelpful) thoughts and behaviors by questioning, identifying and then reframing them. In this article, we look into how and why CBT works.
      How does Cognitive Behavioral Therapy work?
      CBT was built on the idea that our thoughts and perceptions influence our behavior. Researchers have found that when we feel distressed, our thoughts and feelings may distort our perception of reality - so CBT aims to identify and name those thoughts, to assess whether they are an accurate depiction of reality, and then if they are not, to come up with individualized strategies to challenge and overcome them.
      CBT was founded by psychiatrist Aaron Beck at the University of Pennsylvania in the 1960s who wanted to offer his patients a treatment option to the prevailing Freudian psychoanalysis style of the time which dealt primarily with patients' past (childhood) experiences. Beck wanted to develop a type of therapy that was shorter-term and goal-oriented, but also scientifically-validated. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy focuses on current problems and helping patients find ways to help themselves. This does not mean that it completely ignores the influence of the past, but it deals primarily with identifying and changing distressing thought and behavior patterns of the present. 
      For example, CBT may have patients address questions like: What are you thinking right now? What were you thinking when you began to feel anxious? Can we find harmful patterns that emerge when you begin to feel anxious? The goal is to understand what happens in our minds when we are distressed and to change how we respond. In this way, we develop a greater sense of confidence in our own abilities to deal with challenging thoughts and feelings.
      What does CBT look like in practice?
      Research has shown that CBT is appropriate for all ages, including children, adolescents, and adults. It can be effective in a relatively brief period of time, generally, 5 to 20 sessions, though there is no set time frame. Research also indicates that CBT can be delivered effectively online, in addition to in-person therapy sessions.
      In practice, therapists and patients collaborate together to develop an understanding of the problem and to come up with a treatment strategy. Through exercises in-session as well as outside homework exercises, patients learn how to develop coping skills to change their own thinking, problematic emotions, and behavior. Therapy sessions may involve role-playing to prepare for potentially problematic interactions with others, as well as learning ways to calm one’s mind and body in times of stress. 
      Multiple research studies confirm the benefits of CBT
      Research has shown that CBT can address conditions such as major depressive disorder, anxiety disorders, substance abuse, post-traumatic stress disorder, anger issues, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorders, and others. Studies suggest that CBT leads to significant improvement in functioning and quality of life. In many studies, CBT has been demonstrated to be as effective as, or more effective than, other forms of psychological therapy or psychiatric medications.
      If you are interested in exploring Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, 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 understand how to recognize and treat multiple disorders like anxiety and depression, and many are certified in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy. If you’re a behavioral health provider looking to join our network, see all the benefits and learn how to apply here.
      American Psychological Association
      National Institutes of Health (NIH)
      Journal, Frontiers in Psychology
    23. 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.
      Journal Animals
      BMC Psychiatry
      NIH News in Health
      Frontiers in Psychology
    24. 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.
    25. 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.
      New York Times
      American Psychological Association
      Journal of Affective Science
      Frontiers in Psychology
  • Create New...