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    1. Joining Hands for Suicide Prevention and Awareness Month

      September is more than just another month on the calendar. It's a time to shine a light on a topic that often hides in the shadows, yet affects countless lives worldwide: suicide. As we mark Suicide Prevention Month, we have a vital opportunity to come together, raise awareness, and champion the cause of mental health support. In this blog post, we'll delve into the significance of promoting mental health awareness and suicide prevention, shedding light on its prevalence, impact, warning signs, and actionable steps to make a difference in our communities.
      The Prevalence and Impact of Suicide
      Suicide isn't just a statistic; it's a tragedy that leaves behind heartbroken families, friends, and communities. Globally, over 700,000 lives are lost to suicide each year, making it a leading cause of death. In the United States alone, suicide claims more than 48,000 lives annually, and for every successful attempt, many more individuals struggle with suicidal thoughts. These numbers underscore the urgency of addressing this issue head-on.
      The impact of suicide reverberates far beyond the immediate loss. It sends shockwaves through families, schools, workplaces, and communities, leaving a lasting emotional scar. The stigma surrounding mental health often leads individuals to suffer in silence, reluctant to seek help. This is why it's crucial to create an environment where people feel safe discussing their struggles and seeking the support they need.
      Recognizing the Warning Signs
      Understanding the warning signs of suicidal behavior is a critical step in prevention. While each person's experience is unique, common indicators include:
      Talking about suicide: Expressing thoughts of suicide, even casually, should be taken seriously. Increased isolation: Withdrawing from friends, family, and activities they once enjoyed. Drastic mood swings: Severe shifts in emotions, including depression, anxiety, and rage. Giving away belongings: Uncharacteristic acts of giving away possessions. Sudden calmness: A sudden improvement in mood after a period of depression. Making arrangements: Taking steps such as making a will or saying goodbye to loved ones. Understanding Risk Factors
      Several factors can contribute to an individual's vulnerability to suicide, including:
      Mental health conditions: Depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia are associated with a higher risk. Substance abuse: Drug and alcohol misuse can intensify feelings of hopelessness. Previous attempts: Those who have attempted suicide before are at a higher risk. Access to lethal means: Easy access to firearms or other means increases the risk. Family history: A family history of suicide or mental health issues can be a risk factor. Taking Action to Make a Difference
      While addressing suicide prevention may seem daunting, even small actions can have a meaningful impact. Here are some actionable steps that individuals can take:
      Educate Yourself: Learn about the signs of suicidal thoughts and mental health struggles. Knowledge is the foundation of effective action. Start Conversations: Initiate open and non-judgmental conversations about mental health. Let friends and loved ones know that you're there to listen and support them. Share Resources: Spread awareness by sharing credible resources on social media or within your community. Knowledge can save lives. Be an Active Listener: When someone shares their feelings, listen without judgment. Let them express themselves and provide empathy. Create a Safety Plan: If you're concerned about someone, work together to create a safety plan. This plan can include emergency contacts, coping strategies, and steps to take when feelings of crisis arise. Support Local Initiatives: Get involved in local mental health and suicide prevention organizations. Volunteering or participating in events can make a tangible difference. Advocate for Policy Changes: Support policies that prioritize mental health resources and remove barriers to treatment. Conclusion
      Suicide Prevention Month serves as a reminder that we all play a role in creating a world where mental health is a priority and where support is readily available for those who need it most. By raising awareness, sharing information, and taking tangible actions, we can collectively work towards reducing the stigma surrounding mental health, recognizing the warning signs, and providing the necessary support to save lives. Remember, every small effort counts, and together, we can make a significant impact on suicide prevention and mental health awareness.
       
    2. The Food and Mood Connection: Cultivating Healthy Eating Habits

      Many people wonder, “Does eating healthy make you feel better?” In the case of the food and mood connection, the simple answer is yes. In fact, food is the fuel that drives all the body’s processes, so it makes sense that providing the body with the highest quality of fuel can make you feel your best, both physically and mentally. Read on to learn about the relationship between food and mood, as well as how to cultivate healthy eating habits one meal at a time.
      The Importance of Healthy Eating Habits
      Being mindful of food consumption can play a big role in overall well-being. This is because mindful nutrition can have a significant impact on your physical and mental health. Healthy eating habits can lower your risk of chronic illnesses such as diabetes, hypertension, and hypercholesterolemia. Eating healthy foods can also increase your immunity and help you achieve and maintain a healthy weight, both of which help maximize wellness.
      The Connection Between Healthy Eating and Mood
      The benefits of eating nutritious food transcend the effects on the physical body. Beyond helping you avoid chronic disease and excess body weight, eating healthy foods can also improve energy levels, focus, and mood. In fact, researchers have found that people who follow a healthy eating pattern have better mental health than those who adhere to less healthy diets. The converse is also true: Fueling the body with poor-quality food can negatively impact mental health.
      Researchers are uncertain why there is a food and mood connection, but it may be related to the small microorganisms that live in the gastrointestinal tract (the “gut microbiome”) and their influence on mood and behavior. Healthy eating patterns can also reduce underlying inflammation within the body, which may improve mood disorders. Another proposed mechanism is that eating a healthy and consistent diet can minimize wild swings in blood sugar levels, which may be a factor in conditions of low mood.
      Tips for How to Cultivate Healthy Eating Habits
      It’s one thing to know the importance of creating healthy eating habits. It’s quite another challenge to maintain those habits over the long term. Here are some helpful tips for how to cultivate healthy eating habits.
      Tip #1: Meal Plan in Advance
      Having an eating plan in place in advance can help you avoid a situation in which you are super hungry and tempted to give in to cravings for unhealthy food choices. Meal planning can be a helpful way to start cultivating healthy eating habits.
      Start by writing down what you typically eat in a given week, broken down by each meal. Then, evaluate where you can start making changes. This may be as small as making a big batch of oatmeal over the weekend and progressively eating it for breakfast during the week instead of relying on whatever's around at the office for grazing.
      Gradually, you can ramp up your meal planning so that you're being deliberate or mindful for the majority of meals each week. If you know in advance that you will have a particularly busy or hectic day, take that into consideration when food prepping so that you have a quick and easy meal planned or, even better, plenty of leftovers available from the day before.
      Tip #2: Make the Mood Food Connection Fun
      Parents across the board are used to using various strategies to make healthy eating more appealing to kids (i.e., “ants on a log” to get children to consume celery, peanut butter, and raisins). The same strategy can be applied to adults of all ages as well.
      Eating healthy foods does not have to be boring. Instead, look for a fun and easy cookbook or search for fun and easy recipes on Pinterest to help stay motivated. Experimenting with food shapes (star-shaped cucumbers, anyone?) and creative dips can trick the brain into being excited about eating foods that may feel less thrilling at first blush.
      Tip #3: Avoid Absolute Restriction
      Trying to cut certain “temptation” foods completely out of the diet is very difficult to do and maintain. You may have a string of healthy eating days and then go completely off the rails when you lose willpower or have a “cheat day.”
      Nothing can derail a balanced diet like bouncing back and forth between super-healthy meals and meals that are completely void of any nutrition at all. Instead, you should avoid absolute restriction and permit yourself to eat what you enjoy in moderation, while also eating healthy foods.
      Tip #4: Stay Well Hydrated
      Part of a healthy eating plan includes staying well hydrated. Sometimes you may feel hungry when you’re actually just thirsty, which is why it’s important to keep up with daily water intake requirements (3.7 liters for the average man and 2.7 liters for the average woman). Some studies have even shown that drinking water before a meal may reduce the amount that a person eats during the meal, so staying well hydrated may also help with portion control.
      Tip #5: Experiment With Spices
      Eating healthy means eating a rainbow of different-colored fruits and vegetables, as well as whole grains, lean meats, and healthy fats. Adding a number of new fruits and vegetables into the diet may be enough to spice things up, but if you are struggling to stick to a healthy eating habit, adding more spices can help too. Healthy herbs and spices can keep new foods interesting and fun to experiment with, and many herbs and spices have wellness-boosting properties themselves.
      Tip #6: Don’t Get Too Ambitious
      When you have early success with mindful eating, you should pat yourself on the back and applaud your efforts. And it’s equally important to not get over-ambitious with trying a new recipe every night because this can lead to burnout. Instead, work on perfecting a few new easy recipes for the arsenal and incorporating these into your daily life. Gradually building in a new dish here and there can help mix things up without feeling too overwhelming and making you vulnerable to giving up altogether.
      Common Challenges of Healthy Eating Habits
      In today’s world, it’s not always easy to eat healthy, even when you know it's the best way to keep yourself firing on all cylinders. The following challenges are common, but some workarounds can help sustain healthy eating habits.
      Challenge #1: Eating Healthy Can Be Expensive
      Shopping exclusively at a farmer’s market or high-end grocery is a recipe for financial distress. People often find it challenging to change their eating habits because fresh, healthy produce tends to be more pricey than processed foods that are more shelf-stable. While this is a real challenge, it doesn’t have to get in the way of embracing the food and mood connection.
      To stay within budget, try to buy healthy foods in bulk, and shop during sales whenever possible. One way to do this is to eat the fresh produce that is in season at any given time of year. Buying frozen produce can also help save money while still maximizing nutritional benefits.
      Challenge #2: Eating Healthy Can Be Time-Consuming
      Another challenge when it comes to making healthy food choices is that it can initially take more time and effort to eat healthy than it does to make last-minute food decisions and pick up dinner from the drive-through on the way home.
      It takes real cognitive work to plan out meals, shop for ingredients, and then prepare those meals, compared to eating out or buying ready-made meals. However, once you get into a pattern of eating healthy, it's simple to find workarounds to reduce the amount of time required.
      Meal prepping in advance, so that you have easy, ready-to-go snacks, lunches, or dinners, can go a long way in cutting down on preparation time. Also, seek out recipes with just a few ingredients and meals that can be prepared on "auto pilot" — such as one pot meals, sheet pan meals, or slow cooker meals.
      Challenge #3: Eating Healthy Can Make It Hard to Socialize
      It may be intimidating to make changes to a nutrition plan if you're worried about the social implications. If eating out or frequent dinners are part of your work culture or social life, you may feel self-conscious about not ordering pizza with the group or eating a salad instead of digging into the burger and fries.
      However, healthy eating options are typically available everywhere, once you start to look. Taking a peek at the menu online ahead of time can help reduce decision-related stress in the moment and make it more likely that you will stick to the plan. Sometimes, just choosing the healthier option in a social setting, or the lesser evil, can go a long way in sticking to a balanced diet.
      Embracing the Food-Mood Connection
      The undeniable connection between food and mood highlights the importance of healthy eating habits for both physical and mental well-being. Nourishing our bodies with high-quality fuel can lead to increased energy, focus, and better mental health. Strategies like meal planning, creative food choices, moderation, hydration, and flavor experimentation aid in cultivating these habits. Despite challenges, embracing this relationship empowers us to enhance our overall wellness, meal by mindful meal.
    3. Back to School Guide: Tips for Empowering & Supporting Your Kids

      Beyond the frenzy of school supply shopping, lies a more crucial task on the back-to-school agenda for parents – helping their children manage the stress that often accompanies this transition. As the school year brings forth new teachers, friends, and expectations, it's important for parents to play a pivotal role in establishing routines and nurturing a positive mindset that can help children tackle change confidently. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into practical strategies that empower parents to support their kids' emotional well-being during the back-to-school period.
      Reducing Back-to-School Anxiety Through Routines
      The shift from summer's carefree days to structured school routines can trigger anxiety in children. Establishing a new routine can help ease this transition by providing predictability and a sense of control. Here’s how parents can guide their children in crafting an effective routine:
      Step 1: Crafting a Realistic Schedule Parents should work backward from fixed constraints, like school start times, to build a routine. Allot extra time to account for learning curves and unforeseen delays, ensuring a stress-free start to the day.
      Step 2: Involving Children in the Process Foster a sense of ownership by involving children in the routine creation process. Encourage them to participate in decisions, such as choosing an alarm tone or a morning activity, instilling a sense of empowerment.
      Step 3: Preparing Through Practice Parents can ease children into the new routine gradually by adjusting sleep schedules and practicing the routine in the weeks leading up to school. Conduct a "practice morning" to allow kids to visualize and adjust to the changes.
      Step 4: Embracing Flexibility Accept that unexpected factors may influence the routine. Flexibility is key in adapting to unforeseen circumstances, allowing both parents and children to feel more empowered.
      Supporting Mental and Emotional Well-Being
      Beyond routines, providing mental and emotional support is paramount for a successful transition. Parents can take several steps to help children cope with back-to-school stress:
      Open Communication: Establish an "open door" policy where children feel comfortable sharing their concerns. Active listening can go a long way in managing anxieties effectively. Creative Outlets: Encourage children to express their emotions through journaling, art, or other creative avenues, offering alternative channels for communication. Trusted Support System: Inform children about other supportive adults they can turn to, such as family members or caregivers, giving them multiple outlets to address their worries. Positive Mindset: Foster enthusiasm and a positive outlook about the new school year to help children approach change with optimism. Additional Support
      For children facing heightened back-to-school anxiety, seeking professional help is a viable option. Telemynd offers a range of expert mental health services, including licensed psychiatrists and therapists who can provided personalized support tailored to children's needs.
      Empowering children during the back-to-school transition involves more than just checking off school supply lists. By creating effective routines, fostering open communication, and supporting mental well-being, parents lay a strong foundation for their children's emotional resilience. This comprehensive guide equips parents with practical tools to guide their kids through the journey of change, ensuring a confident and successful start to the new school year.
    4. Beginner’s Guide to Self-Care: Essential Tips for Starting Your Journey

      When people hear the term “self-care,” they may envision someone taking a spa day or a long vacation to the Caribbean. Ahhh, sounds dreamy … but that’s not exactly self-care.
      While those activities may be relaxing, they are not an accurate depiction of practicing self-care, and they are too costly to help anyone on a regular basis.
      True self-care is a routine of repeated activities that help someone care for their physical, mental, and emotional well-being. While the specific habits will look slightly different for everyone, the overall goals are always balance and a healthy lifestyle.
      This article will provide a beginner’s guide to self-care. Anyone starting their self-care journey can begin with confidence and find helpful tips in this self-care guide.
      Self-Care for Beginners
      Before anyone can begin practicing self-care, they must first understand what it is — and what it is not.
      The general goals and practice of self-care are similar for everyone: Find balance in life by making time for activities that refresh them physically, mentally, and emotionally.
      Self-care is not typically lavish events or expensive vacations. It's not something to do just once or twice a year. And self-care is not something that only happens when the rest of life is put on hold.
      More commonly, self-care looks like small daily activities or routines taking 20 minutes or less. Some may cost money — like buying a face mask or enjoying a specialty coffee. But others are free: petting a dog, reading a book from the library, or talking to a friend.
      Self-care activities are important for general health and well-being. Not only are they enjoyable, but they also serve a scientific purpose for the body. Engaging in self-care activities releases “happiness chemicals” in the brain: serotonin, endorphins, dopamine, and oxytocin. Keeping these chemicals flowing helps prevent depression and improves overall mood and health.
      Anyone beginning to practice self-care can take small steps toward improving their mental health and well-being.
      Essential Tips for Starting Self-Care
      Self-care for beginners may take some practice before someone feels any results. People who are already overwhelmed and near burnout find it difficult to add one more thing to their schedule. But truly, everyone deserves self-care. It is available to anyone who makes an effort to take care of themselves for a few minutes a day or throughout the week.
      Beginners to self-care should follow these essential tips for starting self-care routines.
      1. Assess Needs
      The first step in self-care for beginners is to pause and assess their needs. Where are they feeling the least balanced and healthy right now? For example, if they have been feeling tired and overworked lately, the most obvious need is a physical one: sleep.
      But it's important to take the time to look a little deeper to assess all needs. Sleep is a physical need, but it is closely related to mental health. If the thing keeping someone awake at night is a stressful relationship, they may have unmet emotional needs. If they’re restless because their brain keeps worrying over to-do lists, their true need may be relaxation and a mental break.
      All these situations can make someone feel tired, but the answer to solving them looks different in each scenario. Self-care is a unique process for everyone. It’s most effective when someone takes the time to assess their needs first and then find self-care habits to meet those needs.
      A self-care beginner can assess self-care needs in the following categories:
      Physical: Are they getting balanced meals, exercise, feeling strong and healthy, getting sleep? Mental: Are they able to function at work, make decisions, think clearly, and complete long-term projects? Emotional: Do they feel valued, respected, fulfilled? Do they have people to talk to about challenges? Depending on their answers to these questions, someone can focus on the self-care routines that will fill in the gaps for their current mental and physical well-being.
      2. Set Obtainable Goals
      Self-care can bring balance to many issues, but it doesn’t work overnight. It’s also not a replacement for prescriptions from a doctor. When someone is starting a new self-care routine, they need to be realistic about what they want to achieve with self-care and how much time they can realistically commit to self-care.
      For example, a relaxing bedtime routine may be an ideal solution for someone struggling to get enough sleep. But it may be unrealistic for them to spend an hour every single night taking a bath, writing in a journal, practicing meditation, and listening to relaxing music. Instead, they may need to break up these activities into smaller chunks of time throughout the week.
      It’s important to set reasonable goals and a realistic timeline for a self-care journey. It usually takes about a month of repeated effort before something becomes a habit. A self-care beginner should try their new self-care routine for several weeks before reevaluating and making adjustments. It helps to review the assessment questions above to see if there have been any changes or improvements.
      3. Create a Self-Care Toolkit
      Any self-care guide for beginners will include a list of self-care activities to try. These are considered self-care toolkits because they are things someone can pick and choose to support their overall well-being. The tools are generally the same, but people will use different options for various situations, depending on their self-care needs.
      Self-care means valuing oneself enough to carve out time for the things they need most:
      Physical needs, like exercise and healthy meals Intellectual stimulation, like learning a new skill Emotional connection, like talking to friends Relaxation needs, like soaking in a hot bath If none of those activities sound appealing, don’t worry! There are many paths for a beginner to start practicing self-care. Don’t get caught up in the details because self-care habits look a little different for everyone.
      Keep reading to discover more detailed suggestions for a self-care toolkit.
      4. Overcome Challenges and Setbacks
      Any time someone begins a new habit, they are bound to encounter difficulties. They may forget to set aside time for the self-care activities they want to enjoy. Or someone may try a few self-care routines and feel awkward, like they aren’t a good fit.
      These challenges are common, especially for self-care beginners. The most important thing is persistence. No one should give up on their own self-care! If one type of activity isn’t working, switch to a different option from the self-care toolkit. If fitting self-care into a daily routine is difficult, someone can try scheduling it into a calendar or setting reminders on the phone.
      It’s worthwhile to make self-care a priority and keep those self-care “appointments” in the schedule.
      5. Celebrate Progress and Self-Reflection
      Since self-care routines impact physical and mental health in tiny ways throughout the day, someone may not see a dramatic change immediately after beginning to practice self-care. Remember, change is gradual. So it’s important to celebrate baby steps and small improvements along the way.
      An essential tip for starting self-care is to take time to reflect on progress. Someone who reviews the assessment questions every few weeks will start to notice improved answers. When self-care becomes an automatic part of their routine, that’s a sign of success. If a self-care activity becomes the highlight of the day, that means it’s working!
      To maximize self-care benefits, celebrate progress with small rewards or monthly treats. Celebration can be self-care too.
      How to Create a Self-Care Toolkit
      Ultimately, self-care comes down to the individual activities and routines someone chooses to prioritize for their own well-being. The activities may look different for each person, but the self-care message is always the same:
      “I’m doing this because I value myself, and I’m worth it.”
      For example, one person may enjoy taking walks in the woods, while someone else prefers reading a book, but both are making time for activities they enjoy.
      Self-care for beginners means picking and choosing activities from the following lists to see which ones best fulfill their unmet needs. As needs change, it’s natural to try different self-care activities from the toolkit.
      Self-care activities to nurture physical well-being:
      Go for a walk (preferably in nature) Drink water Do stretching exercises Take deep breaths Close your eyes, give them a break Eat a healthy meal Get a good night’s sleep Soak up sunlight Take a bath or shower Exercise for 10-20 minutes Buy new clothes or makeup Use a cleansing face mask Bake something yummy Get a massage Take a 20-minute power nap Get a manicure or pedicure Dance to music Self-care activities to cultivate mental and emotional well-being:
      Listen to music Write in a gratitude journal Call or text someone Laugh Practice meditation Write down positive affirmations Spend time with a friend Light a candle Drink a cup of tea Pet a dog or cat Water plants or flowers Color or paint in a de-stressing coloring book Read a self-help book Snuggle with a weighted blanket Listen to inspiring podcasts De-clutter your space Put together a puzzle Try a creative hobby Read mental health blogs Smell flowers or essential oils Do an act of kindness for someone Plan a social event Hug someone Create and enforce boundaries Talk to a coach or therapist Anyone beginning their self-care journey can choose several fun ideas from the self-care toolkit here. They should select the activities that best meet their personal needs based on the assessment questions. After trying at least one a day for a week, they can repeat the activities that were most helpful to them.
      Self-care for beginners doesn’t have to be intimidating! With the tips from this self-care guide, anyone can take steps toward self-care and improving their physical and mental well-being.
    5. 30-Day Wellness Challenge

      Get ready for National Wellness Month! At Telemynd, we believe that everyone deserves access to mental health and well-being practices that promote a healthier and happier life. That's why we're excited to present our 30-Day Wellness Challenge, focusing on activities and practices to enhance your mental health. Join us on this journey of self-care and discovery, as we embark on a month-long quest to prioritize our mental well-being one day at a time.
      Day 1-5: Mindfulness
      Start the challenge by incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine. Practice deep breathing exercises, meditation, or simply take a few minutes each day to be fully present in the moment. If you need guidance for your mindfulness practice, YouTube offers a wide range of resources, including guided meditations, calming background sounds, and other videos, to help you cultivate mindful environment wherever you are.
      Day 6-10: Get Moving
      Physical activity is essential for mental well-being. Try engaging in free workout videos available online or take a walk in nature. Invite friends or family to join you, making exercise both fun and social.
      Day 11-16: Journal Your Thoughts
      Journaling is a therapeutic practice that allows you to express your thoughts and emotions freely. Invest in an affordable notebook or use digital journaling apps to track your progress and reflect on your feelings throughout the challenge.
      Day 17-21: Cultivate Gratitude
      Practicing gratitude can significantly improve your mental health. Each day, write down three things you are thankful for. Whether it's a beautiful sunset, a supportive friend, or a small achievement, expressing gratitude can shift your focus to the positive aspects of life.
      Day 22-26: Connect with Nature
      Spend time outdoors and connect with nature during this phase of the challenge. Enjoy a picnic in the park, take a hike, or have a relaxing day at the beach. Nature has a calming effect on the mind and soul, helping you recharge and rejuvenate.
      Day 27-31: Embrace Creativity
      Engaging in creative activities can be incredibly therapeutic. Try drawing, painting, writing poetry, or learning a musical instrument. You don't need expensive art supplies; simple materials will do. Let your creativity flow freely and notice the positive impact on your mental well-being.
      Bonus Tips:
      Social Support: Reach out to friends and family for emotional support during the challenge. Share your experiences, feelings, and progress with them.
      Get Inspired: Try exploring various online resources or ideas to discover activities or practices you may want to try during each week of this challenge. Remember, everyone's wellness journey is unique, so feel free to personalize the challenge to suit your needs and preferences. Let your individuality shine as you embark on this transformative and enriching experience!
      Telemynd Resources: Telemynd offers affordable and accessible mental health services. Consider exploring our virtual therapy sessions and mental health resources for expert guidance and support.
    6. Tips for Stress-Free Summer Adventures With Kids

      With August right around the corner, we know that the days of carefree summer adventures with your kids are drawing to a close. However, there's still time to make the most of this season before school starts again. Summer for kids is all about relaxation, with no school schedules to worry about. They can stay up late, enjoy family trips, and engage in creative activities.
      This time presents a wonderful opportunity for kids to explore new things, discover their local surroundings, and create lasting memories during family outings. As parents, we all want to ensure that summer adventures with our kids are enjoyable for everyone involved.
      Yet, we understand that summer can be a bit overwhelming for parents, as we try to keep our kids fed and entertained. The days might feel never-ending, and the bickering over toys and screen time can add to the stress. It's not uncommon for the craft ideas we find online to end up causing more mess and frustration than anticipated.
      For parents seeking a stress-free summer experience with their kids, it's essential to plan ahead with kid-friendly activities and family outings. While there's no guarantee of a perfect, stress-free day, we've found that by preparing in advance, staying flexible, and involving our children in the planning process, we are more likely to have successful and enjoyable summer adventures with the little ones.
      If you're looking for stress-free activities to enjoy with your kids during these last days of summer, we've put together some helpful tips for you. Let's make the most of this time and create wonderful memories with our children
      Planning Summer Activities With Children
      When preparing for summer adventures with children, parents can take steps to set themselves up for success. It’s important for parents to consider their child(ren)’s age and be realistic about what activities are the best fit for their schedule and budget.
      The best activities are those parents can set up and demonstrate for their child, which they can enjoy safely with minimal supervision. Open-ended play will keep kids entertained for a long period of time while developing their problem-solving or creative abilities.
      To keep summer activities running smoothly and stress-free, parents should follow these tips for kid-friendly summer adventures.
      Create a Schedule
      Kids can make the most of summer activities when they have a predictable schedule to follow. Children with predictable routines are generally calmer and find it easier to adjust between activities. This doesn’t mean parents need to plan every minute of the day. But they should give kids of all ages some structure for the day. Some ideas for a summer schedule include:
      Do chores right after breakfast Go outside to play in the morning Do 20 minutes of reading Quiet time after lunch Complete workbook activities before screen time Go to the pool on Saturday afternoons If a child is still learning to read, parents can use color-coded papers or pictures to display the schedule for their child.
      Practice Flexibility and Embrace Unpredictability
      Yes, schedules and structure are important. But life won’t look the same every single day of the summer. Children love when little unexpected events change their regular routines.
      Embrace the flexibility of summer days with these simple, stress-free adventures for children:
      Let kids pick out a treat at the grocery store Attend kid craft activities at the library After kids earn allowance from chores, take them out for ice cream or snow cones Fill up water balloons on a hot afternoon Spin a wheel of possible activities for the day Stay up late to catch fireflies Summer allows for more flexible schedules, so be sure to do simple unpredictable summer activities with kids to make the best memories.
      Involve Kids in the Planning Process
      Kids of any age can get involved in planning family-friendly summer activities. Parents who involve their kids in making summer plans will enjoy several benefits.
      Kids who help plan activities are more likely to participate and enjoy with a willing attitude. Parents who ask their kids for ideas are empowering their children to make choices. The whole family can benefit from the unique perspective and ideas kids have. Older children can do research on local places they would like to visit or activities related to their own areas of interest.
      Younger children can draw inspiration from the letters of the alphabet. Invite them to think of crafts, activities, and food related to a different letter each day.
      When planning a family vacation, get input from everyone, including young children. Try to ensure there is something for each person to look forward to and enjoy about a trip.
      Kid-Friendly Summer Adventures
      Parents always need ideas for stress-free summer activities with kids. Some find it’s best to stockpile summer activity inspiration so they always have a suggestion for a rainy day or when a kid complains, “I’m bored.”
      Many parents make a Summer Bucket List of fun things to do with kids and display it on the wall where kids can choose activities each day. Another idea is to make a Bored Jar with small cards listing activities kids can do on their own throughout the summer. Once a child can read, they select an item from the jar and enjoy the prompt activity for the next hour.
      Having fresh, creative ideas for summer activities will get parents through the long, hot days of summer. Parents can add these family-friendly summer activities with kids to the schedule:
      Outside Activities
      Turn on the hose and sprinklers Fill up a baby pool and add floating toys Read a book in the shade Create sidewalk chalk art Mix a bucket of bubble solution, dip tennis rackets and string loops in to make giant bubbles Hang up a sheet and use a projector to make a drive-in movie Make a muffin-tin picnic, with assorted snacks and finger foods in muffin tin cups Hands-On Crafts
      Draw and paint with finger paint or cornstarch chalk, using cut fruit or vegetable pieces as stamps Set up simple age-appropriate science experiments Play with modeling clay, using household objects to make imprints or cut shapes Plant flowers or vegetables so kids can water them and watch for blooms Let kids choose a new skill to learn, like baking, sewing, photography, etc. Go on a nature walk, collect plants to press and trace Local Outings
      Go to a park, playground, or sports field Play at a kid-friendly splash pad Swim at a public pool Visit the library for story-time, themed activities, or Summer Reading programs Ride bikes on a park path or trail Taste-test local sweet treats until you find a family favorite Tips for Stress-Free Family Outings
      Planning summer adventures for the family can be fun and lead to great memories! But going anywhere with kids can be a recipe for stress and exhaustion, especially if parents find themselves unprepared. It’s important to plan ahead and take care of the parents’ needs, too, so the whole family can have a successful trip.
      Parents planning a local day trip or a bigger week-long adventure can practice these vacation tips for families.
      When Packing, Be Overprepared
      For a stress-free family outing, parents need to plan ahead and prepare for the unexpected. This means making an itinerary with flexibility for kids getting tired of walking or needing a midday nap. Pack layers of clothing so everyone is prepared for cold or rainy days. Parents should bring plenty of snacks and water to fuel kids through summer adventures.
      During family outings, many parents bring a basic first aid kit with sunscreen, band-aids, anti-itch ointment, sunburn relief, and children’s fever medicine. That way, they are prepared to help a child feel better immediately without losing time searching for a store.
      Parents should also take time to prepare their child for travel during family vacations. When kids don’t understand where they are going or what the plan is for their trip, they may feel more anxious about the family outing. When parents discuss travel details with their kids and answer their questions, it helps kids relax and enjoy the adventure.
      Self-Care for Stress-Free Family Vacations
      One of the most important vacation tips for families is for parents to remember their own self-care throughout the summer. It’s important for adults to take care of themselves, especially if they are caring for young children. Parents who are nourished, well-rested, and feel emotionally supported will find it easier to relax and be patient during family activities in summer.
      That’s why parents should consider their own self-care before and during family outings. Instead of staying up late packing or eating fast food during a road trip, parents can plan small moments and routines that help them relax throughout the summer.
      Self-care for parents in summer might include:
      Waking up before their kids to enjoy a relaxing morning ritual Walking in nature daily to be rejuvenated Planning time to exercise or be active Staying hydrated, especially on hot summer days Eating fresh produce to get vitamins and fiber Building daily quiet time into their kids’ schedule Engaging socially—in person or via text—with supportive people Going to bed early enough to feel refreshed the next day Taking time to be in the moment and soak it all in When parents take care of themselves and their own basic care needs, they will be better prepared to handle family outings with kids.
      Stress-Free Summer Adventures With Kids
      Parents who want to reduce their stress and enjoy fun summer activities with kids should focus on planning ahead while providing both structure and flexibility. They can make a list of the best age-appropriate activities for their child. When preparing for outings or family vacations this summer, parents should pack for possible challenges. And finally, parents should tend to their own self-care so they’re better able to enjoy summer adventures as a family.
    7. Productivity Hacks and Time Management Techniques

      The world of work is very different than it used to be. Data from the Pew Research Center suggests that 35% of people whose jobs can be remote are working from home full-time. Further, self-employment or freelance work often means wearing multiple hats over the course of the week. While having a varied and flexible work schedule is nice, it can also mean time management and productivity challenges compared to the traditional 8 to 5 workday.
      The good news is – whether working from home, the office, or both - there are productivity hacks for effective time management and boosting productivity. In this article, we provide a range of strategies - different people find that different methods work better for them.
      Organizing for Effective Time Management
      Placing all life responsibilities onto a calendar and to-do lists can help clear the mind and focus more easily on the task at hand. It also takes away the need to rely on memory.
      The latest research found that people who use paper planners, versus those who use mobile device calendars, made higher-quality plans and more successfully carried them out. The researchers explain that a paper calendar allows people to see a broader time period. This gives a big-picture perspective while planning. All information is also viewed more easily on a paper planner, whereas on mobile devices, you have to click on an event to see its details.
      Planners with monthly and weekly pages, and a few blank pages for to-do lists, can be the most useful. Furthermore, if folks use them for both work and personal activities, they can avoid scheduling conflicts and have a sense of their work-life balance.
      Here are ways to use paper planners to enhance productivity:
      Noting deadlines. Place deadlines, meetings, and events on the monthly pages. Also note regular tasks such as taxes, car servicing, and the annual vet appointment. Color coding. Use different colors to designate time off, bills, deadlines, and meetings. This makes it easier to see what’s coming due and when a particular event is occurring. Writing to-do lists. Write all regular to-dos in categories. For example, regular activities (cleaning and laundry), projects (home repairs), work-related tasks (invoicing), and hobbies or bucket list items. These serve as a good reminder and help to make steady progress on longer-term projects. Planning ahead. Spending 15-30 minutes on the weekend to plan the upcoming week is a great way of improving efficiency. Look at your calendar over the next few months to see approaching events and deadlines. Prioritize based on due dates and work complexity. On the weekly page, place tasks for each day on one side and that day’s schedule on the other. Then look at your to-do lists and write any tasks needed from those as well. Designating days. Those who wear a few hats in the week can benefit from devoting an entire day to wearing just one. Switching between multiple responsibilities can make it difficult to complete projects because no specific one gets a significant amount of time. For example, if Mondays and Tuesdays are days to meet with clients, Wednesdays and Thursdays can be reserved for writing. Establishing a Daily Routine
      Having a routine helps regulate the body’s internal clock. This facilitates quality sleep, which is needed to be productive. What’s more, a routine can support healthy habits, like eating regular meals and going to bed and getting up at consistent times. A few helpful aspects of a daily routine can include:
      Getting up earlier. Some research suggests that early risers feel better mentally and emotionally. Getting up early also provides more time to work during the day and, in turn, have more off-time in the evenings. Furthermore, more business hours are available for you to contact organizations. Getting dressed each day. Even when working remotely, some people find that wearing regular clothes can help them get into the work mindset. It can also make it more satisfying to relax in pajamas later. Considering individual needs. For those who are most alert in the morning, that might be the time to write, and the afternoons can be the time for running errands, for example. Breaking Down Large Projects
      Tackling a project like a 50-page report can feel overwhelming. However, just a bit of planning can alleviate anxiety and foster progress. Two key things to do include:
      Breaking it up into smaller tasks. This can be, for instance, research, an outline, each chapter, editing, and final proofreading. Setting mini-deadlines. Set shorter deadlines for each task by considering how long it will take and working backward in your calendar from the final deadline. Setting Measurable Goals for Boosting Productivity
      The key to productivity is to set measurable goals. This can also be a time-saving strategy. SMART is a great acronym to use:
      Specific. Be clear on the task you are broaching. Measurable. Establish a quantifiable outcome. Achievable. Have a realistic goal that sets you up for success. Relevant. Prioritize. Time-bound. Give yourself a time limit. For a 2000-word article due in 3 days, a strong goal would be “From 8 am to noon, I will do the research and complete my outline.” This is referring to a specific project, a measurable outcome (an outline); it is achievable because the time frame is appropriate, it is relevant because the project is due in 3 days, and it is time-bound (4 hours).
      Vague goals, like “today I’m going to write for 4 hours,” are not as useful. They can lead to spending time in front of the computer and going down the research rabbit hole resulting in only one written paragraph.
      Avoiding Multitasking
      While it may seem like multitasking can increase productivity, it is actually counterproductive. The truth is, the brain cannot focus on two or more tasks at once without slowing processing and making mistakes. The way to fight the urge to multitask is to minimize distractions.
      Minimizing Distractions
      Between calls, texts, social media, and emails, there is always something pulling for everyone’s attention. Here are some tips for staying focused:
      Create a workspace. Set aside a space in your home for work. This can also help put you in the work mindset. Keep devices separate. Reserve the phone for social media and games and stay off those sites on the work computer. Website blockers are useful for this. Turn off unnecessary notifications. Unimportant notifications – such as social media and email - can be silenced during work time. Be purposeful with email: Check email at only certain times per day. If working on time-sensitive matters with others, email notifications can be set for only those from certain people. Use the day’s to-do list: Not only can the list help avoid procrastination, but it can also keep your attention focused. Delegating for Maximizing Productivity
      Those with an overflowing plate may benefit from pausing and asking themselves if they can delegate any tasks to coworkers. Folks may ask for help from someone who is reliable or more skilled at the task than they are. Or, supervisors can delegate to supervisees by:
      Playing to their interests and goals Providing the needed resources Giving specific parameters like objectives and deadlines Additionally, little chores also add up to a significant amount of time and take away focus. If the kids are on summer break, they can be in charge of walking the dog or helping Grandma take her medication on time.
      Using Little Tricks for Big Gains
      Small time-saving strategies can help make each day as productive as possible. Different approaches work for different people, so the key is to use techniques that work for you. Additional time management tips include:
      Planning meals. Plan meals based on your schedule for the upcoming week and shop for needed ingredients just once. This helps avoid having to make last-minute decisions or trips to the store. Using short breaks effectively. Thirty minutes in between meetings is a great time for small tasks like making phone calls, going to the mailbox, or sending emails. Using long breaks wisely. Use large chunks of time for in-depth tasks like writing or studying. Touching things only once. The “touch it once” rule means immediately acting on something while it is in hand. For instance, right after checking mail, going ahead and sorting it, shredding credit card applications, etc. Creating a mail pile just gives a dreaded mini-project at the end of the week. Or, when coming across a recipe of interest, writing down the needed ingredients right then, saving the trouble of having to remember to make the list later. Knowing when 80% is perfect. Perfectionists can find it hard to call a task “done.” But for some tasks, 80% is all that is needed. For instance, an email to the boss should probably be proofread, but not one informing book club members of details of the next meeting. Organizing the computer. This can be one of the most useful time management techniques. Create shortcuts on your desktop for files and folders you always open. Create templates for documents you write regularly, like invoices. Backing-up files. Prepare for tech snafus so that you don’t lose your work: at the end of each workday, make copies of your documents onto a jump drive. Using self-rewards. Some people find that giving themselves little rewards throughout the day keeps them motivated. For instance, get on social media only after finishing the chapter you are writing. Looking forward to things. Planning for dinner with friends in the middle of the week, for example, can also be a motivator for completing tasks. Taking Care of Yourself
      The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention say productivity improves with good health. Humans can only do so much if they do not feel their best.
      Here are some ways to sustain energy and well-being:
      Eating healthy. A balanced diet is important for energy and long-term health. Getting enough sleep. Too little sleep slows people down the next day and negatively affects health in the long run. Exercising. Keeping the body active has positive effects on mood and energy. Some people exercise in the morning to get energized for the day. Others prefer to exercise in the afternoon when they feel less mentally alert. Taking breaks. Sitting for too long can tighten muscles and strain the eyes. Set an alarm to stand up regularly and stretch. The American Optometric Association suggests the 20-20-20 rule: take a 20-second break every 20 minutes to look at something 20 feet away. Interacting with others: Working from home can cause loneliness. Scheduling time with friends, working in a coffee shop, or volunteering are just a few ways to combat this. Calling it a day. Work and personal time can blend together. Checking email in front of the tv means less focus on your favorite show as well as on your correspondence. Moreover, emails will always be rolling in. Pick a consistent time to end the workday to maintain a healthy balance of work and rest. Unwinding. Give yourself time to relax before bed, whether that’s by streaming your favorite show, reading a book, or spending time with loved ones. This also helps with sleep. Being creative: Schedule in time for hobbies. Having a creative outlet or expressing another facet of yourself improves well-being. Having a play day. Give yourself 24 hours per week to do whatever you want, whether it be going to the park or engaging in a hobby. In today's ever-evolving work landscape, embracing productivity hacks is essential for effective time management. Whether working remotely or in the office, implementing strategies like organizing with paper planners, establishing a daily routine, breaking down large projects, setting measurable goals, avoiding multitasking, and minimizing distractions can significantly boost productivity. Additionally, taking care of oneself through healthy habits and creative outlets contributes to overall well-being and enhances work-life balance. By incorporating these techniques, individuals can navigate the dynamic world of work with greater efficiency and satisfaction.
    8. Unveiling Client Insights Through Video Gaming

      When you discover that your client's primary pastime is video gaming, consuming 6-10 hours a day, you might catch yourself rolling your eyes. Every spare moment seems to revolve around gaming, and their entire social circle comprises internet gamers. It's easy to engage in negative self-talk, labeling it as a colossal waste of time and questioning the authenticity of their online friendships. Negative stereotypes and overgeneralizations often surround this generation of video gamers. But let's challenge our biases. Would you react the same way if your client told you they were an avid reader, spending most of their free time engrossed in books, attending book clubs, and hosting some themselves? Perhaps not, or at least with less negativity.
      Understanding Video Gaming:
      While it is true that video gaming can become a detrimental behavioral addiction for a small minority, it does not hold true for the vast majority of gamers. The DSM-5 categorizes it as a condition for further study, while the ICD-11 includes it as "Gaming Disorder." Research suggests that gaming disorder affects around 3%-8% of individuals. Whether or not your client's gaming habit reaches the level of a diagnosis, there is valuable information to be discovered if you are willing to invest some time in understanding gaming and its role in their life.
      Building Rapport through Video Gaming:
      In this blog post, I hope to convey the idea that paying attention to video gaming can be beneficial. Just like any other activity that occupies the majority of your client's leisure time, showing genuine interest in it can help you connect with them, develop rapport, and demonstrate positive regard. The wide range of game types, objectives, and available personas within video games can act as a sort of informal "projective test," providing valuable insights into your client's psychological needs and desires. The planning, strategy, skills, and social connections developed through gaming should not be dismissed. The choices they make within games and the personas they create hold meaning for them, much like the narratives young clients construct in play therapy or the subject matter and rendering choices in art therapy. To unlock these insights, we need to set aside our biases and listen and learn.
      Video Gaming 101:
      It's understandable if you haven't played most, if any, of the modern video games. Embrace your lack of knowledge as an advantage because when you ask your client to describe their experiences, favorite games, created personas, and emotional reactions during gameplay, your genuine curiosity will lead to insightful conversations. However, for a rough roadmap, here are some basic game genres:
      Sandbox: Games with open-ended goals that encourage experimentation and building (e.g., The Sims, Minecraft). Real-time Strategy: Games where players and AI control competing factions in real-time, emphasizing strategy and resource management (e.g., Warcraft, Age of Empires). Multiplayer Online Battle Arena: Similar to real-time strategy games, but players can form teams with other gamers in real-time to compete (e.g., League of Legends, Smite). Shooters (First Person/Third Person): Action-packed games where players engage in battles and wars, with a first-person or third-person perspective (e.g., Halo, DOOM). Role-Playing Games: Games where players control characters who navigate a fantasy world, facing challenges and leveling up (e.g., Skyrim, Fallout 4). Action Adventure: These games can have complex plot lines. They are often highly immersive with the players solving mysteries or puzzles in a first-person perspective. Significant combat elements are often present. (e.g. Legend of Zelda, Assassins Creed) Simulation & Sports: Here you fly the airplanes, drive the cars or play the sports in very realistic ways. (e.g. Madden NFL, Forza Motorsport) Other genres: Puzzles and Party Games, Survival and Horror, Platformer. It is not necessary to become an expert in these genres and there is significant overlap between the categories. The bottom line is that when you learn that your client identifies as a video gamer, it will be helpful to understand their favorite two or three games. Ask them which games they play the most and do some research to understand the game and why they might be choosing to spend their time immersed in these worlds.
      Archetypes
      One of the most instructive aspects of video gaming for a therapist is understanding the concept of archetypes. When gamers choose or create avatars, they embark on immersive journeys within captivating fantasy worlds. It's not far-fetched to consider that players often deeply identify with their alter egos, reflecting their psychological needs and desires. Let's delve into the prevalent archetypes commonly observed:
      Orphans: The blank slate to project onto Warriors: Natural leaders, eager for battle Healers: Nurturers who keep friends healthy and have with healing abilities Rangers/scouts: Trailblazers, explorers, trackers, and hunters Rouges: Cunning survivors, existing in the shadows as assassins and spies Spellcasters: Masters of magic, wielding spells, and supernatural powers Engineers: Methodical problem solvers, steady and calculated Athletes: Always up for a challenge and striving for superiority Hero: The objective for all the above types as they journey through the game As you learn about your clients favorite games, how the game works and how they have chosen to engage in the game here are some questions for you to consider or even pose to your client.
      Why did you choose this particular game? What draws you to it? How does it surpass others? Describe the enjoyment it brings you. Do you prefer playing the game yourself or watching others play? Why? Do you enjoy team interactions or prefer facing the game's challenges alone? Describe the relationships you have developed. Tell me about your created avatar. What gender are they? What role do they play in the game? What powers do they possess? What are their limitations? Compare/contrast how you solve problems versus how your avatar does. What makes your avatar unique? How did you name your avatar and other characters? What additional powers do you hope to acquire? Describe the game's villain/enemy. What powers do they possess? How do they defeat you? Do you consistently play the same role, or do you switch roles? Why? How do you feel when you are playing, whether winning or losing? Does your game/avatar have limitations and rules which must be abided? Can you draw parallels between your gaming experiences and life outside the game? Are there problem-solving skills in your gaming life that you might employ in life outside of gaming? By delving into your client's video gaming experiences, you not only acknowledge this important aspect of their life but also gain hypotheses and potential insights into their social, cognitive, and emotional functioning.
      Credit where credit is due. Just about everything I know, and I’ve shared here about video gaming comes from the work of Anthony M. Bean, Ph.D. He’s a self-confessed video gamer but also has studied and written extensively about it. He’s the real deal. I’ve listed a couple of references below if you want to get the full story from his primary sources.
      Sources
      Bean, A. M. (2019) Working therapeutically with video gamers and their families. Journal of Health Service Psychology, 45, 40-46.
      Bean, A. M. (2018) Working with video gamers and games in therapy: A clinician’s guide. Routledge Publishers.
      Pavlovic, D. (2020) Video Game Genres: Everything You Need to Know. HP Tech Takes. https://www.hp.com/us-en/shop/tech-takes/video-game-genre
    9. 10 National Veteran-Owned Businesses Giving Back to the Community

      Veterans fight for our country and dedicate their lives to keeping people safe. Their brave and selfless acts should never go unnoticed. Even after returning home, some veterans continue to advocate for the people. Spending time on the front lines can come with many battles, whether with physical or mental health. Many veterans return home lacking tools and resources to readjust to everyday life.
      Plenty of companies support veterans' causes, but special recognition goes to veteran-run ones. Veteran-run small businesses continue to help other veterans every day. Many provide employment opportunities, donate to veteran causes, and support veterans in need.
      Shop These 10 Veteran-Owned Small Businesses
      These 10 veteran-owned businesses are doing just that. From donating products to giving back a percentage of sales to military causes, the following businesses focus on serving the community.
      1. Boldfoot Socks
      Boldfoot Socks aims to show the true meaning of “American-made.” With a unique variety of socks ranging from patriotic to argyle, Boldfoot Socks has something for everyone. And with an incredible cause. Boldfoot Socks donates 5% of each sale to veterans and the U.S. military to improve health services, help with jobs, and reduce homelessness.
      Boldfoot Socks goes the extra mile in customer service, granting three-month sock insurance to replace socks with rips, tears, or holes without question. Every pair of socks is sourced from American-manufactured products and materials with a distinct message. Boldfoot Socks exemplifies what it means to be American-made, striving to repay those who risk their lives to defend our country.
      2. Gatorz Eyewear
      Launched in 1989, Gatorz Eyewear turned a passion for motorcycles into a sunglasses empire. Backed by the U.S. Navy SEALs Foundation, Gatorz Eyewear withstands high speeds, whether on the battlefield or freefalling from the sky. After passing the ultimate performance test, Gatorz Eyewear is the preferred choice of the U.S. Navy SEALs. Each pair of sunglasses is crafted from billet aluminum, with a sleek look that’s equally durable.
      When it comes to giving back, Gatorz Eyewear fights just as hard. Along with the U.S. Navy SEALs, Gatorz is a proud supporter of the Green Beret and Global SOF Foundation. Veterans, military, and first responder personnel can also receive a special discount for their service.
      3. Frag Out Flavor
      An American patriotic celebration just isn’t complete without a barbecue. Combat veteran Patrick Flynn knows this too well. Founded in 2017, Frag Out Flavor boasts exciting flavors to spice up your next cookout. From Honey BBQ to Mango Habenero blends, these best-selling spices support a bigger mission.
      Your next BBQ will boast exciting flavors while supporting a larger mission. Purchasing Frag Out Flavor products means sharing the flavor with deployed veteran troops. Frag Out Flavor donates to the veteran community while supporting those who defend our country with every sale.
      4. 4Freedom Apparel
      Honoring heroes with USA-made clothing, hats, and accessories, 4Freedom Apparel takes pride in giving back to veterans. Owned and operated by military couple Jonathan and Shari, each piece of 4Freedom Apparel gear stylishly boasts the American flag. 4Freedom Apparel is for those who are proud to be American and want to represent their dedication to those who gave their lives to fight for the U.S.
      A proud supporter of multiple foundations that give back, like the Wingman Foundation, Vets 4 Vets, and K9s For Warriors, 4Freedom Apparel donates a portion of its sales to help support each cause.
      5. Nine Line Apparel
      A lifestyle brand founded by Patriots for Patriots, Nine Line Apparel strives to start conversions between those who have served and people who support them. “Nine Line” is an emergency call used during combat. It’s often the difference between life and death for the many severely wounded soldiers. Nine Line Apparel creates patriotic accessories and clothing for men, women, and kids, inspiring unity and camaraderie for Americans nationwide.
      With an emphasis on dedicated support, Nine Line Apparel raises awareness for military and first responder charities, along with disaster relief, veteran initiatives, and more through the Nine Line Foundation.
      6. Snap-On Tools
      One hundred years of advertising has made Snap-on Tools a legend in the tool sales industry. Developed in 1920, Snap-on Tools started with “five unique handles and ten sockets.” Today, this company sells directly to professional technicians, with 80% of its products manufactured in the U.S.
      Snap-on is a proud partner of the Honor Flight Network, an organization that raises funds to fly WWII veterans to Washington, D.C. to see their memorial. Since the program's beginning in 2013, Snap-on has sent over 700 veterans, guardians, and family members to experience this once-in-a-lifetime moment.
      7. Boss Dog
      Boss Dog pays homage to the essential role dogs play in the military and our daily lives. With nothing less than the best, this award-winning line of top-quality dog treats gives canine companions the nutrients they need. From Boss PROBALLS with probiotics to freeze-dried, complete meals, ingredients like raw goat’s milk, taurine, DHA, and Greek yogurt show your dog they are indeed a boss. Boss Dog also sells several durable accessories for your best friend, like harnesses, leashes, and collars.
      With every sale, Boss Dog works to give the best to our heroes. The company sponsors and supports vet and military charities like Heroes for Healthcare, Victory Service Dogs, Folds of Honor, Pets for Vets, and Trails of Purpose.
      8. Bravo Sierra
      Developed within the U.S. military community in 2018, Bravo Sierra brings high-performance personal care to people nationwide. Bravo Sierra only uses clean, skin-friendly ingredients that smell great even in the most demanding conditions. From aluminum-free deodorant to sunscreen, these 100% American-made products serve a higher purpose than just keeping civilians fresh.
      With 40% of its founding team and 30% of all current employees made up of veterans, Bravo Sierra works to provide opportunities for vets in need. The company also donates 5% of all sales to the Morale Welfare and Recreation (MWR) program and provides a 15% discount on Bravo Sierra products for all active duty, veterans, and military family members.
      9. Oscar Mike
      Oscar Mike goes above and beyond to support veterans. Its products aren’t just American-made, from production to stocking and shipping. Oscar Mike also donates 100% of its apparel profits to help veterans in need. With a wide range of apparel and accessories like T-shirts, hoodies, and canteens, the Oscar Mike Foundation supports injured Vets who need to stay active.
      This mission hits home for the founders, a group of injured vets dedicated to creating a space where vets can continue a competitive lifestyle after injury. Focused on creating camaraderie and spaces for injured vets, Oscar Mike has raised over $2.5 million in funds to build a new adaptive sports facility. Oscar Mike bands together to stay active, even competing in Spartan races across the nation.
      10. Hero Soap Company
      Hero Soap Company is a veteran-owned body wash and bar soap company with most ingredients sourced in the U.S. With captivating, natural scents from cedarwood to lavender, these handmade soaps keep civilians and veterans clean and smelling fresh.
      Hero Soap company donates a portion of every sale to charities that support active military, veterans, and first responders, including the 14th Hour Foundation, Operation Finally Home, Gary Sinise Foundation, and Operation Interdependence. It's donated over 1,200 bars to deployed troops and prides itself on being the most American company in the USA.
      Support a Veteran Small Business
      Giving back is a wonderful feeling. So why not give back to the people who have sacrificed a huge part of their lives for this country? People can support small businesses with every purchase from a veteran-owned business and help provide resources.
    10. Positive Psychology Principles: What They Are and How They Can Help Your Mental Health

      Is it possible for someone to improve their mental health and well-being through positive thoughts and talk therapy? The science of positive psychology claims it is not only possible, but also an avenue for mental health care to combat depression and loneliness.
      This article will explore the main positive psychology principles, the benefits of positive psychology for those who practice it, and how to use positive psychology coaching as a mental health resource. After exploring the history and science behind it, keep reading for the best books on positive psychology and inspirational psychology quotes.
      What Is Positive Psychology?
      The biggest goal of positive psychology is to teach someone to shift their perspective, which empowers them to improve their quality of life.
      Unlike traditional psychology, which focuses on a patient’s weaknesses and mental illness, positive psychology’s focus is on the strengths that allow a patient to build a satisfying, meaningful life. By learning more about positive experiences and traits like gratitude or resilience, people can improve their own happiness, well-being, and self-confidence.
      Positive psychology is a relatively new branch of psychology, established in 2000. Martin Seligman, a researcher with a background in psychology, had spent decades studying depression and the link between feelings of sadness and helplessness. He found that patients who learned to build positive character traits could also learn optimism and resilience to improve their overall mental health.
      Seligman felt that traditional psychology had placed too much emphasis on healing damage and not enough effort on building human strengths. Seligman believed the field of positive psychology could correct the imbalance with a focus on helping people find fulfillment in creativity, engaging in meaningful pursuits, facing adversity, and relating to others.
      In 1998, Seligman was elected president of the American Psychological Association. He added positive psychology as a new subfield to focus on the life-giving aspects of psychology. In 2000, Seligman published the foundational paper of positive psychology with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, another psychologist known for developing the concept of “flow.”
      Positive psychology is not meant to replace traditional psychology. Instead, it complements traditional psychology by focusing on “what is going right with an individual” to build positive well-being.
      What Are Positive Psychology Principles?
      Positive psychology is a “soft science” based on evidence-based theories developed from research such as surveys, animal experiments, brain imaging, and case studies. The predominant theory is the observation that developing strong social relationships, personal character traits, and overall happiness can act as a buffer for life’s setbacks.
      Positive psychology promotes the theory that well-being can not only be defined and measured in humans, but it can also be taught. Through positive psychology principles, people can learn to improve their physical and mental well-being.
      Some of the important theories and principles of positive psychology are:
      To live a “good life,” feelings of satisfaction and well-being are more important than feelings of temporary pleasure. A “good day” usually has three main characteristics: feelings of competence, autonomy, and a connection to others. Work and relationships matter in terms of making life worth living because they give people a sense of meaning. Money cannot buy happiness, but helping other people or volunteering almost always leads to feelings of happiness. Based on these theories, Seligman proposed five different building blocks of well-being, which are now referred to as the PERMA model. These include:
      Positive emotions Engagement (with a project or hobby) Relationships Meaning Accomplishment or achievement Patients using positive psychology coaching can learn to develop their own character traits and strengthen these five core areas. Positive psychology demonstrates how people can live meaningful and fulfilling lives by enhancing their everyday experiences.
      What Is “Flow” in Positive Psychology Principles?
      The concept of “flow,” mentioned above, is another positive psychology principle. Csikszentmihalyi coined this term after observing artists, writers, and athletes who seemed to lose themselves in their work during creative experiences. The state of flow occurs when someone has a high challenge and an equally high skill level.
      Because entering flow is a rewarding and enjoyable experience, it is linked to happiness and overall well-being. This aspect of positive psychology encourages people to identify their strengths and develop areas of interest where they can find meaning and satisfaction. It is similar to the principle of engagement from the PERMA model.
      Benefits of Positive Psychology
      Practicing positive psychology regularly enables someone to boost their social and emotional well-being. It leads people to explore their own character strengths so they are better equipped to face challenging situations.
      The human brain has a natural tendency to remember frustration and difficulties more than success. This “negativity bias” benefited Stone Age man when there were daily dangers to avoid, but it is less practical for modern man’s success. Positive psychology principles help people reframe the way they look at life, fight pessimism, focus on strengths, and cultivate gratitude.
      Building a sense of meaning and purpose in life can have a wide range of positive outcomes for those practicing positive psychology. Research demonstrates that older adults who feel their life has meaning and purpose experience higher levels of physical health and mental well-being. Those who felt their lives were meaningful tended to have stronger relationships and more involvement in social activities, so they were less likely to be lonely.
      While many things can contribute to healthy relationships, feelings of connection, and a resilient character, it’s clear that the practice of positive psychology contributes to overall wellness — both physical and mental health.
      Common Misconceptions of Positive Psychology
      Some people think positive psychology is too simple because it focuses on positive experiences but ignores negative emotions and serious conditions like depression or anxiety. It can be viewed as overly optimistic, unrealistically promoting constant happiness. Positive psychology is also misconceived as neglecting individual differences, ignoring the importance of negative experiences, and focusing solely on individual happiness.
      In reality, positive psychology promotes a balanced perspective that acknowledges both the positive and negative and tailors interventions and therapeutic strategies to the individual based on their specific profile. It is a partner to more traditional therapeutic models of psychology. Instead of diminishing alternative methods of managing symptoms, it enhances them. Positive psychology seeks a balanced life in which an individual is equipped to handle the inevitable difficulties that are part of human existence.
      Goals of Positive Psychology Coaching
      For those who want to experience the benefits of positive psychology, the best method is through coaching or talk therapy. With this mental health resource, a client meets regularly with a therapist trained in positive psychology principles.
      The goal of positive psychology coaching is to improve a client’s quality of life by helping them identify their own strengths, giving them a sense of hope, and teaching them how to nurture feelings like gratitude, happiness, and optimism.
      Through coaching, clients will set goals that challenge them to build positive relationships, find connections to others, and develop their own talents.
      How to Use Positive Psychology in Your Daily Routines
      Since positive psychology focuses on building individual strengths instead of treating weaknesses, it’s accessible for most people to practice at home. Positive psychology embraces the principle that people can change and improve.
      When someone tries new experiences, sets goals, and looks for opportunities that play to their strengths, they are practicing positive psychology. Exploring activities that create flow moments will improve mood. Making efforts to slow down and savor pleasure can become part of their daily routine.
      One easy way to practice positive psychology at home is to do gratitude exercises. By focusing on a few things every day that they are grateful for, an individual trains their brain to focus on positive memories and increase their happiness.
      Some people do this with a gratitude journal, with prompts to help them focus on positive things in life. Other people do this through daily practices of meditation or prayer. The method of practice is not as important as the overall goal of learning to improve well-being by practicing gratitude.
      Another method of practicing positive psychology is called the experience sampling method, or ESM. This is a type of mindfulness exercise to help lower stress levels and rewire the brain. Using a timer throughout the day, a client is encouraged to pause when they receive the alert, then write down what they are doing, thinking, and feeling. Practicing ESM helps people realize how much of their day is filled with small, positive moments.
      Positive psychology is accessible to most individuals and can be an effective part of behavioral health care to support individuals in becoming happier, more resilient, and better able to handle life’s challenges.
      Positive Psychology Quotes
      “Positive psychology is the scientific study of human strengths and virtues.” – Martin Seligman
      “A joyful life is an individual creation that cannot be copied from a recipe.” – Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
      “…positive psychology is not to be confused with untested self-help, footless affirmation, or secular religion — no matter how good these may make us feel.” – Christopher Peterson
      “Positive psychology is the scientific and applied approach to uncovering people’s strengths and promoting their positive functioning.” – Hugo Alberts
      “Flourishing is the product of the pursuit and engagement of an authentic life that brings inner joy and happiness through meeting goals, being connected with life passions, and relishing in accomplishments through the peaks and valleys of life.” – Dr. Lynn Soots
      “The difference between misery and happiness depends on what we do with our attention.” – Sharon Salzberg
      Best Positive Psychology Books
      Learned Optimism: How to Change Your Mind and Your Life by Martin Seligman
      Flourish (A Visionary New Understanding of Happiness and Well-Being) by Martin Seligman
      Flow: The Psychology of Optimal Experience by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi
      Positive Psychology in a Nutshell: The Science of Happiness by Ilona Boniwell
      Character Strengths and Virtues: A Handbook and Classification by Christopher Peterson and Martin Seligman
    11. Challenging Mental Health Stigma: 5 Inspiring Celebrities Leading The Way

      With their unusual schedules and extreme exposure to public scrutiny, it’s not surprising that many celebrities have mental health conditions. Thankfully, celebrities talking about mental health challenges and solutions can pull back a curtain on conditions often considered private or taboo.
      Decades ago, seeking medication or treatment for a mental health disorder could be viewed as a career-ending decision. Now, with the help of numerous celebrity mental health advocates, Hollywood and many other industries are beginning to destigmatize mental health. From Selena Gomez’s mental health documentary to Lady Gaga’s PTSD discussions and Jim Carrey’s mental illness honesty, celebrities are removing the stigma of mental health topics.
      Now, anyone suffering from conditions like depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, OCD, or PTSD can find a celebrity who has faced a similar challenge and found a way to work through it. When celebrities promote mental health awareness, fans of those actors and performers will realize they aren’t alone. Destigmatizing mental health means people can openly discuss and learn about the resources available to support someone through a mental health disorder.
      The following people have been outspoken about their own challenges and have become celebrity mental health advocates.
      Selena Gomez Battled Bipolar Disorder, Anxiety, and Depression
      In 2016, during her Revival tour, actress and singer Selena Gomez began hearing voices and suffering from paranoia. After years of suffering from depression, periods of mania, and suicidal thoughts, she finally checked into a mental health hospital and was diagnosed with bipolar disorder.
      Since then, Selena Gomez has become one of the more prominent celebrities talking about mental health. Her recent mental health documentary, Selena Gomez: My Mind and Me, explored her bipolar diagnosis and how living with mental illness has impacted her life.
      In 2022, Gomez launched the “Your Words Matter” campaign to help destigmatize mental health treatment. As part of the campaign, she encouraged people to consider the ways they refer to mental health conditions and diagnoses. Using people-first language can remove some of the negative stigma from seeking treatment for mental health. For example, it’s better to refer to someone as “a person with bipolar disorder” rather than “a bipolar person.” Language can empower those who are seeking help to improve mental wellness.
      The recent campaign isn’t the first time Gomez has spoken up in support of mental health awareness. In 2021, for Mental Health Awareness Month, Gomez launched a campaign called Mental Health 101. In 2020, she established her mental wellness website, WonderMind, where she shared her own bipolar diagnosis. In 2019, she won the McClean Award for mental health advocacy.
      Gomez treats her bipolar disorder and depression with medication and cognitive behavioral therapy. She informs those following her story that her illness isn’t over, and it never will be. Mental health is something she will continue to work on for life. Gomez wants others, particularly teens and young people, to know that education and research are important tools for mental wellness.
      Her honesty about her own struggles has made Gomez one of the most relatable celebrity mental health advocates.
      Lady Gaga Raises Awareness of PTSD and Trauma Therapy
      Many people associate the term PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) with service members who have been scarred from combat experiences. However, performer Lady Gaga is on a mission to help people understand that PTSD is a mental illness, which can affect anyone who has been through a traumatizing event.
      In Lady Gaga’s case, her PTSD resulted from being raped repeatedly when she was 19 years old. She made her PTSD diagnosis public in 2016. In a 2020 interview with Oprah, Lady Gaga explained:
      “I developed PTSD as a result of being raped and also not processing that trauma … I never dealt with it, and then all of a sudden, I started to experience this incredible intense pain throughout my entire body that mimicked the illness I felt after I was raped.”
      PTSD is an extreme form of stress that usually results from specific traumatic events. It can cause flashbacks, sleeplessness, anger, depression, and physical pain. For Lady Gaga, the pain of unprocessed trauma became fibromyalgia that gave her "head-to-toe pain."
      While PTSD can be a frightening mental health diagnosis, the good news is that it can be treated with therapy and anti-anxiety medication. In cases of sexual assault or abuse, there is no timeline for recovery. So even if someone is suffering from a childhood event, they will still find support and can take steps toward mental wellness if they go through therapy as an adult.
      Lady Gaga reminds her listeners that mental health is a medical condition and should be treated that way. In a letter to fans of her Born This Way foundation, Lay Gaga writes, “No one’s invisible pain should go unnoticed … I am continuing to learn how to transcend this because I know I can. If you relate to what I am sharing, please know that you can too.”
      Daniel Radcliffe Discusses OCD and the Value of Therapy
      Before becoming a childhood star in the Harry Potter movies at age 11, actor Daniel Radcliffe suffered from compulsions to repeat activities like flipping a light switch or re-stating his own words. Beginning at age 5, he was diagnosed with OCD, or obsessive compulsive disorder. There were times when it took him 5 minutes to turn off a light. He needed to hear his own words repeated after he said them, so he learned to repeat them in his mind or under his breath.
      While these challenges have caused him many internal struggles, they have not held Radcliffe back from external success. In a 2020 interview, Radcliffe said the most important thing he did to cope with his disorder was going to therapy.
      “I would encourage everyone to undergo therapy. It doesn’t mean you’re insane or weak.”
      The more Radcliffe speaks out about his own struggles with OCD, the more he is destigmatizing mental health treatment. Radcliffe is one of the most recognized celebrities talking about mental health, and his experience inspires others to get the support they need.
      Jim Carrey Challenges Depression
      Actor Jim Carrey is best known for his comedic roles, where he uses exaggerated facial features to make his audience laugh. But the person behind these humorous characters is someone who has struggled with sadness and depression ever since childhood.
      Carrey grew up in a stressful environment. His father was often unemployed, and his mother was frequently unwell. Comedy and acting became an escape for Carrey after he dropped out of high school to earn money. He has talked openly about his depression since 2009.
      Jim Carrey’s mental illness perspective is unique. He views depression as the result of people pretending to be someone they are not. When someone’s mind can no longer play the “character or avatar” they are trying to be, the mind rebels by going into depression mode.
      In a video interview, Carrey quotes author and spiritual healer Jeff Foster, who says the word “depressed” could be described as “deep rest.” When the mind and body need a deep rest from the work of pretending to be more satisfied than they are, depression settles in.
      Depression is a mental illness where someone feels extremely sad and disinterested for more than a few weeks at a time. Depression is an extremely common mental disorder, but it can be treated successfully with medication and therapy.
      Carrey uses medication to manage his depression. But he also mentions how important it is for people to give themselves a “fighting chance” to battle depression by eating healthy food, exercising, getting enough sleep, spending time in the sunlight, and surrounding themselves with support.
      Jonah Hill Documents Treatment for Anxiety Attacks
      Sometimes, celebrities battling mental disorders are the best advocates for destigmatizing mental illness. This is the case with actor and director Jonah Hill, who recently made the Netflix film Stutz to share the mental health advice and strategies of his therapist, Dr. Phil Stutz.
      But because of Hill’s 20-year struggle with anxiety, which is made worse through media appearances, Hill didn't make any public appearances to promote the film. In a letter to fans, Hill wrote:
      “I’m hoping to make it more normal for people to talk and act on this stuff [mental wellness] so they can take steps toward feeling better and so that the people in their lives might understand their conditions more clearly.”
      Anxiety is a mental disorder where someone suffers from feelings of worry, anxiety, or fear that are powerful enough to disrupt their daily activities. There are many symptoms of anxiety, but attacks may include feelings of impending doom, rapid breathing, sweating or trembling, and difficulty concentrating.
      Hill’s documentary Stutz has a powerful message for anyone suffering from anxiety. He made the film to share the tools that helped him in his battle with anxiety and panic attacks. In the film, Dr. Stutz gives this advice to viewers:
      “You can’t move forward without being vulnerable. Vulnerability is connection to the rest of the world. Take action, no matter how frightened you are. If you can teach somebody that, they can change their whole life.”
      Celebrities with mental health conditions have a choice to treat their disorders in private or share their pain with the world. Everyone benefits from celebrities talking about mental health because it normalizes the need for medication or therapy and lets people know that mental health resources exist.
      Celebrity mental health advocates like Selena Gomez, Lady Gaga, Daniel Radcliffe, Jim Carrey, and Jonah Hill help destigmatize mental health conditions. Fans who may be struggling with mental health can view their documentaries and read their stories to learn they aren’t alone. These celebrity mental health advocates are slowly changing perceptions about mental health stigmas.
      Anyone who needs mental health care should not hesitate to seek support. There are many professionals willing to offer advice, support, and therapy that can improve lives. Begin by visiting Telemynd to connect with quality health care providers from the comfort of home.
    12. Destigmatizing Mental Health: How Mental Health Awareness Month Is Changing the Conversation

      May is Mental Health Awareness Month, an opportunity for individuals, families, and communities to reflect on the value of accepting and addressing mental health conditions. Telemynd believes that all people, no matter their age, gender, work history, or income level, should have access to appropriate mental health care. Moreover, Telemynd is committed to destigmatizing mental health care for civilians, service members, veterans, and their families.
      The Stigma Around Mental Health Care
      Mental illness is incredibly common. A total of 22% of American adults experience mental illness each year, as do 16% of American children and teens. Getting treatment for mental health conditions is beneficial and effective for most people.
      Despite this, only about half of people with mental illness receive treatment for their conditions. This may be due to a lack of access to mental health services or worries about how to afford treatment. Another barrier to receiving care is the fear of stigma attached to mental health disorders.
      The American Psychiatric Association identifies three types of stigma relating to mental health conditions and mental health treatment:
      Public stigma: Negative or discriminatory attitudes that other people hold about mental illness. Self-stigma: Negative attitudes and internalized shame that people with mental illness have about themselves and their condition. Institutional stigma: Policies from government and private organizations that limit opportunities for people with mental illness. This can include issues such as inadequate funding for research on mental illness and treatment or lack of mental health services compared to services for other types of healthcare. The stigma surrounding mental health care can especially affect groups such as active service members and veterans. Nearly 25% of active duty service members report mental health symptoms. Many avoid seeking care out of concern about what it will do to their careers. The armed forces have tried to address the military mental health stigma by ensuring that getting appropriate care will not affect military careers or security clearance.
      In recent years, there have been efforts to break the stigma of mental illness and treatment for mental health conditions. Health insurance companies are now required to cover mental health services so people can access treatment more readily. Many employers offer Employee Assistance Programs (EAP) that help individuals access mental health care when they need it. In addition, discussions of mental health have become more public and widely accepted.
      Mental Health Awareness Month 2023: Destigmatizing Mental Health Care
      One of the primary goals for Mental Health Awareness Month in 2023 is to break the stigma of mental health and get treatment for mental health conditions. In recent years, celebrities and brands have joined mental health advocates to openly discuss mental health issues and change public perception of mental illness. These efforts are creating a culture of openness and community among people coping with mental health conditions. It helps set a precedent for talking honestly about mental health and shows a path forward for treatment.
      TikTok: Social media platform TikTok launched a Mental Health Awareness hub to highlight videos and creators addressing mental health topics and support organizations dedicated to raising awareness about mental health. MLB: Major League Baseball teams have worn green ribbons for Mental Health Awareness Month. Some teams have posted content discussing mental health treatment, with players opening up about their experiences with getting help when they need it. Celebrities: Guns’N’Roses bassist Duff McKagan released a song for Mental Health Awareness Month called “This Is The Song.” He shared his struggles with panic disorders alongside the release. In May 2023, Jason Sudeikis and the cast of the show Ted Lasso visited the White House for a live-streamed conversation about mental health. Singer Demi Lovato has been candid about seeking treatment for bipolar disorder and addiction. British Royal Prince Harry openly discusses his experience with PTSD and how therapy improved his mental health and his marriage, urging others to be open about their own mental health. On Price Harry’s docuseries about mental health, The Me You Can’t See, musician Lady Gaga opened up about her own struggles with PTSD. Social media campaigns: Mental health advocacy groups like the National Alliance on Mental Illness encourage supporters to use social media to normalize discussions about mental health. The organization provides sample social media posts such as “Mental health affects ALL of us. Help us get the word out and start the conversation today! Visit: nami.org/mhm #MoreThanEnough @NAMICommunicate” to build awareness and direct people to resources for getting the help they need. Changing Trends in Acceptance of Mental Health Treatment
      The trend toward candid discussions of mental health and mental health treatment has affected how people respond to mental health concerns. In recent years, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration has reported steady increases in the number of people seeking mental health care for any type of mental health condition. In 2015, 34.2 million adults aged 18 or older sought treatment for mental health conditions. By 2020, more than 41 million Americans received either inpatient or outpatient counseling or received a prescription to manage a mental health condition.
      The changes are affecting groups of people who typically have not been as open to treating mental illness. Historically, men have been less likely to seek out mental health resources. That is changing as treatment becomes more widely accepted. SAMHSA reports an 11% increase in the number of men getting mental health treatment from 2008 to 2019.
      The COVID-19 pandemic was another factor in rolling back stigmas about mental health treatment. Fears about illness, stress from changes to work and family life, and the effects of social isolation negatively affected millions of people. The need for help seemed to overcome any concerns about the stigma attached to getting help, and more people sought out treatment in 2020 and 2021. Mental health care providers reported dramatic increases in requests for treatment. Even now, after the worst of the crisis, mental health care providers say they continue to receive calls from prospective patients asking for help with mental health conditions.
      Taking Care of Mental Health
      Even without fear of stigma, mental health is a complicated issue. People with mental health conditions and their loved ones may struggle to know what will help and how to access care.
      Because mental health encompasses a broad range of conditions, there is no one-size-fits-all treatment plan. Some conditions, such as bipolar disorder or depression, are linked to chemical imbalances, so medication is a primary treatment, alongside talk therapy and other supports. Conditions like PTSD occur in the wake of traumatic experiences, so treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy or working with a service animal may be effective. Some types of mental health conditions are temporary and resolve after treatment; others are lifelong and require continual or intermittent treatment.
      Foundational steps can set up success in managing all kinds of mental health conditions. These steps can help people with mental health conditions as well as the people who care about them.
      Connect with loved ones: For many people, mental illness can be isolating, so having people to turn to can make it easier to get help and emotional support. Talking to trusted relatives, friends, or colleagues about mental health conditions is a way to gather support. Seek peer support: Talking to others who are experiencing similar mental health struggles can be helpful and affirming. Both people struggling with their mental health and those who care for them can benefit from peer support groups. Identify resources for professional help: Take the time to learn about available mental health services and engage them when necessary. This can include current or former therapists, primary care providers, mental health hotlines, or other resources. Plan out solutions in advance: Knowing what activities soothe mental health symptoms is valuable. Have a set of go-to solutions, such as taking a walk, calling a friend, listening to music, or engaging with nature. Using simple, effective options in the moment can help keep symptoms from escalating. Telemynd Can Help
      Telemynd is committed to ensuring access to comprehensive mental health solutions, without barriers. Our providers work to offer care that is appropriate, supportive, and free of judgment or stigma. Our telehealth platform is designed to broaden access to mental health services and remove obstacles to getting care.
      Telemynd’s online platform works by matching people with the behavioral health specialists best suited to support them. We have a national network of therapists and prescribers who can address a wide range of mental health needs. In addition, Telemynd providers offer TRICARE-covered mental health services so that military members and their families have access to excellent mental healthcare.
      All Telemynd services are conducted via secure video services. Access to mental health care at home offers a greater sense of privacy than having to take time off work or away from family for in-person appointments during business hours. People accessing virtual mental health services may feel less likely to be questioned or judged for seeking care. Virtual behavioral health services also help overcome institutional barriers to care, such as a lack of local providers, transportation issues, or limited office hours.
      If you’d like to request an appointment or have any questions, feel free to reach out to the care team at 866-991-2103 or visit telemynd.com
    13. Veteran Mental Health Insights and How You Can Get Help

      Understanding veterans’ mental health statistics and their mental health risks is essential to helping them get the care they need. Veterans’ suicide prevention begins with knowledge and information about the challenges they are facing. They do an important service for the country and deserve the assistance required to face their struggles head-on. Many resources are available to help in times of crisis.
      Understanding Who Veterans Are
      The latest data from 2021 reveals there are approximately 16.5 million military veterans in the United States. Although there are currently more male veterans, the number of females enlisting in the military is rising. There are 1.7 million female veterans in the United States. In 2021, 231,741 women were in active-duty force, and 171,000 women were in the National Guard. This made up 17.3% and 21.4%, respectively.
      The age breakdown of the veteran population is estimated as follows:
      Ages 18 to 34 years comprise 8.2%. Ages 35 to 54 years comprise 24.0%. Ages 55 to 64 years comprise 18.6%. Ages 65 to 74 years comprise 24.8%. Ages 75 and over comprise 24.4%. Risks Veterans Face When Coming Home
      Due to the nature of their service, veterans face various risk factors when returning home from service or getting discharged from their duties. These risk factors contribute to poor outcomes for many of the men and women who’ve served the country.
      Physical Injury
      Men and women in the military are at an increased risk for physical injury. These may include wounds from being in a battle, vehicle accidents, sprains, and strains, hearing loss or tinnitus, head injuries, and chronic musculoskeletal pain (CMP).
      A total of 30% of veterans have some disability.
      Trauma
      Many veterans endure significant trauma after going through combat. Even if they may not engage in warfare themselves, seeing others get killed, maimed, or injured could lead to a traumatized response.
      Also, during times of stress and danger, the body commonly experiences a surge of heightened adrenaline and a fight or flight response.
      Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is more common among veterans than the general population. According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, approximately 7% will experience PTSD.
      Vets with PTSD may experience symptoms such as:
      Avoidance of things that trigger memories about the event Hopeless feelings about life and the future Difficulty with memory Intrusive memories and dreams Irritability or angry outbursts Unemployment and Poverty
      Veterans have long been at a higher risk for poverty and homelessness. If a vet is struggling with PTSD or another mental health disorder, it makes it challenging to hold down a job. It’s also challenging to keep up with a full-time job if medical conditions hinder a vet’s ability to perform. These factors can lead to homelessness.
      Veterans Mental Health Statistics
      Aside from PTSD, as mentioned above, many experience an array of other mental health issues. The National Institute of Health (NIH) research reveals that one-third of veterans have at least one mental health disorder diagnosis, and 41% have either mental health or a behavioral adjustment disorder.
      Mental Health Disorders
      Mental health disorders may range in intensity, but even in mild cases can affect the person’s ability to manage life effectively. For example, researchers from the VA New England MIRECC and the Yale School of Medicine conducted a study with veterans experiencing anxiety and PTSD which found that they had a much higher rate of homelessness than the general veteran population.
      PTSD is also linked to higher rates of suicidal thoughts and impulses, making this mental health condition a significant risk. Compared to the general U.S. population, veteran suicides are higher by 57.3%. The total number that committed suicide in 2020 was 6,146.
      However, the suicide rate among veterans is slowly decreasing. According to the most recent VA report, there were 343 fewer veteran suicides in 2020 than there were in 2019.
      Only through the continued work of the VA and qualified mental health professionals can they receive the proper treatment and counseling to help them cope and bring down these statistics even further.
      Substance Use Disorders
      Misusing drugs or alcohol is a common method of escape for many people. Since substances provide a temporary feeling of euphoria, veterans may use them to numb the feelings and memories of combat. However, the risk for addiction is high when using illicit substances.
      Approximately one-fourth of them struggle with illicit drugs, and 80% battle alcohol misuse. One in 10 veterans has been diagnosed with a substance use disorder, which is higher than the general population. Between substance misuse and mental health disorders, veterans are likely to have one or the other condition.
      Some dealing with untreated mental health problems or suffering from PTSD may turn to drugs or alcohol as a “quick fix” to the problem. Yet, it ends up being an additional problem in the end. When someone has a mental health condition like PTSD combined with substance abuse, they need treatment for a dual-diagnosis disorder. This requires therapy for veterans that addresses the underlying problem and detox in some cases.
      Resources for Veterans in Need
      Veterans don’t have to suffer from a mental health disorder in silence. The VA is committed to veterans’ suicide prevention and providing care for mental health issues.
      The Veterans Affairs mental health services department has made mental health a top priority and recently implemented the National Strategy For Preventing Veteran Suicide and Reducing Military and Veteran Suicide programs. These programs provide a roadmap for assisting those at risk for suicide, whether they have benefits or not.
      They also have expanded their benefits to include those who are not currently enrolled but experiencing a crisis. Now, they can seek care at no cost if they are dealing with suicidal thoughts or amid a crisis, allowing access to up to 9 million more veterans.
      In some cases, an individual may be able to go to any VA or non-VA healthcare facility for emergency healthcare at no cost. This may include inpatient or crisis residential care for some time up to 30 days. Outpatient care may be covered for up to 90 days.
      Another way the Veterans’ Affairs mental health services department is working to help with mental illness is to leverage community providers to provide therapy. They would just need to get approval and a referral from the VA. Then they can schedule an appointment with a mental health provider, such as Telemynd, which provides telehealth and telemedicine care.
      Keep in mind that if you are having a crisis, you should reach out to emergency helplines or call 911 right away. Many helplines are available, such as the veteran crisis line at 1-800-273-8255 and the veterans’ suicide hotline by dialing 988. These hotlines are available 24/7.
      How to Access Veteran Mental Health Care
      Veterans should be proactive in their mental health care. In other words, at the first sign of a problem, reach out to the resources available Often, telehealth is a great way to begin the journey, as you can access compassionate, licensed, and experienced mental health care from the comfort of your own home. You can even get a prescription using telehealth services through the VA referral.
      Start this process by consulting with your VA physician and telling them about your mental health concerns. They can give you the referral necessary to seek mental health care and have your VA benefits cover the cost.
      If you lack VA benefits but are experiencing mental health challenges, you are likely covered under the new initiatives mentioned above. Reach out to VA.gov to get the referral necessary for your covered care. You must specifically ask for authorization to seek treatment at Telemynd. Once you receive the authorization, you can contact us directly for an appointment.
    14. 13 Military Spouse Resources You Should Know About

      Sometimes, new military spouses don’t know what to expect from military life. They often have to rely on the information from their service member, which is sometimes frustratingly limited or, worse, full of confusing acronyms.
      Fortunately, many incredible resources are available, whether you’re a military wife or husband.
      Numerous charities, national organizations, and programs on base strive to make military life a little easier. From deployment support programs that strengthen a military marriage to online mental health offerings, there are different benefits military families can take advantage of.
      Military Spouse Benefits on Base
      Whether a military family chooses to live on base or off base, many spouse resources are available.
      1. Relief Programs
      Every branch has its own Relief Program or Aid Society to provide emergency relief through interest-free loans. If a military spouse has an unexpected bill for car repairs or a broken appliance, this is a great resource. Army Emergency Relief, the Air Force Aid Society, the Navy-Marine Corps Relief Society, and Coast Guard Mutual Assistance have offices on their respective military installations.
      Note that the service member must apply in person for a loan because it will be slowly deducted from their future paychecks.
      2. Family Center
      Most military installations have a Family Center or Readiness Center with multiple programs that support local military families. They know the challenges military families face, so they provide orientation classes for those new to the base, which is a great resource when you have just moved to a new installation. Family Centers also teach new parent classes, offer resume writing support, advise on financial aid for college, and much more. Some support special events and guest speakers throughout the year. Stop by a Family Center for a full list of their local resources.
      Military Spouse Resources for Deployments
      Deployments can be a stressful challenge for military families and exhausting for any military wife or husband. These military spouse resources make life a little more bearable during deployments.
      3. Care Package Kits From USPS
      When a service member is deployed, they’ll want care packages with their favorite snacks, any essential toiletries they need, and photos or reminders of home. The good news is that deployment addresses use an APO address, so military spouses won’t pay for international shipping.
      The United States Postal Service (USPS) sells flat-rate boxes that cost a steady shipping fee, no matter how much is packed inside the box. Here’s a great benefit: The USPS will send a free care package kit to military families. It includes multiple sizes of flat-rate boxes, plus packaging tape, shipping labels, and customs forms. Order through their website to get the kit delivered for free.
      4. GreenCare for Troops
      Yard work can be a struggle when the service member is away. Luckily, volunteers around the country want to help military families with lawn care, leaf removal, and clearing snow during deployments. The GreenCare for Troops program connects a military wife or husband with local volunteers who do their yard work for free! Taking just one task off a military spouse’s shoulders can be an incredible military spouse benefit during deployment.
      5. Build-a-Sign
      At the end of deployment, many military spouses love to celebrate by decorating their house or yard with a welcome home banner. Build-a-Sign provides free customizable canvas banners to military families. These are high-quality, durable banners that celebrate homecoming in any weather. Military families can choose from several designs to welcome their hero home in style and add photos or names to personalize their banners.
      Military Spouse Resources for a PCS
      Some military families move often, while others only experience a few PCS moves. Either way, receiving PCS orders is one of the biggest challenges military families face because they must make a plan to relocate the entire household to a new location — sometimes on the other side of the world! These military spouse benefits help families make the most of PCS season.
      6. PCSgrades
      When a service member comes home with PCS orders, the military wife or husband usually starts frantically searching online for everything they can learn about the new location. It’s difficult to figure out housing, schools, and local information on short notice! PCSgrades has Area Guides with details about 100 duty stations, including BAH rates, housing options, schools, and more. If a military family is buying or selling a home when they move, PCSgrades can connect them with a military-friendly real estate agent in the local area. Since military families often need to buy a home from a distance or in a hurry, it’s comforting to work with real estate agents who understand the challenges of PCS moves and know how to navigate the VA home loan.
      7. School Liaison Officer
      For military families with school-aged children, PCS moves bring a new set of challenges. It can feel exhausting trying to learn about school zones near the next military base while also searching for homes and trying to transfer student records. A school liaison officer, or SLO, helps military families moving into the area so they are informed of their school options. The SLO can also help transfer records, register EFMP children, or reinstate any special IEP that needs to be continued at the new school.
      8. ASYMCA
      Military families who live off-base may consider paying high rates for membership at a local gym. Instead, they should check with the ASYMCA to see if there is a YMCA location nearby. The ASYMCA offers military discounts at locations across the country. Their on-site childcare can be used for up to two hours daily, which is a great benefit that can enable spouses to exercise, get work done, or just relax away from the kids for a while. There are additional programs for military spouses and services for military kids from ASYMCA centers around the country.
      Military Spouse Benefits for Education and Employment
      In a military marriage, the service member’s career often determines where the family lives and how often they move. This can make it difficult for a wife or husband to maintain a career during the frequent changes of military life. The following resources address the education and employment challenges military families face.
      9. Military Spouse Preference
      The Department of Defense civilian jobs have a special category for military spouses to assist them in their job search and career opportunities. They will have additional “points” added to their application, so military spouses who meet all job qualifications are selected for interviews over other candidates. When looking for work on USAJobs, search the category for military spouses to see the hiring preference details.
      10. G.I. Bill
      Most service members earn the G.I. Bill to cover the cost of college tuition. The service member may transfer this benefit to their spouse or children (under specific conditions), allowing them to get several years free at colleges across the country. The G.I. Bill covers tuition and books and will also provide a housing fee for the service member. If the service member isn’t planning to attend a four-year college, they can share the benefit so the military spouse can get financial aid toward a college or professional certificate that will help them advance their career.
      11. LinkedIn Premium
      LinkedIn provides one free year of LinkedIn Premium to active duty members, veterans, and military spouses. This is a great resource for anyone looking for a job or trying to build their professional network. The Premium plan includes numerous educational videos and certificate programs, plus enhanced insights to job postings.
      Military Spouse Benefits for Mental Health
      Military families often undergo constant change and uncertainty, which can lead to increased feelings of stress or depression. It can be difficult to maintain a healthy lifestyle and strong connections with loved ones near and far. The following military spouse resources support mental health needs.
      12. Military OneSource Counseling
      Military spouses who want to talk to a counselor about the stresses and challenges of military life qualify for 12 free non-medical counseling sessions through Military OneSource. They can request a counselor through the website and be connected to one that same day. Sessions can be in person, over the phone, or via video chat. Military OneSource counselors cannot diagnose conditions or prescribe medicine, but they can offer great strategies to work through challenges like deployments, help with adjusting after a PCS move, tips for raising military children at different ages, and marriage counseling.
      13. Telemynd
      For those seeking mental health care, Telemynd is a great option. They have a national network of licensed therapists and prescribers who provide TRICARE-covered mental health services. Telemynd therapists and prescribers do not require a referral or authorization for TRICARE Prime active duty families, so it’s easy to access and get started. They offer virtual sessions with secure video chat, so spouses and children can get the care they need, no matter where they are stationed. It’s convenient to connect with a professional virtually, especially if they have children at home or can’t drive themselves to appointments.
      You can easily book an appointment today on their website.
    15. News: Fort Benning Name Change Honors Lt. Gen. Hal Moore & Wife

      In May 2023, Fort Benning in Georgia will be renamed Fort Moore in honor of General Harold (Hal) Moore and his wife, Julia (Julie) Moore. General Moore was a decorated veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars. Mrs. Moore grew up in a military family, married an officer, and became a military parent when two of her sons chose to serve. She was widely recognized for her work supporting military families.
      For Reuben Dickenson, the Vice President of Strategic Partnerships at Telemynd, this change is close to his heart: He knows the Moore family personally. Dickenson, a veteran, is volunteering to help plan the official renaming ceremony scheduled to take place on May 11, 2023.
      The Fort Benning Name Change
      The push for Fort Benning's new name was initiated in 2021 when the Department of Defense followed a Congressional order to rename military sites named after Confederate personnel. Fort Benning was named for Georgia native Henry Benning, who served in the Confederate Army, though he never served in the United States military. The Naming Commission solicited proposals for a Forte Benning name change and other facilities and considered them throughout 2022.
      The Moores' five children were instrumental in proposing the name change for the Georgia Army base. Fort Benning has special significance for the family. They lived on the base during the General's service during the Vietnam War. Later, their son David was stationed at Fort Benning during his own Army service, and he currently works there as a civilian employee. Both General and Mrs. Moore are buried in the Fort Banning Post Cemetery. They were laid to rest there because General Moore wanted to be surrounded by the troops he led in Vietnam.
      The Moore family was adamant that the name change reflects the contributions of both Julia and Hal. In an interview with Stars and Stripes, David remarked, "We felt that by nominating them both it creates the opportunity for the Army to honor something bigger than just a name — to honor the Army family."
      About Hal Moore
      Hal Moore was a West Point graduate who went on to serve on active duty for 32 years. His early service included time in Japan following World War II, where he trained in the airborne jump school in Tokyo. He was given command of a heavy mortar company in combat during the Korean War, where he earned two Bronze Star Medals for Valor.
      After the Korean War, Moore returned to the United States, where he taught at West Point, and underwent additional training before reporting to Fort Banning to command a division that would become the 1st Battalion, 7th Cavalry Regiment, and 1st Cavalry Division. He was deployed to Vietnam, where he led troops in the Battle of Ia Drang, the first major battle of the war. Vastly outnumbered, Moore and his troops spent three days surrounded by the People's Army of Vietnam (PAVN) forces. The American troops suffered heavy casualties but eventually drove the PAVN forces off, thanks to artillery action and air support.
      He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross for extraordinary heroism at Ia Drang, another Bronze Star Medal for Valor, and individual awards of the Vietnamese Cross of Gallantry with Palm. Moore's leadership earned him the nickname "the General Patton of Vietnam."
      After Vietnam, Moore assumed command of the 7th Infantry Division in Korea, followed by command of the Training Center at Fort Ord, CA. There he addressed racial unrest among service members to improve unit cohesion. In 1974, Hal served as the DCSPER, where he focused on rebuilding the NCO Corps.
      He later wrote a successful memoir of his experience in Vietnam called "We Were Soldiers Once…And Young." It was adapted as the movie "We Were Soldiers," starring Mel Gibson.
      Hal Moore and his co-author Joe Galloway used the profits from the book to establish the Ia Drang Scholarship Fund. The fund offers scholarship money to descendants of dead or surviving veterans of Ia Drang battles. The fund has distributed $1,823,519 to 322 recipients.
      About Julia Moore
      Julia Moore, known as Julie, was born on an Army base in 1929. Her father was a colonel, and she grew up as part of a military family. She met Hal Moore at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where they married and had their first of five children. A lifelong Red Cross volunteer, Julia Moore was also an active part of the social and community life of every duty station. The family moved 28 times over 32 years, but Julie always made connections in each new community. She often hosted gatherings for other Army wives and made sure families got the support they needed. She was active in Army Community Service, including Officer and NCO Wives' Clubs, Advisory Councils, Post Thrift Shops, daycare centers, and Boy and Girl Scout troops.
      When her husband was deployed to Vietnam, she learned that death notifications were being delivered by cab drivers hired to drop telegrams off with military spouses. Horrified, she took steps to learn where the notifications were being sent so she could be there when families learned of their loss. She ensured they had a compassionate person with them at their most difficult moment. That experience led her to advocate for better notification procedures, going to the Pentagon to make her case. Thanks to her efforts, an officer and a chaplain are always present when a family learns of a service member's death.
      In 2005, the military created the Julia C. Moore Award. The annual award is given to civilian spouses who demonstrate outstanding "contributions to the health and welfare of the Army Family."
      The Moore Family Overjoyed
      When the Naming Commission announced the decision to rename Fort Benning after the Moores, they explained that the couple exemplified the life experience of military families: "Their story is representative of millions of other military families throughout our history, who have often endured many travels and movements, putting the nation's needs ahead of their personal preferences. If it's a truism that families serve right alongside their service members, the Moore family lived that experience to the fullest. Their stories exceptionally exemplify the service of modern military families."
      Steve Moore, the Moores' second son who retired from the Army as a Lieutenant Colonel, told Stars and Stripes how he felt when he learned his parents would be honored this way. "I just broke down," he said. "And the reason I felt that deep emotion was I knew what [my parents] had gone through and overcome in a life of service to the nation.… And so, I said to myself through the tears, 'Finally, the Army is going to recognize what service in a military family has always been.'"
      Military Families and Telemynd
      Reuben Dickenson, Telemynd's Vice President of Strategic Partnerships, is delighted about the honor bestowed on the Moore family. A West Point graduate and Army veteran himself, Reuben is a friend of the Moore family and supported the proposal to rename the base in their honor. He is looking forward to the official naming ceremony.
      "Julia Moore understood the strains that military families face. The life of military service is rewarding, but it is also a challenge. The spouses and children of active duty service members have unique mental health needs," Reuben commented. "Julia understood that from her own experience. She lived a life of compassion and service to her fellow family members. I believe I am following her example at Telemynd, where we try to bring that spirit to the care we offer military members and their families."
      To learn more about the process of renaming the future Fort Moore, you can visit "Fort Moore: Recognizing the Contributions of the Military Spouse and Family," a website about the Moore family and the proposal to rename the base.
      The official ceremony is scheduled for May 11, 2023. It will be held in Doughboy Stadium on the base. More details about the ceremony and Fort Benning news and updates will be available closer to the event date.
    16. What the Latest Mental Health Industry Trends Mean for You

      Mental health professionals learned a vital lesson when pandemic lockdowns were prevalent: mental health is essential and must be delivered to individuals wherever they are. Without the necessary support and work of the mental health industry, people may be left to struggle on their own, further aggravating their condition, especially in times of worldwide stress.
      The latest mental health industry trends tell us the profession is growing to meet modern demands. This is a positive outcome of the stressors brought about by the pandemic. Mental health care services have never been more vibrant and capable of providing the behavioral health care that people need.
      Latest Mental Health Industry Trends
      Reviewing the latest mental health industry trends can provide those working in the industry with an understanding and context for dealing with potential changes. These five mental health industry trends represent the face of 2023 and beyond.
      1. Mental Health Prioritized in the Workplace
      Employers are learning that a healthy workspace is essential to not only productivity, but also mental and physical health. An unhealthy workspace is detrimental to employees and can negatively affect retention and productivity. With greater wellness, employers realize they will reap more benefits for the company, making it profitable to invest in employee mental health.
      With reports that more than 30% of working adults suffer from anxiety and/or depression, employers are taking action to ensure employees have access to mental health services. Organizations are discovering that the payoff for investing in employees’ mental health is worth it.
      2. Efforts Made to Reduce Stigma
      Stigma revolving around mental illness has always been an obstacle to individuals seeking treatment. However, strides are being made to reduce the stigma. More celebrities, athletes, and other big names are talking about their mental health struggles to show that there is no shame in it. The more people talk openly about the issue of mental illness, the less rare it seems. Fewer people will feel the inclination to hide their own mental health problems because there won’t’ be shame attached to doing so.
      Other big names are starting foundations to promote mental health awareness. The greater awareness and discussions among pop culture icons there are, the fewer people will feel the stigma of seeking treatment.
      3. Greater Need for Children’s Mental Health Services
      Another issue that has taken center stage in the mental health industry is the rise of children’s mental health needs. Studies show that even before the pandemic, approximately one in five children was dealing with a mental health disorder. COVID-19 severely affected the mental health of children and young people.
      After the pandemic, the number of children with mental health needs soared, leading to more crises and emergency room visits. The shortage of school psychologists and child psychologists/clinicians is exacerbating the problem. However, the focus is on the need for children’s mental health services, which will open doors for mental health careers in this area of expertise.
      4. Rise of Open Science
      Open science platforms have been used by scientists and researchers in the medical community for some time, especially with the rise of COVID-19. Now the mental health industry is taking advantage of its benefits.
      In the behavioral health field, psychologists and clinicians are using free, open platforms that allow the sharing of scientific research and data. This puts everything out in the open for verification, transparency, and better accuracy, which helps the mental health community. Another side benefit of open science is greater transparency helps reduce stigma also.
      5. Increase in the Use of Technology
      It should come as no surprise that the mental health industry is implementing technology to aid them in doing their work. The rise of telehealth was a welcome convenience for many in mental health careers. As we continue to use all forms of technology, its use in the behavioral health industry will only continue to increase. It offers many benefits for both the provider and the user.
      What Is the Mental Health Job Outlook?
      Individuals that work in behavioral health may wonder about the future of the industry. However, they can be assured that the job growth is stable and growing, as noted below.
      Present Job Outlook for Behavioral Health
      Those working in the behavioral health industry may have sensed a shift in their job and their clients’ needs. This is not surprising considering all the abovementioned trends implicate the various mental health needs nationwide.
      Job growth for healthcare grew in the third quarter of 2022 and going into the new year. The healthcare sector includes all behavioral health jobs.
      Future of Mental Health Careers
      The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports solid job growth among all mental health positions. Several different types of behavioral health careers exist, with some experiencing higher growth than others. The following is a list of the top mental health careers experiencing predicted job growth. The projected growth is from 2021 to 2031:
      Substance Abuse Counselor (projected growth= 22%) Clinical Social Workers (projected growth= 11.1%) Marriage and Family Therapists (projected growth= 14%) Psychiatrists (projected growth= 8.7%) Clinical Psychologists/Mental Health Therapists (projected growth= 6%) These mental health jobs have higher projected growth rates than the average growth rate for all U.S. jobs, which is 5.3%.
      How Technology Is Shaping the Mental Health World
      According to the Assistant Secretary for Planning and Evaluation (ASPE) Office of Health Policy, the use of telehealth experienced a dramatic rise recently. Medical professionals across the country are engaging in the use of digital ways to evaluate patients, prescribe medicine, and provide care.
      With the pandemic pushing many people into isolation and shutting down several businesses, technology was a lifesaver for the mental health industry. Since more people were feeling the strain of mental health issues, mental health professionals needed to continue to meet the needs of their patients. This was accomplished through telehealth and telemedicine.
      The CDC reports 37% of adults used telemedicine to connect with their medical provider in 2021, which is the most recent data. This is a big increase from years prior. This percentage will probably only get higher as more providers continue providing telemedicine access.
      Through telemedicine, patients can meet with their mental health provider for the following:
      Assessment and evaluation
      Diagnostic testing
      Creation of a treatment plan
      Evidence-based therapy sessions
      Obtaining prescriptions
      Benefits of Using Technology in Behavioral Health Jobs
      Technology in any industry offers a wealth of benefits. The same can be said for the mental health industry. Using telehealth in mental health provides advantages for both the provider and the patient. Mental health providers can gain the following benefits:
      Allowing a more flexible schedule Meeting with more patients due to a less restrictive environment Saving money because of no commuting to work Offering more convenience since the providers work out of their own home The patient also gains similar advantages. For example, they also can be more relaxed meeting with a therapist while in their own home. People struggling with a depressive disorder may find telehealth a way to get started with therapy. In addition, patients will have a reduction in costs, too, because they won’t need to drive to the appointment. In some situations, insurance companies may have reduced copays for telehealth versus in-person meetings.
      When a person faces an urgent situation and wants to meet with someone immediately, the wait time may be reduced.
      Overcoming Barriers to Mental Health
      Telemedicine merges technology with behavioral health experts. The technology platform can help overcome the various barriers that exist to seeking mental health treatment. Some of these barriers are as follows:
      Stigma: Although stigma has significantly decreased, it’s not gone. Some people are more vulnerable to it and don’t want to seek treatment publicly. Telemedicine allows people to get the help they need while keeping a low profile. Accessibility: Accessibility to mental health services is limited in many areas. Some people live in rural areas and don’t have nearby mental health facilities. Others may not have access because of their socioeconomic status and inability to get transportation to appointments. Whatever the case might be, telehealth removes that barrier, allowing access to people affected by this issue. Cost: People often do not seek care because of the expense. The issue of cost hinders them from taking care of their mental health. Telehealth provides a cost-effective way to bring mental health care to those in need. Learn More About Expanding Your Mental Health Career
      Mental health providers can explore more options for expanding their careers with Telemynd. Join the many professional mental health experts delivering outstanding care and services to their patients through the Telemynd platform.
      Telemynd offers a comprehensive mental health solution for providers and patients. The company delivers personalized behavioral health services that increase care and improve outcomes. By combining technology and the expertise of trained mental health professionals, Telemynd is equipped to meet the mental health demands of 2023 and beyond. Apply to Telemynd’s team today!
    17. 6 Tips To Prepare For Your First Therapy Session

      When someone makes the critical decision to start therapy, it can provoke a great deal of nervousness—beyond the underlying anxiety, depression, or other mental health issues that are prompting them to seek therapy in the first place. This is especially true if they've never been in a setting where they've been expected to focus solely on themselves and the sensitive aspects of their lives for a fixed period of time.
      As a new therapy client, preparation is key to help calm the nerves. Here are the top six tips for how to prepare for a first therapy session.
      1. Have a Quick Reference for Health-Related Information
      Psychological and physical health are intricately connected, and during a first therapy session, it'll be important to come prepared to discuss health history details. People should make sure to have a readily accessible list of the medications they are currently taking, including supplements. This can be especially helpful if a person would like to start a new medication in conjunction with their first therapy session.
      Beyond current medications, being prepared with a list of medications one has taken in the past can be helpful, especially if certain medications caused adverse side effects or were otherwise ineffective. Be ready to discuss other health conditions, too, as many medical conditions can influence mental health or stress levels—including endocrine conditions (such as thyroid disorders), chronic pain syndromes, or chronic illnesses.
      Having these health details written down in a single place can serve as a handy reference and reduce stress during a first therapy session.
      2. Think About the Functional Goals of Therapy
      Often when starting therapy, the broad goal is to feel better overall. While this is certainly a realistic and achievable goal, it can be helpful to break this goal down into smaller pieces. This way, it's easier to assess progress during a therapeutic journey. Before a first therapy session, people need to take some time to reflect on what they're looking to get out of therapy.
      If a person is experiencing depression and hoping that therapy will help their condition improve, they should reflect on the most challenging aspects of their current condition. For example, depression-related sleep challenges are very common. If sleep has been difficult, a goal of therapy could be to increase the number of nights per week that they get quality, uninterrupted sleep. Or, if a person is experiencing tearfulness with their depression, a practical goal of therapy would be to see a reduction in crying episodes per week. Tracking these symptoms can help a person measure the impact of their therapy and make sure they're recognizing improvement in their condition. It's important to ask one's therapist during a first therapy session about how they view and measure progress, as well.
      3. Prepare First Therapy Session Questions
      Thinking too much about a first therapy session can make it difficult to open up and start a conversation and relationship with one's new therapist. However, going into a first therapy session with a completely blank slate can also make it difficult to know where to start. It can help to prepare a few questions to ask during the first therapy session. Examples include:
      What to expect from therapy? What is the therapist's counseling style? How do practical issues like billing work? A good way to come up with questions is for people to think about what details about the first session are nagging at them the most—and then reframe those as a question. For example, if a person is worried about what they should be doing during a therapy session (i.e., should they be sitting at their computer desk, or is it okay for them to be lying on their couch), they should simply ask. Or, if a person is concerned about the billing or financing aspect of a session, they should feel free to get those questions out in the open as well.
      4. Focus on Creating a Supportive Environment for the Session
      Virtual mental health counseling sessions can help people fit therapy into their busy lives in a way that was never possible before. However, people need to think about where in their living space they will want a session to occur. Being strategic about this can ensure that a first therapy session is as productive and beneficial as possible. Some factors to consider include the following:
      Selecting what to wear. Choosing comfortable clothing can be a great way to feel at ease during a therapy session. People shouldn't worry about dressing to make an impression or to appear professional. Instead, they should wear clothing that makes them feel as relaxed as possible. Choosing where to have the session. If possible, people should choose to have a first therapy session in an area of their home where they're free from mental distractions. If having a therapy session in the kitchen means staring at a to-do list on the fridge, or a sink full of dishes, this can introduce more stress into the session. Instead, choose a peaceful, meditative space with as few distractions as possible. Ensuring that this is free from disruption (i.e., by locking the door to prevent roommates from wandering in) can also help one feel more comfortable during a first session. Being intentional about the physical space and nearby items. Once a person has chosen what to wear and where to set up their device for a first therapy session, it can also help to have a few items nearby to make the setting as calm and supportive as possible. Think about keeping a candle, a favorite scent, a comfort item, a framed picture, or a cozy blanket nearby. Practical items, like a box of tissues, may be helpful to have on hand, too. 5. Think Ahead of Time About Conversation Starters or Jumping Off Points
      One of the most intimidating aspects of a first therapy session may be the initial ice breaker or conversation starter that answers the question: "What brings you here today?" This question can feel so big that it becomes difficult to answer or even to know how to start answering. However, instead of thinking of a first therapy session as this giant, inaugural jump into a new frontier, it's helpful to realize that each therapy session is simply a resource for whatever a person may be needed at the moment.
      Here are some potential topics for jumping-off points people can use when it comes to talking to their therapist during a first therapy session:
      When was a period in their life, or a specific moment, that they felt truly happy or joyful? What factors contributed to that moment—who was there, and what was the context? Comparing that moment to the present moment, what factors are different or the same? When was a period in their life that they felt the lowest, and what factors contributed to this? How quickly did they come out of this lowest moment, or what feelings or emotions are residual from this moment and continuing into the present day? What relationships in the past have they considered to be the most nourishing and constructive? On the flip side, what relationships in the past have been the most toxic or difficult? What present hardship or situation would they want to change first if they could? What worries them the most about the future? What are they hoping will happen in the future? What small, annoying thing happened yesterday? What choice did they make recently that they regret? 6. Congratulate Oneself on the Reality of a First Therapy Session
      It takes a lot of courage to be vulnerable and to go through the process of seeking therapy and showing up to a first session. A final tip for preparing for a first therapy session is simply acknowledging the groundwork that a person has laid to get themselves into the position of attending a first therapy session.
      Showing up for oneself is often more than half the battle, as practicing true self-care takes enormous bravery. Before a first therapy session, people should take a moment to pat themselves on the back for taking this big, important next step forward.
      How to Learn More About First Therapy Sessions
      The above tips about how to prepare for therapy consultation can make it easier to leap into this rewarding journey. At Telemynd, our mental health professionals view therapy sessions as a resource for clients, and each session can serve whatever purpose is needed at the moment. Telemynd providers understand the dynamics that go into embarking upon a therapeutic journey, and they excel at easing clients into a first session. For more information about Telemynd's personalized approach to therapy, contact us to get started with an appointment today.
       
    18. Telemynd Earns Spot on Glassdoor Best Place to Work in 2023

      Telemynd is pleased to announce we are among the winners of the annual Glassdoor Employees’ Choice Awards, a list of the Best Places to Work in 2023.
      Unlike other workplace awards, there is no self-nomination or application process, instead it’s entirely based on the feedback our team has voluntarily and anonymously shared on Glassdoor. To determine the winners of the awards, Glassdoor evaluates company reviews shared by current and former team members over the past year. This year, we are proud to be recognized as a Best Place to Work among U.S. companies with fewer than 1,000 team members.
      A huge thank you goes out to everyone on our team who took the time to share their perspective on what it’s like to work here. We appreciate all the valuable feedback as it only helps us improve.
       A Statement from Telemynd CEO, Patrick Herguth
      "As a people-first organization, we are proud to be recognized by our employees and behavioral health providers as being a place they choose to spend their valuable time. We know that high-quality behavioral health always starts with a person. The Telemynd team - from the patient service representatives on the phone helping our clients, to the clinicians providing these valuable services, to the billing team that helps a patient navigate the complexity of their insurance plans – is a mission-driven group that shows up every day to make a difference. This is recognition for everyone on the team and a testament to the culture we have built."
       
      Below are just a few words employees shared on Glassdoor that contributed toward the award and make us feel incredibly honored
       
      Innovative and Supportive, Clinical Care Manager 
      “Telemynd has been incredibly supportive since I started about a year and a half ago. They are a company who cares about their clients, employees and care providers. Genuinely interested in making their own footprint in the teletherapy world and bridging gaps in underserved communities. While the company may be virtual it feels anything but. Everyone is very connected and there is an emphasis on human connection and that personal touch.”
      Best Company I Have Worked For, Mental Health Clinician
      “Develop your own schedule. Once the Client is assigned, you reschedule yourself keeping your clients happy as you can choose if you want to work outside of the hours you posted to the scheduling department. Pay is very reasonable and as with any self-employed position it takes a while to build your caseload, so expect it. The pay has always been on time and I have found no inaccuracies. The advertisements are accurate, not like some platforms, that offer a certain amount per hour and then in the fine print only pay you the advertised amount when you work over a certain amount of hours. Support staff are professional, polite and extremely helpful. Also the medication providers can see your documentation and you can see theirs! This is such a plus, to keep the team running efficiently. BRAVO TELEMYND.”
      Professional and Pleasant Working Environment, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist
      “I very much enjoy working with Telemynd as an independent contractor, very professional and caring staff, quick response to questions, very supportive to both patients and therapists, I highly recommend this company to those who have the love and passion for treating patients toward their healing process.”
      Great Work/Life Balance, Licensed Clinical Social Worker
      “I love working for Telemynd! The people are great and I am able to schedule my own appointments and see as many clients or as few as I wish. I am not stuck in an 8-6 setting seeing clients every hour and then working until late at night to get my notes done (sound familiar?). If you value your work/life balance and want to work for a company that truly appreciates your contribution to the mental health field, please consider Telemynd.”
    19. Controlled Substance Prescriptions in Telehealth: Q &A

      Controlled substances are used to treat many common mental health conditions, like anxiety, depression, sleep disorders, and more. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic and national health emergency, federal rules regulated how these meds were prescribed and dispensed - including a requirement for an in-person health evaluation prior to a prescription being written. However, during the pandemic, federal regulators temporarily waived these regulations to permit patients the ability to manage their medication and access to prescriptions, including controlled substances via telehealth visits. 
      With the national health emergency waivers expected to expire soon, some states have stepped in to draft their own medication management legislation; the result has been growing confusion over which rules apply and where. In this article, we attempt to answer all your questions about prescribing controlled substances, and have included resources to find out more.
      Why are Some Medications Deemed Controlled Substances?
      Controlled substances by definition are medications with a likelihood for physical or mental dependence. Many of the more common drugs for ADHD, anxiety, sleep disorders, depression, and more, such as Xanax, Klonopin, Lunesta, and Adderall are listed as ‘controlled substances”. The U.S. Controlled Substances Act (1970) puts all substances which were in some manner regulated under existing federal law into one of five schedules. This placement is based on the substance’s medical use, its potential for abuse, and safety or dependence liability. Medications listed as Schedule I have the tightest controls, and those listed as Schedule V have the least restrictive controls. These controls are mandated by the federal government.
      This may all sound complicated - but it boils down to prescribers and pharmacies taking extra precaution to ensure these medications are prescribed for and delivered to the right individuals, for the right reasons.
      What Are the Extra Steps Clinicians Must Take to Prescribe Meds that are Deemed Controlled Substances?
      In general, to prescribe a controlled substance, a clinician must have a DEA (Drug Enforcement Administration) license, and to fill a prescription, a pharmacist must also have a controlled substance license. Further, for a pharmacist to dispense a controlled substance, the prescription must include specific information such as date of issue, patient’s name, address, and DoB, clinician name, address and DEA number, drug strength, number of refills, and the signature of the prescriber. For these kinds of medications, there are also legal limits on the number of refills and the amount that a prescription may contain. Some drugs have zero refills, and the maximum quantity dispensed is 30 days - meaning patients must contact their clinician each month a refill is needed.
      In addition, the Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act of 2008 specified that “any practitioner issuing a prescription for a controlled substance must conduct an in-person medical evaluation. A conservative recommendation to support compliance with the act is to conduct an in-person exam at least once every 24 months.”
      How did the COVID-19 Pandemic Impact Prescriptions of Controlled Substances?
      The unprecedented public health emergency created by COVID-19 caused action by state and federal regulators to ensure greater access to health care, while simultaneously limiting the spread of the virus. Therefore, as of March 2020, the DEA declared that practitioners “may issue prescriptions for controlled substances to patients via telemedicine, even for patients for whom they have not conducted an in-person medical evaluation, provided the prescription is issued for a legitimate medical purpose by a practitioner acting in the usual course of their professional practice, the telemedicine communication is conducted using an audiovisual, real-time, two-way interactive communication system, and the practitioner is acting in accordance with applicable federal and state laws.” At that time, the DEA also ruled it was “permissible to write controlled substance prescriptions to cover a 90-day supply.”
      However, depending on where you live or who prescribes your meds, you may have had a different experience as certain states and practitioners elected to retain pre-COVID protocols of in-person evaluations given the sensitivity of the medication being administered.  
      What is the Current Status of Controlled Substances Prescriptions?
      As we move through 2022 and the threat of COVID-19 has lessened, requirements for prescribing and dispensing controlled substances in some states have begun making permanent changes to expand policies implemented under the public health emergency, while others have passed laws restricting them. This website has made an attempt to track these ongoing changes - but to be safe, always check with your own state’s official website, or contact your state or federal representatives. 
      The DEA at the federal level said in a March press release, that it “wants medication-assisted treatment to be readily and safely available to anyone in the country who needs it."  However, in the end it is up to each state and provider to do what they feel is best for the safety of constituents and/or patients. Therefore, check with your provider or prescriber to find out if you will need an in-person visit to continue receiving prescriptions of controlled substances or if telehealth visits are an option for you. Telemynd operates as a national practice, meaning that our national network of licensed providers may prescribe many types of medications, they follow federal regulation which prevents the prescribing of controlled-substances via our virtual telemedicine environment. 
      Sources
      DEA.gov: Rules for Control Substances
      NIH | National Library of Medicine: Pharmacy Prescription Requirements
    20. Does Renaming a Mental Illness Change the Stigma?

      Erratic. Volatile. Complicated. These are the unfortunate words that people often think of when they think of someone with a diagnosis of schizophrenia - which in turn has caused a stigma that has lead to fear and isolation for those most vulnerable. A movement has developed, made up of scientists, medical professionals, mental health advocates, and those with the diagnosis, to change the name. In this week’s article, we’ll look at the pros and cons of the name change proposition as well as explain what led to the idea in the first place.
      What is Schizophrenia?
      Schizophrenia is a brain disorder that affects less than 1% of the population. When it’s in its ‘active phase’, symptoms can include delusions, hallucinations, disorganized speech, trouble with thinking, and lack of motivation. Research has shown that schizophrenia affects men and women fairly equally but may have an earlier onset in males. As with any illness, the severity, duration and frequency of symptoms can vary. The symptoms are why Dr. Eugen Bleuler named the disorder in 1908 - the term ‘schizophrenia’ derives from Greek words for “split mind” - because Dr. Bleuler thought the disease was characterized by a “splitting of psychological functions” where “the personality loses its unity.” But it turns out the condition was named erroneously.
      Researchers believe that a number of genetic and environmental factors contribute to the cause of schizophrenia, as well, life stress may also play a role in the start of symptoms. But since multiple factors may contribute, scientists aren’t yet sure of the exact cause in each individual case.
      Modern Treatment Means Symptoms are Very Manageable
      While there is no cure for schizophrenia, the good news is that research has led to innovative and safe treatments which means most symptoms will greatly improve and the likelihood of  recurrence is diminished. A combination of pharmaceutical treatment and therapeutic treatments such as cognitive behavioral therapy or supportive psychotherapy may reduce symptoms and enhance functioning. Additional treatments are aimed at reducing stress, supporting employment, and improving social skills.
      Yet a Stigma Still Exists
      So even while treatment helps dissipate symptoms, the complexity of schizophrenia may help explain why there are misconceptions about the disease. Contrary to what Dr. Bleuler thought when he named the disease over one hundred years ago, schizophrenia does not result in split personalities or multiple personalities. Most people with schizophrenia are no more dangerous than people in the general population. However, you’d never know this based on how people with the diagnosis are portrayed in TV, film, and other media. And as with most stigmas around mental health issues, stigmas perpetuate fear, make “others” out of those with the diagnosis, and in turn encourage isolation - all of which worsen the lives of already vulnerable individuals. Research has found that “public, anticipated, and self-stigma decrease healthcare seeking and treatment adherence, and create barriers to pursuing independent living” for those living with the condition..
      Would a Name Change Help Reduce the Stigma?
      This is how the idea of renaming schizophrenia came about. Said a recent New York Times article, "The idea is that replacing the term ‘schizophrenia’ with something less frightening and more descriptive will not only change how the public perceives people with the diagnosis but also how people with the diagnosis see themselves." Japan and South Korea have already changed the name to “Integration Disorder '', which is the term for which many in the re-naming movement are advocating.
      Most of the mental health community is behind the name change. A survey by the World Psychiatric Association showed that approximately half of mental health professionals around the world believe schizophrenia needs a new label, and over half believe the term is stigmatizing. Another 2021 poll found that 74% of stakeholders (mental health professionals, family members, researchers, government officials, and more) found the name stigmatizing and favored a name change.
      In the Meantime, How Can We Help Reduce the Stigma?
      Regardless of where you stand on the name change, the most important thing is to understand that schizophrenia is a physical disease of the brain - and like other medical diseases - it is treatable today. Much research has been done on how to reduce the stigma around this diagnosis, and that research has found that if we commit to educating society about schizophrenia, promote accurate representations of schizophrenia, and prioritize advocacy, we may help reduce the stigma.
      Sources
      The New York Times: ‘Schizophrenia’ Still Carries a Stigma. Will Changing the Name Help?
      American Psychiatric Association: What is Schizophrenia?
      National Alliance for Mental Illness: The Consequences of Stigma Surrounding Schizophrenia
      Schizophrenia Bulletin: Reducing Stigma Toward Individuals With Schizophrenia Using a Brief Video: A Randomized Controlled Trial of Young Adults
    21. 5 Tips for Designing an Effective Therapy Space

      As a mental health professional, it's important to create a therapy space for yourself and your clients that is polished yet comfortable and conducive to the interactions needed for successful treatment. Much research has been done over the years on elements like comfort and privacy that can help inform the design of an effective therapy space. "A space should be something that supports you as you try to achieve specific goals…that means creating a calm and refreshing environment to balance the rigorous mental and emotional work of therapy," says Dr. Sally Augustin, an applied environmental and design psychologist. 
      Conversely, therapy space that in any way puts your clients on edge or makes them feel uncomfortable can have an adverse impact on their progress. Creating the right space for online therapy is just as important to get the most out of your therapy sessions. In this week’s article, we provide 5 tips for creating a comfortable and effective virtual therapy space.
      Choosing the right technology. Investing in your virtual practice is critical to establishing confidence in your ability to deliver care, and to offer a clear environment for your clients to openly engage in the therapeutic process - even when they are far away. Start by ensuring your camera is enabled and the resolution is acceptable (we recommend 720p display resolution or higher). Make sure your internet connection can support a video session and that the audio quality is clear and concise without degradation. The best position for your camera is at face level and centered so you are able to maintain eye contact. That may mean purchasing a stand for your computer or laptop. In session, the goal is to establish a relationship with new clients, to do this we suggest minimizing the appearance of multi-tasking . In addition, if you provide virtual therapy, choose a platform that meets the needs of your clients like Telemynd. Make your online therapy space calm and comfortable for clients. Set up a designated private space that is conducive to critical conversations. Use ambient light, calming wall art, and soft-colored walls in the background to keep distractions to a minimum. If your space doesn’t have good lighting, consider buying a ring light which is specifically designed to provide lighting for cameras and computers. And keep your office clutter-free, as that can give the impression of focus, clarity, and skill in your relationship with clients. You can also utilize a virtual background during your sessions if your space cannot be augmented.  Privacy is an important ingredient to the therapeutic process. Clients should always feel safe during your therapy sessions, and since they’ll be sharing thoughts they usually keep to themselves, feeling a sense of privacy is key. Even though it may be tempting, don't do your therapy sessions from the car, or with others in the background. Close doors and windows in your workspace so it feels private for your clients to open up. And make sure your phone is turned to silent as ringing phones or alarms can disrupt the session. Eliminate negative distractions from your therapy space. Keep personalization to a minimum in the background (i.e., family photos, personal mementos) to help clients feel “at home” within the space. Keep background artwork calming and neutral; if the colors or images are too loud, too specific, or evoke sadness or violence, they may be disruptive to the therapeutic process. Other distractions to avoid: open doors or views of other rooms in your residence if you are working from home, or doing your sessions in anything other than professional attire (for example, PJs definitely give the wrong impression).  Make the space comfortable for you! Don’t forget to get the right chair - since you’ll likely be sitting for extended periods of time every day, it’s important to find one that is ergonomic and comfortable for you. Some therapists sit in an armchair during an online session, and some prefer to sit in a more typical “desk” chair in front of their computer. Try them out before buying and choose what works best. While there is no single right way to design an online therapy space, you can help ensure your clients have a comfortable therapeutic experience by creating a welcoming, private, and technologically-sound space for when they need to be emotionally vulnerable. What tips would you add to the list? Let us know in the comments.
      Sources
      Hospital Community Psychiatry: Design considerations for mental health facilities
      Healthcare: Telemedicine Workplace Environments: Designing for Success
      Psychiatry Advisor: Designing the Therapeutic Space: Using Layout, Color, and Other Elements to Get Patients in the Right Frame of Mind
    22. Using an HSA or FSA to Offset the Cost of Mental Health Care

      Mental health care is critical to maintaining overall wellness - just as important as caring for your physical health. And as we noted in a recent article, 1 in 5 of us live with mental health issues on a daily basis. As many as 30% of those with a mental health issue don’t seek treatment, and a common obstacle to that care is cost. 
      The good news is that you can pay for some mental health treatments and services with your Flexible Spending Account (FSA) or your Health Savings Account (HSA), to offset out-of-pocket expenses. This week’s article summarizes what mental health services qualify for coverage with FSA and HSA funds and how to use these accounts for mental health care. Be sure to click on the links included in this article, as we’ve referenced the original IRS and government sources for further information.
      What’s the difference between an FSA and an HSA?
      FSAs are an arrangement through your employer that lets you pay for many out-of-pocket medical expenses with tax-free dollars. You decide how much to put in an FSA, up to a limit set by your employer. Employers may make contributions to your FSA, but aren’t required to. 
      An HSA is a type of savings account that lets you set aside money on a pre-tax basis to pay for qualified medical expenses. HSA funds generally may not be used to pay premiums. While you can use the funds in an HSA at any time to pay for qualified medical expenses, you may contribute to an HSA only if you have a High Deductible Health Plan (HDHP) — generally a health plan that only covers preventive services before the deductible. 
      It may sound complicated - but FSAs and HSAs are often a win-win for many people, as they allow you to reduce your tax liability and pay for your mental health care expenses, using pre-tax funds.

      Is mental health treatment eligible for HSA or FSA funds?
      According to the IRS, mental health therapy and treatment that is deemed ‘medically necessary’ is eligible for reimbursement with an FSA or an HSA - things like psychiatric care, and treatment for drug or alcohol addiction. So therapy such as marriage or family counseling - that is not required for a medical or mental purpose - may not qualify. The actual wording from the IRS is this: “treatment provided by a psychologist or psychiatrist is eligible for FSA or HSA reimbursement if the purpose of the treatment is for medical care and not for the general improvement of mental health”. Sound a bit murky? The best thing to do is to speak with your your health insurance directly to understand how to approach the situation first. 
      Regardless of the kind of health care services you are getting, an administrator may require you to get a ‘Letter of Medical Necessity’ in order to get coverage. This is a letter written by your doctor that verifies the services you are purchasing are for the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of a disease or medical condition.
      Make the most of your HSA to cover mental health expenses
      The IRS-approved list of mental health care expenses on which you can use your HSA includes services like psychologist visits (including online therapy), psychiatric care, alcoholism and drug treatment, and prescription drugs related to psychiatric care. You can pay for these with an HSA card or by getting reimbursed, but either way, always save your receipts. You’ll need these when you file your tax return each year. You can ask your health care provider for itemized receipts after each service, or a total record of all services at the end of the year.
      If you have health insurance (and remember, it must be a High Deductible Health Plan in order to be allowed to contribute to an HSA), you can use your HSA funds for any qualified expense that’s not paid directly to the provider or for which you’re not reimbursed by your insurance company. This includes co-pays and expenses to meet your deductible, as well as any uncovered medical expense.
      Using an FSA to cover mental health expenses
      Eligible mental health care expenses for which you can use your FSA account include alcoholism and drug treatment, psychiatric care (including online therapy), and prescription drugs related to psychiatric care. You use your FSA by submitting a claim to the FSA (through your employer) with proof of the medical expense and a statement that it has not been covered by your plan. You will then receive reimbursement for your costs. In addition, according to the IRS, you can use FSA funds to pay deductibles and copayments, but not for insurance premiums.
      In summary, understanding how to use FSAs and HSAs to help offset the cost of behavioral health may feel confusing or overwhelming - but it's worth digging into, as these accounts may save you money. For more help, you can ask your employer, an accountant, reference IRS Publication 969, or research online yourself. Here’s a good article that goes into more detail - in an understandable way - about the differences between HSAs and FSAs.
    23. 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.
      Sources
      Mental Health America (MHA): 2022 State of Mental Health in America Report
    24. 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.
      Sources
      Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA): How does the new 988 work?
    25. 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.
      Sources
      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
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