As many of us have probably heard before, physical activity can greatly improve and be a positive support for mental health. This is not just a cliché saying. Research has revealed that physical activity can reduce, and maybe even ward off, depression, anxiety, and other psychological ailments. 

Exercise has been shown to have profound effects on brain structure, especially in regions most affected by depression (smithsonianmag.com). Other benefits may also include better focus, a sense of accomplishment, social stimulation, and more. Furthermore, a study done by Hovland in 2016 showcased that exercise was on par with antidepressant drugs in terms of effectiveness against depression. 

Also, exercise promotes a healthier body through cardiovascular health, which in turn, enhances mental health and clarity. Many studies show the correlation between physical health and mental health, so the saying, “healthy body, healthy mind” may actually have truth behind it!

Resources:

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/science-nature/how-exercise-boosts-the-brain-and-improves-mental-health-180979511/

What is the stigma behind suicide? Here are a few marked differences in stigmas:

-Stigma: “A Mark that denotes a shameful quality in the individual so marked, or a quality that is considered to be shameful in a certain individual”

-Social Stigma: “Prejudicial attitudes and discriminating behavior directed towards individuals with mental health problems as a result of the psychiatric label they have been given”

-Self Stigma: “Internalizing by the mental health sufferer of their perceptions of discrimination”

(seattleu.edu)

Examples of suicide stigmas – remember that each of these are harmful:

-Asking someone about suicide may plant the idea in their minds (false)

-Suicidal people are fully intent on dying (false)

-Everyone who dies by suicide is depressed (false)

(seattleu.edu)

Stigma can come from many areas of life including family, media, teachers, peers, and more. The reasoning behind why stigma can be so damaging is that it does not promote healthy recovery, it can negatively affect treatment outcomes, and it can negatively affect the perception of self and others. Stigma can be rooted internally and externally, and if not broken or addressed, may cause harm.

How to combat suicide stigma:

-Accept differences in others

-Don’t rely on stereotypes

-Offer a safe space to talk  

Resources:

https://www.seattleu.edu/wellness/mental/stigma/

Self-care is a wonderful way to promote mental wellness and a healthier relationship with oneself. Self-care can mean many different things, and may look different for everyone. There are eight different categories of self-care: physical, emotional, social, spiritual, personal, environmental, financial, and work/school/caregiving. (Willowstone.org, 2022)

Examples of each category of self-care include:

Physical

-sleep or rest

-stretching, walking, or exercise that feels good

-keeping medical appointments

-eating healthy

-getting fresh air

Emotional

-journaling or talking it out

-stress management 

-making art

-listening to music 

-self-compassion

-counseling

Social

-time with others

-healthy boundaries 

-balancing alone and social time

-positive social media

-asking for help

Spiritual

-connections

-prayer or meditation

-reflection

-nature

Personal

-listening to yourself

-hobbies

-treating yourself

-trying something new

-getting to know yourself

Environmental

-safety

-stability and security

-cleaning and organizing

-comfy space

Financial

-money management/budgeting

-savings

-seeking help if needed

-“fun” money

-paying bills

Work/School/Caregiving

-time management

-feeling productive and valued

-learning and developing skills

-break time

References

https://www.willowstone.org/news/8-types-of-self-care

By: Megan Eckles

What is PTSD?

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a mental health condition that is triggered by a traumatic event through experience or witnessing (Mayo Clinic, 2022).

In the DSM-5 there is a distinction between PTSD in those 6 years of age and up, and those under the age of 6.

Experiencing or witnessing a traumatic event, does not meant that a person will automatically develop PTSD. 

What does PTSD look like?

  • Adults-NAMI (2022) notes that PTSD characterized generally by 3 categories:
    • Re-experiencing type symptoms- which can include flashback, intrusive thoughts, and bad dreams
    • Cognitive and mood symptoms- issues with recalling the evet and/or negative thoughts about self
    • Arousal symptoms- the state of hypervigilance or exaggerated responses
  • Children 
    • According to Stanford Children’s Heath (2022), children and teens with PTSD feel a lot of emotional and physical distress when exposed to situations that remind them of the traumatic event. Some may relive the trauma repeatedly.
  • Children (under the age of 6)
    • Re-enacting the event 
    • Nightmares about the event

Treatment:

Treatment for PTSD is similar for both adults and children

  • Psychotherapy
    • Cognitive therapy 
    • Exposure therapy
    • Eye movement desensitization and reprocessing (EMDR)
  • Medication 
    • Antidepressants
    • Anti-anxiety medication

Seeking help with PTSD symptoms as soon as possible is helpful for both client and family. 

When someone you know has PTSD:

  • Be aware and learn more about PTSD
  • Notice symptoms and warning signs, such as withdrawal or suicidal thinking 
  • Seek personal help or therapy 
  • Have a safe place if a loved one becomes abusive or violent 

Resources:

https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/post-traumatic-stress-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20355967

https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Mental-Health-Conditions/Posttraumatic-Stress-Disorder

https://www.stanfordchildrens.org/en/topic/default?id=post-traumatic-stress-disorder-in-children-90-P02579

By: Megan Eckles

According to NAMI (2022) LGBTQI stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer, Questioning, Intersex. This community of people make up a wide range of gender identification and sexual orientation. 

The Facts:

  • Those in the LGBTQI community are twice more likely to experience a mental health condition, compared to that of heterosexuals
  • According to a 2013 survey, 40% of LGBTQI adults have experienced rejection from a family member or a close friend (NAMI, 2022). 
  • A 2019 school climate survey showed that 86% of LGBTQI youth reported being harassed or assaulted at school, which can significantly impact their mental health (NAMI, 2022).
  • High school students who identify as LGBTQI are four times more likely to attempt suicide compared to peers who identify as heterosexual.
  • 40% of adults who identify as transgender have attempted suicide, compared to the 5% of the general US population.

How can you help?

  • The Trevor Project- this program offers 5 key programs to help fight against suicide in the LGBTQI community. The programs include:
    • Crisis Services 
    • Peer Support
    • Research
    • Public Education 
    • Advocacy
  • SAIGE (Society for Sexual, Affectional, Intersex, and Gender Expansive Identities)- is a division of the American Counseling Association, that strives to educate and help those in the LGBTQI community. They offer courses and certifications for mental health professionals. 

Hotline Numbers 

  • LGBT National Hotline- 888-843-4564 Provides confidential peer support, information, local resources and more, for all ages.
  • LGBT National Youth Talkine- 800-246-7743 Provides youth with confidential peer support, information, local resources and more, for callers though age 25. 
  • LGBT National Senior Hotline- 888-234-7243 Provides senior callers, ages 50+ confidential peer support, information, local resources and more.

Resources:

http://www.glbtnationalhelpcenter.org

https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Identity-and-Cultural-Dimensions/LGBTQI

https://www.thetrevorproject.org/resources?s=Talking+about+Suicide

By: Taylor Pemberton

Although summer can be a time of fun and relaxation, many individuals report that summer can be difficult when dealing with mental health issues. Those who deal with anxiety and stress may find summer more overwhelming due to its “care free” nature and less structure of time and schedules. 

Some tips to help with taking care of your mental health this summer include:

  • Get active! Summer is a great time for heading outside, enjoying the sunshine, and getting those endorphins flowing. Some summer activities may include swimming, hiking, playing sports, going for a walk, rock climbing, and more. 
  • Don’t forget your goals. Goals are a great way to keep you motivated and on track towards something you want. Setting goals can also help you feel more structured during the summer where things may feel more chaotic.
  • Change of scenery. Changing up your environment can help your body take in new things and feel refreshed and recharged. This can be big, like going for a vacation, or small, like going on a walk or drive somewhere new!
  • Spend time outside. It is scientifically proven that being outside, getting fresh air, and taking in sunlight is good for you both mentally and physically. This can increase endorphins and serotonin levels leaving you feeling more happy, relaxed, and an overall increase in mood and attitude. 
  • Mindfulness and meditation. Stress and anxiety can take us out of the daily swing of things, and leave us feeling worried, nervous, and on edge. Practicing mindfulness and/or meditation can get us back in the present moment to feel more relaxed and at ease. Meditate using a cool app or practice mindfulness to your favorite music! 
  • Enjoy your time off. During the summer, it can be easy to get caught up in the things you need to do, or have been putting off; however, it is important to remember to make time for things you enjoy!
  • Create structure through scheduling. Many people, especially children, thrive on routine. Find something that keeps you or your family in routine to help promote less stress or anxiety. This can look like scheduled playdates, outings, daily chores, and more!

Resources

https://www.inspirewellness.com/post/how-to-maintain-good-mental-health-for-kids-during-summer-break

https://www.unh.edu/healthyunh/blog/psychological-health/2019/07/how-take-care-your-mental-health-summer

By: Hailey Robertson

Borderline Personality Disorder is a mental illness that severely impacts individuals’ ability to regulate their emotions. This disorder is marked by instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. 

In the United States, Borderline Personality Disorder is only present in 1.6% of the general population and 20% in the inpatient psychiatric population. 

Symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorders include: 

  • Wide mood swings that last hours to a few days, this can include intense happiness, irritability, shame or anxiety
  • Rapid changes in self-identity and self-image that include shifting goals and values
  • Intense fear of abandonment, even taking extreme measures to avoid real or imagined separation or rejection
  • A pattern of unstable intense relationships, such as idealizing someone one moment and then suddenly believing the person does not care enough
  • Impulsive and risk-taking behaviors 
  • Ongoing feelings of emptiness
  • Intense anger, losing temper, sarcastic, or having physical fights
  • Suicidal threats or behavior or self-injury, often in response to fear of separation or rejection 

If you or someone you know has symptoms or a diagnosis of Borderline Personality Disorder here are resources for help:

  • Psychiatrist – A psychiatrist can help with diagnosing and providing medication that may be needed for treatment
  • Therapist- A Therapist can help you understand the diagnosis and help you process your thoughts, emotions, and feelings. 
  • Client Support Specialist- A Client Support Specialist can help support you through treatment and equip you with the skills necessary for everyday life. 

Resources

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2019, July 17). Borderline personality disorder. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/borderline-personality-disorder/symptoms-causes/syc-20370237

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Borderline personality disorder. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/borderline-personality-disorder

U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. (n.d.). Personality Disorders. National Institute of Mental Health. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/personality-disorders

By: Hailey Robertson

Postpartum Depression is defined as a severe, long-lasting form of depression after the birth of a baby. 

Most new mothers experience a form of postpartum called “baby blues” that last typically one to two weeks after the baby is born. Postpartum depression is a more severe form of the “baby blues” with more severe and long-lasting symptoms.

Baby Blues symptoms:               vs.              Postpartum Depression symptoms:

  • Mood swings                               
  • Anxiety
  • Sadness
  • Irritability
  • Feeling Overwhelmed 
  • Crying 
  • Reduced Concentration
  • Appetite Problems

Postpartum Depression is not limited to just mothers; fathers can also develop postpartum depression, especially new fathers. The symptoms present the same as they do in mothers. 

Risk factors for Postpartum Depression for men: 

  • Young
  • History of Depression
  • Relationship problems
  • Struggling financially 

Postpartum Anxiety commonly occurs alongside Postpartum Depression. But Postpartum Anxiety comes with its distinct symptoms. 

Postpartum Anxiety symptoms include:

  • Cannot feel relaxed
  • A constant sense of worry
  • Constant thoughts that something terrible will happen to the baby
  • Insomnia
  • Decreased appetite 
  • Dizziness or nausea 

Postpartum Depression and Anxiety Treatment

Postpartum Depression or Anxiety can be treated through various options: 

  • Reach out to medical provider with PPD or PPA concerns
  • Seek professional through Mental Health providers for Therapy or support from a Client Support Specialist

Resources 

Mayo Foundation for Medical Education and Research. (2018, September 1). Postpartum depression. Mayo Clinic. Retrieved April 25, 2022, from https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/postpartum-depression/symptoms-causes/syc-20376617 

By: Megan Eckles

The Facts:

  • Over 24 million Americans, or 7.3% of the U.S. population, are considered Asian American and Pacific Islanders (AAPI; NAMI, 2022)
  • APPI encompasses 50 ethnic groups speaking over 100 languages, with connections to Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Filipino, Vietnamese, Korean, Hawaiian, and other Asian and Pacific Islander ancestries.

Barriers to Mental Health: 

  • Asian Americans do not access mental health treatment as much as other racial/ethnic groups do, perhaps due to strong stigma related to mental illness. Emotional problems are viewed as shameful and distressing which may limit help-seeking behaviors. Asian Americans with mental health problems tend to rely on family to handle problems. (Asian American Suicide Prevention & Education, 2022).
  • Some AAPIs do not seek help due to fear of immigration laws and possible deportation (NAMI, 2022). 
  • The is the lack of competent care for those in the community. 
  • Language barriers, roughly 32.6% AAPIs are not fluent in English, and those over 65 make up 60% of that (NAMI, 2022).

Seeking Culturally Competent Care:

Culturally competent care means to understand a person’s values, experiences and personal beliefs, while making strides to provide services that support their goals and are in alignment with their cultural values. 

Ways to provide/find culturally competent care:

  • The Asian Mental Health Collective connects AAPI clients with AAPI therapists
  • Asian American Psychological Association offers a Graduate Leadership Institute (GLI), which offers students a deeper understanding about the AAPI community, and self in relation to the community
  • According to NAMI (2022), traditional/non-western medicine or indigenous healing practices, which often emphasize the integration of mind and body in maintaining health and promoting healing, remain popular forms of mental health intervention in some AAPI communities. These practices include, but are not limited to:
    • Traditional Chinese medicine
    • Ayurveda (the traditional medicine of India)
    • Japanese herbal medicine
    • Tibetan medicine
    • Acupuncture
    • Massage therapy
    • Folk nutritional therapy
    • Energy healing exercises (such as tai chi and qi gong)
    • Guided meditation
    • Spiritual healing

How to Help:

Asian LifeNet Hotline provides help with suicide for AAPI. They provide services in Cantonese, Mandarin, Japanese, Korean, Fujianese. 1-877-990-8585

Resources:

https://aaspe.net/index.html

https://www.nami.org/Your-Journey/Identity-and-Cultural-Dimensions/Asian-American-and-Pacific-Islander

By: Kristin Trammell (Therapist/Training Specialist)

Taking prescriptions for mental health needs is a very common practice in America. While medication may not solve or be a complete cure, it can help give people a leg up in being able to regulate themselves and cope with stressors. Medication, however, can only be as effective as we help it to be; meaning that we want to take it regularly, timely, and want to avoid foods, drinks, or activities that may contraindicate the medication’s effectiveness. 

Experiencing mental health difficulties can be a barrier in taking medication regularly and as prescribed. Often times people may not take their medication as they should due to forgetfulness, stigma, denial that they need it for their health, lack of understanding, expense, side effects, or feeling like they do not need it anymore. 

Here are a few tips in maintaining medication adherence to enable further mental health recovery:

  1. Be honest with your doctor about concerns of the medication regarding side effects, necessity of the prescription, or if you feel you do not need it any longer. 
  2. Seek payment assistance for prescriptions through local medbanks or non-profit programs, such as Salvation Army. Utilize non-profit pharmacies, such as Good Pill Pharmacy, https://www.goodpill.org/, and discount programs, such as GoodRX, https://www.goodrx.com/.
  3. Set an alarm on your phone, watch, or clock, or set a reminder in your schedule/calendar each day at the same to ensure you take the medication on time every day.
  4. Eat healthy foods and limit foods that can contraindicate the medication. Two foods that can contribute to anxiety and depression are sugar and caffeine, so it is a good idea to limit or avoid these. 
  5. Exercise daily: Go for a walk, complete a chore, lift weights, stretch, play with your pet or child. Anything to help us get moving is a good place to start! Exercising can help trigger pleasure and happy chemicals in the brain that can have a positive impact on overall mood and health. 
  6. Be honest with your doctor or therapist regarding possible stigma of taking prescriptions for mental health. Remind yourself mental health prescriptions are a resource to assist you in coping, and taking them does not mean there is something wrong with you. Many people in America take some type of medication for physical or mental health every day. Our brains and bodies operate with chemicals and electrical impulses, and sometimes these chemicals can become imbalanced, which medication can support us in balancing out chemicals within the body to help our overall health. 

References

Chisholm-Burns MA, Spivey CA. The cost of medication nonadherence: Consequences we cannot afford to accept. J Am Pharm Assoc. 2012;52(6):823-826.

Jimmy B, Jose J. Patient medication adherence: measures in daily practice. Oman Med J. 2011;26(3):155- 9. DOI: 10.5001/omj.2011.38. PubMed PMID: 22043406; PubMed Central PMCID: PMC3191684.

National Aliance on Mental Illness. (2016). Medication plan adherence. Retrieved March 24, 2022, from https://www.nami.org/About-Mental-Illness/Treatment/Mental-Health-Medications/Medication-Plan-Adherence