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The Best Support and Practices For Your Mental Health

A psychologist shares tips on how to find and maintain the mental health support you need.

Mental health struggles can affect anyone. Even high-profile celebrities put on a brave public face to hide their struggles, and no one (not even Anthony Bourdain or Kate Spade, who both died by suicide in June 2018) is immune.

But the reality is many people living with mental health issues and other invisible conditions still sweep internal despair under the rug instead of opening the curtain of their own psyche to find answers. This has largely to do with the continued stigma of seeking out mental health support. Sheryl Blum, a Montreal-based psychologist, says the reason many hesitate to get help is due to “discomfort in having to admit there’s a problem and needing outside assistance; shame; and being scared about what they’ll uncover if they come to therapy.”

If you need help, know you are not alone; research has shown that one in five Canadians experience a mental health problem in any given year. Overcoming the long-held stigma against talking to a mental health professional by seeking therapy isn’t an admission of fault—it’s an admission of the desire to be happier, less anxious and more at ease.

Here are a few tips to help you determine if seeking mental health support is right for you, and if so, the next steps you can take.

1. LOOK FOR WARNING SIGNS
Everyone experiences periods of sadness, stress, anger and confusion, but when certain feelings start to take over your life and debilitate you, those are warning signs to get help.  Blum recommends looking for significant changes in behaviour. “One of the things I do when someone first comes to see me is what I call ‘back to basics,’” says Blum. “I ask: How are you sleeping? How are you eating? Are you doing exercise? Are you seeing friends? Are you doing work? I look for the balance, and if there’s an upset in the balance, that’s where I want to start. Those are important signs to look for.”

So how do you know if there’s an imbalance before you talk to a professional? Trust your gut. “If your gut is telling you, I just don’t feel right, something is off—even if you can’t pinpoint what exactly it is—that merits watching, documenting, and noticing if it’s affecting your sleep and your appetite,” says Blum. She also recommends being mindful of an unusual drop in your functioning at school, work and social activities.

2. ENGAGE WITH THE MENTAL HEALTH COMMUNITY ON SOCIAL MEDIA
There have been many campaigns, like #EndtheStigma and Canada’s very own #BellLetsTalk and #OneBraveNight, that have fought head-on to bring the topic of mental illness to the forefront and provide courage to the public to take care of themselves.

Yes, social media has gotten a bad rap over the years, and there are definitely negative aspects—just as with almost everything in life, there can be cons—however, the creation of mental health initiatives through social hashtags promotes open discussions and enables individuals from all over to bring personal journeys into the public domain. This, in turn, helps normalize the conversation, lets people connect with others struggling, and can act as a medium for discovering recovery resources and support.

3. CONSIDER CHECKING IN WITH YOUR FAMILY DOCTOR FIRST
A primary care doctor can play a critical role in one’s mental health journey. “I think they are the first step,” says Blum. “If somebody comes to me and they have not gone for a physical checkup, I actually will request they do.” She further explains that many medical issues can cause psychological issues. “For example, a thyroid imbalance can cause anxiety or depression, so maybe you need something to regulate your thyroid instead of spending a year in therapy.” And unlike a psychologist, a family physician is able to prescribe and monitor medication if needed. “I think they’re hugely important so that you can rule out anything medical.”

 

mental health tips

4. CONSIDER YOUR OPTIONS
With over a half-dozen different professions that provide services that focus on helping a person overcome a concern (like psychologists, psychiatrists, licensed counsellors, and clinical social workers), choosing the right therapist to connect with can seem like an overwhelming hurdle to surmount. Blum describes the process much like dating; you may have to meet a few different ones before you find your perfect match.

Knowing where to look for a mental health professional is a helpful start. Blum recommends online resource Psychology Today, which has an extensive directory of therapists, treatment centres, and support groups. Visitors are able to filter their search by location, insurance, faith, sexuality, age, treatment approach and desired language. Opening up to supportive friends and family about what’s going on is also good. Not only are you allowing them to be part of your support team, but it’s also possible they can share recommendations or experts that have worked for them personally.

5. DO AN INTERVIEW
Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a few therapists who look promising, opt for a quick consultation call before committing. “I’ll always chat with people for 15 to 20 minutes, no charge,” says Blum. “You can get a feel for what the [therapist] is like, and it also helps me because maybe there’s a problem [somebody] tells me about that’s not my specialty. I wouldn’t want to waste their time, and then I can refer them to a colleague or somewhere else.”

6. MEET THE THERAPIST OR PSYCHOLOGIST BEFORE FIRMLY DECIDING
“You want to try the person out,” says Blum. “Somebody can look really good on paper, but I don’t think reading someone’s bio necessarily gives you a sense of what’s going on.” By going in and actually sitting with and talking to someone, you can get a better feel for whether it will work for you. Then you can ask yourself: “Do I feel comfortable with this person? Do I think that I might be able to trust them as the sessions move on? Do they appear confident? Are they reviewing things like consent? Are they telling me what to expect? Are they answering my questions? Do they have a diploma on the wall? Do I feel safe and comfortable on their couch or in their chair?”

7. TALK IT OUT
Finding the right therapist is one thing, but often an even bigger hurdle is trying to decide which type of support you should receive. It really depends on what your mental health struggles are, and “you might not know what your problem is until you go for help,” says Blum. Her advice? Just begin. If upon talking to a therapist, you both decide that there is another professional better suited to address your mental health concerns, your therapist will be able to refer you to the appropriate person.

Choosing a therapy type, from psychoanalytic therapy to behavioural and cognitive therapy, also comes down to a personal call. “You’ll know,” says Blum. “If nothing is changing or things are getting worse, then it’s the wrong approach.”

MOST IMPORTANTLY, TALK TO SOMEONE YOU CAN CONNECT WITH
At the end of the day, the most important aspect of therapy is the relationship you have with your therapist, despite the treatment approach. “There’s nothing that replaces what we call the therapeutic alliance, which is the connection between the therapist and the client,” says Blum. “That alliance is where the magic happens and is the biggest predictor of someone making an improvement.”

It’s often spoken about in hushed tones, but seeing a therapist can make a world of difference for anyone who struggles with mental health issues.

This article is featured on:Mental health in Canada
BY: NATASHA BRUNO
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Treating Insomnia First Can Help With Mental Health Problems

New research has found that treating insomnia with online cognitive behavioral therapy could in turn help treat mental health problems such as anxiety, depression, and paranoia.

Carried out by researchers at the Sleep and Circadian Neuroscience Institute, University of Oxford, the team set out to try to improve sleep in a group of university students with insomnia to look at sleep’s effect on paranoia (excessive mistrust), anxiety, and depression.

The study, which involved 3,755 participants, is thought to be the largest ever randomized controlled trial of a psychological treatment for mental health and the first study large enough to determine the effects of treating insomnia on psychotic experiences.

Participants were randomly split into two groups, with one group receiving online cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) for insomnia while the other group received access to standard treatments.

The six sessions of cognitive-behavioral therapy included behavioral, cognitive and educational components, such as learning to associate bed with sleep, encouraging people to put time aside to reflect on their day before going to bed, and facilitating a pro-sleep environment.

The interactive program also used information from the participants’ daily sleep diaries to tailor the advice.

Participants’ mental health was also monitored through a series of online questionnaires at 0, 3, 10 and 22 weeks from the start of the treatment.

After analyzing the results the team found that participants who received the CBT sleep treatment showed large reductions in insomnia, as well as small, sustained reductions in paranoia and hallucinatory experiences.

CBT treatment also helped improve other mental health problems including depression, anxiety, nightmares, and psychological well-being, as well as daytime work and home functioning.

“Sleep problems are very common in people with mental health disorders, but for too long insomnia has been trivialized as merely a symptom, rather than a cause, of psychological difficulties. This study turns that old idea on its head, showing that insomnia may actually be a contributory cause of mental health problems,” commented the study’s lead author Daniel Freeman.

“A good night’s sleep really can make a difference to people’s psychological health. Helping people get better sleep could be an important first step in tackling many psychological and emotional problems,” he concluded.

The results can be found published online in The Lancet Psychiatry.

Relaxnews   Friday, September 8, 2017


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500,000 Canadians Miss Work Each Week Due To Mental Health Concerns

A new poll finds 40% of Canadians report their mental health has disrupted their lives in some way over the past year. Nearly one in five missed work or school. As Shirlee Engel reports, the costs to the Canadian economy are staggering.

Jillian Coey was your typical overachieving 22-year-old: she had a full-time course load in university, part-time work, and a handful of extra-curricular activities and volunteer work.

But what most people didn’t know that she kept a secret, too: she was battling depression, anxiety and an eating disorder.

“I was definitely feeling overwhelmed by the symptoms I was experiencing, feelings of failure and developing a sense of hopelessness. The lens you’re looking through is altered because of the mental illness – at the time, I felt that things weren’t going to improve no matter what actions I took,” Coey told Global News.

“It got to the point where it became unbearable and I attempted to take my life,” she said.

Coey ended up in hospital. She knew she wouldn’t make her shift at work the next day, or for the following week.

Her family called her employer and explained her situation. Instead of processing her resignation, her manager suggested Coey take the time to focus on her recovery and return to work when she was ready.

“I thought [quitting] was the only option that was available. My manager let us know I didn’t need to quit and they wanted to keep me at the organization and they wanted to support me,” she said.

Coey said her manager’s understanding helped pave the way to her recovery.

Forty per cent of Canadians say their mental health disrupted their lives in the past year, according to new Ipsos findings released exclusively to Global News.

Seventeen per cent of Canadians say they’ve taken time off work and school to deal with a personal mental health issue.

Another eight per cent say they’ve taken time away from their professional lives to help a family member or close friend grappling with mental illness, the pollsters revealed.

“This could be the catalyst for change in the workplace. While it’s alarming to know that this many people are [taking time off work] it also speaks to people recognizing ‘I’m not myself today and I need to take a mental health break,’” Jennifer McLeod Macey, vice-president of the polling firm’s Health Research Institute, told Global News.

“The pressures of work and life, that all takes a toll. These numbers show Canadians are saying they need to stay home, not because they’re contagious but because they need to take care of themselves,” she said.

It’s the third year the polling firm zeroed in on their Mental Health Risk Index and the report’s release marks Mental Health Week.

Based on Canadians’ levels of stress and feelings of hopelessness and depression, the report classifies a whopping 41 per cent of Canadians as being at “high risk” for mental illness. That’s a significant increase from 2016’s 35 per cent.

Aside from missing work, another 19 per cent of Canadians said they missed social gatherings or family events in the past year because of mental health.

Twenty-three per cent said they’re taking medication to help with their mental health, from stress to depression.

The numbers don’t surprise Ed Mantler, vice-president of programs and priorities at the Mental Health Commission of Canada.

40% of Canadians report their mental health has disrupted their lives in some way over the past year

One in five Canadians will experience a mental health problem over the course of their lifetime. Every week, half a million Canadians are missing work because of a mental health issue, he said.

“Most Canadians work and most of us spend more time at work with colleagues than we do at home with our families. It can be impactful in a positive or harmful way,” he told Global News.

Heather Stuart, a Queen’s University professor and mental health research chair, suggests the numbers may be even higher.

“Mental health issues are the leading cause of short-term and long-term disability. Those people may not be captured in the numbers,” Stuart told Global News.
“Workplaces need to take the mental health issue more seriously and do more to create positive work environments. Employees will be less uncomfortable and less fearful when they see the workplace is designed to help them,” she said.

Employees could be stressed because of factors outside of the workspace, such as finances or relationships, for example. In other cases, it could be the workplace that’s causing distress.

The repercussions vary from person to person: some people could be depressed and dragging themselves into the office, while others could be laser-focused at work. Mental health concerns could make some people unproductive or not focused, irritable or unhappy, but in other manifestations, employees could use it as a distraction.

There is absenteeism, which is when employees call in sick, and presenteeism, which is when employees show up to work but aren’t performing at the level they would normally be at.

Overall, this costs the Canadian economy $50 billion a year, Mantler said.

The good news? Mantler said that most employers are “already well on their way” in addressing mental health. Some companies make it mandatory for managers to take mental health training, while others promote their employee assistance programs.

With the help of the MHCC, Canada issued its first national standard on workplace mental health. It’s a tool unique to Canada, although many countries are already looking at its guidance to employers. It helps workplaces consider the psychological factors at play for employees, from work-life balance to civility and respect to having autonomy and influence over your work.

The Ipsos poll revealed that more Canadians than ever are getting help.

Forty-two per cent of Canadians said they talked to someone about their mental health in the past year, up seven percentage points from last year, and 11 points from two years ago.

Twenty-three per cent said they talked to a primary health-care provider, such as their family doctor, while another 16 per cent reached out to a counsellor, psychiatrist, or psychologist.

Another 10 per cent even wrote about or posted about their mental health woes online – millennials led the way with this openness with 24 per cent sharing their mental health difficulties online in the past year.

But stigma is still prevalent: while some may think taking time for treatment is a weakness, Coey said that’s a major misconception.

The last thing most people living with a mental health condition want is to let their managers, co-workers and loved ones down, she said.

“When I was experiencing mental illness, I was still very dedicated to my work and felt a sense of responsibility to my work,” she said.

She said she’s incredibly fortunate that she received support from her workplace.

“The actions of that manager changed my life. Essentially, the actions she took allowed me to continue working with the organization and go on to have progressively senior roles that otherwise wouldn’t have been possible if I had resigned,” Coey said.

Now, she works full time and volunteers as a mental health advocate. She still grapples with anxiety but has learned coping strategies through ongoing treatment.

On Saturday, Coey is one of the organizers leading the March for Mental Health on Saturday at Toronto’s Nathan Phillips Square. The goal is to call on the federal and provincial governments to treat mental health no differently than physical health. The march’s organizers include those with lived experience of mental illness or loved ones touched by it.

The Ipsos poll was conducted in mid-April 2017. A random sample of Canadian adults were interviewed online for the survey, which was weighted to bring it in line with Canadian demographics and which has a margin of error of 3.5 percentage points.

Where to get help

If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention, Depression Hurts and Kids Help Phone 
1-800-668-6868  all offer ways of getting help if you, or someone you know, may be suffering from mental health issues.

By Carmen Chai    Senior National Online Journalist, Health  Global News    May 5, 2017


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Experts Urge Huge Expansion of Online Therapy For Mental Illness

A “massive and growing” mental health burden across the world can only be tackled successfully with a major expansion of online psychiatric resources such as virtual clinics and web-based psychotherapies, specialists said on Tuesday.

With resources tight and the global mental health system only serving around 10 percent of patients even now, specialists speaking at the European Congress on Psychiatry (ECP) said the web is the only option for significant extra treatment capacity.

The World Health Organization (WHO) said last week mental disorders – in particular depression – are now the leading cause of ill health and disability worldwide.

Rates of depression have risen by more than 18 percent since 2005, the WHO says, and a lack of support for mental health combined with a common fear of stigma means many do not get the treatment they need. [L2N1H70MW]

Michael Krausz, a professor of psychiatry at the University of British Columbia in Canada, and a leading specialist at the World Psychiatric Association, said “E-mental health” should be a major part of the answer.

“Through a proactive approach we can create an additional virtual system of care which could build capacity, improve the quality of care and make mental health care more effective,” he told the ECP.

Web-based psychological treatments such as online cognitive behavior therapy (CBT) have proven effective in several conditions including depression and anxiety. Krausz said there is also potential for online CBT to be modified for conditions such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

“Online assessments, web-based psychotherapies,… and online research strategies will significantly change the field,” he told the congress.

Technologies like virtual reality and artificial intelligence can also be used in certain therapies for anxiety, and various online games and apps are being developed to support treatment of depression in children.

In another example, scientists at King’s College London have developed an avatar-based system to help treat people with schizophrenia who hear distressing voices.

(Reporting by Kate Kelland,; Editing by Stephen Powell)         Mon Apr 3, 2017


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Canada Needs a Comprehensive Mental Health Strategy

Mental illness is the most common illness found in Canada’s children and teens. We all know a young person who struggles with depression, anxiety, an addiction or a behavioural disorder. Mental illness causes high levels of distress in children and can significantly interfere with their lives.

But mental illnesses can often be prevented from developing, or becoming more severe and difficult to treat.

A new report from the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy found that 14 per cent of all children and teens in the province were diagnosed by a doctor with at least one mental disorder during the four-year study. These are diagnosed cases, so if we included all children who experienced a mental disorder, the percentage would be higher.

Other provinces report similar findings. The Centre for Addiction and Mental Health in Ontario found that 34 per cent of high school students had a moderate-to-serious level of psychological distress and 12 per cent seriously thought about suicide in the past year. A report prepared for the British Columbia government found that 12.6 per cent of four-to-17-year-old children experienced a clinically significant mental disorder at any given time.

What struck us, in completing the Manitoba report, is that mental illness touches children from all corners of the province and across all socio-economic levels.

But children in families with many parenting challenges — like poverty, being a teen mom or being involved with child welfare services — are at greater risk of developing mental illness. Our results also suggest children from rural areas may not have adequate and timely access to mental health services.

Manitoba records over a four-year period show that 74 out of 100,000 teens died by suicide. And these tragic deaths are only a fraction of those with mental illness. For every teen suicide, there are another 200 or more teens who struggle with depression, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), addictions or schizophrenia.

Suicide most often occurs when mental illness — and the conditions that place children and teens at risk for mental illness — are not addressed. It’s crucial to instil hope in our young people and build awareness of the many solutions to their problems.

mental health

So how can we better support children with mental illness? How do we create hope and better lifelong health and success for this future generation?

It’s essential to develop and invest in a comprehensive child and youth mental health strategy at provincial and national levels. We need strategies to promote positive mental health and provide supports and services early in the illness. Home visiting in early childhood, for example, reduces depression, anxiety and use of substances in children.

Children require a warm, nurturing environment. High levels of stress damage the mental health of children. Prevention programs include positive parenting, home visiting, antibullying initiatives and mental health promotion in schools — all aimed at preventing mental illness from developing.

More than half of mental disorders have their roots in childhood, so increasing resources for children will reduce the burden of mental illness in adulthood.

Our study found that children with mental illnesses are more likely to have lower grades and less likely to graduate. They’re also more likely to be accused of a crime or to be victimized. They’re more likely to be from families living in social housing or receiving income assistance.

Increasing the mental health knowledge and skills of people working with children across education, social services and justice systems would mitigate the untoward effects of mental illness.

Canada spends too little on mental health compared to other developed countries. The Mental Health Commission of Canada recommends that nine per cent of health budgets should go to improving mental health services.

Investments in mental health and wellness for children and teens will go a long way toward creating hope and a brighter future.

Jan 17, 2017        Waterloo Region Record       By Mariette Chartier and Marni Brownell

Mariette J. Chartier, RN, PhD, is a research scientist at the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy and an assistant professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences, University of Manitoba. Chartier has published in the area of population health, mental health and prevention and early intervention programs for children and their parents. Marni Brownell, PhD, is an expert adviser with EvidenceNetwork.ca and professor in the Department of Community Health Sciences at the University of Manitoba. She is also a senior research scientist with the Manitoba Centre for Health Policy, and a research scientist with the Children’s Hospital Research Institute of Manitoba. © 2017 Distributed by Troy Media


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Fun Fact Friday

Winnie-The-Pooh characters all represent some type of mental disorder
(Eeyore – Depression, Pooh – Addiction, Tigger – ADHD, Owl – OCD)
 
You can “rewire” your brain to be happy
by simply recalling 3 things you’re grateful for every day for 21 days
 
The key to confidence is walking into a room and assuming everyone likes you
Broccoli, cabbage, and brussel sprouts all contain a little bit of cyanide
Eating them primes your liver to deal better with other poisons
 
broccoli

 

A person generally hates you for 3 reasons: 
1) They want to be you. 2) They hate themselves. 3) They see you as a threat
 
The plural term for “nieces and nephews” is “niblings”
 
Apples are more efficient at waking you up in the morning than caffeine
Did you know your body is actually designed to get 
4 hours of sleep twice per day instead of 8 hours once?
Happy Friday  🙂
source:       factualfacts.com       https://twitter.com/Fact       @Fact


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Study focuses on precipitating circumstances of suicide in children and early adolescents

Study focuses on precipitating circumstances of suicide in children and early adolescents

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), suicide was the 10th leading cause of death for children ages 5 to 11 in 2014. This was the first time suicide had shown up in the CDC’s top ten leading causes of death for children in this age group.

A recent study from Arielle Sheftall, PhD, a postdoctoral research fellow in the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital demonstrates that some individual characteristics and precipitating circumstances may be more prominent in children who die by suicide compared with early adolescents who die by suicide. It is the first study to exclusively focus on precipitating circumstances of suicide in children and early adolescents, defined as ages 5 to 14.

“Children who died by suicide were more likely to have relationship problems with family members or friends whereas early adolescents were more likely to have boyfriend or girlfriend relationship problems,” said Dr. Sheftall, first author of the study. “These differences tended to fall along developmental lines given elementary school-aged children are more likely to spend time with family and friends and less likely to engage in romantic relationships, which become more common during adolescence.”

A current mental health problem was present in approximately 33 percent of decedents in the study sample. Among this group, a diagnosis of ADD or ADHD was more common in children who died by suicide compared to early adolescent decedents, who were more likely to be affected by depression or dysthymia.

Dr. Sheftall and her colleagues used the National Violent Death Reporting System (NVDRS) and analyzed suicide deaths from 2003 to 2012 in 17 different states, segregating them by age group. The NVDRS database is unique in its inclusion of information from multiple sources including medical examiners and law enforcement reports. This allows more in-depth information to be gathered concerning personal, familial, and social factors surrounding a child’s death.

suicide

“We also found that 29 percent of children and early adolescents disclosed their intention for suicide to someone prior to their death,” says Dr. Sheftall. “Our study highlights the importance of educating pediatricians, primary health care providers, school personnel and families on how to recognize the warning signs of suicide and what steps to take when suicidal intent is disclosed. These warning signs include a child making suicidal statements, being unhappy for an extended period, withdrawing from friends or school activities or being increasingly aggressive or irritable.”

Research indicates that the use of suicide risk screening tools by pediatricians increases the detection of suicide risk in youth 400 percent without overburdening clinical care. Not only do pediatricians potentially see at-risk children on a regular basis, early detection allows the healthcare providers an opportunity to alert parents of potential risks and increases the likelihood of a child receiving mental health services in a timely fashion.

“Although suicide is extremely rare in elementary school-aged children, parents should be aware that children can and sometimes do think about suicide,” says Jeff Bridge, PhD, director of the Center for Suicide Prevention and Research at Nationwide Children’s Hospital and co-author of the study. “It is important to ask children directly about suicide if there is a safety concern. Research has refuted the notion that asking children directly about suicide will trigger suicidal thinking or behavior. It does not hurt to ask. In fact, asking about suicide leads to hope for at-risk youth.”

The report also notes a recent increase in suicide rates among black children. Suicide by hanging, strangulation or suffocation was more common among black decedents in both age groups. More research is needed to establish whether unique patterns of suicide risk exist, so that prevention efforts might incorporate diverse strategies according to the children’s developmental level, race or ethnicity. The research team is currently investigating the best ways to screen young people for suicide risk in healthcare settings and make treatment recommendations to keep those youth identified as being at risk safe.

September 19, 2016
Source:  Nationwide Children’s Hospital   www.news-medical.net