Learn. Act. Advocate.

This month, we spotlight May’s Mental Health Month and recognize the importance of mental health and its impact on our personal and professional lives. This month is dedicated to prioritizing our well-being and promoting open conversations about mental health.

This year’s theme for Mental Health Month is “Where to Start: Mental Health in a Changing World”. Mental Health America gives us three areas to start: learn, act and advocate.

LEARN: 

To fully understand how the world around us affects mental health, it is important to know what factors are at play – some of which an individual can change, such as screen time, and others that may be outside of their control, like access to basic resources or current events. Social drivers of health include economic status, education, your neighborhood, social inclusion, and access to resources like nutritious food, health care, green space, and transportation. 

All of these factors can have a far-reaching impact on not just your physical health, but also your mental health. Loneliness, current events, technology, and social drivers are having an impact on the mental well-being of Americans, but there are protective measures that can prevent mental health conditions from developing or keep symptoms from becoming worse or severe.

ACT: 

There are many ways to take action – big and small – to improve mental health and increase resiliency, regardless of the situations you are dealing with. Knowing when to turn to friends, family, and coworkers when you are struggling with life’s challenges can help improve your mental health. Change is hard, but it’s unavoidable in life. It’s important to find coping skills that can help you process these changes, prioritize your mental well-being, and accept the situations in life that we can’t control. 

ADVOCATE: 

“Advocacy” doesn’t always mean talking to a government official or local leader. There are things everyone can do to improve the way mental health conditions are perceived and treated. Integrating mental health care into primary care, and providing mental health programs in schools, workplaces, and communities can improve the well-being of everyone. In an election year, it’s especially important to understand where candidates stand on mental health issues. We urge everyone to vote with mental health in mind.

Let’s make May a month of mental health awareness, support, and action. SouthEnd Psychiatry wants you to be well and to feel well in life. We invite you to start a conversation with us, on your terms, in-person or online and want you to know you’re not alone.

Southend Psychiatry 

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

3 Stress-Reducing Coping Skills

April is Stress Awareness Month. Learning to cope with our stress and finding healthy ways to deal with these situations can go a long way in living a healthy and positive life. Let’s take a look at a few things we can do to reduce stress and anxiety.

1. Avoid the Panic

Overthinking refers to the excessive and repetitive thinking or dwelling on a particular topic, problem, or situation. We can start to change these habits by asking ourselves if these concerns are based on facts or assumptions. Practicing mindfulness and developing a trusted support system can help break patterns of overthinking.

2. Be You

Take some time to get in touch with yourself, to identify and reconnect with what makes you… YOU! Make a list of some of the values you have and how you can still carry those in your community. If you are a naturally generous person then KEEP BEING GENEROUS to people around you. Do you have a gift of making people laugh? Then really grab hold of it and spread some cheer in your neighborhood. Embracing these things about yourself will help keep you grounded and out of too much negative thinking. 

3. Self-Care

What is refreshing to you? Recharging? What gives you energy? The activities you come up with are a great place to start with self-care. Remember, it is difficult to encourage, support, be present for your relationships if your tank is empty. Sleep is well-documented to reduce stress levels so don’t feel bad about a quick afternoon nap from time to time if it leads to a better you! Be intentional about making time for yourself.

Here are a few other things you can consider doing to keep anxiety and stress at manageable levels:

  • Breathing exercises + Mediation
  • Journaling
  • Spend time in nature
  • Stay connected (isolation often leads us to “stinking thinking”!)

SouthEnd Psychiatry wants you to be well and to feel well in life. We invite you to start a conversation with us, on your terms, in-person or online and want you to know you’re not alone.

Southend Psychiatry 

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

What is Cognitive Behavior Therapy (CBT) and How Can it Help Me?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a form of effective psychological treatment for depression, anxiety disorders, alcohol and drug use problems, marital problems, eating disorders, and severe mental illness. 

Numerous research studies suggest that CBT leads to significant improvement in functioning and quality of life. In many studies, CBT has been demonstrated to be as effective as, or more effective than, other forms of psychological therapy or psychiatric medications, referenced at ada.org.

According to the American Psychological Association, the core concepts of CBT include:

  • psychological issues are partly based on unhelpful ways of thinking
  • psychological issues are partly based on learned patterns of behavior
  • those living with these issues can improve with better coping mechanisms and management to help relieve their symptoms

Healthline provides some of the most popular techniques used in CBT:

  • SMART goals. SMART goals are specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-limited.
  • Guided discovery and questioning. By questioning the assumptions you have about yourself or your current situation, your therapist can help you learn to challenge these thoughts and consider different viewpoints.
  • Journaling. You might be asked to jot down negative beliefs that come up during the week and the positive ones you can replace them with.
  • Self-talk. Your therapist may ask what you tell yourself about a certain situation or experience and challenge you to replace negative or critical self-talk with compassionate, constructive self-talk.
  • Cognitive restructuring. This involves looking at any cognitive distortions affecting your thoughts — such as black-and-white thinking, jumping to conclusions, or catastrophizing — and beginning to unravel them.
  • Thought recording. In this technique, you’ll record thoughts and feelings experienced during a specific situation, then come up with unbiased evidence supporting your negative belief and evidence against it. You’ll use this evidence to develop a more realistic thought.
  • Positive activities. Scheduling a rewarding activity each day can help increase overall positivity and improve your mood. Some examples might be buying yourself fresh flowers or fruit, watching your favorite movie, or taking a picnic lunch to the park.
  • Situation exposure. This involves listing situations or things that cause distress, in order of the level of distress they cause, and slowly exposing yourself to these things until they lead to fewer negative feelings. Systematic desensitization is a similar technique where you’ll learn relaxation techniques to help you cope with your feelings in a difficult situation.

How CBT Can Help

Healthline states that typical CBT treatment often involves the following:

  • recognizing how inaccurate thinking can worsen problems
  • learning new problem-solving skills
  • gaining confidence and a better understanding and appreciation of your self-worth
  • learning how to face fears and challenges
  • using role play and calming techniques when faced with potentially challenging situations

The goal of these techniques is to replace unhelpful or self-defeating thoughts with more encouraging and realistic ones.

CBT can help with a range of things, including:

  • depression
  • substance misuse
  • post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD)
  • anxiety disorders, including panic disorder and phobia
  • obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD)
  • schizophrenia
  • bipolar disorder
  • eating disorders

CBT can also help with:

  • grief and loss
  • chronic pain
  • insomnia
  • relationship difficulties like a breakup or divorce
  • a serious health diagnosis, such as cancer

If you are interested in Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, SouthEnd Psychiatry is here for you. Our amazing team of licensed therapists are ready to walk along side you in this journey. 

Contact Southend Psych today to inquire about appointment availability and get you on your way to a better place.

Southend Psychiatry 

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

What Mental Wellness Looks Like in 2024

As we recognize and raise awareness for Mental Wellness Month this January, we would like to take a look at what mental wellness looks like in 2024. Times have changed. I think we can all agree on that. COVID has changed the behavior of society in so many ways. Racial tension and social disparities are on the rise. Economic stress is affecting all walks of life. This is the day we are living in. 

We want to recognize these as real triggers for most of us. As we embark on this new year, it is so important to acknowledge these issues and stressors and be intentional to keep ourselves healthy and whole. A few ways we can do this is through mindfulness, rest and connection.

Mindfulness

The term “mindfulness” is becoming more and more widely known. As stated by discoverymood.com, practicing mindfulness is about being aware and accepting at the same time. We often pride ourselves on staying busy and thinking ahead. Mindfulness challenges us to show up fully in every area of our lives. It is the embodiment of living in the moments. 

Check in on yourself. Where is your stress level? Are you feeling hopeless or helpless? If so, it is critical to take action by calling a friend, mentor or a licensed professional like the team at Southend Psychiatry.

Rest

Allowing ourselves to rest involves our mind, body and spirit. Resting isn’t just about getting a proper eight hours of sleep each night or avoiding your phone and electronics before bed. It is also giving yourself little breaks throughout the day. Meditation is a great tool to help slow the mind, release anxious thoughts and breathe deeply. This lowers our cortisol levels and resets the body with just a few minutes of commitment. 

Developing a meditation practice not only has been shown to help lengthen our attention span and reduce age-related memory loss but may also help fight addictions, control pain and decrease blood pressure.

Connection

We are social creatures… even those that would consider themselves as an introvert. Our spirit needs connection. It is a way to feel heard and understood. Connection gives us a sense of belonging. executive.berkeley.edu/ says that because social connection is so hard-wired into human behavior, it makes sense that our relationships (or lack thereof) significantly influence our well-being. 

Connections can be just as important to physical and mental health as exercise and healthy eating. Research has shown that the psychological and physical health benefits of social contact are so great that they can even outweigh the harmful effects of other risk factors and boost life expectancy.

As you embark on this new year, we want to encourage you to be intentional about keeping yourself mentally well. If you need help or guidance, SouthEnd Psychiatry is here for you. Our amazing team of licensed therapists are ready to walk along side you in this journey. 

Contact Southend Psych today to inquire about appointment availability and get you on your way to a better place.

Southend Psychiatry 

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

5 Ways to Create Healthy Boundaries with Family

The holidays are here which for many means A LOT of potential family time. So, let’s look at five ways to set healthy boundaries ahead of the holiday season. 

Boundary issues are the most difficult to deal with when it comes to family. 

According to Terri Cole, author of The Boundary Boss, our boundaries are made up of our preferences, desires, limits, and deal-breakers. Think of your boundaries as your own personal rules of engagement.

Boundaries can be uncomfortable and even painful for some…until you practice the skill. Remember, you don’t need to sacrifice your identity in order to receive love or be accepted. Know what you will or will not tolerate from others. Draw the line and enforce it.

Here are five ways to establish those healthy boundaries:

  1. Define what your boundaries are. What will you tolerate or not tolerate in your life? What behaviors will you accept or not accept from family members? 
  2. Clearly communicate your boundaries.  This is particularly important for the people closest to you. Give them the chance to honor your preferences.
  3. Follow through. If someone crosses your boundaries, do what you said you would. Be compassionate, but be firm. This might be a new side of you that no one has seen before. 
  4. Show the respect you want to receive. Begin to really listen to what others prefer. Lead by example. Honor others boundaries.
  5. Keep loving yourself. It is not mean or selfish to have boundaries. Some will respect them. Others will not. How people treat you is a direct reflection of how you allow them to treat you. 

Boundaries are healthy. Establishing and keeping them is hard work. However, it is worth it!  SouthEnd Psychiatry is here for you. Our amazing team of licensed therapists are ready to walk along side you in this journey. 

Contact Southend Psych today to inquire about appointment availability and get you on your way to a better place.

Southend Psychiatry 

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

I Feel Better… Why Should I Stay in Therapy?

Seasoned therapy patients will be the first to advocate for consistent scheduling…meaning, they don’t stop attending therapy when a crisis is over. We, at Southend Psychiatry, agree. It is in our human nature to want that “quick fix” however we soon realize that therapy isn’t just for moments of crisis. Therapy is an opportunity to develop coping skills, understand ourselves better and so much more.

Typically, the reason or motivation for starting therapy can change over time. We grow and begin to understand the value of what therapy gives us. Therapy provides opportunities to live and feel better!

Let’s dive into what therapy has done for our Southend patients:

1. Coping Skills

Coping skills are tools that help us deal with discomfort. Therapy provides a window into ourselves. What are we afraid of? What is holding us back? These developed skills give us confidence and reassurance as we navigate life’s challenges and changes.

2. A Safe Place

Therapy should be safe. A place to open up to someone who you can trust. It can be scary to talk about our past traumas and current fears. Therapy gives us a chance to sit back and reflect in an atmosphere of love and safety. Guided by a licensed therapist, they can offer a different perspective for us and insight into how we can handle certain situations.

3. Better Communication

Relationships can be hard! Whether they are professional or personal, therapy helps us build trust, communication and empathy into those relationships. A therapist can be a huge support in building healthy communication skills.

4. Self-Esteem

Self-Esteem and self-awareness are vital to being the best version of yourself. A therapist can help us identify our insecurities, where they actually come from and a roadmap to healing. Most of us have insecurities and feelings of inadequacy ~ therapy is a great tool to conquer those areas of our life. 

5. Guidance & Direction

Life is full of changes. Life also brings new ideas and opportunities. Therapy helps us uncover what is most important to us and figure out what we feel is missing. We can explore new career paths, hobbies and ambitions. A therapist once described therapy with this analogy: “I see therapy as a preventative measure. You wouldn’t fireproof a house during the fire. Similarly, you want to have the appropriate skills and self-work in place to navigate any future situations.”

Our team of licensed therapists at Southend can guide you toward deeper relationships, better coping skills and essentially prepare you for life’s ups and downs. You have a team ready to walk along side you in this journey called life. We are here and we welcome you to come and have a conversation with us.

Contact Southend Psych today to inquire about appointment availability and get you on your way to a better place.

Southend Psychiatry 

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

What to Expect From Your First Psychiatrist Appointment

Working with a mental health professional can help you overcome various emotional challenges and live happier lives. However, many people are intimidated by their first psychiatrist appointment. Perhaps that’s why, according to Mental Health America, only 28% of American youths with severe depression get consistent care and 57.3% never get any. Knowing what to expect at this appointment can prepare you for its unique demands.

Proper Paperwork

Your psychiatrist will ask you for various paperwork and payment before you begin, such as your contact information, medical insurance, and medical history. You may be asked to provide information about the medical history of close relatives in addition to your own. These details help the doctor better understand your mental health and make providing better care easier.

An In-Depth Screening

One of the other things your doctor will do at your psychiatrist appointment is screen you for mental health concerns. They’ll start by collecting any previous mental health diagnoses and hospitalizations you’ve experienced. Then, they’ll examine your current physical and mental medications and check for diseases that can affect your mental health, like thyroid problems. They do this to rule out any physical issues for your imbalances.

After completing your screening, they’ll ask you questions about your current mental health and why you came to their office. These in-depth queries help them understand you better as a person and make it easier to diagnose further treatment methods.

Feedback Opportunities

While talking to you, your doctor will open the floor to you. You’ll get to list any of your concerns, such as paranoia or anxiety, and discuss how they affect your life. They’ll take note of these concerns so you can discuss them further in later appointments. Being open and honest is important because your therapist will need accurate and reliable information to diagnose your care options.

Understanding these important factors can ensure you get through your psychiatrist appointment properly and with minimal challenge. As importantly, it can provide you with the long-term support you need for your mental health. Please reach out to SouthEnd Psychiatry today if you need help with your psychological health and a team you can trust to help you out in this way. We’ll work to connect you with a helpful, qualified psychiatrist.

You Are More Than Enough

May is Mental Health Awareness Month and we are excited to join the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) in promoting this year’s theme, “More Than Enough” which is meant to be a message of hope and inclusion.

No matter where you are in your mental health journey, you are deserving of support, resources, fulfillment and a community that cares about you… no matter what you look like or what you are able and not able to do.

Build Connection and Community 

People living with mental health conditions need to know and feel valued and supported by their communities. It is important to start conversations and share resources to raise awareness of how critical this topic is. 

“While some are lucky to have a community that understands the reality of mental illness, that doesn’t mean that everyone we encounter has risen above the pervasive stigma. Sometimes, making progress requires having tough conversations.” Margot Harris, Associate Editor of Marketing at NAMI

Education and Advocacy

This month, help us educate people on mental health issues and challenges as well as help empower new and current advocates to help advocate for the rights people affected by mental health conditions deserve. Here are a few statistics to help bring this concept to reality:

  • 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience a mental health condition each year. 

Annually, mental illness affects:

  • 16% of Asian adults
  • 21% of Black/African American adults
  • 18% of Native Hawaiian/Pacific Islander adults
  • 21% of Hispanic adults
  • 27% of American Indian/Alaska Native adults
  • 24% of White adults
  • 35% of multiracial adults
  • 50% of LGB adults 

Creating Awareness and Driving Action

We can increase awareness of mental health support and advocacy by taking real action this month! By continuing to learn more about this topic and getting involved in local events and initiatives, we can make a difference.

  1. ACT: send an email, share a story, or post on social media to urge your elected officials to support mental health. Visit https://nami.quorum.us/AdvocacyAlerts for details.
  2. VOTE: commit to understanding how your vote impacts people with mental health conditions. Visit: https://www.vote4mentalhealth.org to get started.
  3. JOIN: Many virtual and in-person NAMIWalks will be taking place throughout the country during the month of May to help bring awareness and spread the message of Mental Health for All! Promote NAMIWalks events taking place in your local areas. Encourage people to use their creativity, create teams and participate however they can. Visit https://www.namiwalks.org/ to find events in your area.

Together, we can make a difference and realize our shared vision of a nation where anyone affected by mental illness can get the appropriate support and quality of care to live healthy, fulfilling lives. Help us spread the word through awareness, support and advocacy activities. 

Southend Psychiatry is here as you navigate this journey. We can come alongside you to offer support and help. Contact Southend Psych today to inquire about appointment availability and get on your way to a better you.

Southend Psychiatry 

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

5 Tips to a Healthy Mental Wellness Practice

The phrase “mental wellness” is becoming more and more common as we enter into this new year. Mental health in general is now widely accepted and for good reason. 

Alison Seponara, a licensed professional counselor and author of the book “The Anxiety Healer’s Guide” says that mental health helps determine how you handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. This month, we’d like to encourage you to embrace a healthy mental wellness practice.

Nurturing our mental wellness can help with self-esteem, improved mood, reducing anxiety, clearer thinking and managing stress which ultimately leads to overall better health. Let’s dive into 5 ways we can develop and maintain mental wellness.

1. Sleep

Improve your memory, reduce stress and stay alert with good sleeping habits. Did you know that the CDC reported, people who averaged 6 hours of sleep or less per night were about 2.5 times more likely to report frequent mental distress than those who averaged more than 6 hours of sleep? 

  • Start by creating a quiet, cool, relaxing environment for sleep. 
  • Try to keep the same sleep pattern of when you go to sleep and when you wake up.
  • Put the caffeine down in the mid to late afternoon.

2. Physical Health

Keeping your body active by getting outside for a nature walk, starting a new exercise routine or simply stretching daily can help reduce stress, anxiety and depression. This increases blood flow which helps get more oxygen through your body.

Another way to improve your physical health is through the foods you eat. Incorporating foods into your diet that are packed with mood-boosting nutrients like berries, omega-3 fatty acids (fish) and whole grains will naturally increase your defense against stress.

3. Nurture Relationships

Cultivating positive connections and nurturing our existing friendships can have a great impact on our mental health. Psychology Today says that when we show love and compassion to other people, it releases chemicals in the pre-frontal cortex and reward center of the brain that professionals refer to as the “Helper’s High.” People who help others report many positive mental and physical health benefits, including lower levels of stress, lower blood pressure, and relief from depression and physical pain.

4. Mindfulness 

Jennice Vilhauer, Ph.D., Director of Emory University’s Adult Outpatient Psychotherapy Program in the Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Science in the School of Medicine says that mindfulness allows you to have conscious awareness of what you are doing, so you can make choices to override automatic thinking and make positive changes in thoughts and behavior. 

When you are mindful, you are able to observe events in a non-judgmental way, which allows you to detach from negative emotions, as opposed to being controlled by them. As a result, the way you respond to events in your life starts to change. Your emotions are better regulated, and you stop getting so upset, angry, or fearful over things you can’t control. You are also not flooding your brain with fear and worry about the future or resentments from the past, which has the profoundly positive effect of resetting your emotional state to calm and peaceful.

5. Stimulate The Brain

Learning a new skill or hobby this year can keep the brain healthy and active. These activities involve a combination of memory, decision-making and strategizing, which keeps the brain active and prevents dementia.

Know When Its Time to Reach Out

Southend Psychiatry is here as you navigate this new year. We can come alongside you to offer support and help. Contact Southend Psych today to inquire about appointment availability and get on your way to a better you.

Southend Psychiatry 

Schedule your appointment today with one of our SouthEnd Psychiatry clinicians. Book your appointment online or call 1-800-632-7969 to get started today.

How Do I Know When I Should Speak With a Psychiatrist?

Deciding when to see a psychiatrist can be a difficult decision. There are some key signs that you can look for that can help you to make the right choice. Keep an eye out for these signs to determine if you should start looking for a psychiatrist.

Your Feelings Are Affecting Your Work

If you find that your feelings are affecting your productivity at work or your relationships at work, connecting with a mental health specialist can help. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, over the course of a year, 20% of people will experience some sort of mental illness. Getting ahead of the problem by contacting a mental health specialist can improve your mental health and ensure you get back on track.

Your Family Relationships Are Suffering

Mental health psychiatrists can help you navigate your family relationships. If you find yourself often angry at family members or avoiding family gatherings, a psychiatrist can help you to get to a place of healing.

Your Physical Health Is Suffering From Your Mental Health

Physical health and mental health go hand in hand. If you find that you’re suffering from gastrointestinal discomfort, frequent headaches, body pains, and aches and there is no medical reason, it could be your mental health. Psychosomatic illness can be very detrimental to your health. It’s a clear sign that you need to speak to a professional.

If you are having a hard time sleeping or feel like you do not have any energy to do the things you want to do, these are also signs that your mental health is taking a toll on your body.

You Are Using Unhealthy Coping Mechanisms

Some people will overeat when they are struggling with their mental health, while some people will drink or use substances to cope. There are a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms that will compound your mental health problems. If you notice that you are using unhealthy coping, it is a sign you need to contact a psychiatrist.

The fact is, if you’re considering connecting with a psychiatrist, then you very likely need to. If you are debating whether to call a mental health professional, you should make the call. Call SouthEnd Psychiatry today to get the help that you need.

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