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.

Am I Depressed? Symptoms & Treatment

Everyone has experienced sadness at some point in their life, but not everyone has experienced depression. So, how do you know if you are depressed? In recognition of Depression Awareness Month, we will uncover the symptoms of depression and the different treatment options available.

According to the National Institute of Health, depression (also known as major depression, major depressive disorder, or clinical depression) is a common but serious mood disorder which can cause severe symptoms that affect how a person feels, thinks, and handles daily activities, such as sleeping, eating, or working.

About 21 million U.S. adults—8.4% of the population—had at least one major depressive episode in 2020 according to The National Survey on Drug Use and Health.

Symptoms of Depression

The National Alliance on Mental Health says that depression can present different symptoms, depending on the person. But for most people, depressive disorder changes how they function day-to-day, and typically for more than two weeks. 

Common symptoms of depression include:

  • Changes in sleep
  • Changes in appetite
  • Lack of concentration
  • Loss of energy
  • Lack of interest in activities
  • Hopelessness or guilty thoughts
  • Changes in movement (less activity or agitation)
  • Physical aches and pains
  • Suicidal thoughts

While depression does not have a single cause, it can be triggered by a life crisis, genetics, brain changes, drug/alcohol misuse and other medical conditions. For example, people who have a history of sleep disturbances, medical illness, chronic pain, anxiety and attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) are more likely to develop depression. 

Treatment Options

Treatment for depressive disorder is available for those who have experienced a depressive episode lasting longer than two weeks. The first step to treatment is contacting your primary care doctor, a psychiatrist, or a psychotherapist for an evaluation. 

Psychotherapy (cognitive behavioral therapy, family-focused therapy and interpersonal therapy), medications (antidepressants, mood stabilizers and antipsychotic medications) and exercise can help with depressive disorder. These are highly effective treatments for those suffering from depression.

If you suspect you have depression, or if you’re feeling troubled by your symptoms, have suicidal thoughts, or just need to talk, 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.

Helping Kids Overcome School-Related Anxiety

There are many different kinds of anxiety. School anxiety, a condition that can affect children of all ages, manifests as an excessive fear of school and the activities associated with it, such as making friends, speaking in public, or taking tests. Neurologist and former teacher Ken Schuster, PsyD, says that anxiety “tends to lock up the brain,” making school hard for anxious kids.

Know the Symptoms

Healthline.com explains that symptoms of anxiety in children who are 10 and under may include: 

– irritability, crying, yelling, or having a tantrum

– refusal to participate in the process of getting ready for school 

– loss of appetite or nausea as it draws close to time to leave for school 

– nightmares or difficulty sleeping

– headache

– increased heart rate and/or rapid breathing

As students grow older, their anxiety may show itself in the form of external school-avoidance behaviors. Signs of anxiety in children who are in middle and high school will vary across cultures and individual families, but may include

– truancy/excessive absence from class 

– refusal to participate in school activities

– rapid breathing and/or quick heart rate 

– loss of appetite, nausea, or headache

– self-harm behaviors

How to Help

There are many ways to help and support your child through school anxiety. Acting with empathy and compassion, rather than establishing strict rules and punishments is a great place to start. 

Talk openly about feelings and mental health. Make sure to ask questions about school at times when your child is calm. You don’t want to make your child feel interrogated, instead simply give them a chance to make their feelings known so that they feel understood.

Check your Priorities

This is a big one. Sometimes the source of school anxiety may start at home. Take a real honest look at what your parental attitude toward academic success is. This can greatly help children who are afraid of failing.

Get Help From an Expert

Reach out to SouthEnd Psych right away if your child’s anxiety is causing distress or interfering with daily life. Untreated anxiety can lead to other problems, such as depression, substance use disorders, and social isolation. 

Southend Psychiatry is also here to help you navigate conversations with your child’s school personnel to develop a plan. This may include making adjustments to your child’s schedule, providing support in the classroom, or involving your child in social activities outside of school.

Contact Southend Psych today to inquire about appointment availability and get your child on their 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.

Culture, Community and Connection

July Is Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, Also Known As BIPOC Mental Health Month

This month, we are joining the efforts of Mental Health America’s 2023 BIPOC Mental Health campaign: Culture, Community, & Connection. Our lives are deeply intertwined with our environments, and these surroundings impact our mental health and overall wellness. Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) populations are faced with disproportionate amounts of historical trauma and displacement that can challenge their ability to thrive in their environments. However, culture, community, and connection are pillars that support and uplift BIPOC individuals in the face of oppression and systemic racism. Let’s take a look at how we can love and support our fellow brothers and sisters.

Culture.

Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) communities have always been at the forefront of social change. Even when displaced, underserved, and oppressed by systems not built for them, there have always and will always be ways that individuals find connection with one another and embrace traditions.

The cultures of BIPOC communities are born from the richness of ancestral wisdom, survival practices, and support systems that have not only sustained life but allowed it to thrive and bloom in even the most hostile of environments. BIPOC communities look out for one another and ensure survival, and in cultural hubs, BIPOC communities remind their loved ones of cultural practices that may have otherwise been forgotten. 

It is through Moore Campbell’s devotion to the mental health of minoritized communities that we are able to celebrate each July and continue to build a better future for individuals of all backgrounds.
Throughout her work, Moore Cambell did not shy away from the realities of what it meant to live as a Black person in America. Her book, “Your Blues Ain’t Like Mine,” was inspired by the murder of Emmett Till and deemed as one of the most influential books of 1992 by The New York Times. Moore Cambell continued to write of real events that impacted Black and marginalized communities, such as her work in “Brothers and Sisters,” which takes place in Los Angeles following the Rodney King riots. By highlighting these issues, Moore Cambell brought themes of environmental impact, race, and community connections to the forefront of American literature. 

Community.

Our lives are deeply intertwined with the environments around us. Who and what we are surrounded by impacts our mental health and overall wellness. In particular, Black, Indigenous, and people of color (BIPOC) populations are faced with disproportionate amounts of historical trauma and displacement that have challenged how these communities remain sustainable and continue to thrive. Despite countless attempts to take away power, erase histories, and diminish future successes, BIPOC communities continue to prosper. 

BIPOC communities have been powerful, unyielding, and revolutionary in combating these attempts to diminish their worth and value. In addition, historically, the mental health narrative around BIPOC communities has been defined by disparities, trauma, and oppression – but what could BIPOC stories and lives look like if the narrative was changed? Imagine a narrative that instead uplifted and accepted community-created systems of support as fundamental cornerstones connecting one another and providing a safe haven. 

BIPOC communities throughout history have carved out systems of support in order to sustain collective wellbeing. These systems have centered around community and connection, deeply rooted in sustained cultural traditions, language, stories, food, art, and more. Community has been an anchor, allowing connection in a world that is seeking to ostracize and isolate. It is the power of community that has brought forth movements and social change, health and wellness, knowledge, and strength. 

Connection.

When we reach out for help, we not only begin to heal ourselves, but we heal our communities. If trauma and displacement have been illnesses, then connection is our medicine. Connection allows us to be known and to know others. We can lean on one another. We can support each other and get support in return. We challenge each other to be better. We challenge each other to keep going. 

No one knows a community better than those within the community itself. In order to move toward a more mentally healthy future, community-led action must be prioritized and sustained. There is power in numbers. When individuals get together to unite under a common goal, they increase their chances of enacting change that could promote overall wellness, a sense of purpose, and connection. 

Connection to others may exist either in person, in virtual spaces, or through other means of communication. Recognize that “community” can be more than in-person support and can especially be impactful for those who may be physically isolated from others in their culture. Prioritize access for all when advocating for mentally healthy environments. Strong community support requires an overall understanding that every person is deserving of a healthy environment and has a role in the wellness of those around them.

We hope you choose to help support and raise awareness for the well-being of our BIPOC community. 

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.

Why We Love Pride Month

Here at Southend Psychiatry, we fully embrace all of the celebrations and awareness that takes place during Pride Month. This month is for everyone, from all walks of life no matter where they are in the world, to honor who they are.

Did You Know? The New York Pride Parade is one of the largest and most well-known parades with over two million people estimated to participate in any given year. New York City also held the very first pride march in 1970. Way to go NYC!

Why We Love to Celebrate

  • It Raises Awareness – This month provides us with a great opportunity to think about, support and discuss issues related to the gay rights movement. With gay marriage, adoption and transgender rights on the line, the LGBTQ+ community needs our support more than ever.
  • It Is Positive – Pride Month is all about loving and accepting everyone for who they are. It is an opportunity to celebrate how colorful we are as humans and meet other like-minded people. Attending a parade, festival or event in our community brings us together!
  • It Is For Everyone – No matter what our sexual preferences are, we all come together and celebrate our diversity during Pride Month. People of all ages, especially children can join in on the fun that is had! By teaching our youth about sexual diversity, we are passing on a spirit of acceptance and inclusion.

How We Love to Celebrate

  • Learn Something New – Now is a great time to learn about the people who helped bring this movement together. Our history is full of bravery and trailblazers! There are also informative movies and documentaries that shed light on Pride Month.
  • Join a Pride Parade – Everyone is welcome to join in on the fun of supporting gay rights and equality. You don’t have to identify as LGBTQ+ to attend. Click here to find out how NYC is celebrating Pride Month.
  • Represent the Rainbow – Grab a flag, t-shirt, scarf or cape designed with the rainbow in mind and represent with pride! Get creative on how you can show your support all month long.

We hope you choose to help support and promote the well-being of the LGBTQ+ community and preserve its rich history.

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.

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