Mental Health America Blog https://mhanational.org/ en How Yoga Can Improve Body Image https://mhanational.org/blog/how-yoga-can-improve-body-image <span>How Yoga Can Improve Body Image </span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-05/yoga.jpg" alt="Woman doing yoga" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Wed, 05/27/2020 - 16:59</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">May 28, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By Tara Caguiat, Freelance Writer, <a href="https://www.yogapose.com/">YogaPose.com</a></em></p> <p>Wikipedia defines body image as, “a person's perception of the aesthetics or sexual attractiveness of their own body. It involves how a person sees themselves, compared to the standards that have been set by society.”</p> <p>Most people have aspects of their body they would like to change—five pounds here, an inch taller there—and while disliking things about your body isn’t ideal, it’s only normal. However, on the extreme end of the spectrum, negative body image and <a href="https://www.mhanational.org/conditions/body-dysmorphic-disorder-bdd">Body Dysmorphic Disorder (BDD)</a> can result in depression, anxiety, increased likelihood of <a href="https://www.mhanational.org/eating-disorders-and-youth">eating disorders</a> and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. In addition, obsessing over body image causes strong feelings of shame and can affect a person’s health, personal relationships, and career.</p> <p><strong>Why Yoga Is a Powerful Tool for Improving Mental Health and Body Image</strong></p> <p>Yoga is a form of <a href="https://www.health.harvard.edu/mind-and-mood/yoga-for-anxiety-and-depression">natural anxiety relief</a>. It incorporates soothing techniques, like breathing, meditation, and exercise to activate the parasympathetic nervous system which normalizes the body’s stress response by lowering blood pressure and slowing the heart rate.</p> <p>Yoga isn’t about comparison, achievement, or even physical fitness. It’s about the inward journey that’s taken when you bring your awareness to your body and breath, in the present moment. Yoga takes the focus away from the outside world, where we are bombarded with obsessing over outward appearance standards and shifts it to what’s going on inside you. It teaches you appreciation for your body’s amazing capabilities—whether big or small—and to be kinder to yourself. Meditation, a main aspect of yoga, allows you to find the source of your negative thoughts and change the narrative.</p> <p>Plus, one of the most powerful <a href="https://yogapose.com/articles/how-yoga-can-improve-mental-health">benefits of yoga on mental health</a> is its accessibility. Yoga is widely available around the world, including online, and can be practiced at home with no equipment necessary! There are yoga modifications that make it beneficial even for those struggling with immobility.</p> <p><strong>Science Backs Yoga’s Benefits on Body Image</strong></p> <p>In a 2018 study, the <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/30292082">University of Minnesota</a> studied the impact of yoga on body image in a group of 34 women and 12 men. They found that yoga has a positive impact on body image via, “perceived physical changes, gratitude for one's body, a sense of accomplishment within one's yoga practice, self-confidence, and witnessing different types of bodies practicing yoga.” However, some participants cited negative impacts as well, specifically regarding comparing themselves with others and negative self-talk. One key takeaway from the study is how yoga instructors can increase the positive body image benefits of yoga through inclusion of diverse body types in class. Similarly, the 15-year <a href="https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/abs/pii/S1740144517303029">Project EAT study</a> revealed that practicing yoga improves body satisfaction “particularly among young adults with low prior body satisfaction.”</p> <p><strong>Getting Started with Yoga</strong></p> <p>Overall, practicing yoga can have a profound impact on improving body image, but it depends how it is approached by the individual. When you treat yoga as a tool for body appreciation, healthy movement, and inner reflection, it helps improve body image and mental health.</p> <p>Avoid comparing yourself with others or thinking there’s one type of “yoga body.” Start small, with a few poses or a beginner level class, and try to focus on the process instead of the result. Choose to celebrate the challenge when you hit a particularly challenging pose or class! Once you’re finished with a yoga session, name three things you are proud of yourself—and your body—for trying.</p> <p><em>Tara Caguiat is a certified yoga instructor (RYT 500) and freelance writer with a passion for all things travel, minimalism and extreme sports. When she's not practicing a new yoga pose or writing, she’s exploring a new destination—likely with her dive and kiteboarding gear in tow. Read more of her work on her blog <a href="http://sheneedsless.com/">SheNeedsLess.com</a> or check out her site <a href="http://hosteljumper.com/">HostelJumper.com</a> for the best minimalist travel gear.</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/wellness" hreflang="en">wellness</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17401&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="1MfM_AFE7jdSlPh_D_nLHnw3cDBXmntJnJEuOdGyFaM"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 27 May 2020 20:59:24 +0000 JCheang 17401 at https://mhanational.org https://mhanational.org/blog/how-yoga-can-improve-body-image#comments Maternal Mental Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic https://mhanational.org/blog/maternal-mental-health-during-coronavirus-pandemic <span>Maternal Mental Health During the Coronavirus Pandemic</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-05/mixkit-woman-staring-out-the-window-looking-at-the-night-sky-25-desktop-wallpaper.png" alt="Illustrated woman looking out window" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Tue, 05/19/2020 - 14:47</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">May 20, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By Adrienne Griffen, Executive Director of the Maternal Mental Health Leadership Alliance</em></p> <p>Having a new baby…often the happiest time in a woman’s life.</p> <p>Not always.</p> <p>In normal times, 1 in 5 women will experience anxiety or depression either during pregnancy or the first year of baby’s life. In fact, mental health issues like postpartum depression are the MOST COMMON complication of pregnancy and childbirth, turning joy into sadness, loneliness, confusion, regret, and guilt.</p> <p>In addition, we are not in normal times. We are in a pandemic, and stress and anxiety have reached unprecedented rates:</p> <ul> <li>According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, almost 50 percent of Americans report their mental health has been negatively impacted due to worry and stress about the virus.&nbsp;</li> <li>Experts predict that the general stress of the pandemic, coupled with the economic crisis, will lead to new mental health issues and substance use crises.&nbsp;</li> <li>Postpartum Support International – the world’s leading organization in providing support to childbearing women experiencing mental health issues – quadrupled the number of online support groups from February to April to accommodate the increased need for services.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>The pandemic has opened a pandora’s box of worry for new mothers and mothers-to-be, who ask: What is the impact of coronavirus on me, my unborn baby, or my newborn? Who can accompany me to the hospital for labor and delivery? How will I care for my baby if I have COVID-19?&nbsp; How does COVD-19 impact breastfeeding?</p> <div> <blockquote> <p><em><strong>To all the new mothers and mothers-to-be who are struggling, please know that you are not alone, that you are not to blame, and that with help, you will be well. Help is available from Postpartum Support International (<a href="http://www.postpartum.net">www.postpartum.net</a>, 1-800-944-4773, text 503-894-9453). Specially trained staff and volunteers can provide support and information about local resources.</strong></em></p> </blockquote> </div> <p><strong>I’m pregnant and I have lots of questions about COVID-19. Where can I find good information?</strong></p> <p>Many organizations have created coronavirus “hubs” on their websites with information related to COVID-19 and pregnancy. Here are a few good places to start:</p> <ul> <li>CENTERS FOR DISEASE CONTROL.&nbsp; The CDC <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html" target="_blank">website</a>&nbsp;is accurate, up-to-date, and easy to understand and navigate.&nbsp;Important pages include: <ul> <li><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/pregnancy-breastfeeding.html" target="_blank">Pregnancy and breastfeeding</a>&nbsp;</li> <li><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/managing-stress-anxiety.html" target="_blank">Managing stress and anxiety</a></li> <li><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/hcp/inpatient-obstetric-healthcare-guidance.html" target="_blank">Inpatient obstetric care management</a></li> </ul> </li> <li>NATIONAL INSTITUTES FOR HEALTH.&nbsp; The NIH has published&nbsp;<a href="https://covid19treatmentguidelines.nih.gov/" target="_blank">Coronavirus Disease 19 Treatment Guidelines</a>&nbsp;to inform clinicians how to care for patients with COVID-19.&nbsp; The Guidelines contain <a href="https://covid19treatmentguidelines.nih.gov/overview/pregnancy-and-post-delivery/" target="_blank">Special Consideration In Pregnancy and Post-Delivery</a>. Because clinical information about the optimal management of COVID-19 is evolving quickly, the Guidelines will be updated frequently as published data and other authoritative information becomes available.</li> <li>MATERNAL MENTAL HEALTH LEADERSHIP ALLIANCE.&nbsp; MMHLA’s <a href="https://www.mmhla.org/covid-19">website</a> includes information about research and ongoing studies looking at the impact of COVID-19 during pregnancy and postpartum, along with resources for both women experiencing PMADs and the healthcare providers supporting them.</li> </ul> <p><strong>I’m feeling really overwhelmed and anxious. Maybe the pandemic is contributing to these feelings…but maybe it’s something else.&nbsp;</strong></p> <p>Maternal mental health conditions – often referred to under the umbrella term “postpartum depression” - can occur any time during pregnancy or the first year after pregnancy and can include anxiety, depression, panic attacks, obsessive-compulsive disorder, post-traumatic stress disorder. Maternal mental health conditions are bio-psycho-social illnesses, meaning that the root of the illness is often multi-factorial. It is crucial that a new mother (or a pregnant woman) experiencing these illnesses understand that they are not her fault.&nbsp;</p> <p>Symptoms of maternal mental health conditions include those commonly associated with depression (feeling sad, hopeless, alone) and anxiety (feeling overwhelmed, worried, fearful). Many women have scary intrusive thoughts of hurting themselves or their babies.<em><strong> Please note that having thoughts does NOT mean that you are going to act on them.&nbsp;</strong></em></p> <p>In addition, women experiencing maternal mental health issues often say things like:</p> <ul> <li>I’m exhausted, but can’t sleep, even when my baby sleeps.</li> <li>I feel like I am drowning.</li> <li>I am overwhelmed with rage (often focused on partner).</li> <li>I feel like the worst mother in the world.</li> <li>My family would be better off without me.</li> <li>I feel guilty for having these feelings.&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p>Some of the well-known risk factors for maternal mental health challenges include personal or family history of anxiety or depression;&nbsp;sensitivity to hormone changes; lack of social support, especially from a partner; traumatic birth; and major life stressors such as the pandemic, financial stress, or death/illness of a loved one. Certain groups of women are at increased risk of experiencing mental health issues during the childbearing years, including:</p> <ul> <li>women who have had previous experience with a maternal mental health condition;</li> <li>women who live in poverty;</li> <li>women of color; and</li> <li>women who have a baby in the neonatal intensive care unit</li> </ul> <p><strong>How does someone recover from a maternal mental health condition?</strong></p> <p>Fortunately, maternal mental health conditions are often temporary and treatable. The path to wellness can include a combination of self-care, social support, therapy, and medication.</p> <p><strong>1. Self-care.</strong> New mothers need to recover from the physical and emotional challenges of pregnancy and childbirth. Being a new mother, caring for a newborn, and maintaining home and family is challenging, especially if the mom feels anxious or depressed. Moms as much as possible should focus on:</p> <ul> <li><strong>Sleep.</strong> Getting 4-5 hours of uninterrupted sleep is the most effective, least expensive thing a new mother can do to start feeling better. Passing off just one night-time feeding can help a new mom get this long-ish stretch of sleep. Note: sleeping too much may be a sign of more serious depression or anxiety.</li> <li><strong>Nutrition.</strong> New <a>moms can try to eat&nbsp;</a>every time baby eats. Water and a high-protein snack (yogurt, cheese stick, nuts) are good mini-meals. Try stocking a feeding station for mom and baby.</li> <li><strong>Exercise.</strong> Gentle exercise – such as taking a walk outside – can have terrific benefits. The combined effect of change of scenery, fresh air, vitamin D from the sun, and endorphins released in the body can have a positive impact on mood.</li> <li><strong>Time off. </strong>No other job is as demanding, requiring being on duty 24 hours/day, 7 days/week. New moms need time off to recharge and rejuvenate, especially if feeling overwhelmed. The challenge is to identify and meet those needs, whether it’s taking a shower, reading the newspaper, or “zooming” with an old friend.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</li> </ul> <p><strong>2. Social support</strong>. New moms often feel the need to connect with other new mothers, especially if experiencing anxiety or depression. Being at home with a newborn or toddler can be socially isolating, compounding feelings of sadness. Fortunately, technology has allowed many peer support groups to move to online formats, providing safe spaces for non-judgmental listening, support, and encouragement from others experiencing similar issues. Leaders of these support groups are caring, empathic, and have survived these illnesses.</p> <p><strong>3. Talk therapy/counseling.</strong> New moms may need to address topics such as their role as a mother, changes in relationships, and communications with a partner. Talking with an objective third party – a social worker, psychologist, or professional counselor – can help put things in perspective. The pandemic has loosened up restrictions on teletherapy, and many therapists and counselors have embraced online appointments.</p> <p><strong>4. Medication.</strong> Sometimes medication is needed to lessen anxiety or depression. Several medications commonly used to treat anxiety or depression are widely considered safe to use during pregnancy or while breastfeeding. These medications can be prescribed by primary care physicians, obstetrician/gynecologists, or psychiatrists.&nbsp;</p> <p class="text-align-center"><em><strong>For information and connections to resources, contact Postpartum Support International (<a href="http://www.postpartum.net">www.postpartum.net</a>, 1-800-944-9773 (phone), text 503-894-9453).</strong></em></p> <p><strong>What can I do to help a new mom or mom-to-be who might be struggling?</strong></p> <p>How can you help someone struggling with a maternal mental health challenge? Here are a few ideas:</p> <ul> <li><strong>ASK</strong> a new mom how she is doing. Really listen and ask about HER – not about the baby.&nbsp;</li> <li><strong>NORMALIZE </strong>her experience. Let her know that she is not alone, that lots of women have a tough time in the transition to motherhood, and that help is available.&nbsp;</li> <li><strong>HELP</strong> by offering to take the baby so she can take a nap or take a shower or take a break. Do a chore: cook dinner, fold the laundry, do the dishes, walk the dog.&nbsp;&nbsp;&nbsp;</li> <li><strong>CONNECT </strong>her with help. Tell her about Postpartum Support International, an organization with volunteers in all 50 states who provide support and resources. (<a href="http://www.postpartum.net">www.postpartum.net</a>, 1-800-944-4773, text 503-894-9453).</li> </ul> <p><em><strong>You are not alone. You are not to blame. With help, you will be well.</strong></em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/maternal-mental-health" hreflang="en">maternal mental health</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17397&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="96hBhOJclQTib1eHKvScZ-amBSSxkFBLOH5b3tyConA"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 19 May 2020 18:47:11 +0000 JCheang 17397 at https://mhanational.org https://mhanational.org/blog/maternal-mental-health-during-coronavirus-pandemic#comments Tele-mental health now and from now on https://mhanational.org/blog/tele-mental-health-now-and-now <span>Tele-mental health now and from now on</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-05/woman-in-orange-tank-top-sitting-on-black-wheelchair-4064696.jpg" alt="Woman in wheelchair on video call" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Mon, 05/18/2020 - 10:19</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">May 19, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By Debbie Plotnick, Vice President of State and Federal Advocacy</em></p> <p>As Mental Health America’s (MHA) Vice President for State and Federal Advocacy, it is my job (and my passion) to push people (mostly legislators and policy makers) to make changes that help people access mental health services and support. The COVID-19 pandemic has had the paradoxical effect of removing some of the barriers that advocates have been fighting to overcome for years. This is especially evident with respect to telehealth, including tele-mental health.</p> <p>Tele-mental health has long held the promise for extending limited workforce, overcoming transportation barriers, reducing the number of people that miss appointments and people’s ability to get help when they need it, and accessing services before crises. At MHA, we call that addressing mental health Before Stage 4.</p> <p>The best integrated care services have expanded existing scarce resources by connecting people directly from primary care offices to on-site mental health practitioners, or in-office tele-mental health. This has been especially valuable in helping people accessing the limited number of specialty providers, such as child and geriatric psychiatrists. But following an initial assessment, if follow-up therapy was indicated, it almost always had to take place in the therapist’s office. Additionally, even when and where telehealth was available, insurance including Medicare, Medicaid and private coverage set very stringent parameters. Medicare required a first visit in-person before allowing tele-mental health, and then it required audio and video. Some state Medicaid plans had allowed tele-mental health, some did not. And private insurance for tele-mental health has been and, in some cases, remains a patchwork of coverage or lack-there-of.&nbsp; &nbsp;</p> <p>Since the COVID-19 pandemic, not surprisingly the need for mental health services has increased, and many of the regulatory barriers have eased. Thanks to advocacy, the federal government agency that oversees Medicaid and Medicare (CMS) has encouraged states to amend their Medicaid state plans to allow for, or reduce barriers to, tele-mental health. And Medicare has removed the requirement for an in-person first visit. It now allows for telephonic only tele-mental health. Employer-provided private insurance, and Affordable Care Act (ACA) polices have also allowed (and sometimes encouraged) people to use telehealth—including tele-mental health. Mental health services for students that were provided in school have moved to tele-mental health while schools are closed. That said, some advocacy is still needed regarding tele-mental health services for some employer-funded plans that come under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) of 1974.&nbsp; Even though tele-mental health should be covered if other types of telehealth services are allowed, sometimes it takes is a call the employer to tell them to inform the plan administrator to add tele-mental health. Such extra steps should not be needed and advocates are working this and other barriers within ERISA plans.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>By all accounts tele-mental health services are working well. People like accessing care from their homes, and students are still being served. Seniors and those without broadband can get help by telephone and without having to leave their homes. Providers can serve existing clients and add new ones.</p> <p>Peer services have gone virtual too. MHA affiliates and other community providers have been moving supports groups and peer support online and expanding help by telephone.</p> <p>Most of the expanded means of access are happening because a national emergency was declared in March because of COVID-19. These expansions are expected to be in place for the duration of the pandemic.&nbsp; But what about after the state of emergency is over?</p> <p>Here is what I am doing: I have adopted a new mantra: “Tele-mental health now and from now on.” Our elected officials need to hear from all of us with that very message. I hope that you will email and call your elected representatives and send the message loud and clear: &nbsp;tele-mental is here to stay.”</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/policy" hreflang="en">policy</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17392&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="U4nYOhQVo-R0exZ6I79D8zl5ft88e3es3LWXF3LC6O0"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 18 May 2020 14:19:50 +0000 JCheang 17392 at https://mhanational.org https://mhanational.org/blog/tele-mental-health-now-and-now#comments Compassion in a Crisis: Promoting Human Health During a Pandemic https://mhanational.org/blog/compassion-crisis-promoting-human-health-during-pandemic <span>Compassion in a Crisis: Promoting Human Health During a Pandemic</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-05/mixkit-human-heart-blooming-with-flowers-229-desktop-wallpaper.png" alt="human heart with flowers" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Mon, 05/11/2020 - 11:08</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">May 15, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By John Boyd, Mental Health America Board Member and CEO for Mental Health Services &amp; Addiction Care at Sutter Health, an integrated healthcare network with more than 50,000 employees caring for the communities of Northern California, Hawaii and Southern Oregon</em></p> <p>Last year, towns throughout California faced a season of historic wildfires that displaced thousands, destroyed property and put significant strain on the state’s infrastructure. As an integrated healthcare network in the heart of Northern California, our team came together in coordinated response. In the initial minutes, hours and weeks, we mobilized to safely evacuate facilities, donate funds, redeploy resources and shift services to address emerging medical needs.</p> <p>As I proudly participated in our team’s impressive effort to serve the community during this time of great need, I saw something even more powerful than funding and clinical care at work. I saw individuals joining together to support one another in ways big and small. It rapidly became clear that in times of crisis, putting our shared humanity front and center is critical to a successful response and recovery. A key component of that is recognizing that mental health and physical health are one and the same—an idea that we call “human health.” Achieving this shift in thinking requires listening to, learning from and validating people’s lived experiences to provide services that are responsive to those experiences. These lessons from our recent past now guide us through the present moment.</p> <p>Today, millions of people are coping with the psychological impact of the COVID-19 crisis, and for many, that impact will linger even after the immediate threat subsides. Yet, even as our society “returns to normal,” it is becoming clear that we will be different after living through this experience. Social isolation, financial stress, uncertainty about the future, fear, loss—these are the lived realities of COVID-19. They are also quintessentially human. They speak to the core of who we are and how we understand ourselves and our world—or don’t. It is incumbent on each of us to respect and value those experiences, and to center the whole person in our response. This is what human health is about, and it is a guiding principle in our strategy for confronting this pandemic as well as building a future of empathy, hardiness and mental wellbeing in our communities.</p> <p>So, what does that actually look like at Sutter Health? Here are just a few steps we’ve taken to respond to the needs of our employees and the communities we serve:</p> <ol> <li><strong>Operational Support: </strong>First and foremost, we want our team to feel safe and supported when they come into work each day. Our Sutter Health Emergency Management System team has mobilized quickly to organize PPE inventory, staff facilities appropriately, set up daycare options, deploy resources and provide information daily to meet the particular needs of the current crisis.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Adapting and Scaling Services: </strong>Building up our telepsychiatry capacity has been a priority as we strive to serve more people in need. Now, with more people working from home and in-person appointments unavailable, telepsychiatry services are more vital than ever, and we are working to meet demand.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Everyday Wellbeing: </strong>From frontline workers battling the pandemic to parents adapting to working from home while teaching young children, we are all facing unique stresses right now. In collaboration with partners like Mental Health America, we are sharing tools and resources for the full range of mental health needs.</li> </ol> <p>As we pursue these goals, of course, we are always learning, growing and adapting. Each day, just as virologists and epidemiologists expand our knowledge of the disease, we in mental health and addiction care discover new layers to its psychological impact. The most deeply human aspects of the disease—the ways it has changed our relationships, routines and emotions—may be the hardest to resolve in the long term. There is no vaccine for trauma. We don’t become immune to grief through exposure.</p> <p>In the wake of the California wildfires and other natural disasters, studies have shown a high incidence of PTSD, anxiety and depression among survivors. Researchers and experts have already predicted similar outcomes, not only during the acute phase of COVID-19, but long after incidence rates begin to fall. In New York, the epicenter of the crisis in the United States, an EMT first responder and an ER doctor both died of suicide in the same weekend. Working on the front lines of the response, these workers, like so many others, were forced to confront death and suffering on a scale most of us cannot imagine. We should honor their memories and admire their heroism, and we should also reflect on what their deaths mean.</p> <p>These tragedies must bring attention to the broader need for mental health support in our society, especially in times of crisis. To achieve this, we need to move beyond the distinctions between mental and physical health, and see people for who they are: humans. We should also acknowledge that this responsibility falls on all of us to bring more compassion, empathy and understanding into our world. From simply complying with stay-at-home orders to supporting essential workers, people around the country are already demonstrating their capacity to look out for their fellow human beings. It will be critical for all of us in healthcare to remember these lessons and further breakdown barriers to care—even after we put away the extra masks and hand sanitizer. Our future depends on it.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/wellness" hreflang="en">wellness</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17384&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="ZMu4fHPyAFOYLaMUho7kApkVdbEwkJ8BSVOagjfFJmY"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 11 May 2020 15:08:35 +0000 JCheang 17384 at https://mhanational.org https://mhanational.org/blog/compassion-crisis-promoting-human-health-during-pandemic#comments 8 Employers Supporting Employee Mental Health during COVID-19 https://mhanational.org/blog/8-employers-supporting-employee-mental-health-during-covid-19 <span>8 Employers Supporting Employee Mental Health during COVID-19</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-05/in%20plaid_0.jpg" alt="typing in plaid" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Tue, 05/05/2020 - 08:10</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">May 05, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By Taylor Adams, Manager of Workplace Mental Health at Mental Health America</em></p> <p>Large and small employers across all industries are quickly adapting to changes brought on by COVID-19. As an immediate response, many employers have transitioned to fully remote or semi-remote work environments, which can be stressful, lonely, or isolating for some employees. In addition to addressing health and safety concerns, many employers are finding ways to support their employees’ mental health to better cope in this new reality.</p> <p>Here at MHA, many of us have faced our own anxieties around staying safe, healthy, and connected. Fortunately, our leadership acknowledged these concerns and asked employees how MHA can best support them during this time. Based on feedback from staff, leadership responded with additional PTO, schedule flexibility, positivity breaks during staff meetings, and self-care packages.</p> <p>And thankfully, MHA is not the only organization recognizing the mental health impact of this pandemic. From mental health awareness campaigns to one-on-one counseling to meditation, here are seven companies who shared with us how they are supporting employee mental health during COVID-19:</p> <p><strong>1. Chevron Corporation</strong></p> <p>“Chevron has always been a strong advocate for mental and physical health and well-being support resources, especially during times of crisis. Our Employee Assistance and WorkLife Services program provides access to licensed counselors to help employees cope with fear, anxiety and other emotions or concerns they may have. Currently, a corporate-wide mental health campaign is underway to increase awareness and reduce stigma associated with mental health. Self-guided resilience resources are also accessible for all employees.</p> <p>“Equally as important are healthy lifestyle behaviors that contribute to physical, emotional and social health. Physical activity, balanced diet, and adequate sleep are frequently reinforced, in addition to ergonomics and repetitive stress injury prevention for employees working remotely. Extra emphasis is being given to infection prevention safeguards to help protect our health, regardless of work location.</p> <p>“In addition, Chevron is helping communities and nonprofits address COVID-19. In the U.S., we have donated more than $3.5 million to local relief efforts and an additional $2 million to match 2:1 employee contributions to U.S.-based nonprofits. Outside the U.S., we continue to work with partners on a variety of health-related response efforts and have committed more than $12 million total around the world.”</p> <p><em>Chevron Corporation is one of the world's leading integrated energy companies. Chevron explores for, produces and transports crude oil and natural gas; refines, markets and distributes transportation fuels and lubricants; manufactures and sells petrochemicals and additives; generates power; and develops and deploys technologies that enhance business value in every aspect of the company's operations.</em></p> <p><em>In 2018, Chevron Corporation was the annual recipient of MHA’s Corporate Excellence Award for their commitment to creating a mentally healthy workplace for employees.</em></p> <p><strong>2. Culligan Water</strong></p> <p>“With the rapid development of the pandemic, Packard Culligan Water identified the need to ensure mental health was a part of their strategy to help deepen the trust and commitment of employees and to sustain beyond this pivotal time.</p> <p>“Because of the company’s established commitment to well-being, employees have access to various resources already in place, including an onsite HealthSource Solutions Well-being Program Manager and health coach, virtual well-being portal, and Employee Assistance Program counseling.</p> <p>Culligan is now also offering the following at no cost to employees:</p> <ul> <li>Weekly self-care videos</li> <li>1:1 health coaching for employees and their spouses</li> <li>Manager well-being calls</li> <li>Weekly well-being communications</li> <li>Live meditation sessions and activity breaks</li> <li>Resiliency and stress management activities</li> <li>Morale boosting activities</li> </ul> <p>“In addition, one of the company’s owners spoke personally to mental well-being in an all-employee video communication. He shared his mental health activities while encouraging employees to practice self-care and utilize resources. Culligan is utilizing leadership testimonials to inspire, engage and empower Culligan employees on a personal level to take care of their mental health.”</p> <p><em>Culligan Water is a professional water treatment and bottled water company, utilizing its resources to be a valued partner in their communities. They provide education and solutions to water issues with an emphasis on customer satisfaction.</em></p> <p><strong>3. Devils Backbone Brewing Company</strong></p> <p>“To ensure the health and well-being of our employees, Devils Backbone Brewing Company has been working hard to engage our staff in fun and meaningful ways, and to ensure their ongoing safety. At our facilities, we have implemented daily temperature checks, distributed homemade masks, and rolled out social distancing criteria to protect our employees’ physical health.</p> <p>“We have also hosted a variety of themed happy hours on Zoom, from a lip sync battle to Disney to Halloween. Our teams have organized a special Zoom meeting for parents who are balancing childcare with remote work, and we have encouraged professional development by starting a virtual book club and offering courses through LinkedIn Learning.</p> <p>“Our standing policy of self-managed leave has been especially valuable for staff knowing they have the flexibility and support to take time off, even if that time is spent at home away from work. We continue to invite ideas from staff about ways to stay engaged, remain healthy, and reduce stress as we navigate the COVID-19 crisis.”</p> <p><em>The Devils Backbone Brewing Company is a brewpub located in Roseland, Virginia, owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev. It was established in 2008 by Steven Crandall. In 2012, a 15,000 square foot production facility and tap room, referred to as "The Outpost", was established near Lexington, Virginia.</em></p> <p><em>As part of Devils Backbone’s community impact program called the Heartland Initiative, Devil's Backbone created an Adventure Pack with the intent to support nonprofits that employees selected. As part of the Pack, employees brewed a signature beer they called Bell of Hope with the goal of fundraising on MHA’s behalf and mission. The Adventure Pack was sold regionally in the fall of 2019.</em></p> <p><strong>4. EY</strong></p> <p>“To support their people through the pandemic, EY enhanced an already comprehensive suite of offerings around emotional well-being. Employees can access free mobile apps for building emotional resilience and improving sleep habits. In addition to one-one counseling with EY or external clinicians, the company added daily group counseling sessions for parents, adult caregivers, and people caring for family members with disabilities.</p> <p>“To supplement its free twelve-week course on mindfulness and daily scheduled practice sessions, EY began daily drop-in sessions combining short mindfulness exercises with practical tips for managing anxiety, social isolation, feeling overwhelmed, etc. Backup adult and childcare support was extended and virtual yoga, workout classes and volunteer opportunities were added.</p> <p>“We know that feeling a sense of purpose and “an attitude of gratitude” positively impact mental health. A few weeks into the crisis, EY’s Global Chairman personally launched a recognition program highlighting EY people doing exceptional things to support one another, their communities, or their clients. On social media, via video, in articles and on live Webcasts, our top leaders those share their stories and how each “EY hero” is living our purpose of Building a Better Working World.”</p> <p><em>EY is a global leader in assurance, tax, transaction, and advisory services. The insights and quality services we deliver help build trust and confidence in the capital markets and in economies the world over. We develop outstanding leaders who team to deliver on our promises to all our stakeholders. In so doing, we play a critical role in building a better working world for our people, for our clients and for our communities.</em></p> <p><strong>5. Financial Times</strong></p> <p>“Here at the Financial Times, we have really shifted the focus onto the mental well-being of our employees and how we can best provide support. We have mobilized our internal network of mental health ambassadors to ensure all employees know they have that resource for support. We have also partnered extensively with our Employee Assistance Provider to not only provide their regular one-on-one counselling but also to provide bespoke webinars for our employees on a variety of topics.</p> <p>“We already provide meditation via Headspace, but they have been a helpful partner in providing free meditation sessions for our non-members. In addition, one of our colleagues leads a weekly, virtual, guided meditation session for all to join.</p> <p>“We have also tried to understand the impact that a reduction in social connections may have on employee’s mental well-being, so we hold a fortnightly “keeping connected” session during which we meet on video and share tips on topics like staying active and great podcasts. Finally, we are planning for our annual mental health awareness week in the middle of May which this year will all be run virtually. We will be holding several workshops on topics like better sleep in addition to some animal therapy with a virtual tour of an animal sanctuary which employees will be invited to attend with their families.”</p> <p><em>The Financial Times is one of the world’s leading news organizations, recognized internationally for its authority, integrity and accuracy. It is part of Nikkei Inc., which provides a broad range of information, news and services for the global business community.</em></p> <p><strong>6. Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&amp;E)</strong></p> <p>“Since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, PG&amp;E has put employee and public health and safety at the forefront of its decisions and actions. Recognizing the potential psychological toll of this health crisis, the company has addressed this issue in multiple ways:</p> <ul> <li>Executive messages: In videos, emails and weekly all-employee calls, the company’s CEO and President, Andrew Vesey, has reiterated the importance of employees not ignoring their mental health, and reaching out for support when needed.</li> <li>Companywide communications: Through newsletters, webinars, and podcasts, the company has tackled the issue head-on, exploring related topics like stigma, relationships, anxiety, balancing work and life, homeschooling, and staying connected while physical distancing.</li> <li>User-generated content: Employees have shared their stories on caring for a child with special needs during the pandemic and accessing drug and alcohol recovery services virtually.</li> <li>Website: The company established an intranet page—and later built an entire website—dedicated to the topic, giving employees an easy and confidential way to access health information. On the intranet, the company posted a virtual gratitude board where employees can share what they are grateful for.</li> <li>Person-to-person assistance: PG&amp;E set up a dedicated branch of its HR phone line to assist employees looking for answers on topics such as medical, compensation, and benefits. PG&amp;E also provided resources on domestic abuse for employees who may be in a more precarious situation due to the pandemic. Counseling has gone virtual through the Employee Assistance Program’s on site and community-based counselors.”</li> </ul> <p><em>Pacific Gas and Electric Company (PG&amp;E), incorporated in California in 1905, is one of the largest combined natural gas and electric energy companies in the United States. Based in San Francisco, the company is a subsidiary of PG&amp;E Corporation. There are approximately 24,000 employees who carry out Pacific Gas and Electric Company's primary business—the transmission and delivery of energy.</em></p> <p><strong>7. TIAA</strong></p> <p>“TIAA offers a range of communications forums and benefits to support the mental and emotional health of associates and ensure they have the information, resources, and support during COVID-19. &nbsp;</p> <p>“Executive committee members to frontline managers are engaged in helping associates during this challenging time.&nbsp; TIAA’s Employee Assistance Program and wellness web portal also provide a variety of resources for associates and their family members.&nbsp; Included below are some examples of ongoing activities:</p> <ul> <li>All-Associate calls with CEO Roger Ferguson and other executive committee members, which contain business updates and Q&amp;A sessions.</li> <li>All-Associate calls with TIAA senior leaders and mental health professionals to discuss the available resources, support and answer questions.</li> <li>Presentations on COVID-19 related stress and mental health resources during business area and individual team calls across the company as well as a video and one-pager on the mental health resources available to associates on the TIAA intranet.</li> <li>Monthly Healthy Habits challenges related to COVID-19 and mental health for associates in April and planned for May.</li> <li>Mindful Moment meditation sessions for associates three days a week.</li> <li>Increased daily and weekly postings of virtual challenges and wellness content to engage associates on the web portal and Yammer, such as a Work from Home photo contest.</li> <li>Creating a piece for associates and their family members on mental health resources that will be mailed to their homes.</li> <li>COVID-19 Central, an intranet resource page with information, insights and a special section, Working Effectively in Today's Environment, where associates will find new events, tools, guides and articles each week to help them to stay connected and engaged with others across the organization.</li> </ul> <p>“Recognizing the significant impact Covid-19 has on daily life, TIAA leaders and managers are encouraging associates to break away from work in stressful times in order to recharge and feel well.</p> <p>TIAA also provides the following benefits:</p> <ul> <li>Enhanced Backup Care benefits, by providing a higher daily benefit of $100/per day (from $65/per day) per dependent for up to two dependents through year end; and granting current program users an additional 20 days of support for U.S. associates.</li> <li>100% Coverage for Covid-19 medical care and treatment for U.S. associates and dependents covered by an Aetna or Kaiser option under the TIAA medical plan.&nbsp; Deductible and coinsurance will be waived completely for testing, physician visits and hospitalization, as necessary.”</li> </ul> <p><em>Founded more than 100 years ago by one of history’s great philanthropists, Andrew Carnegie, TIAA is committed to helping institutions and individuals pursue positive outcomes through an array of global, diversified financial services and a long-term investment perspective.</em></p> <p><em>Having grown into a Fortune 100 financial services organization, we are grounded by our core values, committed to responsible investing and dedicated to being a force for good, building on our legacy of serving the broad financial needs of those who make a difference in the world.</em></p> <p><strong>8. Verizon Media</strong></p> <p>“At Verizon Media, we care deeply about our employees’ mental health and emotional wellness. Our focus is on breaking down stigmas and encouraging empathy, awareness and understanding. In the wake of COVID-19, we expanded our resources to support our employees’ mental health. We launched a daily newsletter providing resources to help cope with&nbsp;isolation, anxiety and stress, and created toolkits with tips for leaders to support their teams.</p> <p>“We hold virtual Q&amp;A sessions with the CEO and guest speakers to address issues affecting mental health. Dr. Jennifer Lanier Payne, associate director of psychiatry at John Hopkins, led a session on managing mental health during COVID-19, and employees heard from world renowned expert in alternative medicine, Deepak Chopra.</p> <p>“In May, our Neurodiversity Employee Resource Group will lead a conversation with <a href="https://www.hopkinsmedicine.org/profiles/results/directory/profile/0007657/marco-grados">Dr. Marco Grados</a>, associate professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Johns Hopkins, on mental health and neurodivergence co-occurrence. We expanded our Mindfulness program to offer alternative resources that help employees manage stress, improve sleep and cope with anxiety, and access to virtual crisis counseling sessions.</p> <p>“We are also featuring stories from employees who are sharing their experiences in the hopes of sparking important conversations.&nbsp; We are committed to fostering a supportive and inclusive workplace.</p> <p>“We remain committed to making a positive impact on the global community during this uncertain time.&nbsp; We recently donated $10 million in ad inventory to five nonprofit organizations raising awareness on mental health, WHO and the CDC to provide a platform for their public service advisories on COVID-19 and to ensure high-risk communities have access to the latest science-based information.&nbsp; We also partnered with the Ad Council to support their PSA campaigns to raise awareness on social distancing and mental health.”</p> <p><em>Verizon Media is a division of Verizon. They house a trusted media ecosystem reaching nearly one billion consumers through their premium brands - including Yahoo, HuffPost, TechCrunch and AOL - and best-in-class ad and media streaming platforms. The company’s state of the art technology and innovation is uniquely positioned to create live and video-on-demand digital, audio and mobile experiences that are both market-tailored and globally distributed.</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/workplace-wellness" hreflang="en">workplace wellness</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17366&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="ZQ3jFiFKY8fKOODdKct9FJm_ZMsCFPxo9u9zpzD2QB0"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 05 May 2020 12:10:12 +0000 JCheang 17366 at https://mhanational.org https://mhanational.org/blog/8-employers-supporting-employee-mental-health-during-covid-19#comments 10 Ways to Cheer Someone Up Right Now https://mhanational.org/blog/10-ways-cheer-someone-right-now <span>10 Ways to Cheer Someone Up Right Now</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-05/sun%20in%20grass.jpg" alt="Smiling sun balloon in grass" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Mon, 05/04/2020 - 15:14</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">May 04, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By Emily Skehill, Manager of Peer Advocacy, Supports, and Services at Mental Health America</em></p> <p>It’s safe to say that most people are having a tough time right now. Talking through your feelings can be helpful, but it’s also important to spend some time in a more positive headspace too. We could all use some cheering up - here are some ways to brighten your friends’ days!</p> <ol> <li><strong>Send a cute animal photo.</strong><br /> What’s better than looking at cute (or funny) animal pictures? Make someone’s day by sending a random text with a photo that will put a smile on their face. Bonus: while searching for the perfect one to send to your friend, you can look at as many as you want!<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Plan a game night with a group. </strong><br /> It’s tough to cheer someone up when you’re limited to the virtual world. Luckily, some classic feel-good activities can be transferred online. Round up a crew for game night – you can find classics like <a href="https://scattergoriesonline.net/">Scattergories</a>, <a href="https://myfreebingocards.com/virtual-bingo">Bingo</a>, <a href="https://www.randomtriviagenerator.com/?fbclid=IwAR3mVep1dcLeuN1mxmfoSjKf8iLFwGz3qCV9TMTonNkrkCwuM9ggHnUFtnE">trivia</a>, and so much more available to play with friends via video call.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Reach out first. </strong><br /> When we aren’t feeling our best, reaching out can be daunting. If you know your friend is having a tough time – or even if you don’t but are having a good day yourself – start the conversation! Sometimes just knowing that someone wants to talk to you can lift our spirits.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Do an extra chore.</strong><br /> If you aren’t living alone right now, pick up an extra task around your home! One less thing on your roommate or family members’ plate will go a long way in making them feel supported.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Send a motivational text. </strong><br /> It’s always nice to know someone is rooting for you. Whether you send a simple “thinking of you – hang in there!” or scour Pinterest for your favorite quote/graphic combo, a little bit of inspiration will be appreciated.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Watch a movie together.</strong><br /> Watching a movie alone isn’t always as entertaining as watching with a friend. Find something on Netflix (light-hearted comedies are a good choice), make some popcorn, and watch it from your own homes. You can count down and press play at the same time or download Netflix Party to sync up and have a chat box on the side.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>If you live near them, plan a socially distant outing!</strong><br /> Grab some snacks and head to an empty parking lot. You may have to shout to each other from your cars, but just seeing each other – without screens involved – can help you both feel more connected.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Send a letter. </strong><br /> It’s always exciting to receive snail mail! Make some cards or buy printable ones online (ideally from a small business or <a href="https://www.etsy.com/">Etsy</a> shop). Write about your favorite memories together, draw a picture, or tell them what they mean to you.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Have a few dollars to spare? Venmo someone for coffee on you!</strong><br /> Money is tight for most of us right now. If you have some extra cash, pass it on to a friend for a drink - their local coffee shop may offer curbside pick-up or they can get a virtual gift card and save it for a treat once places reopen. They’ll feel loved and have a reason to get out of the house, and a small business will benefit too – everyone wins!<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Send a story of kindness.</strong><br /> There’s a lot of scary stuff happening right now, but there are so many people rising up to help each other. If you see a story that gives you some hope, send it to others to pass that feeling along. Need some ideas to get started? <a href="https://www.huffpost.com/entry/coronavirus-uplifting-stories_n_5e75f71dc5b6eab77948dcbb">This article</a> includes a bunch of feel-good stories from around the world.&nbsp;</li> </ol> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/wellness" hreflang="en">wellness</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17364&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="Eacsv172TjqKi3BtCAhJYghv1JyrUQEfWAt2XhNNtCQ"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 04 May 2020 19:14:50 +0000 JCheang 17364 at https://mhanational.org https://mhanational.org/blog/10-ways-cheer-someone-right-now#comments What the pandemic storm is revealing and what will be left in its wake https://mhanational.org/blog/what-pandemic-storm-revealing-and-what-will-be-left-its-wake <span>What the pandemic storm is revealing and what will be left in its wake</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-04/There%20is%20no%20health%20without%20mental%20health%20blog%20sigm.png" alt="Woman holding up sign that says there is no health without mental health" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Mon, 04/27/2020 - 10:54</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">April 29, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By Debbie Plotnick, Vice President of Federal and State Advocacy at Mental Health America</em></p> <p>Data tells a story, and here at the national office of Mental Health America (MHA), and through our affiliate network, we’re able to tell an undisputable story about how COVID-19 is showing us - now more than ever &nbsp;- there an astonishing need for behavioral health services and supports. In the best of times we’ve known that at least one-quarter to one half of us experience a mental health need. As we’ve learned from previous disasters, the need for behavioral health supports will skyrocket and will continue to grow for some time. This pandemic, unlike most other disasters does not have a discrete timeframe. It’s not like a hurricane that does its damage and then is done. Maybe it’s more like an earthquake, where we know there will be aftershocks but can’t say how big, or how long they’ll go on.&nbsp; But we know we have to repair the damage and rebuild. But this time, we must not return to pre-COVID policy and practice.&nbsp;</p> <p>As stay at home orders were being rolled out in in late February and March of 2020, the number of people coming to the MHA's <a href="https://screening.mhanational.org/screening-tools">Online Screening Program</a> showed what we’re all feeling, that we’re increasingly anxious and depressed. In late February through March, the number of people taking screens rose by 18%-22%. And the screening results for the 2,500 screeners were much more likely to be in the severe range than we’ve previously seen. Not surprisingly, at least a third of the screeners reported that they also have one or more chronic conditions. But most of the screeners still fit into the most common age demographic—they are overwhelmingly young.</p> <p>Over the past five years, MHA's <a href="https://screening.mhanational.org/screening-tools">Online Screening Program</a> has shown what those who work in the mental health field have always known: mental health conditions begin when people are young. The age demographic for screening has held steady - about two-thirds of screeners being under the age&nbsp;of 24. These astute young people know when something is going on, but it often takes&nbsp;8-10 years to get the kind of help they really need. All the while, things were often getting worse.</p> <p>Why did it take so long?&nbsp;Why did insurance companies&nbsp;and elected officials only direct resources and help when people were in crisis, deemed to be a danger to themselves or others, or had become involved with the criminal justice system?</p> <p>There is a workforce shortage in mental health, and these terrible policies are part of the reason why.</p> <p>People have been forced to go from crisis to crisis. Many need the most highly specialized care, and because of regulation and segmentation of the healthcare system, have had to seek practitioners with the highest level of training and licensure - of which there are the fewest.&nbsp;&nbsp;</p> <p>Now, we’re seeing the tsunami of increased need caused by this global pandemic. We can’t follow old models of relying on the police, sending people to the ER, or worse yet - to jail.</p> <p>We must expand the workforce, but not from the top down and by just expanding crisis services. It’s way beyond time to act <a href="https://mhanational.org/b4stage4-philosophy">Before Stage 4</a>. And the pandemic just might help policy makers to finally see this.</p> <p>People know they need help; more are screening and reaching out. MHA at the national level and throughout our affiliate network report that the number of people coming to warmlines is up 30%, 50%, even doubling. Peer services are going virtual and more people are availing themselves of all types of virtual treatment and support.</p> <p>In this time of increased need, we are seeing hopeful signs. As services and supports have had to move online, insurance payers (public and private) have removed many barriers for tele-mental health, including allowing practitioners to work across state lines, and ridiculous requirements for face-to-face assessments before people can access virtual help. Ironically,&nbsp; more people are able to access peer and other virtual services when they no longer have to deal with transportation issues, and long waits before they can do anything. The MHA network and community mental health providers are coming up with creative ways to serve more people at earlier stages. They are using COVID relief funds to purchase equipment for virtual use, maintain and even expand staffing, and provide phones to staffers working remotely and to those receiving help.</p> <p>When the waves of people needing acute care from the pandemic subsides, there will be the need for additional help with grief (over lost loved one, livelihoods, and way of life) and untold numbers of people will show the effects of traumatic stress. We must be even more prepared to help. Removal of barriers, loosening of regulations, more options for help, and policy that will allow an expanding workforce to support and serve must become permanent.&nbsp; Proactive mental health services must become part of the entire health care landscape. Peers, social workers, and counselors should be part of all delivery systems -from primary and emergency care, to prevention and universal screening - especially for young people and those with chronic conditions.</p> <p>We hope that policy makers, payers and the public will support and value mental health as not just an afterthought. It must be understood that when people say they are experiencing depression or anxiety, post-traumatic stress, or have a substance use disorder, that there is the will and workforce in place to show a path forward.&nbsp;</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/policy" hreflang="en">policy</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17352&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="kzWcXPR0bAbfV9p1S-2tYnsmcxKP_eQ0lLZmKSQyJc0"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 27 Apr 2020 14:54:13 +0000 JCheang 17352 at https://mhanational.org https://mhanational.org/blog/what-pandemic-storm-revealing-and-what-will-be-left-its-wake#comments For People with Chronic Conditions, Congress and the President Must Pay More Attention to Mental Health as the COVID-19 Pandemic Spreads https://mhanational.org/blog/people-chronic-conditions-congress-and-president-must-pay-more-attention-mental-health-covid <span>For People with Chronic Conditions, Congress and the President Must Pay More Attention to Mental Health as the COVID-19 Pandemic Spreads</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-04/1-us-bank-note-47344.jpg" alt="Pile of dollar bills" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Wed, 04/29/2020 - 11:29</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">April 29, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By Paul Gionfriddo, President and CEO of Mental Health America </em></p> <p>Some new data Mental Health America (MHA) released earlier this month show how deeply the pandemic is affecting the mental health of the nation – and how different any “new normal” might be.</p> <p>This is especially true for people with chronic physical health conditions – and there will be more people with these as some of the millions who get COVID-19 struggle with the long-term physical effects of the virus itself.</p> <p>For all of us, a better way to think about the bending of the curve is this – we’re just entering the eye of the storm. And for our mental health the backend of this storm is going to hit with just as much force as the front did.</p> <p>Here’s why.</p> <p>On our Screening to Supports (S2S) platform, the share of depression screeners with a chronic health condition increased from 12 percent to 16 percent of all depression screeners, and the share of anxiety screeners with a chronic health condition increased from 11 percent to 15 percent.</p> <p>Another way of saying this is that there was a <strong>33% increase in the percent share of depression screeners who reported having a chronic condition and a 36% increase in the percent share of anxiety screeners</strong> who reported having a chronic condition.</p> <p>Of those depression screeners, 86 percent scored in the moderate-to-severe range. Eighty percent of anxiety screeners also did.</p> <p>And scores like this were typical of every chronic condition significant numbers of screeners reported:</p> <ul> <li>88 percent of those with chronic pain were positive for depression, 84 percent were positive for anxiety.</li> <li>89 percent of those with lung conditions were positive for depression, 83 percent were positive for anxiety.</li> <li>85 percent of those with heart conditions were positive for depression, 75 percent were positive for anxiety.</li> <li>85 percent of those with diabetes were positive for depression, 77 percent were positive for anxiety.</li> <li>There are always some people who will dismiss these numbers, arguing that the depression and anxiety will disappear when COVID-19 is brought under control.</li> </ul> <p>I call these people dreamers and optimists. And I admire them for their ability to hope only for the best during times we face the worst. But I have as much faith in those dreams as I do in the dreams of people who think that the other conditions they have – heart disease, cancer, lung problems, diabetes, and pain – will also just disappear when COVID-19 is brought under control.</p> <p>That is not going to happen. We know better.</p> <p>And we know that depression and anxiety are real conditions that are debilitating - and even sometimes deadly - when they are not treated.</p> <p>The thing is, we know how to screen for depression and anxiety (hundreds and thousands do it every day at <a href="http://www.mhascreening.org">www.mhascreening.org</a>), and we know how to treat them effectively.</p> <p>What we need are the resources. And in order to get those necessary resources, we need the commitment of our public officials to put as much effort into treating our mental health as they do our physical health. Because the mental health of our country – before, during and after this pandemic subsides – is in desperate need of attention.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/screening" hreflang="en">Screening</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17359&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="23azu2pXwJngW3YddYScKrEFXAo0HHdmCF2xJPMI4QI"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 29 Apr 2020 15:29:16 +0000 JCheang 17359 at https://mhanational.org https://mhanational.org/blog/people-chronic-conditions-congress-and-president-must-pay-more-attention-mental-health-covid#comments Your Feelings (about Coronavirus) are Valid https://mhanational.org/blog/your-feelings-about-coronavirus-are-valid <span>Your Feelings (about Coronavirus) are Valid</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-04/Man%20in%20mask.jpg" alt="Man in a face mask" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Thu, 04/23/2020 - 14:29</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">April 27, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By Kevin Rushton, Program Manager of Digital Solutions at Mental Health America</em></p> <p>When COVID-19 emerged as a clear and present public health threat, <a href="https://www.mhanational.org/blog/it-imperative-act-swiftly-mitigate-effects-covid-19-mental-health">most people felt the same range of emotions</a>: somewhere along the spectrum of fear and anxiety.</p> <p>People are still feeling this way of course. But as initial shock wears off, people are settling into a new normal. As <a href="https://www.aei.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/National-Coronavirus-Response-a-Road-Map-to-Recovering-2.pdf?fbclid=IwAR027VaqcNseyDGB06C5bhCjJ6OjjuL3wREZxKGSSGoupEMZSZY4oHJ3uLs">new studies</a> emerge predicting longer and longer periods of social distancing, we’re starting to strap ourselves in for the long haul.</p> <p>In some ways, this is a step up from fear and uncertainty. But it also brings a range of new emotions—and all of them have an important mental health impact.</p> <p>A major component of mental health is emotional awareness. If you don’t know what you’re feeling, it’s hard to do anything about it. <a href="https://mhanational.org/owning-your-feelings">Putting a label on your emotions helps put you back in control.</a> During a crisis, it’s more important than ever to stop and think about what you’re feeling, why, and how to use that information to move forward.</p> <p><strong>Maybe you’re feeling lonely.</strong> You’ve read a million articles on how to stay connected with loved ones… but no amount of “how are you holding up?” texts or Zoom happy hours can quite match socializing in person. Or maybe you don’t have a strong social circle to begin with, and now it’s harder than ever to make new connections.</p> <p><strong>Maybe you’re irritated. </strong>Your family is driving you up a wall, and there’s nowhere to go to escape. The news is full of people making irresponsible decisions, making things worse than they need to be.</p> <p><strong>Maybe you’re feeling hopeless</strong>. The health system and the economy are grinding to a halt, disrupting millions of lives. The problem is so big the human mind can’t comprehend it, and no single person can solve it. You may feel like there’s hardly anything you can do at all.</p> <p><strong>You’re probably bored.</strong> No matter how many projects you have planned that you can do at home, sooner or later you probably just want to go outside and do something else—anything else!</p> <p><strong>And maybe you feel guilty for being bored</strong>. You have no commute, no social events to attend—isn’t this the perfect time to be productive? And yet all you can bring yourself to do is watch escapist TV. Or browse social media, where you see memes shaming you for not getting enough done.</p> <p>Your instinct might be to avoid dwelling on these feelings. <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2007/06/070622090727.htm">But when you acknowledge and label your negative emotions, they get less intense</a>. If you say, “I’m lonely,” that loneliness will start to feel less unbearable. It will lose some of its control over you.</p> <p>What about positive emotions? Those might be in short supply right now, but there’s good reason to cultivate the silver linings you do find. Focusing on positive emotions helps you make meaning out of chaos. <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3122271/">It helps you build resilience and cultivate a problem-solving mindset</a>.</p> <p>Marc Brackett, founding director of the Yale Center for Emotional Intelligence, calls this type of emotional awareness giving ourselves “<a href="https://us.macmillan.com/books/9781250212849">Permission to Feel</a>.”</p> <p><strong>So maybe you also feel grateful. </strong>Maybe you’re more aware than ever of what matters most to you. Maybe things you took for granted before are starting to feel like real blessings.</p> <p><strong>Maybe you feel inspired to help. </strong>Maybe you have volunteered <a href="https://mhanational.org/get-involved/volunteer">time</a> or <a href="https://mhanational.org/donate-mental-health-america">money</a> to help someone less fortunate than you, or cultivated solidarity with others who are struggling.</p> <p><strong>Maybe you feel vindicated. </strong>This pandemic has highlighted a lot of existing problems that weren’t getting the attention they deserved. Maybe you feel hopeful that this will be the catalyst for some real solutions.</p> <p>Emotional awareness is a useful tool at any time. In a crisis, it can make the difference between being paralyzed by your emotions and harnessing them to move forward.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/wellness" hreflang="en">wellness</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17348&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="-sj1b3A91-MBkfXEmENsD3pOkeca7b1U8CvtZ7zQFIE"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 23 Apr 2020 18:29:34 +0000 JCheang 17348 at https://mhanational.org https://mhanational.org/blog/your-feelings-about-coronavirus-are-valid#comments Life as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner during COVID-19 https://mhanational.org/blog/life-psychiatric-nurse-practitioner-during-covid-19 <span>Life as a Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner during COVID-19</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-04/IMG_6629.JPG" alt="Photo of the author, Kojo Sarfo" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Fri, 04/24/2020 - 15:36</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">April 24, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By Dr. Kojo Sarfo, DNP, PMHNP-BC</em></p> <p>My experience as a health care provider during this pandemic has been enlightening. Currently, I work in Williamsburg, Virginia, as a board-certified forensic psychiatric mental health nurse practitioner at an inpatient psychiatric state hospital.</p> <p>Because of the COVID-19 crisis, many Americans are suffering financially, and some have lost loved ones. Many of the patients I serve have had to wrestle with the uncertainty brought on by this pandemic – on top of any underlying anxiety that may have already been present. Some patients have asked questions about how the virus may affect their discharge plans. Others have asked for additional anxiety medications. Similarly, there is a palpable sense of fear among hospital employees, as most in-person staff meetings have turned into virtual appointments. Most employees, including myself, have been given cloth coverings and are being fitted for our N95 masks. As we make our rounds on the inpatient units, we kindly remind patients about the importance of social distancing. Likewise, we also explain our rationale behind all our preemptive behaviors in order to maintain a therapeutic alliance with each patient.&nbsp;</p> <p>Personally, I have been affected by the virus. I have not been able to travel back home to Georgia due to stay-at-home orders issued by the governor of Virginia. Consequently, I have had to miss multiple birthdays within my family, and the graduations that I was once looking forward to next month have all been cancelled. Being unable to witness my brother graduate high school or cheer on my sister as she receives her doctorate brings me a great deal of sadness. My patients are experiencing similar feelings. As a preemptive measure, visitors have been restricted in order to prevent a potential outbreak. Like many of us, my patients have had to adjust to not being able to see their loved ones and wondering if their immunocompromised relatives are staying healthy. For many of them, visits with their family members help to provide them with motivation while they are hospitalized. Not being able to have this important part of treatment, I fear, could lead to a worsening of symptoms and set some back in their treatment.</p> <p>In times like these, I like to use a short and simple phrase that seems to help the patients I serve.</p> <p>Simply saying the words <strong>“I understand”</strong> can help build an emotional connection and use one of our most therapeutic tools - empathy.</p> <p>For me, validating the feelings of my patients has helped to ease a lot of anxiety around the collective quarantine that has been forced upon us. Some of my patients have lost family members due to the coronavirus and others have loved ones who are currently ill with it. When speaking with them, I’ve noticed the importance of listening and verbalizing that I understand and that I am there for them. Acknowledging that the impact of this virus is being felt by everyone helps to remind us of how similar and connected we are.</p> <p>Some of us have a formal mental health diagnosis and some of us do not, but ultimately, we are all connected by our shared experiences. We truly do need one another. We truly do understand one another.</p> <hr /> <p><em>Dr. Kojo Sarfo, DNP, PMHNP-BC is a Ghanaian-American Psychiatric-Mental Health Nurse Practitioner, entrepreneur, and writer. He graduated from The University of West Alabama with his Associate's Degree in Nursing and then obtained his Bachelor's in Nursing from Western Governors University. He went on to obtain his Doctorate in Nursing Practice degree from Augusta University with a specialty in Psychiatry. He has three years of teaching experience as an adjunct faculty professor with the College of Nursing at his alma mater, Augusta University. He has a passion for treating and caring for persons with severe mental health conditions. He is also the CEO and Co-Founder of Abrantie &amp; Signora, LLC, which is a clothing company dedicated to spreading positivity and mental health awareness for teenagers and college students.</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/wellness" hreflang="en">wellness</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17349&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="kDE3J0xpQavQ_-QIZ0TeNQEY7GWFOOavJiTxX78usUg"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Fri, 24 Apr 2020 19:36:58 +0000 JCheang 17349 at https://mhanational.org https://mhanational.org/blog/life-psychiatric-nurse-practitioner-during-covid-19#comments