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May was Mental Health Month

June 02, 2017 - Heather Shannon - in category A Holistic Approach to Mental Health

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May was Mental Health Month, but mental health is something that needs to be talked about year round. We have come a long way from what was happening in 1949 when the awareness began as Mental Health Week, but there is still a lot of unnecessary stigma surrounding mental health. According to Mental Health America, 1 in 5 American adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year and 50% of Americans will have a diagnosable mental health condition in their lifetime. This means everyone is impacted by mental health whether you experience it personally or not. And like any other health condition such as diabetes, asthma, or heart disease, it is better to prevent symptoms from getting worse. The longer someone waits to seek help, the more likely additional symptoms will appear and things may spiral out of control.

Sometimes people don’t even realize what they are experiencing is something they don’t have to just deal with. If your sadness or anxiety isn’t stopping you from working or being in relationships with people, you may not think it’s bad enough to need treatment. There is even a term for this now, “high functioning” depression or anxiety. It’s not clinically diagnosed this way, but the truth is you don’t have to keep living with something that prevents you from experiencing life to the fullest. I’m not saying there’s a magic wand to completely rid someone of anxiety, stress, or depression (If only it were that easy, I’d be a millionaire), but I do know it’s possible to live more fully, with fewer symptoms. You don’t have to keep going through the motions not finding any joy in your life, or continually worrying about the next bad thing that probably won’t happen.

Paradoxically one thing that can help you manage anxiety or depression is mindfulness. The simple yet profound act of bringing awareness and compassion to thoughts and feelings as they arise can provide you with choices in how you respond. Sometimes we avoid unpleasant feelings because we are worried it will open a flood gate that we won’t be able to close, but what often happens is that being with our feelings allows them to dissipate or lose intensity. When we pay attention to the thoughts we are having and notice the judgments, we might be able to compassionately laugh at the absurdity of them. If you relate to any of this, please know that you do not have to deal with this on your own and we are here to help. Sometimes we need to receive compassion from someone to be able to learn how to give it to ourselves. Seeking treatment for mental health can be scary, but your courage is the first step to choosing a different way of being. You’ve only got one life and you deserve to live it to the fullest.

My approach to therapy is first focused on developing a trusting non-judgmental relationship. I then tailor my approach to each person’s needs and incorporate mindfulness and mind-body integration to help individuals understand their patterns and learn coping skills to manage stress, depression, and anxiety. If you have questions or would like to schedule an appointment, please visit https://www.therapyportal.com/p/healthwellness/appointments/availability/, or give me a call at (872) 256-0962.

Heather Shannon

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