New Year, New Mental Health Outlook

Solid Ground Counseling Center was honored to kick off 2019 with a feature in Inside Medicine magazine – North Alabama’s medical landscape resource. You can find our article in the Jan/Feb issue, or read the content below! We are excited about this new partnership, as well as the launch of our blog. We look forward to serving you in 2019.

Welcome to the new year! A time for new beginnings, a fresh start, a clean slate. But what if you do not feel that way? While many people are channeling the excitement and making New Year’s resolutions, others are just surviving. If the thought of a new year does not bring feelings of excitement and opportunity, you are not alone. An often-overlooked part of turning the calendar’s page is an inventory of your mental health. Mental health is a vital aspect of overall wellness, a critical piece that not only compliments your physical well-being, but often contributes to it. Yet, all too often we brush aside taking care of that essential part of ourselves. Why is that? While there are any number of factors, I believe it is partially due to the ongoing stigma surrounding mental health care. I also believe it is because many are unaware of the importance of mental health. Lastly, I believe there is a general lack of knowledge about where to start when it comes to taking care of one’s mental health. Let’s take a moment and unpack these points a bit.

1. Mental health care is not just for people with problems. Surely you have heard the comments “therapy is just for crazy people”, “how is a stranger going to help me, this has been a problem in my family for generations”, or how about “only weak people get therapy”. Ouch. That last one stings. The reality is, strong people attend therapy. Struggling people attend therapy. Accomplished, well-off people attend therapy. Broken, hopeless people attend therapy. You see, therapy is, in its very nature, designed to help people exactly where they are starting from, regardless of the factors that bring them in. Therapy can even be used as a tool to increase satisfaction in your life and relationships, even if there is not an immediate problem!

2. Mental health awareness is important, and benefits everyone. Mental health literally means the health of your mental status. For some people, that status is great, they are flourishing. For others, they need more assistance. Regardless of your current state of mental health, being aware is important. Caring for our brain, which plays a big part in our emotional well-being as well as our physical welfare, is vital to operating at our optimal levels. Our brain and body work in tandem throughout our life span. When one of these components is unhealthy, it directly affects the other. For example, when we feel depressed our body has physical symptoms which often lead to a decreased desire to be physically active. This in turn can cause complications with multiple body systems. Persistent anxiety can lead to alterations in brain functioning, which may affect social and work environments. The truly scary part? Often these mental health issues show up in physical form first so they may be difficult to recognize. Maybe you have repeatedly felt just blah, but chalked it up to being overly tired. Or had an increased heart beat in social situations, but assumed your gut is telling you there must be something to keep an eye out for. Sound familiar? You are not alone, but where do you even start?

3. Start a conversation. According to the National Institute of Mental Health nearly one in five U.S. adults live with a mental illness. It is estimated that only half of those people receive treatment. That is a lot of people going without much needed assistance. Talking with a trusted friend about where you are at with life is a great starting place. There is power in personal connection. You can also speak with your primary care physician. They are aware of how mental and physical health complement each other and can get you in touch with a mental health care provider. These trained professionals are equipped to assess symptoms and develop a course of treatment that best suits your needs. Some of these professionals will even be able to help your family learn how to best support you in your journey to wellness.

Wherever you fall on the mental health spectrum, be mindful of you. The new year does not have to feel like more chances to fail or fall short. 2019 can be the time you finally get serious about taking care of your mental health and start working on the best version of you.

References, if that is your thing 😉
National Institute of Mental Health. (2017). Mental Illness. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/mental-illness.shtml
National Institute of Mental Health. (2018). Statistics. Retrieved from https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/statistics/index.shtml
Robinson, O.J., Vytal. K., Cornwell, B. R., & Grillon, C. (2013). The impact of anxiety upon cognition: perspectives from human threat of shock studies. Frontier in Human Neuroscience, 7: 203. doi: [10.3389/fnhum.2013.00203]
Trivedi, M. H. (2004). The Link Between Depression and Physical Symptoms. Primary Care Companion to The Journal of Clinical Psychiatry. 2004; 6(suppl 1): 12–16.

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