I would like to start this off by apologizing that I haven’t posted for a couple of weeks. I decided to take a break from writing so I could spend more time studying for an exam occurring mid-November. However, I couldn’t help but to sit down and write this morning.

I chose the term mental health in the title simply because I wanted to grab people’s attention. I could have chosen the term emotional health instead, which is my preferred term. Why? Because that is simply what we do when we struggle. We are trying to self-regulate our emotions.

To me, the term mental health is suggestive of a broken brain. I have even heard of people speak how only ‘weak’ people attend therapy. No wonder people as a society don’t actively seek out a therapist when they are struggling!

So, why did I take time to write about this topic when I should really be studying? Because my purpose in writing is to help people manage between my visits. I hope these posts keep people in-check with their emotions. I think more than ever, people need a little help right now.

Yes, it is related to COVID-19 on the rise in Winnipeg and we may need to move up to another level of precaution and those downward effects will affect us economically and emotionally. And perhaps our mood is changing knowing it is getting colder and darker in Winnipeg, however, I feel it is more than that.

You don’t need to have a large traumatic or impactful event to speak to someone about the thoughts and feelings.

via @luellajonk

What really upsets me is people still don’t understand the truth about emotional health. They do not understand you don’t need to have a large traumatic or impactful event to speak to someone about the thoughts and feelings that accompany your experiences. When an impending divorce is happening in a family, then the parents may think ‘maybe my child needs to talk to someone’. The fact is -your child right now – with a seemingly normal family (whatever that looks like) may need to talk to someone. Maybe the teenager that spends 22/24 hours in their room needs to talk to someone. Maybe your 20-year-old, taking online classes and lacking friendships needs to talk to someone.  Maybe your husband, wife, mom, or dad needs to talk to someone. I am convinced it is the shame that keeps individuals away from speaking to a professional. That is what the crux of this post is about. We need to stop the shame. How do we do this?

We do it just the same way we try to incorporate change in other parts of our life. We do it with baby steps.

We can start by asking our children more often about their emotional health. Something like, ‘Hey, how are you managing not seeing your friends?’ or with your spouse ‘ You don’t seem yourself lately, it must be so hard for you at work now,  is there anything that I can help you with?’ or ‘ Mom, are you lonely?’ It seems simple…but we don’t tend to ask these questions!! My point is simply to make more time for these questions. Connect – connect – connect. Talk- talk-talk. And if your loved one says, ‘yeah, it might help to talk’ then run with it before they change their mind. People are great at suppressing their feelings. However, suppression leads to depression. If you need help choosing a therapist there are a few things to consider – as I discussed in a past blog post.  You can also be a model for your friends, family, and colleagues. Talk openly about the fact that you have a therapist.

So far, I have discussed emotional health at the level of the family, but my concerns spread globally at the societal level. I don’t think our heads of government understand there is a huge discrepancy between the amount of spending allotted to physical health compared to emotional health. Big pharma funds the biased research trials – only to advocate for more pharmaceuticals being dispensed to patients. Yes, making our citizens ‘comfortably numb’ is the answer to their symptoms. People seem more comfortable stating that they take anti-depressants or anti-anxiety medication than they do stating that they see a therapist. That is messed up! Teenagers are telling other teenagers ‘try some of my Citalopram, it helps me’. Adults think it is normal to have a drink every single night when they get home from work, or was that two? I think there is a lot more rattling of glass bottles these days when it is recycling day, and we are all justifying it.  Same with pot. All of it is a distraction from an uncomfortable feeling.

Then, there is also the stigma these individuals, or families, feel if they would ever need to admit a loved one into an hospital/institution for psychological help. What care are their loved ones receiving in these institutions? Are they receiving programming, counselling, and top medical consultation – or – are they simply medicated? When will our government realize we are not born ‘Prozac or Citalopram’ deficient? These drugs may be helpful if used short-term – to help a person get out of the reeds so to speak, but I need to be convinced of its long-term use. I strongly advocate that changes in lifestyle, connection with a good therapist/healer, and proper medical care is what most people need.

Why aren’t our employers working closer with the insurance companies to purchase employee benefit packages that secure reasonable psychotherapy/counselling benefits? Why is this not put at a level of importance that it should be? Happy people are productive. Happy people make sales. Happy people want to come to work. Happiness is the contagion we want to spread. You can’t see a smile under a mask for a reason, God wants you to spread it.

So again, where can you begin to help spread the word stating it is okay to talk to someone? I feel we can start by talking about it out loud in your own home, place of work or with your friends. It all begins with ridding the shame at the level of the individual. This person is hurting deep inside. This person is struggling with their thinking brain, their thoughts, and regulation of their feelings that come with their thoughts. The thoughts translate to feelings and the feelings often manifest to physical and/or behavioural symptoms. There is no such thing as a ‘bad child’ – all children express themselves differently. Some need more attention than others, while others need more alone time. If you see even the slightest interest in them wanting to speak to someone, do not ignore it. And if that first therapist wasn’t able to connect with them, find another that does. The same goes for you as an adult. If you even THINK of perhaps talking to someone – it means you need to. Most couples come in to see me for couples counselling when they are in a crisis, rarely before.

Okay, back to studying.

If you like this post – you might like more of these topics which you can find here.

Also, if you need to reach out to me while I am in study lock-down, please simply send me your question. I will respond to your question and post it on the blog – no names attached, because chances are – if you have that question, others do too.

You will find me consistently sending you weekly posts after November 15th. Till then – stay well!!