Tag Archives: mental health

Champion of Minority Mental Health: Bebe Moore Campbell

In May 2008, the United States House of Representatives declared July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month, also known as National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and BIPOC* Mental Health Awareness Month.  This declaration was the result of advocate and author Bebe Moore Campbell seeking to highlight mental health concerns in minority communities, particularly the Black community, as well as the disparities in treatment and mortality in these communities compared to white communities.

Bebe Moore Campbell was a teacher, journalist, and best-selling author, writing for publications such as The Washington Post, The New York Times, Essence and Ebony before transitioning to fiction novel writing.  Although fiction was her focus in the 1990s, she wrote about the stereotyping of Black people, and countered them by choosing to paint her characters as wealthy and successful.  She also focused on real events impacting the Black community, such as the lynching of Emmett Till.

Moore Campbell first focused on mental health in the Black community through the writing of her children’s book, Sometimes My Mommy Gets Angry, highlighting a little girl’s experience of growing up with a mentally ill mother.  She was awarded an Outstanding Media Award for Literature by The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) for this book in 2003.  She followed up with The 72-Hour Hold, referencing the typical length of time someone is placed under an involuntary psychiatric hospitalization order.  This book focused on bipolar disorder, and was inspired by a family member of Bebe.

Bebe Moore Campbell was also a founding member of the NAMI Inglewood chapter, which expanded into the NAMI Urban Los Angeles Chapter in California.  She advocated by speaking out against stigma of mental illness, and promoted treatment and education in communities of color, and used her platform to push this agenda into the focus of mainstream society.  She assembled a taskforce along with her friend, Linda Wharton-Boyd, to push legislation to spread awareness, encourage mental health checkups, access to medications, community mental health services, and declaration of a minority mental health awareness month.  Sadly, Bebe Moore Campbell abruptly became ill with brain cancer, and lost her battle with the disease in November 2006.  Wharton-Boyd continued the rally for an awareness month, and Representatives Albert Wynn of Maryland and Diane Watson of California co-signed legislation, which passed.

Although strides have been made to reduce stigma and connect people to mental health care, more work is still to be done in BIPOC* communities.  An American Psychological Association report found that in 2015, only 4% of psychologists are Black, 5% are Hispanic, and 5% are Asian.  Roughly 30% of Black and Hispanic adults living with mental illness actually receive care, and there is continued lack of access to medications and preventative community mental health care.  We can honor Bebe Moore Campbell’s efforts by striving for inclusivity and wide reaching access to care, and continued advocacy efforts against stigma, and for prevention to curb the need for inpatient psychiatric hospitalizations.  Equity in mental health care is wellness for us all!

 

For resources, information and statistics related to minority mental health, check out:

Learn About Minority Mental Health Month

Bebe Moore Campbell Was the Champion for Mental Health We Need Right Now

Mental Health Disparities: Diverse Populations 

National Alliance on Mental Health

Black Mental Health Matters (resources) 

Black Mental Health Alliance 

Mental Health Resources for Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC)

BIPOC Mental Health

Mental and Behavioral Health-Hispanics

National Latino Behavioral Health Association 

 

*Black and Indigenous Persons of Color

 

Daily Affirmations for a Positive Mindset

Increasing expectations for productivity and perfection placed on each of us in a world of “Go! Go! Go!” can bring about feelings of frustration, failure, and negativity.  Having a rainbow of emotions is something we all experience and have to manage.   At times, feeling low or upset can make getting through the day seem impossible, and that the world expects you to ALWAYS smile through your pain.  Healthy positivity entails being honest about your feelings and expectations with yourself and others, not expecting or trying to attain perfection, and acknowledging your mood has direct implications on your outlook and output in a given day.

Reciting daily affirmations is a tool to help combat negativity.  You can try the examples below, and may enjoy coming up with your own.  Place them in locations you encounter early in your day, like your bathroom mirror or refrigerator door.  Consider using objects, like keychains, or participating in The Kindness Rocks Project . You can also utilize an app, like ThinkUp (iOS and Android devices.), to search affirmations and record your own, or put an affirmation in the subject line of your phone alarm clock.  Remember: “You are what you think!”

  • I am loved, and I am lovable.
  • I am enough.
  • I let go of past hurts as they no longer serve me.
  • I am capable.
  • I will not compare myself to strangers on the internet.
  • I will utilize my talents today.
  • I wake up today with strength in my heart, and clarity in my mind.
  • My fears of the unknown are fading away.
  • I’m getting stronger every day.
  • I can do this.
  • I have the courage to say no.
  • I will not take negativity from others personally.
  • This is my body, and I love it.
  • It is fine for me to make mistakes; I will use them to grow.
  • I will not apologize for being myself.
  • My goals are my focus.
  • Success is in my future.
  • I will not sweat the small stuff.
  • I will work smarter, not harder.
  • I will celebrate the small victories.

NOVACares does not endorse the application referenced above; it is included for illustrative purposes only.

Moving From Racism and Discrimination to Healing and Inclusion

If you have been paying attention to the news and social media outlets in the past week, you undoubtedly have seen events unfolding around policy brutality, racial injustice, and frustrations of many boiling over as we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic.  One pressing issue on the minds of many is regarding privilege.

Privilege is unseen to those that have it, and we each have to be mindful not to diminish or dismiss experiences, hardships or traumas of others just because it is not our direct experience.  To do so is alienating, and furthers the divide between humans.  Seeking and succeeding in solidarity requires us to give focus to the traits and experiences that highlight commonalities among us instead of solely focusing on what makes us different, and treating those differences as negatives or deficiencies.  Appreciation of those differences will also serve to connect us, if we allow space to appreciate individual and cultural uniqueness.

As the days move forward, many difficult conversations will be had about privilege, community and law enforcement relations, and racial inequality.  You may experience uncertainty about what to do for yourself or others, engage in self-evaluation about personal and implicit biases, and feel diminished hope because the pain feels too great.  However, there are means to maintain hope and contribute to move our community forward.

Ways you can take care of yourself include taking a pause and logging off social media accounts, limiting your news intake, and avoiding comment sections if the content overwhelms you.  Take a moment to think before you type and respond, take deep breaths and disconnect if you need to, and allow yourself to revisit content at a later time. It is okay to ask others about their experiences to gain awareness of perspectives you may not be attuned to, and allow this to bolster your relationships and self-growth.

Ways you can support others include checking in with your family, friends and neighbors, encouraging them to engage in self-care, and linking them to resources if you suspect they are struggling with their mental health.  Hearing your loved ones out on their experiences and thoughts about race relations is a very validating and supportive way to be present for them.

If you or anyone you know is struggling at this time, you can text HOME to 741741 for confidential chat support from trained staff, or call 1-800-273-8255 (available 24/7).

NOVACares Lauches New Mental Health Referral Database for Students, Faculty and Staff

The NOVACares Office is proud to announce that the NOVACares Mental Health Provider Search Database (“NOVACARES Counseling Referral System”) has been upgraded and updated for a more productive search for local mental health providers. The NOVACares Office has personally contacted the 157 providers, as of this writing, in the database to verify their license to practice and requested that they update their profile to include changes in insurances accepted, sliding scale/reduced fees for NOVA, waiting time, accepting new patients, and if they are offering telehealth services. Our listed providers include providers that service Virginia, Maryland, Washington DC, and beyond. Faculty, staff and students are encouraged to use the database to locate providers matching their search criteria. The NOVACares Office is still recruiting providers to be listed in the database and will conduct an extensive outreach campaign over the summer and fall.

To start your search for a mental health provider visit:  https://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/index.html 

Click on Mental Health Provider Database on the left bar.

 

 

 

 

NOVACARES COUNSELING REFERRAL SYSTEM

If you are at risk in anyway (e.g., considering suicide or at risk of other physical harm) please dial 9-1-1 or contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK. You may also visit the your nearest emergency room or contact NOVA police at 703-764-5000. If you would like additional non-emergency support for yourself or another student that you are concerned about, please file a NOVACares report at www.nvcc.edu/novacares.

The providers participating in the database supply their own information about their services. We cannot guarantee the accuracy, completeness, or timeliness of the information provided. We are also unable to endorse any particular provider that is listed. It will be important to verify information with the provider that most interests you, including fees and other arrangements. Contact your insurance company if you need to ensure that the clinician you select is a participating provider.

Setting and Maintaining Healthy Boundaries


Boundaries are absolutely vital for healthy relationships- most importantly, your relationship with yourself.  It is a way to maintain balance in your life by learning, acknowledging and holding others to your personal limits.  This supports positive self-image and healthy self-esteem.  For most of us, it is not a skill we were taught, rather, through experience and watching others, we determine what is- and is not- acceptable for each of us.  As this skill can be challenging to develop and maintain, below are some tips from Dr. Dana Gionta for setting and maintaining healthy boundaries (courtesy of Psych Central article, 10 Ways to Build and Preserve Better Boundaries by Margarita Tartakovsky, MS):

  1. Name your limits.

You can’t set good boundaries if you’re unsure of where you stand. So identify your physical, emotional, mental and spiritual limits, Gionta said. Consider what you can tolerate and accept and what makes you feel uncomfortable or stressed.  “Those feelings help us identify what our limits are.”

  1. Tune into your feelings.

Gionta has observed two key feelings in others that are red flags or cues that we’re letting go of our boundaries: discomfort and resentment. She suggested thinking of these feelings on a continuum from one to 10. Six to 10 is in the higher zone, she said.

If you’re at the higher end of this continuum, during an interaction or in a situation, Gionta suggested asking yourself, what is causing that? What is it about this interaction, or the person’s expectation that is bothering me?

Resentment usually “comes from being taken advantage of or not appreciated.” It’s often a sign that we’re pushing ourselves either beyond our own limits because we feel guilty (and want to be a good daughter or wife, for instance), or someone else is imposing their expectations, views or values on us, she said.

“When someone acts in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, that’s a cue to us they may be violating or crossing a boundary,” Gionta said.

  1. Be direct.

With some people, maintaining healthy boundaries doesn’t require a direct and clear-cut dialogue. Usually, this is the case if people are similar in their communication styles, views, personalities and general approach to life, Gionta said. They’ll “approach each other similarly.”

With others, such as those who have a different personality or cultural background, you’ll need to be more direct about your boundaries. Consider the following example: “one person feels [that] challenging someone’s opinions is a healthy way of communicating,” but to another person this feels disrespectful and tense.

There are other times you might need to be direct. For instance, in a romantic relationship, time can become a boundary issue, Gionta said. Partners might need to talk about how much time they need to maintain their sense of self and how much time to spend together.

  1. Give yourself permission.

Fear, guilt and self-doubt are big potential pitfalls, Gionta said. We might fear the other person’s response if we set and enforce our boundaries. We might feel guilty by speaking up or saying no to a family member. Many believe that they should be able to cope with a situation or say yes because they’re a good daughter or son, even though they “feel drained or taken advantage of.” We might wonder if we even deserve to have boundaries in the first place.

Boundaries aren’t just a sign of a healthy relationship; they’re a sign of self-respect. So give yourself the permission to set boundaries and work to preserve them.

  1. Practice self-awareness.

Again, boundaries are all about honing in on your feelings and honoring them. If you notice yourself slipping and not sustaining your boundaries, Gionta suggested asking yourself: What’s changed? Consider “What I am doing or [what is] the other person doing?” or “What is the situation eliciting that’s making me resentful or stressed?” Then, mull over your options: “What am I going to do about the situation? What do I have control over?”

  1. Consider your past and present.

How you were raised along with your role in your family can become additional obstacles in setting and preserving boundaries. If you held the role of caretaker, you learned to focus on others, letting yourself be drained emotionally or physically, Gionta said. Ignoring your own needs might have become the norm for you.

Also, think about the people you surround yourself with, she said. “Are the relationships reciprocal?” Is there a healthy give and take?

Beyond relationships, your environment might be unhealthy, too. For instance, if your workday is eight hours a day, but your co-workers stay at least 10 to 11, “there’s an implicit expectation to go above and beyond” at work, Gionta said. It can be challenging being the only one or one of a few trying to maintain healthy boundaries, she said. Again, this is where tuning into your feelings and needs and honoring them becomes critical.

  1. Make self-care a priority.

Gionta helps her clients make self-care a priority, which also involves giving yourself permission to put yourself first. When we do this, “our need and motivation to set boundaries become stronger,” she said. Self-care also means recognizing the importance of your feelings and honoring them. These feelings serve as “important cues about our wellbeing and about what makes us happy and unhappy.”

Putting yourself first also gives you the “energy, peace of mind and positive outlook to be more present with others and be there” for them.” And “When we’re in a better place, we can be a better wife, mother, husband, co-worker or friend.”

  1. Seek support.

If you’re having a hard time with boundaries, “seek some support, whether [that’s a] support group, church, counseling, coaching or good friends.” With friends or family, you can even make “it a priority with each other to practice setting boundaries together [and] hold each other accountable.”

Consider seeking support through resources, too. Gionta likes the following books: The Art of Extreme Self-Care: Transform Your Life One Month at a Time and Boundaries in Marriage (along with several books on boundaries by the same authors).

  1. Be assertive.

Of course, we know that it’s not enough to create boundaries; we actually have to follow through. Even though we know intellectually that people aren’t mind readers, we still expect others to know what hurts us, Gionta said. Since they don’t, it’s important to assertively communicate with the other person when they’ve crossed a boundary.

In a respectful way, let the other person know what in particular is bothersome to you and that you can work together to address it, Gionta said.

  1. Start small.

Like any new skill, assertively communicating your boundaries takes practice. Gionta suggested starting with a small boundary that isn’t threatening to you, and then incrementally increasing to more challenging boundaries. “Build upon your success, and [at first] try not to take on something that feels overwhelming.”

“Setting boundaries takes courage, practice and support,” Gionta said. And remember that it’s a skill you can master.

Source:  https://psychcentral.com/lib/10-way-to-build-and-preserve-better-boundaries/

Cumulative Stress: What is it, and what to do about it

Cumulative stress is an accumulation of stress that impacts bodily functioning, cognitive output, mood and your ability to function healthily.  Stress can be both positive; such as working towards a degree or getting a promotion, and negative; such as making a major life decision or experiencing a loss.  The impact of these positive and negative stressors without the balance of self-care and routine can be detrimental to your health and overall functioning, resulting in illness, injury, feelings of depletion, and inability to meet goals and fulfill obligations.

To manage your stress, “keep your bucket full,” meaning, be purposeful in replenishing your energy through adequate sleep, healthy diet, exercise, healthy relationships and hobbies.  If you do not, you may end up involuntarily refilling your bucket after a sickness or injury, when you have no choice but to sit and rest.

Per the Office of Student and Community Services, Department of Student Services of Montgomery County Public Schools in Rockville, Maryland, here are some ways to combat cumulative stress:

  • Create a daily routine to help regain a sense of control
  • Eat balanced, healthy meals
  • Get extra rest to let your body relax and recover
  • Exercise
  • Let frustration and anger out through safe, exhausting physical activity
  • Ask for support from friends, colleagues, and loved ones
  • Avoid alcohol, drugs, and tobacco
  • Limit caffeine
  • Don’t dwell on news of the crisis; gather the information you need, then turn off the TV or radio
  • Be aware of the impact of your own past experiences on your current functioning
  • Seek mental health assistance when you are concerned about your reactions.

For more information on cumulative stress, visit:

https://jamesclear.com/cumulative-stress

https://www.montgomeryschoolsmd.org/emergency/resources/mental-cumulative.aspx

Self-Care in Minutes

Self-care is an intentional activity meant to support your emotional, mental, and physical well-being.  It is often overlooked, but is vital for a healthy relationship with yourself.  Self-care strengthens self-esteem, the experience of positive feelings and self-confidence, and allows you to maintain openness to positivity from others.  Self-care will also help you to have the energy to get through work and personal commitments.  It can look a lot of ways, like asserting boundaries, saying “no”, asking for help, forgiving yourself, and taking a break.  Self-care does not require grand effort or lots of money; below are some examples of what you can do to take care of yourself:

5 minutes-

  • Drink a glass of water or a cup of tea/coffee/cocoa
  • Text a friend
  • Stretch/take deep breaths
  • Meditate or say a prayer
  • Listen to a motivational song
  • Watch a cute animal video

15 minutes-

  • Write in your journal
  • Make a grocery list or menu
  • Go for a walk
  • Have a dance party in your jammies
  • Change your sheets
  • Phone a friend

30 minutes-

  • Take a bath
  • Exfoliate/apply a face mask
  • Engage in a hobby
  • Take a nap
  • Cook/enjoy a favorite snack or meal
  • Exercise

1+ hours-

  • Give yourself a mani/pedi
  • Watch a favorite movie/show
  • Curl up in a blanket, and listen to music
  • Read a book
  • Attend a therapy session
  • Have a video call with family/friends

Tip of the Week: Red Flags within a Relationship

Do you know the expression “love is blinding”? This is a true statement. Even when your gut is telling you that something is wrong, you often ignore it. However, your gut is never wrong. Here are some red flags to look out for when in a relationship:
• Blames others for own faults
• Drug/ Alcohol use/abuse
• Explosive temper
• Extreme jealousy or insecurity
• Fascination with weapons
• Strong gender stereotypes
• Difficulty with authority
• Cannot express emotions verbally
• Treats partner like property/possession
• Isolates you from friends and family
• Blows up about little things
• Thinks it’s okay to resolve conflict with violence
• Checking emails, cellphones and social media without permission
• Constantly insulting or putting down partner and/or humiliating partner in public or in front of loved ones

If you or someone you know sees the warning signs in their relationship, then remember you are not alone and that you have the option to seek help. You can always reach out by contacting NOVA Sexual Assault Services (SAS) directly at nova.sas@nvcc.edu or 703-338-0834.
https://www.nvcc.edu/novacares/sas/dating.html
If you would like to learn more about this topic, join us for our Red Flag Campaign on Monday, March 2nd from 11am to 2pm in the LC Café on the Loudoun Campus. Hope to see you there! https://www.facebook.com/events/166424331470492/

Tip of the Week: 5 Ways to Start a Mental Health Conversation with Your College Kids Over the Holidays. Shared by our friends at “This is My Brave”.

Five Ways to Start a Mental Health Conversation with your College Kids Over the Holidays

Five Ways to Start a Mental Health Conversation with your College Kids Over the Holidays

Hayley B. Sherwood, Ph.D.

Articles in the news media and online are aplenty during the holiday season, full of advice for coping with stress, difficult relationships, grief, and a host of other challenges. For parents with college students, the next several weeks is often one of the few times of the year that their children are home for an extended period of time. According to statistics on ActiveMinds.org, 39% of college students experience a significant mental health issue, and suicide is the second leading cause of death among this population.

As college students wrap up exams and return home, the long holiday break can be a good time to open up a discussion about mental health. Here are several ways to start a conversation:

1. Ask questions (without badgering!). Find time to inquire about self-care habits. How much sleep are they getting and how well are they sleeping? How is their diet? Have they gained or lost a significant amount of weight? Are they improving or at least maintaining their grades? What are they doing to relax? Are they managing their time well? Are they feeling connected to roommates and classmates? Is exercise part of their routine? Are they participating in any clubs or other extra-curricular activities?

2. Be honest. As your children reach young adulthood, share family mental health histories with them. Just as we discuss our family’s physical issues, like cancer or diabetes, many older teens need to hear about family addiction, depression, anxiety, psychosis, and other issues for which they might be at risk. These conversations can be uncomfortable. However, young adults in their late teens and early twenties are most vulnerable to serious mental illness, especially when those related to them have been diagnosed. For example, informing your children that addiction runs in the family might just alert them that excessive use of things like alcohol, drugs, video games, porn, or spending could lead to more self- destructive choices or long-term consequences down the road. Talk with your children about more adaptive ways of coping with stress.

3. Be a resource. Let your child know you support them in finding mental health help in college and in the college community. Most colleges have counseling and/or learning centers that offer individual and group services for a range of issues. Offer to assist in identifying mental health resources online, as well as on- and off-campus. If your child is struggling academically or has a history of receiving school-based support prior to college, consulting with staff in their college Office of Disability Services could lead to accommodations in the classroom. As legal adults, college-aged children must take the lead in seeking out these services, but parents can also encourage their child, along with track down paperwork or reach out for guidance from therapists or other professionals who may have supported their child in high school.

4. Equip. Think about offering your college students free or inexpensive apps that help ease stress and/or cope with a variety of mental health conditions, including Happify, Insight Timer, Calm, Breathe2Relax, Sanvello and What’s Up, as well as MindShift (anxiety), Recovery Record (eating disorders), Panic Relief (panic disorder), Twenty-Four Hours A Day (addiction) and eMoods (bipolar disorder).

5. Keep in touch. As your children prepare to return to college, especially if they are struggling with a mental health issue,
establish a plan for staying in regular contact. Setting aside time for a call or Facetime, not just texting,
allows parents to hear their children’s voice, which is a better way to see how they are feeling.

Taking the time to connect and engage in these vital conversations over the holidays can make a huge difference in how your young adult learns to prioritize and manage their mental health.

About the Author:

Dr. Sherwood is a Board Member of This Is My Brave, as well as the Owner and Clinical Psychologist of Oak Hill Psychological Services, PLLC, in Herndon, Virginia. She specializes in adolescent, women’s and family issues.