Reducing Stigma in Mental Health

What is a stigma?

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines stigma as:

” 1 a: a mark of shame or discredit: STAIN

b: plural usually stigmata: an identifying mark or characteristic specificallya specific diagnostic sign of a disease”

Stigmas are a defining mark or characteristic that sets someone apart from the group. They are a negative attitude or belief toward a certain group of people that we perceive to be different from ourselves. This stigma can cause us to be afraid or wary and can lead to discrimination.

Stigma in mental health

Those in a stigmatized population can experience isolation, discrimination, fewer opportunities in the workplace, verbal abuse, bullying, negative and misleading labels, and fear or mistrust from others.

If you have the fortune of never having to struggle with a mental illness, then you may not be able to understand or empathize with those who do.

Stigma shames those with mental illness, but mental illness is a condition just like any other medical condition. Would you ever shame someone for having diabetes? No. In like manner, we shouldn’t shame those who struggle with mental illness.

Stigma in mental illness is very common and can vary depending on the mental illness. These stigmas may be deliberate attitudes/beliefs that others choose to make or can be the by-product of ignorance.

Some examples of stigma in mental illness are:

  • ADD/ADHD: Those who struggle with ADD or ADHD might be labeled as lazy, as having a short attention span, or too energetic. They might be labeled as stupid because they struggle to pay attention in school and therefore get bad grades.
  • SUBSTANCE ABUSE: Someone with a substance abuse disorder might be labeled as a low-life or unmotivated. Others may think they choose to partake of the substance that they abuse and don’t realize that to them, it is a need or compulsion.
  • TRAUMA: Those with trauma-related disorders might be thought of as dramatic, attention seeking, or exaggerators. People may tell them that they just need to “Get over it,” and move on.
  • DEPRESSION: Those with depression might be labeled as isolated, moody, or negative. Others may think of them as insensitive or not capable of being in a relationship or friendship. Others tell them to be more positive and grateful and their mood will turn around. This tells them that it’s all in their head.

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) stated:

“Stigma causes people to feel ashamed for something that is out of their control. Worst of all, stigma prevents people from seeking the help they need. For a group of people who already carry such a heavy burden, stigma is an unacceptable addition to their pain. And while stigma has reduced in recent years, the pace of progress has not been quick enough.”

How can we reduce it?

For those who don’t struggle with mental illness:

  • Educate yourself about mental illness. Mental illness isn’t just emotional, but also very biological in nature.
  • Be more aware of the harmful things you may ignorantly say to those who struggle with mental illness.
  • Be an advocate and a friend to those with mental illness.
  • Create a safe dialogue around the topic.

For those who struggle with mental illness:

  • Don’t define yourself by your mental illness. It is something you struggle with, not a definition of who you are.
  • Get help/treatment. Trained professionals will be able to help you with the struggles you are facing and you never have to go through it alone.
  • Join a support group.
  • Don’t be ashamed of your mental illness. Create dialogue in the community.

Education and Help

Here are some websites that have information concerning mental health, treatment options, and other tips on how to live with mental illness.

www.nami.org

www.MentalHealth.gov

www.ActiveMinds.org

www.MentalHealthAmerica.net

www.mentalhealth.org.uk

www.samhsa.gov

www.dbsalliance.org

www.bbrfoundation.org

www.rethink.org

Brain Awareness Month– Neurofeedback

In honor of Brain Awareness Month we will be spotlighting neurofeedback in this post. Never heard of neurofeedback? Curious how it can help you? You’re not alone. Every month thousands of people look up neurofeedback in search engines. Why? Because it’s a non-invasive, non-medication therapy that works wonders for the brain.

 

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The Brain

The brain has the ability to change itself due to its capability to undergo neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.  Neurogenesis is the ability to grow and develop new neurons in the brain while neuroplasticity is the ability to change and restructure the neurological pathways in the brain. Neurofeedback encourages the processes of neurogenesis and neuroplasticity.

In a typical neurofeedback therapy session, a neurofeedback technician places electrodes on a client’s head, and then a software program creates a reward system for the brain as the client watches a movie of their choosing.  The program trains the brain to self-regulate its brain waves which in turn helps the client learn to manage their emotions, thoughts, and performance.

 

 

Jessica Harper, the owner of Aspen Valley Counseling, used to get in her car and know she was going to miss the entrance of wherever she was going. Without fail, a chorus of groans sounded off in the back seat of her silver VW bug as her children cried, “Not again!” But after doing neurofeedback therapy she no longer misses her entrances. “It’s pretty amazing that neurofeedback—something so simple in practice—has helped me in such a day-to-day thing.”

There are countless others who have also experienced great results with neurofeedback. Many have had help with their anxiety, their depression, learned to have better focus, and much more!

Basics of Neurofeedback Therapy

Neurofeedback therapy helps with a myriad of mental health related issues that deal with the brain. It can help:

 

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  • ADD/ADHD
  • Trauma
  • PTSD
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Addiction
  • Brain Injury
  • Autism
  • Stress
  • Insomnia
  • Phobias
  • Performance (such as for sports or testing for school)
  • Energy Levels
  • Meditation

It’s non-invasive and doesn’t involve any medication. So if you’re looking for an alternative to medication, neurofeedback therapy could be something you might want to try.

It may seem too good to be true, but it works wonders for people! For effective treatment, a patient should attend at least 20 sessions (and at least two sessions per week) for long-term results. A patient can finish them faster by doing two sessions per day, five times per week.

If you’re on medication, you can still do neurofeedback therapy. With supervision by your doctor or provider, some people can even cut down or stop using medication after completing neurofeedback therapy.

Cost of Neurofeedback Therapy

Most insurance companies do not cover neurofeedback, since they see it as an unnecessary treatment. Western medicine is typically medication-based, so an insurance company is much more likely to cover costs of medication. But if you don’t want to take medication to improve your mental health, and you’re seeking out alternative medicine, you’re probably going to be paying out-of-pocket anyway.

Neurofeedback is a great option for someone looking to treat their mental health. Most neurofeedback sessions cost around $75 to $100 per session plus an extra cost for the first appointment. If you’re looking for a cheaper option and you happen to live in Utah, Aspen Valley Counseling in Orem, Utah (Utah County) charges clients $50 per session.

 

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Neurofeedback Therapy: Treatment for ADHD, Anxiety, Traumatic Brain Injury, and More

If you’re curious about neurofeedback therapy and how it can help you, you’re not the only one. Every month thousands of people look it up in search engines. Why? Because it’s a non-invasive, non-medication therapy that works wonders.

Jessica Harper, the owner of Aspen Valley Counseling, used to get in her car and know she was going to miss the entrance of wherever she was going. Without fail, a chorus of groans sounded off in the back seat of her silver VW bug as her children cried, “Not again!” But after doing neurofeedback therapy, she hasn’t missed an entrance. “It’s pretty amazing that neurofeedback—something so simple in practice—has helped me in such a day-to-day thing.”

In a typical neurofeedback therapy session, a neurofeedback technician places electrodes on a client’s head, and then the computer program creates images on the screen that represent the client’s brain waves. The client will see their own brain activity and learn to change it, which helps them learn to manage their emotions, thoughts, and performance.

Basics of Neurofeedback Therapy

Neurofeedback therapy helps with a myriad of mental health–related issues that deal with the brain. It can help

  • ADD/ADHD
  • Trauma
  • Stress
  • Anxiety
  • Addiction
  • Insomnia
  • Depression
  • Phobias
  • Performance (such as for sports)
  • Autism
  • Energy Levels
  • PTSD
  • Brain Injury
  • Meditation

It’s non-invasive and doesn’t involve any medication. So if you’re looking for an alternative to medication, neurofeedback therapy could be something you might want to try.

It may seem too good to be true, but it works wonders for people! For effective treatment, a patient should attend at least 20 sessions (and at least two sessions per week) for long-term results. A patient can finish them faster by doing two sessions per day, five times per week.

If you’re on medication, you can still do neurofeedback therapy. With supervision on your doctor or provider, some people can even cut down or stop using medication after completing neurofeedback therapy.

Cost of Neurofeedback Therapy

Most insurance companies do not cover neurofeedback, since they see it as an unnecessary treatment. Western medicine is typically medication-based, so an insurance company is much more likely to cover costs of medication. But if you don’t want to take medication to improve your mental health, and you’re seeking out alternative medicine, you’re probably going to be paying out of pocket anyway.

Neurofeedback is a great option for someone looking to treat their mental health. Most neurofeedback sessions cost around $75 to $100 per session plus an extra cost for the first appointment. If you’re looking for a cheaper option and you happen to live in Utah, Aspen Valley Counseling in Orem, Utah (Utah County) charges clients $50 per session.

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3 Ways to Manage Your Anxiety

If you’ve ever experienced anxiety, first know you are not alone. Anxiety can make you feel like you can’t get anything done, make your heart rate go up, and lead you to feel as if your mind is racing. But it’s possible to get through your anxiety in the moment. Here are some tips to help you manage your anxiety.

Managing anxiety

Breathe

Research shows that taking deep breaths can actually calm your anxiety. When you’re anxious, your heart rate increases and your breathing becomes shallow; so when you take deep breaths, you are physically changing your anxiety. Take a deep breath in for six seconds and exhale for six seconds. Do this repeatedly and start to notice your heart rate slow and your mind calm.

Distract yourself

When you take a moment to move your mind away from the anxiety, it can help you get to work on what you need to do. Try something as simple as counting to 10. Focus on thinking about each number. When you move your focus elsewhere, you push your anxiety to the side. If you have a little more time, do something like yoga, dancing to your favorite song, or watching a funny video on YouTube.

Talk to someone

One of your best resources is your understanding friends and family. If you’re feeling anxious, call a friend or a family member and tell them how you’re feeling. Those who are understanding will listen and help you work through the anxiety. Sometimes they might say something you need to hear, or maybe by talking with them you’ll be able to talk through the anxiety. Or perhaps the call will be just enough to distract you from the anxiety.

Dealing with anxiety

The tips above aren’t a catch-all, and they certainly won’t make your anxiety go away forever. They’re little things that you can do to manage your anxiety in the moment.

Dealing with anxiety can be an ongoing issue for you, but long-term there are some things you can do to improve your anxiety. First, you have to take care of your body. When you are healthy and well rested, it’s much easier to deal with your anxiety. Make sure you’re eating healthy and getting enough sleep; when you don’t, it’s much easier to slip into worry because your body isn’t being taken care of. Also try to exercise regularly. You can find some fitness tips on the Anxiety and Depression Association of America website.

Try figuring out what triggers your anxiety. When you can find out what’s stressing you out, you can start to deal with it better. Find a therapist that can help you work through your stressors and give you tools to help you get your anxiety under control.

For more tips on managing your anxiety, (such as creating a mantra, journaling, and more), check out Psych Central.

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What is Neurofeedback?

Neurofeedback is a process of showing someone their brain activity in order to help the brain learn to change and become more efficient and effective. Neurofeedback uses EEG (electroencephalography) sensors attached to your head to produce an image on a computer screen. The visuals and sounds coming from the computer program will guide your brain and help you work toward your goals – whether that be better concentration, lower anxiety, or better memory.

Neurofeedback therapy will help you feel better, think better, and do things better. Neurofeedback will help you train or re-train your brain. And just like when you learned to ride a bike, they skills you learn from neurofeedback will stick with you.

What can neurofeedback help with?

–          ADD/ADHD

–          Depression

–          PTSD

–          Increase energy

–          Fears/phobias

–          Stress

–          Performance

–          Anxiety

–          Insomnia

–          Migraines

–          Addiction

–          Relationship

–          Trauma

–          Autism

–          Test anxiety

–          Brain injury

–          Cognitive issues

–          Hormonal and neurochemical issues

–          TBI, strokes

–          Focus and concentration

–          Feeling in the present

–          Stabilizing mood

–          Improving reactions to external world

–          Making you less defended

–          Helping you connect more emotionally

–          Increase peace and serenity

–          Help you have more objective observations

–          Help you access and integrate repressed experiences

–          Help you overcome distorted beliefs

–          Help you overcome insecurities

–          Help you overcome phobias

 

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Should I Lower My Expectations This Year?


Source: The New Yorker

It’s a new year full of possibility and New Year’s resolutions. Is this the year we should lower our expectations? We all have expectations of ourselves, others, and how the world should work. But are your expectations making you unhappy?

Expectations in daily life

Expectations help you make sense of the world. Your boss expects you to show up to work on time, you expect your doctor to make you wait for an extra 30 minutes, and you expect your kids to come home at a certain time. Expectations are a normal part of life. But sometimes, your unfair expectations can hurt others and yourself.

When people or things don’t live up to our expectations, we’ll often end up sad or upset. Just think back on when you expected to get a job and got turned away. Of course you were upset! And if you didn’t expect to get the job, and they called you five minutes later with an offer, you’d be overjoyed. Expectations aren’t necessarily bad, but we just need to be careful about how what expectations we hold and how we react when our expectations aren’t met. Setting unfair or unrealistic expectations can lead to anxiety and leave you unhappy.

Creating realistic expectations

It will take some active work on your part to “lower” your expectations this year. Remember to be realistic, but not pessimistic. Expecting a doctor to keep you waiting is probably a realistic expectation. Expecting to get in and out of a doctor’s appointment in 5 minutes is probably an unrealistic expectation.

When you realize you hold an unfair or unrealistic expectation, first ask yourself what would be a more reasonable expectation. Ask yourself questions like, “Can I control this outcome?”

Working through expectations

If your hubby sends you a text saying he has a surprise for you, and you’re expecting flowers, but instead he brings you some chocolate you don’t like, you might be a little disappointed. But how do you deal with those expectations while still maintaining a positive relationship with your husband who made an effort?

If you start to feel disappointed your husband brought you gross chocolate instead of a beautiful bouquet, you’ll have to stop and ask yourself why you are feeling disappointed. When you realize it’s because you had an expectation to get flowers, you can reevaluate the unfair expectations you are placing on your husband. Your husband didn’t know you wanted flowers, so it’s unfair to be upset with him for not bringing flowers. Next time, let him know that you’d love for him to bring you flowers sometime. For now, just focus on the positive and thank your husband for making your day special.

Next time you feel disappointed or upset about the outcome of something, take some time to think about what expectations you had. Evaluating your expectations and setting more realistic expectations this year might just make you a little bit happier.