Stress and Stress Reduction

Here is an excellent article about student stress and ways for stress reduction.  It is absolutely true that being a student today is a very stressful experience, filled with pot-holes and land mines.  The way you choose to respond to this stress can define your health, your future, even your mental health.

Here are specific ways to deal with stress.  It is up to you if you let it beat you down or you choose to harness that energy and use it.  One thing is certain, life is rough for everyone in a myriad of different ways.  Unless you are walking in the same exact shoes, don’t judge.  How one person handles their struggles with stress should not define you or how you decide to respond to your stressors.

Please read the article in full.  Maybe you will have other suggestions for ways to manage and deal with school/life stressors.  Won’t you let me know what you think of the article?

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A Stanford psychologist has a simple mental exercise for tackling student stress

September 07, 2017

Stress can be debilitating, paralyzing, and generally bad for our health.

It can also motivate us to get organized, try new things, and push to higher levels of achievement.

Kelly McGonigal, a health psychologist at Stanford, thinks we spend too much time worrying about stress and not enough harnessing it to learn and grow.

“If I am stressed, it means I care,” McGonigal said on School’s In, a Stanford podcast. “Stress can activate strength.”

She thinks this matters for students, in particular, who appear to be under unprecedented levels of stress. Parents should, of course, help kids reduce the sources of stress—not over-scheduling them or excessively focusing on grades and test scores—but they can also dramatically reframe stress, away from avoiding it at all costs to trying to manage the bad and leverage the good.

Whatever the challenge—inviting a new friend over, trying out for a sports team, or starting a new school—the anxiety that comes with stress looks and feels a lot like excitement. So we should think of it that way—as excitement—she said on the podcast. Your heart is pounding because you want to do well and your body is helping you to rise to the challenge. “We will do it even if our hearts are racing,” she suggested parents tell their kids.

If we only think of stress as toxic, this magnifies its toxic effects. If we see that it can have positive outcomes—preparing us to perform—we might be able to lose some of the meta-stress, the stress about stressing. Students, for example, can focus on the root of the stress (preparing for the test) and not the self-flagellation around what the stress might mean (“I’m not smart enough”).

She is quick to point out that plenty of life’s stresses cannot be willed away: poverty, abuse, and neglect cannot be mitigated with reframing.

But other types of stress can be.  Read the rest of this article here.

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The Struggle with Schizophrenia

 Schizophrenia is truly a devastating disease that strikes some of our most creative and talented people at the start of their adult lives.  This article is both informative about mental health issues like schizophrenia but also heartbreaking to see how a parent had to deal with watching two sons descend into the darkness that is schizophrenia.

I cannot imagine the anguish and pain this father dealt with, but as a psychiatric nurse for over 20 years I can understand what he had to deal with.  This father had to stand by and watch as one of his sons finally lost his battle for sanity and committed suicide then he had to watch another son begin the same battle.

He is correct in his statement that schizophrenia is so difficult to treat because the person affected does not think he/she is ill.  That is the reason the medications are stopped usually.  If you don’t believe you are sick why take medications that make you feel really bad and that cause all kinds of side effects?

This father has written a book that I will try to get and read.  I hope after reading this article you, too, will want to read his book if only to get a better understanding of what our schizophrenics deal with daily.  It may give you a new way to interact with the mentally ill.

This article is well worth your time.  Please read and let me know what you think about his struggles.

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Father Of 2 Sons With Schizophrenia Talks Of His Struggle To Save Them

schizophrenia

Roy Scott/Ikon Images/Getty Images

As the father of two sons with schizophrenia, author Ron Powers is familiar with the pain and frustration of dealing with a chronic, incurable disease of the brain.

Powers’ younger son, Kevin, was a talented musician whose struggles with schizophrenia began at age 17. Just before his 21st birthday, in 2005, Kevin took his own life.

A few years later, Powers’ older son, Dean, started experiencing symptoms of schizophrenia and had a psychotic break.

Ron Powers, a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist and media critic, wrote Flags of our Fathers, which was adapted into a film by Clint Eastwood.

Sarah Junek/Hachette Books

“There is no greater … feeling of helplessness than to watch two beloved sons deteriorate before [your] eyes, not knowing what to do to bring them back,” Powers tells Fresh Air‘s Terry Gross.

Powers’ new book, No One Cares About Crazy People,is both a memoir about his sons and a history of how the mentally ill have been treated medically, legally and socially. Although Dean is now medicated and doing well, Powers notes that many people with schizophrenia don’t receive the treatment they need — in part because they often don’t believe they are ill.

Read the rest of this article at the source:  here

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The Storm After The Storm: Disaster’s Mental Toll

We are almost two month past the most horrible natural disasters of this century so far–Hurricane Harvey and Hurricane Irma–as well as major earthquakes all over the world reeking havoc with daily lives everywhere.  There is a storm after all the events are gone that very few are addressing and that is the toll to the mental health of people who have survived such a terrible event.

PTSD is real and it can damage your life if left untreated.  People with PTSD have trouble functioning, their thought run in a circle, and they don’t know what to do to stop them.

We as a nation are not doing enough–or anything–to address the mental health fallout that these horrible events have caused to millions of people.  Please read this article and if any of this fits, reach out for the help you deserve and need.

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The Storm After The Storm: Disaster’s Mental Toll

“We got the house ready,” says Mendez, a 68-year-old English professor from Cutler Bay, about 30 miles south of downtown Miami. The family put up the hurricane shutters, wrapped paintings and other valuables, and moved the patio furniture inside.Suddenly, however, Maria ran out of the house.”I opened the gate and started running,” she says.

Her husband, Alfredo, and daughter Ana led her back to the house, calmed her down, and the family safely evacuated.

In hindsight, Maria knows what was behind her need to escape. Irma had triggered a reliving of Hurricane Andrew in 1992, when they lost their house, cars, and boat. During that storm, the family had holed up in the house, terrified as the bathroom ceiling collapsed and the roof blew away.

“We were sure we were going to die,” she remembers. The psychologistwho diagnosed her posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) after Hurricane Andrew had said to expect unusual reactions when disaster strikes.

With seemingly endless recent disasters — hurricanes in Texas, Florida, and the Caribbean; wildfires out West; and now, major earthquakes in Mexico — the immediate concern of the ones affected is survival: eating, drinking, and finding a place to sleep.

But soon after, the mental health fallout can start.

What’s ‘Normal’ After Disaster?

Experts notice a pattern of mental health symptoms after disasters, says Yuval Neria, PhD, professor of medical psychology and director of the PTSD treatment and research program at Columbia University Medical Center. “Usually what we see first is the anxiety, fear, the difficulty in concentrating and functioning,” he says.

Read the rest of this article here.

 

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5 Things To Include In Your Mental Health Maintenance Routine

I found this article and really liked the approach.  I agree that we all need to take responsibility for our own mental health; and it seems that there may be specific things we can be doing to improve our mental well being.

Although she lists five pretty obvious ways to improve your mental health, I think that pointing out the existence of ways you can improve your own health is a step in the right direction.  Stress is the biggest threat to your well-being so anything you can do to reduce the amount of stress in your life is a boon.

Be sure to read this entire article at the source and while you are there be sure to sign up for their very informative newsletter.  Let me know what you think about this approach to improved mental health, won’t you.

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5 Things To Include In Your Mental Health Maintenance Routine

mental health

5 Things To Include In Your Mental Health Maintenance Routine

Mental health isn’t something you should view as a ‘reaction to’ –  it’s an ongoing process that you need to work on every day. Just like an exercise program or a diet regime, your mental health needs a routine. Here are 5 ways to get your program in place.

  1. Yoga

Anyone who suffers from depression has been told by someone that they should try yoga. Most of the time this suggestion inspires little more than a spark of annoyance because in the midst of a depressive episode, doing even light yoga feels impossible. The thing is, yoga can actually be really helpful as part of your regular routine!  Yoga as a physical activity is not only great exercise but you can do light yoga at home if you can’t get out of the house, or you can go to a studio and do power yoga for a more strenuous challenge

  1. HALT

Bradford Health Services has created an acronym for the things you need to look for when taking stock of how you feel. By regularly checking in on your physical and emotional state, you can catch potential issues early and nip them in the bud before they evolve into full blown problems. Halt stands for Hungry, Angry, Lonely, or Tired… read the rest of this article here.

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WHAT IS MENTAL ILLNESS: MENTAL ILLNESS FACTS

This article by the National Alliance on Mental Illness is short, sweet and to the point.  What is mental illness? What are the facts about mental illness?  I imagine this article was developed as an infographic at one time.  The reason I am posting it here is the frank and easy to understand  language used.

This article addresses what mental illness is and what can be done to treat the disorders of mental illness.  The facts are chilling and the cost of not treating mental illness in our population is astounding.

Maybe if more people were to understand what mental illness really is, we might get more funding for mental health treatment in this country.

Please read the article at the source.  While there, why not browse around and check out some of the other articles available.  Knowledge is power.

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WHAT IS MENTAL ILLNESS:  MENTAL ILLNESS FACTS

Mental illnesses are medical conditions that disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.

Mental illnesses can affect persons of any age, race, religion, or income. Mental illnesses are not the result of personal weakness, lack of character or poor upbringing. Mental illnesses are treatable. Most people diagnosed with a serious mental illness can experience relief from their symptoms by actively participating in an individual treatment plan.

In addition to medication treatment, psychosocial treatment such as cognitive behavioral therapy, interpersonal therapy, peer support groups and other community services can also be components of a treatment plan and that assist with recovery. The availability of transportation, diet, exercise, sleep, friends and meaningful paid or volunteer activities contribute to overall health and wellness, including mental illness recovery.

Here are some important facts about mental illness and recovery:

  • Mental illnesses are serious medical illnesses. They cannot be overcome through “will power” and are not related to a person’s “character” or intelligence. Mental illness falls along a continuum of severity. Even though mental illness is widespread in the population, the main burden of illness is concentrated in a much smaller proportion-about 6 percent, or 1 in 17 Americans-who live with a serious mental illness. The National Institute of Mental Health reports that One in four adults-approximately 57.7 million Americans-experience a mental health disorder in a given year.
  • The U.S. Surgeon General reports that 10 percent of children and adolescents in the United States suffer from serious emotional and mental disorders that cause significant functional impairment in their day-to-day lives at home, in school and with peers.

Read the rest of this article at the source here.

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Borderline Personality Disorder

As a retired psychiatric nurse, I can attest to the frustration everyone experiences when dealing with someone diagnosed with borderline personality disorder.  Because this diagnosis is an Axis II diagnosis, it is not as significant as any of the Axis I diagnoses–Major Depression, Bipolar Depression, Schizophrenia, Schizoaffective Disorder, etc.

People who are diagnosed with borderline personality disorder often live a very chaotic life with impulsive, negative behaviors and a very unstable mood.  It is very difficult to live with and care for someone with this illness, but it is not impossible.

There has been a major breakthrough in the treatment of borderline personality disorder with the advent of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy, or CBT for short.  This particular treatment is making headway in helping the persons with borderline personality disorder manage and change their behavior in order to stabilize their actions and thoughts.

I feel that this is the perfect place to give you the information you may need if you suspect you are living with someone with this disorder, or you fear you may have this disorder.  It is a diagnosis that is becoming fairly common in the mental health arena, but that is not to say that it is trivial or unimportant.

These individuals usually are crying out literally for help but the methods they choose are not easy to interpret for the lay-person.  Please read this article from the NIMH and then make use of the other resources they have to offer you.

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Borderline Personality Disorder

Overview

Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a serious mental disorder marked by a pattern of ongoing instability in moods, behavior, self-image, and functioning. These experiences often result in impulsive actions and unstable relationships. A person with BPD may experience intense episodes of anger, depression, and anxiety that may last from only a few hours to days.

Some people with BPD also have high rates of co-occurring mental disorders, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, and eating disorders, along with substance abuse, self-harm, suicidal thinking and behaviors, and suicide.

While mental health experts now generally agree that the label “borderline personality disorder” is very misleading, a more accurate term does not exist yet.

Signs and Symptoms

People with borderline personality disorder may experience extreme mood swings and can display uncertainty about who they are. As a result, their interests and values can change rapidly.

Other symptoms include:

  • Frantic efforts to avoid real or imagined abandonment
  • A pattern of intense and unstable relationships with family, friends, and loved ones, often swinging from extreme closeness and love (idealization) to extreme dislike or anger (devaluation)
  • Distorted and unstable self-image or sense of self
  • Impulsive and often dangerous behaviors, such as spending sprees, unsafe sex, substance abuse, reckless driving, and binge eating
  • Recurring suicidal behaviors or threats or self-harming behavior, such as cutting
  • Intense and highly changeable moods, with each episode lasting from a few hours to a few days
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger or problems controlling anger
  • Having stress-related paranoid thoughts
  • Having severe dissociative symptoms, such as feeling cut off from oneself, observing oneself from outside the body, or losing touch with reality

Seemingly ordinary events may trigger symptoms. For example, people with borderline personality disorder may feel angry and distressed over minor separations—such as vacations, business trips, or sudden changes of plans—from people to whom they feel close. Studies show that people with this disorder may see anger in an emotionally neutral face and have a stronger reaction to words with negative meanings than people who do not have the disorder.

There is a treasure-trove of useful information as well as the rest of this article here.

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Postpartum Depression Likely to Recur

This is a topic that gets very little play time in the news and is relatively unknown to the majority of the population.  Postpartum depression is real and occurs regularly due to the fluctuation in hormones, the stress of delivery, the feeling of overwhelm at having a new person to care for.  Many women are just told to “suck it up and get over it” but the truth is that postpartum depression could last as long as a year and needs to be treated if the mother and baby are to bond correctly.

This article is very informative and gives really good information, so please do read it and let me know what you think about the topic.  There are very good links to other articles about the subject that you might also want to read so your understanding of this terrible illness is complete.  The period after birth should be a time for happiness and for mother-baby bonding and when postpartum depression occurs, it interrupts that process at a very crucial time.

Please click over to read the article and then spend a few more minutes reading the additional articles provided in the links.  You will be better prepared to deal with this situation if it occurs in your family.

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Postpartum Depression Likely to Recur

Mood disorder seen in 1 in 200 new moms with no psychiatric history

By Dennis Thompson

HealthDay Reporter

TUESDAY, Sept. 26, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Women who have suffered from postpartum depression are more likely to go through it again after subsequent pregnancies, a new Danish study shows.

Postpartum depression occurs 27 to 46 times more frequently during subsequent pregnancies for mothers who experienced it after their first birth, researchers report.

These results show that women who have had postpartum depression in the past should prepare themselves if they get pregnant again, said lead researcher Marie-Louise Rasmussen, an epidemiologist with Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen.

Antidepressants or psychotherapy could help cushion the blow or even head off postpartum depression, Rasmussen said.

“In theory, psychotherapy is preferred but not always sufficient and not always available. Often, the general practitioner has to add antidepressant medication,” Rasmussen said. “Social support from the spouse and surroundings is also very important.”

In most cases, women can expect to shake off their postpartum depression within a year, the researchers found.

“Based on this data, we would think for most women who receive treatment, their depression should be treated and resolved in six months or less,” said Dr. James Murrough. He’s director of the mood and anxiety disorders program at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai in New York City.

Read the entire article here.

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The concept of schizophrenia is coming to an end – here’s why

Here is a wonderful article about the concept of schizophrenia that makes me both happy and challenged at the same time.  This article talks about how the diagnosis of schizophrenia may really be many different diagnoses lumped into one.  He argues for some type of psychosis spectrum disorder and each person who suffers would fall somewhere on the continuum depending on the symptoms displayed.

As a nurse, I am concerned about the disparities in life expectancy for those suffering with this diagnosis.  I think our method of treating the body and the mind separately may turn out to be part of the problem that lessens the life expectancy of the diagnosed schizophrenic person.

He also talks about the schism between the nature vs nurture factions in the concept of schizophrenia.  He states that there is growing evidence to support both factions, therefore reducing the need for outright conflict between factions.

I hope you click over and read this truly articulate and stimulating article.  I hope it gives you something to chew over and stew about as it has given to me.  Won’t you let me know what your thoughts are about this article?

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The concept of schizophrenia is coming to an end – here’s why

August 24, 2017 4.43am EDT

The concept of schizophrenia is dying. Harried for decades by psychology, it now appears to have been fatally wounded by psychiatry, the very profession that once sustained it. Its passing will not be mourned.

Today, having a diagnosis of schizophrenia is associated with a life-expectancy reduction of nearly two decades. By some criteria, only one in seven people recover. Despite heralded advances in treatments, staggeringly, the proportion of people who recover hasn’t increased over time. Something is profoundly wrong.

Part of the problem turns out to be the concept of schizophrenia itself.

Arguments that schizophrenia is a distinct disease have been “fatally undermined”. Just as we now have the concept of autism spectrum disorder, psychosis (typically characterised by distressing hallucinations, delusions, and confused thoughts) is also argued to exist along a continuum and in degrees. Schizophrenia is the severe end of a spectrum or continuum of experiences.

Jim van Os, a professor of psychiatry at Maastricht University, has argued that we cannot shift to this new way of thinking without changing our language. As such, he proposes the term schizophrenia “should be abolished”. In its place, he suggests the concept of a psychosis spectrum disorder.

Another problem is that schizophrenia is portrayed as a “hopeless chronic brain disease”. As a result, some people given this diagnosis, and some parents, have been told cancer would have been preferable, as it would be easier to cure. Yet this view of schizophrenia is only possible by….read the rest of this article here.

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20% of Adults Have Mental Illness or Drug Problem

Here is a short article from WebMD.  The point of the article is to alert our lawmakers to the need to consider mental health as important as physical health because a large portion of their constituents could be in need of better access and better care.

Mental health has always been the step-child in the healthcare arena.  Mental health gets little to no funding, Mental Health gets no recognition.  Mental health care receives a pittance of the funding sent to healthcare in general.  This has been the truth for the last 25 years I worked as a psychiatric nurse.

It’s a shame that in a civilized country who spends billions on healthcare, the mental health system receives a very tiny part of that amount.  Visit a psychiatric hospital if you don’t believe me.  The buildings will be antiquated, the computer system will  be rudimentary if it exists at all, the environment for patients will not be very attractive, and the staff will be harried.  That is what we in the mental health field have to deal with; all the while trying to help really sick people get better.

Please read this article and maybe have a talk with your elected officials to see what can be done to change this terrible situation.

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20% of Adults Have Mental Illness or Drug Problem

New Jersey is the mentally healthiest state, report finds

By Robert Preidt

HealthDay Reporter

FRIDAY, July 21, 2017 (HealthDay News) — Nearly 1 in 5 American adults deals with a mental illness or substance abuse problem each year, a U.S. government study says.

Oregon has the highest rate, and New Jersey the lowest, according to 2012-2014 data analyzed by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA).

Overall, almost 44 million Americans 18 or older had a diagnosable mental, behavioral or emotional disorder in the past year, researchers said. They reviewed national surveys on drug use and health.

“The figures in SAMHSA’s report remind us how important it is to take mental health as seriously as any other health condition,” Kana Enomoto, SAMHSA acting deputy assistant secretary, said in an agency news release.

The overall national rate of mental illness was about 18 percent.

Read the rest of the article here

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Mental Health: More Than A Military Issue

This is a wonderful article from WebMD.  I was unaware of this organization and am certainly glad I read the article.  Please click over to read the entire article on the website.

I have always maintained that mental health care is the step-child of healthcare.  Because of stigma, because of shame, because of the “different”ness of the mentally ill–we tend to ignore or simply disavow the problem exists.

As a psychiatric nurse for over 20 years, I know the pain and suffering that my patients experience daily simply because no one tries to understand what they are going through.  I see people trivialize or ridicule the mentally ill.  I have never understood this phenomenon.  People get sick, period.  They do not ask to be sick.  They did not expect to get sick.  People get sick in their bodies but also in their minds.  In today’s supercharged environment that moves at the speed of sound, we all can fall victim to mental fatigue which can lead to mental illness.

I hope you join the movement to end the stigma associated with mental health in this country and around the world.  We all know someone who is suffering.  We all can do something to alleviate that suffering.

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Mental Health: More Than A Military IssueMental Health: More Than A Military Issue

By Julie Edgar
WebMD Health News

Depression should be talked about with the same candor as say, diabetes. But we have quite a ways to go in recognizing what it looks like – and stripping away the shame attached to mental health conditions, says Rory Brosius.

Brosius is deputy director of Joining Forces, an initiative launched in 2011 by first lady Michelle Obama and Jill Biden, wife of Vice President Joe Biden, to help military personnel transition to civilian life. Brosius’ mission is to promote wellness in that population and beyond — service members, veterans and civilians.

She’s broadening that conversation through Campaign to Change Direction, an initiative begun last spring that hopes to change the culture of mental health in the U.S. The campaign helps raise awareness of five key signs of emotional suffering.

“We’ve treated mental health somehow different than our physical health, but it’s part of our holistic wellness,” says Brosius, a social worker by training and the wife of Matthew Brosius, a Marine who is re-entering civilian life.

WebMD talked to Brosius, 33, about the campaign and the work she’s doing to promote psychological wellness, both among service personnel and their families and the general public.

Q. What are the 5 signs that someone may be suffering from a mental health issue?

A. The key part is educating people on these five signs: personality change, withdrawal, agitation, poor self-care, and hopelessness. They’re signs somebody may be suffering. If you see them, you can reach out and help them. Because there is support that is available.

Q: What are some misperceptions people have about mental illness?

Rory Brosius

Rory Brosius

A: There are quite a few, like, people with mental illness are violent or somehow unpredictable, when the reality is that people with mental illness are 10 times likelier to be victims of a violent crime. We have stereotypical ideas of what it means to live with a mental health issue. Another one is that people assume they don’t know anyone with mental illness, but 1 in 5 American adults has dealt with a mental health issue in their life. You look around a room, someone’s dealing with it, someone’s in recovery. You may not notice it.

Q: If the signs of mental illness are subtle, how do you make ordinary people aware of them?

A: It’s not so easy to detect because it’s something we don’t talk about. [But] there are things you notice that indicate that somebody’s in pain. Forty years ago people didn’t know how to recognize a heart attack; through education we learned how to read the signs. This is a sticky and hard issue for people to talk about …it will take time, but we’ve seen the same thing with heart disease and stroke and breast cancer — it’s a matter of education.

Q: What is the best way to support someone with mental health issues?

A: There are great ways to support somebody suffering, just by being empathetic, being a good friend, listening, you can learn a lot about mental health. There are great resources – mentalhealth.govNational Alliance for Mental Health – their whole mission is to teach people what to look for. In the age of the internet and Google, we have the ability to access that information at our fingertips. But really, just being there. Maybe the person would like you to go to an appointment with them or spend time with you….read the rest of the article here.

 

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