The Mental Health Connection
Spring is a time of renewal and rebirth. A celebration of life. Unfortunately, this particular Spring brings chaos and destruction to some parts of the World—specifically, the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the Ukraine.
It’s situations like this upheaval in Ukraine that puts everything into perspective. We may wish some things were different in our lives, but we need to remember to be grateful for our lives the way they are, no matter what difficulties we face. This was brought to the forefront of our minds during the pandemic. We began to focus on what's most important to us and appreciate each day given to us. Now we can reflect on another of our blessings that is not universal and celebrate the freedom we enjoy living in the United States. The freedom we often take for granted.
Our hearts go out to those individuals and families affected by war and displacement in Ukraine, and anyone with family or friends there.
Annette Conway, PsyD
April is Sexual Assault, Stress and Autism Awareness Month
Sexual Assault Awareness Every 68 seconds another American is sexually assaulted. At the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) in the early 2000s, the goal was awareness. By the mid-2000s, SAAM added prevention—changing behaviors and promoting respect. A teal-colored ribbon became the symbol of this movement. This month marks the 21st anniversary of Sexual Assault Awareness Month. The focus is on online harassment. Although not viewed by some as being as psychologically damaging as in-person harassment, it can affect victims more publicly. Stress Awareness We often think of stress as affecting adults as they join the workforce, start a family and plan for the future. In fact, statistics show 80% of millennials are stressed about money. But stress is commonly experienced much earlier:
Teenagers report a stress level of 5.8 out of 10 during the school year
One in five college students has thought about suicide
To bring more awareness to this far-reaching concern, April has been recognized as Stress Awareness Month since 1992. Autism Awareness One in 54 children has autism. Every April, since 1972, the Autism Society works to build an inclusive community where those with autism are embraced and supported. Autism Awareness Month emphasizes the need for public awareness to promote acceptance, celebrate the differences, and be more inclusive towards autistic individuals.
Before Surgery—The Pre-Surgical Psychological Evaluation Process
Why are Psychological Assessments (or Evaluations) Required Before Undergoing Surgery?
Psychological Assessments are often required for specific surgeries, such as Spinal Cord Stimulation (SCS) surgery and Bariatric surgery, among others.
They’re used not only to identify factors that may interfere with a positive outcome of the surgery but also to assess the readiness of the patient to undergo surgery and willingness to make the necessary lifestyle adjustments after the procedure.
The results of Psychological Assessments have been proven to correlate with the success of the surgery. The more mental and physical stress an individual is under (or has experienced in the past), the less likely the surgery will be beneficial.
Pain and mental health play significant roles in determining whether or not an individual is a good candidate for surgery. Pain is experienced differently by different people.
The Central Texas Spine Institute reports that studies have shown that the more pain-sensitive a person is, the less likely the surgery, such as SCS, will have a positive outcome. Plus, the more prolonged pain is experienced, and the older the patient is, the less likely the result of the surgery will be favorable.
Another Reason to Use Care with Social Media
Although continuing to grow in popularity and variety, Meta (Facebook), Twitter, Instagram, Tik Tok, YouTube and the like, new dangers of using these platforms are being discovered. These dangers can be particularly threatening to those with pre-existing mental health and neurological conditions, such as Tourettes. Tourette Syndrome typically develops in childhood, worsens in adolescence, and improves or disappears in adulthood. It’s often accompanied by other conditions such as ADHD, OCD, anxiety and depression. It can have multiple causes and numerous triggers. Research is finding that social media can be one of those triggers for many. Several studies have suggested that social media use can worsen symptoms in those with a tic disorder—adversely affecting their quality of life. A 2019 study of adolescents ages 12-15 found that spending more than 3 hours per day on social media may present a greater risk for mental health problems, including depression and anxiety. During the pandemic, results of a recent survey showed:
65% of respondents used social media an average of 5.6 hours per day.
Approximately 90% reported increased use of social media during the pandemic.
About half indicated social media adversely affected their tics.
85% said their tic frequency worsened during the pandemic.
Davide Martino, MD, Ph.D., associate professor of neurology and director of the Movement Disorders Program, University of Calgary, said the survey is "very timely" as there has been limited research on the effects of social media consumption in individuals with tics. To reduce tic severity, it's important to identify triggers, including spending time on social media and then learn to manage them. It’s vital for those suffering from a tic disorder who experience certain social media content as a trigger to recognize the effect of this exposure on their symptoms. They can then decide what social media they want to consume and the amount of time spent on it—putting them in control of managing their symptoms. Dr. Martino recommends that "As we return to a lifestyle that is closer to pre-pandemic standards, this study prompts clinicians to follow more closely social media consumption in people with tics.”
Welcome New Help Therapy Mental Health Providers
Dr. Robin Abraham (AZ)
Dr. Bernadette Heid (CA)
Dr. Nina Nehring (CA)
Dr. Benjamin Sandler (CA)
Dr. Kim Mitchell (CA)
Dr. Lisa Talerico (CA)
LMFT Michelene Wasil (CA)
Dr. Yanet Collazo (CA)
Dr. Shalila Douglas (CA)
Dr. Klayton Smith (CA)
Dr. Lucy Papillon (CA)
Dr. Roudabeh Rahbar, Psy.D
Dr. Rahbar assists her clients along their life’s journey and helps them overcome obstacles that may be making the journey difficult. She uses her empathetic heart and mind, alongside her training and experience to collaborate with her clients and guide them on a path to a more fulfilling life.
Her specialties include anxiety, depression, PTSD, cultural issues, couples therapy and psychological assessments.
This Month's Tip
7 Activities to get you in the Spring Spirit
Walking outdoors, surrounded by plants, trees and colorful flowers, can be relaxing and exhilarating. Spring is the perfect time to see a rainbow of colors. It may also inspire you to plan your own garden.
2. Plant a garden
Planning a garden and going to a nursery to pick out plants and flowers is something many of us look forward to each Spring. No yard? No problem. A balcony, patio or sunny window are great places to grow and display potted plants.
3. Welcome Spring into your home
Nothing says Spring like Spring flowers.
If you bring home one of these potted plants, you can save the bulbs and plant them again in late Fall. With a bit of luck, you’ll be rewarded with flowers next Spring.
4. Do some Spring cleaning
Cleaning doesn’t seem to be an activity that will lift your spirits, but the results are sure to. A neat and freshly cleaned home relaxes the mind. Having a lot of clutter and disorganization in your environment can cause stress—even if you’re not aware of it.
5. Color eggs
You don’t have to be the Easter Bunny to have fun coloring eggs. You don’t even need to have young children around. A creative and relaxing activity, like coloring eggs, can be therapeutic.
6. Have a picnic
Being outdoors in nature is good for the mind and body. Invite a friend; bring your children, or go on a date with your partner.
7. Explore Spring wildlife
Find a pond, river or lake and watch for sunning turtles, fish, ducks, geese and other birds. You may even see some ducklings or goslings.
National Sorry Charlie Day
April 6, 2022
See kidadl for more information.
April 13, 2022
See RAINN for more information.
International Moment of Laughter Day
April 14, 2022
See national today for more information.
“No matter how many mistakes you make or how slow you progress, you are still way ahead of everyone who isn't trying"
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