The Mental Health Connection
Summer is here! Nothing says summer more than July 4th picnics and fireworks. But with Independence day now past, many of us are busy making plans for the next activities, road trips or extended vacations. Although Summer plans can be exciting, they can also be stressful and even intimidating. With this added stress and anxiety comes the need for individuals to seek help managing their mental health. We are happy to report that Help Therapy continues its efforts to meet this need by rapidly expanding its reach within California and also Arizona, Texas and Washington. Your contribution to this growth has been significant and very much appreciated.
We are not just focused on expanding our reach, however. We want to provide value to our providers—to offer more services and resources. One way we do this is through our community of therapists. This community is a place Help Therapy providers connect with, share with and learn from one another through peer consult groups. Stay tuned for an announcement of the next consult, which will occur later this month.
Annette Conway, PsyD
July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month
National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month is observed to bring awareness to the obstacles minority populations often face pertaining to mental health. Recently, the pandemic has added even more challenges for people in these communities to find and receive needed treatment for mental health and substance use issues.
The U.S. Department of Human Services Office of Minority Health (OMH) encourages state, local and community-based organizations, religious leaders and healthcare providers to educate people about the importance of treatment for substance use and mental health concerns and eliminate the stigma attached to such treatment.
Self-Care While Coming off Medication
International Self-Care Day is July 24th, making this the perfect time to discuss self-care for patients coming off medication. Like many prescribed for mental health conditions, coming off particular medications can be challenging—physically and emotionally. Patients must work closely with their psychiatrist or therapist to monitor how their bodies and minds are handling withdrawal from medication.
One crucial factor that can help in this process is being prepared. Discussing what to expect and how it may affect a patient’s life while coming off a psychiatric medication is the first step. Self-care is critical to helping a patient get through this process.
There are many things a patient can do to manage their physical and mental systems. One of these activities is making a self-care list in advance. It may be difficult for the patient to think of things that may help them feel better while they are going through withdrawal or unable to think clearly. Having a list of activities or items handy that may help can be beneficial.
This very personal list of items and activities may include:
Looking at a photo library of loved ones or experiences they’ve enjoyed
Wearing a favorite sweater or pair of slippers
Listing to music
Watching a favorite movie
Petting or playing with a pet
Taking a bath
Some other self-care ideas include:
Trying alternative or complementary therapies such as art therapy or music therapy
Having a daily routine
Meditating or praying
Keeping a journal to record thoughts, moods and feelings
Practicing relaxation techniques
Spending time in nature
Eating healthy meals on a regular schedule
Adhering to a sleep schedule
Avoiding stressful activities or situations
Asking for help and support when needed
Mental Health Assessments for Gun Ownership?
The United States has by far the most firearms, both absolute and per capita, in the world. The statistics of the impact of guns in the United States are stark. Number of guns in the US: 393 million Number of people owning guns in the US: 81.4 million Number of injuries from guns in the US: 40,583 Number of deaths from guns in the US: 45,027 Number of accidental shootings in the US: 2,018 The recent tragic incidents in Uvalde, Texas and Buffalo, New York have again put mass shootings in the news. The question of whether mental health assessments should be a prerequisite to gun purchases has been renewed. Public outcry has prompted the US Congress to pass a bill that would expand background checks for prospective gun buyers between 18 and 21. The new process would incentivize states to provide access to previously sealed juvenile records and could add several days to the waiting period before a purchase can be completed. Could pre-purchase mental health assessments also help reduce the carnage? Would this Prerequisite Work? Currently, federal US law prohibits possession or receipt of firearms and ammunition if the firearms or ammunition were transported across state lines at any time and the person falls under any of the conditions below:
Is a convicted felon (or awaiting trial on felony charges) or fugitive from justice
Is a drug user or addict as defined in section 102 of the Controlled Substances Act
Has been judged in court as being “a mental defective” or has been committed to a mental institution
Immigrants who are not permanent residents, i.e., “green card” holders or visa holders with a special waiver from the US Attorney General
Is subject to a domestic restraining order
Has a prior conviction for domestic violence
Was dishonorably discharged from the military
Has renounced US citizenship
Sales of firearms between private parties within a state who are not dealers with a Federal Firearms License (FFL) are not subject to background checks. Thus it’s primarily up to state and local governments to decide how (if at all) to limit access to firearms further. [READ MORE]
Welcome New Help Therapy Mental Health Provider Partners
These mental healthcare practitioners are new to our network and offer psychological evaluations and other types of therapy with a range of specialties. They are accepting new patients and provide telehealth appointments.
Patricia Jakobic, LCSW
Lani Espinas, LMFT
Philip Takakjian, PsyD
Rosemary Donalson, PsyD
Nancy Pereda, LCSW
Alexis Valos, PsyD
Roksana Sarrafan, LMFT
Monica Flores, LMFT
James McDermott, LMFT
Erik Erickson, LCSW
Alan Valdes, LMFT
Claudia Franzosi, LMFT
Nina Nehring, Psy.D
Dr. Nina Nehring is a licensed Clinical Neuropsychologist practicing in California’s Bay Area. She specializes in neuropsychological, psychological and forensic assessments. In this capacity, she conducts cognitive, intellectual, and academic assessments on adults and children with various medical or mental health conditions such as traumatic brain injuries, cerebral vascular events, tumors, movement disorders and neurodegenerative disorders. She also performs assessments for ADHD, PTSD, learning disorders, sensory processing disorders, depression, and anxiety.
In the forensic aspect of her work, she assists the court in examining specific mental health aspects within the legal context.
Dr. Nehring started working with Help Therapy in March 2022, conducting pre-surgical psychological evaluations for individuals wanting to undergo Bariatric Surgery or Spinal Cord Stimulator Implantation.
This Month's Tip
Thinking About Vacationing with Your Pet?
The summer is underway with many individuals, couples and families hitting the road for a much-needed vacation. To make the vacation as fun and relaxing as possible, planning is needed. If you have a pet, additional preparations are necessary. Some families prefer to board their pet when taking a road trip rather than dealing with the additional considerations and restricted freedom of bringing their pet along. In contrast, others look forward to including their pet in their travel plans. Whether vacationing for a few days or weeks, there are some essential things to be aware of when deciding if bringing the family pet is a good choice. When it comes to traveling with pets, most people take dogs on trips as opposed to cats or other types of pets. Before you plan on taking your dog (or another type of pet) with you, ensure they will be welcome and get the specifics about their pet policies. Check with the hotel you want to stay at, the relative or friend you plan to stay with, or the RV owner you’re renting an RV from. Another item to consider is your itinerary. Can you take your pet to all the places you plan to go? If not, where will you leave them? Even though a hotel may be “pet-friendly,” there are often rules against leaving your pet in the hotel unaccompanied, for example. And, of course, you must consider how leaving your pet behind or taking them with you will affect your mental health. Will boarding your pet cause you to feel guilt or worry? Or, would having your pet on vacation with you cause additional stress? If you do decide to bring your dog on your road trip, you want to make sure you pack everything your dog may need. These items may include:
Pet Emergency Kit
General health records and vaccination records
Your veterinarian’s phone number
24-hour emergency clinic phone number in your vacation area
Any prescriptions / medications
Sterile saline solution (for cleaning cuts and rinsing eyes)
Adhesive bandage tape
Food and water dishes
Harness and leash
Pet stain remover
Puppy pads (if your dog will use them)
When you’re on the road, be sure to make frequent rest stops and take your dog out on a leash for some fun, exercise and of course, take care of their ” business.” Offer them water frequently and ensure the temperature in your car is comfortable. When traveling with your pet, some careful planning and preparation can make your trip as stress-free as possible for you and your dog.
International Self-Care Day
July 24, 2022
See Call to Mind for more information.
World Against Trafficking Persons Day
July 30, 2022
See UNDP for more information.
“Being able to be your true self is one of the strongest components of good mental health."
-Dr. Lauren Fogel Mersy
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