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Help Therapy Newsletter - August 2021

The Mental Health Connection

This August issue marks the fourth issue of The Mental Health Connection. I appreciate the time you take out of your busy schedule to read it and hope you get some value from it.

Besides this monthly newsletter, I invite you to visit our website, especially if you haven’t been there in a while! We update and add new information regularly. We just added some information about pre-surgical evaluations.

Three standard procedures requiring these evaluations are:

  • Spinal Cord Stimulator Implants (SCS)

  • Bariatric Surgery

  • Organ Transplants (for recipients and donors)

If you’d like to learn more about these evaluations, read What You Should Know About Pre-Surgical Evaluations in this issue and visit our website.


Annette Conway Psy.D CEO Help Therapy


August is National Breastfeeding Month

Breastfeeding has many benefits to both baby and mother, including:

  • Being the best source of nutrition for most babies

  • Helping to protect babies from some illnesses and diseases

  • Sharing antibodies from the mother with her baby

  • Reducing the mother’s risk of breast and ovarian cancers, type 2 diabetes, and high blood pressure

The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends mothers breastfeed exclusively for approximately six months after birth. Breastfeeding should then be continued while introducing complementary foods until the baby is at least 12 months old. Each August, the U.S. Breastfeed Committee (USBC) initiates a social media advocacy and outreach campaign. Individuals and organizations are invited to discuss the policy and practice changes needed to foster stronger support for breastfeeding. Register here for an event webinar: "Continuity of Care in Breastfeeding Support: A Blueprint for Communities,” held on August 24 at 1:00 p.m. ET. The Center for Disease Control’s (CDC) Division of Nutrition, Physical Activity, and Obesity will also be active on social media this month, supporting this cause.


Caregivers Need Care Too

Although caregiving can be a rewarding experience, it’s also a mentally and physically demanding job.

The responsibility of caring for another person’s constant needs can cause caregivers to feel trapped and overwhelmed. These feelings can lead to resentment and depression.

When the caregiver is caring for a family member, the burden is even more significant. A wife caring for her husband or an adult child caring for her parent can seem like an all-encompassing obligation. A wife may not be in the best health herself but feels obligated to tend to her husband’s needs and put his needs above her own. Similarly, a daughter caring for her mother may unintentionally neglect her own children and herself in order to make sure her mother has the care she needs.

Caregivers caring for family members are often dealing with the inevitable fact that their family member is not going to get better. Grief can begin as the caregiver faces this future without their loved one. This grief can be particularly overwhelming for a parent caring for a terminally ill child.

According to The Family Caregiver Alliance, close to 20% of family caregivers suffer from some type of depression.

Caregivers of patients with dementia or Alzheimer’s have an even higher rate of mental health disorders.

Caregivers often go through periods of sadness and frustration while caring for someone, especially if it’s a family member. Although these feelings are common and may be short-lived, a damaging emotional cycle can also take root.

Not all caregivers experience depression, anxiety, grief or other emotional challenges, but for those who do, learning how to address these feelings is critical for their mental health. Counseling can help.

Being able to confide in someone without judgment often helps address feelings of frustration, guilt and other emotions. Bringing these emotions to the surface and expressing them can start the healing process. With this support, caregivers are better equipped to face the challenges of their role and work through ways to balance their life.


What You Should Know About Pre-Surgical Evaluations

Pre-surgical evaluations are standard practice for several types of surgeries. Three common procedures requiring these evaluations are:

  • Spinal Cord Stimulator Implants (SCS)

  • Bariatric Surgery

  • Organ Transplants (for recipients and donors

These evaluations aim to help identify suitable candidates for surgery and increase your chances of success post-surgery.

Your mental and emotional health play a crucial role in your overall health. Although some people feel nervous or uneasy about the evaluation, it’s not intended to cause you stress. It’s simply one step in the process of getting your total health picture before surgery and enhancing your success during the post-surgery adjustment.

Requiring a pre-surgery assessment doesn’t mean your surgeon has concerns about your mental health. Instead, it helps her identify your strengths and risk factors and find areas where you could benefit from post-surgical support.

The psychological evaluation has two parts: an interview and a mental health test. You meet with a psychologist or other mental health professional for an interview that focuses on behavior, mental health and your understanding of the surgery. This is your opportunity to ask questions and to clarify anything you are unsure about.

You may have concerns or questions that are outside of the expertise of your surgeon. For example, you may be worried about how your family will function while you’re recovering or about the financial impact of missing work after surgery. Talking to your psychologist about these concerns gives them the opportunity to share some insights or teach you techniques to ease your apprehension.

When you’ve had your questions answered, next, you’ll complete the psychological testing. This test provides an objective measure of your readiness for surgery.