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)
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)
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.
This Month's Tip
Take Advantage of the Food and Mood Connection
You may crave high-carb, high-sugar, high-fat foods like cookies or cake when you’re sad, bored or for a variety of reasons. You may give into these cravings in the hopes that it will make you feel better.
While this may give you a temporary sugar rush, it won’t make you feel better for long. It may even make you feel worse.
A lot of research is being conducted on the relationship between nutrition and mental health. Certain foods have been shown to improve overall brain health and even certain types of mood disorders.
Although mood can be influenced by many factors, such as stress, environment, poor sleep, genetics, mental health disorders and nutritional deficiencies, the food-mood connection is worth exploring.
Instead of giving in to those cravings with unhealthy “foods,” aim for wholesome foods that have been shown to boost mood and overall health. Some of these delicious options are berries, bananas, nuts, seeds and even dark chocolate!
Smoothies are a great way to enjoy these nutritious foods while having the ability to improve your mood. And Summer is the perfect time to try out some of these refreshing smoothies for a healthier way to help satisfy your cravings.
Quick and Easy Smoothies:
Mood-Boosting Green Smoothie with Bananas and Seeds*
Brain Boosting Smoothies To Keep You Mentally Healthy
*Please note: if you‘re taking any medications, consult your doctor before taking any supplements or herbs such as St. John’s Wort.
"It always seems impossible until it's done"
— Nelson Mandela
Dr. Ross Flowers
Dr. Flowers is an experienced clinical psychologist, and sport and performance psychologist.
He began his career at the University of California, Davis. As the creator and director of Applied Sport Psychology, he served 26 intercollegiate athletic programs, over 800 student-athletes and 121 coaches and staff.
Since then, Dr. Flowers has created sport psychology and mental health programs for USA Olympic teams, professional basketball teams, universities, youth programs and more.
Dr. Flowers is the author of Introducing Your Child to Sports: An Expert’s Answers to Parents’ Questions about Raising a Healthy, Balanced, Happy Athlete. His work has received national attention on television and in print, including Good Morning America, Sports Illustrated and Journal of Clinical Sport Psychology.
He works with organizations to create and integrate mental wellness and performance development services for their employees. His services include coaching, mentoring, psychotherapy, leadership training and team building.
Dr, Flowers holds a Ph.D. in Counseling Psychology with an emphasis in Performance and Sports Psychology and a B.A. in Psychology.
National Health Center Week
August 8 - 14, 2021
See health center week for more information.
International Day of the World's Indigenous Peoples
August 9, 2021
See un.org for more information.
National Relaxation Day
August 15th, 2021
See national relaxation day for more information.
National Women's Equality Day
August 26, 2021
See NWHA for more information.
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