Matthew Perry’s Journey: Shining a Spotlight on Mental Health and Addiction

Matthew Perry’s Journey: Shining a Spotlight on Mental Health and Addiction

The recent accidental death of actor Matthew Perry has left many mourning the loss of a talented individual while also reminding us of the profound impact mental health and addiction can have on one’s life. As we remember Perry’s iconic portrayal of Chandler Bing on the hit TV series Friends, it is crucial to acknowledge his struggle and use it to open up conversations about mental health. 

Matthew Perry’s captivating performances on stage and screen were juxtaposed with a personal battle behind the curtain. He openly shared his struggles with mental health, particularly relating to anxiety and depression, which had a profound impact on his life. Perry was open about his long-standing addiction to alcohol and prescription medication, a battle he fought for years. His journey serves as a stark reminder that mental health issues, regardless of a person’s fame or success, can affect anyone.

Perry’s untimely death once again highlights the importance of raising awareness about mental health and addiction. It is not only a celebrity matter but a universal concern affecting individuals from all walks of life. By discussing Perry’s story, we hope to break down mental health stigma and encourage open conversations about seeking help.

The first step towards addressing mental health issues is recognising recognising the problem and seeking professional support. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, it is essential to reach out to a psychotherapy practice or a mental health professional. Psychotherapy provides a safe space for individuals to express their emotions, explore the root causes of their struggles, and develop coping strategies for a healthier and happier life.

While professional help is crucial, surrounding oneself with a supportive network of family and friends can be equally beneficial. Loved ones are significant in providing comfort, understanding, and encouragement during challenging times. Building a support network fosters an environment where individuals feel safe and understood, enabling them to share their feelings and experiences without fear of judgment.

In the pursuit of better mental health, it is vital to prioritise self-care and stress management. Engaging in activities that bring joy, practising mindfulness, maintaining a balanced diet, and getting regular exercise are all crucial aspects of self-care. Additionally, stress management techniques such as deep breathing, meditation, and journaling can help alleviate anxiety and promote a sense of calmness.

Psychotherapy is a powerful tool that guides individuals through their mental health journey. Through various therapeutic approaches, such as cognitive-behavioural therapy (CBT) and dialectical behaviour therapy (DBT), individuals can develop healthy coping mechanisms, gain a deeper understanding of themselves, and gradually overcome their struggles. Removing the stigma surrounding therapy and embracing it as a valuable resource for personal growth is essential.

Matthew Perry’s battle with mental health and addiction serves as a reminder that we must continue to break down the barriers of silence and shame that often surround these issues. Sharing our experiences and discussing our struggles openly creates a supportive environment where others can find solace and realise they are not alone. By prioritising mental health, we can collectively work towards a society that understands, supports, and embraces those fighting their battles.

Matthew Perry’s legacy extends far beyond his on-screen performances. His openness about his mental health struggles brought attention to the importance of addressing mental health issues and seeking support. As we mourn his loss, let us honour his memory by continuing to advocate for mental health, spreading awareness, and offering compassion to those who battle their demons. Remember, seeking help is not a sign of weakness but a courageous step towards healing and reclaiming one’s life.

Elise Phillipson & AM Team

MsC., MoC. Member of: ACA, BACP

Please refer to the AM articles page for Elise and the AM Team articles.

Please complete the AMindset intake form to start therapy with an AM team member. Our therapists offer a FREE 20-minute introductory session for new clients.

If you are not quite ready, please click here to subscribe to the AMindset Newsletter with articles and podcasts to learn more about your mental health and how AM can help you.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

 

 

Is the Polyvagal Theory a Robust Behavioural Approach to Therapy

Is the Polyvagal Theory a Robust Behavioural Approach to Therapy

The Polyvagal Theory has gained significant attention in recent years as a groundbreaking approach to therapy that dives deep into the intricacies of human behaviour. This innovative theory, developed by renowned psychiatrist Dr. Stephen Porges, offers a fresh perspective on the relationship between the autonomic nervous system and social engagement.

Understanding the autonomic nervous system

To comprehend the significance of the Polyvagal Theory in therapy, it is essential to understand the autonomic nervous system. This system controls involuntary bodily functions like heart rate, digestion, and breathing. It is divided into two branches: the sympathetic nervous system and the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous system activates the body’s fight-or-flight response, preparing it to face danger. Conversely, the parasympathetic nervous system promotes relaxation and restoration.

The Polyvagal Theory focuses on the vagus nerve, a vital component of the parasympathetic nervous system. This nerve plays a crucial role in regulating physiological responses and influencing behavioural patterns. By understanding the functions of the different branches of the vagal nerve, therapists can identify and address underlying issues impacting their clients’ mental health and well-being.

The three states of the autonomic nervous system

According to the Polyvagal Theory, the autonomic nervous system has three distinct states: the ventral vagal state, the sympathetic state, and the dorsal vagal state. The ventral vagal state is associated with feelings of safety and social connection. When in this state, individuals are calm and engaged and can form meaningful relationships with others. On the other hand, the sympathetic condition is characterized by the fight-or-flight response triggered in situations of perceived threat or danger. In this state, individuals may experience increased heart rate, shallow breathing, and heightened anxiety.

The third state, the dorsal vagal form, is called the freeze response. This state is activated when individuals perceive themselves as helpless or unable to escape a threatening situation. In this state, individuals may feel immobilized, disconnected from their surroundings, and experience dissociation or shutdown.

How the Polyvagal Theory applies to therapy

The Polyvagal Theory offers therapists a comprehensive understanding of how the autonomic nervous system influences human behaviour. By recognizing the different states of the autonomic nervous system, therapists can assess their clients’ physiological responses and tailor their interventions accordingly.

In therapy, the Polyvagal Theory can be applied by helping clients shift from a sympathetic or dorsal to a ventral vagal state, promoting feelings of safety, social connection, and regulation. Therapists can achieve this through techniques like deep breathing exercises, mindfulness practices, and building a safe therapeutic relationship.

Benefits of using the Polyvagal Theory in Therapy

The Polyvagal Theory has several benefits that make it a robust approach to therapy. Firstly, it provides a holistic understanding of how our bodies respond to stress and trauma. By recognizing the physiological underpinnings of psychological distress, therapists can address the root causes of their clients’ challenges.

Furthermore, the Polyvagal Theory offers practical techniques to regulate the nervous system, promoting emotional well-being and resilience. By incorporating interventions that promote safety and social connection, therapists can support their clients in managing anxiety, depression, and other mental health concerns.

Case studies and success stories

Numerous case studies and success stories have demonstrated the effectiveness of the Polyvagal Theory in therapy. For example, therapists have reported significant improvements in clients’ ability to self-regulate, manage stress, and establish healthier relationships. Clients have reported feeling more connected to themselves and others, experiencing reduced anxiety, and developing a greater sense of well-being.

These success stories highlight the transformative potential of the Polyvagal Theory in therapy. By understanding and addressing the underlying physiological responses, therapists can help clients overcome emotional challenges and build healthier, more resilient lives.

Integrating the Polyvagal Theory into different therapeutic approaches

One of the strengths of the Polyvagal Theory is its compatibility with various therapeutic systems. Whether it be cognitive-behavioural therapy, psychodynamic therapy, or somatic experiencing, the principles of the Polyvagal Theory can be integrated into different therapeutic frameworks.

For example, therapists can incorporate Polyvagal-informed interventions into traditional talk therapy sessions. This may involve guiding clients through grounding exercises, exploring the connection between their physiological responses and emotions, or using body-centred techniques to regulate the nervous system.

Training and resources for therapists interested in using the Polyvagal Theory

For therapists interested in incorporating the Polyvagal Theory into their practice, various training programs and resources are available. These programs provide in-depth knowledge about the Polyvagal Theory, practical applications, and opportunities for hands-on practice. Additionally, online courses, workshops, and books offer valuable insights and guidance for therapists looking to deepen their understanding of this approach.

Criticisms and Limitations of the Polyvagal Theory

Like any theory, the Polyvagal Theory is not without its criticisms and limitations. Some argue that more empirical research is needed to establish more substantial evidence for the theory’s claims. Additionally, there is ongoing debate about the generalizability of the theory across diverse populations and cultural contexts.

It is also important to acknowledge that the Polyvagal Theory is a relatively new framework in the field of therapy. As with any emerging theory, it will continue to evolve and be refined through ongoing research and clinical practice.

Conclusion: The Future of the Polyvagal Theory in Therapy

The Polyvagal Theory offers a robust and innovative approach to therapy, shedding light on the intricate interplay between the autonomic nervous system and human behaviour. By recognizing the different states of the autonomic nervous system and understanding their impact on emotional well-being, therapists can provide targeted interventions to support their client’s healing and growth.

As research in neuroscience advances, the Polyvagal Theory is likely to gain further recognition and influence the future of mental health treatment. Its potential to transform therapy by addressing the physiological roots of psychological distress and promoting regulation and resilience makes it a valuable framework for therapists and clients.

In conclusion, the Polyvagal Theory holds promise as a robust behavioural approach to therapy, offering a comprehensive understanding of how our bodies and minds are intricately connected. By incorporating the principles of the Polyvagal Theory into therapeutic practice, therapists can empower their clients to navigate their emotional challenges and build healthier, more fulfilling lives.

Liz McCaughey & AM Team

MsC., MoC. Member of: ACA, BACP

Further Articles like this:

Please refer to the AM articles page for Liz and the AM Team articles.

Please complete the AMindset intake form to start therapy with an AM team member. Our therapists offer a FREE 20-minute introductory session for new clients.

If you are not quite ready, please click here to subscribe to the AMindset Newsletter with articles and podcasts to learn more about your mental health and how AM can help you.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

 

 

The Impact of Halloween on Mental Health: Striking a Balance

The Impact of Halloween on Mental Health: Striking a Balance

Halloween is a widely celebrated holiday known for its costumes, decorations, and a sense of playfulness. While some eagerly anticipate the festivities, others may find themselves overwhelmed by fear and anxiety. As I delve into my childhood memories, which did not celebrate a day like Halloween, there is little to share about my haunting experience. But as someone new to Halloween’s enchanting and supposedly spooky nature, I became curious about its impact on mental health. This article will explore how Halloween affects our well-being and discuss the importance of finding a balance that respects individual experiences.

Halloween Can Impact Mental Health

While Halloween is often associated with fun and excitement, it can also trigger fear and anxiety in specific individuals. The experience of being scared or exposed to frightening stimuli can be overwhelming for some. It is crucial to recognize and respect that fear and anxiety can lead to significant psychological impacts on individuals, even if we may not share the same feelings.

Fear is a natural and evolutionary response that helps ensure our survival. When we encounter a threatening or alarming situation, our brain and body initiate the fight-or-flight response. The amygdala, responsible for processing emotions, is crucial in triggering fear responses. It communicates with the hypothalamus and activates the release of hormones like adrenaline, preparing our body for action. This close connection between our mind and body means that the emotion of fear can manifest in various physiological responses, such as increased heart rate, rapid breathing, and muscle tension.

Why a Day Matters – Striking a Balance

Some might wonder how a moment or a day matters to our long-term mental health. Our memories, including those associated with fear, are part of our self-defence mechanism. These memories can resurface unconsciously in similar situations or when stimuli in our daily lives trigger our minds to remind us of the potential threat with the good intention of avoiding them one step ahead. This concept of re-experiencing fear and anxiety is not far from how trauma can shape our well-being in the long run, highlighting the need for increased awareness and support.

To ensure a balanced approach to Halloween that respects the experiences and sensitivities of others, we can adopt the following approaches:

  1. Self-awareness: Reflect on your comfort level with Halloween-related activities. If certain aspects of the holiday trigger significant distress or anxiety, consider alternative ways to celebrate or participate that align with your well-being.
  2. Respect boundaries: Understand that not everyone shares the same enthusiasm for Halloween. Respect the preferences of individuals and create an inclusive environment where everyone feels comfortable and included. Initiate or engage in activities that bring joy without compromising mental well-being, such as pumpkin carving, themed movie nights, or non-scary costume gatherings.
  3. Foster compassion: Avoid stigmatizing individuals who may not enjoy Halloween or find it challenging. Refrain from using negative labels or judgmental attitudes towards those who experience fear or anxiety. Instead, promote empathy, support, and open conversations to foster understanding.

In Conclusion

Halloween can be a time of excitement and creativity, but it is essential to recognize its potential impact on mental health. By understanding the mechanisms of fear and being mindful of others’ experiences, we can balance enjoying the holiday and respecting the well-being of those around us. Let us celebrate this unique festival in inclusive, compassionate, and, most importantly, fun ways!

Natalie Chan & AM Team

Further Articles like this:

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If you are not quite ready, please click here to subscribe to the AMindset Newsletter with articles and podcasts to learn more about your mental health and how AM can help you.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

 

 

The Role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Transforming Mental Healthcare

The Role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Transforming Mental Healthcare

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has emerged as a powerful tool in mental healthcare, offering numerous opportunities to enhance diagnosis, therapy development, and personalised treatment approaches. As the demand for mental health services continues to rise, AI has the potential to alleviate the strain on healthcare systems and improve patient outcomes. In this article, we will explore the various applications of AI in mental healthcare, discuss the challenges and limitations, and delve into the ethical considerations surrounding its use.

The Growing Need for AI in Mental Healthcare

In recent years, there has been a significant increase in the number of individuals seeking help for mental health issues such as depression and anxiety. The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated this trend, leading to global mental health problems. Unfortunately, the accessibility and availability of mental healthcare services have not kept pace with the rising demand. As a result, there is a pressing need for innovative solutions to bridge this gap and provide effective care to those in need.

AI as a Promising Solution

AI has the potential to revolutionise mental healthcare by offering intelligent digital therapies that can augment the capabilities of clinicians, therapists, and researchers. By leveraging machine learning algorithms and data analytics, AI can assist in diagnosing mental health conditions, developing tailored therapies, and enabling personalised treatment approaches.

Diagnosing Mental Health Conditions

One of the key areas where AI shows promise is in the field of diagnosis. Traditionally, mental health conditions have been diagnosed based on subjective assessments and clinical observations. However, AI can help redefine mental illnesses objectively by analysing large datasets and identifying patterns that may go unnoticed by human observers. This approach can enable earlier detection of conditions and interventions at the prodromal stage, improving patient outcomes.

Developing Therapies

AI can also be crucial in developing therapies for mental health conditions. By analysing vast amounts of data, including electronic health records (EHRs) and mood rating scales, AI algorithms can uncover insights into disease progression and optimise treatment dosages. This can lead to more effective and personalised interventions tailored to each individual’s specific needs.

Personalised Approaches and Treatments

Every individual’s mental health journey is unique, and AI can help deliver more personalised approaches and treatments. By analysing a person’s bio-psycho-social profile, AI can provide a holistic understanding of their mental health, considering biological, psychological, and social factors. This comprehensive assessment can guide clinicians in developing personalised treatment plans that address each patient’s specific needs.

Current Applications of AI in Mental Health

While AI is still relatively new in the field of mental healthcare, there are already several notable applications that demonstrate its potential.

Early Detection and Disease Progression

AI algorithms are being used to facilitate early detection of mental health conditions and track disease progression. By analysing data from EHRs, mood rating scales, brain imaging, and novel monitoring systems (e.g., smartphones and video), AI can identify subtle changes and patterns that may indicate the onset or progression of a mental illness. This early detection can enable timely interventions and prevent further deterioration.

Objective Diagnosis and Classification

AI can assist in redefining the diagnosis and classification of mental illnesses. By analysing diverse datasets, including EHRs, brain imaging data, and social media platforms, AI algorithms can identify biomarkers and subtypes of mental illnesses. This objective approach can improve the accuracy of diagnosis and lead to more targeted treatment strategies.

Predictive Analytics and Risk Assessment

AI-powered predictive analytics can help identify individuals at risk of developing mental health conditions or experiencing a relapse. By analysing various data sources, including health insurance records, survey data, and text message data, AI algorithms can predict suicidal ideation, attempts, and other high-risk behaviours. This information can guide clinicians in developing proactive intervention strategies and support systems for at-risk individuals.

Support for Clinical Decision-making

AI can provide valuable support for clinical decision-making by synthesising vast amounts of medical information and providing evidence-based recommendations. Intelligent systems can analyse electronic health records, research papers, and other knowledge sources to assist clinicians in making informed decisions about treatment options, medication dosages, and therapy approaches.

Challenges and Limitations of AI in Mental Healthcare

While AI holds immense potential to transform mental healthcare, several challenges and limitations must be considered.

Ethical Implications

AI in mental healthcare raises ethical concerns regarding patient privacy, data security, and algorithmic biases. It is crucial to ensure that algorithms used for diagnosis and treatment recommendations are accurate and reliable and do not perpetuate biases or discriminate against certain groups. Transparent communication about the use of AI and its limitations is essential to maintain patient trust and ensure the responsible deployment of this technology.

Data Quality and Accessibility

The success of AI in mental healthcare relies heavily on the availability and quality of data. Access to large and diverse datasets is crucial to train AI algorithms effectively. However, there are challenges in obtaining high-quality data, especially in mental health, where much of the clinical data is subjective and qualitative. Efforts should be made to standardise data collection and ensure the representativeness of the datasets used in AI applications.

Human-AI Collaboration

While AI can provide valuable insights and support, it should never replace human clinicians. The human touch, empathy, and therapeutic relationship are essential mental healthcare components that AI cannot replicate. The optimal approach is to foster collaboration between AI systems and human practitioners, where AI augments clinical decision-making and provides evidence-based recommendations. At the same time, clinicians retain the final say in treatment plans.

Limited Generalisability

AI models trained on specific populations or datasets may not generalise well to diverse patient populations. It is necessary to validate and test AI algorithms on diverse populations to ensure their effectiveness and generalizability across different cultural, socioeconomic, and demographic groups.

Conclusion

Artificial Intelligence (AI) has the potential to revolutionise mental healthcare by enhancing diagnosis, therapy development, and personalised treatment approaches. While the field is still evolving, current applications of AI in mental health demonstrate its promise in early detection, objective diagnosis, predictive analytics, and clinical decision support. However, ethical considerations, data quality, human-AI collaboration, and generalizability are essential in addressing AI’s responsible and effective integration into mental healthcare. By leveraging the strengths of AI and human clinicians, we can improve patient outcomes and make mental healthcare more accessible and personalised for all.

Liz McCaughey & AM Team

MsC., MoC. Member of: ACA, BACP

Please refer to the AM articles page for Liz and the AM Team articles.

Please complete the AMindset intake form to start therapy with an AM team member. Our therapists offer a FREE 20-minute introductory session for new clients.

If you are not quite ready, please click here to subscribe to the AMindset Newsletter with articles and podcasts to learn more about your mental health and how AM can help you.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Protecting Your Mental Health: Navigating the Negative Impact of Global Bad News

Protecting Your Mental Health: Navigating the Negative Impact of Global Bad News

In today’s interconnected world, it’s impossible to escape the constant stream of global bad news. From global crises to personal tragedies, the media bombards us with distressing information that can affect our mental health. The negative impact of consuming excessively lousy news is a growing concern, leading to increased stress, anxiety, and depression. However, understanding the effects of this information overload and implementing self-care strategies can protect our mental well-being and maintain a sense of optimism.

The Overwhelming Effects of Global Bad News

The human brain has an inherent predisposition to focus on negative information. This evolutionary trait served to protect our ancestors from potential threats. In today’s digital age, however, this instinct is exacerbated by the constant availability of news at our fingertips. The phenomenon known as “doomscrolling” has emerged, wherein individuals become trapped in a pattern of consuming negative information, with the abundance of global bad news, leading to heightened fear, sadness, and anger.

Research has shown a strong correlation between the consumption of bad news and adverse mental health outcomes. Studies indicate that exposure to negative information can increase distress, anxiety, and even symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder. The brain’s inferior frontal gyrus (IFG), responsible for selectively filtering bad news, can be overwhelmed, leading to a heightened sense of personal worry and prolonged stress.

The Power of Optimism in Mental Health Protection

Despite the inherent negativity bias of our brains, cultivating optimism can be a powerful tool in combating the negative impact of bad news. Optimism not only enhances mental well-being but also has a positive effect on physical health and resilience. Optimists enjoy better overall health outcomes, even if their risk assessments are less accurate than those of pessimists.

Recent studies have demonstrated that optimism is crucial in how individuals respond to bad news. Optimistic individuals experience less fear, are more likely to follow public health measures during a crisis, and have a reduced tendency to engage in obsessive information searching. Strengthening our optimistic bias can help us cope better with bad news without completely disconnecting from the world.

Boosting Optimism Through Positive Psychology

Positive psychology interventions provide practical strategies for enhancing optimism and improving mental well-being. These interventions shift our attention towards positive experiences, allowing them to leave a lasting impact on our psyche and bodies. Some effective techniques include:

  1. Gratitude Journaling: Taking time each day to reflect on what we are grateful for can increase our overall optimism and improve life satisfaction.
  2. Imagining a “Best Future Self”: Visualizing our ideal future selves can help us develop a positive outlook and set goals that align with our aspirations.
  3. Engaging in Social Activities: Building and maintaining social connections can contribute to a more optimistic mindset, as social support enhances well-being.
  4. Physical Activities: Regular exercise has been linked to improved mental health and increased optimism. Physical activities that bring joy and vitality can positively impact our outlook.

It’s important to note that positive psychology interventions may not work for everyone, particularly individuals who cope with anxiety by preparing for worst-case scenarios. For such individuals, selective engagement with the news may be a more suitable approach. By watching the news at specific times of the day and engaging in mood-lifting activities afterwards, we can balance staying informed and preserving our mental well-being.

Implementing Self-Care Strategies for Mental Well-being

In addition to cultivating optimism, practising self-care is paramount in protecting our mental health from the negative impact of global bad news. Self-care involves intentionally prioritizing activities that promote well-being and reduce stress. Here are some strategies to consider:

  1. Limit News Consumption: Set boundaries for how much time you spend consuming news. Designate specific times to catch up on current events and avoid excessive exposure to negative news throughout the day.
  2. Engage in Relaxation Techniques: Incorporate relaxation techniques such as deep breathing exercises, meditation, or yoga into your daily routine. These practices can help reduce anxiety and promote a sense of calm.
  3. Pursue Hobbies and Activities: Dedicate time to engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfilment. Whether it’s reading, painting, gardening, or playing a musical instrument, pursuing hobbies can provide a much-needed escape from the negativity of the news.
  4. Connect with Others: Foster meaningful connections with friends, family, or support groups. Engaging in social interactions can provide emotional support and a sense of belonging, counteracting the feelings of isolation from consuming negative news.
  5. Take Breaks from Technology: Unplug devices and screens regularly. Stepping away from constant news updates and social media can help alleviate stress and promote mindfulness.
  6. Practice Mindfulness: Cultivate present-moment awareness through mindfulness practices. Attention to the present can help reduce anxiety and prevent the mind from getting caught up in negative thoughts.
  7. Seek Professional Help: If feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression persist, consider seeking support from a mental health professional. Therapists can provide guidance, coping strategies, and a safe space to process emotions related to the negative impact of bad news.

By incorporating these self-care strategies into our daily lives, we can protect our mental well-being and navigate the pervasive negative impact of bad news. Remember, it is essential to prioritize your mental health and make choices that promote a positive outlook while staying informed about the world around us.

In conclusion, while the constant stream of global bad news can be overwhelming, there are steps we can take to protect our mental health. By cultivating optimism, implementing self-care strategies, and being mindful of our news consumption, we can navigate the negative impact of global bad news and maintain a sense of well-being in an increasingly challenging world. Let us strive to find the balance between staying informed and taking care of our mental health, fostering resilience and optimism in the face of adversity.

Liz McCaughey & AM Team

MsC., MoC. Member of: ACA, BACP

Similar Articles:

Positive Psychology

Please refer to the AM articles page for Liz and the AM Team articles.

Please complete the AMindset intake form to start therapy with an AM team member. Our therapists offer a FREE 20-minute introductory session for new clients.

If you are not quite ready, please click here to subscribe to the AMindset Newsletter with articles and podcasts to learn more about your mental health and how AM can help you.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

 

 

Mental Health Awareness: Promoting Well-being and Seeking Help

Mental Health Awareness: Promoting Well-being and Seeking Help

October is mental health month, the tenth of October being World Mental Health Day. However, ongoing mental health awareness promoting well-being and seeking help is critical to overall well-being, as it directly influences every facet of our lives. It is an issue that affects a significant portion of the population, with an estimated one in five adults experiencing a mental health condition each year (Centres for Disease Control and Prevention, 2021). However, a pervasive stigma surrounding mental health still hinders individuals from seeking the help they need. We must prioritise mental health awareness, overcome barriers, and foster a positive and productive approach to mental well-being.

The Importance of Mental Health

Positive mental health is the foundation for navigating life’s challenges, fostering meaningful relationships, and making informed decisions. It impacts our thoughts, actions, and interactions, enabling us to lead fulfilling lives. Maintaining good mental health stabilises constructive behaviours, emotions, and thoughts. It enhances productivity, self-image, and relationships and positively impacts physical health.

The Benefits of Mental Health Care

Nurturing mental health yields numerous benefits, including:

  1. Improving Mood: Taking care of our mental health can enhance our mood and emotional well-being.
  2. Reducing Anxiety: Prioritising mental health care can help alleviate anxiety and promote a sense of calm.
  3. Enhancing Inner Peace: Investing in mental health promotes inner peace and tranquillity.
  4. Improved Clarity of Thought: Caring for mental health can sharpen cognitive abilities and promote clearer thinking.
  5. Strengthening Relationships: Mental health is crucial in building and maintaining healthy relationships.
  6. Boosting Self-esteem: Prioritising mental health contributes to a positive self-image and increased self-esteem.

It is important to note that mental health is not a one-time endeavour but a lifelong journey. It requires continuous awareness and care at every stage of life, from infancy through adulthood. Mental Health Awareness and promoting well-being must be a constant process.

Spreading Mental Health Awareness

Promoting mental health awareness serves several purposes, including destigmatising mental health issues and encouraging individuals to seek help. We can remove the shame and fear often associated with mental health by engaging in open and honest conversations. Increasing awareness also helps identify signs and symptoms of various conditions, enabling early intervention and improving treatment outcomes.

The Most Common Mental Health Conditions

Several mental health conditions are prevalent worldwide, such as anxiety disorders, depression, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), and eating disorders. Anxiety disorders, affecting over 40 million adults in the United States alone, are prevalent (Anxiety & Depression Association of America, 2021). Despite their prevalence, many individuals do not seek treatment for these conditions.

Factors Influencing Mental Health

Numerous factors can influence mental health, either positively or negatively. Understanding these factors can help individuals take proactive steps towards maintaining their mental well-being.

Positive Influences on Mental Health

Several factors have a positive impact on mental stability and health:

  1. Therapy: Seeking therapy can provide valuable support and tools for managing mental health.
  2. Journaling: Engaging in journaling practices can enhance self-reflection and emotional processing.
  3. Mindfulness: Incorporating mindfulness techniques, such as meditation, can promote mental well-being.
  4. Exercise: Regular physical activity has been shown to affect mental health positively.
  5. Effective Communication: Developing strong communication skills can improve mental and emotional health.

Negative Influences on Mental Health

Conversely, certain factors can negatively impact mental stability and health:

  1. Past Trauma: Experiences of trauma, abuse, or neglect can have long-lasting effects on mental health.
  2. Chronic Stress: Long-term and severe stress can lead to adverse mental health outcomes.
  3. Social Isolation: Lack of social connections and isolation can contribute to poor mental well-being.
  4. Bereavement: Grief and loss can profoundly affect mental health and require support for healing.
  5. Socioeconomic Factors: Poverty, unemployment, and discrimination can negatively impact mental health.

It is crucial to be aware of these influences and take proactive steps to mitigate their adverse effects.

Seeking Help for Mental Health

If you or someone you know needs mental health support, it is essential to seek help promptly. Early intervention is critical to successful treatment. There are various avenues available for accessing mental health care and support.

Therapeutic Options

Individual or family therapy can provide a safe and supportive environment for addressing mental health concerns. Support groups, both in-person and online, offer opportunities to connect with others facing similar challenges. Community clinics and online services provide accessible resources for mental health care.

Crisis Intervention

In times of crisis or experiencing suicidal ideation, it is imperative to seek immediate help. Many Social Crisis Intervention Centres are available in global locals. In Hong Kong, The Samaritans offer an English, Cantonese and Mandarin 24-hour hotline: 2389 2222.

Additional Resources

Various resources, such as helplines, educational materials, and online tools, are available to support mental health. These can provide valuable information and guidance for individuals seeking assistance.

Conclusion

Promoting mental health awareness is of utmost importance for individuals and society. By removing mental health stigma and encouraging open dialogue, we can create an environment that supports well-being and seeks timely help when needed. Taking care of our mental health has numerous benefits, positively impacting our daily lives, relationships, and overall sense of self. It is crucial to prioritise mental health and seek support when facing challenges. Together, we can foster a society that values and supports mental well-being.

Liz McCaughey & AM Team

MsC., MoC. Member of: ACA, BACP

Please refer to the AM articles page for Liz and the AM Team articles.

Please complete the AMindset intake form if you want to start your therapy with an AM team member. Our therapists offer a FREE 20-minute introductory session for new clients.

If you are not quite ready, please click here to subscribe to the AMindset Newsletter with articles and podcasts to learn more about your mental health and how AM can help you.

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

Well-being: Integrating ESG and Mental Health in the Workplace

Well-being: Integrating ESG and Mental Health in the Workplace

In today’s fast-paced and demanding work environment, employee well-being has become a critical concern for organisations worldwide. The physical and mental wellness of employees not only impacts individual health and happiness but also has a direct influence on organisational performance and productivity. As businesses increasingly recognise the significance of well-being, they also acknowledge the importance of integrating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles into their overall strategy. This article explores the intersection of ESG and employee well-being, explicitly focusing on mental health in the workplace. By understanding the relationship between ESG and mental health, organisations can create a holistic approach that prioritises the well-being of their workforce, fosters a positive work environment, and aligns with ESG goals.

Integrating ESG and Mental Health in the Workplace – Impact on Employee Well-being

ESG encompasses a broad range of factors that contribute to an organisation’s sustainable and ethical practices. Traditionally, ESG frameworks have focused on environmental and social aspects, such as reducing carbon emissions or promoting diversity and inclusion. However, the inclusion of employee well-being within ESG is gaining traction due to its profound impact on individuals and organisations. By prioritising employee well-being, companies can experience numerous benefits, including lower turnover rates, reduced burnout, increased productivity, and higher levels of engagement.

Furthermore, research has shown that organisations that support the well-being of their employees tend to outperform their peers in terms of financial performance. Portfolios composed of companies prioritising employee well-being have demonstrated higher appreciation than benchmark indices, showcasing the economic relevance of ESG-focused well-being initiatives. This connection between employee well-being and financial performance underscores the importance of integrating ESG principles into workplace practices.

The State of Mental Health in the Workplace

At AMindset, we already appreciate that mental health is vital to employee well-being, and its impact on individuals and organisations cannot be overstated. According to the World Health Organization, mental health is a state of well-being in which an individual can cope with the everyday stresses of life, work productively, and contribute to their community. However, the prevalence of mental health issues in the workplace is a growing concern, with studies indicating that around 1 in 4 people experience a mental health problem each year.

Of course, these mental health problems were exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with increased stress, anxiety, and depression reported globally. The shift to remote work, social isolation, and the uncertainty surrounding the pandemic have created additional pressures on employees, highlighting the need for organisations to prioritise mental health support and create a supportive work environment.

Integrating ESG and Mental Health: A Holistic Approach

To effectively integrate ESG principles with mental health initiatives, organisations need to adopt a holistic approach that addresses the various dimensions of well-being. This approach encompasses the physical, mental, and social aspects of employee health and ensures that ESG goals align with mental health care policies and practices. By considering the following key areas, organisations can create a workplace culture that prioritises employee well-being while also meeting ESG objectives:

1. Leadership Commitment and Communication

Leadership is crucial in integrating ESG and mental health in the workplace. By openly communicating their commitment to employee well-being and ESG principles, leaders can set the tone for the entire organisation. This commitment includes providing resources, support, and training to managers and supervisors to effectively address mental health concerns and promote a positive work environment.

“Leadership commitment is essential in creating a workplace culture prioritising employee well-being and ESG principles. Organisations can foster a supportive and inclusive environment by openly communicating this commitment and providing the necessary resources.”

2. Well-being Programs and Policies

Implementing comprehensive well-being programs and policies is crucial for supporting employee mental health and aligning with ESG goals. These programs can include a range of initiatives such as mental health awareness campaigns, stress management workshops, flexible work arrangements, and access to mental health resources. By providing employees with the necessary support and help, organisations can create a culture that values well-being and promotes a positive work-life balance.

“Well-being programs and policies are integral to supporting employee mental health and demonstrating an organisation’s commitment to ESG principles. By implementing initiatives that prioritise well-being, organisations can create a positive work environment that attracts and retains top talent.”

3. Mental Health Training and Education

Promoting mental health literacy within the organisation reduces stigma and creates a supportive workplace culture. By providing employees with training and education on mental health, organisations can equip them with the knowledge and resources to recognise and address mental health challenges. This training can include workshops, seminars, and online resources covering stress management, resilience, and creating a mentally healthy workplace.

“Investing in mental health training and education is beneficial for individual employees and aligns with ESG principles. Organisations can create a more inclusive and supportive work environment by promoting mental health literacy, fostering employee well-being and productivity.”

4. Work-Life Balance and Flexible Work Arrangements

Achieving a healthy work-life balance is essential for employee well-being and mental health. Integrating ESG and mental health in the workplace can support this, and organisations can support this by offering flexible work arrangements, allowing employees to effectively manage their personal and professional responsibilities. This balance can include remote work, flexible working hours, and compressed workweeks. By prioritising work-life balance, organisations demonstrate their commitment to employee well-being while reducing the environmental impact of traditional work practices.

“Creating a healthy work-life balance through flexible work arrangements promotes employee well-being and aligns with ESG goals. Organisations can contribute to a more sustainable future by reducing commuting time and energy consumption while supporting employee mental health.”

5. Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion

Promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) is a moral imperative and contributes to employee well-being and organisational success. Organisations can enhance employee mental health and satisfaction by fostering an inclusive work environment where individuals feel valued. This diversity includes implementing policies and practices that address biases, providing equal opportunities for career advancement, and creating a sense of belonging for all employees.

“Integrating DEI principles into workplace practices is essential for promoting employee well-being and aligning with ESG goals. Organisations can enhance mental health outcomes and drive organisational success by creating an inclusive work environment where employees feel valued and supported.”

6. Employee Engagement and Feedback

Engaging employees in decision-making processes and seeking feedback is crucial for creating a positive work environment and addressing mental health concerns. Organisations can implement surveys, focus groups, and regular check-ins to gather employee feedback and incorporate their perspectives when designing well-being initiatives. By involving employees in the decision-making process, organisations demonstrate their commitment to employee well-being and create a sense of ownership within the workforce.

“Employee engagement and feedback are essential to integrating ESG and mental health. Organisations can create a sense of ownership and empowerment by actively involving employees in decision-making processes, leading to improved mental health outcomes and organisational success.”

7. Measurement and Evaluation

Measuring and evaluating the impact of ESG initiatives and mental health programs is essential for identifying areas of improvement and demonstrating progress. Organisations can implement metrics and key performance indicators (KPIs) to track their well-being initiatives’ effectiveness and alignment with ESG goals. By regularly reviewing and analysing these metrics, organisations can make data-driven decisions to continuously improve employee well-being and drive sustainable change.

“Measurement and evaluation are critical components of integrating ESG and mental health. By implementing metrics and KPIs, organisations can assess their initiatives’ effectiveness, identify improvement areas, and demonstrate their commitment to employee well-being and ESG principles.”

8. Collaboration and Partnerships

Collaboration and partnerships are crucial for creating a comprehensive and sustainable approach to employee well-being and ESG integration. Organisations can collaborate with external stakeholders, such as mental health professionals, non-profit organisations, and industry experts, to leverage their expertise and resources. Organisations can access additional support and knowledge by forming partnerships, enhancing their well-being initiatives, and contributing to the broader community’s well-being.

“Collaboration and partnerships are essential for creating a holistic approach to employee well-being and ESG integration. By leveraging external expertise and resources, organisations can enhance their well-being initiatives, drive positive change, and contribute to the well-being of the broader community.”

Conclusion

Integrating ESG principles with mental health initiatives is essential for creating a work environment that prioritises employee well-being and aligns with broader sustainability goals. By adopting a holistic approach that addresses well-being’s physical, mental, and social dimensions, organisations can foster a positive work culture, attract and retain top talent, and contribute to a more sustainable future. Through leadership commitment, well-being programs, mental health training, work-life balance, diversity and inclusion, employee engagement, measurement and evaluation, collaboration, and partnerships, organisations can effectively integrate ESG and mental health in the workplace. By doing so, they can create an environment that supports employee well-being, drives organisational success, and contributes to a more sustainable and inclusive society.

“Integrating ESG and mental health in the workplace is a transformative journey that requires commitment, collaboration, and continuous improvement. By prioritising employee well-being and aligning with ESG principles, organisations can create a positive work environment that fosters individual growth, organisational success, and a better future for all.”

Liz McCaughey & AM Team

MsC., MoC. Member of: ACA, BACP

Please refer to the AM articles page for Liz and the AM Team articles.

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Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

 

 

The Power of Mindfulness: Cultivating Mental Health and Beyond

The Power of Mindfulness: Cultivating Mental Health and Beyond

In our fast-paced world, getting caught up in the chaos and losing touch with our inner selves is easy. However, mindfulness is a simple yet powerful practice that can help us find peace and balance amidst the hustle and bustle of everyday life. In this post, we will explore the concept of mindfulness’s benefits for mental health and how to make it a starting point in your journey towards well-being. In effect cultivating Mindfulness for better mental health.

Understanding Mindfulness

Mindfulness is intentionally bringing one’s attention to the present moment without judgment. It involves being fully aware of our thoughts, emotions, sensations, and surroundings. By cultivating mindfulness, we can develop greater self-awareness and learn to navigate through life with more clarity and compassion.

The Benefits for Mental Health

Research has shown that practising mindfulness regularly can profoundly impact our mental well-being. It can help reduce stress, anxiety, and depression by allowing us to observe our thoughts and emotions without getting entangled. Mindfulness also promotes emotional regulation and resilience, enabling us to respond to challenging situations more calmly and clearly.

Emotional regulation is a crucial aspect of mental well-being, and it involves managing and responding to emotions effectively. Recent studies have demonstrated that mindfulness can enhance emotional regulation skills by modulating brain regions involved in emotion processing, such as the amygdala and insula. This modulation allows individuals to cultivate a non-reactive and non-judgmental attitude towards their emotions, leading to greater emotional resilience and well-being.

Other Benefits

In addition to mental health, mindfulness can support our physical health by improving sleep quality and decreasing blood pressure. Regular mindfulness practice can also help with emotional regulation, which can impact work performance.

Making Mindfulness Your Starting Point

Incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine doesn’t have to be complicated. Here are a few simple ways to get started:

  1. Mindful Breathing: Focus on your breath for a few moments each day. Notice the sensation of inhaling and exhaling, and let go of any distractions that arise.
  2. Body Scan Meditation: Set aside some time to systematically scan your body from head to toe, paying attention to any sensations or areas of tension. Allow yourself to relax and release any stress you may be holding onto.
  3. Mindful Walking: During your daily walks, bring your attention to the physical sensations of each step. Observe the movement of your body, the feeling of the ground beneath your feet, and the sounds around you.

Going Beyond the Basics

Once you’ve established a foundation of mindfulness in your life, you can explore additional practices to deepen your experience. These may include mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) programs, guided meditations, or attending mindfulness workshops or retreats. Remember that mindfulness is a lifelong journey; there is always room for growth and exploration.

In a world that often pulls us in multiple directions, cultivating mindfulness can serve as an anchor for our mental health. By bringing awareness to the present moment, we can find solace, clarity, and a deeper connection with ourselves and the world around us. So why not start today? Embrace mindfulness as your starting point and witness its transformative power on your well-being.

For further information and resources on breathwork and its impact on well-being, we encourage you to explore the references below:

Nimishaa Mohanini

Please refer to the AM articles page to read more articles by the AM Team

Please complete the AMindset intake form if you want to start your therapy with Nimishaa or another AM team member. Our therapists offer a FREE 20-minute introductory session for new clients.

If you are not quite ready, please click here to subscribe to the AMindset Newsletter with articles and podcasts to learn more about your mental health and how AM can help you.

References

  • Creswell, J. David PhD; Lindsay, Emily K. PhD; Villalba, Daniella K. PhD; Chin, Brian MA. Mindfulness Training and Physical Health: Mechanisms and Outcomes. Psychosomatic Medicine 81(3):p 224-232, April 2019. | DOI: 10.1097/PSY.0000000000000675
  • Guendelman, S., Medeiros, S., & Rampes, H. (2017). Mindfulness and emotion regulation: Insights from neurobiological, psychological, and clinical studies. Frontiers in Psychology, 8, 220.
  • Taren AA, Gianaros PJ, Greco CM, Lindsay EK, Fairgrieve A, Brown KW, Rosen RK, Ferris JL, Julson E, Marsland AL, Bursley JK, Ramsburg J, Creswell JD. Mindfulness meditation training alters stress-related amygdala resting state functional connectivity: a randomized controlled trial. Soc Cogn Affect Neurosci. 2015 Dec;10(12):1758-68. doi: 10.1093/scan/nsv066. Epub 2015 Jun 5. PMID: 26048176; PMCID: PMC4666115.

Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or qualified mental health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

 

 

Saying Goodbye

Saying Goodbye

We’ve all been through a time when the world seemed dull and hopeless after experiencing a loss – regardless of whether they’re family, friends or simply an individual of great significance to us. People experience loss in a multitude of ways beyond the passing of a loved one; we grieve at the end of a relationship, a permanent change in appearance, a passing life stage, or simply anything that we can never again regain or revisit. Due to the cyclic nature of life, we deal with grief constantly. Some of them are more gradual and less noticeable like ageing, while others may be more unexpected and sudden like the death of a loved one.

Grief affects us in ways beyond both physical and emotional pain. The five stages of grief modelled by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross concluded that the five major emotions experienced during grief were denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance (Kübler-Ross & Kessler, 2014). This model was based on her work on patients with terminal illnesses, suggesting that these five stages were more applicable to people facing their own existential crises rather than those who were grieving. But in practice, we find that the five stages were also shown in grief clients despite the lack of linearity of graphical evidence. Most of the time these emotions are interwoven with many others, including guilt and fear. Beyond emotional responses, the process of grief also includes natural physical responses like sleeplessness, appetite loss, and a weakened immune system. But with proper coping mechanisms, these responses can be alleviated with time, allowing you to feel more prepared to make peace with it. 

Grief is a personal and subjective process, and coping mechanisms vary amongst people, so there is no norm or timetable to abide by. In most cases, people can process and resume their day-to-day functions after a certain period of time. However, in more severe cases (i.e., the loss of a romantic partner, the loss of a parent, the loss of a grandparent) we find it overwhelming. Especially if such grief was complex or unresolved (for example through sudden life changes, traumatic events, or unresolved issues with the deceased). During Covid-19, these situations were more prevalent than ever before. One of my friends was unable to complete quarantine in time to see his beloved family member in the hospital for the last time. Another one was unable to enter Hong Kong due to Covid-19 restrictions and had missed the last call from his father before he passed in the ICU. 

In sessions, we sometimes find people still struggling with loss even after many years due to the build-up of pain over time in addition to mental challenges stemming from grief, including difficulties in emotion regulation or disassociation. Such challenges can become debilitating as individuals often do not even realise that grief is still affecting them. Clinically, the prevalence of prolonged grief disorder (PGD) was found in approximately 9.8% of bereaved adults in the population. Of the adults suffering from PGD, the symptoms they experienced consisted of intense preoccupation with the deceased, persistent distress, detached or numbed emotion, inability to trust others, and avoidance of the reality of loss (Rosner et al, 2018). 

However, there are many ways to make it easier to cope with grief. If you are currently grieving, there are a multitude of things that may help you navigate this time:

  • Know That You Are Not Alone

Because there was love, there will be pain. Whenever there is a start, there will be an end. As the pain of loss is natural and inevitable, no one can live without going through it. But rather than fearing it, try to remember that it is possible to have an easier relationship with the pain of the loss by allowing ourselves to feel it.

  • Talk About Your Feelings

If you feel that you are struggling with grief, resistance or avoidance will not lift the burden. Instead it may cause unnecessary frustration. Try to express and share your feelings though they are difficult. It will aid your grieving progress. Begin to share these thoughts with your support system, address them in a journal, and find your emotional outlet. 

  • Share Your Memories

Share your memories to alleviate fear of forgetting them. Recalling and sharing the memories with those you surround yourself with can bring you a sense of peace amidst this painful time. The most memorable moment during the funeral of a loved one is the sharing of cherished memories with the people who share our pain. These moments may remind us of the fragility of life and how despite the fact that we are mortal, the love we have is eternal. 

  • Find Ways to Remain Connected With Your Loved One 

You can still connect with those who are no longer with us. I have seen many post-it memos placed along the surface of a tombstone by a wife or a grandchild, each inscribed with a message yearning for their beloved husband or grandfather’s embrace one last time. While others may play songs they used to listen to together, or plant a tree to symbolise their everlasting life. These things serve as a reminder to us that despite our loved one not being physically with us, they are here with us in spirit. 

  • Prioritise Yourself

Everyone grieves at their own pace. To find the best way to heal you have to take care and prioritise yourself. If you feel like crying, cry it out. If you need space, ask for space. It is not selfish nor insensitive to take time for yourself to heal. Please do not be hard on yourself for not being ‘strong enough’ in such circumstances, instead, we learn how to be strong enough through grief. Only through pure transparency with ourselves and our emotions can we make peace with them.

  • Remember That Your Life is Valuable

There are a lot of changes that follow loss, sometimes the change is so drastic that you begin to feel lost in the world. Just as how precious the deceased are to you, your life is just as precious to your family, your friends, and most importantly, your own self. With this mindset you will learn to find purposefulness in continuing on with the future and finding back your sense of self that was lost amidst the grief. 

  • Seek Help When You Need It

If you ever feel overwhelmed in the madness, reaching out to your support system is a wonderful method. You can also read self-help books pertaining to grief, seek help from your religion, your support group, or perhaps by paying a visit to a professional psychotherapist as a source of help for navigating past these mental challenges.

If you are accompanying someone who is grieving, here are some helpful ways you can engage:

  • Keep Them Company

Yes, you just need to stay with them. Remember that they do not need advice or positive talk at the moment, they simply need your presence. Having someone alongside you who is listening with all of their heart is one of the best forms of support. Even if you cannot be there in person, texting or calling them is another viable way of showing support. The feeling of being cared for will aid them through this difficult time.

  • Distractions

Whether it is house renovation, work, or travel planning, it can help people temporarily disconnect from reality and focus on the world around them. Exercise is always a good idea to help them feel uplifted naturally, so asking them for a walk if they are willing to do so is another effective form of distraction. If they do not want to engage in anything physically, providing them with a list of TV show recommendations may help occupy part of their mind.

  • Be of Help

There are a multitude of things you can do to help provide an extent of aid towards a grieving individual. For instance, you can help them with their chores, take their kids to the park, order food for them, etc., Simply by doing this you are offering substantial help and providing time and energy for the individual to deal with the chaos surrounding their loss.

  • Respect, Empathy, and Understanding

There are times when grieving individuals may have some irrational thoughts like bargaining with fate or impulsive, emotion-centred reactions such as blaming the hospital or the doctor. Try to give them space to sort things out and accommodate them with understanding. Everyone heals at their own pace, so your respect is an important buffer for them to feel supported and loved to learn to make peace with their bereavement. 

 “The reality is that you will grieve forever. You will not get over the loss of the loved one; you’ll learn to live with it. You will heal and you will rebuild yourself around the loss you have suffered. You will be whole again but you will never be the same. Nor should you be the same nor would you want to.” – On Grief & Grieving, Kübler-Ross and Kessler

It is a heartbreaking part of the journey. But aren’t we blessed to ever have someone or something that was so hard to let go of in this life?

References

Kübler-Ross, E., & Kessler, David. (2014). On grief & grieving : finding the meaning of grief through the five stages of loss (Scribner trade pbk. ed.). Scribner.

Rosner, Rita, Rimane, Eline, Vogel, Anna, Rau, Jörn, & Hagl, Maria. (2018). Treating prolonged grief disorder with prolonged grief-specific cognitive behavioral therapy: Study protocol for a randomized controlled trial. Trials19(1), 241–241. https://doi.org/10.1186/s13063-018-2618-3

Megan Chang

MC

If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

Find out more about Megan here.

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Talking About Eating Disorders

No Bad Parts

No Bad Parts

I really enjoy watching the Disney movie “Inside Out,” and I often recommend the film to my clients. The protagonist of the movie is a little girl named Riley and her emotions – Joy, Sadness, Anger, Disgust, and Fear. These emotional characters help Riley face her daily trials and tribulations. For instance when Anger takes over the console of the mind, Riley starts throwing temper tantrums. Our emotions are similar to having these characters inside us, when different Parts become dominant, different thoughts and beliefs, carried by their perspective Parts, may have control over our behaviours. The modality called the Internal Family Systems (IFS) refers to our inner characters as Parts, which are like family members within us, who interact or argue with each other as our family members sometimes will do in real life.

In the book “No Bad Parts”, Dr. Richard Schwartz, the creator of IFS, talks about how Parts can be divided into the three main categories below:

Exiles: Exiles take on the painful emotions of past traumatic events. They often act like a wounded child, being exiled deep inside our psyche, feeling unloved, worthless, shame, and emptiness. In order to ensure that the Exiles are hidden from our consciousness, the Parts that are called Managers and Firefighters are forced to be generated.

Managers: Managers are protectors who try to control everything in our lives, ensuring that we don’t come in contact with our vulnerable or traumatic experiences, and avoiding emotions that we don’t want to experience again. The Critic is a common type of Manager that only sees mistakes and uses criticism as a means to help, thereby motivating us to attain higher job achievements, greater wealth, and positive affirmations. There are also other types of Managers such as Workaholics, Perfectionists, and the Highly Educated one to name a few, but no matter how hard these managers try, they can never heal their Exiled inner child.

Firefighters: Firefighters are a different kind of protector. If the Manager is there to prevent any incentives that can trigger the Exile, the Firefighters mission is to put out the fires at any cost when the Exile’s pain is triggered. The Firefighters will numb or escape painful feelings with more aggressive actions than what the Managers use, such as addictive behaviours with alcohol or drug use, eating disorders, sex, self-harm or even suicide, in extreme cases.

Now let’s pause for a moment and examine our different Parts. I may have a Part that wants to lose weight, while at the same time, I have another Part that tells me I must dine at a buffet. It is also possible when a Part wants to take a good rest, but another Part suddenly tells us not to relax in order to achieve success in our pursuits. I have a client who has several internal Parts and are working very hard every day. For example, when the Hard Working Part is writing a business proposal, Anxiety might interfere by saying, “Are you sure you can meet the deadline? Will the client like this proposal?” Meanwhile the Critic Part also might say, “Why are you so stupid? You can’t do anything well.” When facing the discomfort caused by Anxiety, Play might suggest watching TV, swiping the phone or playing video games. Then Smoking may invite you to enjoy a cigarette, and Binge Eating may start ordering lots of takeout. These Parts appear just to divert attention and escape to face anxiety.

Many psychology modalities try to correct these so-called negative behaviours or thoughts in different ways, but IFS believes that we do not need to push away these emotions or behaviours that might be dragging our lives down, nor is it necessary to beg these Parts to change. Just like the Movie “Inside out”, Joy tries to push Sadness away from Riley’s life, but in the end, she accepts Sadness for who she is, understanding that she serves an important purpose in Riley’s life. Joy is only one element of true happiness, Sadness and other painful emotions make life more meaningful. 

IFS believes that every Part is there with good intentions, and even with extreme, sometimes seemingly unhelpful or destructive actions like Managers and Firefighters, they are doing their best to protect us. Through listening, understanding, and discovering the purpose of each inner Part, we can improve their mutual relationships. When we find our true self (Self) who is caring, curious, empathic, and compassionate, as the leader of the internal family, the healing journey begins. 

​If you would like to speak with a counsellor about how we can support you, please contact us.

Articles by Cecilia: