Regardless of our political ideologies, we can all agree that the 2016 presidential election was bitter and highly divisive. The nation woke up to a surprise on November 9, when the now president-elect Donald Trump gave the victory speech and prepared to assemble his transition team and his cabinet. Millions of Americans cheered alongside Trump’s team, while others wept or were out raged. Over the course of the past two weeks, there have been thousands protesting the election, and inauguration day will likely be a day of protests and unrest, along with those who will celebrate. However, even those who are happy with the outcome have much to fear, as protesters and other disgruntled voters have accused Trump supporters of many things and many insults have been exchanged on both sides of the party line. So, the question remains: Where does America go from here?
Depression is a complicated condition that can be chronic and severe. It can result in debilitating loss of functioning across areas of one’s life. But as is the case with most circumstances, one must take a series of steps forward in order to achieve freedom from the grip of depression. Many people may be surprised at how shifting the focus from an internal perspective to a more balanced view that includes others, and intentional acts of empathy and compassion can begin to change one’s perspective in positive and hopeful ways.
Whether or not we are directly affected by a tragedy in that we have lost loved ones, or we have been indirectly affected by the shock, fear, and intense emotions that follow, we have no choice but to find ways to seek comfort and support. In addition, we must bounce back – we have no choice in that. The only alternative is to give up, hide inside of our homes, and stop living a joyful and productive life. That is not an alternative that most of us want to entertain. This month’s article provides some guidance in how to survive and thrive when every day there seems to be a violent headline.
When the term "mental health" is used in conversation, most people tend to think of it in terms of diagnoses and disorders.
A discussion about mental health is not only about treating mental illness; it's also about a primary care approach similar to the model of physical health that has been encouraged by modern medicine. Taking care of our bodies, stimulating our brain, and managing our emotions are all important aspects of obtaining good mental health. Perhaps we should call it "mental wellness.”
I wonder what would happen if we started a revolution to promote emotional intelligence as the best way of building resilience? What would happen if we taught emotional intelligence as part of an educational curriculum, alongside of other core areas of knowledge? In the world today, where children are forced to grow up quickly; where they are exposed to tragedy and violence in every direction, and where we can never predict when someone will have to endure an unexpected loss or prolonged suffering – why isn't emotional intelligence widely known as the key to resilience?
As I sat with a middle school student recently, who is struggling to succeed in school and manage her severe anxiety and depression, I could not help feeling genuinely sad. As a psychologist, I have learned how to manage my own emotions so that I can be most effective as a clinician. But this particular case really touched my heart, because it was one in which the parents had the education and resources to seek support. They chose not to, because they were very concerned about how their daughter would be perceived if she received mental health diagnoses or treatment. Fortunately, they now fully support her need for therapy and school interventions.
Perhaps the most encouraging news story in the past couple of weeks has been the announcement of Duchess Kate of Cambridge's plans to tackle the stigma associated with mental illnesses, particularly as it relates to children. She was so bold as to proclaim to the press last week that if either of her children were experiencing emotional or psychological problems, she would not hesitate to seek professional help. First lady Michelle Obama will join her in the cause. This is very good news for the field of mental health in that an endorsement of this magnitude will hopefully raise awareness of the importance of early intervention and the need for proactively addressing children's emotional and behavioral problems.
Mental health professionals contend with this issue daily, as parents hesitate to pursue early treatment for their children due to concerns about stigma attached to therapy, and fail to follow through with the recommendations of mental health providers. Perhaps the endorsement of royalty, accompanied by the support and partnership of the first lady, will put hesitant parents at ease. Let's hope so.
Almost all of us have experienced a situation in which we were hurt, betrayed, rejected, mistreated, or taken for granted. Maybe our heart was broken. Perhaps someone lied to us, stole from us, got us in trouble, destroyed our property, manipulated us, or abused us; physically, emotionally or sexually. We are justified in our pain, and even our anger, right? It's healthy to feel empowered and to fight back, right?
There are all kinds of injustices in the world. There are good ways to fight and bad ways to fight.
It's a new year, and there's a lot of talk about making changes, such as being more organized or getting better grades. But what about the changes that we don't seek? The events and circumstances that change our lives forever that we never would have included as part of a New Year's goal. Whether we experience a smaller-scale change that we don't expect, such as a friend moving away or not getting that grade we had hoped for or that promotion at work, or a large scale change such as the tragic loss of a loved one or the break up of a relationship, unplanned changes can be devastating and take a toll on us emotionally.
So, what results in good, effective therapy? It is a combination of factors that involve both the therapist and the client. Both individuals play a role in determining the outcome of therapy.