Get Help, By Any Means Necessary!

hands-2888625_1920.jpgOne of my interns at The Armstrong Center for Hope recently shared an interesting statistic: The most common lie is, “I’m fine.”  Sometimes, we utter these words in the rhythm of polite conversation.  A co-worker quickly passes in the hallway, asking the perfunctory, “How are you?”  While the co-worker barely listens for the response, I render the proverbial, expected exchange as a courteous return: “I’m fine.”  At other times, however, even when we’re asked by a caring and trusted family member or friend, and when we definitely are not fine, the same words roll easily from our tongues.  Whether it’s our finances, progress at work, or our health, we can sometimes ignore situations that are pleading for our attention.  We may feel embarrassed about our circumstances, or feel overwhelmed and too paralyzed to act.  Meanwhile, without adequate attention to our problems, they usually get worse.  This can be especially true when it comes to symptoms of mental illness, such as feelings of sadness, panic, shame, anger, and excessive worry.

So what do we do when we feel trapped by our pain? Believe it or not, making a change in your situation may not take the enormous effort you may be imagining.  Sometimes the process of getting help simply starts with making up your mind that you are sick and tired of being sick and tired (thanks, Fannie Lou Hamer!), and that something has got to give.  After that very important shift in your mindset, the next step is to employ the very tools that you’re already using to read this: your phone or other web-connected device. Although one critical component of mental health services is confidentiality, it is reasonable for you to consider seeking support outside of your local area.  Or maybe you’re not quite up to a face-to-face conversation, but would really benefit from a nonjudgmental listening ear, or chat session. Here are some local and national mental health resources to explore:

Perhaps you are aware of some other useful mental health resources.  Please share them in your comments!

À Votre Santé (“To Your Health”),

 

“Dr. T”

Tonya D. Armstrong, Ph.D., M.T.S.

Licensed Psychologist, Author, Singer/Songwriter, Minister, Producer, Entrepreneur

#blossominghope

#drtonyaarmstrong

#armstrongcenterforhope

 

 

 

 

Celebrate Mental Health Month!

33No, your eyes are not playing tricks on you.  On this first day of May, during the first hours of Mental Health Month, I actually have placed “celebrate” and “mental health” in the same sentence. I know this has not been the predominant message of our culture. Words more typically associated with “mental health” have traditionally included “shame,” “stigma,” “taboo,” and “secret.”  Or think of the action words, which are really more about inaction: “avoid,” “deny,” or “ignore.”  Our societal attitudes toward mental health have been unfortunate, because they have contributed to the lack of treatment in generations of persons who have dealt with symptoms of depression, or anxiety, or trauma, or substance abuse, or schizophrenia, or Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), or any of a host of diagnoses.  People like you and me.  As you can see from the World Health Organization (WHO) quote above, mental illness affects our thoughts, feelings, behaviors, and relationships.  One in five of us will meet criteria for a mental illness at some point in our lifetimes.  Even the other four of us will have family members, friends, and co-workers who struggle.  Truth be told, we all struggle, whether it be with brain disease, academic performance, relationship difficulties, financial challenges, or some combination thereof.   Sometimes life comes at us hard, and leaves us grappling with more than we can truly manage on our own.

So what are we celebrating, you may ask.  We are celebrating the advancements made in the science and art of mental health care that allow persons with one or more mental illnesses to return to previous or improved levels of functioning.  Just a few generations ago, persons suffering from mental illness would have likely been institutionalized.  Some asylums or sanitoriums, as they were called back them, may have engaged in humane treatment, while other facilities were less likely to demonstrate compassionate care.  Deinstitutionalization was not the magic bullet either, as it left adrift those in most need of more intensive forms of care.  Then and now, human beings best blossom under the conditions of familial and social support, effective treatment standards in care, and appropriate levels of care given the severity of their conditions.  Pharmacological treatment is not indicated for everyone, but often works well in tandem with psychotherapy to provide significant relief in a number of mental illnesses.  So we are celebrating that Aunt Sally may be diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder, yet with the right treatment can raise a strong family and flourish in her career.  We are celebrating the reality that Cousin Jamal, once entrenched in opioid addiction, can indeed recover and live a life that is both productive and inspiring.  Finally, we are celebrating that this May, for all of Mental Health Month, we emphasize the “health” in “mental health” and pursue practices of wellness that go viral for the rest of the year!

 

Cheers, everyone!

“Dr. T”

Tonya D. Armstrong, Ph.D., M.T.S.

Licensed Psychologist, Author, Vocalist

#blossominghope

#drtonyaarmstrong

#armstrongcenterforhope