by Megan Korn, Recruiter and Human Resources Leader
Thinking about a career in the mental health field?
If you’re motivated by helping others, becoming a mental health professional could be your calling. As a mental health professional, you step in to help people overcome their life challenges. You can be a source of hope by providing guidance and strategies that enable others to clear obstacles, achieve their goals, and believe in themselves. You can change lives for the better.
In terms of career potential, the field offers many career paths, including social worker, counselor, psychiatrist and psychologist. Better yet, the job prospects are exceptionally promising. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that the job growth outlook for substance abuse, behavioral disorder and mental health counselors and for social workers is well above average.
However, careers in the mental health field are not for everyone. If you’re exploring what mental health career is right for you, you should first ask if this field is a good match. You can start by looking at some of the soft skills that are called into play every day.
Soft skills are the non-technical skills that are needed for success in the workplace. All careers require a mastery of some soft skills, like time management and meeting your commitments. In some fields, soft skills complement technical skills. But in the mental health field, the soft skills can be just as important as the technical skills—if not more so. They also play a major role in your career satisfaction.
Before pursuing a career in this field, ask yourself these six questions.
Do You Like Working With People?
Teamwork and relationship building are foundational to mental healthcare. Working with clients is a given. But depending on your career path, you may also coordinate with other healthcare providers—such as physicians, nurses, psychologists, psychiatrists and social workers—as well as partner agencies, such as housing and employment. No matter which path you take, the ability to communicate clearly, to follow up, to take the lead and to manage complex details are all skills you’ll frequently lean on.
Do You Have Empathy and Patience?
Compassion and empathy are keystones to achieving results in this field. Even if you don’t have personal experience with what a client is going through, you need to be able to listen and offer guidance. Patience and perseverance go hand-in-hand with this. People do not change overnight. You will need to work with them over the long haul to address their needs. While the small victories are tremendously rewarding, this is not a field for those who need instant gratification or who are easily discouraged by setbacks.
Do You Enjoy Problem Solving?
] If you are interested in this field, you likely enjoy solving problems. In terms of working with clients, problem solving requires active listening, critical observation, critical thinking and coordination with others. To develop effective strategies and treatment plans, you’ll need to listen to what your clients are telling you—and pay attention to what they are leaving out.
Do You Have a Strong Work Ethic?
Helping people be their best selves is only one component to working with clients. Behind the scenes, a lot of record keeping and follow up takes place. Depending on your caseload, you could be maintaining files for dozens of clients. This requires a high degree of organization and planning, as well as the ability to be self-directed.
Can You Separate the Personal From the Professional?
Professional detachment is a must in this field. Your clients may engage in behaviors or make decisions that you do not agree with on a moral level. You may be challenged by different perspectives. However, you need to reserve judgment and meet your clients where they are to help them. Likewise, you need to set healthy emotional boundaries between your personal and professional lives—in both the physical and digital worlds.
Are You Adaptable?
No matter what career path you choose, no two days are alike. Mental health providers often need to adjust on the go. You may need to work weekends and evenings. You may need to be on call. You will always need to adapt your approach to your clients and their needs. While this is a positive for those who thrive on change, it can also be cause for stress and even burnout. Stress management is a key tool that mental health professionals need to master.
Finding a Good Fit for Your Career
We may be a bit biased, but we believe a career spent helping others is a virtuous undertaking. And the field is in critical need of qualified, compassionate providers.
If you think the mental health field is right for you, the next best step is to thoroughly research the career paths that most resonate with you. Questions to ask yourself include:
What kind of populations do you want to work with?
What type of setting do you want to work in?
How much time are you willing to invest in post-secondary education?
What type of schedule do you want to establish?
What is your desired salary?
What are the licensure requirements in your state?
Most careers in this field require at least a bachelor’s degree and a license. Your career goals may also require you to pursue a master’s degree or higher. Learning everything you can about where an academic program can take you before you apply is the best use of your time and money.
Have questions about your career or interested in joining our team? I’m always happy to talk with prospective therapists. Contact me at 888-830-0347.
Megan Korn is Compass Point’s Recruiter and Human Resources Leader. Megan has a Bachelor of Science in Nursing. She started her career as a nurse in medical surgery and oncology, before shifting to a career in healthcare recruiting. When she’s not recruiting and supporting specialized providers for our team, Megan enjoys the great outdoors, time with her family and taking her dog for walks.
Seven Strategies for Making Your New Year’s Resolutions Last
by Kalpana Parekh, MSW, LISW-s
Millions of Americans made resolutions on New Year’s Eve to do better and achieve more in 2021. Within the next 30 days or so, most of those resolutions will be abandoned. Studies suggest that 80 percent of people who set resolutions on Dec. 31 fall back on old habits by mid-February.
If you’re in that 80 percent, don’t lose heart. Our collective struggle with keeping New Year’s resolutions suggest the problem may lie elsewhere—like with the tradition itself.
Why New Year’s Resolutions Fail
We set New Year’s resolutions because it’s a natural point for a fresh start. But achieving a life goal is not as easy as turning the page on a calendar.
“Resolution” is a strong, demanding word. For resolution, we need passion, clarity and inspiration. Yet often, our New Year’s resolutions are too big or vague. We expect change now. And we don’t give ourselves rewards along the way.
Successful goals require planning, process and patience. When we don’t have the right supports and mindset in place, we get frustrated and give up. And then we do it again the next year without understanding why our New Year’s resolutions fail in the first place.
Setting Goals That Stick
If you find your resolutions are getting wobbly, don’t give up. You can still adapt your approach. Here are seven research-based strategies for setting and keeping goals—no matter what time of year you make them:
Create a Vision for Your Best Life
Experiencing the best of your life doesn’t happen by accident. It takes reflection and planning. It also helps to connect your goals to your purpose, rather than just an outcome.
For example, instead of resolving to achieve a specific weight, you can set a target of being healthier. From there, you can develop a plan that incorporates smaller goals, like exercising 30 minutes a day and cooking healthy meals four days a week. Within a few weeks, these goals will become healthy habits—and those healthy habits will become a lifestyle.
Thinking about your goals in this way will make them more sustainable. It will also help you maintain balance. Instead of getting frustrated and quitting or doubling down in an unhealthy way, you can focus on gradual progress.
Above all, be kind to yourself. Developing a new habit takes time. It requires both mental and physical effort. Celebrate the wins as they come, and have grace with yourself if you stray from your goal.
If you’re feeling stuck, consider meeting with a therapist. Compass Point’s clinical experts can provide guidance and support to overcome obstacles and achieve your goals. Get started by calling or requesting an appointment online. It could be the first step to unlocking your potential.
How to Breakout from Job-Related Burnout
by Alexandria Fields, MSW, LISW-S, DBTC
Have you reached your limit on work/life stress? Do you lack motivation and energy to get through your to-do list? Feel like there just aren’t enough hours in the day? You’re not alone. Many of us have had to manage massive upheaval in our work lives in the past year.
However, if the physical and emotional barrier of going to work is starting to feel overwhelming, you may be suffering from job-related burnout. Unsurprisingly, therapists and other mental health providers are seeing an increased incidence of burnout right now, including among our own ranks.
Job-related burnout can have a serious toll on your physical and emotional health, but there is hope. In most cases, burnout is relatively easy to treat.
How to Identify Burnout
Burnout is most often caused by ongoing stress from being overscheduled or overworked. It can also result from a disconnect between workload and compensation—that is, when the financial reward doesn’t make up for the hours or effort you’re putting in.
The signs of burnout include:
Alyx Beresford is a Licensed Independent Social Worker with Supervisory designation. She obtained her Bachelor’s degree from the University of Cincinnati and her Master’s degree from the University of Kentucky. Alyx is the director of the DBT® Center at Compass Point and is a facilitator of DBT® skills training classes. She is a blogger and entrepreneur who is passionate about helping others and their mental health. You can read more of her work on her blog, Your Mental Restoration.
What to Know Before Becoming Your Own Boss
In short, you have greater independence to focus your talents on work that brings you joy. You may even discover that you can increase your income.
But asking if you should go out on your own is only half the question. You also need to determine if you can—that is, if you are financially ready. When you are an employee, you meet with clients and receive a check. When you open your own practice or become an independent contractor, your income is less stable. You need to have enough cash on hand for start-up costs. It takes time to ramp up a client base. And you still need to cover your day-to-day requirements, like housing, food and transportation.
By taking the time to get your finances in order before you make the leap, you’ll be more likely to land on both feet. Get started with these four tips:
#1 – Determine Your Start-Up and Ongoing Expenses
- Health benefits
- Office space
- Furnishings and office supplies
- Technology and software (including for charting and accounting)
As you build your financial plan, keep in mind that many of these expenses are not one-time costs. As you build out your plan, make sure to include other costs that crop up throughout the year, such as continuing education.
#2 – Know Your Financial Needs
If you haven’t already, establish your personal budget. You’ll need to factor in your requirements—such as housing, food and utilities—as well as your wants—such as eating out or taking a vacation. Remember that you’ll also need to set aside cash for unexpected expenses as well as for long-term goals, like college funds and retirement.
Then, combine this data with your projected business expenses and compare against your desired rate and schedule. If the two don’t align, you’ll need to start making adjustments.
#3 – Budget for the Business Cycle
When you go out on your own—whether as an independent contractor or by opening your own practice—you can earn a higher billable rate. But if business is slow, your income shows it. In addition, if you decide to open your own practice, “therapist” is just one of many hats you’ll wear. You’ll also need to set aside time for marketing, scheduling, billing and collections, bookkeeping and credentialing. All of this will eat into your billable hours.
In short, you’ll need to be ready for unplanned downtime. That requires setting aside enough cash during upswings to have a cushion for temporary downturns or time away from the office.
#4 – Don’t Forget Taxes
The good news? Independent contractors and small businesses are not required to pay taxes to the state of Ohio on income less than $250,000. In addition, you may qualify for an array of deductions, including for a home office, mileage and health insurance.
Your best bet is to retain an accountant you trust before you go out on your own to ensure you understand your tax liability. An accountant can also help you prepare quarterly payments and annual returns and ensure you are in compliance with all applicable tax laws.
The Best of Both Worlds
For example, Compass Point handles everything from marketing to scheduling to billing for its contractors. You’ll have access to furnished office space in nearly a dozen locations as well as a digital platform for remote counseling. Compass Point even takes care of credentialing.
As a Compass Point therapist, you can set your own schedule. You’ll have access to client leads as well as a team of compassionate professionals with whom you can collaborate. You can also gain peace of mind knowing that when you take time off, someone is answering the phone in your absence. And with Compass Point’s good-fit model, you’ll be matched with clients who are the right fit for your area of focus.
As a Compass Point therapist, you’ll still be required to report your own taxes. But the professionals at resource partner Stevens & Associates will be available to provide guidance on taxes and accounting.
Interested in learning more about working with Compass Point? Visit our hiring page to learn more.
Nine Steps You Can Take to Alleviate SAD Symptoms
spring and summer, it most often occurs during fall and winter. Regardless of the season, SAD is not something that you need to “tough out.” Treatment is available.
- Feeling depressed nearly every day
- Feeling hopeless
- Extreme fatigue, even after getting lots of sleep
- Overeating, especially high-carb treats and sweets
- Weight gain
- Difficulty concentrating
- Maintain (and Grow!) Your Social Connections. COVID-19 is
limiting in-person gatherings, but there are still many ways to
connect with family and friends. Pick up the phone, schedule a Zoom
session, get together safely outside or send a note or greeting card.
Research shows that when you send a letter of gratitude to
someone, it elevates your mood, makes the recipient feel good and
strengthens the relationship
- Treat Yourself. Make time to do the things that bring you joy,
whether it’s listening to music, baking or cooking, meditating,
reading or even coloring.
- Be Creative. Sometimes breaking out of tired routines can shift us
to a more positive mindset. This is a great time to create new
traditions, take up a hobby or revisit that list of things you’ve always
wanted to do. Paint a picture, try your hand at knitting, build a
birdhouse or take an online class on cake decorating—the
possibilities are endless.
- Exercise. This can be hard to do when you lack energy, but a little
bit of activity every day can make a world of difference. If you do not
feel safe going to a fitness club or studio right now, there are many
online resources you can use for at-home workouts or yoga sessions
- Get Outside. When the sun is out and the temperatures are
tolerable, give yourself permission to go for a walk, hike or run. Just
being out in the sun can lift your mood, and the Vitamin D you gain
from the sunlight is good for your health
- Use Mindfulness. Mindfulness is about being in the moment by
using such tactics as visualization, positive affirmation and calming
music. A search for mindfulness activities online will provide plenty
of strategies you can use.
- Watch What You Eat and Drink. Eat healthy foods, cut back on
the carbs, drink plenty of fluids and abstain from alcohol and drugs.
If you need help to get through the season without partaking in
drugs and alcohol, a professional can help you.
- Engage in Positive Psychology. We are wired to focus on our
problems—it’s evolutionary. Positive psychology seeks to shift that
mindset by focusing on activities and habits that make you happy.
Searching for positive psychology online will reveal a trove of
resources to help you.
- Try Light Therapy. Light therapy involves sitting in front of a light
therapy box that emits very bright light for 20 minutes or more a
day. Improvements may occur within two weeks of treatment, but
you need to stick with it for the whole season.
If you continue to struggle, then reach out to your physician, a counselor, a social worker or a psychologist for help. It is their job to listen, support you and help you find the resources you need to cope.
If you don’t feel secure visiting a therapist in person during the pandemic, then consider tele-therapy. It is safe, effective and convenient. There are many tele-therapists at Compass Point who are accepting new patients now. Compass Point also offers an online scheduling system
for new clients so that you can be matched with a best-fit clinician and schedule an
appointment at your convenience.
Kassey is a licensed independent social worker. She holds a master’s
degree in Social Work from the University of Toledo. Her treatment
philosophy is informed by many disciplines both within and outside of
standard treatment models. She keeps motivational interviewing, the
strengths-based perspective, systems theory, reality therapy and solution-
focused therapy in her counseling toolbox. Contact us to see if Kassey is
accepting new patients.
Mary is a licensed independent social worker. She has a bachelor’s degree
in Sociology and a master’s degree in Education from Xavier University.
She also has a master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Iowa.
She provides a safe, relaxed space for individuals, couples and families to
comfortably work on the goals they set for themselves. She will help you
clarify your goals and determine how to use your strengths and
therapeutic interventions to achieve them. Contact us to see if Mary is
currently accepting new clients
Getting the Most from Your Insurance Benefits at Year End
Not sure if you’ve met your deductible? The best way to find out is by contacting your insurance provider. If the thought of calling your insurance company is cause for anxiety, you’re not alone. Figuring out your insurance plan can sometimes feel like trying to learn another language.
But the more you know about your plan benefits, the more you can take advantage of them. After all, your insurance plan is there to keep you healthy and well. Make sure that it works for you by following these four steps before calling your insurance company:
You deserve to have someone to talk to who can help you learn to manage your personal
challenges. But it can’t be just anyone. To ensure you make progress, you need the right person. That’s why we do our best to provide the best fit, the first time. Because a good fit can make all the difference in helping you feel better.
- You live in Ohio
- You have a smart phone, tablet or computer with internet connection
- The pandemic has affected your day-to-day life
-Changes have caused you stress, anxiety, etc.
This group will cover different mental health topics including tips, tricks and resources we can use to build awareness, motivation and coping skills.
Keeping a schedule during the summer will help not only you still be sane during this time but also give your child(ren) the stability they need during this time. A routine will help your child(ren) have some predictability during this time of uncertain. The schedule does not have to look like boot camp, but a loose schedule.
Create a visual schedule and for younger children – including pictures!
● Sit down with your family at the start of summer and create a “Summer Bucket List.” This can help build excitement and allows your kids to provide input as to how they would like to spend their time.
● Utilize themes to help spark your creativity, but also establish a sense of consistency throughout each week:
○ Messy Monday – do an art project with finger paints or practice writing in shaving cream, or make a mud pie!
○ Wet Wednesday – visit different pools or splash pads or have a water balloon fight in your backyard!
○ Fun Friday – explore a new playground each week or do something different like visit the virtual zoo or the virtual aquarium! You get the idea!
As our summer activities are going to look different with limited summer camps, vacations, and fun gatherings; but that does not mean you cannot have fun at home!
Metro Parks of Butler County have an updated list of the parks that are open and closed with guidelines https://www.yourmetroparks.net/covid-19
Great Parks of Hamilton County have an updated list of the parks that are open and closed on https://www.greatparks.org/covid-19
Warren County Park DIstricts have all their parks open with restrictions https://www.co.warren.oh.us/parks/
Five Rivers Metropark of Montogomery County have all their parks open with restrictions https://www.metroparks.org/alerts/
Varsity Tutors are offering FREE week-long virtual summer camps Ages: 5-18 Price: FREE Dates: June - August https://www.varsitytutors.com/virtual-summer-camp-catalog
Operation Exploration: Backyard Biosphere Virtual Day Camp Ages: 8–12 Price: $25/camper Dates: May 26–29, 2020, 9:30 a.m. https://www.greatparks.org/discovery/children/day-camps
Joffrey Ballet Ages: 9-16 Price: $145 per week Dates: June 15-19, June 29-July 3, July 13-17 http://joffrey.org/academy/programs-and-divisions/summer-camps
Music Institute of Chicago Ages: 8-Adulthood Price: Varies Dates: June-August https://www.musicinst.org/2020-summer-programs
Cub Scout Adventure Box Age: 1-6 grade Price: $55.00 per box Dates: June-August https://scoutingevent.com/160-adventurebox
On this virtual field trip from Dairy Council of California, students will learn all about dairy farming, including how milk and dairy foods are produced and the nutritional benefits of dairy products. https://www.healthyeating.org/Schools/Mobile-Dairy-Classroom/Farm-to-You-Virtual-Field-Trip
The Cincinnati Museum Center has developed a lot of videos for your child(ren) to continue learning during this time. https://www.cincymuseum.org/wonderzone/
There are so many amazing online options when it comes to zoos that we couldn’t narrow it down to just one. Most zoos and aquariums have live webcams in some of their most popular exhibits. San Diego Zoo: https://zoo.sandiegozoo.org/live-cams Smithsonian’s National Zoo: https://nationalzoo.si.edu/webcams Denver Zoo: https://denverzoo.org/zootoyou/ Memphis Zoo: https://www.memphiszoo.org/animal-cams Australia Zoo: https://www.zoo.org.au/animals-at-home/ National Aquarium in Washington D.C.: http://samuraivirtualtours.com/example/nadc/index.html Georgia Aquarium: https://www.georgiaaquarium.org/webcam/ocean-voyager/ Monterey Bay Aquarium: https://www.montereybayaquarium.org/animals/live-cams Tropical Reef: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=F109TZt3nRc
Learn about a variety of different farms including pigs, grain, and minks just to name a few. https://www.farmfood360.ca/
Take a tour of the Boston Children’s Museum. https://www.bostonchildrensmuseum.org/museum-virtual-tour
Smithsonian’s National Museums of National History with current and past exhibits: https://naturalhistory.si.edu/visit/virtual-tour
The Metropolitan Museum of Art has 26 galleries available to view right from your home. https://artsandculture.google.com/partner/the-metropolitan-museum-of-art
Explore the sky above us with Stellarium on their star map. https://stellarium-web.org/
Google Earth has made virtual tours of National Parks across the country. https://firstname.lastname@example.org,-94.20828246,312.21005962a,12000000d,35y,0h,0 t,0r/data=Ci0SKxIgMzVhNjc1YmQ0NjVjMTFlOTg0Yjg1NTMyNWRjMDk2MzQiB3ZveV90b2M
Go to the Channel Islands in California to watch our National bird sit on her nest. https://www.nps.gov/chis/learn/photosmultimedia/bald-eagle-webcam.htm
Travel the world and explore the nature that the earth has to offer. https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/who-we-are/how-we-work/youth-engagement/nature-lab/ virtual-field-trips/
Walk famous trails of Yellowstone park. https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/photosmultimedia/virtualtours.htm
On live webcams; witness Old Faithful and the Upper Geyser Basin in the Yellowstone Park. https://www.nps.gov/yell/learn/photosmultimedia/webcams.htm
Learn about what it takes to be a service dog with these live streams of puppies being trained! https://explore.org/livecams/warrior-canine-connection/service-puppy-cam
The Great Lakes are a huge staple in our country, learn more about them through a field trip. https://www.greatlakesnow.org/virtual-field-trip/
Interested in Goats, the Beekman 1802 has a goat live stream: https://beekman1802.com/pages/the-goats
Explore art around the world with https://artsandculture.google.com/
Visit Ellis Island to learn about the Statue of Liberty and tour the museum. http://teacher.scholastic.com/activities/immigration/webcast.htm
Explore cities all over the world, jump out of a plane at 10,000 feet, and jump in the ocean to swim with the sharks. https://www.360cities.net/
DIY is a safe environment with step-by-step videos that contain no ads. The site is free for 14-days then it is a monthly subscription. The videos range in age-appropriate of 3-16. Have your kids be creative and use their imagination this summer. https://diy.org/#courses
The Cincinnati Zoo has videos of learning to go along with crafts of over 20 of their animals. http://cincinnatizoo.org/home-safari-resources/
Nature Hunt: Summer is the perfect time for children to observe and enjoy nature for the whole family. Come up with a list of flowers, birds, plants, insects, and much more for your child(ren) to find in your backyard or in the park. Taking pictures of all your finds to share with others.
Water Games: Everyone get ready to get wet, play tag using a hose, transfer water from one bucket to another with only a sponge, jump around in the sprinkler, play soggy dodgeball, and water balloons.
Family Book Club: Everyone gets a book and shares what they have learned or the storyline with the family on a designated day.
Family Movie Night: Go around the family members each time to choose the movie; so no one gets left out. Enjoy healthy snacks with blankets and pillows.
Backyard Camping: Pull out the tent, sleeping bags, flashlights and enjoy your backyard. Or your living room if you are not fond of the bugs outside.
Jigsaw Puzzle: Complete a puzzle that the whole family likes then once it is complete glue it to put up within your home.
Northwestern has courses over the summer to allow your child to continue learning and even earn High School Credit. Ages: 3-18 Price: Varies Date: June-August https://www.ctd.northwestern.edu/courses?program_type=550&season=560&sort=alpha
San Diego Zoo Global Academy Ages 13+ Price: Free Date: All Summer https://sdzglobalacademy.org/coursewereheretogetherfreespecies.html
Super Soccer Stars is creating opportunity for your child to keep up with their soccer skills and develop more skills to show off when they get to the field. Ages: 8-18 Price: Varies Date: Present till August http://newyork.supersoccerstars.com/digital/
Baketivity sends a box of ingredients for your child to make a dessert for 4 weeks. Ages: 8-16 Price: Varies: one-time box and then 4-week camp Date: Ongoing https://baketivity.com/camp/
Chess New York City has moved its learning to online! Ages: 4-18 Price: Starting at $18 Date: Ongoing https://chessnyc.com/
Best Buy Geek Squad Academy Ages: 10-18 Price: Free Date: Ongoing 4 activities https://corporate.bestbuy.com/geek-squad-academy-at-home/
Camp WIT is a camp that empowers teens to become leaders and entrepreneurs. Ages: 13-18 Price: Free but needs an application and Zoom interview Date: June 1- June 26 https://corporate.bestbuy.com/geek-squad-academy-at-home/
The Nature Lab has developed curriculums on how to help our planet be the healthiest it can be. Grades: K-12 Price: Free Date: Ongoing https://www.nature.org/en-us/about-us/who-we-are/how-we-work/youth-engagement/nature-lab/
I am a National and State of Ohio Board Certified Licensed Professional Counselor. I received my Bachelor of Arts in Psychology from Bryan College and obtained my Masters in Clinical Health Counseling along with a certification in Child and Adolescents and Parent Child Interaction Therapy (PCIT) from Richmont Graduate University.
“Our society is definitely in a collective state of trauma,” said Jonathan Porteus, PhD, a licensed clinical psychologist who oversees the crisis and suicide hotline in Sacramento, CA. Unlike posttraumatic stress disorder, which surfaces after a trauma has ended, the country is only starting to grapple with the pandemic’s psychological fallout, he said.
“We do see an emerging potential crisis,” said Karestan Koenen, PhD, a professor of psychiatric epidemiology at Harvard’s T.H. Chan School of Public Health, during an online forum this week.
Another recent report, released Friday from the Well Being Trust, said the pandemic could lead to 75,000 additional “deaths of despair” from drug and alcohol misuse and suicide due to unemployment, social isolation, and fears about the virus.
A recent poll of more than 3,100 WebMD readers found that 26% said they felt a sense of trauma from COVID-19.
Koenen, who has studied other major disasters, sees problematic differences this time, including how long-lasting the pandemic may become and how it has affected the whole world.
“We know that social support is so important to buffer the effects of disasters, to help pull people out of disasters, and here, we see that because of physical distancing … we’re sort of robbed of some of that social support, so that’s extra-challenging.
“In terms of this specific situation, we’re really treading new ground.”
Mental Health’s First Responders
At the nation’s crisis and suicide hotlines, counselors are seeing the first waves of emotional distress. Callers have flooded the phone lines to talk about health fears, job losses, relationship strains, and lonely days spent in isolation.
Calls to the Sacramento crisis line increased 40% from February to March, according to Porteus, the CEO of WellSpace Health, which operates the hotline. In a year-to-year comparison, April’s call volume was 58% greater than in April 2019, he said.
Lauren Ochs, MA, a counselor who takes crisis calls in St. Louis, MO, has also talked to many more people since the pandemic started, averaging 25-35 calls during her 8-hour shifts, she said. “About 80% to 85% at least mention COVID. That might not be their primary problem, but some way, somehow, they’re affected by it.”
Calls also have risen significantly at the San Diego Access and Crisis Line in California, said Program Manager Heather Aston.
“We’ve seen an increase in more anxiety-driven calls,” Aston said. Some people are worried about COVID-like symptoms. “They want to know where can they go to get safely tested.” Others are concerned about family members. One woman called for advice on how to help a sister who had stopped eating and drinking and was having paranoid thoughts about COVID-19, Aston said.
In a recent opinion piece published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, Sandro Galea, MD, MPH, DrPH, a professor at the Boston University School of Public Health, warned of an upcoming wave of mental disorders because of coronavirus.
He noted that “large-scale disasters, whether traumatic (the World Trade Center attacks or mass shootings), natural (hurricanes), or environmental (Deepwater Horizon oil spill), are almost always accompanied by increases in depression, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), substance use disorder, a broad range of other mental and behavioral disorders, domestic violence, and child abuse."
The COVID-19 pandemic would likely produce a similar “overflow of mental illness,” he said.
He cited examples:
- 5% of people affected by Hurricane Ike in 2008 met the criteria for major depressive disorder in the month after the hurricane.
- 1 in 10 adults in New York City showed signs of major depressive disorder in the month following the 9/11 attacks.
- Nearly 25% of New Yorkers reported using more alcohol after the attacks.
- Communities affected by the Deepwater Horizon oil spill showed signs of depression and anxiety.
- The earlier SARS epidemic was linked with increases in PTSD, stress, and psychological distress in patients and health care workers.
The mental health effects can happen immediately and last over time, he wrote.
The pandemic also comes at a time when people already struggled to get mental health care, often due to cost, lack of access, and a shortage of providers. As people who had been getting help before stay-at-home orders found their care interrupted, some providers have begun to offer telehealth services.
Charles Jones, the CEO of MDLive, a large telehealth provider, told MedCity News that his company has seen increased demand for behavioral health services from patients who are stressed out about health or work issues. Cigna, one of the largest providers of mental health services, launched a toll-free, 24-hour help line for the public to speak to behavioral health specialists.
From isolation to anxiety to excess drinking, coronavirus has touched almost every area of life, said Lan Nguyen, a suicide and crisis services program manager for the hotline in Santa Clara County in Northern California.
For many callers, community shutdowns have bred a deep sense of isolation, he said. “People complain that they are stuck in the house all day. They don’t know what to do.”
On the home front, relationships can be strained, Porteus said. “Families are kind of a tinderbox, especially in confined areas.” Children may now face a greater risk of abuse, especially since they can no longer find respite at school. “There are a lot of family dynamics that are not healthy, and now kids have to be in them full-time,” he said.
The same goes for victims of domestic violence, according to Porteus. “People can’t get out of their homes, so they’re more enmeshed with the perpetrators than ever before.”
The St. Louis hotline has heard from many struggling health care workers and others, Ochs said. “I recently talked with an eighth-grade teacher who was in a lot of emotional distress about the school year ending early,” Ochs said. “I don’t think any teacher was really prepared for the school year to just stop.” Not only was he grieving the abrupt loss of his students, but he had little chance to say good-bye. “He was a teacher in a high-poverty area, so it’s hard to reach out to [his students]. It’s hard to Zoom with them, it’s hard to make contact with them.”
Those who have lost jobs or been furloughed have called about financial worries, according to Nguyen.
Besides the financial impact, losing a job can be emotionally devastating, Porteus said. “Our identity is really hit and sometimes, it feels catastrophic. Many of the people who are calling don’t know who they’ve become. They’ve lost what they feel is everything, and they’ve also lost their social context.”
Recently, the San Diego hotline helped one older man who had called in about losing his job as a chef, Aston said. “He had roughly $20 in his checking account and he was suicidal.”
Intense stressors like job loss and fears for one’s life and health can contribute to substance abuse. The Sacramento hotline also has gotten more calls from people struggling with alcohol or substance problems, Porteus said. Overall, alcohol sales have gone up nationwide, and now, some restaurants will deliver alcohol with takeout food orders.
“One thing [counselors] are noticing, especially with older adults, is ‘Yeah, I’m drinking. Why not? I’m not going anywhere. I don’t have to drive. I don’t have all the normal constraints while I’m around people,’” Porteus said.
At a time when coronavirus efforts have battered many state budgets, it could be difficult to fund future mental health services. But some experts are looking ahead.
In his JAMA article, Galea wrote: “Scaling up treatment in the midst of crisis will take creative thinking.” He suggested training lay people to provide psychological first aid, as well as “helping teach the lay public to check in with one another and provide support. Even small signs that someone cares could make a difference in the early stages of social isolation.”
He also advocated for more telemedicine mental health visits.
In its report, the Well Being Trust urged policy makers to consider three areas to combat mental health issues:
- Addressing unemployment
- Making it easier to get mental health care
- Integrating mental health care with primary care
“If the country continues to ignore the collateral damage -- specifically our nation’s mental health -- we will not come out of this stronger,” said Benjamin F. Miller, PsyD, chief strategy officer at Well Being Trust.
Even if an epidemic of mental illness is looming, counselors say that people are resilient and can strive to protect their emotional well-being.
Experts offered these tips:
- Try to eat and sleep well.
- Try to stay socially connected, even if you can’t see others in person.
- Limit news and social media.
When people are in crisis, he said, it’s helpful to go online to learn about “distress tolerance” skills, which involve accepting that some problems are beyond one’s control. Instead of becoming mired in feelings of unfairness and anger, people can learn healthier ways of thinking and coping when they can’t escape painful situations.
For those who have lost jobs, he suggests looking up interest inventories -- questionnaires that ask you to rate your enjoyment and interest in a wide variety of activities -- to explore career options. “You can figure out the kinds of things that you’re good at and start getting a sense of what your next steps might be."
Taking constructive steps can help to counteract a downward spiral, he said.
“People look at the pandemic and they tend to be drawn to the negative. If we can help shift people to look at the positive, it really helps because we know that neurons that fire together wire together,” Aston said. “We’re going to be able to see the positive more quickly.”
Shared from WebMD
Katherine Kam wrote this story while participating in the USC Center for Health Journalism‘s 2020 California Fellowship.
WebMD Health News Reviewed by Michael W. Smith, MD on May 08, 2020
If you are feeling the effects of this pandemic, you are not alone. We are here, and we can help.
Compass point is offering tele-therapy sessions for clients in Kentucky and Ohio.
We also have a covid19 specific support group called Coping with Covid that meets virtually.
Coping with Covid
A virtual group
First group starts 06-04-2020
Thursdays 6:30-8:00 PM
Group Lead: Charles (C.J) Potter
Group will meet via a HIPAA compliant tele-therapy
This group may be a fit for you if -
- You live in Ohio
- You have a smart phone, tablet or computer with internet connection
- The pandemic has affected your day-to-day life
-Changes have caused you stress, anxiety, etc.
This group will cover different mental health topics including yips, tricks and resources we can use to build awareness, motivation and coping skills.
To schedule, click here to register online or call our front office at 888-830-0347
The information on these infographics and this page comes from studies conducted by organizations like Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Justice. The terminology used reflects what is used in original studies. Terms like “serious mental illness,” “mental illness” or “mental health disorders” may all seem like they’re referring to the same thing, but in fact refer to specific diagnostic groups for that particular study.
You Are Not Alone
- 19.1% of U.S. adults experienced mental illness in 2018 (47.6 million people). This represents 1 in 5 adults.
- 4.6% of U.S. adults experienced serious mental illness in 2018 (11.4 million people). This represents 1 in 25 adults.
- 16.5% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 experienced a mental health disorder in 2016 (7.7 million people)
- 3.7% of U.S. adults experienced a co-occurring substance use disorder and mental illness in 2018 (9.2 million people)
- Annual prevalence of mental illness among U.S. adults, by demographic group:
- Annual prevalence among U.S. adults, by condition:
- Major Depressive Episode: 7.2% (17.7 million people)
- Schizophrenia: <1% (estimated 1.5 million people)
- Bipolar Disorder: 2.8% (estimated 7 million people)
- Anxiety Disorders: 19.1% (estimated 48 million people)
- Posttraumatic Stress Disorder: 3.6% (estimated 9 million people)
- Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: 1.2% (estimated 3 million people)
- Borderline Personality Disorder: 1.4% (estimated 3.5 million people)
Mental Health Care Matters
- 43.3% of U.S. adults with mental illness received treatment in 2018
- 64.1% of U.S. adults with serious mental illness received treatment in 2018
- 50.6% of U.S. youth aged 6-17 with a mental health disorder received treatment in 2016
- The average delay between onset of mental illness symptoms and treatment is 11 years
- Annual treatment rates among U.S. adults with any mental illness, by demographic group:
- 11.3% of U.S. adults with mental illness had no insurance coverage in 2018
- 13.4% of U.S. adults with serious mental illness had no insurance coverage in 2018
- 60% of U.S. counties do not have a single practicing psychiatrist
Provided by NAMI
Below we are sharing a list of what some of our providers here at Compass Point are doing while working from home proving tele-therapy, a list of what our clinicians have recommended to their clients as well as a general list inspired by Marsha Linehan, professor of psychology at the University of Washington, and the creator of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), of activities that can be accomplished in limited time, within ones own home. Many of the items are also friendly for families with young children.
A lot of our clients familiar with DBT will know that our groups use lists like this to help participants identify activities they can use to boost their mood and cope with challenges. While many of us need this in the best of times, most of us need to find what works and how to find balance again in the wake of COVID-19.
What we're doing at Compass Point
Compass Point Clinicians share their tips
Great stress tip is to play video games! It gives an escape, an environment you can control (unlike all the uncertainty in the real world), and it gives clearly defined goals where you can make tangible progress.
Also re-watching old shows or movies where you already know what happens and you know it makes you feel good/happy. Revisiting old characters and worlds where you know exactly what to expect and what will happen can be incredibly soothing when everything here is so up in the air.
- Music (keeping a playlist for self-soothe or uplifting mood). - Prayer and mindfulness activities (being in the present moment even for short periods of time).
- Exercise (even a 15 minute easy walk for those who don't normally like to do this).
-Video chatting with friends and family. Nature sounds (top three most soothing sounds to the brain are water, wind, and bird song)
- Apps for stress relief (Calm, Ten Percent Happier)
- Listening to uplifting stories or podcasts
-Watching comedies or stand-up comedians
- Picking up a new hobby you've always wanted to do but didn't have time( Bob Ross videos)
- Anything hands-on like pottery, painting, gardening, etc.
- Stop listening to more than one news broadcast (any medium) per day
- Structure your day. clean a room, go outside, do a hobby, contact a friend/family member per day. Repeat.
-Create a "job jar". Fill with various chores (the ones we put off because of no time as well as regular) and draw out one per day or half day and complete.
-Exercise out doors, indoors with video downloads.
-Verbalize frustrations with others who can listen without judging Exercise!
-Cardio and weight resistance
- Be active in helping others
-Write down at least 3 gratitudes
Laughter - find humor somewhere - ex: watch funny movie/ play
- If news is stressful DONT WATCH IT
- Give yourself permission to feel anxious/frustrated/angry/afraid for one full hour. Then cry. Then go DO something productive!
-Go outside and notice nature as when you were a child
- Play, skip, listen to upbeat music
-Use your mind - puzzles/games/learn new skills like playing chess or cards
-Have or create hobbies
- Love one another
- Smile even when you don’t feel like it
Looking for more ideas?
- Cook your favorite meal
- Go out and have a cup of coffee with a friend
- Work out
- Listen to your favorite music (and maybe dance)
- Watch a movie at home or a TV show
- Pick up a new hobby (yoga, Pilates, etc)
- Take a hot bubble bath
- Visit a museum or a gallery
- Play an instrument, or start learning to play one
- Simply go for a walk outside
- Play a game with your friends (Monopoly, Clue)
- Call a friend or a family member and chat
- Chat online with your friends
- Go shopping and browse around
- Start writing a book
- Listen to music
- Read a magazine or the newspaper
- Get a massage or go to a beauty salon
- Watch a sports event (baseball, basketball)
- Buy some plants or do some gardening
- Go to the movies or watch a play
- Read your favorite book genre
- Play video games
- Play with your pet or give it a bath
- Go on a date with your loved one
- Have a picnic or go for a hike
- Take a nap or sleep
- Listen to a podcast you enjoy or the radio
- Start a diary
- Do karaoke
- Eat snacks or something you enjoy
- Go outside and enjoy the sunshine
- Watch YouTube or visit a Website you like
- Read comic books
- Go for a drive or take the public transportation
- Create new art that you enjoy
- Go out and have your favorite lunch
- Draw a painting, or do some coloring
- Do some work or finish up some chores
- Buy a gift for a loved one or a friend
- Go swimming in the local pool
- Dress nice and go out
- Watch stand-up comedy
I know the moms and dads who are trying to work from home and monitor their kid’s school work are very stressed. The people who work in restaurants are wondering when and if they will have a job. Students are missing proms, graduations and most of all just being with friends. Kids who need structure are not adapting well to distance learning, not to mention the teachers who were given no time to adapt lesson plans. College students who are graduating wonder when and if they will be able to get a job. And, over and above all the anxiety producing situations each of us are in, we all have the over- arching worry about the virus itself, “Will I get it, will someone I love get it?” It is scary!
So, again, all normal to be stressed, anxious, sad, afraid, but we can all have hope this quarantine will not last forever. In the meantime, we can do things to help ourselves through this time. We can use coping strategies.
I watched a brief training from trauma expert, Bessel von der Kolk and he discussed how this quarantine has Preconditions for Trauma. He talked about why this is true, but more importantly, he gave ideas on how to navigate through this time to come out the other end feeling OK. Here are the problems he outlined and the ways we can combat the effects:
- Lack of predictability- we don’t know when this will end or how we might be affected. What we can do is take control over our life and the things we can control like planning our day, organizing, keeping a schedule, going to bed and getting up at the same time we normally would, planning healthy meals, planning things to look forward to like maybe a Zoom lunch with a friend or a Zoom “cocktail party” with a group of friends or family.
- Immobility- We don’t get to move freely and go the places we normally go. But we can take walks, do yoga, maybe do that home project we’ve been putting off, have a dance party, do a fun craft, build something.
- Loss of connection with people- we need to stay in touch with the people we care about, phone, text, Face time, social media. People have been getting very creative with this.
- Numbing out/ spacing out- Mindfulness helps with this. There are some good mindfulness activities on YouTube. Listening to music, motivational podcasts, reading inspirational books and stories on line. I have been mentioning to clients not to drink, take drugs or overeat. Those things end up making you feel worse afterward.
- Loss of time and sequence- Keeping a schedule, watching enough news to know what’s going on, but not so much it becomes upsetting.
- Loss of safety- Remind yourself that following the guidelines will keep you safe.
- Loss of a sense of person- spend some time thinking about accomplishments and goals. Talk to a colleague, a work friend, someone who respects what you do. Talk to someone who is upbeat and helps you feel better when you are with them.
Mary is a Licensed Independent Social Worker. She has a Bachelor’s degree in Sociology and a Master’s degree in Education from Xavier University. She has a Master’s degree in Social Work from the University of Iowa.
She provides a safe, relaxed space for individuals, couples and families to comfortably work on the goals they set for themselves. She will help you clarify your goals and determine how to use your strengths and therapeutic interventions to achieve them. Contact us to see if Mary is currently accepting new clients
Monday Morning April 13th, doing our best to be at arms length and beyond to stay healthy and give you the best information we can find. I am working on getting Dr.Amy Acton, Local area Hospitals and other medical professionals to here how it is here.
Dr. Charles Roberts joins us right now. Dr.Roberts is a mental health expert. Dr, what we know is that anytime things change for people, like that book "who moved my cheese" and all that. Thats hard for some people. Isn't it? its like "my daily routine is upset, so I am not very happy."
That is so true. Good morning, Joel . Good to be with you.
When you talk about those kinds of things, what are best practices? What can I do to impact my mental state, my physical state, and make things easier for me moving forward?
Well, you started off talking about routine and I think you are right on it with that. Our brains use routines to streamline information. We are constantly filtering out what is important or not important and routines really help us do that. Like were going to listen to one radio station at a time, so when we have all kinds of upset in routines like what we have right now. Its like listening to multiple radio stations all at one time, not super effective and overloading. That is excatly what is going on.
Thats the thing though. People are so hungry for information about the Cornonavirus, its spread, its impact, if I do get this will there be people available to take care of me? Those kinds of things, how do you step away from that kind of information when that is all that people seem to care about right now?
Dr. Roberts - Well, you kind of have to force yourself to do it. Part of it really is setting a routine. Setting a time to check in with the outside world. A time to check the news, a time to do all that. People joke about "wine with Dewine" here in Ohio, but I think that gives people a time to sit down do that and then say okay, now the rest of the day I am going to do things that I need to do, focus on things close to home, that I can control.
Right. Is it just the nature of being productive? Like, hey, I cant go to work, I am not doing what I normally do, so I am going to identify things around the house and get those done so I have a sense of accomplishment?
Accomplishments part of it, but part of it is just staying busy and keeping your mind occupied. Practice being mindful. At any one thing at any point on time.
There is the whole "alone together" thing too. I get the concept of it, but I am missing being around people. Usually by 8/8:30 this place is vibrant. I mean, 70/80/90 employees. Communication people we tend to be kind of loud. Were mixing it up and were having fun. This morning there's like 8 people here. I am going home after work. I love my wife, I love my son, but I don't have any contact with buddies or going out to dinner, being in crowds. How can you handle that loneliness?
Well, Joel. you're even one of the lucky ones. Cause you're getting out and seeing 8 people each day. That's pretty good. Our brains are required to have new experiences. Were not meant to be isolated, even isolated alone with the same people, its isolated. No new experiences, no new information, no new jokes. You know, its like sitting with the same people all the time, intellectual inbreeding. So reaching out and face timing and using some of this technology that we have. Its really, really interesting it can help a lot.
Its funny, yesterday, my wife was cooking for Easter and my folks live about 20 miles from us so I texted them that we were going to bring a little care package. We did that and we sat outside and talked, even though it wasnt particularly warm, but they're both in their 80s so were very concerned about spreading anything. We may not be showing symptoms, we could have it and we dont want them to get it. So is that even relatively in the realm of okay? We sat the chairs 10 feet apart just so we can kid of see each other, or do you recommend the face time and the electronic things like that? Is that a better way to handle it.
I am always a fan of getting as much personal contact as possible. As long as that can be done safetly, following the CDCs social distancing guidelines right now, I think thats great. Human contact is important.
No doubt. I wonder too, people who are depressed or have anxiety, theyre looking back theyre looking ahead. A lot of people right now, they're looking ahead and wondering, Is it going to get to May first and is it going to be May 15th or wait till June. Once I get back, what am I going back to? So what can I do to answer those questions so I am not as anxious about whats to come?
I think you mentioned that people with anxiety look forward a lot about what is to come and there is a lot that we do not know. There is a lot that we do know though. Our families will still be our families (as long as we dont run them out of the house while social distancing) you know, were still going to have some semblance of American life. Some things will transition, but that's looking forward. If you keep yourself grounded in the present, this moment now, I mean look how different our lives are now. It wont be this different. It will be more like what it used to be. So the big thing has already happened.
Thats a good point. This is as low as it gets and we should be on the upward swing. So, you know, that should buoy your spirits a little bit. I am curious too. I dont know there will be necessarily a social war or civil war over it, but there are going to be people who are released to work first. Whatever essential worker means, there will some companies will say you're good to go or there will be testing that is released and some people will be able to get a hold of it quicker and theyll be cleared to work. How do I fight that feeling. How do I fight the jealous or upset feelings that someone else gets to get back to their life quicker than I do?
I think its more of a mindset framing for ourselves. Were all part of a team here. If you look at our economy its so connected. All the different business, the people who are repairing things they have to go to the part store, the transportation has to be there. All that is still going to happen, that needs to happen. So its all going to get turned on, just we don't know in what order.
Fascinating. Thats the thing, a lot of times when you're just a cog in the wheel and your doing what you do everyday you dont really have to consider that. Dr. That was a lot great information and things for people to think about and hopefully work through so when we do get the green light we can get back to it and everyone will be happy and healthy moving forward.
“Teletherapy is the online delivery of speech, occupational, and mental health therapy services via high-resolution, live video conferencing.”
Teletherapy, also known as online therapy, e-therapy, or video therapy, is therapy delivered through a virtual platform via a computer. If you’ve ever used FaceTime or Skype, it’s essentially the same thing – except secure and with a qualified therapist or counselor at the other end. Tele- Therapy is considered a highly effective method for therapy delivery.
Why should you consider Tele-Therapy?
3. Safe + Secure
4. Reduced Wait
6. Specialized care
If you’re feeling stressed, depressed, lonely or hopeless, you’re not alone. Wherever you are in Ohio, Compass Point is standing by to help you through this time. Together, we can do it.
For more than a decade, Compass Point Counseling Services has helped thousands navigate the challenges of life with hope and confidence, providing care and counsel for children, couples, families and adults to address the host of mental health needs.
Learn more about Tele-Therapy at Compass Point or call today 888 - 830 -0347
F = Focus on what’s in your control
A = Acknowledge your thoughts & feelings
C = Come back into your body
E = Engage in what you’re doing
C = Committed action
O = Opening up
V = Values
I = Identify resources
D = Disinfect & distance
I really can’t begin to label or quantify the value of good self-care. Humans are equipped with amazing capabilities to self-regulate…if only we had the energy and desire to use them! In DBT, there is a skill (acronym) called the PLEASE skill, and I believe it is the answer to the question posed above.
I am going to focus on three components of PLEASE: Sleeping, Eating, and Exercising.
Sleep. Just do it, stop fighting it…put your Smartphone away and close your eyes. Did you know that your brain cannot convert anything into memory until you are asleep? The Disney Pixar movie Inside Out had a lot of great content that helps drive this point home (it was quite factually accurate!). In the movie, the main character Riley didn’t have her memory balls moved from short-term memory into her long-term memory until she slept! Our bodies are not machines; on a cellular level your body needs sleep to repair itself. Sleep allows time for the immune system to do its job and ward off viruses and bacterial infections. During this time of illness-anxiety, sleep is a kind gesture you can do for yourself to maximize the immunity in your own body! Sleep will also help you reduce your overall stress level. So next time you want to watch the next episode on Netflix, play the next level on a game, or return one more e-mail, ask yourself what you need more: your health and sanity or screen time…
Exercise. I feel like this is a mute point in some ways. My goal is not to be preachy; it is to motivate you into action. The science behind working out is limitless and boils down to this: if you move your body your mind will feel better. Physical exercise can helps your brain secret endorphins, adrenaline, and dopamine…all of which alleviate depressive symptoms. Consider for a moment the cost of getting those chemicals elsewhere: prescription drugs, theme parks, extramarital affairs… Are those effective or realistic on a regular basis? Exercise also builds mastery. If you become fluent and experienced in a form of movement (yoga, running, lifting weights) it will build your confidence and overall satisfaction in life. What can you do from home? I have seen a wide variety of online videos being posted on Facebook from different organizations, there are a seemingly limitless supply on YouTube, or you could go for a walk around your neighborhood.
For the full PLEASE skill, please refer to this graphic:
Alexandria Beresford MSW, LISW-S, DBTC is the author of Your Mental Restoration. A mental health blog that focuses on inspiration and motivation. She shares her personal stories as a mom, therapist, DBT instructor. her goal is for every reader to know they are loved, worthy and capable.
Out of concern for the health of our clients and staff members, and in light of steps taken by the State of Ohio in the last few days to reduce the risk of transmission of the Coronavirus, we have made the decision to close our offices and to discontinue all in-person therapy sessions until we receive confirmation from regional health authorities that the threat of transmission has passed. This policy becomes effective Monday, March 16, 2020 at 8:00 a.m.
During this period, we will replace in-person therapy with telehealth sessions. Our telehealth platform is HIPAA-compliant, tailored to behavioral health sessions and user-friendly. Sessions delivered via telehealth are reimbursable by commercial insurance and Medicare at the same rate as in-person visits. And we are able to accept payments for sessions, deductibles and co-pays/co-insurances via credit card. All clients require for a telehealth session is a personal computer or a mobile phone with webcam and an Internet connection.
If you currently have a session scheduled at one of our locations, a member of our team will be contacting you to reschedule using our telehealth platform. Please be aware they are calling from personal phones, so the number may show up to as a blocked or restricted caller.
Things like; mental health tips, mindful minutes, activities to do with kids, etc.
If this is something you would benefit from, please comment below with a topic you would love to hear more about as well as what platform you would prefer to see it on (ie, our blog vsfacebook live.)
Thank you for your flexibility during this time. We’re grateful to continue to serve the healthcare needs of our community.
Your friends at Compass Point Counseling Services
What is a social story?A social story is a narrative made to illustrate certain situations and problems and how people deal with them. They help children with autism understand social norms and learn how to communicate with others appropriately.
Who developed Social Stories?The Social Stories concept was developed by child pediatrician Dr. Carol Gray in the early 1990s. Dr. Gray started writing these for the autistic children she worked with. In 1993, she published her first book and has since published several more on this subject.
- Has a specific goal – it should target the desired behavior
- Is well-researched – it should be accurate, relevant, and interesting to the reader
- Is descriptive and uses positive language – it should answer where, when, who, what, how, and why and use simple, encouraging words.
What are comic strip conversations?Comic strip conversations are simple illustrations that show two or more people having a conversation using short sentences. Some children with autism learn better with visuals, so creating comic strips can be an effective tool. Constructing cartoon strips for kids is an enjoyable way for young people to communicate their thoughts and feelings while building the imagination.
What do Social Stories help with?Social Stories support kids with autism by:
- Teaching social norms
- Improving social skills
- Learning to empathize and have compassion with others
- Reducing anxiety
- Perspective sentences – General descriptions of the internal state of another person like his/her knowledge, thoughts, beliefs, feelings, motivations, and opinions, as well as his/her physical condition.
- Descriptive sentences – Answers the “why” questions in a social situation or event. They are factual and observable sentences that are free from assumptions and opinions and are used to identify the most important factors in a social situation.
- Directive sentences – Presents a response or choice of actions to a given situation or event in a positive way.
- Control sentences – These are written by the child who just heard the story. These are used to identify or remember the personal strategies or solutions that the child will use to recall and use information.
- Affirmative sentences – These sentences are used to support or reinforce the meaning of statements and may stress a shared value or opinion. These can be employed along with directive, perspective, or descriptive sentences.
- Cooperative sentences – These sentences help a child understand the important role played by other people in a certain situation or activity.
- Partial sentences – These are sentences used to encourage a child with autism to determine the ideal response to certain situations. These sentences are recommended when the child has a significant understanding of social situations and how they are handled.
Some benefits to creating Social Stories for autistic childrenThese stories help kids learn how to respond to daily situations or events appropriately. A 2015 study of 30 children with autism, half of which went through Social Stories training, returned positive results. The experimental group who received a social story exhibited improved social interaction.
Here are some benefits of developing Social Stories:
- Helps kids learn self-care and social skills
- Allows children with special needs to understand their behavior as well as others
- Assists autistic kids in understanding emotions such as anger, sadness, and happiness, and how to address them
- Helps children on the spectrum cope with various changes and everyday life transitions
- Encourages kids to work on developing relationships and provides rewards for accomplishing social tasks
- Reinforces proper and/or accepted behavior
- Teaches autistic kids how to join in activities, use their imagination, and play with others
- Provides the tools to teach kids with special needs to make and maintain friendships, as well as to join in group activities.
Research has shown that mental illness tends to disrupt people’s lives even more than physical conditions, said Dr. Mark S. Komrad, MD, a psychiatrist and author of the excellent book You Need Help! A Step-by-Step Plan to Convince a Loved One to Get Counseling.
“On average, a person with depression is at least 50 percent more disabled than someone with angina, arthritis, asthma or diabetes,” according to this report by The Centre for Economic Performance’s Mental Health Policy Group.
The good news is that treatments for mental illness are highly effective. The bad news is that only one out of three people might actually seek help. And some research suggests that the people who need help the most are typically the least likely to get it.
People understand that you can’t treat a lump in your breast on your own, Dr. Komrad said. But that same understanding doesn’t extend to mental illness.
Self-reliance is deeply imbedded in our society’s psyche, he said. That becomes problematic when anything that’s the opposite of self-reliance — such as dependency — is viewed as weakness and something to be ashamed of.
People might worry about appearing weak if they seek counseling — and they might turn that stigma inward and see themselves as weak, Komrad said.
Another big deterrent is lack of insight. Many people with mental illness simply don’t think they’re sick.
That’s why it’s critical for families and friends to step in and help their loved one realize they need to seek counseling. Don’t worry about “meddling” in their lives, Komrad said. Rather, you have the opportunity and power to improve – and in some cases, save — their lives.
Warning SignsIn You Need Help! Komrad lists the specific signs — along with real-life examples — that signal an individual needs help. These are some of the signs:
- Behavior that scares you, such as a significant temper.
- Problems taking care of themselves or regulating their behavior, such as ignoring basic hygiene, engaging in reckless acts or drinking and acting aggressively.
- Problems with thinking, such as becoming disoriented, seeing or hearing things that no one else does or forgetting important facts.
- Intense feelings, such as profound anxiety about leaving the house.
- Problems interacting with others, such as withdrawing from the people they love.
- Inability to work, such as not holding down a job or diminishing grades or effort in school.
- Experiencing trauma, such as abuse or the death of a child.
Ultimately, the key is to look for what Komrad calls “a change in baseline.” In other words, is your loved one acting differently in any area of their life, including work or home? Komrad said that it’s not unusual to see a person unraveling at home first.
Approaching Your Loved One in the Early StagesKomrad suggested the following ways to approach your loved one about seeking help in the early stages of mental illness.
- Let your loved one know that you need to have an important conversation with them. According to Komrad, this helps to focus their attention and implies they should take it seriously.
- Pick a good time and place. For instance, avoid talking during family gatherings or when you’re fighting.
- Approach them with empathy. You might say something like “I know this is really hard for you, but I’m talking to you because I love you. If I didn’t care, we wouldn’t be having this talk.”
- Be prepared for the person to be upset – and try not to get defensive.
- Use “I” statements, such as “I’m concerned about you.”
- Ask for a gift – literally. Ask your loved one to give you the gift of seeking help, whether it’s for your anniversary, a holiday or your kids’ birthdays. Here’s an example from Komrad’s book:“Getting a consultation with a psychiatrist about your mood swings would be the best thing you could do for our little girl’s birthday. It’s better than anything else that you could possibly give her. Please, do it for her. She, more than anyone, needs you to get some direction and proper help, more help than I know how to give you.”
- Facilitate the process by finding a professional and scheduling an appointment. Even if they refuse to go, see the practitioner anyway. Talk to them about helping your loved one. Komrad said that 15 percent of his practice is meeting with clients about their loved ones.
- Offer to pay for the appointment, if possible. A common excuse is that therapy is too pricey.
- Don’t use words like “crazy” or “abnormal.”
An especially powerful tool, he said, is to explain to your loved one that families come with certain privileges – and responsibilities. For instance, if you’re a parent who’s financially supporting your adult child, leverage these privileges to get them to seek a professional evaluation.
If that doesn’t work and your loved one is a danger to themselves or someone else or is very ill, contact the authorities, Komrad said. Research your city’s laws on involuntary evaluation. And show up at every step of the process, he said.
“Don’t just call the authorities and wait.” Show up to the ER and the court hearing. “When you do show up, tell the story.” In fact, tell the ugliest parts, he said. Talk about the facts that substantiate the seriousness of the situation.
If you’re feeling unsafe for any reason, articulate that to the authorities. If you’re uneasy about bringing your loved one home, communicate that as well. As Komrad said, you don’t want to give the system an easy way out. You want to make sure they grasp the gravity.
Supporting Your Loved One Long-TermSupporting your loved one through treatment is “a long-term project,” Komrad said. Check in with them regularly about their treatment and how you can help.
Also, realize that “a change in them is a change in you,” he said. In other words, as they’re making changes in their life, you might want to seek professional help as well. You might even realize that your relationship is part of the problem. As Komrad said, “Sometimes relationships can be sick, too.”
As a family member or close friend, you have a lot of power in helping your loved one. Use it.
The compelling quality of art makes it an incredibly useful tool in psychotherapy and counseling. Creative activities, in the form of art therapy, become a type of language that allows people to communicate thoughts and feelings that are too difficult or painful to put into words.
WHAT IS ART THERAPY?The formal definition of art therapy is “the application of the visual arts and the creative process within a therapeutic relationship to support, maintain and improve the psychosocial, physical, cognitive and spiritual health of individuals of all ages.” Put more simply, art therapy is a type of psychotherapy that uses art and artistic mediums to help people explore thoughts and emotions in a unique way.
Art therapy is facilitated by a trained, qualified professional with a knowledge of visual art—drawing, painting, sculpture and other art forms—and the creative process, as well as human development and counseling theories and techniques.
From the patient’s perspective, art therapy does not require experience or special talent. The work is not criticized or judged for its artistic quality, precision or beauty. The methods used, along with the resulting artwork, are more about the emotions expressed and felt throughout the process.
HELPING TEENS EXPRESS THEMSELVESThe use of nonverbal expression can be especially beneficial for adolescents who are navigating the difficult waters of their teen years. Normal developmental changes, family tensions and social challenges may be further complicated by symptoms of mental illness, which affects 20 percent of all youth ages 13-18.
Teens often see art therapy as a nonthreatening form of treatment. The artwork they produce helps the therapist gain a better understanding of the their concerns and life circumstances, especially those situations that are too risky to reveal or too personally embarrassing to relate. This awareness better equips the therapist in efforts to protect and support them.
In art therapy, teens are able to express themselves in a context of gentle guidance that assists them in self-discovery and growth. The creative process helps them develop an understanding of their own inner voice, establish an identity, examine values and morals, question authority and plan for the future.
BENEFITS OF ART THERAPYThe positive results of art therapy are broad ranging and provide benefits for anyone wishing to learn more about themselves or explore the creative arts as a means of self-expression. But art therapy holds specific benefits for those suffering from a wide spectrum of mental illnesses.
Under the guidance of a trained expert, art therapy can help improve various mental and physical symptoms, bringing significant relief and promoting recovery from debilitating mental disorders. In addition to addressing specific symptoms, art therapy offers many general benefits, such as:
- Offering a nonthreatening way to express inner feelings that can be difficult to put into words
- Fostering a feeling of being understood, relieving frustration
- Providing a safe outlet for feelings such as fear, guilt, pain, rage and anger
- Gaining skills and a sense of achievement, providing ownership of successes
- Building trust, which is encouraged in a safe environment
- Increasing self-esteem and self-respect
- Developing objective perspectives on conditions, challenges or difficult life circumstances
- Experimenting with change that can be applied outside therapy
- Encouraging realization of existing personal strengths and the confidence to use them
- Improving social skills, especially for someone who may be withdrawn or shy
While each therapeutic setting has its own set structure and goals, the following characteristics of DBT are found in group skills training, individual psychotherapy, and phone coaching:
- Support: You'll be encouraged to recognize your positive strengths and attributes and develop and use them.
- Behavioral: You'll learn to analyze any problem or destructive behavior patterns and replace them with healthy and effective ones.
- Cognitive: You'll focus on changing thoughts and beliefs, and behavior, or actions that are not effective or helpful.
- Skill sets: You’ll learn new skills to enhance your capabilities.
- Acceptance and change: You’ll learn strategies to accept and tolerate your life, emotions, and yourself as well as skills to help you make positive changes in your behaviors and interactions with others.
- Collaboration: You'll learn to communicate effectively and work together as a team (therapist, group therapist, psychiatrist).
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