Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Mental Health Awareness & Maintenance Tips

montage of images relating to mental health.
Finals and the holiday season are here and the end of the year is near-- which means some of us maybe feeling a bit more stressed, overwhelmed and in need of some help as it relates to mental health. Here are some perspectives, insights and wellness tips about mental health from Rio Salado Counselor Amberly Lebeck Brown to consider-- all year long.

In the scope of health and wellness, the focus is often on physical well-being while forgetting the important component of mental wellness.

Struggles with physical illness and disabilities are discussed openly and tend to be met with empathy while issues of mental health—including maintaining good mental health and battling with various degrees of mental illness—may be treated in the exact opposite way to the point of being stigmatized.

Of course, many of the things designed for physical health—exercise, a balanced diet—also contribute to maintaining a balanced mental health profile. Sometimes, however, these things are not sufficient and help should be sought.

Just like a minor physical issue, such as a cold or a sprained ankle, certain emotional stresses can be adequately dealt with by speaking with supportive friends and/or family members. Similarly, a more significant physical issue, such as a broken leg, would require the professional intervention of a medical doctor. A more significant behavioral health issue, such as persistent anxiety or depression, requires the assistance of a professional counselor, therapist, or psychologist.

In fact, even mental health professionals seek out other mental health professionals from time to time. Think of it like a maintenance plan; just as cars need periodic oil changes so does one’s mental health. Spending an hour talking, processing (positive or negative) stressful events, and allowing yourself to be centered on self is a great way to exercise those mental health muscles.

image of  a young women getting cousnel from a mental health professional
Some may think mental health services are out of reach, but finding care is easier than one might think.

First, many health insurance policies—including ACCCS—provide a mental health benefit. The easiest way to find a care provider is to contact your health insurance provider and ask for a list.

Second, many providers offer a sliding scale fee for potential clients who do not have health insurance. In these cases, fees are typically based on one’s income and can be as low as $25 per session.

A third, slightly less expensive option is seeking assistance through one of the university counselor training programs. In these settings, counselors are university students and they are supervised by licensed clinicians. ASU’s Counselor Training Center is located on the main campus in Tempe and provides weekly counseling sessions during the fall and spring semesters at a cost of $80 for community members. The University of Phoenix provides free counseling at their Counseling Skills Center in Tempe.

Another option is reaching out to a crisis hotline or a warm line. There are several options within Maricopa County, including the Behavioral Health Crises Line, which offers a 24-hour crisis line at (602) 222 -9444 as well as a warm line at (602) 347-1100 that is available seven days a week.

The Gay, Lesbian, Bisexual, Transgender National Hotline (www.glbthotline.org) offers an online chat option through its website as well as a warm line (888) 843-4564 with limited availability.

Veterans can access help through a 24-hour hotline at (877) 424-3838 and/or live chat offered by the National Call Center for Homeless Vets (www.va.gov/homeless).

The only mistake is not asking for help.

The fear of being stigmatized has prevented many people who are struggling with significant mental health issues from seeking the help they need. Untreated mental illness is just as significant as any physical illness going undiagnosed and/or untreated and it can be just as debilitating.


For more details about Rio Salado counseling services, visit www.riosalado.edu/counseling or call 480-517-8785.

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