Mental Health America Blog https://www.mhanational.org/ en The Legacy of “Deinstitutionalization” https://www.mhanational.org/blog/legacy-deinstitutionalization <span>The Legacy of “Deinstitutionalization”</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-07/photo-1516024693578-e0623769b752.jpeg" alt="Image description: grey and black stock photo of bars on a window. A person&#039;s shadow is in the center of the window" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Wed, 07/29/2020 - 09:13</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">July 29, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><h6>Image description: grey and black stock photo of bars on a window. A person's shadow is in the center of the window</h6> <p><em>By Shivani Nishar, Health &amp; Justice Fellow at the Center for Prisoner Health and Human Rights and member of Mental Health America’s <a href="https://mhanational.org/blog/cmhic-2019-6-student-leaders-transforming-mental-health-campus">Collegiate Mental Health Innovation Council</a></em></p> <p>In today’s “deinstitutionalized” world, prisons and jails function as makeshift asylums with the shared goal of containing and segregating Black and Brown disabled communities from the rest of society. As of 2014, approximately <a href="https://www.treatmentadvocacycenter.org/storage/documents/backgrounders/how%20many%20individuals%20with%20serious%20mental%20illness%20are%20in%20jails%20and%20prisons%20final.pdf">356,000</a> incarcerated people have severe mental illness, 10 times the number of people with severe mental illness in state hospitals. To make matters worse, for those who don’t enter prison with disabilities, the inhumane environment inevitably creates and compounds health conditions, mental illnesses and trauma experiences. The fact that “jails in New York (Rikers), Los Angeles (LA County Jail), and Chicago (Cook County Jail) are now the <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/04/25/605666107/insane-americas-3-largest-psychiatric-facilities-are-jails">three largest institutions providing psychiatric care in the U.S</a>," and that the “psychiatric care” comprises of solitary confinement, physical restraints, removal of food, and refusal of medication amongst other life-threatening actions, is deeply disturbing.</p> <p>We can trace the over-pathologization and hyper-criminalization of disabled Black people back to “insane” asylums and the <a href="https://www.thebalance.com/deinstitutionalization-3306067#:~:text=Deinstitutionalization%20is%20a%20government%20policy%20that%20moved%20mental,the%20mentally%20ill%20while%20also%20cutting%20government%20budgets.">1960s “deinstitutionalization” movement</a>. Virginia legislators established the Central State Lunatic Asylum for the Colored Insane, the first asylum created specifically for non-whites, to maintain control over formerly enslaved African Americans. Post-emancipation, white society grew increasingly weary at the prospect of African Americans being viewed as equal and used the asylum to create a new forced labor class to exploit. African Americans were incarcerated at the asylum for “infractions” including arguing with a white boss and not stepping aside for a white person on the sidewalk. Moreover, legislators fabricated insanity diagnoses for African Americans who attempted to move to the North – resonant of the original fictitious “<a href="https://allthatsinteresting.com/drapetomania">drapetomania</a>” diagnosis used to re-capture and abuse fleeing enslaved individuals – allowing the state to shackle them once more through institutionalization.</p> <p>Virginia’s legislators effectively weaponized mental illness to justify the forced commitment of African Americans to asylums by equating their supposed psychiatric disabilities to inherent degeneracy. This still happens today.</p> <p>For instance, <a href="https://mhanational.org/racism-and-mental-health">racist diagnosing</a> in an educational context feeds into a new cycle of institutionalization and entrapment in the industrial prison complex. Doctors are much more likely to <a href="https://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2019/03/190321130300.htm">misdiagnose</a> Black children, compared to white children, with schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, and/or other conduct disorders instead of their actual experiences with <a href="https://www.additudemag.com/race-and-adhd-how-people-of-color-get-left-behind/">attention deficit hyperactivity disorder</a> and <a href="https://www.npr.org/sections/health-shots/2018/03/19/587249339/black-and-latino-children-are-often-overlooked-when-it-comes-to-autism">autism spectrum disorder</a>. These racial biases in diagnosing are pervasive despite the scientific evidence showing that Black and white children experience attention deficit disorders at <a href="https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3396128/">nearly the same rates</a>. Instead, doctors force diagnoses upon Black children that are some of the most stigmatized in the United States, often conflated with violent criminality. In this way, Black children are routinely viewed as being defiant and out of control; rather than receiving adequate disability care and services in schools, school resource officers arrest and the courts incarcerate Black children in juvenile detention facilities.</p> <p>“Insane” asylums taught us to fear mentally ill communities, normalizing the removal of human rights through captivity as a suitable treatment protocol, even for children. This ableism, coupled with the United States’ sinister foundation of oppression against Black communities, has led to the carceral state pushing disabled Black people into prisons at alarming rates. It is crucial that we continue to examine how the treatment of mentally ill communities throughout the “deinstitutionalization” movement shaped minimally less overt forms of institutionalization that remain today.</p> <p>Throughout this blog post, I’ve written “deinstitutionalization” in quotes because it was a movement towards community-based care that never materialized. We still live in a world that institutionalizes mentally ill people - but instead of in asylums, they are behind bars in prisons and jails (and <a href="https://www.madinamerica.com/2020/03/report-psychiatric-interventions-torture/">psychiatric hospitals</a>). Therefore, our fight against modern institutionalization is a protest movement that fights against all carceral responses to mental health crises and builds alternatives to incarceration. After all, deinstitutionalization will never occur if we continue to rely on state solutions; society must trust that our disability communities are able to meet each other’s needs with non-carceral, compassionate and proactive care.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/minority-mental-health" hreflang="en">BIPOC mental health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/policy" hreflang="en">policy</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17585&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="1o93SWdhv-Q5oI-df7PIWxz3vGarh5Ye3abIk8UE-a8"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 29 Jul 2020 13:13:37 +0000 JCheang 17585 at https://www.mhanational.org https://www.mhanational.org/blog/legacy-deinstitutionalization#comments Calling Young Adults Making A Difference in Mental Health! New Young Mental Health Leaders Council https://www.mhanational.org/blog/calling-young-adults-making-difference-mental-health-new-young-mental-health-leaders-council <span>Calling Young Adults Making A Difference in Mental Health! New Young Mental Health Leaders Council</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/yacouncil.jpg" alt="A group of students putting their hands together in a circle" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Tue, 06/30/2020 - 12:52</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">July 17, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p>Mental Health America (MHA) is excited to announce our new <a href="file://mha-fp01/MHA/Departments/Consumer%20Advocacy/BAYAL/Youth%20Mental%20Health%20Leaders%20Council/Old/mhanational.org/youngleaders">Young Mental Health Leaders Council</a>. For the past three years, MHA’s <a href="file://mha-fp01/MHA/Departments/Consumer%20Advocacy/BAYAL/Youth%20Mental%20Health%20Leaders%20Council/Old/mhanational.org/cmhic">Collegiate Mental Health Innovation Council (CMHIC)</a> has identified student leaders impacting campus mental health. By focusing on student-led programs that fill gaps in traditional mental health services, CMHIC highlighted the concerns of college students and model student-led programs to be expanded to additional campuses. Now, we are opening the program to all young adults ages 18-25.</p> <p>The new program will identify leaders who have created programs or initiatives that fill gaps in mental health supports and resources in their communities. Efforts could include starting a mental health and sports program, developing an app, launching a policy initiative, or more.</p> <p>Selected members will:</p> <ul> <li>Connect with and learn from other young leaders via virtual meetings over a 6-month term</li> <li>Receive one-on-one mentoring for their programmatic and professional growth</li> <li>Gain leadership opportunities at MHA and with MHA partners</li> <li>Highlight their work and ideas in an annual report</li> <li>Share their work with MHA’s social media network</li> <li>Present at MHA local and national events and with MHA partners</li> </ul> <p>In line with MHA’s over 111-year history of consumer leadership, the Young Mental Health Leaders Council centers lived experience as essential to meeting the mental health needs of youth and young adults today. The world is different and rapidly changing. To improve the well-being of young people, we need to listen to their ideas and support them in leading.</p> <p class="text-align-center">Share and apply today at <a href="http://www.mhanational.org/youngleaders">mhanational.org/youngleaders</a>.</p> <p class="text-align-center"><strong>Applications are due Friday, August 14, 2020.</strong></p> <p class="text-align-center">Questions? Email Kelly Davis at <a href="mailto:kdavis@mhanational.org">kdavis@mhanational.org</a>.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/life-campus" hreflang="en">life on campus</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17478&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="wu9ALIGx2uBHvTBWTFquwg1GuEMosl5LuM2dXXn7EyA"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 30 Jun 2020 16:52:05 +0000 JCheang 17478 at https://www.mhanational.org https://www.mhanational.org/blog/calling-young-adults-making-difference-mental-health-new-young-mental-health-leaders-council#comments 10 ways to support the healthcare worker in your life https://www.mhanational.org/blog/10-ways-support-healthcare-worker-your-life-0 <span>10 ways to support the healthcare worker in your life</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-07/sj-objio-8hHxO3iYuU0-unsplash.jpg" alt="Healthcare worker in PPE tying mask on" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Mon, 07/13/2020 - 11:57</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">July 17, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By Jessica Kennedy, Chief of Staff at Mental Health America</em></p> <p>Our healthcare workers are heroes.</p> <p>We should have known this - and recognized it - all along, but the COVID-19 pandemic has really shown us just how important our healthcare workers are. They work long hours, risk their own health, lose sleep, cry, skip meals, worry about their families, and keep our nation together.</p> <p>We have all seen the tremendous impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on everyone, but it’s taken a particularly harsh toll on healthcare workers.</p> <p>Now, it’s time for us to support <em>them</em>.</p> <p>Here are ten ways to support the healthcare worker in your life:</p> <ol> <li><strong>Tell them how much you appreciate them</strong>. Being a healthcare worker can be a thankless job. Express your gratitude regularly by thanking the healthcare worker in your life.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Follow <a href="https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/prevention.html">CDC guidelines</a>. </strong>Not only are healthcare workers at increased risk for getting COVID-19, it will strain the health system if they do get it. Wear masks, practice social distancing, and quarantine yourself when needed according to CDC guidelines.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Be a good listener. </strong>Your healthcare worker may have lost patients, dealt with work shortages, or worry about bringing infections into your home. If they want to talk to you, listen to them with your full attention. You don’t need to provide advice, and this isn’t the time to share judgment. Use eye contact and body language to show you’re engaged. Your loved one may have dealt with some difficult patients or family members at work and may just need to vent.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Respect their need for distance - emotional or physical.</strong> Your healthcare worker may not want to talk about difficult things; don’t push them. The healthcare worker in your life may want to take even more precautions to protect your family - like sleeping in a garage or a separate room. Don’t guilt them or challenge them on the practices they need to keep your family safe. Don’t guilt them for leaving home to go to work.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Donate food or other supplies to their workplaces. </strong>Be sure to ask what would be helpful - many workplaces can’t accept donations of masks or equipment from outside. When ordering food, consider common dietary restrictions (vegan/vegetarian, gluten free, kosher/Halal, and lactose intolerance). Cold food like sandwiches or salads may keep better than deliveries of hot food.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Take on extra chores.</strong> Many families split chores evenly, but now is a good time to take on someone else’s tasks. It can be a huge relief to come home and find laundry done or the dishwasher emptied.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Relieve their mental load.</strong> <a href="https://english.emmaclit.com/2017/05/20/you-shouldve-asked/">Mental load is a real thing</a> - it’s the stress that comes from having to make decisions in a household. If you can do something without asking for permission, that can be even more helpful.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Find an outlet for your fears and anxieties. </strong>You probably have a lot of fears and anxieties about COVID-19 too, including what might happen if your healthcare worker brings something home. That’s natural and understandable. If you can share your anxieties and concerns with another person - a friend, a peer, or your therapist - you can help relieve some of the stress on your healthcare worker.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Give them a gift. </strong>There are many <a href="https://www.5lovelanguages.com/">love languages</a>, and some people feel the most love when they receive a gift. Think of something that your healthcare worker really likes--food, flowers, clothes, or other--and surprise them with a gift.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li><strong>Take care of yourself.</strong> If you want to support someone, you need to take care of yourself first. <a href="https://screening.mhanational.org/screening-tools">Take a mental health screen</a> to check in on yourself.</li> </ol> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/covid19" hreflang="en">COVID19</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17534&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="kI5xyGt2OWuMclgnOdTxwYXlzPnoZ-wsPysBJ_i0wPA"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 13 Jul 2020 15:57:24 +0000 JCheang 17534 at https://www.mhanational.org https://www.mhanational.org/blog/10-ways-support-healthcare-worker-your-life-0#comments A Black, Christian’s Journey to Mental Wellness https://www.mhanational.org/blog/black-christians-journey-mental-wellness <span>A Black, Christian’s Journey to Mental Wellness</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-07/morgane%20freeman.jpg" alt="A photo of the author, Morgane Freeman" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Wed, 07/08/2020 - 11:09</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">July 15, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By Morgane Freeman, Marketer/Podcaster/Mental Health Advocate</em></p> <p>As a Christian, I find comfort in prayer and the power of my faith. As a Black woman thriving with a mental illness, I know that “faith without works is dead.” (James 2:46) My faith has only empowered me to take care of myself and minister to others.</p> <p>Throughout all my experiences, I believe God placed me in specific situations to better me and others around me. I call these experiences “God Winks,” like the Hallmark movie. Each of these “God Winks” has strengthened my relationship with God and helped with my mental health journey.</p> <p><strong>Childhood Faith</strong></p> <p>I can remember early Sunday mornings as a child heading to church. My adolescence was shaped in Christianity and being active in the church. Christianity set a good foundation to trust in something I couldn’t touch. To find help and healing in something bigger than my four walls.</p> <p><strong>Understanding Mental Health</strong></p> <p>In the Black community as a kid, I never learned about mental health. My only understanding was people were “crazy” or “insane” or other derogatory names that don’t normalize mental health. I thought therapy was for white people. From my experience, Black folks either prayed about it and found relief or kept it bottled up until it inevitably exploded. The community would whisper about those living with mental illness, unable to help them, but offer prayers and support the individual during what they assumed would be “a season” in this person’s life.</p> <p><strong>Black and Bipolar </strong></p> <p>I was 23 going on 24. I just started a new job at a local mental health nonprofit. I had to attend an evening fundraiser. It was 11 pm on a Thursday, I had a splash of wine at the fundraiser, but I knew something was off. I could hear voices, had terrible headaches, and later learned I was hallucinating. I pulled over to an empty mall parking lot and called an old grief counselor. She told me two things at that late hour: call your parents and call off work tomorrow. I listened to one, I called my parents. The following week I was diagnosed with bipolar.</p> <p><strong>Speaking to professionals</strong></p> <p>My faith was truly tested during the first months of my diagnosis. I don’t know if I even prayed. But I did feel a sense of relief knowing what was causing my headaches, the music in my head, and my mood swings.</p> <p>Finding a doctor was my mom’s and my next mission, I wanted someone Black. When I finally found a doctor my mom was there, doing what moms do best, worrying. My doctor corrected my medications and added vitamins. This relationship has only grown since our first meeting. He has continued to assist me in my mental health journey.</p> <p>The doctor also recommended a Black therapist. I continued monthly sessions with her. We’ve worked through acknowledging and coping with having bipolar. From these two influences, I’ve learned this is just a part of who I am, but it doesn’t define me.</p> <p><strong>Having conversations </strong></p> <p>At work, I saw firsthand the ways people live, cope, and thrive with mental illness. So, what was the solution to break the stigma? I knew I wasn’t equipped to answer this question, but I wanted my community to be knowledgeable.</p> <p>In honor of BIPOC Mental Health Month, I invited a guest speaker to my church. He was interesting, compassionate and the congregation received this information well.&nbsp; Afterward, I thought to myself, “I started the conversation and I can help keep it going.”&nbsp;</p> <p>After about a year, with faith and the investment of loving people placed in my life, I wasn’t ashamed of my mental illness. I found power in it. Now, I share my experiences with others on my podcast, <a href="http://www.youngblackmrspodcast.com">Young Black MRS</a>. It’s my goal to continue the conversation of mental wellness.</p> <p><em><strong>Morgane Freeman, MS,&nbsp;</strong>is a Digital Marketing Specialist in the Food Industry. She has a BA in Communications from Wilberforce University and MS in Marketing from SNHU. She resides in the Kansas City, MO area. In her free time, she’s the host of <a href="http://www.youngblackmrspodcast.com">Young Black MRS podcast</a>. Morgane also enjoys cooking and DIY crafts.</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/minority-mental-health" hreflang="en">BIPOC mental health</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/4mind4body" hreflang="en">4mind4body</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17505&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="nharaehss5b-AtrhUIelNJp3F25Hcqo5GywhWjF32Zw"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 08 Jul 2020 15:09:44 +0000 JCheang 17505 at https://www.mhanational.org https://www.mhanational.org/blog/black-christians-journey-mental-wellness#comments (Re) Defining Resilience: A perspective of ‘toughness’ in BIPOC communities https://www.mhanational.org/blog/re-defining-resilience-perspective-toughness-bipoc-communities <span>(Re) Defining Resilience: A perspective of ‘toughness’ in BIPOC communities</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-07/2.jpg" alt="Group of people standing together with smiles" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Wed, 07/08/2020 - 11:06</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">July 13, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By Gustavo A. Molinar, M.A., Literacy Specialist, Mental Health America of Greater Houston</em></p> <p>You may have heard the phrase, 'pull yourself up by the bootstraps,” when faced with failure, adversity, or disappointment. This phrase is referring to resilience, or “the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, trauma, tragedy, threats, or significant sources of stress...it can also involve profound personal growth.” (<a href="https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience">APA, 2020</a>) Resilience has recently become a mainstream, buzz word that is used across fields and settings. Educators, professionals, and books such as Rising Strong (Brown, 2015) often share the message that we face challenges, but the ‘bounce back’ from the challenges is what defines resilience.</p> <p>As a gay, Latino, and son of immigrants, I certainly have had my share of resilient moments. Whether it was failing a test in college or being bullied for my identities, I learned quickly that you must keep going, no matter what. I also realized that there are some situations in which this bounce back looks different. It wasn’t until I saw Justice Sonia Sotomayor’s<a href="http://www.latina.com/lifestyle/politics/sonia-sotomayor-inequality-pulling-up-by-bootstraps"> </a><a href="http://www.latina.com/lifestyle/politics/sonia-sotomayor-inequality-pulling-up-by-bootstraps">interview</a> in which she famously said “not everyone can pull themselves up by their bootstraps,” that I realized that resilience is a multi-layered and complex concept, particularly for Black, Brown, and Indigenous folks. Justice Sotomayor extended the bootstrap analogy and acknowledged that “no matter how tall the heel on your boot is, the barrier is so high, you need a small lift.”</p> <p>For Black, Indigenous, and other People of Color (BIPOC), generations of trauma, systemic racism, and cultural barriers lead to resilience looking very different than what we have taken it to mean in our society. This is not to say that we should discard resilience. In fact, I would say we should pay more attention to it. While resilience can be developed, we should consider how some have no choice but to be resilient. For BIPOC such as myself, being resilient is an act of resistance and survival, while we also celebrate the joys across and within each community.</p> <p>With this in mind, we should reconsider how we think, discuss, and implement resilient strategies. When I asked my BIPOC colleagues about their own definition of resilience, it was clear that there is more to resilience than simply acknowledging a set-back, processing, and moving on.</p> <p>For example, some said:</p> <blockquote> <p><em>“I have come to know that being resilient is to not have to seek validation from others but to honor and uplift myself despite messaging from the outside world.”</em></p> <p><em>“Being resilient, for me, in this current moment looks like having the ability to see past my current situation and know that there is a bigger purpose. This is not done without challenges because I'm correcting learned behaviors but there is power on the other side.”</em></p> <p><em>“I personally have a love/hate relationship with that term. For generations resiliency has been why people of color have survived and thrived. A bi-product of resiliency is the underestimation of need (of an individual or collective) or the creation of a short list of rules that define how a group of people must handle adversity. It is my hope that “we” will make more room for humanity when making reference to that term. I hope we do not allow being “resilient” prevent us from expressing empathy, vulnerability etc. to each other”</em></p> </blockquote> <p>When discussing resilience, we must acknowledge and center the narratives and history of BIPOC community members. This can look like listening to BIPOC, learning about the actual history of a community, and reading books by BIPOC. It is critical to understand and take this important context into consideration. The multiple identities that BIPOC hold lead to them to process and apply resilience strategies differently. I encourage BIPOC to not only seek counseling, but also seek counseling from therapists that align and affirm their identities.</p> <p>When implementing resilience, too, we should be careful in how we tell BIPOC to be resilient. Often, the strengths of BIPOC communities are overlooked. For example,<a href="https://www.resiliency.com/race-and-resiliency-what-does-the-research-say/"> </a><a href="https://www.resiliency.com/race-and-resiliency-what-does-the-research-say/">research</a> has shown that in Black communities, despite the risk for negative outcomes, many are able to overcome the negative consequences and experience a positive life (Brown, 2008).&nbsp; Aspects of the different BIPOC communities, such as learning the history of their community or an extended support group, can help overcome failures, challenges, and trauma.</p> <p>Although this year has presented several challenges, I am reminded again about the strengths of my communities and how I have shown resilience throughout my life. When considering how I “pull myself up by the bootstraps,” I also think about taking them off, understand how they were made, and putting them on once I am ready to walk again.</p> <p><em><strong>Gustavo A. Molinar, M.A. (he/him/his/él)</strong> is currently the Mental Health Literacy Specialist for Mental Health America of Greater Houston. Informed by his identities as a queer Latino man, Gustavo is dedicated to working with and for communities, helping uplift those who have been traditionally marginalized. Originally from Houston, TX, he holds his bachelor degrees from The University of Texas at Austin and his master’s degree in Higher Education and Student Affairs from The Ohio State University. He has worked professionally in residence life, student wellness, and multicultural affairs and has taught social justice courses. In his spare time, Gustavo enjoys running, photography, and traveling.</em></p> <hr /> <p><u><strong>Sources:</strong></u></p> <p>American Psychological Association (2020). Building your resilience. Retrieved from: <a href="https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience">https://www.apa.org/topics/resilience</a></p> <p>Reichard, R. (2017). Justice Sonia Sotomayor keeps it real (again): Not everyone can pull themselves ‘Up by the bootstraps.’ Retrieved from: <a href="http://www.latina.com/lifestyle/politics/sonia-sotomayor-inequality-pulling-up-by-bootstraps">http://www.latina.com/lifestyle/politics/sonia-sotomayor-inequality-pulling-up-by-bootstraps</a></p> <p>Henderson, N. (2020). Race and resiliency--What does the research say? Retrieved from:</p> <p><a href="https://www.resiliency.com/race-and-resiliency-what-does-the-research-say/">https://www.resiliency.com/race-and-resiliency-what-does-the-research-say/</a></p> <p><u><strong>(Other References):</strong></u></p> <p><a href="https://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/newsletter/2015/08/african-american-youth">https://www.apa.org/pi/families/resources/newsletter/2015/08/african-american-youth</a></p> <p>americanprogress.org/issues/race/news/2017/12/18/444235/resilient-power-black-community/</p> <p><a href="https://vakids.org/our-news/blog/whyblackchildrenhavetoberesilient">https://vakids.org/our-news/blog/whyblackchildrenhavetoberesilient</a></p> <p><a href="https://theconversation.com/black-americans-may-be-more-resilient-to-stress-than-white-americans-62338">https://theconversation.com/black-americans-may-be-more-resilient-to-stress-than-white-americans-62338</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00438243.2018.1510340?needAccess=true">https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/pdf/10.1080/00438243.2018.1510340?needAccess=true</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00438243.2018.1510340">https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/00438243.2018.1510340</a></p> <p><a href="https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-0-387-71799-9_115">https://link.springer.com/referenceworkentry/10.1007%2F978-0-387-71799-9_115</a></p> <p><a href="https://www.immi.se/intercultural/nr11/gunnestad.htm">https://www.immi.se/intercultural/nr11/gunnestad.htm</a></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/minority-mental-health" hreflang="en">BIPOC mental health</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17504&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="tsiDM-gBtaReN_KOZJefysh-yGSVRMKT8wdSaolK5fs"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 08 Jul 2020 15:06:18 +0000 JCheang 17504 at https://www.mhanational.org https://www.mhanational.org/blog/re-defining-resilience-perspective-toughness-bipoc-communities#comments Racism deniers make it harder to do this incredible, exhausting work https://www.mhanational.org/blog/racism-deniers-make-it-harder-do-incredible-exhausting-work <span>Racism deniers make it harder to do this incredible, exhausting work</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-07/guilian-fremaux-lGqE5JQ2yfs-unsplash_0.jpg" alt="Woman looking out into the distance" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Wed, 07/08/2020 - 09:29</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">July 08, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By Caren Howard, Advocacy Manager at Mental Health America</em></p> <p>As I continue to read report after report after report of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC)&nbsp;<a href="/bipoc-communities-and-covid-19">dying from COVID</a>&nbsp;at higher rates than whites in America; as I endure each day that goes with the irony that the police officers responsible for the deaths of Breonna Taylor and Elijah McClain live freely and are yet to be charged with a crime; as I process the loneliness and isolation I feel living alone and wanting badly to hug neighbors or friends without hearing my anxious 74 year old Vietnam&nbsp;<a href="https://www.research.va.gov/topics/mental_health.cfm">veteran</a>&nbsp;father’s voice in the back of my head to be cautious - it sometimes feels like too much for my extroverted introvert personality and my humanity kicks in through tears and sobs.</p> <p>I am an advocate for anyone willing to acknowledge that the pandemic has taken a toll not only on their sense of safety and security, including&nbsp;<a href="/bipoc">BIPOC</a>, but on their mental health; for anyone who has experienced trauma that led to a mental episode or crisis; for all the people who on a regular basis hear or see things that others cannot see or hear; and for those who have trouble controlling their thoughts about self-harm or suicide.</p> <p>For all these people, I feel like I want to do more. I want to analyze and advocate for more systemic change and resources from&nbsp;<a href="/position-statements">Congress and the Administration</a>, I want to provide more counsel and relief to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.startribune.com/minnesota-nonprofits-boost-mental-health-services-during-covid-19/570596012/">MHA affiliates on the front lines</a>, I want to&nbsp;<a href="/ActB4Stage4-Advocacy-Toolkit">organize more action</a>, I want to teach and remind others of the self-care and professional&nbsp;<a href="https://screening.mhanational.org/screening-tools">tools</a>&nbsp;out there to help them in this moment. I want to be a voice for the millions of people who are unable or too ashamed by society to speak up for themselves. &nbsp;</p> <p>But, right now I just can’t do more. At this moment in time, it feels like I’ve hit a wall that limits my voice, my energy, my capability to do more, to “Lean In” as some would say.</p> <p>As I read news updates, I think about all the people who are grieving loss after loss after loss – one black male friend of mine lost his mother, his aunt, his cousin, and a friend all within the last two months. I think about the parents working full time and taking care of toddlers or special needs children full time because schools are closed.&nbsp;And, I think about people who were already in a crisis but&nbsp;<a aria-describedby="sk-tooltip-47838" data-sk="tooltip_parent" data-stringify-link="https://www.milliman.com/en/insight/addiction-and-mental-health-vs-physical-health-widening-disparities-in-network-use-and-p" delay="150" href="https://www.milliman.com/en/insight/addiction-and-mental-health-vs-physical-health-widening-disparities-in-network-use-and-p" rel="noopener noreferrer" target="_blank">could not afford or find needed treatment</a>.</p> <p>One silver lining in this upside down world is the expansion of <a href="https://signaldc.com/10-top-twitter-handles-for-covid-19-care-disparities-telehealth/">telemental health services</a> in Medicare, Medicaid, and commercial plans which is allowing more people to access behavioral health care online and by telephone (though these changes still need to be made permanent).</p> <p>Yet, what bothers me most about this time are people at the highest levels of government, who instead of looking at the facts (and working to collect and disaggregate more national data) choose to believe whatever they want - saying that coronavirus “<a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/07/01/politics/donald-trump-masks-coronavirus/index.html">&nbsp;will disappear on its own</a>” - and that present day oppression and racism “ceases to exist.” The unlimited number of untrue statements that flow from leadership feel like personal attacks, gut punches. Lies and denial allow those in power to abdicate their responsibility to serve the entire public and to save lives during a national emergency.</p> <p>That is why I stopped watching cable news following the 2016 election. It was punch, after punch, after punch – not only attacking Black people, but any and all people around the world who come to America: Latinx, LGTBQIA, immigrants from “shithole” countries, Muslim countries, DREAMers, DACA recipients, and the list goes on.</p> <p>Attacks on non-white, non-straight people continue aggressively with regulations recently announced to&nbsp;<a href="https://www.wsj.com/articles/trump-administration-issues-rule-to-roll-back-transgender-protections-in-the-affordable-care-act-11591992461">strip nondiscrimination protections</a>&nbsp;from health law.</p> <p>It continues to hurt because the denial of responsibility and ownership prevents the nation from truly moving forward toward reconciliation. The pain is palpable. It feels heavy. Sometimes it feels like I can’t breathe. And I know&nbsp;<a href="https://www.complex.com/life/kendrick-sampson-mental-health-liberation-essay">I’m not the only one</a>. Nationally, Black and Asian Americans&nbsp;<a href="https://www.washingtonpost.com/health/2020/06/12/mental-health-george-floyd-census/">reported feeling more anxious and depressed</a>&nbsp;than their counterparts in the weeks following the killing of George Floyd and after COVID was referred to as the “Chinese virus.”</p> <p>But even though it hurts, I do not want to become desensitized or numb to the pain of racism, xenophobia, and all the forms of oppression that are ingrained in U.S. systems and are impacting the mental health of Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Because then it will be easy to not care and pretend it isn’t happening; to choose the side of the oppressor.</p> <p>The same way my ancestors endured the middle passage, slavery, segregation, Jim Crow, the war on drugs, and police brutality - all traumatic experiences that changes how DNA is expressed and passed to generations at a molecular level -&nbsp; I will keep going because I hope my descendants will be born into a new day of justice and equity, a new social contract.</p> <p>I’m grateful to work for an organization that encourages me to express this humanity, this deficit, and these strengths. I am grateful for my colleagues who allow me to make mistakes as we work to better inform ourselves and the nation about racism and trauma’s impact on mental (and physical) health outcomes, which over time if we do nothing will worsen disparities.</p> <p>I will do what I can to keep pushing myself to have very difficult conversations, and to take a stand for all people. But I will also continue to take breaks, tap out, and reset as necessary.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/minority-mental-health" hreflang="en">BIPOC mental health</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17500&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="6Yw10bROFIXgGYr34hGsEP5uEDBR-MynkyUS0_75nww"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Wed, 08 Jul 2020 13:29:56 +0000 JCheang 17500 at https://www.mhanational.org https://www.mhanational.org/blog/racism-deniers-make-it-harder-do-incredible-exhausting-work#comments Why Silence Weighs Heavily on the Mental Health of Marginalized Communities https://www.mhanational.org/blog/why-silence-weighs-heavily-mental-health-marginalized-communities <span>Why Silence Weighs Heavily on the Mental Health of Marginalized Communities</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/miguel-bruna-TzVN0xQhWaQ-unsplash.jpg" alt="Person in shadow holding a fist in the air" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Tue, 06/09/2020 - 15:30</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">July 06, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By America Paredes, Associate Vice President of Partnerships and Community Outreach at Mental Health America</em></p> <p>Silence is complicity.</p> <p>I am a Latina immigrant, and that identity colors my experience. It is through this lens that I see and experience the world. I am blessed because I have had people and opportunities that have helped me understand the world differently, to move beyond my worldview and expand it.</p> <p>For Black people, their worldview is fraught with lessons and experiences that highlight that their lives do not matter. BUT they do.</p> <p>I have come to know and deeply understand that the world and the people around me may not share in my worldview – they are often not even thinking about how our experiences differ or have similarities.</p> <p>Maybe I, along with all people that do not align with your ideas of worth, are lumped in with whatever stereotypical beliefs held, or you simply do not care. Should they? Are we not being asked that question right now, do you care?</p> <p>The answer may not come easily. But I wonder if we are supposed to start there, in merely asking ourselves where we fall? Do we care or not? If so, what are you doing to help change your existence, your world? If you do not care, why is that? What has your experience been that you do not value life regardless of color, gender, or anything different from you?</p> <p>I know we are different, each one us. But there is something that binds people of color and our communities, the simple fact that we are so often ignored until we become a threat. What do we threaten - your way of life, a clear path to getting what you want, a change in the way you see the world?</p> <p>Why are we marginalized and NOT allowed an existence where we DO NOT have to defend our bodies, our presence, our experience, and our identity?</p> <p>Communities of color have been taught oppression through violence and marginalization. As Blacks, Latinos, Asians, Natives, and so many more labels placed upon us, we were taught that we should keep quiet, accept things as they are, and with that, give up our voice and power. That belief has been ingrained in many of us – that despite whatever we do, nothing will change.&nbsp;</p> <p>But it must. Systemic racism is a weight that impacts our mental health every day. The subtle jabs, the words used to describe us, the overt depictions of our brothers and sisters as monsters tire us out. But a mental shift happens every time when we choose to go out into the world. We choose to keep moving forward despite the ongoing sadness, depression, anxiety, and fear we feel.</p> <p>We cannot set aside our emotions and our mental health. Carrying the burden of ignorance and racism has far-reaching impacts in our communities of color and we cannot ignore that.</p> <p>Our mental health and well-being have to be protected, discussed, and addressed in the context of our cultural worldview and experiences. Do not take away our identity when we are urging to be heard.</p> <p>I believe that change can happen, and because of that, I have thought about where my power lies. I have asked myself where I can create change that can be lasting, and I have concluded that change happens one person at a time. Share your experience because there are people out there that are committed to listening and doing more.</p> <p>Maybe you do not agree, and that is okay. Find your path.</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/minority-mental-health" hreflang="en">BIPOC mental health</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17418&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="HXpECX_GtSSwaD45SNwp6qq1zX-DAL7CV0GG5hzfmqw"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 09 Jun 2020 19:30:27 +0000 JCheang 17418 at https://www.mhanational.org https://www.mhanational.org/blog/why-silence-weighs-heavily-mental-health-marginalized-communities#comments How 2020 Showed Me The Meaning of Justice, Pride, and Connection https://www.mhanational.org/blog/how-2020-showed-me-meaning-justice-pride-and-connection <span>How 2020 Showed Me The Meaning of Justice, Pride, and Connection</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/be%20kind.png" alt="Be Kind, Be Brave, Show Your Pride on a Beige Background" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Thu, 06/25/2020 - 17:39</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">June 25, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By Juan Acosta, Youth Intern at <a href="https://bornthisway.foundation/">Born This Way Foundation</a> and member of Mental Health America’s <a href="https://mhanational.org/blog/cmhic-2019-6-student-leaders-transforming-mental-health-campus">Collegiate Mental Health Innovation Council</a></em></p> <p>As 2020 began, we didn’t expect for our lives to be altered in such a tremendous way. We all looked forward to birthdays, graduations, Pride month celebrations, and milestone events, but our vision for what we were going to try to achieve this year was challenged by our current time of uncertainty due to the pandemic. The impact of the pandemic has taken a toll on everyone’s emotional and mental health, and it’s important now more than ever that we look out for one another.</p> <p>The concept of looking out for one another is not a new one, but it can be difficult to truly grasp and execute. Showing up for others can be unifying and life-changing, and the Black Lives Matter movement presents us with an opportunity to hold proactive conversations and come together as a collective to support one another and stand up against injustice. The Black Lives Matter movement complements Pride month. I view Pride celebrations as a community speaking up against injustice and making themselves visible. Pride was built on Black queer riots, and leaders like Marsha P. Johnson.&nbsp; In a time where many people, including myself, are feeling more isolated and stressed than usual, we know that kindness and unity are appreciated now more than ever. We are all seeking support, understanding, and real and thoughtful conversations. We all want change, justice, and this Pride month we want to emphasize that Black Lives Matter.</p> <p>As a member of the LGBTQ+ community, I must acknowledge that the safe spaces to have these conversations are extremely important to me. I am lucky and grateful to have a safe space both at home and online. However, a safe space at home is not the case for many other LGBTQ+ community members. LGBTQ+ people have a harder time finding kindness, especially in physical spaces in their own communities (Born This Way Foundation, 22, 2017).&nbsp; In fact, 74% of transgender young people surveyed have agreed with the statement, “I go online to find people to relate to because it’s hard for me to find people to relate to in my daily life.” For approximately 52% of the LGBTQ+ individuals surveyed, digital communities act as a source of comfort. This feeling of comfort is crucial, especially during these trying times, where many are being told to stay at home —&nbsp; a place that may not be physically, emotionally, or mentally safe — which is why ensuring that people have a positive, accepting, and encouraging online community is so important.</p> <p>As I reflect on my platform and what I see on the web, I often ask myself if what I am uploading will contribute positively to someone’s day. Doing so is my way to ensure that I am making my social media feed a safe space for all. Sharing resources for those who come across my feed is something that I’m now doing more often, and it is additionally an activity I am encouraging others to do as well.</p> <p>These uncertain times have left many of us with questions. We all want to know how we can support and be there for one another. Many of us have had numerous video calls every day. While others have opted for phone calls or texts to stay in touch with their loved ones. While those are all great ways to stay connected, when trying to support others, we have to dive deep and have proactive conversations. We must also ensure that we’re checking in with ourselves and our own mental health, and capacity is crucial. Being honest about how we are feeling and recognizing our experiences is extremely important. We cannot be there for others if we’re not taking care of ourselves.</p> <p>Lastly, using available resources is also very helpful. If you are struggling or need someone to talk to, I recommend using <a href="mhanational.org/warmlines">warm lines</a> and other telephone/text lines that might be able to provide you with the support you need and might be looking for.</p> <p><em>Juan Acosta is a Mental Health and LGBTQ+ advocate and national speaker.&nbsp; Born in Jalisco, MX, Juan has dedicated his life to the community and advocacy. He began doing community service at age 13 and raked up more than 200+ community service hours by age 15, receiving recognition from nonprofits and government agencies. Since then, Juan has collaborated with numerous organizations including Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation on their Channel Kindness Platform, California's Mental Health Services Oversight &amp; Accountability Commission, and Mental Health America. In addition, Juan drafted a historic LGBTQ+ proclamation for the city of Woodland CA, served as Assistant Director of the Queer Alliance Club at San Francisco State, where he graduated with a Bachelor's in Psychology. Juan is currently an Assistant Manager for the California Warm Line and Program Intern for Lady Gaga's Born This Way Foundation. He is also a contributor in Born This Way Foundation &amp; Lady Gaga's new book, "Channel Kindness."</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/covid19" hreflang="en">COVID19</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/lgbt-mental-health" hreflang="en">LGBT Mental Health</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17470&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="4ovV5FjypOVnTDaOOZHedL_y4qBChCXZ_iVe_4byAmk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Thu, 25 Jun 2020 21:39:17 +0000 JCheang 17470 at https://www.mhanational.org https://www.mhanational.org/blog/how-2020-showed-me-meaning-justice-pride-and-connection#comments Is It Time for a Staycation? The Answer May (Not) Surprise You https://www.mhanational.org/blog/it-time-staycation-answer-may-not-surprise-you <span>Is It Time for a Staycation? The Answer May (Not) Surprise You</span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/travel%20summer_0.jpg" alt="A wooden surface with a book open with glasses sitting on top, a candle, a camera, a hat, a striped cloth, jeans, and sunglasses lying about." typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Tue, 06/23/2020 - 08:31</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">June 23, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By Taylor Adams, Manager of Workplace Mental Health at Mental Health America</em></p> <p>Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, it is easy to feel powerless and isolated. Our inability to chat with friends and family face-to-face, grab a happy hour bite to eat with coworkers, and have a one-on-one with your boss has strained our already-tenuous balance between “work” and “life.” Zoom is now the new “office drop-in.” Emails, blogs, and newsletters flood our inboxes like there’s no tomorrow. While videoconferencing and calls can be helpful tools to stay somewhat connected and informed, they tend to sap a ton of our emotional and mental energy – a commodity that is in short supply already due to the pandemic – leaving us extremely fatigued.</p> <p>This new dynamic we are all facing can exacerbate numerous mental health issues, including burnout. Burnout is defined by the World Health Organization (WHO) as a syndrome resulting from chronic workplace stress that has not been successfully managed. Although burnout is specific to the workplace, people are facing stressful and traumatic events in their personal and professional lives that are being compounded by current circumstances, and thus, becoming increasingly difficult to manage.</p> <p>Similar to other mental health concerns, burnout does not go away on its own and needs a concentrated effort to help alleviate. It may not be your typical vacation, but a staycation can still help you stave off the effects of burnout, retake control of your daily rhythm, and reduce stress. For those who are working on the frontlines of COVID-19, it is especially important to find ways to care for yourself while caring for others. Here are a couple tips for when you plan your next staycation:</p> <ol> <li>Just like you don’t want to work where you sleep, you want a space where you can relax away from work. Clear your desk space, tuck away the laptop, hide your paperwork under plants -whatever you need to do to create a physical space that does not bring your attention back to work. This will hopefully kick that sense of urgency and frustration of feeling rushed when you’re thinking about that pending Zoom call at 9 in the morning and allow you to take a breath for once.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>Many teleworking employees may have some extra time on their hands during this time, but still don’t feel that they have enough time to pursue their hobbies. Don’t let this stop you. Pull out the old resolutions list and start that first recipe, art project, or book. Start with one item and go at your own pace. There is no pressure or urgency when staycation “time” is your “time.” Many people agree that its difficult to focus even on simple, one-off tasks; however, stepping away from work can alleviate stress and allow you to enjoy activities that help you relax.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>While it may not be a trip to a tropical island or mountainside, a staycation should be fun as it is relaxing. Recreate the experience of a vacation away from home. <ul> <li>If you want to go to the beach, plan a tropical themed meal like a teriyaki chicken rice bowl, virgin pina colada, and coconut sorbet. Set the mood by playing ocean sounds on your phone or TV. Decorate your space with tropical plants, fruit, and decorations.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you want to go camping, pitch a tent or pillow fort in your living room. Roast marshmallows over the stovetop or warm in the microware for homemade s’mores. Project stars on your ceiling using your phone for a night of “sleeping under the stars.”<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you want to visit a new city, research the foods, museums, and monuments unique to that city. Decorate your windows with a picture of a city skyline. Cook or bake new recipes that locals swear are the best dishes in town. &nbsp;<br /> &nbsp;</li> </ul> </li> <li>Use your staycation to plan your next domestic or international trip when it does become safe to travel. This includes researching the state or country you would like to travel to, creating a realistic budget (or giving yourself unlimited funds!), choosing your ideal accommodations, learning common phrases in a new language, and making a list of regional foods to eat and monuments to visit.<br /> &nbsp;</li> <li>If you aren’t able to take a staycation, find ways to reclaim your time at work. Block off one to two days or even a full week on your calendar, if possible. This can help minimize the number of calls or meetings you attend with staff and outside contacts and give you time to brainstorm your next project and focus on the tasks at hand.</li> </ol> <p>If none the above appeal to you, then do whatever that inspires, empowers, and relaxes you. The most important thing is that you give back yourself some time that seems to disappear so quickly during these stressful times.&nbsp;</p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/covid19" hreflang="en">COVID19</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/workplace-wellness" hreflang="en">workplace wellness</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17460&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="2dBdWNS8zIVL1Xa9rf0UHChON7k3i5XQiGA9NqOMTIc"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Tue, 23 Jun 2020 12:31:43 +0000 JCheang 17460 at https://www.mhanational.org https://www.mhanational.org/blog/it-time-staycation-answer-may-not-surprise-you#comments Guarding your Joy: Keeping your mental wellness high on your agenda https://www.mhanational.org/blog/guarding-your-joy-keeping-your-mental-wellness-high-your-agenda <span>Guarding your Joy: Keeping your mental wellness high on your agenda </span> <div class="field field--name-field-blog-post-image field--type-image field--label-hidden field__item"> <div class="item-image"> <img src="/sites/default/files/2020-06/light-nature-sky-sunset-33044.jpg" alt="Sunflower in the foreground of a sunset" typeof="foaf:Image" /> </div> </div> <span><span lang="" about="/users/jcheang" typeof="schema:Person" property="schema:name" datatype="">JCheang</span></span> <span>Mon, 06/22/2020 - 10:27</span> <div class="field field--name-field-post-date field--type-datetime field--label-hidden field__item">June 22, 2020 </div> <div class="field field--name-body field--type-text-with-summary field--label-hidden field__item"><p><em>By Julio J. Fonseca, Senior Program Manager, <a href="https://www.aidsunited.org/">AIDS United </a></em></p> <p>I recently got an email from a colleague and friend who leads a national black social justice organization.&nbsp;</p> <p>He signed off with “I hope you are continuing to guard your joy.”&nbsp;</p> <p>That resonated with me. One, because someone leading a social justice movement in the midst of ongoing protests against police brutality and systemic oppression against his community would be checking on me; and two, because I wasn’t quite sure if I was.</p> <p>Prior to joining AIDS United, I was an employee of Mental Health America (MHA). I left MHA to try a completely different venture in June 2008. It is great to still have so many close times with MHA staff and alumni. The relationships we forged trudging through health care reform, working towards mental health parity, and battling mental health stigma have been some of the most important in my life. &nbsp;</p> <p>In the interest of shattering stigma by leading by example I have:</p> <ul> <li>been a lifelong warrior against my own depression;</li> <li>have been sober and in recovery from drugs and alcohol for 3 years, and;</li> <li>have been living with HIV since February of 2009.</li> </ul> <p>I am also a self-identified out, queer, cisgender, Latinx man. My mental health and wellness have become the parts of me in my life I have realized I need to nurture most. &nbsp;</p> <p>And yet, working in public health in the era of COVID-19, it has been quite a challenge striking a balance to ensure that my joy and mental health are being not only guarded but also nurtured.&nbsp; AIDS United took the precaution of going to complete remote status in March and will not re-open this year. This meant a pivot to remote work and additional pivots in public health to a COVID-19 response. Like many, adjusting to being at home for extended periods affected me. Oh, did I mention I live in a studio apartment? Zoom fatigue has been real. Recovery meetings all went virtual to Zoom as well, so that has been an adjustment. And then other things that may not seem huge have had an impact as well. My mom is older with underlying conditions and I have not seen her in person since the beginning of this year. I think my last hug with anyone was in early March. When I get stressed, I eat. Physical distancing (more commonly known as social distancing) can create isolation which is particularly difficult if you are like me and are dealing with ongoing recovery and depression.</p> <p>June is also LGBTQ+ Pride Month. Pride is typically an opportunity to gather as LGBTQ+ people to gather in person and celebrate our diversity. Pride activities this year have been cancelled, but the energy and support and allyship in support of Black Lives Matter has created opportunities to mobilize either in demonstrations or virtually, and have helped many of the LGBTQ+ community be more engaged in social justice and anti-racist efforts. Marsha P. Johnson, a black transgender woman, and Sylvia Rivera, a Latina transgender woman -both heroes and foremothers of the Stonewall uprising in 1969 - would no doubt be happy to see how many LGBTQ+ people have pivoted to uplift voices of black people during Pride Month this year.</p> <p>So how is all of this change managed so quickly in what feels like so much uncertainty? As I write this, I am having a good day. And I must acknowledge that I am working on how to have a positive day without feeling guilty when there seems to be an overabundance of suffering in the world. I would love to hear how people balance their energy to strive for this “less guilty” feeling.</p> <p>I have become very deliberate in how I guard my joy and try to protect my mental health. Here are some of my strategies:&nbsp;</p> <p><strong>Routine:</strong> This may seem like a no brainer, but for me, I function better with a routine. It took about a month to standardize my day and there have been some starts and pauses, but I have also created a space for myself to realize “Hey, you’ve never lived through a global pandemic, so it’s ok to be learning in real time.”&nbsp; I still get up, put the coffee on, get a bike ride in (if I’ve slept through the night), grab a shower and meditate before I head to my desk.&nbsp; After a week in sweats, I realized, it made me feel better to put on clothes and get ready as if I were heading out into the world. Also, when work was done, then I changed in my typical evening clothes. Having a clear demarcation between the beginning and end of my workday has been great.</p> <p><strong>Exercise/Outdoor Activity:</strong> Exercise is good for mental wellness. And yet, it is so easy to use stay at home orders to go in the complete opposite direction. Trust me I know; I have been gaining and losing the same 5 pounds since March. After a period of time, more research showed that outdoor walks (social distanced with friends) and bike rides and other activity with risk reduction strategies like masks and/or gloves were good ways to help address the cabin fever we’ve all been experiencing.&nbsp; I personally feel comfortable going out earlier in the morning to get my bike rides in when the streets are empty and less people are on the sidewalk.</p> <p><strong>Social Media/Media limits:&nbsp;</strong>I have set up my phone to let me know when I have hit a certain amount of time on social media apps. It has been important for me to ensure that I am not constantly bombarded with information that can put me into a negative headspace and keep me there. And it is hard—we have more time on our hands and it is much easier to say to yourself, “Oh I’ll just read one more article,” to stave off boredom. &nbsp;There is also the balance of needing to stay informed. I have implemented a morning news break and typically that’s it. Otherwise you could literally sit and watch bad news all day long and that is not healthy.</p> <p><strong>Productive or Calming Hobbies:</strong> I have to say, I have read about 6 books since COVID-19 with zero guilt! When I’ve felt the temptation to spend too much time reading the news, I remember that I have a stack of books that are very helpful for me to focus on something completely different. Have you wanted to pick an old hobby back up? Have some adult coloring books that you want to revisit? What are the things that bring you joy that you could incorporate into your mental wellness arsenal?</p> <p><strong>Gratitude:</strong> For people that know me, it might seem odd to imagine me making lists of things that I am grateful for, but when times are tough and my brain wants to fog up, it’s a helpful way to change my thinking. I was bummed that because of COVID-19, in-person Pride Events were cancelled this year. I was also bummed that my annual beach vacation was also cancelled. Each time, I sat and wrote five things I was grateful for. Sometimes it’s the basics: “coffee, running water, a place to live,” but it’s always a helpful reframe towards the things in life that are going right.</p> <p><strong>Connection:</strong> The temptation has been for me to isolate. I am by nature a social introvert and there were a couple of weeks in the beginning of COVID-19 where I was in heaven. “You mean I don’t have to go do anything? Great!” At the same time, as someone with depression and anxiety who is in addiction recovery, being alone can be incredibly detrimental. So reaching out to friends, sending texts, asking people if they could talk on the phone or FaceTime has helped maintain connection in unanticipated ways with people who are at times very far away. It is not the same, but it’s also a good way to not feel so alone.</p> <p><strong>Vacations and downtime: </strong>Make sure you are using your health/wellness and vacation time if you need to. Those are part of your salary and benefits package so do not feel guilty for accessing your benefit. And if you do not feel comfortable traveling, staycations are a thing. I think that part of my summer vacation will be going through a closet which I have never had the time to do - until now. Oh, and I have about 7 more books to read and a few silly shows to binge watch too!</p> <p>The best thing I have done for myself during everything going on in these unprecedented times has been to ask myself every day “How are you feeling today?” What can you add to your to-do list that is achievable and that will set you up for feeling successful? And now thanks to a colleague - “Are you continuing to guard your joy?”&nbsp; - ensuring that every day I put my mental health at the top of my agenda has been a great place to start.</p> <p><em><a>For information on how we can Stop HIV Together, click </a><a href="https://www.cdc.gov/stophivtogether/index.html?CDC_AA_refVal=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.cdc.gov%2Factagainstaids%2Findex.html">here</a>.</em></p> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-tags field--type-entity-reference field--label-inline"> <div class="field__label">Tags</div> <div class="field__items"> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/wellness" hreflang="en">wellness</a></div> <div class="field__item"><a href="/tags/covid19" hreflang="en">COVID19</a></div> </div> </div> <div class="field field--name-field-simplenews-term field--type-entity-reference field--label-hidden field__item"><a href="/newsletter/newsletter" hreflang="en">Newsletter</a></div> <section> <h2>Add new comment</h2> <drupal-render-placeholder callback="comment.lazy_builders:renderForm" arguments="0=node&amp;1=17458&amp;2=comment_node_blog_post&amp;3=comment_node_blog_post" token="I2waBQIp4TOclDtrBa63ZWNibNWiywHif3TuqeJ2RPk"></drupal-render-placeholder> </section> Mon, 22 Jun 2020 14:27:36 +0000 JCheang 17458 at https://www.mhanational.org https://www.mhanational.org/blog/guarding-your-joy-keeping-your-mental-wellness-high-your-agenda#comments