Healthy Focus – February 2022

My Mind’s Eye: Understanding Signs of Behavioral Health Issues

The idiom, “my mind’s eye”, dates back to the early 1300s and refers to the ability to see something from memory or mental creation. What may seem like no big deal to one person, may be significant in the “mind’s eye” of someone having difficulty coping.

Everyday stress, relationship issues, illness, and economic hardship can take a toll on our mental health. Add to the mix a global pandemic and the isolation, fear, and loss that many of us have suffered as a result of its impact, and it’s not surprising that mental health issues are affecting more of us.The World Health Organization reports that as a society, we are facing increased levels of alcohol and drug use, insomnia, and anxiety during the pandemic, and 67% saw disruptions to counseling and psychotherapy during this time.

How Common Are Mental Health Issues?

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, mental illnesses are among the most common health conditions affecting our country. In fact:

  • More than 50% will be diagnosed with a mental illness or disorder at some point in their lifetime
  • 1 in 5 Americans will experience a mental illness each year
  • 1 in 5 children, either currently or at some point during their life, have had a seriously debilitating mental illness
  • 1 in 25 Americans lives with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression

What Is a Behavioral Health Disorder?

Psychiatric and substance abuse disorders that negatively affect an individual’s physical and mental well-being are considered behavioral health issues. They include substance abuse, eating disorders and gambling. People with these health issues suffer from either or both. Unfortunately, nearly two-thirds of those with a mental health disorder don’t seek help, typically because of the stigma associated with these issues.

Warning Signs

Many of the signs of mental illness and substance abuse are the same. They include:

  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Fighting with loved ones
  • Experiencing severe mood swings
  • Having persistent thoughts
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming themselves, or others
  • Avoiding people and normal activities
  • Changes in sleeping or eating habits
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Decreased energy
  • Inability to perform daily tasks
  • Loss of interest in grooming
  • Feeling helpless or numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains

How to Support a Loved One with Behavioral Health Problems

If a friend or family member is showing signs of mental illness or addiction, you can offer support by:

  • Treating them with respect, compassion, and empathy
  • Reminding them that mental health and abuse problems can be treated
  • Expressing your concern and desire to get them help
  • Offering to help your loved one with everyday tasks
  • Including your loved one in your plans, even if they reject your invitations
  • Educating family members and friends so they understand the facts about mental health problems and do not discriminate
  • Finding out if the person is getting the care that he or she needs and wants—if not, connect him or her to help

Where to Find Help

Talk to your healthcare provider about resources to get help for yourself or a loved one.

  • Call 911 if the situation is potentially life-threatening.
  • Reach out using a toll-free, confidential hotline with trained resources available 24/7, 365 days a year to help with behavioral health issues:
  • National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-TALK) provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress for you or your loved one.
  • The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (1-800-662-HELP) is a free referral service that can help you find the resources you need for recovery.

Take advantage of the resources offered by  Paris Behavioral Health. 

Call 731-644-8441 to schedule an appointment or find out more.


Mixing it Up to Reduce Stress

Sleep problems. Frequent headaches. Inability to focus. Stress may be the cause, and it may be affecting other areas of your health, including your moods and your behavior.

Everyone experiences stress.  Over the short term, stress can make you more alert and motivate you to be productive. However, long-term stress can lead to serious health problems, including high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease, and obesity.

The good news is that learning to recognize the symptoms of stress can help you manage it.

Health effects of stress include:

Physical:

  • Chest pain
  • Headache
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Digestion problems
  • Muscle tension
  • Sex drive changes

Mental:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Irritability
  • Lack of motivation
  • Inability to focus
  • Feeling overwhelmed
  • Anger

Behavioral:

  • Drug, alcohol, or tobacco use
  • Avoiding social interactions
  • Lack of motivation to exercise
  • Changes in eating patterns

Top 10 Stress Busters

There are lots of things you can do to cope with—and even prevent—your body’s stress reactions.

Here are the Top 10 ways to fight back against stress every day:

  1. Hit the gym. Regular exercise dissipates stress through your muscles—and boosts your mood too.
  2. Make an appointment with yourself. Write it down in your datebook or planner, and do something you enjoy—a manicure or pedicure, for example.
  3. Breathe deep. Inhale deeply through your nose, then blow out the air through your mouth while counting slowly to 10; repeat at least five times.
  4. Get some sun. Even a brief break outside in the sunshine can lift your spirits—but don’t forget the sunscreen.
  5. Stretch yourself. Stretch up with both arms in the air, one at a time, and then follow with five deep breaths to soothe tensed-up muscles.
  6. Be a groupie. Get involved with a group activity where you interact with other people, whether it’s a book club meeting or just a regular girls’ night out. Relating to other people is a proven way to reduce emotional stress.
  7. Give yourself a timeout. Shut the office or bedroom door, turn off the phone and the pager, and give yourself 10 to 15 minutes of “mindfulness” time to meditate. Imagine yourself in a beautiful setting, or just enjoy the peace and quiet.
  8. Skip the candy bar break. Sugary, fatty comfort foods may offer a temporary feeling of well-being, but in the long run they don’t help you manage stress. Instead, find a healthy treat to indulge in, like fresh berries or low-fat popcorn.
  9. Tense and relax. Starting with your head, tense and relax your entire body, moving downward in groups of muscles. Squeeze as tight as you can, hold for three seconds, then release. Do slow, deep breaths afterward.
  10. Anticipate and adapt. Try to head off stress before it hits by thinking about what really pushes your buttons. Then, prepare yourself in advance by changing what you can whenever possible, and making peace with what you can’t change.

Need More Help?

If you need help managing stress, there are resources right here in our community that can help you cope. HCMC is partnering with Paris Behavioral Health to provide psychotherapy, medication assessments and medication management services. To learn more or to schedule an appointment, call 731-644-8441.