With work, family, social media and more, our social interactions are often hurried and brief. This makes it difficult to acknowledge, diagnose and address the mental health stressors that plague us all.
Dr. Valdesha DeJean is a behavioral medicine specialist at Pacific Medical Centers and is board certified in psychiatry and neurology. She shares that “one of the most common misconceptions about mental illness is that people believe mental health is not actually an illness. The truth is, everyone is vulnerable to mental health issues to some degree if exposed to significant stressors or trauma during their life. Some people may have better coping skills or support systems that may foster more emotional resilience, but it does not make them invincible.”
If you or a loved one “notice changes in occupational or social functioning, then it is a sign that it is time to seek help,” suggests Dr. DeJean. She continues, sharing that often “people suffering from mental health issues may become so consumed with feelings of helplessness that they may not know that they can get better with treatment.”
Consider taking “a compassionate, nonjudgmental approach to offering help. Try not to assume that you know what is best for the individual without their input. Express to your loved one that you are available to attend appointments with mental health providers if that will be useful for them. For many, it is hard to take the initial step of going to a psychiatrist or psychotherapist because of the stigma associated with mental illness.”
Dr. DeJean also suggests daily coping strategies like maintaining a healthy diet, exercise, rest, music, massage and making time for fun despite the daily grind. While we all feel overwhelmed with our “to do” lists and the needs of those around us, it’s important to set aside time for these coping strategies to ensure optimal mental and physical health.