Maintaining Your Emotional Well-being Amidst A Pandemic
aving sound mental health is vitally important to one’s overall health and wellbeing, but most of us fall short of making it a top priority. More times than not, we put much of the focus on our physical health. Dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic the last year and a half has shown, however, that although our physical health is essential, our mental stability can have an equal impact on our quality of life. As COVID-19 restrictions end and we get back to some sense of normalcy, the effects of the pandemic can linger and continue to cause anxiety, heightened depression, substance abuse, and domestic violence. We believe that now more than ever, it is critical to urge our community to do everything possible to implement and maintain good mental health habits. To that end, we have put together Mind Your Mental: Maintaining Your Emotional Well-Being Amidst A Pandemic, an information and resource guide focused on the mental health challenges presented by the pandemic and ways to cope. We will tackle the issues, suggest concrete strategies for individuals to stay grounded, and identify resources for those seeking help. Whatever the affliction, it is critical that people be equipped with the knowledge to identify the issues and learn how to address them. The Michigan Chronicle’s Mind Your Mental: Maintaining Your Emotional Well-Being Amidst A Pandemic is a road map to help the community steer through today’s mental health maze. Mind Your Mental will provide tips and advice on such issues as maintaining mental well-being, seeking help for mental health, and addressing domestic violence and mental abuse. The Michigan Chronicle believes that it is critically important that we empower the Black community with this information. We look forward to discussing this with you. Stay Positive, Healthy and Safe!
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The Black Community and Mental Health eugenetherapy.com Black Americans have faced immense historical trauma and adversity, from racism, discrimination and exclusion from health, educational, social, and economic resources in this country. The intergenerational racial trauma in the Black community has often taken a toll on Black mental health: • Mental health conditions affect one in four Black Americans. • Black adults are 20% more likely to experience mental health issues than the rest of the population. Adult Black Americans living below poverty are three times more likely to report severe psychological problems than those living above poverty. • Black Americans of all ages are more likely to witness or be victims of serious violent crimes. Exposure to violence increases risk of developing a mental health condition such as post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and anxiety. • Black adults in the U.S. are more likely than white adults to report persistent symptoms of emotional distress, such as sadness, hopelessness and feeling like everything is an effort. Barriers for Black Americans Despite these prevalent mental health concerns, there are still many disparities in the mental health field and barriers that make mental health services much less accessible for Black Americans. This NAMI article further confirms this reality by acknowledging that only one in three Black adults who need mental health care receive it. According to the American Psychiatric Association’s Mental Health Facts for African Americans guide, Black Americans are also: • Less likely to receive guideline-consistent care • Less frequently included in research • More likely to use emergency rooms or primary care (rather than mental health specialists) There are many reasons that Black Americans are less likely to receive important mental health support, including: stigma, socioeconomic disparities, provider bias and inequality of care. There is also often a lack of cultural competency from mental health professionals. This can result in misdiagnosis or inadequate treatment. The Representation Issue
Hiram E. Jackson
Publisher, Michigan Chronicle Chief Executive Officer, Real Times Media
According to Black Mental Health, only 6.2 percent of psychologists, 5.6 percent of advanced-practice psychiatric nurses, 12.6 percent of social workers, and 21.3 percent of psychiatrists are members of
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minority groups. There is a clear lack of representation of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous and people of color) groups in the mental healthcare field. Representation matters. The lack of minority representation can make it even more difficult for Black Americans to receive proper support and treatment. Another important factor to bring up is Oregon’s issue with representation. The state of Oregon was founded on racial discrimination and white supremacy. There is a major diversity issue in Oregon because of this. It’s important that we recognize Oregon’s history and that we work to actively unlearn white supremacist ideologies that persist in our everyday lives. We must educate ourselves and do better as mental health professionals. We must also create space and opportunities for BIPOC individuals in the mental health field, so that there is more representation for BIPOC clients How to Seek a Culturally Competent Provider When seeking out a mental health professional, cultural competency is an important trait to look for. Those in the Black community can ask their mental health professionals these questions: • Have you treated other Black people or received training in cultural competence for Black mental health? If not, how do you plan to provide me with culturally sensitive, patient-centered care? • How do you see our cultural backgrounds influencing our communication and my treatment? • Do you use a different approach in your treatment when working with patients from different cultural backgrounds? • What is your current understanding of differences in health outcomes for Black patients? It’s important for us to continue to explore how the mental health field intersects the Black community. We must acknowledge the disparity of mental health resources for the Black community. Next, we must actively look for ways to incorporate more diversity and cultural competency in the mental health profession. Stay tuned for our next blog post, where we highlight some incredible Black individuals who are making a difference in the mental health field.
is and how it affects their daily lives. There have been many programs, organizations, self-care movements, mind, body and sound and soul awareness programs, workshops, seminars, and even a month dedicated to mental health. This was all created to educate individuals on the importance of mental health, therapy and gaining personal growth and self-improvement within themselves,” says Lewis. “Therapy has become much more normalized even for the African American communities and people are realizing the benefits, growth, and overall wellness psychotherapy has.” While millennials press their way to an improved mental status, therapists are looking to break stigmas surrounding mental health services. Starting with the misconception of mental illness, therapists are hoping to dispel the myth there needs to be an issue to seek assistance. “Individuals believe they need a mental health issue or medical diagnosis to seek therapy. In reality, nothing has to be wrong with you, and a life-changing or traumatic event doesn’t need to occur to go to therapy. Therapy could be a form of self-care or simply because you enjoy talking to someone other than a family or friend without any judgments,” says Lewis. For some, the perception of therapy and mental health are enough to keep them from seeking help that could potentially be life changing. With costs being a major deterrent, many across all age populations do not seek therapy out of fear of affordability. “Many people are uncomfortable seeking therapy because they are afraid of what their friends and family may think of them. They may lack knowledge about what therapy is, unsure of the cost, scared they won’t find the ‘right therapist’ and simply in denial that they could benefit from therapy,” says Lewis.
By Megan Kirk The issue of mental health has increasingly become a more acceptable and widespread conversation in recent years. Particularly amongst millennials, therapy and seeking counseling has become the positive step forward in healing old traumas and bandaging wounds of the past. Mental health is now becoming a serious topic across demographics and financial status and is being pushed as a top priority when considering overall health. Breana Lewis is a Clinical Social Worker and Psychotherapist for International Therapy Solutions which focuses on treatment for all demographics. A mental health pro-
fessional who also happens to be a millennial, believes the acceptance of therapy and therapeutic services by millennials is thanks in part to their search for personal growth. Breana Lewis “I believe millennial adults seeking therapy has spiked over the past years because they want to develop a stronger understanding of self-awareness and improvement, practice more self-care and gain personal growth,”
says Lewis. “With this generation, many millennials have experienced more traumas and face more life complications and stressors than previous eras. Prior, life was simpler. All you had to do was work at a company for many years, buy a home and start a family. With this generation, it’s not that simple.” In Black communities, mental health and therapy are taboo topics. Falling under the misconception that Black families do not seek therapy, millennials are pushing the envelope and forcing a new conversation. “Black Americans are becoming more educated and aware of what mental health
For those looking to seek assistance, but nervous of the journey, this mental health professional encourages trying it with an open mind and a dedication to growth. Having the opportunity to express buried thoughts and emotions to an impartial party can be the first steps to healing and steering clear from doubters of the process. “It’s not easy starting the therapy journey and everyone is at different stages of their own self-growth. I would say the first step is accepting the fact you are interested in seeking counseling. Don’t try to think of a reason why you need it, just go for it and maybe that reason will come throughout the sessions with your therapist,” says Lewis. “Seek counseling for yourself and not for others.”
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Good Health Includes
Michael Garrett, CEO CNS Healthcare
doned. Not being OK, is indeed OK as we saw the elimination of the attempt to be perfect.
For more than a year now, we’ve received a constant barrage of information relative to our physical well-being, centered on COVID and its impact. While this is certainly justified and needed, there is also another component to that conversation that should not be overlooked: Our mental health. The stress and strain of worrying about ourselves, our families; livelihood and the overall quality of life have all taken a quiet and easily overlooked toll on our mental well-being. Being forced to stay put made us all look closer at our home and work lives; demands and oft ignored issues that slowly but steadily piqued during this down period. We took a good look at ourselves and each other and realized much of who we are and what we had were not enough to keep us protected from the ills we seemingly work so hard to avoid. The glaring void was the undiscussed need for mental and behavioral health, and the permission to not be OK. Much of what we considered “normal” was removed or altered; we elevated the effort to include the stigma of asking for and receiving mental health care as one of those things aban-
From making sure moms were best equipped with in-home schooling, to employers providing guidance as employees return to in-office work, everyone needed (or needs) some assistance or support to get through life and the days therein.
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I look forward to the day where mental health information, resources and discussion are on par with those of our physical health, as both are needed to ensure the health, happiness and well-being of the person, and our communities at large. Physical health is imperative to our existence; Mental health is imperative to a quality existence. CNS Healthcare is a leading, private, non-profit provider of comprehensive, integrated behavioral and physical health services and substance use disorder services in Southeast Michigan. With locations in Detroit, Novi, Pontiac, Southfield, and Waterford, CNS employs over 375 dedicated professionals, paraprofessionals and support staff who deliver compassionate care to more than 7,000 adults, youth (age 0 to 17), and their families, annually. Visit www.CNSHealthcare.org
HELP. HOPE. HERE 4 U. CNS HEALTHCARE is a
non-proﬁt organizaaon providing behavioral health services to children (0-17) and adults (18+) in Michigan CNS HEALTHCARE’S recent merger with
Northeast Integrated Health oﬀers a broader spectrum of community-based support services including:
- Psychiatry - Group and Individual Therapy - Substance Use Disorder Services - Case Management
Appointments: 877-211-8611 Crisis Line: 800-615-0411
cnshealthcare.org Mind Your Mental: Maintaining Your Emotional Well-Being Amidst A Pandemic | Michigan Chronicle 5
Domestic violence and mental abuse increased during the pandemic
The effects of COVID-19 have had an impact on Black survivors of intimate partner violence. Intimate partner violence (IPV) is defined as, a very specific kind of violence and abuse where an intimate-partner will use a pattern of assaultive, controlling, abusive behaviors and tactics in order to gain and maintain power and control. It is a learned pattern of behaviors that affect women, children, and men of all cultural, religious, educational, and socio economic groups. Partners may be married, separated, divorced, dating, or in LGBTQ+ relationships, no group is exempt from IPV. The statistics show that: ■ 1 in 4 women and 1 in 7 men have been severely physically abused by an intimate partner. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Department of Justice ■ On a typical day, there are more than 20,000 phone calls places to domestic violence hotlines nationwide. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Department of Justice ■ One woman is fatally shot by a spouse, ex-spouse or dating partner every 14 hours. National Coalition Against Domestic Violence & Department of Justice ■ 453 Black females were murdered by males in single victim/single offender homicides. Of black victims who knew their offenders, 56 percent (211 out of 375) were wives, common–law wives, ex–wives, or girlfriends of the offenders. Violence Policy Center (2015). When men murder women: An analysis of 2013 Homicide Data. Retrieved on September 23, 2015 fromhttp://www.vpc. org/studies/wmmw2015.pdf ■ 9.5% had been stalked and 41.2% of Black women had been physically abused by a partner during their lifetime. National Intimate Partner Violence and Sexual Violence Survey (NISVS) Some common themes that were shared by many survivors of IPV, is that their abusers used COVID-19 as a way to threaten to engage in risky behaviors by not following the CDC guidelines that could potentially put them and their children at risk; some used it as a way to further isolate them from friends and family; shared misinformation about COVID-19 to frighten them and lastly, withholding necessary supplies and medical insurance cards. During this time, our counseling program saw a drastic increase in counseling referrals for not only survivors of IPV but for their children who have been exposed to IPV. At HAVEN, during the lockdown, we were quickly able to expand our services to tele-therapy which allowed survivors to continue counseling and receive support. Many survivors had to be creative when it came to tele-therapy especially if they lived in the same household as the abuser. Many did things such as drive to a park or grocery store’s parking lot to have their sessions in a private and safe location. The mental health of many of the survivors has been
affected due to IPV and it shows up in various ways such as: always feeling on edge, jumpy, losing track of time, forgetting things, numbing out, hopelessness, nightmares, flash backs, anxiety, chronic pain, headaches, decreased concentration, feeling emotionally overwhelmed, irritability, decreased concentration, shame and worthlessness, eating disorders, self-destructive behavior and mistrust of others, just to name a few. If you know someone who may be in an abusive relationship, here are a few ways you can offer support. First, let them know that you believe them, and that it’s not their fault. You might ask how you can support them. Many times with good intentions friends and loved ones go into problem-solving mode and begin to tell the survivor what to do. It’s important to remember that in an abusive relationship, the person is constantly being told what to, how to feel and what to think, and they have very little control over their life
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Talking with the person and asking questions, allows the survivor to begin to regain control over his/her life and choices. Also providing a safe, non-judgmental space for one to talk would be beneficial. You can ask about their safety plan in addition to offering resources to Domestic Violence agencies where they have access to a therapist, court advocates, shelter and additional services that can support them in navigating their situation. Support, trust and someone to listen is what they want. Support services are what they need. M. Scott, LMSWClinical Counseling Program Director HAVEN Crisis & Support Line: 877-922-1274 “HAVEN is Oakland County’s only agency offering comprehensive services for survivors of intimate partner violence and sexual assault.”
Understanding Mental Health is Key to Reducing Stigma and Encouraging People to Seek Help More than 51 million Americans experience mental illness. While feelings of fear, sadness and anxiety are normal, when these feelings make it difficult to perform the daily activities of life it may be time to seek help. The Detroit Wayne Integrated Health Network (DWIHN) offers a wide array of supports and services to individuals with serious mental illness, substance use disorder, intellectual and developmental disabilities and children with serious emotional disturbances. “We believe that each individual is unique with specific needs, and DWIHN is committed to delivering personfocused, gender-specific and culturally sensitive services and supports to our diverse community,” said Eric Doeh, Interim CEO of DWIHN. While DWIHN and its network of more than 400 providers offers a wide array of services, there are a few key tools you can use to connect with the right support. DWIHN Help Line The DWIHN Help Line (1-800-241-4949) is staffed 24/7 by trained clinicians who are available to help navigate a mental
health crisis, or get you connected to the programs and resources. Mindwise DWIHN’s screening tools are the quickest way to determine if your recent thoughts or behaviors (or those of a loved one) may be associated with mental health issues. The screenings are free and anonymous and takes only a few minutes. You’ll receive results immediately, as well as recommendations and key resources. myStrength myStrength is an excellent tool to support mental health. Available via web and mobile app, myStrengths’ highly interactive, individually tailored resources allows users to address depression, anxiety, stress, substance use, chronic pain and sleep challenges, while also supporting the physical and spiritual aspects of whole-person health. myStrength is free and available for download at https://www.dwihn.org/ healthwellness-support DWIHN’s provider network currently serves more than 75,000 people in Detroit and Wayne County. For more information about DWIHN, visit dwihn.org. Mind Your Mental: Maintaining Your Emotional Well-Being Amidst A Pandemic | Michigan Chronicle 7
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