A Mental Health Moment
By Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPC, NCC, CCHt, Licensed Mental Health Therapist
The Truth Contributor
Happy Fall and hello October! Dear readers we are closing in on the end of 2021 and, before we know it, we will be again celebrating holidays, dressing in warm clothing, sledding and definitely experiencing some emotional ups and downs that seem to creep up and beat us down by the New Year. Why wait until January 1 to make some promises for the new year. Start now with some mental health goals.
So, if you’ve never had a mental health assessment? First, ask yourself “do I need a mental health assessment?” Most of us will say yes if we are truly being honest with ourselves but the kicker involves to what degree do we need an assessment? Mild, moderate or severe?
I believe the words can speak for themselves depending upon how you are feeling but I will explain further. Mild = some mood swings, feeling unhappy sometimes, maybe some sleepless nights due to some low-level anxiety. Moderate = many mood swings, many sleepless nights or too much sleeping, anxiety levels that rock so hard it interferes with your functioning at work, home and personal relationships. Severe = Daily mood swings, thoughts of harm to self or others, inability to work or keep relationships going. Once you have identified your level, it’s time for some decisions.
If you have a counselor/therapist you have seen in the past and comfortable seeing them again, call and make an appointment, express your concerns with the upcoming end of year possible complications and they will be happy to schedule you.
If you have never been to a counselor/therapist and you have insurance, call your insurance company and ask for providers within range of your driving distance (remember to filter out who you want to see – male, female, African American, Hispanic, providers who specialize in LGBTQ, etc.) If you do not have insurance, you always have the option to pay out of pocket as some providers have a sliding fee scale that meet your income needs but you can also be covered by Medicaid as it is open enrollment time – Online at https://medicaid.ohio.gov/wps/portal/gov/medicaid/ or contact Jobs and Family Services at 419-213-8800.
Just in case you are that person who says “nope, I refuse to go talk to a complete stranger, not telling my business”…..etc etc, whatever the case may be then here are some steps to take but these are only for the mild maybe some moderate but if you feel you meet the severity described above please seek help immediately from friend, family, any medical provider, emergency room or 911.
Do not allow the holidays to creep up on you and believe “I got this, I’m good.” News alert – it worsens each year when we often think all we need is time to heal….no you need some help and not the kind that is rolled in some papers or corked in a bottle from the liquor store.
If you do this 90-day mental health challenge alone, you will need some resources just because they can help. Visit Ohio’s mental health website at www.rtor.org also mental health & addiction services website at www.ohio.gov last but surely not least, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Minority Health www.minorityhealth.hhs.gov
Now flip over your vision boards, pull out your whiteboards or just a notebook and begin to list the big issues such as loss of loved ones who have passed away, any type of abuse – mental, emotional, physical and sexual no matter how long ago, and addictions and substance abuse issues.
Next, begin to note what feelings and emotions do not serve you well, such as crying spells at work or school, feeling angry and irritable every day, inability to sleep or feeling lonely and worthless. Next, note what you want to change in the next 90-days such as “I want to stop feeling so angry,” “I want to stop drinking alcohol so much when I’m lonely,” “I want to feel better somehow after losing someone I loved.” Lastly, begin recommendations to yourself on how you can begin to make changes no matter how small such as “I will not isolate every day,” “I will report my abuse and/or find a safer place/situation,” “I will stop thinking so much about what I don’t have or can’t do.”
If you have arrived at the notion that you feel unable to do this alone, you are probably right – seek help, begin talking to someone. We are only human, we live in the Midwest (cold, dark and icy), and we are still surviving a pandemic….no one should be so happy that they cannot stand themselves right now. Whatever you do, do not feel you are alone or the only one with that issue…hence the resources as they provide statistics and share common information.
By December 31, if your only accomplishment has been to enroll in healthcare, throw a parade, pat yourself on the back and smile because by then any accomplishment will be better than none so don’t become overwhelmed, do what you can but just be sure to do something different and positive from last year. This is a busy time of year for us all, especially medical and mental health providers but we are never too busy to help you. Things don’t change, people do….check in with you all in November now go out there and get your mind right!
Bernadette Graham is a Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor, National Certified Counselor and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist. She is also a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist. Provide feedback or reach out at firstname.lastname@example.org For appointment information please call 419.409.4929 (Appointments available on Tuesdays and Fridays only). Office location is 3454 Oak Alley Ct. Suite 300 Toledo, OH 43606 www.bjgrahamcounseling.org Available for team building, employee empowerment in motivation and better understanding mental health in the work place. Accepting new client ages 13 and older.