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Supporting Someone with Mental Health Issues

When it comes to talking to a loved one about mental health, it can be very uncomfortable. As a society, we are still living with a lot of stigma when

 it comes to mental health. There is not enough information out there to help us know how to start; however, we are making some great strides in mental health awareness, for example, with Canada’s annual Bell Let’s Talk Day this past Wednesday.

 

Try these R-E-S-P-E-C-T tips to support your loved one with mental health issues:

 

Realize it will take them time to understand where you are coming from.

When you approach the topic of mental illness with a loved one you know/ suspect are struggling, they might be having a hard time coming to terms with their mental health condition. Some might experience “anosognosia”, a symptom where one does not have self-awareness of the condition they are experiencing. Their acknowledgement of your concerns may take time. This TED Talk by Dr. Xavier Amador might be helpful: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NXxytf6kfPM

 

Educate yourself and others.

It can be really helpful to speak to a professional about your concerns and what you are observing. While you may not be suffering from mental health symptoms as a primary patient, you certainly experience secondary symptoms, which are equally deserving of support and conversations with a professional.

 

Say to yourself “it’s okay to feel what I’m feeling”.

It can be really challenging for family members to support a loved one with mental health concerns. Caregiver burnout is a feeling of mental, physical, and/or emotional exhaustion due to the demands of providing care. It is important to have support if you relate to feelings of this ‘caregiver burnout’. Your loved one needs you to be healthy in order for them to be healthy.

 

Patience is a virtue, and definitely hard to practice.

Not only will you need to be patient with your loved one, but it is also important to be patient with yourself and the difficult feelings that might come up for you. We want ourselves and others to stop feeling bad right now, and we want the solution to our problem to come more quickly. Remember: recovery usually takes longer than we thought it would, and it can become frustrating… but you can push through. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.

 

Expect that there will be good days and bad days.

In supporting a loved one with mental illness, it is important to know that healing is not a linear path. There are ups and downs and some days feel like you are taking 10 steps backwards instead of forwards.This can trigger feelings of anxiety and/ or depression. When we are not intentional in caring for our mental health, we can be more susceptible to experiencing bad mental health days. Remind your loved one of the simple self-care items they could try to get back on track.

 

Crisis plans are important.

A crisis plan is a plan that is discussed in calm moments to decide which supports (personal and professional) to access and how we can keep our loved ones safe. Here is a great template to use: https://www.maine.gov/dhhs/samhs/mentalhealth/rights-legal/crisis-plan/home.html.

 

Teamwork makes the dream work.

Think about who to involve in your “team” to support your loved one and you as well. List out people like mental health professionals (e.g. psychiatrists, family doctors, therapists), peer support (e.g. groups, crisis helplines), and family and/or friends. It can be a lot easier, and less painful, if we all contribute to one’s healing together.

 

To learn more about how we can support you in managing your stress and feelings of anxiety about your loved one, please contact Vivian Zhang at vivian@balancedmindandwellness.com.

Please see our previous blog post for some more tips on how to talk about mental health.

Rise Above Stigma! Mental Health Awareness

Rise Above Stigma! Bell Let’s Talk Day: Wednesday, January 28, 2015!

Wednesday, January 28, 2015 is an important reminder of how we should think about, talk about, act, and treat others with mental illness. Not just today, but every day.

WHY? Most people cannot afford treatment to or are on a wait list for months.

MESSAGE:

If you are currently experiencing concerns about your own mental health, having difficulty managing emotions, or having trouble creating or maintaining healthy relationships, please act now. Remember that it takes courage and strength to reach out for help from loved ones or a mental health professional. This help is one difficult, yet life-changing step away. Help yourself and get help from people who care about you (and want to help you)!

We all struggle in life from time to time in our own ways. Take the time to assess your own self-esteem and emotional well-being, noticing any negative changes in your usual behaviours. Awareness of such changes, a strong desire for the suffering to end, and a willingness to help others is that next step you need toward reestablishing more meaning and positivity.

TAKE ACTION:

Take care of yourself, first and foremost. Practice mental wellness. Do what it takes to make you happy. Actively set aside that extra time in a day, week, and month to focus on you and how you can continually contribute to your overall wellbeing.
-Spend less on takeout, and more on pampering yourself.

Refrain from judging or criticizing those who have been labelled with or who have symptoms of a mental health disorder.
-Be conscious to avoid derogatory or hurtful terms that may offend those suffering with a disease.

Talk about therapy and encourage those around you to go. Never judge or criticize those who are seeking treatment for mental illness.
-Why don’t question medication for physical illness?

Listen to those around you with mental illness and ask questions.
-Learn about what they are going through and how you can help them, or how you can help prevent others from experiencing the negative effects of a similar disease.

Educate yourself on how you can help to spread awareness of the life-threatening effects of a mental health disorder (and how it impacts you or loved ones).

FAQS

– Mental health problems and illnesses also account for more than $6 billion in lost productivity costs due to absenteeism and presenteeism. (The Mental Health Commission of Canada)

– 1 in 5 Canadians will experience a form of mental illness at some point in their life. (Canadian Institute of Health Research)

– At this very moment, some 3 million Canadians are suffering from depression. (CMHA)

MOTIVATION TO END STIGMA:

**Make the choice to rise above stigma and be more aware of your acceptance and non-judgment, toward yourself, those around you, and society in general.

**We need to make mental healthcare more accessible, affordable, and acceptable. You, as members in society, as a collective, have the power to influence that. Start by taking care of ‘you’ and others around you!

Here is more information on how psychotherapy or counselling can benefit you or those around you: https://www.etobicokepsychotherapy.com/etobicoke-psychotherapy-counselling/

Steps to Build Your Confidence

We tend to get down on ourselves at certain times of the year, and the winter can be one of them. Take this as a healthy reminder to always work on yourself – there really is always room for self-improvement. It’s important to keep in mind that there are steps to build your confidence, rather than wallowing in self-created misery. Please read the following tips that are helpful to you or anyone around you. You create your own happiness, and you can increase your confidence with these simple suggestions.

Stop comparing yourself to others. Trying to live up to or compete with someone else’s personal standards is a losing game. Instead, focus on being the best YOU that you can be.

Compliment yourself regularly, either by looking in the mirror and noting something you like about yourself, writing it in a journal or cell phone note. Don’t tell me you can’t think of one thing every so often. It’s great to compliment others on their success, as long as we make sure to do the same for ourselves.

Exercise consistently, at least 30 minutes of exercise several times a week, to strengthen your body, to burn calories, and to relieve stress. Exercising also provides a sense of empowerment that can positively enhance your self-esteem.

Simply smile. The mere act of smiling changes blood flow to the brain and can actually makes you feel happier and relieve tension and stress. A smile sets off chemical and physical reactions within your mind and body, releasing endorphins that boost your mood and increase confidence.

Focus on your accomplishments. Forgive yourself for mistakes, let go of guilt, and focus on the positive by celebrating your victories. Consider writing down your accomplishments, so you can review them when you’re feeling down. This will help to renew or revive your confidence.

Get the support you need to succeed. Take steps, rather than procrastinating, to accomplish your wellness goals. For example, join a gym class, where fellow members will help keep you motivated.

Make a list of your positive qualities. Write down at least ten positive qualities about yourself and return to this list as often as needed to boost your confidence.

Find something special in each day. Even if it’s in a small way, do something pleasant and rewarding, like catching up on your favorite television show, calling a friend to catch up, or indulging in a bubble bath.

Eat better. Pay attention to your food choices and nourish your body. Buy healthier foods and prepare well-balanced meals that will help give you energy and feel like your best self. If you eat poorly and/or overeat, your mood and confidence will reflect this negativity.

Finally and most often forgotten: explore a passion. Whether it’s a side job, hobby, or volunteer work, any small effort can lead to a sense of purpose and significantly improve your overall happiness and quality of life.

For more information on self-esteem counselling and ways to improve your confidence, call 647-961-9669, email carlyclifton@gmail.com, or visit:  https://www.etobicokepsychotherapy.com/self-esteem-counselling-etobicoke/

 

Ways to Improve Your Self-Esteem

Are you struggling with your confidence lately? Do you find your self-esteem is lower than usual? It could be someone’s comments, or a certain event that made you feel this way. At times, self-esteem decreases due to certain triggers. Whether your self-esteem is still going strong, fading, or feels like it has disappeared, it is important for us all to take steps to maintain and increase our confidence. Here are some things to keep in mind.

– Recognize and embrace your positive qualities. Make a list of all your assets including skills, experiences, talents, and anything else that makes you feel good about yourself. Make sure to include compliments that others have given you as well (even if you don’t agree with them).

– Accept yourself as a whole package, rather than focusing on the little parts. Accept that you are not perfect, and don’t let anyone make you think otherwise. Remind yourself of the positive characteristics that define you and have made you succeed, even in the littlest ways.

– Trust that you are competent, and remind yourself of all the problems you have faced and come through. Find ways to learn new skills if you feel defeated or unsure of how to deal with a certain problem. Take the steps necessary to do so. Take on new challenges, acknowledge accomplishments, and make note of when you go that extra mile and how it made you feel.

– Believe in your own worth, and make yourself a priority some of the time. Think of something you want to do and do it. Be selfish when you need to be – it’s exhausting trying to be selfless all the time.

– Think about your mistakes, or perceived mistakes, in a positive way. See them as opportunities to learn, and change your ways accordingly. This is your chance to move forward – not to feel guilty or embarrassed.

Need help learning ways to increase YOUR confidence and self-esteem? Want to learn the tools and skills to achieving a happier way of being?

For more information on how to increase your self-esteem or confidence, please see https://www.etobicokepsychotherapy.com/self-esteem-counselling-etobicoke/, or call 647-961-9669/ email carlyclifton@gmail.com