How Does Stigma Affect Mental Health Treatment?
In recent years, there has been a transformation in the public discourse surrounding therapy. Once a secret shame or punchline, counseling is now increasingly accepted as a vital tool in maintaining mental health and overcoming periods of emotional adversity. Still, even as attitudes change, stigma surrounding seeking mental health care keeps far too many people from getting the treatment they need.
Even as the prevalence of mental health issues increases, up to 75 percent of Americans and Europeans don’t pursue help, according to a study published in the journal Psychological Medicine. Researchers at King’s College London stated that their findings showed “clear evidence” of the “toxic effect” of stigma, which keeps people suffering unnecessarily.
What is Mental Health Stigma?
A stigma is a negative social attitude or unfair judgment placed on a person or group based on a difference or perceived failure. Stigmas are widespread in society, relating to certain lifestyle choices, cultural practices, or health conditions.
In regard to mental health, common stigmas suggest that those dealing with mental illness are “weak” and simply need to “toughen up,” or alternatively are “crazy” or other harmful terms. These characterizations are destructive, misinformed, and untrue, and no one should feel that these pejoratives describe them and their circumstances.
Living in a society that shares such messages about seeking treatment for mental issues can cause self-stigma. This occurs when those struggling with mental illness internalize negative attitudes put forth by the media and others about their own condition. A review of studies in Psychiatry Research found that self-stigma can have a number of deleterious effects, such as:
Most people who hold negative attitudes about treatment simply lack information about mental health. Research shows that information is the most useful weapon in combating treatment stigma. Individuals sharing their stories, as well as media campaigns, change perception of mental illness by helping people to better understand signs of struggle and sharing resources for help.
On a personal level, for those dealing with mental health issues, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. Considering that the CDC reports that over 50 percent of Americans will be diagnosed with a mental illness at some point in their life, struggling with mental health is an extremely common occurrence.
Like physical health, our mental health requires some upkeep and the pursuit of good mental health is a normal one. Defeat stigmas surrounding mental health treatment by starting with yourself, either by encouraging your loved ones to get the help they need, or by taking the first step for your own health. Counseling is a powerful tool in the journey for wellness and personal growth, and we are here to help.
How Does Addiction Affect Families?
Substance abuse issues often are perceived as a private, personal battle, but the truth is that addiction is a family disease. As the user’s struggles begin to impede their ability to live and function normally, partners, children, parents, and other loved ones quickly find their lives altered. Watching family grapple with substance use causes emotional turmoil, and medical, financial, or legal consequences can mount as the effects of the disorder ripple into other parts of life. Regardless of who is struggling, all relationships in a family react and respond to the toll of substance abuse.
Spouses and romantic partners often bear the brunt of substance abuse disorders in a family. Behavioral changes that can arise as a result of addiction such as irritability, sudden mood swings, or emotional withdrawal can strain a relationship. In instances where substance use has begun to affect relationships with children, parents, or in the workplace, the spouse may find themselves making excuses or covering for their partner more and more. This shift risks them developing into an enabler, or the relationship lapsing into a codependent one.
According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, 25% of American children grow up in homes where substance abuse is present. Children who grow up in such environments are more likely to get addicted to drugs or alcohol themselves, and use substances earlier than peers who do witness substance abuse in the home. They are also 69% more likely to be depressed as adults than children with non-addicted parents, and are also more prone to anxiety as adults. Children exposed to substance use can be neglected or placed in unsafe situations which, if escalated to extremes, can lead to removal from the home and living with other family members or placement in foster care.
Like partners of users, parents may fall into a codependent relationship with their children who struggle from substance abuse as they try to protect them from the consequences of their disorder. They may also feel a responsibility or sense of shame when it comes to their child’s issues. For parents of adult users with children, this can cause an added emotional, mental, and financial strain as they worry for the wellbeing of their grandchildren or become their primary caregivers.
Addiction can harm a family, but luckily, there is help available. Individual treatment options and family therapy can rescue a user from the throes of addiction and set a family on the path to healing. If you or a loved one are in need of help, New Era Rehabilitation Center provides a comprehensive, community-focused recovery plan. We know that recovery takes a village and are glad to be of service. Reach out today to start the journey.
Can Mindfulness Be Used in Substance Abuse Recovery?
Ever get the feeling that you’re living on autopilot? You wake up, brush your teeth, get dressed, and then suddenly you’re at the office -- or, nowadays, at the dining table -- answering emails without really knowing how you got there. It’s just the same old thing everyday, and your feet carry you through the motions without any thought at all. This feeling of living your life by rote is common, but fortunately there’s a solution in mindfulness.
What is Mindfulness?
In its simplest terms, mindfulness is a state of awareness of where you are and what you’re doing. As a mind-body discipline, it trains you to stay connected to the present moment by becoming more aware of your thoughts, feelings, and physical sensations. Over time, living a more mindful life can reduce stress, improve memory and focus, increase emotional regulation, and decrease depressive symptoms and generally lead to feelings of more holistic wellness.
Mindfulness techniques can be applied to most of our daily activities like eating, walking, even breathing, and can be strengthened through practices like meditation and journaling. In addition to this, mindful living has become a key component of some counseling disciplines, such as cognitive behavioral therapy.
Mindfulness & Addiction Recovery
According to researchers at the University of Washington, it’s an unconscious human tendency to seek pleasure and avoid discomfort. In some instances, these coping mechanisms are harmless, but they can be grave for those struggling with substance abuse issues, where the automated response can lead to relapse. This is where mindfulness comes in. Retaining a moment-to-moment awareness of thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, and physical surroundings disrupts the autopilot response that leads to substance use in those dealing with addiction.
What is Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention?
In Mindfulness-Based Relapse Prevention (MBRP), treatment combines mindfulness techniques with more traditional therapy approaches. Rather than encouraging those in treatment to simply avoid their triggers, MBRP champions a concept called “urge surfing”: using mindfulness techniques to ride out their cravings instead of succumbing to the urge and relapsing.
Staying present allows you to become aware of urges as they arise without surrendering to them. This also relates back to the greater degree of emotional regulation mindfulness allows. When you are better able to manage your emotions, you are less likely to respond to them with substance abuse. In a study published in JAMA Psychiatry, participants in a MBRP program fared better than those in a traditional 12-step program, showing lower rates of relapse. However, an important part of MBRP is understanding that building daily acts of mindfulness into your routine is key in maintaining progress. As with other treatment plans, self-improvement remains a lifelong journey.
Who Can Mindfulness Help?
Mindfulness can be incorporated into anyone’s treatment plan, but it’s important to remember that there’s no one approach to recovery. At New Era, we work with clients and their families to develop individualized treatment plans tailored to their specific needs. MBRP may be an especially useful tool when combined with other treatment options. Reach out today to take your recovery into your hands.
As conversations about mental health become increasingly, thankfully, more mainstream, it’s more important than ever to get clear on the language we use to discuss it. What’s “good” mental health anyway? Here are some necessary definitions before we get down to answering that question.
Mental Health & Mental Illness
According to the CDC, mental health is multifaceted: it’s comprised of our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing, and it affects our thoughts, feelings, and behavior.
Mental illness is categorized in two ways, depending on severity. All Mental Illness (AMI) refers to a mental, behavioral, or emotional disorder. Serious Mental Illness (SMI) refers to the same, but to such a degree that it significantly impedes your ability to lead a normal life -- ie, to hold a job, or to fulfill your usual family obligations. Going through a period of poor mental health doesn’t necessarily mean you have a mental illness. Similarly, those who have been diagnosed with mental disorders can go through stretches of good mental health -- and extending these stretches is one of the goals of treatment.
“Good” Mental Health
What it means to have good mental health can be a little more nebulous, but it goes beyond simply the lack of diagnosed mental illnesses. Mentally healthy people:
These attributes come together to produce feelings of happiness, contentment, and satisfaction, which protect against the development of mental health issues. They also contribute to something called “mental resilience,” a key factor in preserving emotional well being.
What is Mental Resilience?
Mental resilience refers to a kind of mental toughness -- though not in a harmful “suck it up and tough it out” kind of way. Instead, psychological resilience describes an adaptiveness and flexibility that allows you to successfully overcome life's adversities. Between workplace woes, financial hardship, and unprecedented global health crises, modern life has plenty of stressors, and a strong sense of mental resilience is required to deal with them, nerves intact. Developing resilience doesn’t mean that an individual won’t deal with emotional distress, but rather that they have built a skill set that allows them to confront traumatic experiences and thrive in the face of them.
The American Psychological Association writes that building mental resilience requires intentionally developing four core components: connection, wellness, healthy thinking, and meaning. By focusing on these factors, anyone can learn how to maintain good mental health even in the toughest situations.
Developing mental resilience requires some work, and sometimes treatment. There’s no shame in reaching out and taking your mental health into your own hands with the help of your family, friends, and trusted professionals.
Even in times of extreme adversity, talking about mental health still holds some stigma. It is still far too common for those struggling mentally or emotionally to feel the need to ignore their hardships and put on a brave face. In other instances, those who make the leap to find care may simply not know where to find the help they desperately need, or find themselves overwhelmed by the process of searching for it. This is especially unfortunate as the prevalence of mental issues in the United States only continues to grow, continuing an upward trend set into motion long before being exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic.
The State of Things
While mental health struggles can feel like a secret shame, it’s more common than you might think. According to Mental Health America’s 2021 report on The State Of Mental Health In America:
Mental health is just like physical health -- a key factor of our overall health, one that requires some effort to maintain. By the same token, mental illness, like physical illness, is nothing to be ashamed of. By taking the steps to preserve our mental health, we also do the work of substance abuse prevention, considering the high rate of comorbidity between substance abuse disorders and mental illness. It is necessary work with impact that ripples beyond the individuals in treatment to their families, friends, and broader communities.
Introducing New Era Rehab & Wellness
At New Era, we have always privileged the mental health of our patients in substance abuse recovery and those seeking behavioral solutions. But as our society continues to steadily open up, still reeling from the unprecedented upheaval of the last year, we feel the need to do more.
This Mental Health Awareness Month we’re launching New Era Wellness, a suite of service offerings and resources to help those in need of some extra help while navigating the curveballs life can throw our way. In addition to individual and group therapy, we’ll be expanding our focus to a more holistic picture of wellness by including other disciplines like meditation, yoga, and mindfulness. For the rest of the month, these blog posts and corresponding content on our new social media channels will provide information on how to pursue a more complete understanding of health.
Seeking help for mental illness isn’t always easy. It can mean confronting long-held beliefs about the “kind” of people who struggle with depression, anxiety, or other common mental illnesses, or shedding stigmas you’ve unwittingly internalized. But ultimately, it’s key to showing up for yourself and others, so you can live the life you deserve. There is absolutely no shame in getting the help you need. We hope to be of service.
It’s easy for those close to a person struggling with addiction to find themselves in a codependent relationship. In codependent relationships, people take responsibility for the extreme needs of another person to the detriment of themselves. In relationships involving people struggling with substance abuse issues, this codependency can often become enabling behavior, with people taking responsibility for the actions of another, attempting to solve their problems, and turning a blind eye to harm their loved one may cause in their struggle with addiction. Stopping codependency can be a complicated process, but it’s essential to addiction recovery. Here are three tips to help you start untangling codependent relationships.
1. Set Healthy Boundaries
Boundaries establish what you are and aren’t comfortable with. Setting and honoring boundaries takes time and practice, but begin by taking some time to meditate on what makes you anxious and uncomfortable and what you can tolerate. Codependent people tend to struggle with saying no, so practice being direct and staying firm in refusals. It will take time, but this is key in shedding your people-pleasing behaviors.
2. Offer Support Without Sacrificing Your Needs
People in codependent relationships often attempt to “fix” their loved ones, but in recovery, the desire to change needs to come from the person struggling: forced stints in rehabilitation rarely stick. Practice offering support and compassion without taking responsibility for your loved one’s issues or covering for problems caused by addiction. Discuss solutions and treatment plans with your loved one, but allow them to ultimately to make their own decisions. Consider attending family therapy to prepare for the changes that occur during the recovery and commiserate others in the same situation.
3. Take Care of Yourself
It’s easy to lose yourself in a codependent relationship as you become wrapped up in caring for your loved one. Spend time caring for yourself by focusing on your emotional, physical, and mental health. Eating well, exercising regularly, and getting enough sleep are more important than ever considering the disruptions to our lives due to Covid-19. You can’t take care of others if you aren’t taking care of yourself.
If you or a loved one are seeking help with recovery in Connecticut, contact us today at www.newerarehabilitation.com to take the first step in transforming your life.
As the coronavirus pandemic has become part of the backdrop of our lives, substance abuse recovery, like so many other things, is looking a lot different. With increased isolation, changes in employment, and a general feeling of uncertainty plaguing more and more Americans, research shows that the risk of relapse is higher than ever for those in recovery. But there is still hope and there are steps you can take to fortify yourself and stay the course. Here are three ways to keep your recovery on track in the midst of a pandemic.
1. Stay Connected
The most radical change we’re all dealing with in this time is feeling isolated and detached from our social networks. With many of us working from home, unable to freely spend time with loved ones, and with social gatherings put on pause, it’s easy to feel disconnected and alone. Take time to reconnect with your community, whether that’s with a standing call with close friends and family, or a Zoom party that gets a group together. Get creative with group movie night options like Netflix Watch Party or Hulu Watch Party, or consider a virtual game night with apps like JackBox or Quizup. While these online options aren’t a perfect replacement, they do the job of reminding us we’re all in this together and building us up with social support.
2. Make Healthy Habits a Priority
We’ve all heard how key a healthy way of eating and regular physical activity are for our health, but these habits are even more important during the recovery process. A diet full of healthful foods and nutrients will help your body heal if you’ve struggled with substance abuse, increase energy, and even support more stable mental health. In changing your diet, it’s important to make small, sustainable changes like slowly increasing fruit and vegetable intake, consuming more protein, and gradually limiting processed foods and sugars. With physical activity, the same is true: small, gradual changes that fit into your life. With gyms no longer an option, try walking more (make it a socially-distanced walk with a friend to get in some social time!) or online workouts on Youtube. Start slow, and build up as your endurance and energy increase. And, of course, wash your hands frequently and wear a mask!
3. Build a Routine
Even the positive changes that come with recovery can feel overwhelming at times. Coupled with the dramatic adjustments hat have come about due to the pandemic, this can feel very challenging. A good way to combat this is to build structure and routine into your life as much as you can, to free up mental space with some peaceful predictability in the wake of so much other upheaval. Like always, the focus is incremental, sustainable changes: can you set certain times to wake up and go to bed? To eat your meals? What about some personal time for self-reflection or meditation? Seeking treatment can help with this, as meetings with counselors or group therapy encourage personal growth and build time for self-reflection into your day.
If you or a loved one are seeking help with recovery in Connecticut, contact us today at www.newerarehabilitation.com to take the first step in transforming your life.
Here are 6 tips that can help you overcome anxiety and phobias:
1. Allow yourself to sit with your fear for 2 to 3 minutes. Say “it’s OK”, and know that you are allowing yourself to feel it but that you also wish to move on. #mindset
2. Write down the things you are grateful for. Doing this allows you to take your mind to a more positive place.
3. Remind yourself that your anxiety is a storehouse of wisdom. Sometimes we’re anxious and fearful because we are unsure of what will happen. But if we switch the mindset into seeing what the lesson may be then we teach ourselves to view it differently.
4. Exercise. I know it’s always annoying to see that word when you’re not an active person. However, doing exercises allows your mind to release endorphins. If you’re not in an area to exercise, then go take a walk or massage your temples to stay grounded.
5. Use humor to deflate your worst fears. I truly believe laughter cures the soul. Ask yourself what’s the worst thing that could happen? And then laugh about it or think of something funny.
6. Appreciate your courage. Tell yourself and believe that you are stronger than you think... and if all else fails, pray for strength to get through it.
If you’re having trouble coping with your mental health, please give us a call or visit us online at newerarehab.com to learn how we can assist you. We also offer online counseling for out-of-town clients.
In need of counseling or mental health services? Mentally exhausted due to COVID-19? Out of town and need someone to talk to?
New Era Rehab Center is now offering Telemedicine (online video counseling) services for those that are unable to come into our facilities. Telehealth / telemedicine is the distribution of health related services and information via telecommunication technologies. ⠀⠀
If you’re having trouble coping with your mental health or addiction, please give us a call to learn how we can assist you. For inquiries and appointments please call us at 203-344-0025 and dial 3 to speak to an admissions counselor. For faster responses, send us a message via the messenger icon on our Google Business Page.
We have two in-person centers that services the Bridgeport, CT and New Haven, CT areas; however you can use our online counseling services from anywhere in the US.
We look forward to serving you.