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Make Time for Mental Health Awareness

Millions of people are affected by mental health and behavioral health issues every year. One in five adults in the U.S. struggles with a mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI).

During May, Cempa Community Care and its healthcare providers recognize Mental Health Awareness month to end the stigma around mental health, bring attention to therapy, and connect people with appropriate resources.

Mental health encompasses our emotional, psychological, and social well-being, and it helps determine how we act, feel, and react to certain situations. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, many factors influence mental health problems, including biological factors, life experiences, and family history.

Most significantly, if you or a loved one seek treatment for mental health, you are not alone. Mental illness affects just less than 20% of U.S. adults. Millions of people experience anxiety, depression, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and conditions across the spectrum of mental health issues.

The Power of Treatment and Therapy

If you’ve ever experienced symptoms of mental health problems that take away from your overall well-being and quality of life, treatment may help. Treatment and therapy varies based on the symptoms or condition you’re experiencing. If you’ve never sought treatment, consulting your primary care provider can be a great first step to help make a plan.

Cempa clients seeking therapy, counseling, or help diagnosing a mental illness can find support right here at Cempa. Primary care providers can refer patients to an in-house therapist and counselor like Kim Sargent, LCSW. Sargent often interacts with new patients in their primary care setting at Cempa, where she conducts “motivational interviewing” to better understand a patient’s needs.

“I see clients for a variety of reasons, including life issues they’re dealing with or an issue that is getting in their way of fulfilling goals and desires,” Sargent says. “Whether they’re having trouble sleeping or having anxiety, I spend 15 minutes teaching some grounding and stabilization skills or mindfulness techniques. When I introduce myself, I aim to learn more about where each client is in the change process to see if they’re ready for therapy.”

Mental health counseling or therapy can be used as a treatment option for mental health problems or as part of an overall treatment course. Therapy is a space where you can speak with a trained therapist in a safe and confidential environment to explore and understand feelings and behaviors and gain coping skills, according to NAMI.

At Cempa, Sargent uses therapeutic tools and strategies, including EMDR and cognitive behavioral therapy, to help clients process trauma or uncover coping skills for day-to-day life. She encourages clients to see that even when they feel hopeless, just walking in the door to open yourself up to change is a hopeful sign.

“At Cempa, we’re going to meet you where you are — whatever you bring to the door is OK,” Sargent says. “People often come in feeling shame and fear of judgment. We accept everyone. Many times those yucky emotions keep people from coming in. I’m here to help clients work through what’s holding them back from achieving their goals. There is great power in sharing those emotions from deep inside and holding them to the light. There’s healing in that process.”

Processing Emotions During a Pandemic

Since the COVID-19 pandemic and related widespread lockdowns, many individuals have reported trouble sleeping or increased anxiety related to the pandemic. In fact, health officials are anticipating a wave of mental health issues. Seeking the help of a therapist can help. Sargent encourages individuals to seek regular exercise, eat regularly scheduled meals, and renew a hobby or explore a new one to cope with different stressors. And, as always, seek out help from a healthcare provider or therapist.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends “Being Kind to Your Mind” when coping with stress during COVID-19:

  1. PAUSE. Breathe. Notice how you feel.
  2. TAKE BREAKS from COVID-19 content.
  3. TAKE TIME to sleep and exercise.
  4. REACH OUT and stay connected.
  5. SEEK HELP if overwhelmed or unsafe.

If you or someone you know requires immediate help, call 9-1-1 or the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255. If you or a loved one are struggling with mental health or emotional distress related to the pandemic or other disasters, call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990.

Contact Cempa to schedule an appointment with a primary care provider.

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