Recent News from MHS

Setting Mental Health Goals

Posted November 4, 2021

A healthy young woman celebrates completing a hike as the sun is setting as part of her mental health goal setting planHenry Ford is quoted as saying, “Nothing is particularly hard if you divide it into small jobs,” and Confucius is claimed to have said, “The man who moves a mountain begins by carrying away small stones.” Both of these quotes have to do with the importance of setting goals as well as the value of making them realistic and attainable.

Mental health goals are no different. Just like other types of targets you might make in life, mental health goals are vital to staying happy and healthy. What are mental health goals, and how can you achieve them? Here’s how to establish objectives and stick to them.

Setting Daily Mental Health Goals

It’s key to set targets that you can work toward daily. Here are some kinds of daily mental health goals that you may wish to improve upon if you want to be your best self. If you live near Apple Valley, MN, a network of professionals can help you with goals like these.

Maintain Regular Exercise

Your mental health is directly connected to your physical health, so taking care of your mind also means taking care of your body. One type of goal you might want to make, then, is to create a fitness routine.

There is a strong correlation between exercise and mood. If you’re under a lot of stress, going for a run or doing any other type of cardio activity will almost certainly make you feel better. In addition to the short-term benefits, regular exercise can also ease long-term depression and anxiety.

Ideally, you should aim to do 30 minutes of exercise every day for five days a week, but if you’re not ready to commit to that, a little exercise can still help improve your mental health. If you’re setting a goal of exercising more, it’s best to start slow, keep your targets achievable, and work your way up.

Get Quality Sleep

If you’re going to set targets, be sure they’re going to help you improve and stay with you for the long run. Improving your sleep is something you might want to consider.

Sleeping well is vital to maintaining one’s mental health. It may seem like a catch-22, but sleep problems make mental health issues more likely, and mental health issues make sleep problems more likely. In any general psychiatric practice, sleep problems are common among patients: 50% to 80% suffer from sleep issues compared to 10% to 18% of the general adult population.

Aiming for the target of better sleep can do wonders for your mental health. This requires good sleep hygiene, which includes doing things like writing down concerns and worries so you can deal with them the next day, going to bed and waking up at the same time each day, avoiding screens before bed, doing something relaxing to lead up to sleep, and avoiding caffeine or alcohol.

Setting Weekly Goals

While your weekly mental health goals are naturally tied into your daily mental health goals, it’s vital to set targets that you don’t necessarily have to attend to every day.

Utilize a Therapist

Therapy can be extremely beneficial for your mental health, even if you don’t have a mental illness. A therapist is a trained professional who can help you achieve your objectives by offering you a safe and confidential space to discuss what you want to happen in the future and how to get it. A therapist can also help you work through your past, manage your relationships, notice patterns that may be detrimental or beneficial to your mental health, and offer coping strategies.

Seeing a therapist weekly is common, though you can set your own schedule when it comes to how often you visit yours. In Apple Valley, MN, you have access to a variety of professionals that will evaluate and suit your specific needs.

Keep Track of Your Progress

Whatever your objectives may be, you’ll want to be aware of how much progress you are or are not making in attaining them. This requires that your objectives follow the SMART method: Make them Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

  • Specific: Making a goal specific means that when you reach that target, you’ll know it and feel good about yourself. Creating a mood journal for one month is an example of a specific goal.
  • Measurable: Quantifying and being able to directly measure your goal is important to fulfilling it and keeping track of your progress. If you keep a mood journal, you can keep track of how far along you are by keeping track of the number of days or weeks you’ve successfully updated your journal.
  • Attainable: If your objective is not realistic, it’s unlikely you’ll achieve it. Be sure your targets are broken down into manageable steps; for instance, saying you’ll update your mood journal three to five times per week, which allows you to forgive yourself in case you forget once or twice.
  • Relevant: A target needs to be practical and in step with your values. You should know why you’re going for a mental health goal. For example, if you want to better manage your depression, a mood journal will help you keep track of when you do or don’t feel depressed, which will, in turn, help you identify what triggers it.
  • Time-bound: Establishing a deadline for your objective makes it more likely you will attain it. Be sure your deadline is reasonable, so you don’t set yourself up for disappointment.

By following this method, you can keep your objectives reasonable and attainable, and you’ll be able to measure your growth over time and feel good about how much progress you’ve made each week.

The Feeling of Achieving Mental Health Goals

Just like any other type of goal, achieving your mental health objectives is likely to greatly improve your mood and self-confidence. When you obtain part of your goal, you’ll feel a sense of accomplishment; when you complete all you’ve set out to do, you’ll feel an even greater sense of triumph. This is why goal-setters tend to be happier and healthier than those who do not set any targets for themselves: The rush of dopamine you get from crossing something off on your to-do list is very real.

For the same reason, it’s important that you’re setting realistic goals. Setting a target and failing to meet it will have the opposite effect and produce negative emotions, including disappointment and a loss of self-confidence. Always set objectives that are practical.

How Can Mental Health Systems Help With Mental Health Goals?

You may have set New Year’s goals before, but have you ever set mental health goals? Whatever improvement you want to make in your life, establishing the right mental health objectives and working to achieve them can help alleviate your mental health issues and boost self-confidence. Mental Health Systems in Apple Valley, MN, employs a network of various types of professionals that will listen to your needs and help you both create and attain mental health goals that are both important to you and realistic. Reach out to us and get started on a plan to make yourself happier and healthier.


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How to Cope Without Family Support

Posted November 4, 2021

A young woman sits on a park bench at sunset struggling with depression and lack of family assistanceCoping with depression can be extremely difficult, especially when your friends and family members are unsupportive. When dealing with a mental illness such as depression, it is immensely important to surround yourself with individuals who understand and support you. Unfortunately, this is not always possible, and at times, you may find yourself having to navigate the dark waters of depression alone. If you are currently in such a situation, this article will show you how to:

  • Accept that some people around you may not understand your depression.
  • Cope with your depression in a healthy manner, even when friends and family members choose to remain detached or unsupportive.

As a person living with depression, mental health family support can soften the blow, but if you struggle with a lack of family support, you still have options and ways to support yourself and make self-care a priority.

When the Family Doesn’t Want to Help

If you suffer from depression in Apple Valley, MN, your first reaction may be to turn to loved ones for help and emotional support. Unfortunately, your loved ones may not respond in the way you expect them to. Some people simply don’t understand major depressive disorder, so they can’t extend empathy to someone suffering from the disorder. It is important to understand that such an unempathetic response has nothing to do with you, and there can be a myriad of reasons for your loved one’s lack of compassion. Often, responses to situations are automatic (ingrained) and a function of their life experiences.

Many individuals came of age during a period when depression was not discussed or considered taboo. Others grew up in environments that punished or repressed acts of vulnerability. There is also a pronounced stigma still surrounding mental illness, so many people simply can’t bring themselves to discuss the topic seriously. Whatever the reason behind your loved one’s response may be, it may help to reach out to others outside of your immediate social and familial circle for additional support.

In some cases, an unsupportive loved one may benefit from additional education. By educating themselves, they can better understand what you are experiencing on a regular basis. Education can also help break the stigma surrounding depression, so they may become more likely to discuss the topic with you in a non-judgmental and compassionate fashion. There are numerous resources and organizations, such as Mental Health America and NAMI, specializing in offering family education programs. Check out some of these organizations in Apple Valley, MN, if you think you or your loved one would benefit from learning more.

When You Don’t Want to Involve Your Family

Coping without mental health family support is possible, especially if you are intent on treating yourself well. Self-care is exceptionally important for people living with depression, and there are steps you can take alone to improve your mood. To do this, you must be willing to speak positively to yourself and act as your greatest supporter. You may want to pay particular attention to your self-talk, especially if it is negative. Negative self-talk can create additional stress and feed your depression. Try to keep your inner monologue positive and focus on cultivating positive, compassionate thoughts.

There are also other steps you can take to improve your mood. Distracting yourself with positive, healthy activities is one way to break the depression cycle. Such self-care activities are hugely important, even for those who don’t suffer from depression. Consider creating a list of pleasurable activities that can alleviate your depression, such as the following:

  • Exercising
  • Talking to a friend or family member (if they are supportive)
  • Writing in a journal
  • Reading an interesting book
  • Taking a warm bath
  • Enjoying your favorite meal

Such acts can be categorized as “self-care,” and you can do most of them with or without another person. Don’t feel guilty about indulging in acts of self-care now and then – they are a key component of your recovery.

There are many misconceptions about depression, and they can make recovery even more difficult for those struggling with the disorder. Contrary to what unsupportive friends or family members may think or say, depression is not a sign of laziness or weakness. It is a biologically-based disorder caused by imbalances in mood-stabilizing chemicals circulating in your brain. Asking a professional for help or confiding in someone else are not attention-seeking behaviors. Always remember these facts, no matter what someone else’s opinion of depression might be. Keep in mind that it takes a remarkable deal of courage and emotional strength to seek out help when one is suffering.

If you do not have access to a reasonable level of mental health family support, there are additional resources you can look into. It is important to remember that others can’t always provide us with the emotional support we need, but there are people who can. Support groups for individuals suffering from depression can provide you with a sense of belonging and surround you with sympathetic individuals who understand and are interested in hearing about your experiences. There is nothing wrong with seeking help outside your immediate social circle; as a matter of fact, an unbiased viewpoint may be helpful in your situation.

If you are currently struggling with depression in Apple Valley, MN, you may want to contact SAMHSA (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration). The organization can help you learn more about treatment facilities and support services near you.

When a Spouse Leaves You Because You Are Seeking Mental Health Treatment

When a spouse leaves you during a depressive episode, the feelings you experience can be truly painful. Often, spouses function as our primary support systems, and when they cannot or will not provide emotional support, it can become difficult to deal with problems. If your spouse is unwilling to offer you the support you need during such a trying time, it is important to surround yourself with people who can. Remember, your spouse may simply not be emotionally equipped to handle such situations.

If you are finding your spouse to be increasingly toxic or unsupportive, it can be helpful to spend some time apart. There will always be people, who no matter what, will not have anything positive to say. Limiting contact with such individuals can be a radical act of self-care, and without such negativity to deal with, you may find it easier to manage your depression.

Don’t hesitate to reach out to positive and supportive friends and family members if you and your spouse are experiencing marital difficulties while you are suffering from depression. Finding the right therapist and support group can also be immensely helpful.

Take the First Step

Fighting depression while dealing with unsupportive friends or family members can be exhausting, but it can be done. Often, others are unable to lend us the emotional support needed to recover from depression successfully. Remain open-minded, and remember, help and support is available to you at all times. Contact Mental Health Systems in Apple Valley today to take the first step.


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How to Be Alone but not Lonely

Posted October 22, 2021

A well dressed woman walks alone down a bridge on an overcast day as Mental Health Services explains how to spend your alone time and not feel lonely

There are times in life when you will have to spend more time on your own, without a partner, your children, other relatives, or friends nearby. Sometimes, you may find yourself alone after a spouse’s death, a pet’s passing, the end of a relationship, or your children going off to college or work. Or maybe you recently relocated to a new city and live alone for the first time in your life.

Feeling alone during some of life’s most challenging transitions is normal. The key to spending time alone in a healthy way is to focus on positive habits and emphasize self-care. It’s possible to be alone without experiencing loneliness. At Mental Health Systems, providers can work with clients in the Apple Valley, MN area to help reframe those time periods of being alone.

How To Be Alone and Not Feel Lonely

In the past two years, the social circle of friends and family members has tightened and closed up. With sporadic quarantines, pandemic shutdowns, more teleworking, and an increase in virtual events, there are more people than ever spending a lot of time alone. For some, this sharp increase in alone time has led to higher levels of stress and feelings of isolation. Adults, teens, and children have all reported more depression symptoms.

As society continues to look towards recovery after the pandemic, the stark reality is that for some, alone time is here to stay. Many workplaces and gathering places have changed permanently in favor of virtual options for sharing ideas and collaborating. Alone time is also pretty standard for empty nesters, widowers, and many elderly people across the country. At MHS in Apple Valley, MN, our approach to alone time is that it’s not about surviving the time you spend by yourself; it’s about thriving.

Thriving during your alone time means focusing on the positive side of having time by yourself. Your alone time can also allow you to develop better habits and practice mindfulness. When you’re feeling alone, you can reframe your attitude and work to combat loneliness or boredom. This is the time to start working on new skills, looking for new creative outlets, exploring your interests, and learning to love and care for yourself.

Signs of Loneliness

If you are often alone, you have to be careful not to confuse the ideas of feeling alone and lonely. Being alone isn’t necessarily a bad thing. On the other hand, loneliness can be a sign of a bigger issue or part of some common depression symptoms. A person experiencing loneliness may have insomnia, restlessness, irritability, and a lack of motivation. Being lonely doesn’t always mean you’re physically alone. Some people may be surrounded by friends and loved ones and still struggle with loneliness. MHS in Apple Valley, MN, offers resources and help if you are having difficulty with loneliness.

Activities To Keep You Feeling a Part of Your Surroundings

It’s important to be proactive, so your status of being physically alone doesn’t turn into sadness and loneliness. A great way to take action during your alone time is to take up new activities and hobbies. If you have a lot of extra time in your schedule, aim to fill some of the hours up with your passions and pursuits.

One healthy option is to get outside and try outdoor activities to get more in touch with your surroundings. If you spend all of your time indoors by yourself, you may have more negative thoughts about feeling alone. Instead, opt for a change in your scenery by taking walks regularly, buying a bike for exercise, or exploring local parks.

Alone time can also be broken up by pursuing your interests and hobbies. Use this time to develop a new skill, learn a new language, take a class, explore your city, or test out new restaurants and cafes in the Apple Valley, MN area.

It’s Okay To Be Alone, Do Things Alone, and Live Alone

It’s also important to keep in mind that being alone is okay. There’s nothing wrong with spending a lot of time by yourself. Getting used to being alone, doing things by yourself, and living on your own can be an adjustment if you’re used to always being around friends and family.

You also may be able to find some benefits in your new solo status. If you’ve always lived with a family, a partner, or your kids, the first time you live alone may be a little daunting. Eventually, many empty nesters or people living alone for the first time may start to really enjoy it. Living alone means you can decorate your space exactly how you like it. You can come and go as you please, and you don’t have to worry about catering to anyone else’s needs.

Doing things alone may also feel strange at first, but you can gain confidence in your time by yourself over time. Going out to eat by yourself can be liberating as you discover new places and new tastes. Solo travel is another activity that can open up a new world to someone who recently started living independently. Taking a trip on your own can help you learn more about yourself and unique destinations.

It’s Important To Stay Connected to the Outside/People/Neighborhoods

Also, just because you live alone or are an empty nester doesn’t mean you have to spend your time all by yourself. A great way to fend off any potential feelings of loneliness is to build connections with the people and organizations in your neighborhood. Getting a dog is one of the top ways to get yourself out there meeting new people. You and your pup can explore the area’s dog parks and connect with other dog owners in your neighborhood. At home, a new pet provides excellent company to someone living by themselves.

Another way to keep yourself from feeling alone and bored is to work on connecting with more people and rebuilding your social network. Look online for groups and clubs dedicated to your favorite activities and aim to meet up for local in-person events to meet new friends. You can also reach out to potential romantic partners and network with online dating tools.

Take time also to get involved in your community. Consider volunteering for a good cause in your city or town to help those in need. Doing regular volunteer work at the same organization can also help you expand your network of friends and acquaintances. Avoid relying too much on electronic devices to stay connected to friends and family. Instead, opt to talk face to face to those you care about so your bonds stay strong, and your relationships continue to grow.

Reach Out Today

Learning how to be alone and not feel lonely is not something that happens overnight. At Mental Health Systems, we can help you navigate this journey to self-realization during your alone time. We specialize in dialectical behavioral therapy for our clients. Contact us for more information about our services to help you thrive.


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Things to Do for Self Care

Posted October 22, 2021

A major factor in a healthy mind and body is your ability to self-regulate and get enough “me time.” One of the best ways you can ensure your mind and psyche stays strong and healthy is to practice self-care for mental health. The term self-care has risen in the ranks lately and has been used frequently by employers, schools, and the media to emphasize mental health and emotional well-being. The team at Mental Health Systems in Apple Valley, MN, has been leading the way in guiding clients to practice self-care. Here, learn about how self-care can help you achieve a more positive outlook and a healthier mind. Find out what things you can do to practice this essential piece of mental health.

Self Care for Mental Health

People all over the world have been feeling the pressure and stress from recent global events. The pandemic, economic strife, wild weather, politics, and violence have all led to high levels of anxiety, depression, loneliness, and stress for many adults and teens. Many have taken steps to seek mental health treatment from counselors or therapists, and some have started to practice healthier emotional habits in their daily lives with self-care steps.

Children as well have been feeling more pressure and anxiety in recent years. Millions of children embarked on distance learning due to the COVID-19 pandemic and felt increased levels of panic and distress from the extreme social isolation of quarantine and the shutdowns. Their parents suddenly had to play multiple roles, parent, teacher, counselor, coach, and friend. Additionally, many people stuck inside took solace in their electronic devices and became even more isolated.

At work, the current mental health crisis has also been felt. Employers in white-collar firms have started shifting their primary method of business operations onto a virtual format, eliminating the need for a physical office but also increasing the possibility of their staff’s loneliness. The service industry has felt the crunch of massive worker shortages. Those who still work in restaurants, retail, the airline industry, and education are being stretched thin and having to juggle more responsibilities. In today’s tumultuous world, self-care for mental health is needed more than ever.

So What Is Self Care Exactly?

Self-care is a key part of mental health. Each person is responsible for learning how to put themselves first and maintain a healthy mind, body, and soul. Self-care starts with keeping a healthy physical body by eating wholesome foods, exercising regularly, visiting the doctor each year, and taking care of your dental health. When you’re sick, you practice self-care by resting, taking your medicine, and treating your symptoms. Besides your physical well-being, self-care can also influence your mind’s healthy habits. Self-care for mental health includes practicing mindfulness, taking breaks, recognizing your feelings, and partnering with a professional counselor or provider at places like Mental Health Systems in Apple Valley, MN.

Tips on Self Care for Mental Health Treatments

Several essential parts of self-care can help promote optimal mental health. One big aspect of self-care is getting enough sleep. Many people struggle with falling asleep and staying asleep, especially when stressful situations are going on in life. Focusing on a healthy sleep routine is the first step of self-care.

Another part of self-care is teaching yourself how to relax. There are different ways you can incorporate relaxation into your day. Meditation is a good place to start with short bursts of relaxation in your daily routine. You can also try breathing exercises, yoga, journaling, or relaxation apps to help you develop good practices.

Self-care is also about showing gratitude for the things that are positive in your life. Each day, it’s a good idea to make a short gratitude list, so you never lose focus on what you have. Start with simple things that you enjoy each day, such as the weather, physical space, body, and family. Eventually, your gratitude will spread, and you will have an easier time finding things to be grateful for. Gratitude lists can help you maintain positivity and resilience even in stressful situations.

People who put themselves first and focus on their health also have a healthy social network of quality friends and close family members. It’s beneficial to reach out to others and put yourself in social situations, so you’re not alone. Your relationships with friends, partners, and family should recharge you and make you feel connected to the world. Self-care means you can evaluate some friendships and relationships and walk away from them if they aren’t fulfilling and bringing you joy. It’s also important to eliminate those guilty feelings and thoughts of obligations when it comes to relationships.

It’s also important to prioritize your mental health and consider working with a therapist or counselor for optimal self-care. Professional mental health providers use behavioral therapy tools to help clients notice their mindsets and work to change them for better results at reaching goals. At Mental Health Systems in Apple Valley, MN, the team can teach clients strategies for making and keeping goals and dealing with stress.

After Therapy Sessions – Doing the Homework, Staying Focused, Doing Your Part To Get Healthy

Mental health therapy with a skilled professional is a vital part of self-care that some people are learning to add to their routine. In a typical schedule, you may have a weekly session of an hour with a counselor or therapist to discuss your goals and to create strategies to overcome obstacles.

The work doesn’t stop as soon as your visit is over. In fact, a big part of staying focused and on track with your mental health goals is to continue working on your mental health between visits as homework. This process may look different for each person.

You and your counselor may come up with a plan for your time between visits to help strengthen your mental and emotional health. For some clients, this may look like a set schedule where you step away from caregiver mode and prioritize your self-care for mental health. In other situations, this may be daily journaling or exercising gratitude. When you return to the office for additional sessions with a provider, you can give updates on your progress and your goals.

Get Help Today

Unlocking the keys to self-care and finding the best version of yourself can be challenging if you do it all independently. At Mental Health Systems, our team can walk you through the process and give you the tools to make a solid self-care routine in your life. You can take on new challenges and gain self-confidence in your abilities at work and at home. Contact us for more details about how we can help you achieve your goals and feel more in control of your life.


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How to Tell the Difference Between Being Down and Being Depressed

Posted September 23, 2021

MHS talking about depression

A recent study shows that only 14% of Americans say they are happy. This startling statistic reflects many systemic problems affecting people, but does it mean that 86% of Americans are depressed? Some might say so, but this isn’t necessarily true. Though the majority of people might not identify as happy, there is a difference between being sad and being depressed. The former is a feeling that may pass, while the latter is a clinical diagnosis that often necessitates treatment. If you’re not sure how to tell which is which, these eight criteria can help you understand the many differences between sadness and depression.

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Mental Health Support for Kids Returning to School

Posted September 23, 2021

COVID-19 forced countless students in Minnesota and around the country to attend school virtually, and for many, this did not come as a welcome change. In addition to the academic struggles this brought, it also caused social struggles — especially for younger kids who craved socialization and interaction. This year, many kids will be heading back to school in person, but the change is again proving difficult. Many kids are dealing with fear and anxiety, and as a parent, you need to know how to respond. Consider the following eight tips for addressing kids’ fears and helping them overcome anxiety. Continue reading

What is a Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

Posted August 12, 2021

While reading the following blog, you will learn the following:

  • People with a narcissistic personality disorder may display many symptoms, and many of these symptoms can negatively affect the life of the patient, and the lives of those around them.
  • They may appear to need excessive attention and admiration from others and a lack of empathy.
  • People with this type of personality disorder may struggle to maintain healthy relationships.

What Is a Narcissistic Personality Disorder?

A narcissistic personality disorder is, first and foremost, a mental health condition. People with this diagnosis may appear arrogant. Others may see them as attention-seeking and having an unrealistic view of their own importance. Patients with narcissistic personality disorders may have a deep desire for admiration from others and lack empathy for anyone else. This all-consuming need for attention can make it challenging to maintain stability in relationships. Continue reading

Why Do Many People Leave Therapy Before They Are Ready?

Posted August 12, 2021






Therapy can be life-changing and even life-saving for people struggling with depression and other mental health conditions. However, many clients discontinue treatment too soon. As you read this blog, you’ll begin to understand the following:

  • Many people start to feel better and believe that it’s okay to leave therapy.
  • Sometimes clients have unrealistic expectations about how treatment works and discontinue therapy when the reality doesn’t match up.
  • The cost of treatment can be a barrier to keeping clients in therapy.

Why Do Many People Leave Therapy Before They Are Ready?

It can be challenging for therapists and patients to know when the time is right to end treatment sessions. In general, when clients reach their therapeutic goals, it may be time to wrap up the treatments. Sometimes, therapy stops when it becomes clear that this particular patient/therapist relationship will not achieve those goals. Continue reading

Helping Children Deal with Bouts of Anger

Posted July 12, 2021

Dealing with a child’s anger is challenging, but help is available when you understand the dynamics that lead to outbursts and meltdowns.

  • Anger is normal for children and adults, but it can spiral out of control.
  • Anger in children has many contributing factors.
  • Medications, education, and therapy can help families regain control of a child’s aggressive behaviors.

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What are Major Misconceptions About Mental Illness

Posted July 12, 2021

Seeking help for a mental health disorder requires strength and bravery. Many misconceptions about mental illness still serve as barriers to getting help.

  • Consumers may believe that they can’t afford mental health counseling and services.
  • Many people feel ashamed to admit that they are struggling with a mental health condition.
  • Some consumers hesitate to seek help out of fear that others will learn of their mental health diagnosis.

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