Recent News from MHS

What is GRIT? – “Identification” – “Treatment”

Posted November 11, 2020

In our first article, we spoke about GRIT, which The National Council for Behavioral Health uses to describe the traits necessary to help children and youth with mental health challenges. GRIT stands for guts, resilience, identification, and treatment.

This article will continue by focusing on Identification and Treatment for youth dealing with mental health challenges.

Identification

When a child or adolescent displays signs of a mental illness or a learning disability, the earlier the problem is diagnosed and treatment begins, the better the chances of recovery. Parents, teachers, medical professionals, and others around the child can modify interactions and treatment plans to accommodate the diagnosis. Identifying problems as early as possible lets the youth, family, teachers, healthcare providers, and others around the child adjust their treatment plans and interactions to provide a more supportive framework.

The identification process is sometimes a long and winding road with several stops and starts. Unfortunately, the later that a child is diagnosed, the more difficult it can be to find a treatment that works. Delays in diagnosis allow conditions to become more complex and harder to treat. However, it is essential to remember that there is always hope, no matter when the problem is identified.

Therapists, doctors, and parents should be aware of the early warning signs that a child might be dealing with an emerging mental illness. While every child is different, here are a few things to look for that may indicate a need for professional intervention:

  • Changes in sleep patterns, either sleeping more or less than usual
  • Nervousness or irritability that may seem out of proportion for the situation or developmental stage
  • Loss of concentration or an inability to complete tasks
  • Decreasing or increasing appetite
  • Lack of motivation to do things the person enjoys typically
  • Suicidal thoughts or self harm behaviors
  • Drastic increases or decreases in energy level

It’s important to remember that all of these may be a regular part of adolescence, but if you see several of them or if any one symptom becomes an interruption to daily life, talk to your child’s doctor. Don’t wait to see if the situation will resolve itself. When identification is delayed, so is treatment and recovery. It’s better to get your child medical attention and find nothing than wait and delay identifying mental illness.

Treatment

Mental health difficulties in teenagers are not out of the ordinary. The developing brain is complicated, and though we learn more every day, we don’t know everything there is to know about the organ. When the billions of cells don’t function as they should, a clinical intervention can help, just as they can help with an irregular heartbeat or trouble breathing. Some of the diagnoses commonly found in teenagers relate to mood disorders including: anxiety, social anxiety disorder (or phobias), and depression.

The good news is that we have very effective treatments for all of these, especially when discovered and treated early. Identifying trigger points, counseling, and sometimes medications are part of a comprehensive treatment plan. A qualified professional can help the client and family identify and then see results.

While most people would not hesitate to take a child to the doctor for heart palpitations or trouble breathing, research suggests that most children diagnosed with mental health conditions wait more than a year for identification and mental health treatment. Here are a few of the barriers that keep youth from getting appropriate care:

  • Parents and other adults may see mental health challenges as a regular part of childhood and adolescent development.
  • Children and teens may not describe what they are feeling or why they are carrying out a particular behavior. They likely lack the skills sets to articulate their experiences.
  • Despite significant improvements in educating the public, mental health conditions still carry a stigma that keeps families from seeking diagnosis and treatment.
  • Many insurance plans provide limited coverage for behavioral health, and treatment can be expensive.
  • Rural communities especially may lack access to appropriate professional mental health services.

Where Can I Find Help?

If your teen shows signs of deteriorating mental health, MHS offers Dialectical Behavior Therapy for adolescents ages 12 to 18. These programs meet twice each week. Early adolescents (age 12 to 14) require parent participate at least twice weekly and the older adolescent program (for ages 14 to 18) offer an optional monthly parent education session. DBT is a comprehensive therapy to help clients decrease symptoms, increase safety, and enjoy a better life quality. Mindfulness, distress tolerance, and life balance are a few of the skills clients learn to practice in sessions and in their daily lives. All major insurance carriers cover this service. Contact us today online or call (952) 835-2002 to schedule an appointment for an assessment.

 

Featured Image: Thomas Andre Fure / Shutterstock 

What is GRIT? – “Guts” – “Resilience”

Posted November 11, 2020

Adolescence is a time of transition and self-discovery and often fraught with stress and anxiety, even under the best conditions. For teenagers living with mental health challenges, the process of becoming an adult can be even more challenging to navigate. Professionals who work with adolescents living with a mental health diagnosis need a particular set of skills.

What is GRIT?

According to the Child Mind Institute, more than 17 million children in the United States live with a diagnosable mental health disorder; however, most will never receive the proper treatment or any treatment at all. Children and teenagers with mental illness often continue to struggle into adulthood, leaving them more likely to go to jail, more likely to be unemployed, and more likely to get involved with drugs and alcohol. The picture is clear; America’s children need interventions that work and adults who will advocate for them and teach them to advocate for themselves.

The National Council for Behavioral Health uses the letters GRIT to describe the traits necessary to help children and youth with mental health challenges. GRIT stands for guts, resilience, identification, and treatment. Clients, their families, and their treatment teams need these qualities for long term success.

In this article, we will focus on Guts and Resilience.

Guts

In traditional slang, your guts are in your stomach, and you need a strong stomach to do hard or scary things. Therefore, when we talk about having the “guts” to do something, we mean that you dare to do something that frightens you or makes you nervous. It doesn’t mean that nothing scares you or that you are never afraid of anything. Instead, having guts involves being brave enough to try something that may seem overwhelming at first. Working with young people struggling with a mental illness or learning disability certainly requires the guts to try hard things.

Young people receiving therapy for a mental health diagnosis may feel hopeless. They may have seen many doctors and mental health professionals already, and they may feel discouraged that anything is ever going to get better. Working with this population requires guts, being brave enough to keep trying new treatments until something works. Therapists may need to encourage clients and families to keep an open mind and believe that there is hope. Not only must the professional have the guts to keep working, but he or she must also encourage the client to find the courage to keep going for one more day.

Having the guts to face mental health challenges doesn’t mean telling everyone you know about what you’re facing. If you’re not ready to “go public,” take advantage of online screening tools, call an anonymous hotline, or talk to your primary care medical provider. Taking the first step is the hardest one of all for many people. However, the first step is the one that leads to lasting change.

The guts to find new ways of treating mental health issues in teens has led to mental health awareness. The body of knowledge available to modern practitioners has grown exponentially in the last ten years. Without practitioners, clients, families, and support people brave enough to participate in the research, these advances wouldn’t be possible. Therefore, these participants’ guts have helped make life better for the millions of others who later benefit from the treatments. These “strong stomachs” have helped strengthen brains for decades to come.

Resilience

The American Psychological Association (APA) defines resilience as “the process and outcome of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences, especially through mental, emotional, and behavioral flexibility and adjustment to external and internal demands.” More simply, resilience is the ability to adapt and move on when life poses difficult challenges. Everyone has some level of resilience, but some people seem to be able to use it more effectively than others.

When working with children and adolescents in the mental health setting, professionals must be resilient themselves, but they also must recognize and encourage resilience in clients. Therapists start by believing that they can help find a solution for their clients, even if other treatments or techniques have failed in the past. They may have to help families first admit that the young person has a condition that needs to be addressed instead of pretending the problem will go away on its own. Mental health professionals then reinforce to clients and their families that there is hope. Professionals understand and help their clients comprehend that treatment for mental health challenges may not be painless, but they are available if the parties have the determination to keep working.

While resilient people certainly feel sadness when they lose a loved one or a job or a relationship, they can adjust, change plans, and move forward more quickly and easily. Some people are resilient by nature, but it’s a skill that can be taught, as well. It’s a critically important one for young clients and their therapists as well to develop. Here are a few ways to build greater resilience in yourself, your clients, or someone you love:

  • Make connections and maintain them over time. Positive relationships with loved ones give you a support network to lean on in difficult times. If you don’t have family connections readily available, look for opportunities to do volunteer work in your community or join a church or other faith community.
  • Do at least one thing every day that makes you feel a sense of accomplishment and purpose.
  • Set goals for the future and lay out a plan to reach them. These steps help you stay hopeful and give you something to look forward to, even when the present seems bleak.
  • Learn from your past experiences, good and bad. When difficult things happen, try to learn from them. Remember the coping skills that got you through difficult times in the past.
  • Keep a journal that you can look back on later.
  • Anticipate that life can and will change. Knowing that challenges will come makes it easier to adapt and face them with less stress.
  • Practice self-care by eating right, pursuing some form of exercise each day, and getting enough sleep. Do things you enjoy, such as hobbies or sports. Yoga and meditation may help you relax and distress at the end of the day.

In the mental health setting, clients and their families may arrive discouraged. They may have already tried multiple interventions, different medications, and worked with varying styles of counselors. On the other hand, sometimes families are in denial that there is a problem and maybe hoping that the symptoms will go away on their own in time. Therapists can model resilience to teen clients by believing that there is hope and seeking new treatment options.

Though its role in the successful treatment of diagnosed mental health conditions is undeniable, resilience may also play a role in protecting teens from developing problems in the first place. Some researchers believe that resilience is a protective factor against anxiety and depression, offsetting risk factors such as bullying or trauma. Leading clients through exercises to develop resilience can help them not only in the present for the rest of their lives.

What is Identification and Treatment

In our next article, we will talk about how to identify and treat mental and emotional challenges facing youth today and what you can do to recognize when help is needed.

Where Can I Find Help?

If your teen shows signs of deteriorating mental health, MHS offers Dialectical Behavior Therapy for adolescents ages 12 to 18. These programs meet twice each week. Early adolescents (age 12 to 14) require parent participate at least twice weekly and the older adolescent program (for ages 14 to 18) offer an optional monthly parent education session. DBT is a comprehensive therapy to help clients decrease symptoms, increase safety, and enjoy a better life quality. Mindfulness, distress tolerance, and life balance are a few of the skills clients learn to practice in sessions and in their daily lives. All major insurance carriers cover this service. Call us today at (952) 835-2002 to schedule an intake appointment.

 

Featured Image: Yuttana Contributor Studio / Shutterstock

Mental Health Education

Posted October 13, 2020

While a mental health diagnosis poses some challenges, it doesn’t mean you can’t pursue a full life of learning, growing, and trying new things. Education is undoubtedly a part of that development process. Learning new things, especially in the classroom, gives you a chance to learn about new stuff alongside new people and teachers. Continue reading

How to Cope with the Stress of Distance Learning

Posted September 28, 2020

What is Distance Learning?

Distance learning is education where the student is physically not in front of the teacher for the lesson, and it’s more common than ever, thanks to the internet. Video conferencing, computer-based learning, and hybrid learning are examples of tools available to facilitate distance learning. It offers students the opportunity to learn in more flexible and affordable ways. Here are a few of the advantages of distance learning. Continue reading

Coping as a Family With Mental Illness

Posted September 9, 2020

When someone in your family struggles with mental illness, you may feel helpless and not know what to say. Many people don’t know how to help or where to go to find competent professional care. Because every person’s experience with mental illness is different, there is no one size fits all plan of care. The way you approach the situation depends on the circumstances. However, here are a few tips that may help you approach your loved one in a caring and compassionate way that lets them know you only want to help. Continue reading

Updated Mental Health Systems Diversity Statement

Posted July 22, 2020

To Our Community,

The team at MHS has spent the past several weeks in personal and professional reflection as we have struggled with the events in our community throughout the months of May and June.  Out of this reflection, we remind ourselves that we support our community and are proud to serve it.  We write this to reaffirm our commitment to our community – to our unwavering support of the BIPOC, LGBTQIA, and other underserved and marginalized individuals and communities.

At MHS we are committed to our ongoing growth and learning – as an agency and as individual members of the team.

And we can do better. Continue reading

Getting Help for OCD Through Dialectical Behavior Therapy

Posted May 5, 2020

 

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is one type of treatment that your clinician may recommend to help with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD). You may be wondering how DBT can help and how it’s different from other courses of treatment. DBT is a type of cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT) in that it focuses on how the things you feel and the emotions you experience influence your behavior.

True to its CBT roots, DBT focuses on mindfulness, acceptance, validation, and the building of trust. Originally, DBT was developed by Marsha Linehan in the 1970s at the University of Washington to help clients with Borderline Personality Disorder and Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, it’s now used to treat a variety of mental health conditions. The primary way DBT differs from other forms of treatment is the concept of acceptance of all thoughts, both good and bad.

Continue reading

Emotional Regulation Skills and Stability

Posted May 1, 2020

Emotional Regulation Skills and Stability

Every human emotion has a purpose. Some bring pleasure, others keep people safe, and still, others allow sadness and mourning. Emotions are a normal and healthy part of life. However, people must be able to understand, interpret, and regulate emotions to maintain healthy functioning. One person’s emotions can affect the feelings of those around them as well.

When trauma or mental health problems interfere with the ability to regulate emotions, therapy can help. DBT may be an effective form of treatment, as it focuses on acknowledging feelings as neither good or bad and managing reactions to them. DBT involves one-on-one sessions with a trained therapist and group sessions.

Continue reading

Eating Disorders and DBT

Posted March 12, 2020

The Core Components of DBT

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is one type of cognitive-behavioral therapy. It has demonstrated effectiveness with a variety of mental health issues such as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. Though it was developed in the 1980s by Marsha Linehan, Ph.D., as a therapy for suicidal thinking and self-harm, DBT has found applications for many more substance abuse disorders as well as mental health diagnoses.

 

How Can Dialectical Behavioral Therapy Help With Eating Disorders?

DBT focuses on the fluid nature of acceptance and change, two concepts that may seem mutually exclusive. Practitioners believe that people need to learn new behaviors to find satisfaction in their lives. Supporting and validating clients helps them to gain the motivation to learn and practice new things. DBT demonstrates effectiveness in addressing eating disorders using the five components of the treatment. Continue reading