Category Archives: MHS in the Community

Does TV/Social Media Promote Anger in Children?

Posted February 15, 2022

Three children lean against a chain link fence staring and typing on their smart phonesAs research proves, parents are now more than ever worried about the kind of influence that screen media has on their children’s mental health, self-esteem, and interpersonal skills. Given the vast array of media options available today, children of all ages are exposed to plenty of online content. iPads, desktops, smartphones, and gaming consoles, for instance, are highly popular among children nowadays. Besides, Netflix, Hulu, YouTube, and Facebook are all experiencing rapid growth. This post discusses the level to which digital media can be too much and how it influences your child.

How Much TV/Social Media is Too Much?

How many hours each day should your youngster devote to social media? Read on to know what experts have to say.

Engaging for Over 3 Hours Every Day on Social Platforms is Harmful

Although spending hours scrolling through Instagram and Facebook may appear insignificant, the short- and long-term implications on the mind are severe. Notably, teens who devote over three hours a day to social platforms have a 60 percent greater risk of mental health disorders than those who do not use social media.

Experts widely regard this three-hour mark as the recommended threshold for all digital media consumers, as anything above this point negatively affects self-image and how one deals with fears and stressors. According to Inverse, more social media activity directly influences your kid’s emotional dimension. As a result, the more hours your child spends on social media, the more the feelings of tension, melancholy, and isolation they develop.

Experts Recommend Only 30 Minutes Each Day

Cutting social media use to 30 minutes per day, as per the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology, helps boost mental health and clarity and positively influences your child’s overall health. The report recommends devoting about 10 minutes every day to three different social networking platforms to sustain participation without veering too much into the wrong path. Test subjects who followed the 30-minute principle exhibited reduced anxiety levels, despair, and tension, and they said they didn’t have as much FOMO (fear of missing out).

Does Online Media Affect My Child?

Your children risk getting detrimental health effects if they devote over three hours each day to consuming digital media. Not only can scrolling raise emotions of melancholy, stress, and loneliness, but it also has a physical impact. According to Forbes, digital media users who devote excessive time in front of screens are more likely to be overweight and risk developing chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes.

Digital Media Induces Poor Self-Esteem

Within online spaces, teenagers are now subjected to social comparisons at school and on a 24-hour basis. High school students, for instance, can post a Snapchat of their newest Nike or perhaps their PS5 present as soon as they get them as a way of showing off. Additionally, platforms like Snapchat come in handy for kids and teens to exchange disparaging photos, harass, and impose peer pressure on each other, all of which are detrimental to a child’s self-regard.

Too Much Time on Social Media Induces Sleeping Disorders

Sleep deprivation causes significant health problems, along with affecting your child’s learning and development, conduct, appetite, despair, and general health. Besides, sleep is required for brain growth; the average child and adolescent need 9.5 hours of rest to foster growth and maturity.

Reliance on Social Media Causes a Loss of Independence

Screen time and social media use are inert pursuits that do not promote your child’s cognitive growth, as they do not prompt children to engage in critical thinking or hands-on study. Too much digital consumption causes behavioral issues, learning impairments, attention deficit disorders, and inhibiting overall cognitive growth.

Induces the Fear of Missing Out (FOMO)

FOMO is a novel type of social panic that influences youngsters and teenagers. Parties, athletic tournaments, road trips, holidays, hangouts, trendy shoes, video game acquisitions, and so on all appear to be documented on social media today. Most kids see social media as their connection to the outside universe, so being cut off from it makes them feel cut off from life itself.

Reduces Opportunities for Physical Activity

Children and teenagers spend very little time engaging in outdoor play as they spend more time on digital media. Besides, they drink and eat carelessly when watching TV or playing games, which risks their health due to increased calorie intake.

MHS Can Help Your Child

At MHS, we focus on Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), chemical health solutions, and behavioral health interventions. Our holistic treatments deliver customized, high-quality psychological care to our patients, focusing on clinical success and coordinated care among therapists.

Our expertise enables us to help children and teenagers deal with troubling life circumstances and seamlessly navigate the respective life stages. Schedule an appointment with us today if you want to enroll your child.

Image Source: Twin Design / Shutterstock

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.


Image Source: Serkant Hekimci / Shutterstock

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.


Image Source: marekuliasz / Shutterstock

DBT at the Top of The World

Posted September 8, 2016

by Dr. Lane Pederson

Training professionals in DBT has brought me to amazing places with opportunities to meet truly wonderful people. In the past year I trained a grateful audience in Mexico and experienced Mex-ican culture and urban life not seen within resort destinations, passing my free time in community spaces teaming with people young and old playing sports, laughing, and visiting. I also visited Australia for the third time, this time having familiar and favorite restaurants, botanical gardens, landmarks, and jazz clubs to venture back to during the nearly month-long stay. In between these international destinations I dropped into places both rural and metropolitan across the con-tinental United States, always looking to get out and about to meet people and see the sites. However, perhaps the most unique destination I visited this year was Barrow, Alaska, where I provided a DBT training for Arctic Women in Crisis.

Barrow is unlike any other place I have visited. Located at the top of Alaska within the Arctic Circle on the Arctic Ocean, Barrow is accessible only by plane. The landscape is tundra, with not a tree or hill in sight, and none of the roads within this town of 4500 are paved because of the permafrost. The population is 65% Inupiat Eskimo, whose ancestors have occupied semi-permanent settlements in this region for thousands of years including a 1500 year time period that overlapped with woolly mammoths! Mammoth tusks and artifacts are on display in various places around town along with whale bones, walrus tusks, bison skulls, and the various pelts that come from native animals including wolves and polar bears. Surprisingly (to me), Barrow is also home to 185 species of birds that can be viewed in the tundra during the summer months, which makes this area a destination for bird watchers.

The weather in Barrow is cold and windy, which is an understatement. During my stay in mid-April, the high temperatures were in the single digits but the wind chills were around negative 25. Being a Minnesotan, I braved the cold and walked around Barrow, usually staying out for only 30 to 35 minutes at a time before the cold winds blew me back inside. I have not been cold like that for a long time, bringing back distant memories of being a kid outside in the middle of winter, having wandered too far from home, and trudging slowly back only after realizing the sting of frostbite setting into numb extremities. The cold and wind in Barrow did the same, chilling my bones, numbing my face, hands, and legs, and making my eyes water. And this was April weather! During the coldest times the air temperature can be negative 50 (or below!) without the wind chill, and “summer” really does not get much warmer than the 40s. Aside from a few heavily bundled children playing and an occasional person passing on a snow machine, four-wheeler, or in a pickup, I was the only person out wandering what seemed in many ways like a ghost town. The solitude made me long for the warmer months here, when the community is out and about after a long winter that has over 60 days of darkness (one therapist characterized the darkness as a beautiful indigo, and of course the northern lights are beyond incredible during the darkest time of year). Contrasting the winter months, the height of the whaling seasons in spring and fall bring excitement and celebration, and during the summer months the community holds vibrant outdoor gatherings, tossing one another into the air from blankets, and soaking in the Midnight Sun from May through August.

The houses in Barrow are modest, usually no more than hundreds of square feet in space sitting on blocks, often occupied by full families. Most houses are in some state of disrepair, with peel-ing paint, boarded windows, and makeshift repairs. Old cars and trucks, snow machines, and other broken down things, like appliances, grills, and other household items are frequent sights around town. Barrow is much closer to the North Pole than to a Home Depot, so basic supplies are hard to come by and are extraordinarily expensive. Fixing up your home, should the weather be nice enough, is a luxury, as is tending to your yard. Nonetheless, there is a certain attraction in seeing the natural cycle of things, and I was reminded of the Japanese concept of Wabi Sabi, a philosophy in which one finds beauty in decline, knowing that rebirth in everything happens in time. I found the surroundings fascinating with a simple beauty that held my interest much more than fancier but more pedestrian places. It is a place where community is much more valuable than possessions.

Eventually I gathered enough courage to walk to the edge of Barrow, over the snow drifts, across the beach, and out onto the ice covering the edge of the Arctic Ocean. Why courage? For one, fear of polar bears. Although polar bears rarely come into town, they can certainly be out on the ice, and when they are roaming toward the beach they are likely hungry. One of the therapists at my training is married to a whaling captain who had just killed a polar bear the night before. The bear had been following him and the confrontation was inevitable. This bear was processed and every part of it used. However, I had no use for a bear, no gun, and no Arctic experience passed down through the generations to me, so I felt a bit like dinner. I also sus-pected that having to spot a polar bear on a totally white landscape could put the bear at an ad-vantage, as would its ability to move quickly on the ice. Somehow knowing that these bears usually swipe with the left paw, which is why hunters approach them from the right, seemed more like trivia then any useful survival ploy to me.

The other dangers on the ice are that there may be a fissure that you could fall through or that the chunk you are standing on could break free and move out into the ocean. The ocean ice is constantly moving and changing creating unseen dangers to people without experience. Inupiats know over a dozen “types” of ice and what dangers to look for when traveling on it. This knowledge is essential since in the event of a fissure or drift you would for die from the elements or be food. Although these calamities were low probability events, I still stayed relatively close to shore even though I was tempted to walk further out. In a brief amount of time, the cold and wind motivated me to turn back toward the safety of town, feeling awe that whaling captains and their crews had recently set up camps on the ice sheets with the beginning of whaling season.

Whaling is an ancient and primary form of subsistence for many families here, and it is central to the cultural identity of Barrow. The Inupiat treat whales with great reverence, and because whal-ing is for subsistence only, you cannot buy whale meat or get it in a restaurant. A therapist whose family is native to Barrow, Daisy, brought me a snack of raw whale skin and blubber along with raw whale meat. To have an opportunity to try food that is so meaningful to their community was an honor, and it was both delicious and a highlight of my visit.

Like Daisy, the people of Barrow are kind and friendly, with gentle demeanors that sharply con-trast the harsh elements in which they live. However, the time of year decreased opportunities to talk with many people other than the therapists and advocates at the training, a group who are extraordinary dedicated to the work they do on the North Slope. The therapists and advocates are a diverse team with some who grew up in Barrow or other parts of Alaska and others moved here from the lower 48 and from other countries. Those who immigrated came from warmer climates and communities that had access to music, entertainment, sports, fine dining, and relia-ble cell phone and internet service…the trappings that many of us take for granted. When I asked many of the therapists who moved here, “Why Barrow?,” that simple question resulted in a variety of polite answers that all seemed to boil down a calling to be here.

I guess that is why I came too, if only for a short visit. Barrow is a place unlike any other in the world, with an exceptional climate and location that is inhabited by people with an amazing herit-age that goes back thousands of years. I started to miss Barrow as I boarded the plane on my long journey back to warm Minnesota, and I hope to be back again someday. In summer.

MHS Clinical Director Elected to be President of the Minnesota Psychological Association

Posted December 14, 2015

MHS’ own Dr. Steve Girardeau was recently elected to be the President of the Minnesota Psychological Association (MPA) for the 2017 calendar year. Serving as the President-Elect this coming year, Steve will assist the current president and serve on the executive committee.

During his presidential year, Dr. Girardeau will organize a Presidential Conference on the topic of his choice, as well as inform and promote the many causes that influence mental health care in the State of Minnesota and beyond.

We are proud of Steve and wish to recognize this defining accomplishment! The MPA, Minnesota, and the many people affected by mental illness both directly and indirectly will benefit from his advocacy and expertise.

Congrats Dr. Girardeau!

Exciting things are happening in September!

Posted August 4, 2015

This September, MHS will sponsor a training teaching techniques for adapting Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) for children and adolescents with Dr. Eboni Webb.  Free breakfast and a free DBT textbook will be shared.  Register today to reserve your seat and obtain 6.5 CEHs.

MHS will also attend the 2015 Community Mental Health Conference (MACMHP) in Duluth followed by the annual Minnesota Counseling Association Conference (MnCA) in Shoreview.  Be sure to stop by our exhibit booths and introduce yourself if you’re in the area!  We’re eager to meet fellow providers and learn about the services you and your team provide to enhance client care and collaboration!

Lastly, don’t miss NAMIWalks Minnesota on Saturday, September 26th!  MHS is teaming up to support efforts to enhance treatment and recovery for individuals with mental illness.  Get moving to raise funds and build awareness one step at a time!

We hope to see you next month!

Dr. Pederson with PrairieCare Education Series (PES) May 7th, 2015

Posted May 6, 2015

Lane Pederson, PsyD, LP, DBTC will speak on Dialectical Behavior Therapy with Adolescents: DBT Principals, Skills, and Techniques in Practice as part of the PrairieCare Education Series (PES).

WHEN: 5/7/15 from 9am to Noon

WHERE: Mount Zion Synagogue in St. Paul

3 CE credits and breakfast for $20 cash or check at the door.

Click HERE to register.

Join Dr. Lane Pederson May 4th to learn about use of DBT for Co-Occurring Mental & Chemical Health Issues

Posted March 26, 2015

Lane IDD Book CoverDr. Pederson will present on the application of DBT to use with clients with mental and chemical health concerns later this spring.  This training will provide 6 CE hours, continental breakfast, and a free copy of DBT Skills Training For Integrated Dual Disorder Treatment Settings (a $29.99 value).  Click HERE to learn more about Integrated Dual Disorder DBT at MHS.