What is a Quality Mental Health Visit Today?
We know what to expect from health visits to clinics and hospitals.
All of us, after years of physicals, vaccinations, surgeries, treatments, and any number of things, know what a typical medical visit looks like, and how it’s supposed to go. We know what to listen for, what we’re supposed to do, and how we’re supposed to be treated. Many of us have the same doctor or health care provider for many years, and come to trust them.
So, what does a mental health visit look like?
Many of us have never had a medical session for a mental health challenge. Plenty of us have had therapy or counseling, but what about TMS? Ketamine? EEGs? A combination? What should we expect when being seen for our mental health, and what should we look for to know we’ve had a good, beneficial appointment?
At Alivation, the first indicator is quality. Everyone deserves a good experience. We all deserve the best care, and we deserve to have our mental health concerns taken seriously. We don’t brush off health here, or say “it’s all in your head” as a handwave. It’s okay if it’s all in your head. If it troubles you, then it’s a problem. If your quality of life has decreased because of it, then you need and deserve the best assistance.
Many people have an inaccurate view of mental health treatments. It’s usually somewhere between an expensive therapy session with a leather couch and an unclean asylum with straight jackets. Neither are accurate. Alivation, for instance, is a modern, welcoming facility with expansive hallways, plenty of light, and lots of friendly team members who want to listen and help. All our patients deserve this environment, the better to feel safe and be well.
A mental health visit should include not only diagnosis and treatment, but further options as well. You should be listened to, and your treatment plan should reflect your lifestyle, your goals, and your time. It should reflect who you want to be, not only who you can be. It should reflect what will help your family, and what will help you on your continuing wellness journey. Our help shouldn’t stop at the door. The help or treatment we give you should help in every facet of your life.
What’s more, you should expect all these things. You should expect a great experience. You should be uplifted and helped, not bored, tired, or guilty. You should feel like you’ll be better when you’re here, not like you’re wasting your time or money. A quality mental health visit isn’t just about the appointment or the treatment, but the entire experience around it too. At Alivation, we guarantee that.
Communication in Mental Health
Communicating our needs and wants is one of the most beneficial things we can do for ourselves.
Of course, it isn’t always easy to do so, and sometimes it can feel outright impossible. We’re complicated. Humans can be bundles of contradictions, mixed feelings, reservations, and anxieties. We can have trouble determining what we want and how we want to go about it. We might not even know what we need, or if we can achieve it. We may doubt if we’re worth it.
With all this in mind, it becomes more imperative to effectively communicate our wants and needs to one another, especially regarding mental health. It’s one of the most important challenges we can face, and learning how to let others in, be vulnerable, and fix what ails us is perhaps the most useful thing we can learn. It’s a skill that can potentially serve us well in many aspects of our lives.
It can be frightening. So how do we do it?
The simplest way is to examine what we want, what is most meaningful to us, and describe it to someone we trust and care about. It may be intensely personal, and it might be stressful and nerve-wracking to do it at first. But it’ll get easier. With more practice at vulnerability, we’ll gradually come around and practice it naturally, and understand both the strengths and the opportunities of being open like that.
It can also be effective to first talk with others who have similar challenges, and to get their perspective on what worked for them and how they did it. Often during this process we find ourselves opening up, and relating and discussing in a similar way. Bonding is a wonderful side effect of this kind of communication, and helps strengthen the process itself.
At Alivation, we find communicating mental wellness and challenges is an opportunity. We talk and post frequently about important topics in mental health, ranging from depression and anxiety to suicide and drug abuse. What’s most important to us is to be authentic and trustworthy, and to come from a place of understanding. We want everyone to be heard, and we want them to know we care. We value their input and their experiences.
Expression and communication are the most effective tools we have for mental healing, ending stigma, and coming to understand what wellness means, in every form. Mastering communication, or at least becoming practiced enough in it to make a meaningful, positive difference, is empowering.
Mental Health for the Long Term
It’s an unavoidable fact: COVID is resurgent in many parts of the country.
We face a late summer and autumn continuously dominated by COVID. This means we also face more seasons of mental health challenges. Our cultural conversation has been dominated by the coronavirus for the past months, and it shows no signs of going away any time soon. We have a duty to prepare now to flatten not just the COVID curve, but the mental health curve, as well.
Mental health troubles, especially depression and anxiety, have been much higher for greater numbers of people. Quarantines, restrictions, uncertainty, and outright fear have taken their mental toll on all of us. We’ve all struggled to promote the best paths, to understand the science, and to help others do their part to end the deadly pandemic that has already killed more than 130,000 Americans. We have a lot more work to do.
As we settle in for months of a new normal, we should take this time to safeguard our mental health and look to longer terms for our wellness. We should prepare for a world where essential services are again restricted, and where social interactions are greatly curtailed for the larger societal good. We should understand that our mental health is as important as our physical health and try our best to support it.
It’ll be essential that we don’t stay continually stressed and depressed over the coming months. Stress, especially longer-term, can cause undue strain on our minds and our bodies. It can cause us to burnout, to lose touch with the things we value most, and to become cynical, complacent, or outright distraught with the world. We must fight the impulse to lose hope, or to give up entirely. We must battle the desire to do things the easy way instead of the right way. We have hard choices to make that affect the people around us.
We’re discovering firsthand we’re more in this together than we previously thought. We’re more responsible to one another than we’d sometimes like. We have a responsibility to others that is often uncomfortable, or inconvenient. But we take care of ourselves so we can take care of others. We commit to the right course of action because it benefits the greatest number of people in the widest variety of ways.
Nature for Our Mental Health
We all love being out in nature.
There’s something about the trees, the sun, and the outside world that fascinates us. Walks in nature on trails or hiking have the power to soothe, comfort, and calm us. In the summer, when the trees are fully bloomed and green, it’s a gorgeous time to get outdoors and participate in activities we enjoy.
While we’re still mindful of social distancing and COVID guidelines, there are plenty of ways we can enjoy the outdoors while being safe. If you’re with family or a partner, you can take hikes together, go swimming, fishing, biking, or running. You can simply take a neighborhood walk and see the world around you. You can find a trail or a forest to explore, and enjoy the wildlife and foliage.
There are distinct therapeutic benefits to being in nature. It calms us, makes us more in touch with the world, and shows us a different side of the world than we normally see. It can help relieve stress or anxiety, and help us focus on what’s most important and what we want in life. Interesting sights or finds can be a benefit, something to perk us up no matter what ails us. The process of discovery can be joyous.
We focus often on types of therapy we recognize, and all are valid for helping. It’s nice occasionally to focus on the others we don’t always think of, and nature therapy is a big one. Some people call it forest bathing, or being immersed in a forest or a wilderness area and just enjoying the sounds, sights, smells, and feelings of leaving our confined world. The mental health benefits to this type of expansion are massive. It’s simple, free, and easy to get in touch with the world in this way.
As for outdoor activities, numerous studies have shown the benefits of exercise on mental health. The release of positive signaling chemicals in our brains help us relax and boost our self-esteem. They make us feel better, and they remind us of the good things we have and the good things we can still pursue. If our exercise program is for weight loss or health goals, that also provides an additional boost when it begins to work. Nothing is more uplifting than knowing we have control over something important to us.
What Keeps Us Going
It can be tempting, for all of us, to give up.
The problems we face, and the challenges we have to endure, can sap us of our energy, our thrill for life, and our ability to enjoy even the simple things. We can read the news, or see negative stories on our social media feeds (“doomscrolling”), and we can easily fall into a rabbit hole of bad news, bad mood, and lack of drive for anything better.
In times like pandemics, it’s even easier to lose the faith we need to function. It’s hard to keep track of what we’re doing, and why we should care. Sometimes it can even feel impossible to continue functioning like people at all. So how do we do it? How do we push on without losing everything we’ve built, or losing track of everything that matters the most to us?
We can refocus on our goals. We can find a new commitment to what we care about. We can talk to friends, family, neighbors, loved ones about how we feel, and see how they feel as well. Often, we discover we’re not alone. Communication is essential to our experience, and by opening ourselves up we can tear down the walls we erect to keep from feeling or letting emotions in. When we relate to others and their problems, it can free our minds. We can take stock of the best relationships we have and highlight what is most meaningful to us about them.
We can take trips or vary up our routines. We can play with animals, or experiment with cooking, or get back to any other hobbies we enjoy that we previously lost sight of. We can try to experience the world through fresh eyes, to look on it all like it’s new. We can try to reprogram ourselves to see it fresh, without worrying about the past or how it affects us.
What matters most, no matter what tactic we take, is to commit, and to follow through. We can’t do it halfway, or only partially commit. We have to believe and follow the path we set for ourselves until we get to the end. We’re all taking individual journeys that often intersect with others, and we should open ourselves up to the possibility of better things, and new adventures and opportunities. It’s possible for better things to enter our lives, and for our commitment to keep us going.
It takes courage and perseverance, but we can all do it.