NAVIGATION- Dr. Charles R. Davenport; Licensed Psychologist

Tag : mental-health

Decrease stress, prioritize mental health, and get the most out of time off.

Sarasota FL psychology manage stress with time off
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It’s not easy to take time off work especially when we are under stress to perform. Taking time off can be extra hard when it’s for mental health.

In past few years, there has been increasing awareness and chatter about taking mental health days. Near the end of May, Nadia Whittome, one of the youngest members of Britain’s Parliament, reveled she had been diagnosed with PTSD, and was going to take several weeks off under the guidance of her mental health provider.

On her website she wrote, “Through being open about my own mental health struggle, I hope that others will also feel able to talk about theirs.”

Whittome is not alone in her choice to take time away from demands to tend to her mental health needs. Teachers and healthcare workers are leaving their positions reporting burnout from the covid-19 stress.

There seems to be a wave of optimism with COVID-19 restrictions being lifted. However, there may be a second wave of COVID-19 related mental health challenges yet to come. Some of these challenges are related to post COVID adjustments. Other aspects are likely related to the prolonged experience of anxiety, depression, stress and isolation countless Americans faced over the past year.

Given the nations prolonged exposure to stress and trauma it is not surprising that many people are choosing to take time off from work. Research has supported that taking time off has some significant benefits including less stress when returning to work and a decrease in stress while taking time off.

According to a 2020 report from the Commonwealth Fund, Americans suffered more mental health consequences from the Covid-19 crisis than people in nine other high-income countries. Thirty-three percent of respondents reported experiencing stress, anxiety or major sadness that was difficult to cope with alone. These are feelings that shouldn’t be ignored. Unfortunately, taking time off of work isn’t an option for everyone, however as a nation we would likely benefit if more were granted more opportunities to prioritize mental wellbeing over personal productivity.

Make sure you check in with feelings

Taking on work tasks can use up a lot of our time in a week. Taking time off can leave some significant voids in the schedule. These voids provide an opportunity to check in with ourselves and see what if any feelings or thoughts bubble up to fill the voids. Without planned effort we can accidently fill all of the voids out of reflex. Sitting with sadness, grief, anger, fear, depression ect. can be uncomfortable however, I am going to suggest these feelings can be the jump on point to heal and grow again in life. It is pretty normal to want to avoid discomfort when taking time off. However, moving into this paradox, where we welcome what bubbles up and process it during times of break can provide a significant long term reduction in discomfort. The saying “there is never a good time” to feel these feelings probably rings true here. I mean, you finally get time off work, and I am suggesting we can benefit from looking out for bad feelings can feel so counter intuitive. However, I am suggesting that doing just this can be very powerful.

Have a plan for reentry

keep the stress off returning to work with Dr. Davenport Sarasota, FL Psychologist
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It is easy to hit the ground running when we return to work, things to get caught up on, and we can easily return to the same patterns. Taking some time to define new healthy behaviors can be a powerful way to continue change. It is suggested to make one behavioral change at a time. Take 2 weeks to implement each behavior. Once it is set add another one. For example, when returning to work it is easy to have a desk lunch while getting caught up on tasks and projects. However, a more adaptive behavior would be to leave the office to be outside and clear your mind or going to lunch with colleagues.

Grateful soothes Stress

In the current era this one can sound a bit burnt out. However, practicing gratitude has been found to correlate to improved relationship and happiness in those around us. After this stressful year with COVID-19, we have so much to potentially feel grateful for.

Even the suffering of the past year could be seen as a opportunity to see where we need to take better care of our own mental health. If we do not take care of ourselves, we will not be able to do our best on other tasks. Again the paradox here, some times working less lets us do more. We have to be able to take a long term approach to see the benefit. When we are stressed we are not as able to play things out as well in the long term. A great example of this is the message on air planes: “if you are traveling with small children please put your oxygen mask on first.” In the short run this can seem selfish even counter intuitive to parenting. However, if you do not put your mask on first, you will not be be able to do your best to help to others.

If you or someone you love is dealing with too much stress or having mental health difficulties call Dr. Davenport today for counseling and therapy services in Sarasota, FL 941-321-1971.

Mental health to blame for shootings?

In a recent address, president Trump said, “We must reform our mental health laws to better identify mentally disturbed individuals who may commit acts of violence and make sure those people not only get treatment but when necessary involuntary confinement.”

President Trump may not be an expert on mental health but one accurate point is the need for increased access to mental health treatment.

Another comment he made, “Mental illness and hatred pulls the trigger, not the gun.” Well, experts may not agree with the president here. There seems to be a theme of fear and separation between groups of people in recent years. When we are scared and separated from others we loose many of the more developed of human skills. Infact, when humans are scared the fight or flight response can be triggered and it becomes mach harder if not impossible to use higher order thinking such as future planning, empathy, and advanced problem solving.

The fight or flight response is a powerful force to keep us alive however, it has one purpose to keep us alive number one. Anything else can get tagged by this system as auxiliary and a possible risk to survival. Taking the time to think about a possible threat can get us killed so quick decision to destroy the threat or separate ourselves from it are frequently the only options when the fight or flight system is actiavted.

The fight or flight system is not bad or good but it is a very powerful system. It frequently is at work as a reflex meaning we typically are not aware of its impact on us. As individuals and as a society increased awareness of this process in our lives can be powerful and freeing!

Experts from the American Psychological Association, have called it “unfounded”to blame mass shootings on mental illness in place of considering other possible factors, such as hate, bigotry and access to assault weapons. Not that access to assault weapons has to be good or bad. However, access can increase risk statistically.

Calling every mass shooting a mental health problem is “inaccurate and it’s stigmatizing,” said Arthur Evans, chief executive officer of the American Psychological Association.

Mental illness affects millions of adults across the country. About 1 in 5 adults in the United States, or 46.6 million, experience mental illness in a given year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

It might be suggested that, when fear activates the fight or flight systems, people are more willing to destroy things and each other and others are more willing to control and isolate individuals who are identified as a threat rather then working to better understand what is occurring. Labeling scary things like shootings as the direct result of mental health is not likely helpful or accurate in the long run.

Dr. Davenport is. a Licensed Psychologist in Sarasota and Venice, FL who treats anxiety, depression and relationship problems with children, adolescents, and adults. Please call 941-321-1971 to schedule an appointment.

Take a sick day for mental health?

Madalyn Parker, a 26 year-old web developer for Olark, in Ann Arbor, MI took a sick day for mental health and news of her day off went viral.

Madalyn wrote “I’am taking today and tomorrow to focus on my mental health.” She reported some anxiety and depression that has not consistently responded to medication.  The CEO of Olark responded with support which touched Parker.

career stress

Tens of thousands of people responded to Parkers post bring attention to the importance of seeing mental health problems as equally important as physical health problems. It is widely accepted that mental health issues, if left unchecked, leave us at greater risk for a number of physical health issues. If we treat both equally we will be in the best position to be as effective as possible in our lives.

Clare Miller, director of the partnership for workplace mental health at the American Psychiatric Association Foundation, said “We know from literature that there is a huge amount of calling in sick because of mental health issues” many of which are due to depression. Many times employees take sick days with complaints like “I don’t feel well.”

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Many employers do not respond as Olark did. A 2016 Work and Well-being survey of 1,501 workers by the American Psychological Association suggested that less than one-half felt their employer supported employee well-being. One third felt chronically stressed on the job.

Charles R. Davenport, Psy.D., LLC. provides counseling services and therapy for individuals in Sarasota, FL and Venice, FL. If you struggle with depression, career stress, or anxiety call 941-321-1971 to talk to Licensed Psychologist Dr. Charles R. Davenport.

Mental Health Treatment: Dan Rather comments

The importance of paying attention to mental health in his treatment was recently discussed in a Sarasota Herald Tribune article. The article has a 17 min. plus commentary by Dan Rather. Rather was a speaker at the seventh annual Isermann Family Foundation free community lecture. This lecture focused on defeating the stigma of mental illness and has previously brought advocates such as Patrick Kennedy, Richard Dreyfus, and Carrie Fisher.

Dan Rather has a history of presenting topics related to mental health and in his discussion was able to trace some of the current difficulties back to failure of follow through and 60s. There was progressive thought at the time the closing psychiatric hospitals would be favorable allowing patients to move into outpatient facilities. This potentially positive ideal never seemed to come to fruition as it was imagined. Mental health seems to have a heavy stigma in our culture and frequently  is gravely misunderstood. Just as our culture has had strongly held false beliefs in the past, many of the beliefs about mental healthmay one be looked at in a similar fashion. Those who struggle with significant mental illness are likely also to have financial difficulty. This is not about weakness but frequently secondary to an illness. If someone had cardiac problems and was not able to work, popular culture would not likely judge them as negatively as someone who struggles with depression or hallucinations and is unemployed. We are all susceptible to being influenced by depression or anxiety at some point in our lives if we are being most honest. If we are able to use these experiences to better understand others, to move closer to them rather than seeing how we’re different we may be in a better position to make change.

Rather suggested to bring change we need to “teach the children… Stigma is so deeply embedded and so difficult to overcome. Teach the children to have compassion, to see them as our brothers and sisters….”

 

 

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