COVID-19 took the world and turned it upside down. With social distancing strongly encouraged, the coronavirus pandemic has drastically changed the way we socialize. Instead of being able to meet up with friends or visit family, many plans have been canceled and now people are left feeling isolated and lonely.

The Connection Between Social Isolation & Mental Health

Humans are social creatures and lack of social interactions can have a bigger impact than many people realize. According to some studies, isolation can lead to a variety of physical and mental ailments. It has been connected with poor sleep quality, impaired thinking, poor cardiovascular health, earlier mortality, and depression.1

With the coronavirus pandemic forcing people to remain apart, the negative effects of social isolation may be more prominent than ever. One survey from late June of 2020 found that about 40% of adults in the United States were struggling with a least one behavioral health condition.2 This high number may be due in part to the lack of social interaction since restrictions began in March.

How to Cope with Isolation During COVID-19

With the current state of the world, it is natural to feel a little isolated or lonely, but there are ways of coping with social isolation because of COVID-19 so it doesn’t consume your life. These tips on how to deal with isolation during the coronavirus pandemic could help you make it through and make your days a little brighter.

Have Regular Virtual Meet-Ups

While it may not be as rewarding as face-to-face meetings, virtual meet-ups are a safe alternative to in-person events. Instead of canceling, transition your social calendar to virtual or COVID-friendly meet-ups. Adapting rather than cancelling your plans allows you to still get a regular amount of social interaction that can help you feel less isolated.

Social Distance with Someone Else

Dealing with social isolation from COVID-19 is especially hard if you live alone. Instead of going through the coronavirus pandemic by yourself, you could quarantine with a friend or your family. Having one of your closest friends or family members physically present with you when you are unable to see others in-person can help reduce loneliness.

Stay Busy

Dealing with isolation and loneliness is often harder when you are not doing anything. Rather than dwelling on these feelings, get busy. Keeping a full schedule can help distract you and reduce these feelings.

Try Creative Communication

In a time when in-person interactions are limited, it can be difficult to feel connected to others. Facetime can feel stale after a while so get creative with your communication. Organize a virtual game night with your family. Write and mail letters to your loved ones. Text some fun ice breaker questions in your group chat and see how everyone responds.

Get A Pet

A survey found that 80% of pet owners felt like their pets made them less lonely.3 Getting a furry friend could help you feel less isolated as the coronavirus pandemic continues. They can also give you a sense of purpose and keep you busy which may also help. Pets can be a huge responsibility, so only get one if you are prepared for this type of commitment. If you aren’t ready for this leap, you could volunteer at an animal shelter or foster pets.

Join a Group

Although you may not be able to meet up like before, many groups have adapted to the times. Join a virtual book club. Attend an online class. Try the outdoor yoga session. Even these types of group meet-ups or virtual events can help you not only connect with others but also potentially meet new people.

Get Help

Because isolation and mental health are connected, if you are struggling to cope with isolation on your own, you should get help.  The feeling of loneliness that you are experiencing may be related to depression or another mental health disorder. Because you may not know how to deal with isolation on your own, professional mental health treatment could help you work through these feelings and improve your overall well-being.

At Vertava Health Dublin, our Columbus area wellness center helps people struggling with both addiction as well as poor mental health. If you or someone care about is having a hard time and feeling isolated, you are not alone. Get help. Contact us today to learn more.

 

Mental health struggles are common, but 2020 was an especially trying year for many people. Along with the immediate physical health effects of COVID-19, the coronavirus pandemic caused mental health troubles for many.

 

January is Mental Wellness Month

January 2021 is a much-welcomed month as people try to move past 2020, but just because the calendar year changed doesn’t mean you can leave everything behind. A better future awaits, but you need to take the first step to start the healing process. Fortunately, January is National Mental Wellness Month.

Mental Wellness Month is a month-long observance meant to promote self-care and overall mental wellness. A person’s mental wellness can be negatively impacted by several factors and unfortunately, is often neglected. Mental Wellness Month 2021 is a good opportunity for people to take steps to make their mental wellness more of a priority in their life and take steps to work on improving their mental health.

 

Some ways to work on your mental health during mental wellness month include:

  • Making time in your schedule to relax and destress
  • Analyzing and breaking down unhealthy, negative thinking
  • Focusing on the good in your life and practicing gratitude
  • Prioritizing activities you enjoy
  • Developing healthy habits like regular exercise, eating right, and a good sleep routine
  • Getting professional mental health care if you need it

 

Although your mental health may be fine, someone you love might be struggling. 2020 has been a tough year for many and someone you care about might be battling with poor mental health without you even realizing it. Mental Wellness Month is a good opportunity to check in on your loved ones and encourage them to get help if they need it.

Because we offer behavioral health care for people facing various mental health challenges, we understand the importance of mental health and Mental Wellness month. We encourage everyone to take time to work on their own mental wellness and make mental health more of a priority in their life this year, whether or not they are currently having a difficult time.

If you are struggling, you should ask for help. While better days may seem out of reach, if you just take the first step to heal by asking for help, the best is yet to come. At Vertava Health, we help people just like you live out their best futures. Get started on yours today.

 

 

 

This week, congress passed a $900 billion stimulus package in response to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. While much of the bill is focused on helping those struggling financially from the coronavirus pandemic, there are also funds set aside to help those struggling mentally as well.

Over Four Billion Dollars for Mental Health & Substance Use Services in Bill

Along with money for performing arts centers, small businesses, and farmers, the pandemic relief bill includes $4.25 billion dollars to increase mental health and substance use services for those in need, including $50 million for suicide prevention programs. The hope is that this money will help expand addiction and mental health care as well as make these services more accessible to those in need.

This addiction and mental health support in the pandemic bill come at a much-needed time as behavioral health issues have been on the rise. In a survey of the American people from late June, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) found that 40.9% of adults had reported struggling with at least one mental health or substance use condition. Anxiety and depression were especially high among respondents with over 30% reporting symptoms.1

The rate of suicidal idealization and behavior has also risen with the coronavirus pandemic. An alarming 10.7% of people surveyed had admitted to seriously considering suicide within the last 30 days.1 In 2018 only 4.3% of American adults had reported seriously considering suicide in the last 12 months.1

Not only are these mental health symptoms hard to deal with on their own, but also in some cases they are leading to other behavioral health conditions. Of those surveyed, 13.3% of respondents had admitted to starting or increasing their substance use during the coronavirus pandemic in an attempt to cope with the stress or their emotions.1

With such staggering numbers surrounding people’s mental and behavioral health from COVID-19, the addiction and mental health support in the pandemic relief fund is meant to help provide aid to those in need and start lowering these numbers. Unfortunately, while the coronavirus vaccine may be a solution to the physical health effects of the disease, the behavioral health effects may linger.

Healing from poor mental health takes time and often help. At Vertava Health, we recently opened a behavioral health center near Columbus, Ohio to help more people in need during this trying time. If you or someone you love is struggling, stop waiting to find a solution. Contact us today to see if we can help you.

Whether you are recuperating after a long holiday weekend with the family or preparing for the holidays ahead, the holiday season can be an overwhelming time for anyone. There is so much to do and so much pressure to have a good time. Trying to get into the holiday spirit and living up to the Hallmark movies can leave you feeling burnt out and do a number on your mental health. Especially if you have a history of mental illness or poor mental health, the holidays may make your symptoms worse.

 

How to Stay Mentally Healthy During the Holidays

Although this time of year can be stressful and filled with anxiety, surviving the holidays and enjoying your time is possible. At Vertava Health, we are sharing some tips for mental health during the holidays to help you make the most of this holiday season.

 

Do What Makes You Happy

The holidays come with a lot of pressure to have a good time and leave many people scrambling to pack all the traditional holiday events onto their calendar. Instead of getting caught up in doing things because you are expected to, only do what makes you happy. Just because you normally bake cookies for your neighbors, doesn’t mean you need to if it’s just going to hurt your mental health. When you only participate in activities that make you happy, you will find that you are a lot less stressed and able to enjoy yourself more.

 

Take Time for Yourself

Many people’s personal needs and mental health during the holidays will take a backseat. While it is easy to get caught up with your busy schedule, this can cause you to stretch yourself thin. One of the best ways to manage your mental health over the holidays is to make time for yourself. Put time aside to destress, collect yourself, and recharge. These small breaks can go a long way in boosting your mental health over the holiday season.

 

Stay in a Healthy Routine

The relationship between poor mental health and the holidays may partially be a result of unhealthy habits. During the holiday season, many people throw their clean eating out the window in favor of pumpkin pie or Christmas cookies as well as trade in their exercise schedule for a spot on the couch. Many people’s sleep schedules also get messed up because of their busy holiday schedules and time off work. These unhealthy habits can take their toll and lead to a variety of mental health troubles like depression and anxiety.1,2,3

 

Spend Time with the Right People

The holidays are about spending time with loved ones, but just because they are family, doesn’t mean they are good for your mental health. Instead of getting caught up with who you should be with, make sure you spend time with people who you want to be around. When you surround yourself with people who love and support you instead of toxic people you feel obliged to see, you will find it much easier to manage your mental health over the holidays.

 

Avoid Drugs & Alcohol

Some people are tempted to turn to drugs or alcohol when they are feeling depressed, lonely, or overwhelmed. While these substances can help you feel momentarily better, they tend to make mental health symptoms worse later. Also, if drugs or alcohol become a crutch every time you feel down, you could become dependent on them and may eventually need addiction treatment.

 

Seek Help

Trying to manage your mental health and the holidays on your own can be overwhelming. Instead of trying to go through it alone, get help. Talk to a trusted friend, join a support group, or seek mental health care if you need to. These people and resources can help you feel heard and may be able to teach you to better cope with your poor mental health during the holidays.

 

The holidays can be a challenging time, but you do not need to go through them alone. Our online mental health services could be what you need to help you work through your mental health troubles over the holidays or any time of year. Contact us today to learn more.

The holiday season comes with both good and bad. While it can be enjoyable in many ways, it can also be stressful and overwhelming. Especially for people with mental health and substance abuse troubles, the holidays can exacerbate symptoms or leave them feeling triggered. Instead of trying to survive the holiday season on your own, you can get professional help without ever leaving your home.

The Benefits of Using Virtual Care Services During the Holidays

Whether the holiday season is taking a toll on your mental health or you are struggling in addiction recovery to stay on track, getting virtual care over the holidays what you need.

Don’t Miss Out

The holidays are often filled with festivities and traditions that you may look forward to every year. If you are looking for help for your drinking or drug use, residential treatment requires you to stay at a facility that could be far from home and will have you missing out on these events. Similarly, with the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it may be hard to commit to an outpatient program. Online addiction treatment during the holiday season allows you to work care into your busy holiday schedule.

Get Help from Anywhere

Along with being pressed for time, you may be traveling. Many people head home for the holidays to see family which makes it a lot harder to attend in-person treatment or meetings. Instead of choosing between your intensive outpatient therapy and seeing your family, virtual addiction or online mental health treatment over the holidays allows you to get help no matter where you are.

Stay Safe

With the coronavirus pandemic still at large, social distancing and staying at home is encouraged. Although many places are taking extra precautions to keep their patients safe, you may want to limit your exposure to others, especially if you are a high-risk individual. Virtual mental health or online addiction counseling over the holidays lets you keep your distance from others and decrease your potential exposure to the virus.

Added Support

This time of year can be especially stressful and triggering. For people with mental health or substance abuse troubles, the holidays may make matters worse. If you are in need of extra support, virtual care over the holidays could be the answer. You can get the help you need when you need it, so you can enjoy the holiday season.

At Vertava Health, we want to help more people get the care they need. Our online mental health counseling and substance abuse care let you fit treatment into your busy schedule no matter what time of year.

 

The holiday season is often joyful, but it can also be a difficult time of year for many people. When you have anxiety, the holidays can be even more challenging than usual. With holiday stress, a calendar of social commitments, family gatherings, and the pressure that comes with the season, your anxiety may be at its worst, and it can make it hard for you to enjoy this time of year.

 

Helpful Holiday Anxiety Tips

Instead of letting your anxiety during the holidays ruin your spirit, there are ways of dealing with holiday anxiety so it doesn’t overwhelm you. As providers of behavioral health services, we are sharing tips on how to cope with holiday anxiety so that you can still enjoy this time of year.

 

Change Your Expectations

Sometimes anxiety stems from high expectations. Although the holidays are supposed to be a wonderful time of year, having a picture-perfect holiday season is unrealistic. This mindset will likely leave you feeling anxious and may also cause you to take on more than you can handle. Rather than striving for the ideal holiday season, change your expectations to be more in line with what is realistic. When you are able to meet your expectations and stop stressing about everything needing to be perfect, you are more likely to enjoy the moment and reduce your anxiety.

 

Say No

A packed schedule filled with social events and family gatherings can be anxiety-inducing for many people. While you might feel pressured by others to attend or participate, you need to put your mental health first. If your number of holiday commitments is making you feel overwhelmed, you can change your mind. If you struggle with social anxiety during the holidays, be mindful of your limits and turn down invitations that make you feel uncomfortable. If you went through co-occurring disorder treatment and are now in early recovery as well, you may want to say no to events with triggers situations or environments. Instead, choose a couple of activities or events that you genuinely enjoy.

 

Avoid Drugs and Alcohol

When dealing with anxiety over the holidays, many people are tempted to turn to drugs and alcohol. While these substances may help temporarily relieve stress and anxiety, they can make your anxiety worse or lead to depression as well.

 

Practice Self-Care

One of the best ways of dealing with holiday anxiety is to practice self-care.  Although the holidays may be busier than usual, it is important that you still take care of yourself or else your anxiety will only get worse. Eat a healthy diet, exercise regularly, and get enough sleep each night. All these healthy habits are proven to have benefits for your mental health and may reduce your holiday anxiety significantly.

 

meditating to relieve holiday anxietyWork On Stress Management

Finding an effective way to manage stress during the holidays can help you drastically decrease your holiday anxiety and prevent your symptoms from getting worse. Some stress-relieving activities include journaling, yoga, and mediation. You might even find that a combination of these techniques works best for you rather than only doing one.

 

Determine A Budget

The holidays can also be an expensive time of year and cause financial concerns for many. If your holiday finances are giving you anxiety, make a budget and stick to it. Knowing exactly what you can and cannot afford can help you keep your spending under control and relieve your anxiety about money over the holidays.

 

Find Support with Others

Dealing with holiday anxiety is not something you need to do alone. If you are experiencing anxiety because you are overwhelmed, ask a friend or family member for help. You may also find that being social with people you trust can go a long way toward easing anxiety. Even phone calls and video chats can be helpful if you cannot see each other in person.

 

Get Profession Help

If you are struggling to know how to deal with holiday anxiety on your own, you may need professional help. While these tips on holiday anxiety relief may be beneficial for some people, more severe anxiety may require more attention. Formal mental health treatment can teach you new techniques to cope with anxiety and may also advise you on medicine to decrease symptoms.

 

At Vertava Health, we want to help people facing substance use and mental health troubles find relief and improve their quality of life. Contact us today to learn more about how we may be able to help you.

Although a lot of people look forward to the holiday season and many people enjoy the snow, not everyone likes winter. Instead of feeling cheerful and merry, they feel down and depressed. Feeling a little sad from time to time isn’t unusual, but when this sadness becomes severe or comes back each year at the same time, it may be a sign of seasonal affective disorder.

What is Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD)?

Seasonal affective disorder or SAD is a type of depression that is recurring and appears annually at around the same time. The symptoms can range in severity but will often last several weeks. It is estimated that anywhere from 10 to 20% of recurring depression is related to seasonal affective disorder.1

The most common form of seasonal affective disorder occurs in the late fall and early winter. Called winter-pattern SAD or winter depression, many researchers believe that this type of depression is related to waning daylight hours because it tends to be more common in higher latitudes. While less frequent, some people will experience summer-pattern SAD or summer depression with symptoms occurring during the spring and summer.

Dealing with seasonal affective disorder isn’t always easy and left untreated, it could severely impact a person’s life.  Some symptoms of seasonal affective disorder may include:

  • Feelings of sadness or hopelessness
  • Irritability
  • Social withdrawal
  • Fatigue
  • Anxiety
  • Sleep problems
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Poor concentration
  • Suicidal idealization

How to Cope with Seasonal Affective Disorder

Seasonal affective disorder can severely hinder a person’s life, but it is treatable. While it may not be completely unavoidable for everyone, there are some ways to ways to cope with seasonal affective disorder and decrease the severity of symptoms.

Spend Time Outdoors

Winter depression is thought to be connected to lack of daylight, so one way to combat SAD symptoms is to get outside and get natural light as much as possible. Exposure to sunlight may increase the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that helps regulate and boost a person’s mood.2

Lighten Up Your Home

Getting outside in the winter is not always an option, but you can try to brighten your home instead. Keep curtains open to let in as much nature light as possible and combat the lack of daylight with artificial lights. People dealing with SAD symptoms can also look into getting a light box that mimics natural light. Regular exposure with light therapy is one of the more effective seasonal affective disorder treatments.

Exercise

Because seasonal affective disorder can lead to fatigue, many people will become stagnant.  While hibernating until the symptoms pass can be tempting, it may make depression worse. Regular exercise is proven to boost mood and may be an effective means of combating seasonal affective disorder symptoms.3 Start slow but stay consistent with your workouts for the best results.

Follow a Sleep Routine

Evidence suggests that winter depression may be partially caused by a disconnect between people’s sleep-wake cycle and their circadian rhythm, the internal process that regulates this cycle.4 One way to try and correct your circadian rhythm is to practice good sleep habits. Keep a regular sleep schedule and follow a routine before bed to make falling asleep easier.

Get Vitamin D

Vitamin D plays an important role in the body’s regular functioning and is often obtained through sun exposure. Because winter days tend to have less sunlight, your body may be lacking this vitamin. To make up for it, try adding supplements or foods with vitamin D to your diet such as fatty fish, mushrooms, or egg yolks.5

Practice Stress Management

In some cases, stress may make SAD symptoms worse, but stress reduction practices may help you feel more relaxed. Try incorporating breathing exercises, meditation, and mindfulness into your daily routine to deal with stress before it becomes overwhelming.

Avoid Drugs & Alcohol

Many people are not sure how to deal with seasonal depression, so they will turn to drugs and alcohol for help. These substances may numb the pain or act as a sleep aid, but ultimately, they can make depression worse. With habitual use, a substance use disorder may develop and instead of just dealing with the winter blues, you may now need treatment for a co-occurring disorder.

Get Professional Help

While these at-home remedies for dealing with seasonal affective disorder may work for some people, they may not be effective for everyone. If you are continuing to struggle or thinking about suicide, get help immediately. Your treatment for season affective disorder may include a combination of light therapy, medications, and psychotherapy.

Depression is different for everyone, but it is important not to let it control your life. Dealing with seasonal affective disorder symptoms right away may prevent secondary problems like substance use disorders from forming. If you or someone you care about is already struggling with addiction, there is hope. Our substance abuse treatment centers help people overcome addiction and work through their mental health challenges to find lasting relief and recovery.

To learn more about our programs at Vertava Health and how we may be able to help you, contact us today.

 

2020 has been an interesting year so far. Not only did the world come to a halt because of the coronavirus pandemic, but the United States is in the midst of a presidential election.

With the nation strongly divided on many issues, political ads at every turn, and the coronavirus crisis still a problem, many people are reaching their limit and turning to some dangerous outlets for help.

How the Presidential Election Impacts Drinking & Drug Use

Elections are important, but the connection between presidential elections and substance abuse is a cause for concern.

Politics in general tend to be a source of stress, anxiety, and tension for many people. Shortly after the 2016 presidential election, a poll found that 57% of Americans cited the current political climate in the United States as a somewhat or significant source of stress.1 Not surprisingly, 72% of Democrats said the outcome of the 2016 presidential election was a significant source of stress in their life, but 26% of Republicans agreed.1 In response to these high-stress levels from the 2016 election, the term election stress disorder was coined, and although it is not an official medical disorder, its use is now making a comeback with the upcoming 2020 election.2

Unfortunately, stress can be a big contributing factor to the development of substance use disorders. Study after study shows that those exposed to high levels of stress are more likely to abuse alcohol, do drugs, or relapse if they already completed a medical detox program and are now sober.3 The stress from the coronavirus crisis is already leading to increased substance abuse problems, and now adding the election into the mix isn’t helping matters.

In an attempt to escape the 2020 election stress, some people may be turning to drugs or alcohol for help. Not to mention the fact that if your chosen candidate doesn’t win, coping with the loss may make these substances even more tempting. One study found that within 30 days of election day in 2016, counties with more support for the losing candidate saw an increase in alcohol sales and alcohol consumption.4

In some cases, drinking during the election season is even seen as trendy. The internet is filled with a variety of election drinking games for debates and election night. While these games are meant to be in good fun, they may have more devastating results than many people realize and could exacerbate the relationship between elections and substance abuse. For people already struggling with their alcohol consumption, this correlation may be dangerous. They may use these election drinking games as an excuse for their alcohol abuse, and it could push their drinking over the edge.

How to Manage Election Season & Substance Abuse

As Trump and Biden square off, some people may be tempted to turn to their liquor cabinet or use drugs to escape, but this is not the answer. While it is important to stay informed, limiting media consumption, unplugging from social media, practicing self-care, and avoiding drugs and alcohol may help you survive the election season without falling to substance abuse.

People who are in early recovery or outpatient care should be especially careful. Because of the strong connection between elections and substance abuse, election season can be a triggering time. Be mindful of your sobriety, and take extra precautions to avoid relapsing during the election season.

Regardless of if you are a die-hard donkey, enthusiastic elephant, or somewhere in between, if you have a substance abuse problem, stop waiting to get help. Our addiction treatment centers help people from different walks of life and backgrounds work through their stress to find lasting sobriety.

Begin your journey to recovery or get a loved one help. Contact us today at Vertava Health.

The Future Of Mental Health Care

Thanks to advances in technology, changes in patient preferences and recent events impacting the feasibility of in-person appointments, the landscape of mental health care is changing. 

Technology And Mental Health Treatment

In recent years, technology in the field of mental health has evolved considerably. Patients and care providers are now able to use any device connected to the internet to access mental health care services, records, and supportive resources. 

Thousands of mental health apps are now available for mobile devices, and more apps are being developed all the time. Accessing an app or other online service to address mental health may not only change treatment, but improve it as well.

Benefits Of Virtual Mental Health Care

Virtual mental health services offer many benefits for patients and health care professionals, including:

  • Affordability — For many people, using an app or online resource is more cost-effective than visiting a provider in-person.
  • Privacy — Using virtual mental health services allows patients to get the care they need with privacy and anonymity.
  • 24-hour support — Many virtual mental health services are available at all hours of the day and night, which provides patients with continuous access to support.
  • Convenience — The use of virtual services allows patients to access the support they need from any location. For patients with limited resources and/or a long commute to the nearest clinic, online mental health care can be invaluable.
  • Availability — Virtual health care services allow patients to get help faster than would be possible if they had to wait for an in-person appointment.
  • Flexibility — In situations where other forms of care may be unavailable, such as during the COVID-19 pandemic, virtual mental health services are still accessible.
  • Collection of data — Technology can be used to collect important data about patients that mental health care professionals can use to provide better treatment.
  • Appeal — For some patients, especially those who have never taken advantage of mental health care services before, virtual care may be more appealing.
  • Support for in-person care — Technology can be used in combination with in-person mental health services to facilitate better patient outcomes.

Five Types Of Virtual Care

In the field of mental health care, several different types of virtual services are available. Here are five:

  1. Data Collection Apps

Data collection apps passively gather data about the user and transmit the data to researchers. 

Researchers can use this data for a range of purposes, from improving current treatments to gaining a better understanding of specific mental health trends.

  1. Tracking Of Symptoms

Developers are working on applications that can passively track mental health symptoms by keeping records of the user’s behavior, as well as the speed and tone of their voice. These applications may be able to provide an alert prior to the onset of a serious mental health crisis.

  1. Skill Building Apps

The purpose of skill building apps is to help users develop better problem-solving and/or coping skills.

  1. Virtual Support

Technology can be used to connect patients with another person, such as a peer or a healthcare provider, when support is needed.

  1. Self-management

Self-management apps are designed to help users manage their own mental health needs. For example, the user may use an app to track their progress toward certain goals, set up reminders to take medication, or deal with stress and anxiety. 

Apps are also available to track physical characteristics related to mental health, such as heart rate and sleeping patterns.

Getting The Most Out Of Virtual Mental Health Care

Not all virtual mental health care services are the same. For this reason, it’s important for patients and healthcare providers to research their options carefully before using any of these technologies. 

To evaluate a specific app, be sure to read reviews from third-party sources. Patients can also check into the validity and efficacy of a given app by talking to a trusted healthcare provider.

Keep in mind that virtual mental health care options are not always a substitute for in-person services. The best virtual mental health care options will provide clear instructions patients should follow in case of an emergency or worsening symptoms.

To learn more about virtual care at Vertava Health, connect with us today.

Like hospitals and other healthcare providers, substance use and mental health treatment are essential health needs, and all four of our locations remain open to provide life-saving and transformative care.

Substance use and mental health issues never take a day off, even though much of the world is currently waiting on the sidelines. If you’ve been struggling with either of these conditions, but haven’t wanted to disrupt your normal daily routine, now can be the perfect time to seek care.

How We’re Keeping Our Treatment Centers Safe

Although everyone’s lives have been a bit more worrisome and unconventional in recent months, your care and well-being remain our top priority at each of our locations.

We’re taking added measures to protect the health and safety of our patients and team members while continuing to provide well-rounded and comprehensive care for addiction. Here are just some of the actions we are taking:

  • daily screening of all staff and patients for symptoms of COVID-19
  • tracking the latest guidelines provided by the CDC, WHO, and regional health officials
  • restricting visitors to reduce the chance of accidental transmission
  • encouraging ground transportation to our facilities in lieu of flying
  • increasing sanitary procedures and deep cleanings at all of our locations
  • securing gloves, gowns, soap, masks, and hand sanitizers at our campuses
  • altering dining protocols to minimize contacts and promote healthful eating

Find The Right Treatment Program Today

We can help you explore treatment options, find the right rehab center, and design a plan that meets your needs.

Contact Us

The Importance Of Treatment Right Now

In addition to the measures we’re taking to ensure patient and staff safety, this is also the time to acknowledge that substance use and mental health disorders are diseases that requires immediate attention, care, and treatment.

If you contract COVID-19 in the midst of struggling with one of these issues, things could get worse. You may be at an increased risk for developing COVID-19 because of limited access to quality healthcare and medication and co-occurring physical and mental health conditions.

However, there is added safety for being around healthcare professionals at this time. If you should have any need arise during your stay, our clinical staff can take immediate and appropriate steps for getting you medical attention on-site, or to a higher level of care.

Rest assured, we continue to serve our patients with the highest quality of addiction treatment care. Please connect with us and we can address any of your questions related to the treatment experience and our heightened health and safety preparedness actions.

 

5 Things To Know About Dual Diagnosis

About half of the people with substance use disorder will also have a mental health disorder during their lives. 

Substance use and mental health disorders can interact and lead to worsening of one, the other, or both conditions. Sometimes clinicians refer to dual diagnosis as co-occurring disorders or comorbidity. 

Unfortunately there’s a lot of misinformation about dual diagnosis. A dual diagnosis is complex, and people with co-occurring mental health and substance use disorders can’t receive a simple fix to change overnight. 

Here are five things you need to know about dual diagnosis:

 

  1. One Disorder Doesn’t Automatically Cause Another

Research is ongoing into the relationships between substance use and mental health disorders, and why they can often co-occur. 

Although some people believe that one disorder leads to another (substance use disorder leads to depression, for example), there aren’t any clear scientific answers about cause-and-effect with dual diagnosis.

However, experts have identified three potential reasons why mental health and substance use disorders often co-occur:

  • common risk factors, including stress, trauma, and family background
  • mental health problems may lead to substance use to alleviate symptoms, which is sometimes called “self-medication.”
  • substance use disorders change the way the brain works, potentially leading to mental health issues

 

  1. Symptoms Of Each Condition Are Similar

There are many unique, individual circumstances when substance use and mental health disorders co-occur and warrant a dual diagnosis. 

Some of the warning signs that a mental health disorder could be present along with a substance use disorder include:

  • extreme mood changes
  • confused thinking or problems with concentration
  • avoiding friends and previously enjoyed activities
  • thoughts or statements of self-harm

People previously diagnosed with a mental health disorder who could be at risk of alcohol or drug misuse may exhibit symptoms that include:

  • sudden behavior changes
  • risky behaviors
  • high tolerance and withdrawal symptoms
  • dependency (needing drugs or alcohol to get through the day)

 

  1. Both Conditions Should Be Treated Simultaneously

Both substance use and mental health disorders impact your health and influence one another. In order for treatment to be effective, both conditions need to be treated at the same time. 

Treatment for dual diagnosis can include different behavioral therapy models and prescribed medication.

Peer support can also help to improve recovery from dual diagnosis. Many people who participate in peer support groups receive help from sharing with others and learning they’re not alone.

People with dual diagnoses may also benefit from detox programs, and then they can consider other forms of treatment to improve both conditions. 

Inpatient treatment centers where staff are experienced and familiar with treating dual diagnosis can help. Having care available 24 hours a day, seven days a week can benefit patients, particularly in the early stages of treatment.

 

  1. Behavioral Therapy Can Help

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is a type of psychotherapy that is proven to be effective for treating dual diagnosis. 

Other types of therapies, including dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT) and group therapy with others who share similar experiences, can help improve both conditions as well.

 

  1. A Multidisciplinary Approach Is Best

Integrated or multidisciplinary treatment teams that address both diagnoses are the most effective choice for patients. 

An experienced treatment team aware of the unique challenges of dually diagnosed people can integrate treatment and offer holistic ways to improve both disorders. Effective teams are likely to include professionals across various disciplines, including psychiatry and counseling.

Patients with dual diagnosis can risk relapse or worsening symptoms if they’re part of substance-use only treatment programs, or if they receive treatment only for their mental health condition and fail to address addiction or substance use.

 

Support, understanding, and compassion provided by a multidisciplinary, integrated treatment team is the best way to help patients with dual diagnosis strengthen their mental, emotional, and physical health.

 

10 Things You Should Know About Social Media And Mental Health

Social media is hard to avoid in today’s world. You may be required to use it for a job or to connect with friends and family that live far away. Whether you use it responsibly or not can have a significant effect on your mental health.

Here are 10 things you should know about social media and mental health:

 

  1. Social Media Is Addictive

While many people check social media regularly without becoming obsessive about it, some develop an unhealthy dependence on it. Social media can act like a drug, boosting a person’s self-esteem for a moment, yet leaving them wanting more. 

Research shows that individuals who rely on an emotional boost from social media expect it to make them feel better, even when they find themselves feeling worse afterward. They keep going back anyway. They check it more often to get more of a boost, making them rely on it more.

People addicted to social media may also suffer from “fear of missing out.” They feel that others are living more exciting lives than them. 

Even if they aren’t part of it, they want to know what their friends are doing. They constantly check social media to keep up with every post and feel anxiety when they are unable to stay connected.

 

  1. Social Media Increases Feelings Of Social Isolation

Social media is an amazing tool that connects people who can’t be physically together. However, multiple studies have found that relying on social media for social interaction makes people feel more isolated from others.

This may be because keeping in touch over social media leaves nothing to talk about in real life. It also makes meeting in person less urgent, since it’s not the only way to keep in touch. But face-to-face interactions are vital for good mental health. 

Spending too much time on social media can make a person feel that they aren’t emotionally close to anyone. You can find out a lot about people online without even talking to them. That’s not the kind of meaningful connection that we crave.

 

  1. Social Media Can Make You Less Satisfied With Your Life

Most people post the highlights of their life on social media. What you see is their exciting vacation or their picture-perfect family. It’s easy to feel like they have it better than you.

You may also feel like they’re doing more than you—going to more parties, traveling more, or being more involved in the community.

“Facebook envy”—or jealousy caused by social media—can make you feel less satisfied with your life. 

Comparing yourself to others isn’t healthy or helpful. This is true even if you’re feeling that you are superior to another person online. 

Maybe you think you’re a better parent or more financially responsible than someone else. Judging others and viewing them with contempt for not being the same as you can be just as damaging as jealousy.

 

  1. Social Media Can Affect Your Self-Image 

Online comparisons affect your self-esteem and may lead to a negative self-image. 

Posting on social media too much can cause you to feel self-centered, always eager to show others how exciting your life is and the great things you’re doing. 

It can also make you depend on others for approval. It’s nice to engage people in productive conversations through social media. It feels good when people like the things you post. 

But if you’re sitting by your phone or computer, waiting for a “like” or comment, and if that response determines your self-confidence, that’s not good for your mental health.

 

  1. Social Media Can Cause Depression And Anxiety

Social isolation, less satisfaction with life, and comparing yourself to others can all lead to depression and anxiety. Addiction is often linked with these mental disorders as well.

When you spend a lot of time and emotional energy on social media, there’s less time and energy left for healthy things that can reduce stress and lift your mood. 

Depression and anxiety can also result from “doomscrolling,” or seeking to understand bad news by reading every social media post about it. 

A lot of times, there’s nothing the individual can do about bad news. While it’s good to be informed, obsessing about it causes feelings of helplessness that aren’t good for mental health.

Some people find themselves spending hours on social media researching one topic. They may stay awake later than they mean to at night, following links from one story to another—and increasing their anxiety as they go.

 

  1. Social Media Use Can Cause Poor Sleep

Laying in bed at night looking at social media isn’t a good way to get tired. It can ramp up your brain activity instead of relaxing you. If you read something you have an emotional reaction to, you may lay awake thinking about it. 

If you experience depression or anxiety related to social media, using it before bed can cause stress that interferes with healthy sleep. (Not to mention, the blue light from your phone messes with your body’s melatonin levels, making it harder to fall asleep.)

Poor sleep can have a profound effect on mental health. You can’t deal with stress as well when you’re tired, and you can’t think as clearly, either.

 

  1. Cyberbullying Occurs On Social Media

Cyberbullying occurs on many social media sites, like Facebook and Instagram. A person may post a photo of themselves and receive hurtful comments. Some individuals stalk people online. Others may share personal information or secrets about someone else.

Because it’s online and can be seen by anyone who is friends with the victim, cyberbullying can be particularly harmful. Some sites allow bullies to create anonymous accounts, so they aren’t held responsible for their actions.

Cyberbullying has been linked to depression, anxiety, and suicide, especially among teens.

 

  1. Responsible Social Media Use Can Be Beneficial

While there are several negatives associated with social media, they result mostly from an unhealthy emotional connection with it. If you are careful to avoid depending on social media to boost your self-esteem or replace face-to-face interactions, you can benefit from responsible use.

Responsible social media use keeps you connected with family and friends, especially those you can’t see regularly. It allows you to share things with them that may lead to an in-person conversation or fun group activity. 

You can learn new things through shared informative content on social media. Picking up new hobbies or skills can increase self-confidence and reduce stress.

Social media is also a way to stay in touch with the outside world through reputable news sources. Knowing what’s going on in your community or country can help you interact more effectively with others.

 

  1. Social Media Connects You With Role Models

Social media sites like Twitter and YouTube encourage people to follow others who are doing great things in the world. You can find role models who stand up for what you believe in or live the life you want to live. 

The point isn’t to idolize these individuals, but to learn from them. Social media allows you to read their opinions, watch their videos, and listen to them speak. You can grow personally and professionally if you are mindful of who you follow and why.

 

  1. Social Media Can Provide A Sense Of Belonging

Social media sites provide an online community. Within each site, there are smaller communities of like-minded people who share interests or fight for the same cause. 

Joining a book club, contributing to a fundraiser, or participating in a community event can give you a sense of belonging. 

Yes, you can find the same sense of belonging by doing these things in person. But virtual communities connect you with more people and opportunities than those available at your physical location. They also fit better into busy schedules.

 

Being mindful of how you use social media can help you avoid becoming emotionally attached to it. To learn more about mental health, speak with a specialist at Vertava Health today.

National Health Center Week takes place from August 9 through 15 this year. This is a yearly event that focuses on celebrating community health centers throughout the U.S. Each day of the week focuses on a specific area of community health.

National Health Center Week 2020

This year’s celebration aims to honor those providing crucial services during the ongoing pandemic, as well as pay tribute to those who need community health services. Health services go beyond physical health and also include mental and behavioral support. 

During this week, you can spend time personally reflecting on each focus day or plan events as part of this celebration. Here are the focus areas for each day of the week.

Public Health In Housing Day

Sunday, August 9th focuses on honoring those who handle the social determinants of health for communities. These social determinants refer to different factors that affect a community’s needs, such as environmental conditions and socioeconomic conditions. 

Understanding these factors is an essential part of making sure that individuals in communities have access to the services they need for physical and mental well-being, including medical services and behavioral health services.

Healthcare For The Homeless Day

Monday, August 10th celebrates those responsible for providing health services to homeless populations. Health centers throughout the U.S. serve roughly 1.3 million people living in homeless conditions annually. 

Since homeless populations in communities tend to have higher rates of mental and behavioral health problems, as well as higher rates of medical issues, these services are important. Services include outreach programs and trauma-informed care for the homeless.

Agricultural Worker Health Day

Tuesday, August 11th is dedicated to honoring those who oversee and provide healthcare services, including mental and behavioral health care, to agricultural workers. 

Community health centers provide services to roughly 20 percent out of the 4.5 million individuals working in agriculture in the U.S. 

Those whose work is celebrated on this focus day include: 

  • community health center staff and clinicians
  • advocates
  • consumer board members
  • others who help migrant and agricultural workers receive medical and mental health care 

Patient Appreciation Day

Wednesday, August 12th acknowledges and celebrates patients who receive medical and behavioral health services from community health centers. Community health center boards are made up of at least 51 percent of individuals who receive services from these facilities. 

Patients are an important part of advocating for quality healthcare services in the community, including services aimed at improving physical health and mental health. 

Stakeholder Appreciation Day

Thursday, August 13th recognizes and honors legislators and legislative staff who play an important role in providing support for community health centers through policymaking. 

These stakeholders help push for budgets that allow community health centers to continue providing crucial physical and mental healthcare services for community members. This funding also makes it possible for health centers to meet the needs of their community.  

Health Center Staff Appreciation Day

Friday, August 14th celebrates the staff members who are a vital part of community health centers. Staff members work hard to ensure health centers provide quality medical and behavioral health services to the community. 

Staff members and volunteers help keep community health centers functioning on a day-to-day basis, which helps ensure that community members continue to have access to local healthcare services. 

Children’s Health Day

Saturday, August 15th honors children and highlights the need for high-quality healthcare services for young community members. 

Children receive a wide-range of services from community health centers, including wellness visits, sick visits, behavioral health services, and more. Health centers also host events to help children understand the importance of staying physically and emotionally healthy.

Our therapists at Vertava Health are sensitive to individual needs. They are trained to provide compassionate, evidence-based care that gives you the best chance at improving your mental health.

The therapist you choose can make all the difference in your mental health. It’s not a decision to be taken lightly. Many factors determine whether a therapist is a good fit for you.

Most therapists offer a free phone consultation or even a short in-person meeting before you commit to seeing them for treatment. You can tell a lot from this first impression, especially if you know what to look for.

Does The Therapist Have Experience With Your Situation?

Some therapists don’t specialize but offer to treat a variety of mental health issues. This means they don’t always have experience with your situation.

If you’re struggling with something specific, such as bipolar disorder or addiction, choose a therapist who has experience in these areas. They’ll be able to offer more insight and understand your needs better.

What Type Of Education And Certification Does The Therapist Have?

A therapist’s education, certification, and licensure can tell you how qualified they are in their field. A reputable therapist will have a master’s degree, at least.

A common certification for therapists is the National Certified Counselor (NCC) certification from the National Board for Certified Counselors (NBCC).

This generally indicates that a therapist has completed 3,000 hours of practice and 100 hours of supervised counseling outside of their schooling. They must also pass an exam in mental health counseling or their area of specialization.

Licensure, such as Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC), is issued by the state in which a therapist practices. Like certification, it indicates a high level of education, experience, and a time of supervision.

A therapist should be licensed to practice in their state even if they are nationally certified.

Does The Therapist Use Evidence-Based Treatment Methods?

Evidence-based treatment methods are ways of treating mental health issues that have been proven effective by research. Reputable therapists use these methods to give you the best chance of recovery.

Cognitive-behavioral therapy (CBT), dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), and exposure therapy are evidence-based practices commonly used in mental healthcare.

A therapist that offers several types of therapy may be able to help you more than someone who only uses one or two. They’re more likely to provide the type of care you need to heal, and they can personalize your treatment by combining different therapies.

Does The Therapist Have Good Interpersonal Skills?

When a therapist has good interpersonal skills, you’ll be able to communicate better and feel that they understand you. Rather than a cold, clinical approach, a good therapist should express empathy and treat you like an individual.

Listening skills are vital in a therapist. It’s not only important that your therapist is a good listener; it also matters that they listen the way you need them to.

Some people prefer a lot of feedback from a therapist and find it unhelpful if the therapist listens silently. Others would rather be listened to so they can work through things on their own without interruption.

Consider which method works best for you and take that into account when choosing a therapist.

Boundaries are also something to look for in a therapist, though you may have to meet with them a few times first. Do they respect you and treat you ethically? Or are they overly personal, inviting you to spend time with them outside of therapy or showing sexual interest in you?

While a personal connection is important, it’s a conflict of interest if your therapist is also a best friend or lover.

Do You Feel A Personal Connection With The Therapist?

You’ll be sharing intimate details of your life with your therapist. If you don’t have a personal connection with them, you’re less likely to open up enough for them to help you.

The consultation may be enough for you to tell if you’re comfortable with a therapist or not. Some people need to warm up to each other, so you may want to give it a few sessions before you decide.

Personalized care has been proven to be more effective than standardized care. A personal connection will make it easier for you and the therapist to work together on your treatment plan.

A good therapist should pay attention to your treatment progress and adjust therapy as needed. They should also have a positive outlook on your chance of recovery.

Is The Therapist Culturally Sensitive?

Cultural sensitivity is a crucial aspect of mental health treatment that is often overlooked. If a therapist doesn’t support your beliefs or take them into account when offering advice, they may not be helpful at all.

Many people have experienced discrimination in therapy because of a lack of cultural sensitivity. Minority groups, such as African Americans and LGBTQ individuals, have a higher risk of discrimination and lack of access to quality mental healthcare.

Mental health affects every area of a person’s life, so their cultural values should be respected in an effective treatment program.

Does The Therapist Offer Payment Options That Work For You?

Mental health care is covered to some degree under most insurance plans. Checking with your insurance company is the best way to determine which services are covered.

When it comes to choosing a specific therapist, those who are considered in-network are covered more extensively by insurance than those who are out-of-network. An in-network therapist may be less expensive, but not necessarily—it depends on how high their fees are.

If you don’t have insurance or your out-of-pocket responsibility isn’t affordable, find out if the therapist you’re considering offers payment options. This may include a sliding fee scale (based on income) or a payment plan that gives you more time to pay your bill.

The type of therapist you choose can also affect how much they charge. A psychiatrist is often more expensive than a counselor, who may be just as helpful. If you’re seeking someone to talk to and hope to avoid medication, it may make more sense for you to see a counselor.

Finding The Right Therapist For Your Needs

You can find answers to some of these questions by visiting a therapist’s website. Others you can get a feel for during your consultation.

If you choose a therapist and feel uncomfortable after a few sessions, don’t hesitate to look elsewhere. Staying with someone who isn’t a good fit can be damaging to your mental health.

For information about our therapists at Vertava Health and our personalized treatment programs, speak with a mental health specialist today.

Stress can have a strong impact on your physical and mental health, as well as your overall well-being. While you can’t completely avoid stress, there are ways to manage it on a daily basis to help prevent or reduce these effects.

Keeping stress under control can help boost your mood and health. Here are 10 things you should know:

1. Stress Can Be Helpful

Stress is a physical reaction that is meant to help you survive while facing a threatening situation.

This can range from physically dangerous situations to non-life-threatening situations that your brain sees as a potential threat to you, such as having to go through a job interview or deal with a personal conflict with a friend or family member.

The physical reaction stress triggers can help you feel motivated to handle these situations.

2. Chronic Stress Can Lead To Severe Health Problems

Although stress can be beneficial in some circumstances, experiencing chronic stress can harm your body and brain on a long-term basis. Stress that happens on a short-term basis, known as acute stress, is temporary.

Chronic stress does not allow your body to go back to functioning at a normal level, which can have a negative impact on different bodily systems, including your immune system, cardiovascular system, and digestive system.

This can result in a higher risk of high blood pressure, depression and other mental health disorders, diabetes, and other serious problems.

3. Stress Can Cause A Wide Range Of Physical Symptoms

Experiencing stress can affect your body in numerous ways. You might have headaches or lightheadedness, as well as sore muscles or muscle tension.

Stress can also cause:

  • digestive problems or an upset stomach
  • chest pain
  • fatigue
  • sleep issues

4. Stress Can Lead to Mood Problems

Dealing with stress, especially on a daily basis, can impact your mood. You might become restless or have trouble concentrating. Stress can also cause you to feel more irritable or angry than usual. You might feel overwhelmed as well or experience anxiety or feelings of sadness that linger.

5. Stress Can Affect Your Behavior

Stress is more than feeling worried about something that could happen or something that is happening. In addition to affecting your body and brain, stress can lead to changes in your behavior.

You might eat more than usual or have a reduced appetite. You might also become withdrawn from friends and family or lash out at others. Stress can cause you to feel unmotivated in terms of physical activity as well, leading you to get less exercise than usual.

6. Finances And Work Are Common Causes Of Stress

In the U.S., finances and job-related concerns are among the leading causes of stress, especially on an ongoing basis.

However, stress can come from many other sources as well, including trauma, major illnesses, and other significant life changes, such as losing a loved one or going through a divorce.

7. Some Forms Of Stress Relief Can Be Harmful

There are many ways to ease stress, but some of these can be harmful for you. For example, turning to alcohol or drugs to relieve stress or developing unhealthy eating habits to cope with stress can affect your physical and mental health.

These harmful forms of stress relief can lower your quality of life and end up causing health issues, resulting in more stress.

Inactive forms of stress relief, such as spending hours watching TV or online, can also increase stress over time. Fortunately, there are many healthy ways to manage stress.

8. Mindfulness Can Ease Stress

Mindfulness is a simple yet highly effective way to manage stress on a daily basis. This practice involves focusing your mind on the present and your current emotions.

There are different ways to do this, such as focusing on your breathing when your mind starts to wander. Mindfulness can take time to get used to doing, but it can significantly reduce the amount of stress you feel on a regular basis.

9. Simple Lifestyle Changes Can Relieve Stress

Taking good care of your body and brain can help you manage stress and lower your risk of developing physical and mental health problems.

This includes eating a nutritious diet and avoiding unhealthy foods, getting regular exercise, and making sure you get good sleep night after night. Going to bed earlier and doing a calming activity, such as reading, can help you sleep better.

10. Professional Counseling Can Help With Stress Management

In some cases, stress can be overwhelming, which can make it hard to manage on your own. You can get the help you need through professional therapy or counseling.

Working with a mental health professional can provide you with the tools you need to effectively manage stress in your daily life.