MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES
Below is an outline of some common major Mental Health Issues, and ways that they are commonly treated. Check out the links for more information on treatment, support, signs and symptoms.
Anxiety is ongoing and excessive worry or fear that interferes with daily functioning. People with anxiety disorders can have periods of feeling anxious for hours, days or months at a time and they may not be able to pinpoint a reason why they feel that way. Anxiety disorders often lead to avoiding things associated with worry and can have a big impact on how people live their lives.
For more information check out https://mindyourmind.ca/illnesses/anxiety-disorder-generalized-anxiety-disorder
Common Treatment for Anxiety is CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) which teaches people to learn about the connection between their thoughts, feelings and behaviors, and how making shifts in these areas can help them feel better. CBT helps people learn and practice coping strategies and different ways of responding to their mental health issues (such as relaxation, mindfulness and learning how to tolerate uncertainty) Antidepressant medication is also commonly used to help reduce some of the physical symptoms in the mind and body.
Depression is a mood disorder that is normally associated with prolonged feelings of sadness, inactivity and difficulty thinking and concentrating. People with depression find it hard to feeling happy or content for any length of time and often feel stuck in a low mood, making it hard to do things that they usually enjoy doing.
For more information check out https://mindyourmind.ca/illnesses/mood-disorder-depression
Common Treatments for Depression are CBT and IPT (interpersonal therapy) as well as medication that is used to balance people’s brain chemistry and address the physical issues that are causing their mood difficulties.
Bipolar is a mood disorder where people experience periods of both mania and depression. Mania can look like periods of high energy, euphoria, frenzy, invincibility, limited sleep and reckless behavior while depression refers to extreme lows mood, sadness and lack of drive and motivation. It is normal for people to have mood fluctuations throughout the day, but people with Bipolar Disorder experience extreme mood changes that have a big affect on their daily functioning.
For more information check out https://mindyourmind.ca/illnesses/mood-disorder-bipolar-disorder
Common Treatment for Bipolar Disorder is often a mixture of medication paired with psychotherapy. Sometimes people take one medication to treat the depression and another to treat mania and other times the medication is combined into one medication.
Eating disorders are prolonged periods of negative or unhealthy thoughts and behaviours related to food, eating or body images. These abnormalities in eating pattern are different depending on the eating disorder but often include eating excessively (and then vomiting (binging and purging), limiting eating, or obsessions with eating only certain types of food.
For more information check out https://mindyourmind.ca/illnesses/eating-disorder-overview
Common Treatment for Eating Disorders is one on one psychotherapy or psychological counseling to help people get a better understanding of the issues surrounding their eating patterns. Medical and nutritional needs are also carefully monitored depending on the severity of the disorder and the person’s needs.
Below are definitions of the most common approaches that can be done alone or with help from a professional.
CBT (Cognitive Behaviour Therapy)
Cognitive Behaviour Therapy is a psychotherapy treatment that is often used in the short term, it is primarily goal-oriented and practical and is designed to help increase problem solving skills. The goal behind it is mainly to shift thinking patterns or types of behaviour that may be the reason someone is experiencing difficulties. Often this includes learning how to challenge and change irrational thoughts. This is a helpful way for people to develop alternative ways of thinking and behaving which aims to reduce some psychological (distress). The positive thing about CBT is that you can easily do it on your own time, by yourself. These worksheets are a great way for you to reflect and begin to understand your own thought pattern on your own time.
CBT worksheet: https://www.getselfhelp.co.uk/d/freedownloads2.htm
App for CBT: https://golantern.com/
DBT (Dialectical behavior therapy )
Like CBT, this is a cognitive behaviour therapy, but it was initially developed to treat people with borderline personality disorder and people with suicidal tendencies. This is a great way to increase motivation as well as apply new skills for coping with issues such as emotional regulation, tolerating distress, interpersonal skills, and finding balance to specific challenges and events in your life.
SUPPORT WORKERS AND GROUPS
Below is an overview on the role of support workers, what they can do to help and what you can expect when you meet with them.
A group of people who often share a similar experience or disorder, who meet together to discuss their experiences, share ideas and are there to support each other. Joining a group like this does not mean you need to share your story or anything you don’t feel comfortable with, what it does mean is that you will be surrounded by people who may have gone through similar experiences to you and who care about you and your wellbeing.
Every Support group is different but often it will look a little bit like this….. there will be 1-3 people who run the group, and have a good understanding of mental health issues and the need to feel safe and secure in front of other people. You will come together to share your experience and ideas with others and will be provided with an entire network of people you can trust and reach out to. These groups can be drop in or closed, and are normally drop in and free of charge. New faces will always be welcome and encouraged to join. Head to the resources by region section to find support groups in your area
General Physician (GP/Family Doctor)
A physician is someone who practices medicine and primarily uses medicine as a form of help. They have general medical training, and may have experience in dealing with mental illnesses. They are often your first step in navigating the mental health system. Family doctors can diagnose mental illnesses, prescribe medication and refer you to specialized services. Some doctors also have training in talk therapies like cognitive-behavioral therapy.
When you are trying to find a doctor, start by reaching out to local doctor’s offices to see if they have any doctors that have room for new patients. Typically, your new doctor will want to meet you before they take you on as a patient, this is normally to find out some background about your mental and physical health to determine your needs and how they can be helpful. Attached in the “General BC Resources” section is a link to a search engine that can help you to find a doctor in your community
A psychiatrist is a doctor who specializes in mental health assessment, diagnosis, and informing a mental health treatment plan. A big part of their job is deciding if medication would be helpful and prescribing medication based on the health care needs of each individual. They can diagnose mental illnesses, prescribe medication and provide different talk therapies.
To meet with a psychiatrist, you will usually need a referral from your family doctor, pediatrician or mental health counsellor. Some psychiatrists are in private practice and can be accessed directly.
These are drugs that are used to affect the chemical makeup of the brain and nervous system. In our brains we have things called Neurotransmitters, these are made up of protons and their main job is to carry messages from cell to cell. Sometimes these Neurotransmitters have a bit of an imbalance in their chemical structure which can affect emotions, moods, thoughts, behaviors, and mental states. Psychiatric drugs can help rebalance these Neurotransmitters which will help these emotions, moods and thoughts come back into balance. A GP, pediatrician or psychiatrist can prescribe this medication.
A counselor is someone who is trained to give guidance on personal, social or psychological problems. Their role is to provide education to help people gain a better understanding of their mental health issues while helping them learn new skills to manage mental health issues. They also connect people up with other professionals that are part of a treatment team that work towards assisting people with achieving wellness
RESOURCES BY REGION
By region on how to access a support group and crisis lines.
Vancouver Coast Mountains
http://www.mdabc.net/sites/default/files/pdf/Lower%20 Mainland%2016 Nov 15.pdf
Sea to Sky- 1-866-661-3311
ADDITIONAL INFORMATION AND HELP
Self Harm and Suicidal Thoughts
Below is a document that can help you be safe if you are considering suicide. It will provide you with a series of concrete steps to follow if you are at risk of harming yourself
Suicide Safety Plan
Suicide Safety Plan App
Websites to access more information on suicide
Alcohol and Substance Abuse
GENERAL BC RESOURCES
Below are links that lead you to province wide search engines for doctors, counselors and support groups as well as province wide crisis lines.
Finding support groups In BC
Finding a doctor in BC
http://www.bcdoctordirectory.ca/ (scroll to the bottom of the page and click on your town and all doctors in that area will come up)
Finding a counselor in BC
If you are concerned about your mental health, you can start by making a meeting with your family doctor, school counsellor, or other adults you trust to hear your concerns. Another options for accessing mental health counselling happens through local walk-in clinics in most BC communities. You can go directly, or call the numbers below and someone will meet with you to assess your mental health needs and help you with coming up with a wellness plan that may include counselling, medication or other options depending on your needs.
Crisis Line in BC
Crisis Chats in BC
Online Support Group
Major University Resources
UVIC: http://south-island.fetch bc.ca/service.html?i=2809
Self Help Ideas/Resources
There are a few things that have been found in your day to day life that have a HUGE impact on your mental health, this includes sleep, diet, exercise and self-love (taking care of your brain and learning to be content with who you are). Sometimes changing these things in your lifestyle can make a bigger difference than you may ever know. Here are some great ways to start exploring these topics.
Meditation and Mindfulness
Mediation can be a great way to find balance and get centered. It does not mean having to sit for hours in one spot without thinking at all, mediation can take place on a walk, or in your room…really anywhere you go. Both mediation and mindfulness are often focused on breathing, being in the moment without judgment, and being aware of how you think and feel. It is easiest to start out if you have some help; here are a few great lead meditation apps to help start you off.
Apps For Anxiety and Depression
7cups of tea
Spending time appreciating what is good in your life is proven to be a great way to increase happiness. This could be by journaling what you are grateful for everyday or using an app like Gratitude Reminders for Optimism to help you out.
When people exercise it decreases isolation and releases chemicals in the brain that help combat depression and anxiety. Exercise can help regulate breathing which is important to stay grounded. People also describe feeling physically stronger and more balanced. When spending time outside people feel connected to the earth. Exercising in a gym or as part of a team or community can help create new connections.
Yoga is great way to get centered and balanced in your mind. Unlike lots of sports, anyone can do yoga anywhere; here are a few ideas of websites to help you learn more about the practice of yoga.
Going for a walk or hike in the nature or just around the block can be extremely meditative, it can clear your mind and help you have more balanced and healthy thinking. Being outside and changing pace for even 15 minutes can make a huge difference in your day.
Sleep has a major impact on people physically, emotionally, mentally and behaviorally. It is important not to underestimate the power of sleep in helping manage your mental health. Lack of sleep impacts people’s ability to think clearly, manage their emotions and the way they interact with other people in their lives. It also has a major impact on mood intensity and the ability to manage moods. When people sleep well it helps with better emotion regulation, a stronger ability to problem solve and deal with emotions, and a general increased wellbeing.
Some easy ways to increase having a good sleep are….
- Decrease screen time before bed, preferably cutting it out an hour before sleeping.
- Develop a “sleep routine” to train your body to follow a good sleep pattern
- Sleep in dark room
- Practice mindfulness before bed
- Avoid caffeine or other stimulants before bed
What you put into your body is directly related to what you can get out of it. Skipping meals, unhealthy eating habits and binge eating create unhealthy patterns that make it hard for your brain to work in a happy and healthy way. Eating healthier foods helps your brain grow and develop in a healthier way and gives you the nutrients you need to do your daily activities. A lack of certain vitamins can negatively impact your mental wellness. It is important to consult with a healthcare practitioner to talk about certain vitamins that can dramatically improve mental health.
When I reach out to a medical or mental health professional, how can I talk to them?
Mental Health Counsellors and physicians understand that talking about personal issues can be hard for many people. They are usually pretty good at creating a safe space for young people to feel comfortable talking about their problems. They have lots of experience asking certain questions to help you explain what’s going on. Typically this begins with getting a sense of the mental health problem you are having, and then working with you to create a wellness plan that maps out what you are going to do in the future. As you continue to visit them they will be monitoring the results of your plan and work with you to develop a new plan if that one isn’t working well for you.
What happens if I go to the hospital?
If you decide that your mental health concerns are serious enough that you need to go to the hospital Emergency, the medical team’s response will vary depending on your needs. Typically, a nurse will gather your basic information and then a mental health clinician or urgent response worker will assess if you need further psychiatric assessment, if you need to be admitted to hospital, or if you need community or family support. Most often their job is to plan with you around supports needed to feel comfortable leaving the hospital. Ideally the urgent response or mental health counselor will follow up with you and the recommended services, to ensure that you have connected with the supports you need.
How do I know if a support group is right for me?
It is important to make sure that a support group is being offered by someone who has a good understanding of your mental health concerns and has experience running a group. It is helpful to ask your mental health counsellor, doctor, local community resources, or other trustworthy source if they are aware of any groups that would meet your specific needs. Finally, the decision to attend is up to you and is based on your own needs, insights, comfort level and research. Attached is a helpful checklist of reflection questions to help you decide if a support group feels right to you.
How can I reach out for support?
It is important to remember that almost everyone if affected by mental health issues at some time in their lives, and people want to help. Often the most challenging part of reaching out for help is the time leading up to making that first contact. Most people find a sense of relief after telling their story to someone who cares. Reaching out can happen in many ways for example…
- Telling a parent, caregiver or supportive adult
- Talking to a school counsellor, teacher, coach
- Going to your family doctor
- Calling a crisis line, or kid’s help line
- Connecting with an online professional
- Going to your local Child and Youth Mental Health or Adult Health office
- Going to Emergency if in crisis