October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month

This month marks Domestic Violence Awareness Month, raising awareness of one of the most under reported crimes around the world.

Many people automatically associate the term domestic violence with images of physically battered women but it is incredibly important to understand abusive intimate partner relationships take many forms and impact people of all genders, ages, socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds.

Sexual assault or coercion, emotional abuse and financial control are also ways in which people damage their partners.

Adolescents who are not cohabitating, including young teens, are not immune from intimate partner violence. Neither are men or people who are in same sex relationships.

While many relationships can cause changes (for example, your non athletic friend has a new found love of a sport their current partner likes), sudden and severe differences in personality and temperament can be warning signs of an unhealthy dynamic. This is particularly true if it is coupled with the breakdown of other important relationships in a person's life. Abuse can run rampant when people are isolated from their support network.

If you are worried that a friend or loved one may be in an abusive relationship and notice them becoming distant and hard to reach, encourage them to seek help. Be supportive and non-judgmental. Remember that ultimately this is their decision to make, so don't pressure them to leave their relationship immediately if they are not ready.

Once they do decide to leave, help them develop a safety plan.

You can research local resources here for more information.

As a society we have made some positive strides around the issue of intimate partner violence but we still have a long way to go in supporting vulnerable people in need and giving them safe alternatives to the very real dangers they face.

6 Ways You Can Help Reduce The Mental Health Stigma

 The stigma for mental health clients continues to negatively impact communities of all kinds. The taboo of being mentally unwell crosses all socioeconomic levels, age groups, races, religions and professions. Similar to a physical health diagnosis; some people simply do not want to know, they are ashamed or in denial of their symptoms and self medicate. Whether you are the potential client or close to the potential client I believe the general consensus is, having a mental health crisis can be scary for everyone involved.  As a therapist, my goal is to discuss mental wellness with as many people as possible to help normalize seeking treatment for mental health and wellness. What better time to have an open dialogue about mental health than now with the many changes in our healthcare system. It would be ideal if everyone could set aside their assumptions, fears and negative perspectives about mental health. We can help those around us seek help without the fear of labeling and minimizing with a few tips. Below are a few ways to help someone that appears to need help achieving mental wellness.    What Can you Do....    Get educated . Learn the facts about symptoms you experience or observe in someone else. Mental health needs are not the same in everyone and can manifest differently for each person. Everyone will not need a diagnose, hospitalization or medication.    Know who to call and when . There is only so much self medicating once can do before the symptoms become too much to manage. Simply talking about mental health will not give a person any ideas. Sometimes, someone initiating a discussion can break the ice and start the process. Know the resources in your community and call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department when the symptoms appear unmanageable.    Be supportive.  If you are struggling with providing support, connect with someone that is empathetic to you and can possibly lead you in the right direction. There are a number treatments available and it takes courage to seek the help. The difference between someone seeking help or silently fighting can be the support of one helpful individual.    Be aware of your own judgements and prejudices . We all have them; and unfortunately many come from other uneducated individuals passing on poor information. Be honest about your own shame and guilt about mental health so that you can be an active participant in ending the stigma.   Listen, listen, listen.  Whether you have a mental health diagnosis or not - we all want to be heard. We all want to know that someone is listening to us and/or trying to understand what we need. Just because you don’t understand the symptoms does not mean you are not able to help.    Support mental health organizations and providers.  Many organizations close due to funding and lack of community support. Volunteering your time and/or money goes a long way to provide resources for those in need of services. You may not know who you helped specifically but your contribution can help other professionals and volunteers with ending the negative stigma.   Mental health care and treatment is a universal issue and awareness is one of the critical pieces to making treatment available. 

The stigma for mental health clients continues to negatively impact communities of all kinds. The taboo of being mentally unwell crosses all socioeconomic levels, age groups, races, religions and professions. Similar to a physical health diagnosis; some people simply do not want to know, they are ashamed or in denial of their symptoms and self medicate. Whether you are the potential client or close to the potential client I believe the general consensus is, having a mental health crisis can be scary for everyone involved.

As a therapist, my goal is to discuss mental wellness with as many people as possible to help normalize seeking treatment for mental health and wellness. What better time to have an open dialogue about mental health than now with the many changes in our healthcare system. It would be ideal if everyone could set aside their assumptions, fears and negative perspectives about mental health. We can help those around us seek help without the fear of labeling and minimizing with a few tips. Below are a few ways to help someone that appears to need help achieving mental wellness. 

What Can you Do....

Get educated. Learn the facts about symptoms you experience or observe in someone else. Mental health needs are not the same in everyone and can manifest differently for each person. Everyone will not need a diagnose, hospitalization or medication. 

Know who to call and when. There is only so much self medicating once can do before the symptoms become too much to manage. Simply talking about mental health will not give a person any ideas. Sometimes, someone initiating a discussion can break the ice and start the process. Know the resources in your community and call 911 or go to the nearest emergency department when the symptoms appear unmanageable. 

Be supportive. If you are struggling with providing support, connect with someone that is empathetic to you and can possibly lead you in the right direction. There are a number treatments available and it takes courage to seek the help. The difference between someone seeking help or silently fighting can be the support of one helpful individual. 

Be aware of your own judgements and prejudices. We all have them; and unfortunately many come from other uneducated individuals passing on poor information. Be honest about your own shame and guilt about mental health so that you can be an active participant in ending the stigma.

Listen, listen, listen. Whether you have a mental health diagnosis or not - we all want to be heard. We all want to know that someone is listening to us and/or trying to understand what we need. Just because you don’t understand the symptoms does not mean you are not able to help. 

Support mental health organizations and providers. Many organizations close due to funding and lack of community support. Volunteering your time and/or money goes a long way to provide resources for those in need of services. You may not know who you helped specifically but your contribution can help other professionals and volunteers with ending the negative stigma.

Mental health care and treatment is a universal issue and awareness is one of the critical pieces to making treatment available.