I am sitting in the sun, waiting for the teacher to let the children in. They are standing in a neat line, talking and laughing. In front of me, two boys are interacting while a third girl is holding what must be her brother in a tight grip. They are happy, not stressed by the no-show of their pregnant teacher. I have been observing two children in different classes today, and this is my third observation of the day. I try to observe without any pre-judgement, preferring to not ‘know’ what I should be looking for. What constantly amazes me, is how children interact. There is just so much going on. Emotions flying through the air like ping-pong balls.
The sun and their happiness is warming me while I wait. There is no hurry, life is just as it should be.
May Is Mental Health Awareness Month — Here’s Why Companies Should Care
Most people spend the majority of their waking hours working. During those long hours, the office setting either promotes good mental health or contributes to poor emotional well-being. Despite the large role that office culture plays in employee well-being, most companies rarely – if ever – mention the subject of mental health.
Employers certainly can’t prevent all mental health problems. Genetics and past traumatic experiences are just a couple of the factors that can influence a person’s mental health. But there are steps employers can take to reduce stress and promote resilience.
The Cost of Mental Health Problems to Employers
Nearly 1 in 5 people experienced a diagnosable mental health problem in the last year, and many other people are at risk, according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. The vast majority of people struggling with issues like depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses suffer in silence.
Employees with untreated mental illness cost employers billions of dollars each year. An estimated 217 million days of work are lost annually due to productivity decline related to mental illness and substance, according to the Center for Prevention and Health Services. Additionally, mental illness and substance use disorders are the fifth leading cause of short-term disability and the third leading cause of long-term disability in the United States.
Employees are Stressed Out
A 2014 survey by Buck Consultants at Xerox found that 84% of employers report believing they have a high responsibility to provide a working environment that promotes mental well-being. The survey found that employee performance is the most important reason organizations want to address work-related stress and poor mental well-being.
Despite employers’ good intentions to promote mental well-being, the survey found that that 53 percent of U.S. respondents rate their stress levels as above average, with 33 percent saying that stress has increased in their organizations over the last five years. Stress is a major factor that can influence a person’s mental health and can contribute to problems such as depression and anxiety.
Treatment for Mental Health Problems
When people are diagnosed with physical health problems – like diabetes or heart disease – they don’t wait to seek in treatment in hopes their illness will disappear on its own. Yet, most mental health problems go untreated for years. Unfortunately, without treatment mental health problems may get worse, making them more difficult to treat.
The good news is, most mental health problems are very treatable. The bad news is, there are several barriers that prevent people from getting treatment. Many people fail to recognize the warning signs and symptoms of a mental health problem. There’s also still a stigma associated with seeking treatment for mental health problems. And for many people, treatment simply isn’t affordable.
Mental Health Awareness Month is an Opportunity
People aren’t either mentally healthy or mentally ill. Mental health is a continuum. An organization’s culture and policies can greatly influence where employees fall on the continuum. Providing a healthy work environment assists people in being at their best.
Mental Health Awareness Month is an opportune time for employers to consider what steps they want to take to promote mental well-being in the workplace. Implementing resilience-building and stress awareness programs are just a few of the ways companies can promote positive well-being in the workplace. For more tips, check out my previous article, How to Foster Good Mental Health in the Workplace.
Amy Morin is a psychotherapist, keynote speaker, and the author of 13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do, a bestselling book that is being translated into more than 20 languages.
The art of living as a psycholgical millionaire: To use your energy in a way that gives you a result you need.
A person with the possibility of becoming a psychological millionaire does just this. For this to happen, certain principles must be satisfied. Efficient mental energy has four characteristic features. Its:
– Devoid of waste
Examples of non-efficient living:
Certain diagnostic groups can have enough mental energy, but low mental efficiency. This can for example be clients with AD/HD or Borderline personality disorder. They might do a lot of things, like walking around in a room restlessly or having an emotional outburst. Their problem is using the energy in a good way: They can`t regulate it in a way that makes it able to live a good life. Some groups have too low energy to be efficient, like with depressed or fatigued clients.
When working with dissociation, parts have different levels of mental energy and efficiency. EP`s can actually be the most energetic parts in the system, but have very low efficiency, since they repeat behaviors in a dysfunctional way. It is possible to have a dissociative disorder like DID and borderline PF at the same time. In this case most parts will have borderline features, that is: High levels of mental energy but low efficiency.
Energy and efficiency in trauma
“Looking in a cupboard that is empty, will not work no matter how good the torch is”. Nijenhuis, 2013
Trauma can also be understood by using the concept of energy and efficiency. Trauma can be either too much or too little energy or efficiency. For example, an EP can feel stuck, with high levels of energy, but low levels of efficiency. The EP can`t “get out of it”. There is no symbolization of the event, since it “feels like” the trauma is still going on. The part or the EP is “stuck” in what was. To connect the then with the now, it`s necessary to reach the reach the higher level of language, and that is easier when an empathic therapist helps the EP. Empathy is necessary to tune in to the EP`s experience. If the EP is afraid, the voice of the therapist must be soothing and calm. The therapist must tune in so that the EP is seen and validated. When the therapist tries to understand the EP, the ANP of the patient might learn that it`s possible to collaborate and help EP`s.
Example of working with an EP with enough mental energy
Imagine a claustrophobic EP (picture 1). The EP has trouble breathing because her throat feels constricted. The therapist might observe this, and tune in to this with a low, empathic voice “It looks like you have trouble breathing ?” The therapist observes that the EP tries to nod. The therapist continues: “I see you tried to nod, but it looks like its hard to move?”. The therapist explores the EP`s experience, thereby respecting and validating her.
The therapist can also ask the EP to try to broaden her field of consciousness, by asking if they can try to breathe slower or by asking of if the EP could look at something around her that is comforting. He can also try to tell the EP that she is safe, that boundaries will be respected, or say that everything will be okay. Moreover, the therapists can make it clear that the EP decides what happens next, and that everything will be predictable and safe. The therapist watches the EP and helps her, where she is, there and then.
Working with a non-verbal EP
If the EP is young and can`t talk, one has to communicate non-verbally. For example, if the EP is in “freeze-mode”, the therapist can ask questions about the inner experiences of the EP: “Can you find a place in yourself where you have some ability to move?” If the EP moves the ANP`s finger just a tiny bit, the therapist might say: “Is it possible to move your finger a little bit more?” Gradually, the EP is exposed to new experiences that will be healing in time.
If the frozen EP is able to move, either by actually walking around in the room, the EP learns what it couldn`t when abuse happened. When the therapist is able to intone and be there for the EP`s, magic can happen. I`ve experiences this myself, and every time it feels so meaningful. To see a afraid little EP starting to feel stronger, feels like I`ve been able to lift a heavy weight together with them. Therapy is heavy work. The EP must shred the cloak of repression that weigh down on them, and that cost a lot of mental energy. This means that the client must have enough mental energy available.
If he is tired, starved, physicially unfit or doesn`t do anything inspiring that gives joy or energy, it might be best to wait until more energy is available. Trauma-therapy is hard work, and cost both physical and mental energy. Going into trauma-material before the client has filled up her batteries, is not recommended.
Now I am starting on my last two days of the holiday I had. Mostly I have been scrapbooking, reading and written a bit on my blog. I have been with Mr. Nice Guy, and yesterday I was with my family. I had a bike tour and today I`ve been with my father today. We have talked about his adoption, which we never have done before. I also tried to ask him a bit about childhood memories, but he couldn`t remember anything specific.
Tomorrow is the last dayh with mr Nice Guy and on sunday I will probably scrapbook and read some more. What are your plans for the weekend? Do you have any book or movie recommendations for me?
I have started to write about one of the psychological terms I really love to work and help people with, dissociation. The following entry is from the blog Mad in Vermont and might clarify a bit what dissociation really is, because she has experienced it herself. I really recommend this for everyone who like to know more about the world and care about the people in it!
Have a wonderful Sunday!