Fathers and mental health measures

Father’s Day is a great reminder of the importance of a mentally healthy dad. A father who makes his mental health a priority is more present with his children, happier at home and a more supportive partner.

Many dads can struggle with mental health issues like depression. The mood disorder can appear with the birth of a new child or emerge later in life. Fortunately, depression is treatable. With the proper help and support, dads can find even more enjoyment in parenting while learning to cope with their feelings of depression or even anxiety.

Statistics

According to a study published in 2015, two in five new dads reported concern about their mental health. Lack of sleep, changes in relationships and lifestyle, and new responsibilities were most often the cause. With ample opportunities for mothers to seek help for mental health issues postpartum, men are sometimes left with fewer resources. Stigma also can be a factor, preventing many men from speaking up and seeking help.

When a dad’s mental illness is untreated, the whole family can suffer. If a man is concerned that he may be struggling with depression, it is important for him to talk about it with his partner and doctor.

Take steps

Acknowledging that there is a problem is a crucial first step. Exercise, eating well, and taking a little time to pursue a hobby can also be helpful. Therapy and medication may be necessary. Finding an effective treatment that works for each person is important.

As a dad’s health improves, so will the health of the family. Dads who are more in tune with their own feelings can help their children do the same. Research shows that when fathers are able to handle their emotions, children have improved social skills and emotional intelligence.

A healthy relationship between the father and child is important too. A study at the University of Maryland School of Medicine concluded that children with fathers actively engaged in their lives learn better, have higher self-esteem, and are less prone to depression than those who don’t.

Take time to acknowledge the dads in your life and be on the watch for any symptoms of depression. Remember a healthy dad helps to make a healthy family.

Here for you

If you want to speak to someone about mental health, please reach out to us at Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in north metro Denver, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call the free Warm Line at 303-280-6602. Also, remember the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours. Call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255.

Our experts

This column is written by Wellness and Care Coordinator Nicole Hartog and Program Manager James Kuemmerle with the Senior Reach program at Community Reach Center. If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please reach out to the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657. The Senior Reach provides treatment for depression and trauma, as well as many other mental disorders. As always, we are here to enhance the health of our community. Mental wellness for everyone is our goal.

 

 

Be ready to talk as children go through changes

Children go through a flurry of changes as they grow. As parents we must be there for support and guidance. The best parents not only provide guidance and discipline, but they model good habits. They show how important healthful practices are at every stage of life and do their best to be knowledgeable.

Let’s review the basics:

A healthy mind

One of the key things for good mental health throughout life is maintain good sleep habits. Making sure children have good sleep is one of the key responsibilities of parents. The brain needs to rest. The rest is needed for learning, memory and attention. While we don’t strain the brain like a muscle, the brain does become fatigued. With fatigue, the ability to concentrate suffers. When children get their rest, they can do their best.

Let your children know they are loved. Encourage them to talk about life, their troubles and their joys. Share your values and surround them with people, books and experiences that reinforce those values. Talk about what is important but seek ways to have fun.

As always, structure vs. free time is a hot topic. With structure comes discipline, character building and accomplishment. With free time, comes the opportunity to explore the world and see where curiosity leads. Remember a mix of discipline and dreaming can complement each other.

A healthful body

As we all know, good habits in eating are extremely valuable and should start early. Birthday cake and ice cream are expressions of love. However, too much of this type of love week-in, week-out can be harmful. Making decisions about how to address sugar and processed fast food early in life is important. Simply put, balance your child’s meals and snacks with fruits, vegetables and protein sources.

Keep moving. Combining exercise with smart eating is the tried and true winning duo. Exercise strengthens bones and muscles. This increases coordination and confidence. Exercise and brain health go together as well.

Moving forward

These basic ideas help children to be physically and mentally fit. The right mix gives them the positive perspectives they need to conquer other eventualities as their bodies and brains develop – and there are plenty of challenges.

Social skills and behavior evolve quickly through the teen years. A child starts to develop skills in planning, problem-solving and self-control and with this may test boundaries. This brain development will continue into adulthood. Everything starts to look different: Bones, organs and body systems continuously change. As children advance through puberty, they may become clumsy and feel not so comfortable with their bodies. It’s a challenging time.

Learn and be ready to talk

As teens go through these changes, be ready to: listen, validate their feelings, show trust, give praise, control your emotions, do things together, share meals, say “I was wrong,” and be observant.

If you would like to learn more, Community Reach Center is offering a live webcast titled “How to talk to your kids about body image, gender identity, sexuality, etc.” This is the third presentation in the Center’s REACH for Wellness series.

The presentation will feature three psychology interns at Community Reach Center: Julia Core, who is a clinical psychology candidate at Azusa Pacific University in southern California; Loraine Fishman, who is a doctorate student at the University of Denver Graduate School of Professional Psychology; and Alec Vicenzi, who is a doctorate intern who attends the Chicago School of Professional Psychology.

The live webcast will be 3:30 to 5 p.m. Thursday, June 25. To sign up, please visit the Community Reach Center Facebook link. Please join us!

Around the clock

Remember the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours. To learn more about Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in north metro Denver, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. Community Reach Center provides comprehensive behavioral health services for all ages at locations in Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City, Brighton and Broomfield. We are here to enhance the health of our community. Mental wellness for everyone is our goal.

 

Manage information overload, minimize stress

The news stream has been a 24/7 stream of updates and information about the COVID-19 pandemic and more recently updates on protests following the death of George Floyd. If all this information has you feeling overwhelmed, depressed, unable to focus, helpless or fearful, please know you’re not alone.

So, how can we be more intentional with managing all that information and the stress and anxiety it may be creating in our day?

Here’s a five-step plan that might help you better manage the information overload.

Step by step

First, identify the sources. How are you receiving information and news throughout the day, by radio, TV news, social media (Twitter, Facebook, etc.,) or from friends and family? Take an inventory of how many ways you are exposed to news and information.

Secondly, start filtering the information you’re receiving. What news outlets do you find a best fit for you? Do you prefer to listen to news on the radio, or a podcast, or is it better for you to watch a local or national news station? Is social media helping or hindering your feelings about information overload?

Some people avoid watching the news because the graphics and videos can be startling and prefer to read an article or just listen to a newscast. Here is a good link from Forbes that is one way to choose news sources. Take time to decide the best format and sources that give you the information you need to make good decisions without becoming overwhelmed or overloaded.

Habits and actions

Next, set up a scheduled time to review information. Perhaps you only watch the news at lunch, follow social media for an hour each morning or listen to newscasts before dinner. Creating some structure on how and when you access information updates can help you stay well informed without the news taking over your entire day.

Pay attention to how you feel after that scheduled time. Was it too much, or are you wanting more information? Adjust until you reach a balance that works for you.

When accessing news information, the next step is to decide whether to act on it. This step can really help with feelings of being overwhelmed. When you are watching the news or reading a news article that has a call-to-action (donate to a food bank, for example) decide in that moment to act on it or not. Then let it go. Perhaps you read an article about connecting with family during this time of social distancing. Take action on it right away, call the friend or family member on your mind. This action can help you feel a little more in control in this unsettling time.

Set your boundaries

Lastly, turn it off. Try to not take in news first thing in the morning or the last thing before bed. Give yourself some space to start and end the day without the bombardment of local, national, and world news that can be emotionally upsetting.

Columnist David Brooks in a column titled, “The Stem and the Flower,” warned of spending too much time consuming politics in particular and wrote, “I figure that unless you are in the business of politics, covering it or columnizing about it, politics should take up maybe a tenth corner of a good citizen’s mind. The rest should be philosophy, friendship, romance, family, culture and fun.”

In other words, be informed about matters of importance, but don’t let the news cycle take over your day. Set your limits and see how this improves your overall well-being.

We are here for you

Of course, some people are more adept at dealing with information overload than others, but if you have been struggling, you can improve how you deal with it. If you want to speak to someone about the feelings you are experiencing, please reach out to us at Community Reach Center, a nonprofit mental health center with numerous outpatient offices in north metro Denver, visit www.communityreachcenter.org or call the free Warm Line at 303-280-6602.. Also, remember the Behavioral Health Urgent Care (BHUC) center, 2551 W. 84th Ave., in Westminster is open 24 hours. Call 1-844-493-TALK (8255) or text TALK to 38255.

Our experts

This column is written by Wellness and Care Coordinator Nicole Hartog and Program Manager James Kuemmerle with the Senior Reach program at Community Reach Center. If you have any questions about where to turn for help for older adults, please reach out to the Senior Reach team at Community Reach Center at 303-853-3657. The Senior Reach provides treatment for depression and trauma, as well as many other mental disorders.
As always, we are here to enhance the health of our community. Mental wellness for everyone is our goal.

We Stand with Black Lives Matter

The nationwide collective expression of grief and frustration over the senseless killing of George Floyd by four police officers in broad daylight in Minneapolis on May 25 is overwhelming. I’m at a loss for words to convey the sadness and anger I feel about the murder of Mr. Floyd, as well as Ahmaud Arbery on February 23. Undoubtedly countless more incidents of racial violence and mistreatment occur throughout the nation daily, and those stories go untold. We know about the Floyd and Arbery tragedies thanks to video footage spreading worldwide on social media. Gil Scott-Heron was wrong, the revolution will be televised after all.

These tragedies are compounded by the stress of COVID-19, and the disproportionate rate of contagion and inequitable financial impact it has exacted upon people of color in the U.S.

Don’t think racial inequality and injustice is someone else’s problem. This is everyone’s problem. Inequitable access to quality K-12 education impacts access to higher education and training. Inequitable access to higher education and training impacts income and holds generations of families in poverty. Poverty contributes to crime; crime attracts law enforcement and provides the opportunity for those officers with racist hearts to perpetrate unwarranted violence on people of color.

According to the Sentencing Project, “…White Americans overestimate the proportion of crime committed by Blacks and Latinos, overlook the fact that communities of color are disproportionately victims of crime, and discount the prevalence of bias in the criminal justice system.” According to the Marshall Project, “When it comes to drug and property crimes, Black people are serving increasingly more time, growing at a rate of 1 percent or more on average every year, as the time served in prison by White offenders dropped.”

We must commit to comprehensive reform of our nation’s justice system, develop procedures for removing racially biased police officers from service and demand accountability from law enforcement agencies. We must diversify state and local governments to include policy makers informed by viewpoints of minorities as much as majority viewpoints.

These killings should serve as a call to action for every one of us to do everything we can to address bigotry in a deliberate and systemic way. Exercise your right to vote and vote for the change you demand to see. Please do what you can to genuinely express extra care and compassion for everyone within our community and remember Community Reach Center is here for you.

Black Lives Matter