Mental Health Apps? A Mental Health Center Highlights Some Helpful Tools.

Woman using mental health appThere is no substitute for the assistance of a trained mental health professional in some situations. In other scenarios, however, a mental health app may provide all the insight and encouragement a person needs. At our mental health center, we encourage people to take advantage of the full spectrum of mental health treatments as needed, from regular in-person counseling sessions to free or low-cost mobile apps.

 

There’s an App for That

The number of digital tools that can be used to supplement professional therapy is growing rapidly. For people who can’t get in to see a counselor as often as they would like to, these apps can serve as a bridge between sessions. While no one is predicting that mental health apps will ever be sophisticated enough to empower the kind of results that come from highly-personalized sessions with a therapist, they are improving with each iteration.

Here are just a few of the low-cost or free apps that may be helpful for people with mild mental and emotional health challenges:

 

MoodKit

Based on the principles of Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT), MoodKit offers more than 200 unique mood improvement activities. The app was created by two clinical psychologists, and helps users generate self-awareness and practice more effective self-care.

 

Quit That!

This app is designed to help users break bad habits and beat addiction. From alcohol and drugs to cigarettes, Quit That! makes it easy to monitor and track your progress toward being addiction-free.

 

Stigma

What are the words you use most often when describing your mood in the app’s journal? Stigma uses a “word cloud” to help you visualize your emotional landscape as an aid in navigating it more successfully.

 

Headspace

Headspace is a popular app that provides guided meditation instruction. There are hundreds of lessons covering everything from basic techniques to specific meditations designed to help with stress, sleep issues, focus and much more.

 

Mind Shift

Created for use by teens and young adults, Mind Shift doesn’t encourage users to avoid anxious thoughts and feelings, but instead to change the way they look at anxiety. Its goal is to encourage people to take charge of their lives and to make it through the tough periods that inevitably arise.

 

Rise Up and Recover

Designed for people who are recovering from an eating disorder, this app enables users to log the meals they eat and how they feel in general, with an option for generating a printable PDF of their progress. It also provides quick coping skills for users who are feeling the urge to skip a meal or binge eat.

 

These are just a sampling of the long (and growing) list of mental health apps available. If you are struggling with a particular mental or emotional health challenge, it may be beneficial to search the app store on your mobile device to see if there is a digital tool that can help.

 

A Mental Health Center That’s Here When You Need More Than an App

Apps are great for encouraging and enabling self-care. However, some mental or emotional health challenges reach a level where you need guidance from a trained professional. Community Reach Center is a mental health center staffed by skilled and experienced counselors who can provide the help you need to bring your life back into balance. Visit communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for more information about our services. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

A regular general health check-up makes a good mental health move

One of the best items to put on your new year calendar is an appointment with your primary care physician or PCP. This habit is so very important for your general health and – as it turns out – for your mental health.

When you have concerns about your mental health it can be understandably tough to seek advice. It helps to have an established relationship with someone you trust – ideally someone who knows you and your past.

One answer? Look to your family physician or PCP when you have mental health concerns. They play an important role in your overall health – general and behavioral. In fact, the development of integrated care, the systematic coordination of general and behavioral health care, has been advancing for many years. PCPs are becoming more and more skilled in identifying behavioral health concerns in their patients..

Once you describe what you are facing, a physician may ask a few questions about signs and symptoms, and your environment in general terms. Ideally, PCPs are trained to know when to refer a problem to someone else when it goes beyond their expertise or ability to address. At the same time, mild physical or behavioral issues can be appropriately cared for in a primary care setting without specialists.

If you are given a referral and you acquire behavioral health care services, perhaps with prescribed medication, it is always comforting to have your PCP still guiding your general health care on the road to complete good health.

Additionally, a good PCP can be of help even when you might not be aware you need assistance because he or she has established the trust to obtain candid responses from general questions, such as: How are things at home, do you feel safe, how much do you worry, how well do you sleep or how well are you eating?

What if I don’t have a primary physician?

Finding a primary care physician can be a challenge. Sometimes people get off track when they move, switch doctors or providers, and they simply need to make a concerted effort to reconnect. Sometimes securing a PCP has just not been happening for a variety of reasons, so establishing a new habit requires a lifestyle shift.

But let’s stop right there for a moment. If you have a pressing mental health concern, don’t worry about securing a PCP first, please call our Colorado hotline at 1-844-493-(TALK) 8255. These very helpful confidential services are provided 24/7 and associated with six walk-in crisis centers throughout the Denver-Boulder metro area. 

Now back to a PCP search. First, allow plenty of time to research and make your decisions. Many people find it takes longer than expected. Most insurance companies have a “find a doctor” tool to help sure you stay within your insurance network and consider the options. There you will find information about experience and perhaps patient reviews. Or to reach Colorado’s Medicaid Program, the link is Colorado Health First.

Secondly, when you secure a first visit, it is very smart to do some prep work: 1) Have a good grasp of your health care history: prescriptions, chronic conditions and previous procedures; 2) Write down questions you have well in advance, so you cover them all. Appointments can go rather quickly; and 3) Ask the best way to share medical information with the office ahead of time. Sometimes sending information in advance is very helpful.

Here to help

Integrated care is making significant strides. Consequently regular visits with a primary care physician goes a long way toward peace of mind in good general and behavioral health. If you have a mental health concern about yourself or a loved one, we are glad to consult with you at Community Reach Center. Further we can assist with integrated care options through our Mountainland Pediatrics center and through our Health Home program. To get more information about our metro Denver mental health centers visit communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

 

Finding the right words to help

One big key to helping someone is providing a good mix of listening and well-chosen words.

When you are concerned about someone who may be struggling in the aftermath of a traumatic event, depression, substance use disorder (SUD) or just plain having a garden-variety bad day, trust your instinct to reach out. Of course, the natural worry is always what to say, what words to use.

You might first ask: “How are you feeling?” or perhaps a little stronger, “I am concerned about you, are you okay?”

Then just listen. Listen some more. If a long pause seems a little uncomfortable, just wait and be patient in the silence. It’s not uncommon for someone who is not feeling well to need a bit more time to express their thoughts. Perhaps ask a question again, but be prepared to respectfully pull away if through active listening you get a sense that the time is clearly not right for this conversation.

And when the talking starts, your acquaintance or loved one may gush with comments or slowly measure each word to share thoughts. Either way, let him or her have the floor. Listen and let your words be calm and of comfort. Good listening is key to helping you find the words you need.

The Mental Health First Aid course, offered across the globe, coaches participants to “Listen Nonjudgmentally,” as a key step in a five-step action plan. When you respond, be empathetic.  Your acknowledgement of that person’s emotional pain can be a tremendous source of comfort to them. Resist the temptation to tell a story about something similar that you may have experienced. Instead concentrate on understanding what he or she is sharing. Most importantly, not judging also means avoiding cliché responses like “man up” or “snap out of it” or “stop thinking about it” as if what they are experiencing is minor.

Mental Health First Aid courses involve a mix of listening and responding skills with knowledge and identification of signs and symptoms. The five steps in full are: 1) Assess for risk of suicide or harm, 2) Listen non-judgmentally, 3) Give reassurance and information, 4) Encourage appropriate professional help, 5) Encourage self-help and other support strategies.  Visit Mental Health First Aid Colorado to locate a class at a date and location that is convenient for you.

Words and phrases

Here are a few more tips:

1) Show you are listening. Sit together. Perhaps offer to go to a quiet place. Some good words might be “I am here for you. Let’s go for a walk and talk.”

2) Be empathic. Some good words might be “I can see that that is painful for you.”

3) Clearly offer to help. Some good words to express your sincere offer might be, “How can I help you right now?” or “Let me bring you dinner tonight, would that okay?”

4) Breathe. Offer to breath together. Perhaps suggest taking three deep breathes. Maybe it will work or maybe you both will crack up and start laughing. Either way the power of doing something together moves the discussion forward.

Trust your intentions along the way

Give yourself permission to show you care, knowing you might not muster the perfect words at the right time – especially following a traumatic event. A passage in the Mental Health First Aid manual sums it up this way:

“When talking to someone who has experienced a traumatic event, it is more important to be genuinely caring than to say the right things. Show the person that you understand and care and ask how you can best help. Speak clearly and avoid clinical and technical language, and communicate with the person as an equal, rather than as a superior or an expert. If the person seems unable to understand, you may need to calmly repeat yourself. Providing support doesn’t have to be complicated; it can involve small things like spending time with the person, having a cup of tea or coffee, chatting about day-to-day life, or giving a hug.”

As to giving a hug, it’s courteous to first ask permission if it’s someone outside your immediate family, but the point is to trust yourself. Showing you care will help to make your words ring true.

Finding the right words is key to helping someone with a mental health challenge or anything else. If you have a mental health concern about yourself or a loved one, we are glad to consult with you at Community Reach Center. To get more information about our metro Denver mental health centers visit communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

6 Ways to Make New Year’s Resolutions Stick

Woman going over her new years resolutionsThe arrival of the new year is a great time to make a fresh start in how you address your physical, mental and emotional health. Many people make New Year’s resolutions to get more exercise, quit smoking, eat better, start a meditation practice, etc. Unfortunately, too often our initial enthusiasm quickly fades, and we abandon those health initiatives. Does that mean we simply shouldn’t make resolutions in the first place? No, not at all. As we tell people at our family counseling center, committing to improving your health and your life in general is a very good thing. The key is to approach those promises in a way that helps you keep them. 

 

Six Tips for Keeping Your New Year’s Resolutions

Even before you set your first goal for next year, resolve to read this list of tips for sticking with your resolutions!

  1. Be selective. Most of us have many areas of our lives where we could make improvements. However, changing behaviors takes significant effort. Choose too many objectives and you will likely struggle to have the time or energy to achieve any of them.
  2. Start slowly. If your goal is to exercise regularly, and ultimately you want to be working out five days each week, start by committing to one or two. Gradual changes in your routine are much more likely to become habits and then ongoing behaviors.
  3. Discuss your intentions and your progress. Letting a friend or family member know what you are attempting to do can both help you feel a sense of accountability and give you someone to talk to about your successes and setbacks.
  4. Be kind to yourself. Few people have ever made a New Year’s resolution and then stuck with it without fail. When you backslide a bit, know that you are not alone and also that there’s no reason you can’t pick up right where you left off on the resolution when you’re ready to do so.
  5. Keep a journal. Jotting some quick notes regularly about how things are going with your resolution can be very enlightening. For one thing, it can help you identify patterns that may be useful in making changes to your routine. For example, if you frequently indicate that you didn’t enjoy your Monday trip to the gym, perhaps Monday should be a rest day and you would enjoy the workout more on Tuesdays.
  6. Give yourself a pass for real-life interruptions. You get the flu and can’t work out for a week. Your work schedule gets hectic and you have to eat fast food on the run more than you’d like. While you need to hold yourself accountable to keep your resolutions, there will be times that life makes it essentially impossible. Don’t count those instances as “breaking” your resolution; think of them as “pausing” it!

 

Okay, Okay, But Can I Make it Fun?

These six tips will work for you. However, not all resolutions in the mix have to be entirely earnest. Sometimes a playful resolution mixed with the serious ones can help you stay mindful of all your resolutions. It can be fun. Here are a few: 1) Play a board game with your family once a month; 2) Send a birthday card to all your relatives; 3) Improve your handwriting; 4) Have a Super Saturday with each family member through the year in which each picks a fun activity to enjoy with you; or 5) Write down the best jokes you hear through the year on your smartphone to share at the end of the year. Remember laughing is good for your mental health. You get the idea.

 

Helping Make Steady Progress Toward Your Goals

New year’s resolutions can improve your mental and emotional health, but sometimes the insights of a skilled counselor are required to overcome mental health challenges. Please don’t hesitate to seek help. Contact us online or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for more information about our family counseling services. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

 

Sip smart during the holidays

Alcoholic beverages are served at many holiday celebrations. Just as there are a zillion types of holiday cookies, there are many festive alcoholic beverages. The creative drinks can be fun, but a challenge to moderation and good health.

Ready, set, go

During the holidays, it is easy to overdo it with alcoholic beverages, so take some time to think it through before you jingle out the door to events waiting for you. Perhaps consider who you would like to team up with throughout the holiday season to set your limits. Whether it is family member, significant other or a friend, this kind of partnership can be powerful and effective.

A few techniques:

  • Time: Arrive early and depart before the heavy drinking ensues. As a courtesy, it is a nice touch to alert the host or hostess when you plan to leave.
  • Travel: Make sure you have reliable sober transportation or be prepared to call for a ride. Choosing a designated driver is a practice that college students are encouraged to follow, and the practice should apply to everyone during the holiday season. Keep an eye on each other – even a little alcohol can impair driving skills and judgment.
  • Consumption: If you have decided not to drink alcohol, bring your favorite beverage and consider pouring it in a party glass to fit in with the crowd. If you will be drinking alcohol, make a pact to have one drink then switch to water or a soft drink.
  • Health always: Consider taking a walk now and then as a health break to mix with the merriment.

What is moderation?

Indulging in alcoholic drinks in moderation really means having no more than one standard drink a day for women and up to two standard drinks for men age 65 and younger, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). It can be easy to exceed these limits, especially when someone else is topping off your glass. The CDC accepted measure long-term for moderate drinking means women who drink more than seven drinks per week and men who drink more than 14 drinks week after week are at risk.

Good to know

Okay, so why can men can drink more than women? What is the science? Two facts: 1) Women tend to have less muscle tissue than men. Muscle tissue contains water, and alcohol dissolves in water and is thus diluted. Due to the fact that men have about 10 percent more water in their bodies, they can drink more alcohol than women without becoming intoxicated; 2) Men also have more of an enzyme in their stomachs that metabolizes alcohol. This is important to know and important to share with young drinkers.

A question of openness

Perhaps you just want everyone to be safe in a general sense or you want to be part of setting good examples. If you are comfortable sharing your personal concerns with family and friends, consider being open with them. If you are recovering from alcoholism or another SUD (Substance Use Disorder), it may make sense to talk about triggers with your support circle Practice your pat response for declining a drink.   Recovery will be as private or public as you want it to be, depending on how much you want to share with others. Likewise, if you are coping with depression, it may make sense to talk about what makes you feel safe and supported during this time.  

Plan the season

Consider the overall events and activities of the holiday season.

  • Which activities make you feel good? Sometimes volunteering to help with various causes that are important to you intensifies your sense of purpose.. Check the mix.
  • Which activities foster genuine connection to the people in your life? Concentrate on taking part in events that involve little or no drinking. Perhaps a concert with holiday music or a tour of holiday decorations are among activities to keep everyone in a healthful state of mind.
  • What should your plan look like? Focus on a few key events and limit the amount of time at events that don’t support your values and your health. Your planning can be as simple or involved as you like.

Finding the right mix of healthy habits is key to mental health during the holidays and day to day. If you have a mental health concern about yourself or a loved one, we are glad to consult with you at Community Reach Center. To get more information about our metro Denver mental health centers visit communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Mental Health Center Emphasizes Importance of Physical and Mental Health

Life is made up of many components, and two of the most critical aspects are physical and mental health. It is challenging to have a healthy and balanced life without both. Focus on one at the expense of the other can be detrimental to one’s wellbeing. However, as we tell people at our Denver mental health center, with a little time and effort, you can improve both essential components.

Strategies for Staying Physically Healthy

Taking care of your body delivers a range of benefits, from fewer aches and pains to reduced risk of disease, to an increased energy level. Below are five things you can do to treat your body right.

  • Get regular aerobic physical activity. Some people have a negative opinion of “exercise” for one reason or another. However, you don’t have to run five miles a day or do hours of yoga or Pilates every week to improve your physical health. Just taking a brisk 20-minute walk daily can make a difference.
  • Eat a balanced diet. What and how much you eat has a major impact on your health. Fruits and vegetables, lean meats, fish and whole grains are good for you. Sugar, processed foods and refined carbohydrates are not. And, all foods should be consumed in moderation.
  • Stay hydrated. Not only does your body need water to function properly, but staying hydrated can also boost your metabolism and help you maintain a healthy weight.
  • Quit (or don’t start) smoking. It’s not easy to quit smoking, but there are counseling programs and medication that can help. If quitting cold-turkey feels impossible, start small by smoking one less cigarette a day.
  • Get plenty of sleep. Being tired isn’t the only consequence of getting inadequate sleep. Sleep deprivation can cause everything from cognitive impairment to hormone problems and weight gain.

Tips for Maintaining Good Mental Health

Most people know that there are actions you can take to improve your physical health. However, many are surprised to learn that the same is true of mental health. Too often we assume that our mood and outlook on life simply fluctuate and there is nothing we can do about it. On the contrary, there are many steps you can take to help achieve and maintain a state of wellbeing. Some of the most effective are listed below.

  • Practice living “in the moment.” In our busy lives, it is easy to think about anything other than what we are doing in the present. It can be a tremendous stress reliever to learn to practice “mindfulness.” That means when you are washing your hands, focus on the simple pleasures of washing your hands, like the coolness of the water running through your fingers and the smell of the soap, When taking a bite of a sandwich, focus on the freshness of the ingredients and how the flavors blend together. Learning mindfulness requires some work to make this a habit, but the payoff is significant.
  • Create and maintain positive relationships. The connections we have with our family members, friends, coworkers and others in our life are crucial to our mental health. It is important to invest time and effort in ensuring they stay strong.
  • Keep track of what you’re grateful for. Even in the toughest of times, there are things we can be thankful for. Making a mental note of them (or better yet, recording them in a gratitude journal) on a regular basis can keep you focused on the positive.
  • Do something nice for someone. Even the smallest acts of kindness can deliver big mental and emotional benefits, both to the recipient and to you.
  • Think positive thoughts about yourself. How you think about yourself affects how you feel about yourself, and that affects your sense of confidence and overall perspective within the world. Reminding yourself regularly that you have many positive qualities and avoiding comparison to others, helps build a solid foundation for your mental and emotional health.

Important Resources from a Denver Mental Health Clinic

The strategies above can be very useful, but when you need expert insight into mental health challenges, our team at Community Reach Center can help. Visit communityreachcenter.org or call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for more information about our services. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

What Kids Need to Know About Bullying From a Leading Mental Health Clinic

Kid with braces smiling

There was a time when being bullied was considered a rite of passage some children simply had to endure. The prevailing thinking was that they would “get over it” and it might even “toughen them up.” Fortunately, parents, schools and the U.S. government now have a more proactive view of addressing this behavior, which can be very painful for the victims and leave lasting emotional scars. That awareness is reflected in a number of weeks - or month-long, anti-bullying observations, typically occurring in the fall as children return to school. At our mental health clinic, we encourage parents to learn more about what can be done to prevent bullying.

Tips for Standing Up to a Bully

While teachers, parents and adults, in general, have an obligation to take action when they become aware of bullying, it is also helpful for children to know how to handle a bully on their own. Below are some strategies children can use to stop a bully.

  • Find supportive peers. If a school has a bully, it is likely that there are multiple victims. By supporting, and getting support from, those students and others, a child can give a bully second thoughts about continuing threatening behavior.
  • Talk to adults. Bullying behavior that seems obvious to victims may not be immediately detected by parents and teachers. Children should know that telling adults about bullying isn’t “tattling” but is instead speaking up about a dangerous behavior and that doing so may help keep other children from being bullied.
  • Take action right away. The longer a child submits to bullying, the more empowered the bully will feel and the more aggressive their actions are likely to be. If a child takes a stand immediately, a bully will be more inclined to discontinue the behavior.
  • Be assertive. Often children who are being bullied either put up with the abuse or go the other way and lash out at the bully. Both of those approaches tend to elicit an elevated level of abusive behavior. Assertiveness sits between those two extremes and is the best way for a child to show a bully they won’t be intimidated.
  • Use logic rather than emotion. Bullies tend to feed off the emotions of their victims, whether that is fear or anger. Children who learn to control their emotions and respond to a bully with confidence are less likely to be targeted.
  • Portray confidence through body language. Bullies look for physical signs that their abuse is having an impact on a victim. Children should learn that looking the bully in the eye, speaking slowly and in a calm voice and using the bully’s name are some of the best ways to show that they won’t put up with this behavior.

Bullying and Anxiety

One of the most serious consequences of bullying is that it can create or exacerbate an anxiety disorder in a child. Parents, teachers, coaches and other adults should pay attention to signs that a child — especially one who they suspect might be the victim of a bully — is suffering from anxiety. If a child starts withdrawing from friendships, avoiding activities they previously enjoyed and in general isolating himself or herself from others, it may mean that treatment for anxiety is needed.

Helping Families

Learn more about our services at communityreachcenter.org or by calling us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Denver Area Mental Health Center Shares Tips for Explaining Depression to Children

According to the National Institute of Mental Health, about 16.2 million adults in the U.S. have at least one episode of what is known as major depression each year. That number equates to 6.7 percent of all U.S. adults. In fact, the Anxiety and Depression Association of America says that depression is one of the leading causes of disability in the U.S.

Not only does the condition affect the adults who have it, depression can also have a significant impact on the children in their life. Historically, depression was a condition that adults struggled to acknowledge and talk about even among themselves, and it was generally kept hidden as much as possible from children. What we now understand is that children sense that there is a problem even if it is not revealed to them. We also know that sharing age-appropriate information on a loved one’s depression can help children better cope with the challenges that the illness presents.

Planning is Important When Talking With Kids About Depression

Children can benefit from being educated about what depression is and how its symptoms affect their loved ones. However, it is important for parents or other caregivers to prepare for that conversation. This includes:

  • Talking with other adults first. If you plan to have a conversation with your child about depression, you should first talk with friends, loved ones or a counselor about what should be shared and how it might be received.
  • Considering who should talk with the child. It is best if information about a loved one’s mental illness comes from someone the child trusts and respects.
  • Thinking about the right place. Where will the child feel comfortable and undistracted having this talk?
  • Choosing the right time. The conversation should take place at a time after which a loved one will be available to answer follow-up questions and provide support.

Strategies for Helping a Child Understand Depression

When you talk with a child about depression, here are some things you can to do ensure that it is a positive and productive conversation:

  • Help them understand that depression is an illness that can be treated. However, explain that the treatment will take time.
  • Emphasize that depression is not something the child or the loved one with the condition should feel guilty or embarrassed about. Many families have been touched in some way by depression, so other people can surely relate.
  • Let them know that depression can cause a person to say or do things they wouldn’t say or do when they are well.
  • Be sure they understand that their loved one’s depression is in no way caused by the child.
  • Encourage them to ask any questions they have about depression and to be open about how the loved one’s condition is making them feel.
  • Reassure them that there are many adults in their life—family members, relatives, counselors at school, etc.—who will support them as their loved one works through the process of getting well.

The First Conversation Should Not be the Last

It often takes time for a child to process what they learn about depression. It is important that you check in with them periodically to see if they have questions or concerns as the implications of their loved one’s diagnosis become clearer to them. It is also important that while you explain the serious nature of depression, you also encourage an upbeat outlook on treatment and focus on the person’s future health and happiness.

How a Mental Health Center Can Help

October is a month in which there are a number of observances to draw attention to the challenges of mental illness, including Mental Illness Awareness Week, National Depression Screening Day and World Mental Health Day. This makes it a great time to talk with a child about depression, as you can point to all the work being done to help adults and kids achieve better mental health.

At Community Reach Center, our trained counselors can help parents and other caregivers understand the best way to have a conversation with a child about depression. We can also participate in that conversation or provide follow-up support. Visit communityreachcenter.org or by call us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. for more information. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

 

The Focus is on Balance During National Work and Family Month in October

The U.S. Senate passed a resolution in 2003 declaring October to be National Work and Family Month. That designation was later reaffirmed by both houses of Congress. The purpose of the resolution is to communicate the importance of flexible work policies that are healthier for workers and their families and to celebrate progress in that direction. As a leading provider of mental health services in the Denver area, Community Reach Center knows how important work-life balance can be and what a positive impact the right balance can have on a person’s well-being.

The Many Benefits of Work-Life Balance

When the idea of work-life balance first gained momentum in the U.S. in the 1980s, many employers thought of it simply as people wanting more time away from the office and felt that it was a concept that would only benefit employees and their families. Since that time, however, it has become clear that greater workplace flexibility is good for workers and their employers. Some of the many benefits include:

  • Improved health and well-being. People who enjoy a good work-life balance have more time and energy for addressing and maintaining good physical, mental and emotional health.
  • Better personal relationships. Having the freedom to organize their work-day in a way that allows them to attend important events they might otherwise have missed improves connectivity with loved ones.
  • Increased work productivity. People who are overworked and experiencing burnout are far less productive than those who are rested, refreshed and ready to tackle their objectives.
  • Lower stress level, absenteeism and medical costs. Employees who frequently or continually work long hours with minimal opportunity to “disconnect” have higher stress levels, which leads to missing work more frequently and higher medical costs for stress-related ailments.
  • Improved brand perception. Employers with policies that respect work-life balance are looked upon more favorably by prospective customers and potential employees.

Ways to Create Better Work-Life Balance

Whether you are an employer considering changes to your work policies or an employee advocating for better work-life balance, here are some ways that better balance can be achieved:

  • Flexible work hours. For some employees, a mid-morning start time would be much better than 8 or 9 a.m. due to family commitments. For others, working from 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. is ideal. A little flexibility can go a long way toward helping people achieve the right work-home rhythm.
  • Working from home. Whether a company allows people to work from home every day, occasionally on an as-needed basis or somewhere in between, having a telework policy can be good for employers and their staff members.
  • More time off. Many companies find that when they give employees more time off, there is not the expected drop off in productivity. Instead, the combination of greater focus before scheduled time away and a higher energy level upon return compensates for the decrease in hours worked.
  • Defined boundaries. Laptops and smartphones are wonderful things. However, having them can mean that an employee is never truly “away” from the office. Setting clear policies on how and when employees can be contacted outside the standard work-day can help people get more rest and relaxation when they are off the clock.
  • Family-friendly work events. There are many ways to combine work time and family time such as allowing employees to bring their families on required working retreats.

Mental Health Services: Getting Help When Life is out of Balance

During National Work and Family Month, or any time that life gets stressful, Community Reach Center, your mental health services provider, can help manage mental health challenges. Learn more about our services at communityreachcenter.org or by calling us at 303-853-3500 Monday through Friday. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area of Adams County including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.

Moderation rules alcohol consumption for good health

Drinking alcohol is part of everyday life in many circles.

Occasional happy hours and watching sports with friends often involve having a few alcoholic beverages. Holidays typically include special dinners with wine and so forth.  And enjoying alcohol with meals and beer while watching TV can be commonplace as well.

The U.S. Government dietary guidelines notes that alcohol can be consumed in moderation – defined as one drink a day for woman and two drinks a day for men.  But depending on which study is viewed, even so-called modest drinking can be suspect.

For example, a study of brain scans by researchers in a BMJ (British Medical Journal) report noted that moderate drinking over 30-plus years was associated with degeneration and shrinking of the hippocampus, a region of the brain involved in memory and navigation as well as degeneration of the brain’s white matter.

On the other hand, some information suggests potential benefits, such as references to links of moderate red wine consumption to fewer heart attacks. There seems to be indications that antioxidants in red wine, such as flavonoids and a substance called resveratrol, have heart-healthy benefits. However, encouraging people to drink for this reason is not universally accepted, especially without research about prevalence of alcoholism in a person’s family.

Some benchmarks, keeping count

With an understanding that there are varied points of view on alcohol consumption, for purposes of this article, we will look at the topic in the Mental Health First Aid teaching manual, which is used to teach 8-hour Mental Health First Aid courses. The course is often offered by mental health clinics and mental health services.

According to the manual: “At risk drinking for men is more than four drinks per day and no more than 14 drinks per week and for women is no more than 3 drinks per day and no more than 7 per week.” Furthermore, it advises being knowledgeable about types of alcoholic drinks and amounts. A 25-ounce bottle of wine is considered five drinks, because five ounces of wine is one drink. A 22-ounce bottle of beer is considered two drinks, and 3 ounces of liquor that is considered 40 percent is 2 drinks. And beware, when drinks are topped off now and then, the ounce count can be significantly higher than realized.

Along with this information, the manual warns that 75 percent of people who develop substance use disorder (SUD) do so by age 27, and notes that alcohol use disorders are almost three times as common as drug use disorders. With this information in mind, it is a good idea to monitor alcohol levels as one begins to enter the adult world of drinking and, of course, at any age when drinking habits become elevated.

When is help needed

When the ability to function appropriately and carry on life’s responsibilities lapses, it may be time for intervention. The Rapid Alcohol Problems Screen (RAPS4) is one common screening measure.

The screen consists of four questions:

  • During the last year, have you had a feeling of guilt or remorse after drinking?
  • During the last year, has a friend or family member ever told you about things you said or did while drinking that you could not remember?
  • During the last year, have you failed to do what was normally expected from you because of drinking?
  • Do you sometimes take a drink in the morning when you first get up?

A yes to at least one of these questions suggest that alcohol consumption has become harmful to the person’s physical and mental health.

With treatment there are many options, such as individual and group counseling, inpatient and residential treatment, intensive outpatient treatment, partial hospital programs, case or care management, MAT (Medication Assisted Treatment), IRT (Intensive Residential Treatment), recovery support services, 12-step fellowship and peer supports. And keep in mind, it sometimes takes more than one attempt for those experiencing alcoholism to secure a road to recovery.

Moderation mode

Practice moderation, but also know that for some people abstinence from alcohol is the path to a healthful lifestyle. If you have a substance use disorder (SUD) or mental health concern about yourself or one of your loved ones, we are glad to consult with you. To get more information about our metro Denver mental health centers visit communityreachcenter.org or call 303-853-3500. We have centers in the northside Denver metro area including the cities of Thornton, Westminster, Northglenn, Commerce City and Brighton.