10 Steps to Support Mental Health

By Leslie Scott, MSSA LSW CTP-C

My name is Leslie and I am the new Professional Development Coordinator at Huck House. I have been with Huck House since 2016, as a crisis counselor and an intern. I have been a licensed social worker in Ohio since 2015 but have over six years’ experience working in non-profits. The last four years, I have worked as a crisis counselor, therapist, and clinical assessor.

My experience in the field has taught me the value of having professionals in the community I could lean on. Whether that was for support or to find the answers I needed. I also learned that “trial by fire” was the common method of training for many social workers, until I came to Huck House. At Huck House, I found a place where my professional goals and beliefs were echoed in my supervisors and colleagues. This is why I worked hard to create a training program for the community to provide other professionals the opportunity to seek support in their professional growth. That is why the motto of the program is “our promise to you is simple, we only teach what we know works”.

The program hopes to begin scheduling community trainings this summer. If you are interested in Huck House coming to your agency, please don’t hesitate to reach out. My contact information is at the end of this blog.

 

10 Steps to Support Mental Health

 

1 Wear your beautiful, messy green ribbon

Did you know when someone wears a green ribbon, they are raising awareness for mental health? Personally, I think we should all wear a tangled mess of ribbon or string, like the picture above. The tangled mess represents a truer version of mental health. Mental health is complicated, messy, hard to untangle, yet doesn’t take away from the beauty of the person. This is important to remember when talking about or addressing mental health. It can be hard to see through the messiness or be overwhelmed with the idea of untangling it, but remembering the beauty helps to give us strength. The last week of May, challenge yourself to wear a tangled (but beautiful) green ribbon.

 

2 Listening is a superpower

To support someone with mental health, you don’t need to have all the answers or know what to say. Listening is often the most helpful thing we can do. As a therapist when I ask my clients “what was most helpful,” I often hear “having someone to listen.” Especially with adolescents and young adults, who feel misunderstood, listening is an easy way to show them you care and value their thoughts. Listening is being able to repeat back what someone just said to you, focusing on their words instead of your response, and putting value in someone else’s thoughts.

 

3 Language can Destigmatize

Let’s start talking about mental health the same way we do about diabetes or any other physical health problem. This helps to destigmatize and undo any shame associated with mental health disorders. Mental health, like any other physical health condition, is treated through medication and meeting with your health professional regularly.

 

4 Know How to Talk About Mental Health

Be able to talk about mental health in a supportive way. I explain it using the image of an old-fashioned train line. The mental health train line is like any other, it has with multiple stops, each one different from the last, each one a different place. Some passengers may get off on the first stop, while adjusting to a new school, losing a parent, or are struggling with sadness. These passengers may be new to mental health or are struggling with their mental health for a short time. While others may ride the train to the middle, get off on a stop where they can get help for nightmares of witnessing violence, seeing things others can’t, or feeling like a yo-yo between sad and happy. The rest of the passengers will ride to the last stop, which is the most severe and most isolating disorders. Like trains, passengers may get on and off throughout their lives. Some passengers may be lucky enough to find a treatment that works and rides the train home, only returning for prescription or check ins with their healthcare providers. Some passengers are only there to hold someone else’s hand. Either way, they are all on the train together, choosing which stop to get off and what to do once their stop has arrived. Anyone can be on the train and at every stop there is help, no one is alone.

 

5 Boundaries

You can’t work harder than someone else. This is a principle taught to me in undergraduate studies, that I didn’t fully understand until I had been a therapist for a couple years. No matter how much we care about someone, they are in charge of themselves. When we work harder than someone else or find ourselves getting frustrated with their “progress”, we are actively trying to force someone into a decision or action. This doesn’t teach them how to help themselves, but rather how to please us. And it hurts everyone. By allowing others to make their own choices, you can help them learn to care for themselves in a healthy way, maintain your own health, and be able to keep a relationship with that person.

 

6 Self-care

Take care of yourself. Self-care is important for physical and mental health. Whether you want to maintain your good health or become healthier, self-care is key to these goals. Self-care is ensuring you are healthy, having time for things you enjoy, and balancing your commitments (such as work vs personal life). When I asked my co-workers about their self-care, one co-worker mentioned having a form of spiritual practice as their most helpful activity. Others mentioned mindfulness, sports, time with their children, and focusing on positive stresses as most helpful.

 

7 Mental Health is Normal

Mental health is normal. If you think about it… anxiety today is a result of humans trying to survive against all kinds of odds. When we were first a species, anxiety, fear, and pain were keys to keeping us alive. Even though we don’t need those same functions to survive today, our brains are still wired to produce them. Some brains produce more anxiety than others. Our bodies also wear out, change, and need a lot of TLC. As we get older or witness more negative life events, it is our mental and physical health that suffer. If you or someone you know is struggling with mental health, please know it’s normal, it’s not your fault, and it is treatable.

 

8 Empathy for yourself and others

Empathy is the act of recognizing someone else’s pain and feeling or thinking of something similar. Such as yawning, smiling, or maybe feeling pain when you see someone stub their toe. It doesn’t require that you feel it or fix, but rather recognize it in the other person and yourself. When I talk with clients about their mental health, many share stories of judgment, shame, and misunderstanding. Showing empathy not only is the opposite of these but can help a person heal from previous hurts.

 

9 We all need Unconditional Support

Whether someone is recovering from trauma, depression, or has a lifelong disorder, they will need love and support. Studies continually show having unconditional support from an adult in their life builds resiliency and can help someone make positive, healthy steps in their life. While those without positive support, struggle in every aspect of development. For parents, this includes ensuring showing your children positive attention and support, choosing to focus on strengths rather than mistakes.

 

10 Educate yourself to help others

Educating yourself and others is a big start to supporting mental health awareness. There are many ways to do this: (1) attend a training or event at Huck House, (2) take a mental health first aid course online, (3) research online (experts to check out: NAMI, ADAMH, Mental Health America, womenshealth.gov, and National Institute of Mental Health), (4) check out if mental health services are right for you.

 

 

If you or someone you know is struggling with their mental health, thoughts about hurting themselves or others, here are some helpful resources.

Emergency Services 911

Runaway Help Hotline (800) 786-2929

Rape Help Hotline (614) 267-7020

Suicide Help Hotline (614) 221-5445

National Suicide Hotline (Client & Parent Support) 1-800-273-8255

Franklin County Children’s Services (FCCS) (614) 229-7000

Nationwide Children’s Hospital (NCH): (614) 722 -2000

Netcare Hotline (614) 276-2273

Safe Place Locations: Krogers, Columbus Metropolitan Libraries, White Castle, Fire Stations

 

If you are interested in finding out more about our professional development program, please contact me at…

Leslie Scott, MSSA LSW CTP-C
Professional Development Coordinator
1421 Hamlet Street, Columbus, OH 43201
614.927.1463 (direct)
lscott@huck-house.org

Nationwide Children’s Hospital – On Our Sleeves

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

One in five children in the United States has a mental health condition. That’s one in five children in a homeroom class, on a baseball team or on the street where you live. That child, in fact, may be your own.

But there’s HOPE.

Helping our children’s mental health is something EVERYONE can do — not just parents and caregivers.

It’s time to have a national conversation about children’s mental health. It’s time to raise our voices for this important cause.

On Our Sleeves is proud to join the mental health community for Mental Health Month this May.

Children’s Mental Health Week

Mental health issues start younger, and their impact is broader, than most people realize. And because kids don’t wear their thoughts on their sleeves, we don’t know what they might be going through.

More than 10 percent of children 8 to 11 years old have experienced a mental illness. The percentage doubles for teenagers. Half of all lifetime mental illness, starts by age 14. That number increases to 75% by age 24.

From May 5 to May 10, the mental health community shines the light on children’s mental health. Join Nationwide Children’s Hospital in raising your voice for kids everywhere.

May 9: National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day

 

May 9 is National Children’s Mental Health Awareness Day. This day highlights the importance of caring for a child’s mental health and its importance in a child’s development.

Mental wellness and coping skills learned during childhood establish the foundation for future social, emotional and academic success. That’s why it’s important to recognize when a child is struggling and get them help as early as possible. All of us can help in improving mental health for children.

Tune in on May 9 for an incredible success and advocacy story.

 

This blog article is from Nationwide Children’s and their #OnOurSleeves Campaign.

Give Yoga Gives Back to Huck House

GIVE Yoga exists to build community around yoga for the good of the individual and the good of the world. GIVE Yoga is committed to Giving Yoga, Improving Strong Communities, and Developing Leaders. To fulfill this commitment, Huck House has been chosen as a partner nonprofit to which they will provide yoga to our transitional living program clients.

We envision that a practice of yoga, meditation and mindfulness will give our clients a new healthy coping skill. A lot of our clients suffer from sleep issues and unhealthy habits. We hope that the new program will support healing. Additionally, we hope to see some of our clients feeling inspired by the physical health benefits of yoga as an exercise, and feel more driven to continue to invest in their own physical well-being. 

 

Give Yoga funding will ensure up to 12 classes taught by Cecilia Shanahan, a Registered Yoga Teacher and Qualified Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) teacher. She will focus her practice on our young women in our transitional living program who are victims of domestic violence as well as our young expecting mothers.

 

Walk with a Doc

Walk with a Doc Mission

Three of our young people (ages 17-22) in our Transitional Living Program participated last night in a walk and conversation with a health specialist. The topic was stress reduction, which is very difficult for our young people who have been recently homeless and/or victims of domestic violence.

The therapist had them identify their stress tolerance meter, physical manifestations of stress and what things trigger each stress level. Then she had them think about physical, creative, social and relaxation coping skills and had them each do a type of guided imagery exercise.

It was a great conversation and opportunity to get outside and enjoy the snow. We are very thankful for Walk With A Doc and their vision for communities to access medical providers on a regular basis and receive valuable medical advice that extends beyond physical activity. To learn more and see where you can join or start a walk visit here.

Love and Healthy Relationships – Jaida Green

Written by: Jaida Green, MSW, LSW, Family Support Program Therapist

Love: [noun] “Strong affection for another arising out of kinship or personal ties” (Merriam-Webster, 2019). Such a simple definition for a complex topic. Love is complex issue that people of all ages, races, and gender are faced with on a daily basis. This is especially true for the young people that we serve at Huckleberry House. As a therapist, people assume that the majority of what I talk to our youth about are topics such as depression, anxiety, and anger. While this is true, something that is also frequently brought up with our youth in therapy is love and healthy relationships. Being young and falling in love for the first time is sometimes a tough transition; finding out who you are as a teenager is difficult enough. Add learning how to love, and it is often twice as difficult. There are two specific lessons focusing on love and health relationships that frequently come up for our youth – “The Five Love Languages” and “Healthy Boundaries”.

Generally, there are five categories of ways that people prefer to both express and receive love. These categories are acts of service, gifts, physical touch, quality time, and words of affirmation. Acts of service are considered completing tasks that ease daily responsibilities (i.e. doing the dishes, making dinner, etc.). Gifts are self-explanatory, however it should be noted that the gifts don’t have to be over the top. Gifts can be small things that have thought and effort behind them and make the person feel loved. Physical touch is typically thought of as sexual contact, but this can also be things like hugs, pats of affection, or even holding hands. Quality time is spending time with a person while giving them your undivided attention. For many people this is one on one time doing things like going out to eat or talking over coffee. Lastly, words of affirmation are positive comments or things that are commonly thought of as nice to say (i.e. “You look great today,” or “I love you”). If you’re interested in finding out more about love languages, click here to take a quiz for yourself, or your child. You will need to click on the purple box that says “Learn your love language”.

Love PyramidAs mentioned above, healthy boundaries are also a common piece to consider when discussing healthy relationships. Knowing when to say “no” is something that can be difficult at any age, but is especially true for some of our youth. Often, this isn’t a conversation that is explicitly had with our youth outside of sexual consent. Knowing when to say no in other areas of a relationship and knowing what’s important to you has proven to be helpful as well. It’s also important to be assertive in relationships, specifically when setting a new boundary. An additional piece to having healthy boundaries is having respect for yourself and others. Arguments can sometimes be about winning, but that’s not a helpful mindset. Instead, helping all involved to feel that no one person’s needs are more important than the other can help to make arguments less confrontational. Lastly, considering the long term implications or consequences of an interaction can help to establish healthy boundaries. This allows for you to think more deeply about the situation and how to communicate respect. It should be noted that a relationship should not be one sided where one person is constantly giving or taking. Healthy relationships are born out of understanding, not only of yourself but also, the person you are in a relationship with. Whether it be a romantic relationship, friendship, or a relationship with a loved one, taking the time to learn more about yourself and the role you play, as well as the other person involved, can help to foster a positive healthy relationship.

What I would tell my 18-year old self about good health

For our focus on healthy living, we asked a Huck House friend to think about what he would tell his 18-year old self about living healthfully. Bill Mechling is a retired attorney and business executive. His commitment to good health is an example from which we all can learn.

There are many lessons a person learns as they proceed through life. As I sit here today at age 61, I can tell you the most important and impactful lesson I have learned is the important role that good nutrition and exercise play in maximizing your enjoyment of your life.

When I was eighteen, I participated in various sports and led a physically active life. I paid little attention, however, to my nutrition. My generation grew up with the advent of fast food, “super sizing” food portions and filing everything we ate with artificial sweeteners and preservatives. These factors became more important to the American diet than the nutrition content of food-to the point where nutrition was not even given a second thought. Besides, when I was eighteen I looked good and felt great-so why worry and why change anything?

It may sound cliché, but life truly does sneak up on you rather quickly. Those teen years rapidly turn into your twenties-then your thirties and beyond- as you are focusing on getting an education, beginning a career and starting a family. And while all of this is happening, biology deals you a cruel blow. Your body begins to change. Gone are the days when you can eat or drink anything without feeling -or seeing-the consequences. Read more

Healthy Living: 7 MINUTE WORKOUT WEDNESDAY

HEALTHY BLOGHealthy Living at Huck-House: 7 Minute Workout Wednesday

Eat healthier.

Exercise more.

Those messages are out there on every platform. But how do you start in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming?

One morning I was in the office with a young person talking about the things we liked about ourselves and things we hoped to change. We began brainstorming what changes we could realistically make in our lives and exercise became our focus. We decided a SHORT (less than 10 minute) workout session once a week was a manageable change. We made it an event and invited all interested Transitional Living Program (TLP) clients. As incentive for participation, I agreed to bring a healthy snack for after the workout. That was the beginning of 7 Minute Workout Wednesday.

This exercise group provides an opportunity for young people to get to know each other in a casual, informal way. Children are welcome, and it is a fun way for them to socialize with each other and with other adults. It has been amazing to see the youth take an active role in this group. They decide the content of the exercise each week and often lead a warm-up and cool-down. Participants are great at encouraging each other along the way. At our last group, the young people expressed an interest in an additional workout during the week or doing two back-to-back 7 minute workouts. Young people requesting more exercise is one of the biggest wins in my book!

The “healthy” snack. As you might imagine, the young people were skeptical of my healthy snack incentive. All I asked was that they keep an open-mind and provide honest feedback, which they have done very constructively. Snacks have included banana, peanut butter, and chocolate muffins; fruit and yogurt parfaits; and veggies and humus. So far, they have been a success and participants are seeing that “healthy” can take many forms and be delicious.

I am very excited to grow this group! Getting young people interested in their health and healthy habits has become a passion of mine. Exercise and how we fuel our body are important because of the diverse physical health, mental health, and social benefits. In a nation of increasingly sedentary lifestyles, making time to get out and move while being conscious of what we put in our body is vital to our heart health and immune function. Aerobic exercise has been shown to decrease depression and anxiety and as little as ten minutes of aerobic exercise per day can improve sleep. Monitoring sugar and cholesterol consumption can prevent devastating chronic conditions. And last, but certainly not least, the social interactions facilitated by this group provide an opportunity to build and strengthen the TLP community.

I have been inspired by the young peoples’ dedication to this group and I look forward to continuing the journey of healthy living at Huck House.

 

Claire Herbert

Community Support Assistant, Transitional Living Program

Beliefs Hanging in the Balance | By Jerome DeCarlo

December is a month full of anticipation, excitement and fear. We anticipate the fellowship of family, the excitement of the Holidays and fear the rapidly approaching end of the year. In our daily interactions we may also experience these same emotions. The anticipation of meeting new people, coupled with the excitement of developing a connection […]