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social media addiction

Is Social Media Fuelling a Youth Mental Health Crisis?

Digital interactions have become central to our daily lives, especially for the younger generations. The pervasive use of social media among teenagers has led to growing concern about its impact on their mental health. Now, school boards, municipalities and parents across the country are taking social media companies to court in an effort to curb their influence on young minds. New York City is the latest to mount an offensive against social media, prompting many to question how these platforms affect our well-being.

Taking Social Media to Court

New York City announced a major move against social media companies in February, filing a lawsuit against TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, Snapchat, and YouTube.

social media addiction

The lawsuit claims these platforms harm the mental health of young people, costing the city $100 million yearly for related health services. It has accused the companies of knowingly creating addictive platforms that cause serious damage to users.

This lawsuit coincides with heightened attention from media and lawmakers regarding the platforms’ impact on teenagers’ mental health and self-image. The city’s legal step is part of a broader push to make these companies responsible, calling to mind previous campaigns against other public health challenges with tobacco and guns.

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New York City is not the only entity taking social media to court. Dozens of states and hundreds of school boards across the country have filed cases, starting with Seattle over a year ago. They affirm that social media companies are knowingly fuelling a mental health crisis among youth with their intentionally addictive platform designs. Hundreds of parents are joining them in filing lawsuits for harm caused to their children.

The U.S. Surgeon General published guidance last year warning of the serious risks social media poses to kids and teens, calling for more research and action from both lawmakers and tech firms. The message is clear: we must make the digital world safer for our young people. But it’s also important to equip our children with the mental resilience needed to navigate the digital world safely.

Looking at the Bigger Picture

It is obviously time for us as a society to take a deeper look at how social media impacts our mental health. Given how much time the average teen spends using these platforms (4.8 hours a day) — not to mention the average adult (2.5 hours a day) — it is important to understand the effects they can have on our well-being.

Social media giant Meta has been accused of using algorithms intentionally crafted to tap into the dopamine-driven reward systems of young users, based on documents leaked by a whistleblower in 2021. Dopamine is a neurotransmitter linked to pleasure and reward, which plays a crucial role in addiction. The design of these platforms allegedly exploits this biological mechanism, encouraging continual engagement by triggering these pleasure signals.

The dangers of such addictive designs have been linked to tragic consequences for teens, including a higher incidence of negative body image, low self-esteem, eating disorders, and suicide. Investigations into the suicide of a 14-year-old in the UK indicated that overexposure to social media content likely worsened her pre-existing depression. However, social media companies have denied responsibility, insisting that their products follow rigorous safety protocols.

Scientific research into social media’s influence has found both positive and negative effects on those who use the platforms regularly. Some highlight the beneficial aspects, such as social connections, peer support, and open discussion which can enhance mental well-being and foster a sense of belonging. However, other studies have found a correlation between heavy social media use and increased feelings of loneliness, decreased life satisfaction, and heightened anxiety.

The bigger picture indicates that while social media can be a positive source of social support, it’s important to be aware of its downsides, especially with overuse. Teaching young people about these risks and about how to use social media wisely is crucial to building a healthier, more positive online life.

Empowering Our Youth

What can we do to start empowering young people to take control of their mental health today? We don’t need to wait for new laws to be passed to begin improving our social media habits. Educating ourselves about safe online practices, discussing our online experiences, and encouraging open conversations about social media’s impact can empower users to navigate these platforms more wisely.

By creating an environment where mental health topics are openly discussed, we can destigmatize mental health issues and encourage young people to seek help when needed. These discussions can take place in various settings, from schools and homes to online communities, making it clear that it’s okay to talk about mental health struggles and seek support. Open dialogue can lead to greater empathy and community support, which are vital in building a supportive network for anyone facing mental health challenges.

In addition to promoting open conversations, building mental resilience is key to empowering young people to overcome difficult experiences. This involves teaching coping skills, such as stress management techniques, problem-solving, and emotional regulation, which can help them adapt to adversity and bounce back from difficult situations.

Encouraging healthy habits like regular physical activity, healthy eating, adequate sleep, and mindfulness practices can also strengthen mental resilience. If young people are equipped with the right tools and support, they can build their ability to navigate through tough times with strength and confidence. These are skills that will serve them throughout the rest of their lives.

Strategies for Parents: Building Mental Resilience and Healthy Online Habits

  • Limit time on social media to avoid overexposure and addictive behavior
  • Educate kids about the risks of social media and how the platforms are designed to keep them coming back for more
  • Start a conversation with your teenager about what kind of interactions they have on social media and how these make them feel
  • Discuss the lawsuits against social media with your teen and encourage them to think about different points of view on the issue
  • Promote a positive mindset in the face of negative experiences: “It’s ok, I don’t need that person in my life!” or “This hurts now, but I’ll get over it!”
  • Encourage teens to question what they’re seeing on social media
  • Take an active role in teaching your kids about mental health and healthy routines like sleep, exercise and diet
  • Find positive uses for social media — encourage teens to give supportive comments and share inspiring stories

In Conclusion

The recent lawsuits against social media platforms are groundbreaking, urging us to seriously consider the influence these platforms have on young people’s mental health. They challenge us to rethink our engagement with social media and demand meaningful changes from those who manage these platforms.

At the same time, these events underscore the need to actively build mental resilience and healthy habits that can counteract negative influences in our lives. Everyone has a role in shaping a future where social media supports rather than harms our mental health. Let’s seize this chance to advocate for a digital world that fosters positive connections and promotes mental well-being.

stonewalling communication

How Stonewalling Sabotages Communication and How to Stop It

Communication is the basis of all human interactions. It lets us say what we want, share ideas, and make real relationships. Unfortunately, stonewalling is a bad habit that often gets in the way of good conversation. Stonewalling is when someone tries to avoid or ignore attempts to talk or connect on purpose. This behavior, which is caused by worry or being defensive, makes it hard for people to understand each other. In this blog post, we’ll talk more about the negative effects of stonewalling, look into why people do it, and talk about how open conversation, active listening, and empathy can help us get past this problem and build stronger relationships and a better understanding.

Understanding Stonewalling:

Stonewalling can look like avoiding someone, pulling away physically, or changing the subject over and over again.

stonewalling communication

It can also take the form of shouting over the other person’s words. But no matter what form it takes, the underlying message is always the same: that you don’t care what the other person has to say. By putting up mental walls, stonewalling stops people from talking to each other and makes them feel alone, unheard, and disconnected. Stonewalling leads to frustration, anger, and a lack of real connection, whether it happens in personal or professional interactions.

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Seeing the Behavior:

To get past stonewalling, the first step is to see the behavior in ourselves and others. It’s good to aks ourselves, ‘Where do I do this to others? Where do I shut others down because I find it hard to hear their opinion?’ Getting to know ourselves and being kind to ourselves and those around us are very important. When we find ourselves being stubborn, it is important to think about why we are acting that way. Are we trying to avoid pain, strife, or hard truths? When we know why we do something bad, we can deal with the problems that are making us do it.

Open conversation can help build bridges:

Open discussion is a great way to break down walls of stonewalling. By talking to each other in an honest and open way, we build an atmosphere of trust and mutual understanding. Listening actively is a very important part of this process. When we really listen to others, we support their thoughts, feelings, and experiences. This shows that we want to connect with them and help them feel empathy.

Also, empathy is the most important part of good dialogue. It lets us put ourselves in other people’s shoes, see things from their point of view, and react with compassion. Empathy gives us the power to bridge gaps, turn conflicts into learning experiences, and build bridges instead of walls.

How to Make Friends:

Communication is more than just words; it’s about making real relationships with other people. We can make our relationships better if we stop stonewalling and start talking, listening, and showing empathy instead. These habits help people understand each other better, make it safe to be vulnerable, and make it easier to solve problems. As we learn to use the power of connection, we learn important things about each other. This makes our relationships stronger and improves our personal and professional lives.

Open conversation helps us grow as people by making us more self-aware and giving us a wider view of things. Through open conversation, we hear different points of view, which makes us question our assumptions and helps us learn more about the world. This helps people feel like they belong, respect, and value the different experiences and thoughts of others.

Effective communication is the key to teamwork, collaboration, and the success of a company in the business world. By having open conversations, actively listening, and showing empathy, we build a work environment that values the contributions of each person. This leads to more imagination, new ideas, and the ability to solve problems as a group.

In a world where good communication is the lifeblood of human relationships, stonewalling puts up obstacles that stop people from understanding each other and growing as people. To stop this behavior, we must first be able to see it in ourselves and others. By becoming more self-aware, being kind, and practicing open, active listening and empathy, we can break down the walls of stonewalling and make relationships that are stronger. Let’s not forget that conversation isn’t just about what we say; it’s also about how we connect with the people around us. We can build a world where understanding, sensitivity, and cooperation thrive, making our lives and the lives of those we meet better.

Author: Peter Diaz
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Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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understanding personality disorders

Unveiling Narcissism: Understanding the Personality Disorder that can Destroy Your Relationships

Narcissism is a personality disorder characterized by an inflated opinion of one’s importance, a lack of empathy for others, and a constant need for admiration and attention.

People with narcissistic personality disorder often have trouble forming strong connections with others and might engage in harmful behaviors to keep their sense of superiority over others. We’ll talk about what narcissism is, how it affects relationships, and how to spot narcissistic traits in people.

What is Narcissism?

Narcissism is classified as personality disorder and characterized by a pervasive pattern of grandiosity, a need for admiration, and a lack of empathy for other people. People with narcissistic personality disorder frequently exaggerate their sense of importance and may think they deserve special attention because they are special or unique. They may constantly crave praise and attention and use coercive or exploitative tactics to get what they want from others.

understanding personality disorders

Narcissistic traits can be acquired, especially if a person is raised in a setting where they are regularly complimented and celebrated for their accomplishments and where their needs and wants are constantly put before those of others. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that not everyone who grows up in such environments will exhibit narcissistic traits. A number of other variables, such as genetics, brain chemistry, and early experiences, can contribute to the development of narcissism.

Is Narcissism Real Or Just People Being Spoilt, Entitled Or Just Plain Evil?

Narcissism is not only real but it is also a diagnosable personality disorder that is recognized by mental health professionals. While it is true that some individuals who exhibit narcissistic behaviors may be spoiled or entitled, it is crucial to recognize that narcissism is a complex and multifaceted condition that extends beyond simply being self-centered or entitled.

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People with narcissistic personality disorder often have an excessive sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy for how others feel, and an insatiable need for admiration and attention. They may be manipulative or use others for their own gain, and usually have difficulty forming and maintaining healthy relationships. These habits can cause significant damage to both the narcissist and the people around them.

While it can be tempting to label the narcissist as “evil” or morally corrupt, it’s important to remember that these are also people deserving our compassion and that these narcissistic behaviors are often indicative of deep-seated psychological and emotional issues. With the appropriate treatment and support, people with narcissistic personality disorder can change their behaviors and form stronger relationships.

How Narcissism Impacts Relationships

Narcissism has a significant negative impact on relationships. Individuals with narcissistic disorder may find it difficulty to form healthy, long lasting, relationships because they are obsessed with themselves and their own needs. They may not be able to show empathize or understand how others are feeling, which can lead to conflict and problems with others. They may also tend to manipulate or take advantage of others for their own gain, which can be very damaging to relationships.

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In romantic relationships, narcissists may be excessively critical of their partner, dismissive of his or her needs, and unwilling to accept responsibility for their actions. When their partner does not meet their expectations or requirements, they may also be quick to anger or display aggression.

People with narcissistic tendencies may be extremely competitive in friendships, always attempting to be the center of attention and coming out on top. They may also be extremely critical of their friends and averse to offer assistance or compassion when their friends are in need.They may be highly ambitious and motivated in the workplace, but they may also be highly critical of their coworkers and averse to collaborate with others. In order to advance their own careers at the expense of others, they may also engage in manipulative or exploitative behavior.

Identifying Narcissistic Tendencies

If you think you or someone you know may have narcissistic tendencies, there are several signs to look out for. These include:

  • An exaggerated sense of self-importance
  • A lack of empathy for others
  • A need for constant admiration and attention
  • A tendency to manipulate or exploit others

But let us delve into these traits in a little more detail.

  1. Exaggerated sense of self-importance: Narcissistic individuals frequently have an exaggerated sense of their own significance and competence. They might consider themselves special, singular, or deserving of special care, and they might anticipate approval from others. This may result in a lack of humility and a refusal to take into account the opinions or requirements of others.
  1. Lack of empathy for others: The capacity for empathy is the capacity to make sense of and experience other people’s emotions. Narcissistic individuals may find it difficult to empathize with others, concentrating only on their own needs and wants. They might be indifferent to other people’s feelings, intolerant of their concerns, and unable to understand their motivations.
  1. Need for constant admiration and attention: Narcissistic people yearn for praise and adoration from others. In social settings, they might go to great lengths to be the center of attention and actively seek compliments and praise from others to boost their self-esteem. They may become irate or upset when they do not receive the amount of admiration or attention they believe they deserve.
  1. Tendency to manipulate or exploit others: Individuals with narcissistic tendencies may employ tactics of manipulation and exploitation in order to achieve their desired outcomes from others. They may exploit others for personal benefit, without considering their emotional or physical welfare. Individuals may exhibit a willingness to engage in deceptive or dishonest behavior as a means of attaining their objectives.

Both the person with narcissistic tendencies and those around them may be significantly harmed by these traits. While it’s essential to keep in mind that not everyone who exhibits some of these traits is a narcissist, you should be wary if you see a pattern of these behaviors repeated in someone’s behavior. It’s crucial to get support and professional help if you believe that you or someone you know is dealing with narcissistic traits.

What if the narcissist is you?

So how do you know if you have narcissistic tendencies? It can be difficult to recognize these traits in ourselves, but the common signs would be the same. They would include an exaggerated sense of self-importance, a lack of empathy for others, a need for constant admiration and attention, and a tendency to manipulate or exploit others. But if you’re having trouble with your relationships, that could be a sign that you’re the narcissist. Do you tend to fight with others and have difficulty keeping friends or lovers? Do you tend to be rude or inconsiderate of others? Especially if you feel you are better than them? Or are you consistently kind and considerate with people, regardless of how important they seem?

If you suspect that you may have narcissistic tendencies, seeking professional help and support can be a very beneficial step for several reasons:

  1. Understanding and managing your behaviors: You can better understand your narcissistic tendencies and how they affect your relationships and general well-being with the help of a mental health professional. They can also help you to develop a plan for controlling your actions and creating better relationships and routines.
  1. Developing empathy: Lack of concern for others is one of the main traits of narcissism. Working with a mental health professional can help in your development of empathy and help you understand other people’s thoughts and emotions better.
  1. Building healthier relationships: Relationships can be severely compromised by narcissistic behaviors. You can learn how to form and maintain healthier relationships with others, based on mutual respect, empathy, and trust, by working with a mental health professional.
  1. Addressing underlying issues: Narcissistic tendencies may stem from underlying psychological or emotional problems, such as low self-esteem, anxiety, or melancholy. You can address these underlying issues and work towards a more positive and fulfilling life by seeking help from a professional.

In short, seeking professional help for narcissistic tendencies can help you better understand and manage your behaviors, develop empathy and healthier relationships, and address underlying issues that may be contributing to your behaviors. It can be a very positive step towards a more fulfilling and satisfying life.

Conclusion

Narcissism is a complex and multifaceted personality disorder that significantly affects interpersonal relationships. Whether you suspect you have narcissistic tendencies or are concerned about someone else’s behavior, seeking professional help and guidance is wise.

Individuals can work toward a more positive and fulfilling life by understanding and managing narcissistic behaviors, developing empathy and healthier relationships, and addressing underlying issues.

It is never too late to get support and make positive changes for you and those around you. Everyone deserves the opportunity to experience healthy relationships based on mutual respect, empathy, and trust.

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There are several authoritative studies and journals that provide support for the discussion on narcissism above. Here are a few examples:

  1. “Narcissistic Personality Disorder” by Elsa Ronningstam, published in Current Psychiatry Reports in 2016. This article provides an overview of the current research on narcissistic personality disorder, including its prevalence, symptoms, and treatment options.
  1. “The Dark Triad of Personality: Narcissism, Machiavellianism, and Psychopathy” by Delroy L. Paulhus and Kevin M. Williams, published in the Journal of Research in Personality in 2002. This article explores the relationship between narcissism and two other personality traits, Machiavellianism and psychopathy, and their impact on social relationships.
  1. “Narcissistic Personality Disorder and Relational Aggression in a College Population” by Julie A. Martin and Jennifer K. Cukrowicz, published in the Journal of College Counseling in 2009. This study examines the relationship between narcissistic personality disorder and relational aggression in a college population, and provides insights into how narcissism impacts interpersonal relationships.
  1. “The Vulnerable Narcissist: Grandiosity, Shame, and Maladaptive Interpersonal Behavior” by Aaron L. Pincus and Aidan G.C. Wright, published in the Journal of Personality in 2011. This article explores the concept of “vulnerable narcissism,” a subtype of narcissism characterized by a fragile self-esteem and a tendency to experience shame and humiliation.m and a tendency to experience shame

These are just a few examples of the many studies and journals that provide support for the discussion on narcissism.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter Diaz profile

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

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mental health tips for wellness

7 Easy Mental Health Tips Anyone Can Apply

There is a connection between physical and mental health. Physical health conditions can have a negative impact on mental health, and mental health disorders can increase the risk of developing physical health issues.

Unfortunately, a lot of people often neglect their mental health and wellbeing and develop mental health conditions like anxiety, stress, and depression as a result. You can maintain and enhance your mental health by following these 7 easy tips anyone can apply:

  1. Regular Exercise: Exercise is a proven method for enhancing mental health. In fact, research shows that exercise is as effective or more effective than medication for treating anxiety and mild depression.Regular exercise improves mood, reduces anxiety and depression, and increases self-worth and self-esteem. from the door, placing the printer away from your desk, taking the stairs instead of the lift.
mental health tips for wellness

Include physical activity in your daily routine, such as walking, yoga, or running. If you find that too difficult to start with, try tricking your brain into exercising with simple things like parking the car as far away as possible from the door, placing the printer away from your desk, taking the stairs instead of the lift.

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  1. Reduce cortisol levels: Cortisol levels are damaging to your mental and physical health. When cortisol levels are high, we suffer. The main driver of cortisol levels is stress. Make sure you nip stress in the bud. Exercise and coaching are very effective against stress.
  1. Getting Enough Sleep: Sleep is essential for both physical and mental health. The immune system is weakened by insufficient sleep, which tends to also worsen anxiety and depression. That’s why it’s important to get enough good quality sleep. To ensure you get enough rest, set up a sleep schedule, avoid using screens at least two hours before bed, and make a calm sleeping environment. Start by thinking about what you can do to improve your sleep that you are not doing right now, and then apply what you can.
  1. Balanced Diet: You’ve probably heard the saying, ‘you are what you eat’. To a degree, that’s correct in mental health also. Your mental health is impacted by what you eat. Low energy and unstable moods are consequences of a diet heavy in processed foods, bad fats, and sugar. A diet high in fermented food, rich in probiotics, fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and whole grains, on the other hand, offers crucial nutrients and enhances mental health.
  1. Social Connections: Because people are social creatures, it is essential for mental health to have fulfilling relationships. Feelings of loneliness and isolation can be lessened and general well-being can be increased by spending time with loved ones, giving back to the community, and engaging in social activities.
  1. Limit alcohol and drug consumption: Drugs, including medication, or alcohol can worsen mental health conditions already present. Even medications designed to ameliorate mental health conditions can have the opposite effect in some individuals. Listen to your body and reduce or eliminate the use of any substances that make you feel anxious or unwell.
  1. Practice of mindfulness (or mindful like practices): Mindfulness is a mental state in which one focuses on the right now. Using mindfulness techniques helps people feel calmer, less stressed, and healthier overall. Include mindfulness exercises in your daily routine, such as meditation, deep breathing, or focusing on your surroundings. If mindfulness is not quite your cup of tea, try prayer, or relaxation techniques. What are some relaxation techniques you know and like? You could try things as having a cup of tea, a relaxing bath or shower, walking your dog or even writing a gratitude list.

Keep in mind that a variety of mental health disorders, including stress, depression, and anxiety, can have a negative impact on a person’s quality of life. These mental health conditions may lead to emotional distress, interfere with relationships and employment, and raise the possibility of physical health issues.

You should seek professional help if you’re having ongoing and severe problems with depression or anxiety. A mental health professional can offer assistance, care, and direction to help manage symptoms and enhance general mental health.

The significance of mental health cannot be overstated. For the sake of your physical and mental wellbeing as well as for leading thriving, happy lives, it is vital you maintain good mental health. Now you too can enhance your quality of life and lower your risk of developing mental health disorders by placing a higher priority on your daily practice of these 7 tips.

Are you a psychologically safe manager? Take the self assessment to find out.

Author: Peter Diaz
Peter Diaz profile

Peter Diaz is the CEO of Workplace Mental Health Institute. He’s an author and accredited mental health social worker with senior management experience. Having recovered from his own experience of bipolar depression, Peter is passionate about assisting organisations to address workplace mental health issues in a compassionate yet results-focussed way. He’s also a Dad, Husband, Trekkie and Thinker.

Connect with Peter Diaz on:
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This article was first published on The WMHI Global

WMHI-WorkLife-June-22

WorkLife Magazine – The HOPE that Drives Recovery – The kind of hope you need for wellbeing is within your reach

We are now well into the year and very few people on Earth would contradict the notion that the world and it’s people need HOPE. After all, ‘Hope springs eternal in the human breast’, said the poet Alexander Pope way back in 1732. Pope knew something about human nature.

Interestingly, Alexander Pope placed hope in the same organ that loves also springs forth. Could there be a connection between hope and love? Is our capacity to hope and love intrinsically intertwined? I believe it is. Often, it is impossible to love without hope and it is impossible to hope without deep love – for someone or something.

That’s why we found it fitting and timely to publish a magazine on Hope. A study that will get us one step closer to what we so intensely need today across the world, love. Please, enjoy reading our magazine.

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Behavioural-therapy

What Is Behavioural Health and How Does It Differ From Mental Health?

Behavioural health and mental health are often used interchangeably. But they do not mean the same thing. While they both revolve around the mind and its ability to function normally, they are different in definition and types.

Mental health deals with an individual’s ability to handle significant life stressors, work productively, and function in society. On the other hand, behavioural health revolves around the impact one’s habits have on physical and mental health.

This article delves into the significant differences between the two. By knowing what sets them apart, you will better understand your psychology and its role in your life.

Understanding Behavioural Health

Most people are familiar with mental health issues, as it is a common social topic backed by several campaigns to raise awareness. However, very few people know and understand behavioural health. Interestingly, the behavioural health concept has been around for over 40 decades.

Over time, the term’s meaning has changed, making more people mistake it for mental health. So, what does behavioural health mean?

Behavioural-therapy

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Behavioural health deals with how your daily mental habits affect your overall well-being, biological emotions, and behavior. Everything from what you eat to how you stay fit impacts your mental and physical health.

This is why behavioural health manifests in several ways. Also, several factors affect this condition, namely:

  • Trauma
  • Medication
  • Chronic health issues
  • Relationships
  • Diet
  • Alcohol and drug use
  • Exercise habits

Behavioural patterns are crucial in assessments conducted by healthcare professionals. For instance, a behavioural health therapist treating an anorexic person will first look at the behaviors that triggered their weight loss. The identification helps in developing treatment methods that address the core issues.

Examples of Behavioural Health Disorders

The following are examples of behavioural health issues:

Substance Abuse/Addiction

medicines

Data shows that about 21 million Americans have at least one addiction, but only 10% get treatment. Addiction is a severe disease that sometimes has fatal consequences. Unfortunately, people addicted to drugs or alcohol often fail to acknowledge their addiction even when it affects their relationships and causes health problems.

Common symptoms of this behavioural health disorder include:

  • Using the additive substance more than once daily
  • Spending money on the addictive substance even when unable to afford it
  • Driving under the influence
  • Experiencing withdrawal symptoms if you fail to consume the substance or after quitting

Addiction also affects one’s physical health and cognitive ability. If you are struggling with substance abuse/addiction, you will experience a lack of energy or a weight change.

Gambling

Gambling in moderation is socially acceptable behavior, as evidenced by the casinos in Las Vegas. However, the story is different when dealing with gambling addiction. Approximately 1% of the adult population in the U.S. has a gambling problem.

People with a gambling addiction feel an uncontrollable urge to buy lottery tickets, play slot machines at casinos, bet on sports, etc. The severity of the behavior varies, but if you have this condition, you will keep gambling despite financial, social, and legal consequences.

If you have a gambling problem, you will exhibit one or more of the following behaviors:

  • Obsession with any gambling type
  • Taking large and insensible risks when gambling
  • Skipping work or other commitments to gamble
  • Stealing money and selling possessions
  • Gambling to feel better about life

Sex Addiction

Sex addiction was excluded in the fifth edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5). This is because there remains controversy on the diagnosis of sex addiction as a mental health problem. But it qualifies as a behavioural health condition.

Sex addiction is a compulsive need to perform sexual acts to achieve the type of feeling or emotion a person with a substance addiction gets from drugs or alcohol. It negatively impacts a person’s mental and physical health, including relationships, life quality, and safety.

Common symptoms include:

  • Chronic, obsessive sexual thoughts and fantasies
  • Feelings of remorse or guilt after sex
  • Lying to cover sexual behaviors
  • Compulsive intercourse with multiple partners
  • Inability to control or stop sexual behaviors

Eating Disorder

Eating disorders qualify as behavioural and mental health conditions. Statistics show that it affects at least 9% of the population worldwide. Also, 9% of the U.S. population, or 28.8 million Americans, will have an eating disorder in their lifetime.

This condition causes severe health problems and, in extreme cases, death. Common eating disorders are Anorexia Nervosa, Bulimia Nervosa, binge eating, and avoidant and restrictive intake disorders. Others are night-eating syndrome and purging disorder.

Understanding Mental Health

Mental health deals with one’s ability to relate with others, their environment, and develop skills in managing stressful behaviors. It revolves around social, psychological, and emotional health. As a result, it plays a crucial role in your overall well-being.

This is why there are several conversations on ways to manage one’s mental health effectively. Usually, this involves knowing how to manage personal relationships, deal with stressors, and embrace positivity.

So, no matter your age or stage in life, ensure you take active steps to protect your mental health. Failure to do this has long-lasting consequences that affect different areas of your life. You can, do the following to maintain your mental health:

  • Getting therapy and counseling
  • Following a healthy fitness routine
  • Staying in contact with friends and loved ones
  • Eating gut healthy meals
  • Dealing with relationship problems in a healthy and productive way

Some mental health disorders are moderately linked to behaviors like:

However, there are mental health problems that are strongly connected with behavior. These include:

Personality Disorders

A person with this ailment deals with thinking patterns and behaviors that stray from the norm and cause problems with their day-to-day functioning. Some of the common personality disorders are:

Symptoms vary from one to the next, and medical professionals classify them in different clusters.

Psychotic Disorders

People with this disease deal with abnormal thoughts and perceptions about other people. One common psychotic ailment is delusional disorder. These often result in delusions and hallucinations, and the person affected loses touch with reality.

This explains why people dealing with psychotic disorders see and hear unreal things. Early warning signs of these disorders include:

  • Feeling suspicious when with other people
  • Trouble differentiating between fantasy and reality
  • Withdrawing from family and friends

The Link Between Behavioural Health and Mental Health

Unhealthy habits tend to characterize most behavioural health disorders. But, since behavioural health problems usually co-occur with mental illness, it makes it hard to draw a line between the two.

For instance, anxiety disorder and borderline personality disorder are two conditions commonly diagnosed as a behavioural health disorder and a mental health illness. This is because the two share a common cause: trauma.

Also, constantly engaging in harmful behaviors like using drugs and alcohol might result in behavioural disorders and mental health conditions. These similar triggers make it harder to diagnose the two accurately. As a result, diagnosis is primarily subjective and conducted on a person-to-person basis.

Therefore, to effectively develop a treatment plan for behavioural health and mental health disorders, the medical practitioner must be able to draw a line between the two. Usually, they do this by asking specific questions related to your symptoms.

The Importance of Getting Treatment

At present, the gold standard for treatment plans for behavioural health and mental health problems is the collaborative approach.

Collaborative care focuses on improving the overall quality of care patients receive by ensuring that healthcare professionals work together to meet their physical and mental health needs. This treatment approach involves employing a team of experts to consider all the aspects of a patient’s wellbeing.

The treatment is multi-faceted and includes medical interventions, cognitive behavioural therapy, group counseling, etc. Collaborative care is particularly important when dealing with dual diagnoses. For example, where a person is experiencing mental health problems and has a substance use addiction.

So, if you are dealing with both disorders, yourself, together with a team of doctors and therapists using collaborative approach will endeavor to find the best possible treatment for you. This way, you get the help you need to live your best life. Ensure the healthcare provider you choose is compassionate with a stable and supportive environment.

Conclusion

Remember, regardless of how unwell you may feel now, recovery is probable and there are treatments that help you get better. But you are not alone. You can choose to surround yourself with a positive support system and engage in collaborative care. With commitment, discipline, and dedication you will succeed.

Want to know more about mental health, wellbeing, and resilience? Visit our extensive resource page to learn more.

Peter-Diaz-A-Bipolar-Story

A Story of Recovery from Bipolar Disorder

This story of recovery is from none other than our CEO at WMHI, Peter Diaz.

He now travels the world, has a healthy and prosperous family, lives a pleasant life beyond survival, and works passionately towards his mission of bringing Mental Health Awareness to the world, helping as many people along the way as he can. But, his life wasn’t always like this.

Peter Diaz’ Early Life

Growing up he always had challenges with identity and belonging. He was raised in Germany but with Spanish heritage, he was always identified as the ‘Spanish kid’ and was bullied growing up. Back in Spain, he was identified as the foreigner- ‘the German kid’.

He was also raised in a strict religious family. That meant he didn’t get to mix well with the other kids because they were considered a risk to his inherited faith.

All this resulted in him feeling lost and unable to identify with the things around him when growing up.

Peter-Diaz-A-Bipolar-Story

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Bipolar Disorder Diagnosis

Later in his life, he was made the Minister of a church. Although he was good with his duties and was living a comfortable life, he didn’t find it fulfilling.

In this current state of life, he gradually started experiencing stomach issues and some mental disturbances which later became severe enough to the point that he was unable to perform his day-to-day duties.

Eventually, Peter was diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder.

He shares that at that time, he was relieved after hearing the diagnosis as now he had hope. He felt hopeful that something could be done about his situation. But, later he realized that getting a diagnosis and going to a mental health specialist is just the start and that bipolar disorder was a call to change his life drastically, and to discover parts of himself that had been hidden in an effort to ‘be a good person’.

In retrospect, he goes even further to say that he considers Bipolar Disorder to be his teacher.

Recovery From Bipolar

Peter´s seemingly perfect life situation at the time weren’t so perfect at all. The gravity of the whole situation was ‘behind the curtains’ as it were, ‘hidden from plain view’. Hidden from himself too behind a significant amount of denial.

In short, he was living the life he had created, he’d ticked all the boxes but didn’t feel it was him. He felt we was living someone else’s life.

At this point, even suicide became an option, even though it was one he didn’t really want to take. He decided that suicide was too final.

In his own words, “I had hit rock bottom and, I didn’t know it at the time but that was my advantage. So, I couldn’t fall any further and I couldn’t kill myself because of my kids. So, I decided I could only go up”. And so he did.

Steps to Recovery

In short, Peter became aware of all the things that weren’t really working for him, and that needed to change. And he took action to make those difficult changes.

He had to create a new identity. This time, an identity he could live with. And, he didn’t know really know what his interests were. So, first he had to discover himself and find things that were meaningful to him.

He was on a disability pension at the time and started working on himself. He started reading books which he just started as a ‘thing to do’, something to accomplish and teach him self-discipline, which now he sees were instrumental in helping him discover new and better aligned interests.

Later, he made the decision to invest in therapy, coaching and other personal and professional development activities.

He gathered strength and first faced the fact that, while he loves religion, the guidance and the lessons to be gained, he’s not a religious person in the institutional sense, and didn’t fit well in that context. He knew that changing that could mean losing friends and family members. But it was something that needed to be done.

Peter was right. It disrupted his life, his connections fell away and his relationship with his family was also affected. But, he forged ahead, regardless.

Some time later, one of his friends offered him the opportunity to become a support worker at a Mental Health Facility. Peter reluctantly and with some apprehensions, acted on the opportunity and went with it. That’s where he fell in love with mental health and helping people out of the throes of mental suffering.

Later he completed his degree from the Australian Catholic University in Social Work. From there, like one domino after another, he acted on the professional opportunities he saw in front of him and he is now living a life well and truly beyond his diagnosis.

He is completely free from any Bipolar Symptoms, feels better than he ever did, and lives a happy, fulfilling life.

His main message to the world is that recovery from Bipolar is not only possible but highly probable. And not just mere recovery, but living a pleasant and meaningful life beyond survival and he is a living example of what is possible.

He looks back at his diagnosis of Bipolar Disorder as a wake-up call to change his way of life.

Conclusion and More

Peter Diaz is an inspiration for anyone drowning in the ocean of their life situation.

He is an inspiration that recovery from Bipolar is possible. And not just living free of symptoms, but living a meaningful and happy life, no matter what challenge life presents you, is possible if you apply self-discipline and take charge of your situation. It’s not easy, but it’s worth it.

Peter shares his experience with Bipolar Disorder in his own words, in the video here.

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Bipolar Disorder: Different Approaches to Recovery

In this article, we will discuss what Bipolar Disorder is, the types of Bipolar Disorders, a bipolar diagnosis, is it possible to take charge of Bipolar Disorder, and the different approaches toward recovery from bipolar Disorder.

What is Bipolar Disorder

Put plainly; Bipolar Disorder is a series of life-disrupting cycles of extreme highs and lows.

The word “Bipolar” means two poles referring to the extreme high and the extreme low.

How is it different from what we call a “Mood Swing”? Bipolar Disorder is a type of Mood Swing.

Mood Swings are quick changes in one’s emotional state. In other words, you are not experiencing a reasonably constant emotional state.

Bipolar Disorder is when a person experiences mood swings that go from a very excited, energized, and often irritable emotional state to a sad, depressing, and lifeless emotional state in an unexpected time frame.

bipolar-disorder

Note: We are focusing on the emotional aspect of Bipolar as that’s how most people experience it, but the effects are often felt on a physical and mental level as well.

Generally, in Bipolar Disorder, the Highs are referred to as Manic Episodes, and the Lows are referred to as Depressive Episodes. In this article, we will be referring to them as simply “Highs” and “Lows” Or “High” and “Low”.

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Types of Bipolar Disorders

Now, let’s discuss the types of Bipolar Disorders.

Bipolar Disorders are of many types depending on the subtle nuances experienced by the individual, but there are primarily two types: Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2

Both Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2 Disorders are very similar; we can also loosely say that Bipolar 1 is a succession of Bipolar 2.

The main differentiator of Bipolar 1 and Bipolar 2 exists in the Manic Episodes.

If the Manic Episodes are severe enough to need hospitalization or some other person’s assistance, this is called Bipolar 1. In Bipolar 1, the depressive episodes tend to be more severe.

Using the Roller Coaster analogy commonly associated with Bipolar: “the higher you go, the lower you fall”.

Several other classifications are drawn based on the severity of the Disorder and the length of the periodic cycles, but these classifications are of lesser significance.

Do I Have Bipolar Disorder?

Mary Lambert, a Musician and a fellow Bipolar sufferer, says: “Even when I am in a very great, steady, stable place… I am clinically Bipolar so that always exists – darkness always exists.”

Ronald Bassman, a renowned Psychologist, says, “Too often when carrying a diagnosis, one is required to act more normal than normal, with ultra-sensitive antennas to subdue or hide signs that in others could be swiftly dismissed as benign eccentricity.”

In diagnosing people with mental health disorders, we ask for caution. The problem is that, while some people may benefit from a temporary diagnosis and allow them to seek help, labelling can have its problems. When we diagnose or label someone, a new identity of sorts is created. If we label and don’t take certain precautions, this could prompt the person with the label to live their whole life under its shadow. Hardly a recipe for success.

At the WMHI, we teach people to look past the label, have it as a reference point but not attach it to their identity.

One thing you can do right now is to ask yourself the following questions:

  • Are you experiencing extreme highs and lows that you can’t explain?
  • Are these extreme highs and lows distressing?

If the answer to both of these questions is “yes”, then all you need to know now is that you are experiencing overwhelming waves of highs and lows that are disrupting your life, and it’s possible to take charge of them.

The Different Approaches to Treat Bipolar Disorder

There are many different approaches to treat Bipolar Disorder, but all have the same aim of flattening the wave of extreme highs and lows into a manageable wave of highs and lows.

When basing our approach on Medicine, there are two methods:

  • Non-Medicinal: This is the approach that we discuss in our online courses. In a non-medicinal approach, we take charge of our thoughts and behaviors to help regulate our high-low waves.
  • Medicinal: The highs and lows are managed with medication, which tackles the problem chemically, making the emotions stable on a chemical level, resulting in stable thoughts and behaviors.

Depending on the severity of your Disorder, the best route could be a mix of a medicinal and non-medicinal approach. We recommend staying off the drug route if you can manage your highs and lows well since these have many side effects. PLEASE NOTE: if you are already taking medication, DO NOT STOP TAKING IT SUDDENLY. These are potent drugs, and you will need your doctor’s assistance to wean off them.

Based on how you decide to tackle your Bipolar, there are three options:

  • Working with a Psychiatrist
  • Working with a Psychologist or Mental Health Professional
  • Working on your own

A psychiatrist is a doctor that has specialized in mental health. In many countries, they are the ones that will be able to prescribe medication and provide you with medical support.

A psychologist or mental health professional will focus primarily on talking therapies that require no medication.

The Non-Medicine Based Approach for Bipolar Disorder

Two main Non-Medicine Approaches are ECT and CBT.

ECT or Electroconvulsive Therapy is a short-term treatment for any Major Depressive or Manic Episodes. ECT is a process of altering the state of the brain with the use of electric stimulation.

CBT or Cognitive Behavior Therapy is a long-term treatment for Bipolar Disorder. CBT works by regulating bad habits and replacing them with good habits.

A Mental Disorder is an accumulation of thoughts, habits, and emotions that work against a person and causes dysfunction and distress.

CBT involves identifying these destructive thoughts and behaviors and replacing them with constructive thoughts and s, which positively affects the emotional state.

More Help and What Now?

If you are still reading, it means that you are trying to look for ways to help others or yourself recover from Bipolar Disorder. Reading this far of the article is evidence of that, and we commend you for it.

Now, if you keep taking action, recovery is almost inevitable. Research shows that a significant number of people eventually recover with no lasting signs of mental ill-health.

At the WMHI, we provide videos and information that promote recovery. You can access some of these recovery-based videos and mental health & wellbeing articles here.

You can also check out this inspirational story of the CEO and the Co-founder of the WMHI, Peter Diaz, who has gone through Bipolar Disorder and came out stronger and happier than ever.

WMHI wishes you all the best in your recovery. Feel free to drop a comment down below or reach out to us at admin@thewmhi.com

Unleash-Your-Voice

Find & Unleash Your Voice

The Never-Ending Search for Health and Agency at Work

When it comes to health in the workplace, most people immediately think of physical health, including preventing accidents, slips, falls, etc. However, research shows that worker´s mental health is just as important, if not more so, than their physical health.

For example, take an office worker who is supremely unhappy with their job. They’re so sad, in fact, that they become clinically depressed and have severe bouts of anxiety. They start showing up late, are disengaged on the job, and call in sick frequently. Some may even consider self-harm or harming their co-workers.

Most would agree this is an unhealthy situation. While physical health may be more readily observed, the fact is that employee´s mental health is just as vital to an organization as their physical health. The question then becomes; what can be done to improve the overall mental health of all employees?

There are of course, a number of different avenues to improving mental health, resilience and wellbeing. But one that is so often overlooked, but which is becoming ever so critical in the modern workplace, is the importance of Freedom of Expression.

Unleash-Your-Voice

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Freedom of Expression and the Mental Health Connection

In The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, Article 10 declares that the right to freedom of opinion and expression is one of the fundamental human rights. Indeed, it may be the most essential human right, as freedom of expression ties deeply into the human psyche.

But what, exactly, is freedom of expression, and why is it so crucial to a person’s mental health? The answer lies in the fact that, while an employee is under the organization’s auspices for whom they work, they are expected to do their work and be productive. However, they are still an autonomous individual with their own opinions, beliefs, and values.

Freedom of expression is the right to express those opinions, beliefs, and values without fear of reprisal, oppression, and censorship. However, the challenge for an employer is to balance an employee’s individual right to expression with the organization’s values, rules, and expectations.

Employees Do Not Have a Constitutional Right to Free Speech

One of the most surprising facts for many people is that, while on the job, freedom of speech laws of the outside world don’t always apply. Even though some may disagree, as an employee, the right to freedom of speech is relatively limited. For example, an employee who publicly says or writes something inflammatory about the company can face legal charges.

Of course, the average employee is never going to do anything of the sort. Many enjoy their job,but, without the freedom to express themselves, languish at their jobs while anxiety and depression take their toll. That’s a problem that has with nothing to do with free speech but rather an employee feeling that their voice, opinions, and ideas have no value.

Methods to Empower Freedom of Expression

Giving employees the ability to fully express their ideas and opinions on the job isn’t something that happens naturally for most organizations. Frankly, it’s ingrained into most workers that “rocking the boat” isn’t a good plan (especially if they want to remain employed).

In the industrial age, we had a very different approach to work. People who got hired to work on a factory line, exchanged their time and physical labor for money. There was no need nor expectation that they would have an input into the systems or procedures. But now, we are no longer in the industrial age. Times are very different.

In the current pandemic/post pandemic workplace, more and more employees are re-evaluating their work and lives, with many opting out of the workforce entirely (heard of the Great resignation?). Those who remain are demanding greater flexibility, greater collaboration, and greater opportunity to contribute their perspectives and ideas in the workplace. At the very least, to be our selves at work. Many workplaces too, are providing support for the ´whole person´, recognizing that as human beings, the personal does impact the professional and vice versa.

For that reason, an organization must make a point of allowing their employees to express their ideas, needs, wants, and any problems they’re having on the job. This is a key element of a psychologically safe workplace. More importantly, action has to be taken that proves their opinions and ideas are being taken seriously. Below are a few excellent methods to do that, including:

  • Show That Speaking Up is a Positive, Not a Negative

Allowing employees the regular opportunity to give feedback without fear of reprisal is one of the best methods of allowing them to express themselves. The truth is, speaking up takes courage. Getting valuable feedback when that happens can be an incredible ego booster that keeps an employee engaged, happy and productive.

  • Create a Culture of Feedback in the Workplace

A quick online search for the term “feedback” will reveal millions and millions of results. Why? Because humans love giving their feedback about anything and everything, especially when they feel that they have something to add to the conversation.

This holds true in the workplace as well, where it’s guaranteed that many employees would love to give their feedback about a wide variety of work-related topics. The key as an employer is to provide them with an open forum to do just that.

This requires much more than a simple “Suggestion Box” on the wall, it is about communicating that the feedback is heard, genuinely considered, and acted upon in one form or another.

When your organization has a culture of seeking feedback and taking action on it, the response from employees is highly positive. One reason may be that, by allowing unfettered feedback, an employer (or manager) showcases their humility. This, in turn, elevates the status of the team member who was seeking feedback. The result is a standard of psychological safety that doesn’t just allow for freedom of expression; it actively encourages that expression on behalf of all employees.

  • Look at Complaints and Grievances as Important Data

It’s easy to see complaints and grievances as nuisances, especially if they aren’t particularly true or correct. On the other hand, if you look at the information provided as data, you can often learn valuable information that, in the end, helps the organization.

Indeed, many a positive change has come from an employee expressing themself about a negative situation. Without freedom of expression in the workplace, these positive (and frequently profitable) changes would never occur.

  • Employee Agency and Mental Health Are Closely Tied Together

By ´agency´ we mean personal agency – the sense of confidence that staff member has that they can influence, and make an impact on their world – in this case, the workplace.

At the end of the day, an employee’s agency and mental health while on the job are closely related. One compliments the other, with more fulfilled, engaged, and productive employees as a result.

For these reasons, giving all employees a voice is vitally important to an organization’s success. Yes, limits and structure need to be put in place, but the resulting changes will contribute to a workplace where mental health issues are low, and satisfaction levels are high. That’s a win-win situation for all involved.

In short, when an organization allows its employees to unleash their voice, the entire organization benefits. In the never-ending search for health and agency, freedom of expression in the workplace is a proven, profitable solution.