Here’s Why You Should Make Mental Health a Priority

Being healthy means more than just exercising and eating vegetables. It means taking care of our overall well-being, including our mental health. We spoke with Erica Barton, M.A., LPCA with Southeast Psych – Ballantyne to learn more about mental health and the impact it has on becoming our best self.

View our Q&A with Erica to learn about the misconceptions of mental health, treatment options, how to care for a loved one with a mental illness and more.

What are some practical ways to take care of your mental health at home?
Taking care of your mental health can seem like an overwhelming, pressure-inducing task sometimes. Luckily, making subtle changes in your lifestyle can do wonders in enhancing your overall well-being, such as being present during routine activities, getting a good night sleep, taking the time to participate in activities you enjoy, and/or surrounding yourself with a good support system.

What impact does your physical health have on your mental health?
Although physical and mental health are typically talked about separately, it is important to realize that both mind and body have huge impacts on one another. Just like Reese Witherspoon said in Legally Blonde, “Exercise gives you endorphins; endorphins make you happy.” Physical health, such as exercising regularly, is known to release endorphins and serotonin, which are known to reduce symptoms of depression and anxiety. Also, physical health through exercising can help regulate sleep patterns, increase one’s energy, and boost one’s immune system, which in turn eases some of the stressors that effect our mental health.

Can you define mental illness?
As defined by the American Psychiatric Association, “Mental illness refers collectively to all diagnosable mental disorders – health conditions involving significant changes in thinking, emotion and/or behavior, as well as distress and/or problems functioning in social, work or family activities.” A few examples of mental illnesses are depression, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder and/or schizophrenia.

What are some misconceptions about mental health/mental illnesses?
Although mental illnesses impact many people, there continues to be a stigma attached to mental health problems. A few misconceptions surrounding mental illnesses are: it is a sign of weakness, they last forever and those with mental illnesses cannot function on a day-to-day basis. In actuality, mental illness is not chosen, nor is it someone’s fault. Although some mental illnesses are not curable, many mental illnesses are treatable through a combination of therapy and medication. Lastly, the majority of those living with a mental illness, live highly functioning and productive lives.

What treatments are available for mental illnesses?
Although there is no “one-size-fits-all” treatment, there are many tools that can make recovery a reality for someone suffering from a mental illness. Some of the treatments that are available include: psychotherapy, medication, support groups and psychoeducation. Treatment choices for various mental health conditions will vary, but it is important for those dealing with a mental illness to stay involved in the treatment process and ensure your goals are being met. 

What are some reasons to seek out counseling/therapy?
There are a multitude of reasons as to why someone would go to therapy, but overall, people come to receive some sort of help. Help can range from learning how to cope with a loss, adjusting to life events, communication skills, self-exploration and/or learning healthy ways to cope with a mental illness.

How can I help or support loved ones with mental illnesses?
Supporting a loved one with a mental illness is imperative. The first step to show support is to become educated about the illness. Being educated not only shows support, but it also helps in becoming an advocate for your loved one. Secondly, have open communication with your loved one about the mental illness. Being able to talk and listen to your loved one can create trust and empathy. Lastly, the burden of dealing with a mental illness in a family unit can create a lot of stress. It is important to be aware of your emotional state and seek help if needed.  

What resources does Southeast Psych provide?
Southeast Psych has an abundance of resources. We offer therapy to individuals, couples and families of all ages. We run groups for kids, teen and adults, and we also offer psychological and psycho-educational assessment for ages 3 to 89. Southeast Psych also offers programs tailored toward very specific needs through premium brands, as well as hosts events for professional development and for the general public.

Learn more about Southeast Psych and the services offered by viewing their website or visiting the Ballantyne office located at 15720 Brixham Hill Avenue, Suite 150.

Take a look inside the Ballantyne office:



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