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Mental Health 101

5 Myths And Misconceptions About Therapy Debunked

There is no shame in seeking help. MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions. Book a session now https://bit.ly/mn-chat  or [email protected]

No one bats an eye if you go to a doctor for a heart problem; but mention that you are seeing a psychologist for mental health concerns and people will judge, shame, or even criticize you. 

“People avoid therapy because of the stigma surrounding mental health,” explains MindNation psychologist Maria Teresa Empleo. “And because no one wants to talk about it, people just come up with their own ideas of what therapy is about.”

Myths and misconceptions about therapy can prevent those affected from getting potentially life-changing support. If you or a loved one is in distress and are considering professional help, below are five common myths about therapy to stop believing:

MYTH: “Going to therapy means I am crazy.”

FACT: “While there are people who go to therapy for serious mental issues, this does not mean that they are crazy, weak, or hopeless,” Maria stresses. “Rather, going to therapy is an indication that they are mature and have the strength to come out, ask for help, and do whatever is necessary to make themselves better.”

Additionally, you can go to therapy even if you don’t have a major mental disorder. “Majority of people who go to therapy just need help managing everyday problems,” Maria points out. “During this pandemic, for example, my clients are mostly those who want to deal with work stress, relationship problems, and adjustments to the new normal. Many others just want to improve their well-being, relationships, or self-esteem.”

MYTH:  “I need to divulge my deepest and darkest secrets in order to get better.”

FACT: “You and your therapist might have to explore these if they are directly related to your current problem,” Maria admits. “But do know that talking about them can help ease your emotional burden.” 

That being said, going deep and personal is not a requirement for treatment. “Therapy is a safe space. If there are things that you do not want to talk about just yet, we will not pressure you,” she assures. Once you are ready, rest assured that MindNation teletherapy sessions are guaranteed to be secure, and confidential. 

MYTH: Follow-up sessions are not needed.

FACT: Because most patients feel an improvement in their mood after the initial or second session with a therapist, they no longer return for additional sessions. But follow-up sessions are important because they reinforce the practices taught, ensuring that you do not end up repeating the negative thoughts or habits that caused you to seek help in the first place. “When you feel better, have a clearer headspace, and are no longer as sensitive or emotional as the start, then you will be in a better place to work on your triggers,” Maria explains

MYTH: Therapy is expensive.

FACT: If your company does not yet have an Employee Assistance Program that includes sessions with mental health professionals and you have to pay for therapy out of your own pocket, this article lists the reasons you should consider therapy as an investment and not an expense. 

[J]ust as you would not think twice about paying a doctor to treat physical health concerns, you should also regard psychologists, psychiatrists, and WellBeing Coaches as experts in treating mental health concerns. 

Maria Teresa Empleo, MindNation psychologist


Also, just as you would not think twice about paying a doctor to treat physical health concerns, you should also regard psychologists, psychiatrists, and WellBeing Coaches as experts in treating mental health concerns. 

MindNation psychologist, psychiatrist, and WellBeing Coach teletherapy sessions are available singly or in packages so you save more on follow-up sessions. Purchase at bit.ly/mindnation-shop or thru the Goodwork.ph app.

MYTH: “I’d rather talk to a friend, at least that’s for free.”
Friends are a great source of support during tough times, but because of your close relationship there will always be that fear of judgement. On the other hand, because psychologists, psychiatrists, and WellBeing Coaches are strangers, there is no need to worry about bias and censure. More importantly, they are trained and licensed mental health professionals, so they can offer science-based solutions to help you cope with life issues and mental health challenges.

Are you ready to talk to a MindNation psychologist, psychiatrist, or WellBeing Coach? Read this article to find out how you can choose which therapist is right for you. IF you are curious to find out what goes on during the first therapy session, we give you the rundown here. Finally, here are some things you can do to make sure that you get your money and time’s worth during your therapy session.

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How To

No Time Wasted: 5 Tips For Making The Most Out Of Your Therapy Sessions

Congratulations! You’ve finally found a therapist that you feel safe and comfortable with, and you’ve come out of your first teletherapy session feeling supported and empowered. Now comes the challenging part — staying the course on your journey to better mental health.

According to MindNation Operations Head Jen Alonte, it’s important to return for follow-up therapy sessions so that your psychologist or WellBeing Coach can check on your progress. “Most mental health concerns are caused by long periods of unresolved problems or issues that cannot be ‘cured’ in just one session, especially if the concern is something serious like depression or anxiety,” she says. “And even if you ‘feel better’ after just one session, it does not hurt to have follow-up sessions to solidify whatever therapy was introduced in case a trigger occurs.”

“Most mental health concerns are caused by long periods of unresolved problems or issues that cannot be ‘cured’ in just one session,”

Jen Alonte, MindNation Operations Head

That being said, continuously showing up for therapy is a fairly major commitment in terms of time, emotional space, and finances. This is why it’s important that you  put in the time, energy, and effort into every session so that you do not waste valuable resources — both yours and your therapist’s. Jen shares some tips for ensuring that no money, time, or energies are wasted:

  1. Eliminate distractions. Keep your cellphone on silent, and make sure you are doing your teletherapy session somewhere calm and quiet. “Make sure there are no other people around who will vie for your attention,” Jen says. Lastly, don’t schedule your session right before or after a meeting so that your mind is not filled with distracting thoughts.
  2. Come prepared. “A day before your session, think about what you want to discuss with the therapist and write them down so that you don’t miss anything,” Jen suggests. Also, don’t forget to check if your Internet connection is stable and that your device’s camera and microphone are working so that you do not run into technical problems in the middle of the session.
  3. Be seen. Even though MindNation teletherapy sessions are also available through voice chat or sms chat, the best set-up would still be one where the therapist sees your face. “This is because psychologists can learn a lot from facial expressions and other non-verbal cues,” Jen explains.
  4. Be open. No need to be afraid or shy; psychologists, psychiatrists, and WellBeing Coaches are trained professionals whose job is to listen without bias or judgement and offer the best kind of support. “Our psychologists mostly use Cognitive Behavioral Therapy as a form of treatment, so what you say will help them determine the right course of treatment for you,” Jen explains. “So if you hold back, the advice that they will give will also be limited.”
  5. Give feedback after the session. MindNation Care Coordinators send feedback forms to clients after they complete a session. “Be sure to fill in the form honestly. This is because by default, we will always assign you to the same therapist for follow-up sessions since they already know your background. But if you are not comfortable with the therapist for whatever reason, let us know right away so that we can assign you to someone else,” Jen assures. 

Getting the most out of therapy might be challenging at times, but if you are committed to taking care of your mental health and participate in therapy sessions properly, you can help yourself achieve better mind, better you.

MindNation psychologists and WellBeing Coaches are available 24/7 for teletherapy sessions via video call, voice call, or sms chat. Rest assured that all conversations will be kept secure and confidential. Book a session now through Facebook Messenger https://bit.ly/mn-chat or email [email protected]

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Mental Health 101

8 Reasons Why People Don’t Seek Professional Help For Mental Health Concerns

Despite mental health being more visible than ever and care being more available, only a few people seek professional help for their mental health concerns; according to the World Health Organization, up to 80 percent of people with mental health issues do not seek treatment. 

Up to 80% of people with mental health issues do not seek treatment.

World Health Organization

Why is this the case? Based on a poll conducted on MindNation’s Instagram page last March 2020, below are the eight most common reasons people avoid therapy. We asked MindNation People and Operations Head Kevin Quibranza to comment and share how we can overcome these thoughts and fears:

  1. Shame. (“I don’t want to be labelled ill or crazy. If word got out that I was seeing a psychologist, it could negatively impact my career, relationship, or other life goals.”)

    “Being afraid to do what needs to be done because of what others think is detrimental to your health,” says Kevin. “Don’t be ashamed to seek help.”

    When confronted with these negative voices, the best thing to do is to tune them out. If they harangue you, keep your replies short (i.e. “I see,” or “Okay”) and resist the urge to expound or explain yourself. Switch the topic if you have to. With nothing to continue on, the naysayer will stop there.

    Lastly, surround yourself with enablers. Think about the people who are supportive or would be supportive of your plans to seek therapy if you told them. “Many people nowadays are open-minded with mental health problems and it is no longer as taboo for them as it used to be,” says Kevin. And if you don’t have any such people in your life, it’s okay. There are people out there in the world who are doing what you want to do, so increase your contact with their works, such as their books, their interviews, their TV shows, and so on.
  1. Practical barriers like cost (“Therapy is expensive. I’d rather talk to my friends, at least that’s free”) or inaccessibility (“My Internet connection is not stable;” “I don’t know how to use video conferencing apps.”)

    Reaching out to friends and family is free and highly recommended when starting your mental health journey. However, there will be cases in which your loved ones might also need to set boundaries when on the receiving end of concerns. The end goal of therapy is not to have you dependent on it, but to build your resilience so you can approach life and its obstacles as a stronger, better YOU. Mental health professionals are trained to do just that.

    TIP: As part of MindNation’s mission for accessible mental healthcare for all, psychologists and WellBeing coaches onboard are available for teletherapy sessions 24/7, and an initial session costs only P1,500 (for psychologist) and P500 (for a WellBeing Coach).

    MindNation sessions are available through video call, voice call, SMS/chat, and Care Assistants will be able to guide you every step of the way.
  1. Hopelessness. (“I tried it once, I didn’t feel any better. I guess it’s not for me.”)

    “Just because one psychologist’s approach did not work for you does not mean that another’s approach won’t,” explains Kevin. “Ask a friend, colleague, or doctor you trust to recommend another therapist who might be a good fit for you, although be mindful that you may have different therapy needs and goals than the one giving you the recommendation.”
  1. Distrust. (“I don’t like confiding in a stranger.”)

    “It might sound paradoxical, but the best person to talk about our problems are strangers,” points out Kevin. “They don’t have the biases that you or your immediate family might have, which can stop them from guiding you or giving you the best advice, plus they can offer a fresh perspective on a situation that may have trapped you for a long time.”
  2. Denial. (“Why should I go to therapy, there’s nothing wrong with me. I’m fine, everyone goes through what I’m going through; just give me a few days and I’ll be able to snap out of this funk that I am in.”)

    People usually resort to denial as a way of coping with anything that makes them feel vulnerable or threatens their sense of control. It could also be a defense mechanism against the fear of stigma mentioned in item #1.

    “Denial is never helpful,” says Kevin. “If you have mental health problems, you need to go to therapy right away to stop it from becoming something more serious. Those few days that you are asking for to ‘snap out of it’ can be addressed in a one-hour session.”
  1. Lack of awareness. (“My family thinks it’s a bad idea.”)

    This is usually said by older family members who do not understand the nature of mental health; the younger generation, thankfully, do not have such limited awareness. “At the end of the day, do what is best for yourself, because it will be you alone who will carry that burden,” advises Kevin. 
  1. Anxiety. (“I don’t know where to go. How can I be sure I won’t be scammed or the organization is legitimate?”)

    “Ask friends and other trusted sources for referrals, or follow the company’s social media accounts to read the reviews, comments, and see for yourself the work that they do,” suggests Kevin. 
  1. Other priorities. (“I just don’t have the time/money;” “I’m so busy with so many things.”)

    “Work can wait, your mental health cannot. You need to put your well-being on top of your priority list because everything else revolves around it; if you are mentally unwell, you cannot perform tasks as effectively, thereby affecting your productivity levels,” points out Kevin. 

Seeing a psychologist or WellBeing Coach for mental health issues should be as natural and automatic as seeing a doctor for broken bones or other physical ailments. “When you burn your hand, your first and natural reaction is to put it under cold water,” Kevin says. “Going to a professional to treat mental distress should also be a priority.”

Lastly, don’t think of therapy as an expense; treat it as an investment. By getting help now, you generate returns in the long-run for yourself, your family, your community, and your business. 

To book a session with MindNation’s psychologists and WellBeing Coaches, message http://m.me/themindnation or email [email protected]

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Employee Wellness Get Inspired Mental Health 101 Work in the New Normal

Do’s And Don’ts For Supporting A Colleague With a Mental Health Concern

There are many ways to help someone going through a tough time, just make sure you do it properly

What should you do if you think that a team meamber is exhibiting signs of a mental health concern? What if you want to help but can’t find the right words to say? How can we be more present to those in need?

 The good news is more often than not, you don’t even need to say anything. “What’s more important is you respond sensitively to their needs and show that you care,” says Riyan Portuguez,  RPsy RPm (also known as Your Millennial Psychologist). “Your mere presence already has a powerful effect,” she assures.

Below are some ways:

Do:

  1. Dedicate enough time. If you want to get to the bottom of their issues, staying behind for an extra 30-minutes after an online meeting will not cut it. “An honest-to-goodness conversation will take hours, so be sure you won’t be distracted by other matters,” points out Riyan. 
  1. Let them lead the discussion. Allow them to share as much or as little as they want to. Don’t pressure them to tell you anything that they are not ready to talk about. Talking takes a lot of trust and courage; you might even be the first person they have been able to talk to about this issue. 
  1. Validate their feelings. “Listen actively and empathize as much as you can,” advises Riyan. Remember, you don’t have to agree with someone’s feelings or choices to acknowledge that their emotions are valid.
  1. Offer to accompany them to a mental health professional to prevent further harm. They may be hesitant to take this next step because of the stigma associated with seeking professional treatment for mental health concerns, but assure them that it is a good way for them to receive proper care. Another option you can suggest is MindNation’s 24/7 chat helpline on FB Messenger. Assure your friend that the service is free, completely confidential, and that the staff are trained to ease their anxieties. 
  1. Know your limitations. “Make sure YOU are mentally and emotionally prepared to offer help,” Riyan reminds. Self-care is critical when you are supporting someone who is in crisis. When someone unburdens themselves to you, you might end up absorbing all the strong emotions, so make sure you set boundaries and take steps to protect yourself by doing activities before and after the conversation that leave you feeling rested, relaxed, and recharged. And if you feel you have reached your limit, don’t feel bad about stepping back, but do it properly.

Don’t

  1. Diagnose. Do not make assumptions about what is wrong with the person. “When you initiate the conversation, avoid blurting inappropriate things like ‘I notice that you seem down lately, are you depressed?’” Riyan instructs. “A better way to phrase it would be ‘You seem down lately, are you okay?’ or ‘Is there anything I can do?’” 
  1. Start with “How are you?” Riyan says this is because it would be easy for the person to just say “I’m fine” even though he or she is really not. She suggests that if you want the other person to open up, a better way would be to phrase the question in such a way that it compels the responder to do an action, such as “Hey, are you free later? Let’s talk.” 
  1. Break their trust. Do not gossip about your friend’s problems to other people; neither should you report his or her mental health concerns to their boss even if your intentions are good (i.e. you want to alert them that their team member has mental health struggles). “This will cause your friend to resent you, when what you want is to maintain his or her trust in you,” Riyan points out. If you really feel that you need to get others involved, ask for permission first, i.e. “Is it okay to open this up to your team leader?” Then follow up with “I think it would be nice to mention what you told me to them, so that they can also help you.” Lastly, offer to accompany the person when he or she has that conversation as a form of moral support. 
  1. Invalidate their feelings. According to Riyan some of the things you should not say to someone struggling with a mental health concern include: 
  • “It’s all in your head” 
  • “Things could get worse” 
  • “Have you tried chamomile tea/lavender lotion/praying/going out more/etc” 
  • “Shake it off.” 
  1. Ghost, ignore, or avoid them. If you become too overwhelmed to engage with them, don’t just disappear without a world. Step back, but do so respectfully and thoughtfully. Be honest about your reasons for stepping back, and do not blame the person (in the same way that you would not blame a cancer patient for the stress that results from their struggles). Set a date on when you will next touch base with him or her so that they feel assured that you still care for them and that the timeout is only temporary. Lastly, reach out to other members of your friend’s support network and make sure they can commit to helping out if there is an emergency. 

The best thing you can do for someone struggling with a mental health concern is to instill hope. “Saying ‘We will get through this together’ assures the person that he or she is not alone,” says Riyan.

— Written by Jaclyn Lutanco-Chua of MindNation

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Mental Health 101

Mental Health for Beginners: 10 Answers to the Most Common Mental Health Questions

While understanding and awareness about mental health and its issues has increased in the recent years, we are sure there are still some topics that need clarification. As part of our celebration of World Mental Health Month this October, we asked MindNation’s go-to psychologist Riyan Portuguez RPsy RPm (also known as Your Millennial Psychologist) to answer the 10 most common questions about mental health and wellness:

  1. What is mental health?

Riyan: Mental health is the science of self-love. It’s about honoring your emotions and boundaries, and allowing yourself to receive proper and evidence-based care so that you attain personal growth, maximize productivity, and make significant contributions to your community.

  1. What causes mental health problems?

Riyan: Mental health is a complicated matter, varies from person to person, and occurs from the interaction of the following factors:

  1. Neuro-biological (i.e.chemical imbalances in the brain, genetic predispositions to certain disorders that may be triggered by stress or trauma)
  1. Socio-cultural (i.e. a dysfunctional family life, substance abuse)
  1. Psychological (i.e. severe psychological trauma, neglect)
  1. How can I tell if someone I love has a mental health concern?

Riyan: If your loved one exhibits the following warning signs for two weeks or more, you are right to be concerned:

  1. Significant changes in their behavior, such as extreme angry outbursts or bouts of sadness
  2. Withdrawal from friends and other normal activities
  3. No longer pays attention to grooming and/or personal hygiene
  4. Confused thinking, inability to concentrate, lapses at work
  5. Significant weight gain or loss, loss of appetite or overeating
  6. Talks about doing harm to themselves or to others. Suicidal thinking may be active (i.e. “I want to end my life”) or passive (“I don’t want to wake up tomorrow.”)

When you are in doubt about your friend’s condition, always seek the assistance of a mental health professional. 

  1. How can I tell if I have a mental health problem?

Riyan: The answer is the same as the above, although it can be harder to recognize the warning signs if you are talking about yourself. This is especially true if you are the type of person who is frequently perceived by others as “strong,” or if you are the one always providing help to others. Listen to friends and family and keep an open mind if they express concern about the state of your mental health. 

  1. I feel strong, negative emotions like anger and fear sometimes; does this mean I need to see a therapist as soon as possible?

Riyan: Not right away. Emotions, even the negative ones, are a normal part of life, so go ahead and allow yourself to feel them and to lose yourself in them. Suppressing or dismissing these emotions because they are “bad” will only lead to emotional or psychological disorders. But if you experience negative emotions recurring too often or last more than two weeks, or you feel they are getting stronger or more out of control, then seek help. 

  1. What is the difference between sadness and depression?

Riyan: Sadness is an emotion. It is a response to a specific situation — something happened that made you sad. But you are still able to function (i.e. work, do homework) and experience other emotions (i.e. you feel happy when friends comfort you). It usually goes away after a few days.

On the other hand, depression is a mental illness. It is pervasive sadness — it affects all other areas of your life, like your work and relationships with others. There is also no known or specific trigger — you don’t even know why you feel sad anymore — and it is usually accompanied by feelings of apathy and numbness. 

  1. What is the difference between fear and anxiety?

Riyan: Similar to sadness, fear is an emotion caused by something that is in the present and it is specific — there is an imminent situation that causes you to feel afraid, but you are still able to do normal things like eat, sleep, or work. Once the source of fear passes, you don’t think about it anymore. 

Anxiety is a mental disorder — it is an intense level of fear or worry about something that will occur in the future. You anticipate that something terrible will happen. People with anxiety tend to exhibit the following behaviors:

  1. Unhelpful thinking patterns — i.e. “What if–?” scenarios, “Should” and “Must” statements
  2. Magnification — the source of fear is insignificant but in the person’s mind, it is catastrophic
  3. Overgeneralization — the problem attaches itself to all other parts of their lives (i.e. “I did poorly at work” becomes “I am such a loser”)
  4. Physical symptoms such as hyperventilating and heart palpitations

People experiencing normal fear will also have negative thoughts, but after awhile they will follow these up with questions or narratives that will challenge those negative beliefs and cultivate optimism. For example, someone whose boss gives them a difficult task will worry about doing well, but after some time will figure out strategies to cope. And once the difficult task has been completed, they move on to the next assignment. 

  1. What is the difference between a psychologist, psychiatrist, and therapist? How do I know which is the right one for me?

Riyan: A psychiatrist is permitted to prescribe medicine, so their focus is on treating the neurobiological aspect of mental disorders. Psychologists cannot prescribe medication, and will focus on the patient’s sociocultural factors before diagnosing the illness. They are also therapists because they are the ones who create the interventions or treatment plans for patients. 

Psychologists and psychiatrists work together. If psychologists feel that the physical symptoms of a patient are strong, they may refer the person to a psychiatrist first to lessen the symptoms, then ask him or her to come back to continue with other forms of therapy.  

  1. Is there a way I can prevent mental health problems?

Riyan: Practice healthy lifestyle and self-care habits like eating the proper diet, frequently exercising, and getting enough sleep. Get help whenever you feel overwhelmed by your problems, beginning with talking to friends and family. Don’t be afraid to consult a mental health professional if the need calls for it. 

  1. Is there a cure for mental health problems?

Riyan: If by “cure” you mean it will disappear forever, then the answer is “no.” However, mental health problems are treatable. There are many people who recover, but they need to continuously work with psychologists or monitor their lifestyle to reduce incidences of relapse. 

And always remember that having a mental illness is nothing to be ashamed of. It is similar to having eyesight problems — there is no cure for nearsightedness, but you can wear corrective lenses and carry on normally for the rest of your life. 

Do you have other questions or concerns about mental health? Type them in the comments below and we’ll try to address it in future articles. Or you can message MindNation on Facebook Messenger if you need someone to talk to. We are available 24/7; it’s completely FREE and absolutely confidential.