When to Disclose Your Mental Health Issues (And When Not To)

anxious woman at conference table with co-workers

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of stigma surrounding mental health issues. It can be hard to determine when it’s the right time to talk about your conditions, and when it’s the right time to sit back and stay tight-lipped. How do you decide?

In the Workplace

My clients often discuss the challenges of dealing with mental health issues in the workplace. They sometimes ask, “Should I tell my employer about my depression?” A lot of times, it depends.

There are some positive signs that might foreshadow a favorable reaction when it comes to talking to your employer about your mental health. The first question I always ask my clients is, “What do you expect or stand to gain from making this disclosure?” Sometimes the answer is direct and concrete, such as more time to complete an assignment or task. Other times it might be about being able to schedule a break in the work day to make a weekly therapy or doctor appointment. Continue reading When to Disclose Your Mental Health Issues (And When Not To)

How to Cope with Mental Health During Natural Disasters

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Our hearts are heavy with sadness for all those affected by the unthinkable damage caused by Hurricane Harvey. At Talkspace we strongly believe in solidarity and kindness as keys to a healthy community and society. This guiding principle is why we have joined the Hurricane Harvey relief efforts by sharing our resources in any way possible.

In addition to a donation to a local food bank, we are offering a free, therapist-led support group on Facebook for those affected by this disaster. We hope this group will provide a safe space to grieve losses and process complex and overwhelming emotions. This step can help begin the healing process and let people know they are not alone.

When a natural disaster like Hurricane Harvey ravages the land, thousands of people lose their homes. News organizations send hundreds of photos and videos that show the extent of the destruction. Reporters and citizens document every flooded street, toppled building or crowded shelter.

But there is another type of damage that is more difficult to see and quantify: the impact on mental health. Victims of natural disasters often experience trauma and grief that plagues them long after they have found a new home. The stress of fighting for survival can make people more vulnerable to developing mental health conditions, including depression and post traumatic stress disorder [PTSD]. Continue reading How to Cope with Mental Health During Natural Disasters

Why Mental Health Is A Feminist Issue

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When I told several people in my life I would be writing about feminism and mental health, they didn’t understand. “Why is mental health a feminist issue?” they asked. So let’s talk about that F-word, feminism.

To review, per bell hooks, an acclaimed feminist theorist, “Feminism is a movement to end sexism, sexist exploitation, and oppression” — for everyone.

The feminist movement has worked to earn women the right to vote, the ability to seek careers, and to make decisions about their reproductive rights, for example. Feminism endures, however, because it’s much more than that. The feminist movement also works to incorporate an intersectional understanding of identity by including race, sexual orientation, gender identity, ability, class, and age into its politics.

So where does mental health fit into the picture? Continue reading Why Mental Health Is A Feminist Issue

How Social Media Has Changed the Way We Grieve

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A few years ago, Gale’s mother passed away after a grueling battle with cancer. As the lone Atheist in a devout religious family, Gale felt isolated and unable to grieve in the way she wanted. The inundation of spiritual rhetoric from relatives made it difficult for her to celebrate her mother’s life.

To find a place where she could speak freely, Gale searched for support groups for secular people who wanted to grieve without any pressure to pray or consider religious concepts like God and the afterlife. She found two secular grief groups on Facebook and has been satisfied with the online community.

“I would still feel almost entirely alone if it were not for these people,” Gale said of her community members. “I feel heard and understood, and it’s not less real to me if that understanding and camaraderie happens online.” Continue reading How Social Media Has Changed the Way We Grieve

Finding Help for Complicated Grief

sad woman looking into sunset

Grief is one of the most intensely personal emotions we experience, and also one of the most public; not for nothing does every culture on Earth have rituals associated with grieving. Many of those rituals unfold over a series of days or months — Shiva in Jewish tradition, prayers in Buddhism — reflecting the fact that grief takes time. In a fast-paced society, there can be tremendous pressure to “get over it” as quickly as possible, and those who take more time than others may be viewed as suspect.

When does mourning cross the tipping point between a natural and healthy response to an intense life event and into something more dangerous? That’s a question that challenges researchers interested in a phenomenon called “complicated grief” or “difficult grief,” in which people become “stuck,” as Talkspace therapist Cynthia Stocker terms it. Whether an adjustment is related to the death of a loved one, the loss of a job, or another dramatic change like something that affects someone’s sense of identity, some people have difficulty processing and moving through their grief. It can become overwhelming, and that’s when grief may transition into something harmful. Continue reading Finding Help for Complicated Grief

A Guide to College Mental Health for LGBTQ Students

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Beginning your first year of college can inspire several emotions. From the first day of classes to finding your place in a sea of new faces, entering a university can be extremely exciting or exceptionally stressful. This can be an even more difficult transition when you are entering college as someone who openly identifies as LGBTQ+ (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender, Queer) and needs support navigating your academic journey.

Whether it’s finding the right academic club or LGBTQ+ resource that can aid in the transition from high school, being LGBTQ+ and new on a college campus can be fraught with troubles. For some students, the first question that comes to mind might be how inviting the college campus is or how truly accessible these LGBTQ+ resources are. This concern often leads to conversations around the need for queer students to be informed of what programs and services their campus offers when speaking specifically about mental health and wellness. Continue reading A Guide to College Mental Health for LGBTQ Students

The College Student’s Guide to Mental Health (What I Wish I Knew)

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Society and pop culture portray college as a wild time loaded with sleepless nights and packed with parties, but I’ll tell you the truth. College is filled with a different type of sleepless nights when you’re suffering from mental illness — nights filled with long anxiety attacks and horrible thoughts and mornings filled with dread of attending class for fear of having an anxiety attack in the classroom.

There are things I know now that I wish I knew then, but the good news is, now I can share my tips with all of you. If you’re feeling hopeless about getting through college alive, here’s a guide for you. Continue reading The College Student’s Guide to Mental Health (What I Wish I Knew)

A Parent’s Guide to College Mental Health

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I remember the transition to college as one of the most emotionally challenging times of my life. I wanted all the freedom and intrigue I knew college could offer me, yet I still felt very much like a child. Suddenly being out on my own felt jarring.

I was not alone, according to Amanda Rausch, Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT). Rausch says the transition from home life to college life isn’t easy for most college kids. In fact, explains Rausch, the transition can be experienced like a series of losses for your college-bound child.

“They leave their home, regular schedule, high school relationships, and even pets they have grown up with…it is a lot to process!” Rausch also mentioned the huge decisions young people are responsible for during college. “They experience the adjustment of being on their own, figuring out finances, new classes, new people, new places and, oh yeah, the decision of what to study, which determines their career and the rest of their lives!” Continue reading A Parent’s Guide to College Mental Health

Why Mental Health Conditions Shouldn’t Be Pejorative

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My then-boyfriend and I were at a hole in the wall pizzeria that served the greasiest pizza in town. We were with some other guy that he knew, whom I’d just met that night. Somehow, conversation turned to a discussion about mental illness, so I opened up about my depression and how it was resistant to most medications.

This guy looked back and forth between me and my boyfriend, an expression of confusion in his eyes. “How do you deal with her? She’s crazy.”

Never in my life had I been overcome with such an overwhelming urge to punch someone. I excused myself from the table, pretending I was receiving a call. I ran down the block into an alley and called one of my best friends and then it all came pouring out — the sobs and garbled words barely audible between gasps of hyperventilated breath. Continue reading Why Mental Health Conditions Shouldn’t Be Pejorative

What Is Schizophrenia?

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Although the popular perceptions of schizophrenia have changed, the mental health disorder — it’s not classified as a disease, as it can’t be verified as a physical condition — is still not clearly understood outside of the medical profession. This is largely due to the fact that schizophrenia is a complex condition that can manifest as a wide variety of symptoms in different people. To complicate things further, symptoms can also differ in individuals at different stages of the disorder.

The cause of schizophrenia is unknown. Although there are various theories, it’s generally diagnosed when symptoms meet the standard definition of the disorder, and when other similar conditions — such as bipolar disorder — have been rejected. Continue reading What Is Schizophrenia?