Is “Climate Despair” Making People Depressed?

polar bear

Over time it has become increasingly clear that climate change is taking a toll on our planet — but what about our mental health? To start, more people than ever believe that climate change is an issue to be concerned about. According to a 2018 survey administered by Yale, about six in ten Americans (62%) say they are at least “somewhat worried” about global warming and about one in five (21%) are “very worried” about it, nearly double the number who were “very worried” in a similar study conducted in 2015. Today’s generation is experiencing more mental health issues than ever – some of it is attributed to uncertainty about the future of the earth. Continue reading Is “Climate Despair” Making People Depressed?

How Quality Time With Your Partner Improves Your Mental Health

partners holding hands on a walk

My husband and I just got back from a vacation in Maine, where we spent a few glorious days hiking in Acadia National Park. We ate lobster rolls, searched tidepools, and took naps on the ocean rocks like the nearby seals. The best part? There was no service. Without the constant flood of emails, text messages, and social media updates, we could simply enjoy each other’s presence. A luxury.

Quality in-person time is especially important in our digital age because, as a recent study published in the American Journal of Health Promotion shows, higher rates of social media use are tied to greater loneliness. Tweeting at your sweetie, might not be as hot as holding their hand on a nice hike.

Like many couples, my husband and I have a hard time carving out quality time for just the two of us. At any given moment, we are either working, meeting up with friends, visiting family, or running errands. It takes conscious effort to set aside time for us to spend together doing something just for fun. But it’s been vital to our relationship and my personal happiness. Continue reading How Quality Time With Your Partner Improves Your Mental Health

Are You Numbing Out On Self-Care?

woman looking stressed in bathtub

A few weeks before my wedding, I caught a nasty cold.

I remember marching into my therapy appointment — head pounding and body aching — furious that I was sick. I was frustrated that being sick was getting in the way of what I thought I had to do to feel beautiful and relaxed on my wedding day. Things like: run every day, tone my arms, double-down on my skin regimen, cook homemade meals, get a haircut, drink green juice, and meditate regularly. I was overcome with guilt that I didn’t have the energy to do any of it.

“I’m just so tired,” I blubbered to my therapist in between sobs. Continue reading Are You Numbing Out On Self-Care?

Why Aren’t College Students Getting The Mental Health Support They Need?

college student with backpack walking out the door of a building

It was around 10pm when I got a knock on my freshman college dorm room. I probably had been up since 8am studying, squirreled away for most of the day in my favorite cubicle on the no-talking floor in the library. 12-hour study days were the norm for me. Monday through Sunday. No days off.

I heard the knock again and got up from my scratchy desk chair to open the door. My best friend from school was there, holding an Oreo cake in his hands.

“Come on,” he said, peeling me away from my textbooks. “It’s time to eat cake!”

It was my 18th birthday. Continue reading Why Aren’t College Students Getting The Mental Health Support They Need?

4 Reasons Young People Are Struggling With Mental Health Issues

Sign that reads: "We don't have time"

Today’s generation of young people are experiencing more mental health issues than ever.

According to the World Health Organization, 10-20% of children and adolescents worldwide experience mental health disorders. The American Journal of Managed Care cites that “between 2008 and 2017, the amount of adults that experienced serious psychological distress in the last month increased among most age groups, with the largest increases seen among younger adults aged 18-25 (71%).” Continue reading 4 Reasons Young People Are Struggling With Mental Health Issues

Can Living Alone Harm Your Mental Health?

woman staring out of closed window

“You can pull over by that white awning,” I told my Lyft driver.

I hauled my two large army-green duffles, red Osprey suitcase, black backpack and canvas bag — filled with essentials like my electric kettle and drum from Sedona—out of the trunk and onto the curb. I noticed a group of graduate students greeting new residents at the door wearing Columbia University t-shirts that said Office of Residential Services on the front. It still felt weird to be back at school.

After I checked myself in, one of the students wearing the Office of Residential Services t-shirts came over with a giant yellow bin and asked me if I would like help bringing my stuff up to my apartment. I happily accepted, tossed all of my stuff into the yellow bin, and we rolled it to the elevator together.

“What floor?” the student asked.

“Sixteen,” I replied. Continue reading Can Living Alone Harm Your Mental Health?

How to Ask for Space From a Partner

two people standing apart facing each other

Let’s face it, sometimes your partner will annoy you.

I used to think conflict with my partner meant our relationship was doomed. I was so terrified of it that I would do everything in my power to either avoid it or make it go away. As a recovering people-pleaser, I used to immediately abandon myself at the mere whisper of conflict. I would agree with, and internalize, whatever criticism my partner made about me without blinking an eye. Continue reading How to Ask for Space From a Partner

6 Misconceptions About Starting Therapy

young boy staring up a large staircase

“I’m sorry for what you have been through.”

This is the very first thing my therapist said to me. Before we talked about working together. Before she explained how therapy could help. Before she offered any advice.

I will never forget that moment because it was the first time I truly felt “seen.” Up until that point, everyone with whom I shared my story responded with either a) shock or b) solutions. Neither of which felt great. Finding someone who understood how to hold space for my pain, guide me through my healing, and empower me to reclaim my joy would prove more life-changing than I ever imagined. Continue reading 6 Misconceptions About Starting Therapy

How the Pressures to Get Into College are Harming People’s Mental Health

Person with face in book

Being back in school as a grad student, I’m reminded of the ways the academic system brings out the worst in me.

My obsession with grades. My workaholism. My comparison-itis. My drive to be perfect.

It brings me back to when I was a teenager and it felt like my goodness as a person was tied to my GPA, the number of leadership roles I took on, and how many extracurriculars I participated in. On the surface, I was excelling. But on the inside, I was suffering. Continue reading How the Pressures to Get Into College are Harming People’s Mental Health

Why Self-Medicating is a Bad Idea

Person drinking liquor

I thought I was just like everyone else.

Joining my friends for happy hour, sipping on nice wine at client dinners, and spending Sunday afternoons at the local beer garden. It seemed perfectly normal that my social life revolved around alcohol. Since my drinking patterns did not seem any different from my peers, it never occurred to me to question them or view them as a form of self-medicating.

According to Kimberly Leitch, LCSW-R, and Talkspace therapist, there are many different forms of self-medicating. “Some of the more common forms of self-medicating that my clients engage in are the use of marijuana, alcohol, and sleeping pills,” Leitch said. From her perspective, self-medicating behaviors are often tied to poor coping skills. Continue reading Why Self-Medicating is a Bad Idea