The State of Mental Health

The state of mental health

Talking about mental health isn’t easy — but that’s starting to change.

More employers are investing in mental health programs, increasing access to care, and helping to decrease stigma in the process. Governments are beginning to approach mental health as a public health issue. Celebrities like Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Pete Davidson, and Lady Gaga (among many others) are coming forward about their mental health journeys to raise awareness. The tides are turning.

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How We View Mental Health Differently Than Our Mothers

Mother and child outdoors

When I began to develop panic disorder in my late teens, it took me a few years to get help. First, it was difficult to even understand what was going on. I’d heard of panic attacks, but I pictured someone rapidly hyperventilating into a paper bag and acting nervous and twitchy.

My panic attacks were much more private than that: I felt absolutely terrified, my heart would race, and my gut would turn itself inside out. But to all outward appearances, I was just daydreaming or lost in my own little world during a panic attack. Continue reading How We View Mental Health Differently Than Our Mothers

Maybe You Should Talk to Someone: An Interview with Author Lori Gottlieb

A headshot of author Lori Gottlieb

May is Mental Health Month — a time to come together to raise awareness about mental health issues, work to expand access to care, and support those who are struggling. This month we’re speaking to experts in the field about their therapeutic work, as well as their own experience and challenges with mental health.

When Lori Gottlieb was a new therapist beginning her practice in Los Angeles, seeing clients dealing with a host of issues, she hadn’t expected this to be the time she experienced a crisis of her own. She began seeing a therapist, a seasoned veteran of the field named Wendell.

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This Mental Health Awareness Month, Share Your Story

Mental health awareness month

Mental health is highly individualized — your depression may not look exactly like your neighbor’s or coworker’s. You may experience anxiety as a tightness in your chest whereas your ex boyfriend lashes out at the closest target. The same goes for treatment. Whether it be types of psychotherapy or medications, what works for one person isn’t necessarily what will be effective for another. While you may do best in individual therapy, your cousin might prefer group therapy, and your parents may need couple’s counseling.

And, although we’re slowly breaking the stigma around sharing our mental health journeys with one another, most of us still find it difficult to open up about our struggles. Just think about all of those weekly recurring “doctor’s appointments” you see on others’ work calendars. Most of us would go to great lengths to not disclose to our employer that we’re dealing with a mental health issue — sometimes for good reason. We worry that our supervisors will lose faith in our abilities, question our toughness, or otherwise penalize us. Consider also how long it takes most of us to let a new partner know about our mental health challenges — no one wants to be thought of as “abnormal.” Continue reading This Mental Health Awareness Month, Share Your Story

Tidying Up: What Cleanliness Says About Your Mental Health

Cluttered closet

One of the things I’ve always admired about myself is that sometimes my behavior, when overly stressed or anxious, can feel beneficial. A few minutes to whisk the vacuum across the living room floor, and it’s like I meditated; give me a sponge and a grimy bathroom, and I’ll give you shine and calm.

Looking at a spotless and tidy home, whatever’s bothering me feels temporarily paused. Cleanliness translates to lower stress and anxiety for me — and a flawless home for my family growing up, my roommates in college, and my husband now — how lucky are they? Continue reading Tidying Up: What Cleanliness Says About Your Mental Health

7 Ways You Can Help Raise Mental Health Awareness

three happy people

Millions of Americans are affected by mental health conditions every year. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, approximately 1 in 5 adults in the U.S. — 43.8 million, or 18.5 percent — experiences mental illness in a given year; and we know this is increasingly an issue with America’s youth.

While there are effective treatments available, many individuals with known mental health issues never seek help from a professional due to stigma, discrimination, a lack of resources, or a combination of all three. Even if you don’t struggle with mental illness, you have the opportunity to inspire others to raise awareness and take part in the sharing of information, tools, and support for mental health issues. You can make a legitimate difference and help change the narrative from negative to one of positive affirmation. Continue reading 7 Ways You Can Help Raise Mental Health Awareness

Are There Good Reasons for Your Bad Feelings: Interview with Randolph M. Nesse

Randolph M. Nesse

Our relationship with mental health is typically based on challenges we’re currently experiencing — but what if our current issues are rooted in the distant past? Often overlooked is the fact that our predispositions for conditions like depression and anxiety have existed for millenia. From an evolutionary standpoint, why haven’t these detrimental traits and behaviors been filtered out and how might they affect us now?

Randolph M. Nesse, MD, a founder of the field of evolutionary medicine and author of recently-published Good Reasons for Bad Feelings, helped us understand the gap between human physiology and modern environment, and how we can apply this field for better therapy outcomes. Continue reading Are There Good Reasons for Your Bad Feelings: Interview with Randolph M. Nesse

The Global Mental Healthcare Epidemic Demands an Urgent Paradigm Shift

Sigmund Freud

We are living in the midst of a mental health crisis — in the U.S. and across the globe. According to the World Health Organization, depression affects nearly 15 percent of adults worldwide, and diagnoses have risen 33% since 2013, according to a report from health insurer Blue Cross Blue ShieldResearchers Aaron Reuben and Jonathan Schaefer even recently proved that we are all more likely to experience a bout of mental illness in our lives than we are to develop diabetes, heart disease or any kind of cancer.

As a leader of Talkspace, a behavioral health company that has provided 1 million people psychotherapy over the last 6 years, I have been relentlessly exposed to and concerned by the complexity of the problem. Clinical, technological, regulatory, cultural, and above all, human issues are involved, and the current systems designed to deal with it are failing. The rate of failure across different systems is accelerating. Continue reading The Global Mental Healthcare Epidemic Demands an Urgent Paradigm Shift

Breaking C-Suite Stigma: Our Interview with Jason Saltzman, CEO of Alley

Jason Saltzman sitting on stairs

With more leaders and athletes going public with their mental health stories, it’s an important reminder that mental health issues affect a broad spectrum of people, from all backgrounds.

At a recent conference hosted by Talkspace, world-champion swimmer Michael Phelps described feeling like an “animal in a zoo,” referring to his mental state while under the intense spotlight of performance. And he’s right: We tend to place celebrities, athletes, and those in the C-suite on an almost mythical level. But they are people, with real challenges, who are entitled to the same compassion we expect from our own support networks.

We recently sat down with Jason Saltzman, CEO and founder of co-working community Alley. Jason has used his platform as a successful entrepreneur to advocate for openness about mental health in the workplace, the technology sector, and beyond.

Below he shares his journey with general anxiety disorder, and how it’s made him a more compassionate person and leader.

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This Year, Try an Unresolution

A tiara that says "happy new year" sits on a drab deck

“Have you considered not setting any New Year’s resolutions this year?” my therapist asked me.

Was she serious? This was back in 2013 when my whole identity was tied to being an overachiever. At the time, setting New Year’s resolutions felt essential to my future happiness. It didn’t matter if my goals ended up making me feel bad about myself. The important part was I had the self-discipline to achieve them. Continue reading This Year, Try an Unresolution