6 Quick Tips to Maintain Your Mental Health While Dating

date woman man eating dinner at home

Dating and relationships can be wonderful — meeting new people, the exciting first kindling of romance, establishing a deeper connection with someone who knows you intimately. But it can also go wrong. And when it does, the damage to our self-esteem can cause intense emotional suffering, the type of pain that hurts in ways you didn’t imagine before getting involved with someone. To avoid some of that hurt, try these quick mental health tips.

Try Not to Be Jealous

If your significant other goes out and you know they’re with attractive people, it can make you start comparing yourself to others who your partner interacts with. This is an unhealthy mindset to fall into because it can exacerbate insecurities. Try your best to stop comparing yourself. Continue reading 6 Quick Tips to Maintain Your Mental Health While Dating

A Faith-Based Perspective on Overthinking and Anxiety

anxious woman smartphone

Overthinking can lead to depression, anxiety, an inability to move forward, and wrecked emotional health, according to groundbreaking research from psychology professor Susan Nolen-Hoeksema of the University of Michigan. We may not even realize we are overthinking because we’re thinking all the time and it comes so naturally to all of us.

I find myself constantly living out scenarios in my mind that don’t come to pass. It gives me relief to know I am not alone in this. When we are nervous about something — whether it be a deadline for work, a conversation we are not looking forward to having, or a major event that could go well or poorly — it is so easy to let ourselves be consumed with the “what ifs.”

When I find myself in this trap, I will lose sleep, become irritable, and struggle to focus on anything else. None of the scenarios I imagine have ever come to pass, yet they already cause me stress! How backwards is that? And yet, most of us do this all the time. Continue reading A Faith-Based Perspective on Overthinking and Anxiety

Hunger: My Battle With Anorexia

empty plate with note I'M NOT HUNGRY

This piece is part of our Darkest Day series, a collection of stories from people who’ve made it through the worst of their illness and now light the way for others.

It’s 7am and I’ve already burned 1,000 calories on the elliptical. I’m packing up my food for the day. Breakfast is 113 calories for 3 egg whites and 1 cup of grapes. Lunch will be 131 calories for turkey, mustard, lettuce, and baby carrots. I’ve also packed 1 pack of Parliament Lights, 4 Diet Cokes, 1 gallon of water, and 1 brand new pack of bubblemint gum. I’ll have dance class in the afternoon, which takes care of another 300 or so calories. Dinner is always a wild card –– it depends on who’s around and how carefully I’m being watched. I have food saved in my room for later just in case. I am 16 years old and 70 pounds; I am a human calorie counter and numbers genius who, ironically, is also struggling in Pre-Calculus.

Looking back, it’s hard to pinpoint a clear start for all of this. Unlike an alcoholic who can often describe their first drink, there was no concrete “first.” My eating disorder was a physical manifestation of a longtime underlying condition. It was some combination of perfectionism, extreme sensitivity, fear, and ironically enough a hunger –– a hunger for love, acceptance, validation. A hunger for everything. That hunger felt unmanageable so instead of learning how to experience it, I taught myself how to stop it, to cut it off, to starve it out. If you don’t want anything, you can never get hurt, right? Continue reading Hunger: My Battle With Anorexia

Therapy for People of Color: Questions for Potential Therapists

latina woman client black woman therapist couch

Taking the step to start therapy isn’t an easy decision. There are barriers such as cost, access, and unfamiliarity with the process. This can be particularly daunting if you are a person of color, a group that has been chronically underserved by the therapy community.

One in five adults in the U.S. lives with mental illness in a given year. Within that, black and Hispanic Americans access mental health services at about half the rate of their white counterparts. Asian Americans utilize services at about one-third the rate of white Americans. It’s safe to say the mental health community is not meeting the needs of people of color.

If you are a person of color who is considering therapy, here are some questions you may want to keep in mind while you search for a potential therapist: Continue reading Therapy for People of Color: Questions for Potential Therapists

The History of Inhumane Mental Health Treatments

lobotomy brain diagram

Mental health treatment today is no walk in the park — from insurance companies denying coverage, to a lasting stigma, to the fact that the many of the most severely mentally ill among us to their own devices on the streets or relegated to prison. It’s an understatement to say that there is work left to be done. Yet, the inhumane history of mental health treatment reminds us how far we have already come.

Asylums

While terrifying mental health remedies can be traced back to prehistoric times, it’s the dawn of the asylum era in the mid-1700s that marks a period of some of the most inhumane mental health treatments. This is when asylums themselves became notorious warehouses for the mentally ill.

“The purpose of the earliest mental institutions was neither treatment nor cure, but rather the enforced segregation of inmates from society,” writes Jeffrey A. Lieberman in Shrinks: The Untold Story of Psychiatry. “The mentally ill were considered social deviants or moral misfits suffering divine punishment for some inexcusable transgression.” Continue reading The History of Inhumane Mental Health Treatments

Porn Addiction Therapy: What You Need to Know

man in bed at night smartphone

Seeking treatment for addiction to pornography is one of those uncomfortable topics people tend to avoid discussing. The issue is too big to ignore, though. More than 200,000 Americans are addicted to porn. The American Society of Addiction recognizes porn addiction as a legitimate health issue. Every day, mental health professionals use porn addiction therapy to help people relinquish their dependency and develop a healthy sexual mindset.

Porn addiction therapy often focuses on issues around shame, denial, loneliness, fear of intimacy, and sometimes social anxiety. It can shine a light on issues that “exist in the shadows,” said therapist L. Gordon Brewer, who has experience treating clients for sex and porn addiction. Brewer added that providing unconditional positive regard is especially important when helping people with addiction.

Therapists who treat clients for porn addiction commonly use cognitive behavioral therapy [CBT] to address the issues behind the addiction. This form of psychotherapy attempts to change the client’s beliefs by showing them how their thoughts are irrational or detrimental. They also help clients understand how their excessive consumption of pornography is preventing them from living a full life and having a healthy mindset about sex, relationships, and intimacy. Continue reading Porn Addiction Therapy: What You Need to Know

Therapist Tips for How to Feel Better When Life Gets Tough

therapist taking notes female client on couch

When life is challenging, we reflexively ask ourselves, “How can I feel better — fast?” At Talkspace many people connect with one of our therapists when they are going through a crisis and need someone to throw them a line. To offer some collective therapeutic wisdom, we asked therapists which pieces of advice they tend to give to clients who are going through a rough time.

Sometimes suffering gives you the opportunity to learn more about yourself, other people, and the world. That knowledge will ultimately help you make better choices and perhaps avoid situations that cause stress or heartbreak.

“When you know better, you do better,” said Talkspace therapist Chandricka Mose. “Look at the experience and take away the lesson you were meant to learn.” Continue reading Therapist Tips for How to Feel Better When Life Gets Tough

Mental Health Warriors: An Interview with Michael Brown

Michael Brown Talkspace headshot quote

As part of our commitment to help individuals continue their journey to mental health, happiness, and improved well-being, we are continuing to profile “Mental Health Warriors,” individuals who have been outspoken in their advocacy and support for mental health issues. This week, we caught up with Mental Health Coordinator for the UK’s National Police Chiefs’ Council, Seconded Police Inspector from the West Midlands Police, and “Mental Health Cop,” Michael Brown.

Talkspace: Mental health cop. Did you choose this path or did this path choose you?

Michael Brown: A bit of both! I got interested in why I had been given very little training on a topic that was so much a part of my work and after asking some difficult questions that didn’t have easy answers I was given a job to “sort it out.” Since then, I’ve repeatedly kept chipping away at issues around policing and mental health, including on social media (@mentalhealthcop on Twitter and my blog www.mentalhealthcop.wordpress.com).

Three years ago, the UK College of Policing and the National Police Chief’s Council came knocking on my door to ask if I’d work on it full-time as a national coordinator for UK policing on mental health. I think the US and the UK have a lot to learn from each other. Continue reading Mental Health Warriors: An Interview with Michael Brown

Parents, Your Mental Health Is Everything. Don’t Neglect It.

mom stressed baby crying desk

In my 20’s, I diligently tended to my mental health. I went to therapy weekly, exercised daily, and journaled all my thoughts and feelings. This all did wonders to help me manage my anxiety and panic disorder.

Then, at 28, I had a baby, and to say that things began to slide in terms of my mental health care routine would be a huge understatement.

I think it’s natural and necessary for parents to push their needs aside when they have children. At first, I found motherhood all consuming, the power of the love for my child like nothing I had ever experienced before. That feeling that you would literally lay your life down for your child is real and not an exaggeration for most of us parents.

And beyond those primal feelings of love and protection, parenthood is a 24 hour job, the needs of our children — especially when they are young — endless and unrelenting. And with parents stretched so thin in terms of finances, childcare, and general support, it is understandable that so many of us end up putting our needs at the very bottom of the list. Continue reading Parents, Your Mental Health Is Everything. Don’t Neglect It.

The History of Online Therapy

rotary phone smartphone

Online therapy has many definitions. Depending on which one you use, its history has a different beginning.

Most of the people who have catalogued the history of online therapy use broader definitions. Some historians believe it began during the 1972 International Conference on Computers when Stanford and UCLA staff used linked computers to demonstrate a psychotherapy session. This wasn’t a real psychotherapy session with a licensed therapist and — unlike the modern internet — was limited to that small network of computers. It did, however, at least demonstrate the idea of online therapy.

If you include therapy via the phone as part of online therapy, the history starts even earlier. Records of the first private call between a psychotherapist and client are lost in confidentiality. Nonetheless, it is clear people were using the phone to provide mental health support as early as the 1960s. Continue reading The History of Online Therapy