mental health

Kindness Matters!

The holiday season signifies a time of togetherness and community. 

That’s why it’s the perfect time to reflect on the power of kindness and how it impacts those around us. 

A small act of kindness can go a long way in making the people around us feel appreciated. We can spread more kindness in our daily lives by sharing a few kind words with our peers or gifting loved ones with a sentimental present.

It’s truly the thought that counts.  

Kind Acts Count

The kind acts we do for others, or others do for us, don’t go unremembered. 

We may not know what someone is going through, but showing someone we care about is meaningful. 

Kind acts have a way of connecting us and inspiring us all to show each other more empathy. 

Make Kindness A Routine

Kindness can become a habit if we let it!

We can add some kindness into our everyday routines by taking a moment to do something nice for another person. 

We can implement kindness by holding the door for the person behind us, texting our friends a sweet message, or offering to help a coworker in need. 

Show Self-Kindness

Along with being kind to others, we must also be kind to ourselves. 

During the holiday season, we might be busy prioritizing friends and family, but we also leave some self-love for us. 

We can make time for self-kindness by treating ourselves to our favorite meal or having time alone to recharge.

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Transgender Day of Remembrance

November 20th marks Transgender Day of Remembrance, a time to commemorate those in the transgender community who have faced stigma and discrimination.

This day first started in 1999 as a time to honor the life of Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was killed. Advocate Gwendolyn Anne Smith held a vigil to memorialize her, which began an important tradition that continues to this day.

Now Transgender Day of Remembrance signifies a time to come together and remember the transgender people who have lost their lives due to violence.

We can offer our support, understanding and compassion to those who continue to struggle to live their truth. By doing our part to educate ourselves and advocate for transgender rights, we can work to make a difference. 

On this day, we can also participate by attending vigils or events in our area, listening to stories told by transgender voices, and donating to charities that support those in the LGBTQ+ community. 

To learn more, check out the resources below. 

Transgender Resources

Tips For Allies of Transgender People

Transgender Day of Remembrance Resources

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International Men’s Day

On November 19th, we can recognize International Men’s Day as a time to emphasize the importance of men’s well-being. This day was first created in 1999 by Dr. Jerome Teelucksingh to honor his father’s passing. Men’s issues are not one size fits all, and there are many different paths for how to show up as a man in this world. International Men’s day is meant to highlight…

  • the mental and physical social issues faced by men 
  • the role that men can play as active parents
  • men as positive agents of change in society; role modelling inclusive behaviors

International Men’s Day is also a great opportunity to focus on gender equality. We can all do our part to inspire togetherness by empathizing and understanding another person’s point of view. 

We can continue to encourage those in our community to the values, character, and responsibilities we all can carry when wanting to make a change. Together, we can work toward strengthening our relationships and supporting one another. 

This is a chance for us to lead by example and make impactful contributions. To learn more, we can watch videos, attend events, and recognize those in our community who are making a difference for the better. 

“We can work together for a better world with men and women of goodwill.” – Wangari Maathai

Check out the resources below to learn more. 

International Men’s Day

History Of International Men’s Day

Six Objectives Of International Men’s Day

Why International Men’s Day Is Important For Inclusive Cultures

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Bringing People Together

As the year is coming to a close, we can reflect on the connections and relationships we’ve made – new and old. 

It’s also a great time to build deeper connections with the people in our lives or reach out to those we haven’t seen in a while. 

After all, there is power in togetherness. We can inspire more of it in our daily lives by participating in community activities, openly sharing with others, and checking in on loved ones.

Be Mindful

We can be more mindful in our every day with purposeful communication. This comes from actively listening, talking openly, and thinking about how we connect with the other person. 

When we spread mutual respect and caring, it inspires others to do the same. 

Value Time

Cherishing the time we spend with others means focusing on the here and now. We can shift our mindset to the present moment and savor the time we are able to share with peers, family, or friends. 

Living each moment intentionally allows us to value our time together.

Get Involved

Community building can come from doing activities together. Volunteering, participating in clubs, or spending time in a group setting can bring us closer together with the people around us.

Getting involved allows us to meet new people or spend more time with those we value in our lives. 

For more tips, check out the resources below.

Bringing People Together

7 Ways to Be More Inclusive in Your Everyday Life 

How to Bring People Together When Events Push Them Apart

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Understanding Substance Abuse as a Mental and Social Problem

By: Hailey Sullivan

Substance abuse continues to affect many lives. In the United States alone, 13.5% of the population was found to have overused drugs sometime in 2020. Meanwhile, at least 28.320 million Americans are dealing with alcoholism.

The common response to this is providing medical treatment. However, substance abuse is a problem that concerns not just the individual but the community. Others can be affected by living with someone diagnosed with substance abuse disorder (SUD). A 2017 report published by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration titled “Children Living With Parents Who Have A Substance Use Disorder” supports this with a finding that parents with SUD are highly likely to neglect or abuse their children. Even more concerning is that the children are also predisposed to SUD, affecting future generations.

This is just the tip of the iceberg for substance abuse. Keep reading to understand why and how substance abuse is both a mental and social problem.

How is substance abuse a mental disorder?

SUD is characterized by the unrestrained use of prescription or illicit drugs, tobacco, and alcoholic drinks, as well as risky behavior like driving under the influence. This is because SUD alters an individual’s brain chemistry, resulting in poor judgment and impaired functioning in everyday life. To add to that, SUD patients may also be diagnosed with another mental disorder since both can be caused by similar genetics or environmental stressors.

These underscore the importance of mental health treatment for substance abuse. We discussed this in our article about the month celebrating mental health and addiction recovery. Even more importantly, we underscore that recovery should not be for the individual alone, but also the family and the community.

Why is substance abuse a social issue?

Substance abuse merits being called a social issue as SUD-caused poor judgment may affect the economic stability of an individual and their family. A 2022 study published in Clinical Therapeutics titled “The Drug Abuse Scourge and Food Insecurity: Outlining Effective Responses for an Underestimated Problem” stipulates that 70% of diagnosed addiction cases are correlated with food insecurity. Individuals with SUD are uninhibited from spending family money on obtaining substances. It was also previously mentioned that households affected by substance abuse often result in child neglect and abuse. Such cases may result in a child’s separation from their family, which spurs more social issues.

While a medical approach treats the ailments of substance abuse, a social approach deals with causes and effects beyond the individual. Doing so can help prevent substance abuse. As such, it is important to address substance abuse both as a medical and social problem.

What is being done to address substance abuse as a mental and social issue?

Conventional and research-backed treatments for substance abuse include detoxification. This aims to manage withdrawal symptoms as substances are kept away from the affected individual. There’s also the option of long-term stay rehabilitation centers, where those experiencing SUD can receive 24/7 support in following a structured treatment plan by specialists trained in clinical psychology. These experts are trained to diagnose and propose research-backed interventions based on observations of human behavior.

When it comes to dealing with substance abuse as a social issue, efforts are led by probation or correctional specialists. These professionals’ careers are backed in forensic psychology, equipping them with the critical thinking skills and perceptiveness necessary to create appropriate rehabilitation or transition plans. These plans carefully factor in the circumstances, preferences, and needs of each individual seeking support.

Beyond treatment and rehabilitation, concerned actors are currently looking to formulate effective, preventive solutions. incorporating substance abuse prevention into the educational curriculum alongside related efforts.

Substance abuse is an issue that concerns both the individual and society. A multidimensional overview of SUD’s medical and social aspects emphasizes that for long-term change, treatment must be accompanied by social initiatives.

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Integrating Relaxation Into Your Life

Life is all about balance. Even on busy days, it’s so important to make rest a priority.

After all, rest can help you recharge your batteries, give you more energy and let your mind relax. 

When you hear the word rest, you may associate it with sleeping. 

But rest is so much more than that.

Here are three ways you can incorporate rest into your ongoing routine. 

Take A Personal Day

If you feel like you need a day to yourself, it’s okay to take one. Spending a weekend or even a weekday to step back and focus on yourself may be exactly what you need to get yourself back on track.

Blocking off some time for you can help you connect with your inner thoughts and truly unwind. 

Reflect Through Writing

Writing or doodling is a healthy practice you can utilize anytime or anywhere. 

Getting your thoughts, feelings, and experiences out on paper can help you stay in tune with yourself.  When it comes to writing, there are no rules. You can write about anything that comes to mind. 

If you’re stuck, there are several online tools that deliver fill-in-the-blank prompts.

A few examples include…

  • Today I am grateful for _______.
  • My friend ______ made me smile.
  • Tomorrow I am excited to______.

Limit Any “Noise”

Whether we realize it or not, our phones can be very distracting. Concentrating on your book or enjoying your meal isn’t always easy to do with a phone buzzing in the background. 

Putting your phone on silent or placing it in a different room during your rest time can help you establish a truly restful environment. 

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Indigenous Peoples Day

On October 10th, we can recognize Indigenous Peoples’ Day to honor their history and culture. 

This day was first known as Columbus Day, but in 1992, it became Indigenous Peoples’ Day as a sign of protest. The idea was first introduced in 1977 when the United Nations held a conference to address the discrimination against Native Americans, and it has shaped the day into what we know it to be now. 

Many remember the past 500 years of colonization that have led to the pain and trauma of Indigenous peoples’. 

According to Van Heuvelen from the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe, “It can be a day of reflection of our history in the United States, the role Native people have played in it, the impacts that history has had on Native people and communities, and also a day to gain some understanding of the diversity of Indigenous peoples.” 

As a community, we can take the time to read Indigenous literature, attend events, and watch relevant movies. Check out the resources below for more. 

What Is Indigenous Peoples’ Day?

Ideas to Honor Indigenous Peoples Day 2022

Rethinking How We Celebrate American History—Indigenous Peoples’ Day

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National Plus Size Appreciation Day

October 6th is National Plus Size Appreciation Day, which was created in 2017 to celebrate body types in all shapes and sizes. It’s also a time to open the conversation about how body image can affect self-esteem. 

What is considered plus size?  In the clothing industry, size 18 and up is considered to be plus size. But in the modeling industry, sizes 6-16 are considered plus size. So in the images we see everywhere in the media, the people modeling the clothes do not reflect the bodies of the people that will be wearing the clothes.  This perpectuates unhealthy and unrealistic expectations about how we should look.

The pressure to be skinny is often cloaked in the message of the need to be healthy.  While there is evidence that weight can impact your health, it’s not the whole story. Everyone can work on engaging in healthy behaviors, which can lead to feeling better about themselves at any size.  This may be eating well, exercising, interacting with friends, not smoking, limiting alcohol intake, regularly seeing your health practitioner, and meditating.  Everyone has a unique body and a unique life that got their body to where it is today.  Accepting others, accepting ourselves, and valuing everyone’s process, can lead us toward connection and away from judgment

Our bodies can be appreciated for all that they can do for us and not just for how we look. Everyone can feel confident in their body and be proud of what they can achieve with the body that they have. 

There are many role models that are leading the charge in body positivity. 

We can look up to powerful women in the media who advocate for self-love, including Lizzo, Demi Lovato, Serena Williams, and Mindy Kaling. They all share the same message: For everyone to love their authentic selves and create a positive relationship with their bodies. 

Let’s all remind ourselves and those around us that we are all valuable. Follow the links below to learn more. 

What Is Body Positivity?

The Path To Self-Acceptance 

Why Body Positivity Matters

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International Day of Non-Violence

By: Betsy Pownall, LPC

On October 2nd, we can recognize the International Day of Non-Violence. This day was established in 2007 by the General Assembly to spread the message of non-violence and promote a culture of peace, tolerance, and understanding. 

The basis of non-violence is to achieve social and political change without causing physical harm or violence. Throughout the years, our society has adopted this way of protesting to fight for social justice worldwide.

Violence can affect millions of lives and impact communities all over the world. According to the CDC, there are over 1.4 million people treated for assault in emergency rooms, and nearly 25,000 lives are lost to homicide. It’s important to note that violence is the leading cause of death, especially for people ages 15 to 34. 

Yet there are social causes of violence that are also a factor, including systemic racism, bias, and discrimination, that can be a driving force or violence – making violence a greater risk for people of color.

When we take the time to educate ourselves about the violence in our communities, we can develop plans to reduce violence. Many organizations strive to put an end to violence and transform social norms. 

Together we can work to advocate for a safer community for our family, friends, and peers. For more resources, check out the links below.

International Day of Non-Violence

Futures Without Violence

National Center on Domestic and Sexual Violence 

National Family Justice Center Alliance

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Domestic Violence Awareness Month

By: Betsy Pownall, LPC

Domestic Violence Awareness Month (DVAM) was launched nationwide in October 1987 as a way to connect and unite individuals and organizations working on domestic violence issues while raising awareness for those issues. Over the past 30+ years, much progress has been made in supporting domestic violence victims and survivors, holding abusers accountable and creating and updating legislation to further those goals.

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