Yesterday I had the pleasure of recording an interview with Titus Bartolotta and Chris Allison of Solutions From The Huddle on Charlotte’s ESPN The Game, 730am. The interview will air Sunday, April 28th at 7:30am and will also be offered as a recording afterwards, including through a podcast.
I was initially asked to be on the show by Titus Bartolotta after he lost a dear friend and family member to suicide the previous week. He wanted to address the important issue of mental health in the workplace, and how to normalize the pertinence of getting help when we are in a dark space. My heart went out to him and the pain and grief he was experiencing. I was also amazed at his ability to quickly mobilize and turn his pain into ACTION. His thought process: “If I can help and save one person, then it will all be worth it.” There is no way I could turn down this opportunity.
I offer you, the reader, some highlights of this interview, as well as some things I wish I said but didn’t have an opportunity to do so, either due to time constraints or getting caught up in conversation and forgetting to mention them. I guess that happens in an interview situation with some people, or maybe it’s just me?!
The first question had to do with signs to look for in someone who may be going through something, but we simply may not notice. The other part of this equation is that we too may be so caught up in our own ‘stuff’ that we don’t take the time, or CAN’T take the time, to notice what’s going on with this other person.
First and foremost, simply ask the other person “What’s going on?” Or you can say something like “I’ve noticed that in the past couple of days/weeks…(symptoms). How are you?” It reminds me of a child I see in therapy recently talk about a friend of his who wasn’t in school the previous two days, which was different for that friend and his normal patterns of behavior. After acknowledging my client’s concern, I asked what he did about this concern he had about his friend, to which the child answered he reached out via text just to make sure his friend was ok. Kudos to him for doing so, as that is the point. As simple as connection and concern. Noticing.
Here are some more signs to look for that something may be going on with yourself, a co-worker, friend, family member, or anyone else:
- Increased fatigue, illness, absenteeism, high turnover
- Social withdrawal
- Reduced productivity, low morale
- Feelings of hopelessness, despair
- Poor sleep, nightmares
- Persistent anger and sadness
- Changes in feelings of safety, increased cynicism, and disconnection
- Re-examination of assumptions about religion, God, families and life itself
Titus next asked about trends in the mental health field over the past many years. What I have noticed is that there has been an increase in overall stress and decrease in focus and concentration. What I failed to mention was a decrease in CONNECTION. We are so connected via social media, while simultaneously being disconnected from each other – our true essence, thoughts, feelings. It’s time to get back to connection.
The positive aspects that have been noticed in the past several years is an increase in a desire to utilize treatment interventions that are more natural and holistic. People have desired to move away from medication and towards those treatments that will naturally heal and help their condition. There’s an inner knowing that we have the ability to heal ourselves, though people are just unsure how exactly to access that. Note: this is not to say medication is not necessary, it’s just to say we have a tendency to put our hopes in a pill being a magic healer, when in fact, it may not be needed in every case.
Regarding holistic and natural healing, we discussed such interventions such as: yoga, meditation, mindfulness, EMDR (Eye Movement Desensitization and Reprocessing), EFT (Emotional Freedom Techniques), dance and hypnosis, amongst others. A walk and talk, or something that integrates your spirituality with treatment is also extremely helpful.
The point is, even if you’ve tried therapy before or are hesitant to try therapy, know that therapy is not a one-size-fits-all model. Not every therapist is the same, nor are there interventions, personality or techniques. Although you may have talked to one therapist, each one has their own style, training, background, certifications. Shop around until you find someone who is a good fit for you – don’t settle for that first person you come across because you feel bad or guilty. You are the consumer – make an informed and wise decision! This is about you and your life.
What resources are available for people who may not have equal or immediate access to a therapist? Check to see if your job offers EAP, or Employee Assistance Program, benefits. If so, you could qualify for anywhere from 1-6 (if not more) ‘free’ sessions from a provider. Online secure platforms are convenient options you can access if you can’t go into someone’s office, or don’t want to. These include but are not limited to:
- Talk Space
- Online Care Group
- Doxy.me (this is another platform that your already established therapist can offer in order to see you online)
Some more incredible Apps for your phone that are out there include (note that this is by no means an exhaustive list):
- Insight Timer is AMAZING for meditations – over 9000 FREE and counting!
- PTSD Coach (VA related but can be used by anyone)
- CPT Coach (VA related but can be used by anyone)
- Mindfulness Coach (VA related but can be used by anyone)
- CBT-i Coach (VA related but can be used by anyone)
*All of the above can be used in conjunction with your therapist, but even if not, as a stand alone can be better than nothing.
Finally, I offer the steps can someone take in order to begin to take ACTION (just as Titus did), as they strive for mental health and wellness. ACTION is the following (and also detailed in my eBook, “What’s Your ACTION Plan? 6 Powerful Ways to Get Unstuck In Your Life Now!“):
- Affirmations or Afformations – statements you repeat to yourself to remind you that you are indeed worthy, able, capable, supported, loved, and ultimately, you got this!;
- Creativity – engage your creative side, whether through movement, singing, acting, painting, drawing, writing. As Nike says, Just Do It!;
- Talk to a professional, friend, colleague, family member, or someone you can confide in;
- Introspection – do the difficult internal work and recognize when you are not operating at full throttle and could benefit from an outsider’s help;
- Openness – share, be vulnerable with your tribe, community, those with who you feel comfortable and can trust. Once you do so, you will find that others will open up as well; and
- Nowness can be achieved through such practices as meditation and mindfulness. Begin, increase, improve upon your spiritual practices. No one else is going to do it for you, it really is up to you. P.S. Refrain from saying “I can’t meditate, my mind is so busy and goes everywhere when I try.” That is the point. Keep at it. It is a “practice.” You don’t try to lift 400 pounds at the gym if you should be starting at 40 pounds. Start where you are and work that muscle until it gets to a point where it’s strengthened and thus able to eventually do more.
So while we weren’t able to cover such a rich, vast topic in 30 minutes, at least the ice has been broken. The conversation has started. And it is my (and our) hope that we saved one person. If that happened, then our work is done. Simultaneously it continues, as we spread the word about the importance of taking care of yourself and your mental health, just as you would go to the gym, or even take your car in for a tune-up every several months. It’s time to start treating our minds and our emotions the same way we do our physical selves and surroundings. Take a moment and imagine how different that would be…
Finally, if you are in dire need of talking to someone NOW, please call the following number:
Take care of yourself and those around you. Think from your heart and not just your head.
Peace, love, and light,
Dr. Damon Silas