How can I increase my mental health?

How can I increase my mental health? Dear JF&CS Therapy Team, My friends and I were talking about all of the focus in the media about mental illness and wondered…..rather than focusing on mental illness….what if the media focused on mental health. That discussion led us to a question….are there really ways for a person to increase their mental health? Inquiring Minds Dear Inquiring Minds – You and your friends will be happy to know that there definitely are ways to enhance a person’s mental health. Of course, it is also important to know when it is time to seek professional help for a problem that is interfering with you going about your daily life. Below are some “tips” for enhancing a person’s mental health….and Jewish Family & Children’s Service’s therapists are available by calling (314) 993-1000, if professional help is ever needed. Try These 10 Tips to Improve Your Mental Health 1. Treat yourself with kindness and respect: Make time for your favorite hobby like doing a daily crossword puzzle or planting a garden; or try something new like playing an instrument or learning another language. 2. Take care of your body physically: Eat nutritious meals; drink plenty of water; avoid smoking; exercise; and, get enough sleep. 3. Surround yourself with people who have strong family and social connections: Make plans with family members and friends who are supportive and seek out activities where you can meet new people. 4. Give of yourself: Volunteer to help someone else. You will feel good about helping someone in need — and it is a good way to meet new people 5. Learn how to handle stress: Stress is an unavoidable part of life. Use good coping skills like taking a walk, writing in a journal or playing with a pet. Also, try to see the humor in life and smile. Research shows that laughter can reduce stress, strengthen your immune system and even ease pain. 6. Learn to quiet your mind: Try meditating. Relaxation exercises can help you to feel calm. 7. Set realistic goals: Make a decision about what you want to achieve in the next week, month or year and write down the steps you will take to realize your goals. Be realistic and remember that making progress toward your goals is part of the achievement. 8. Break up monotony: We all have routines that make us both more efficient and increase our feelings of security and safety but a little change can be energizing. Take a walk in a different park, or try a new restaurant. 9. Avoid alcohol and other drugs: Keep alcohol use to a minimum and avoid other drugs. Sometimes people will use alcohol and other drugs to “self-medicate” but in reality alcohol and other drugs only result in increased problems. 10. Seek help when you need it: Getting help is a sign of strength — not a weakness. Remember that treatment is effective and people who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and substance abuse...

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Getting Support from the Community

Getting Support from the Community I have been in individual therapy years ago and found it helpful though now I am feeling the need to find support in my community. Could you help me understand how groups work and what the benefits are for joining a support group? Let’s first look at the difference between joining a therapy group vs. joining a support group. Typically group therapy is a formal type of mental health treatment that brings together several individuals with similar conditions under the guidance of a trained mental health provider. Additionally there may be a formal treatment model followed by the leader. Support groups are not the same as therapy groups. Support groups are not usually led by a trained professional leader but could be guided by one of the group members, or a lay leader who has the same problem or condition as all the other group members. In a support group, all members typically struggle with the same problem such as illness, relationship problems or significant life issues (i.e., AA for substance issues). Support groups usually meet at a regular time and place each week or each month. Most groups have some form of structure that organizes the meeting while some are educational and could invite local experts in to share their expertise with the group members. Questions could be answered and information shared with everyone present at the meeting. There are many benefits of joining a support group: – Primarily they decrease the sense of isolation as you find out that there are other people who share how you feel and experience life – Feeling less lonely – Freedom to express negative feelings with people who understand you – Talking honestly about feelings others can directly relate to – Clarifying what to expect from your condition – Learn from other group members how they are coping with a similar problem – Comparing notes about specific areas that others don’t want to talk about publically – Reducing depression, anxiety, and mental health stigma After being part of a support group for some time you may notice an increase in your self-esteem especially when you notice an improvement in your coping skills and better ways to manage or control your emotional reactivity. Once you realize you are not alone, you may find relief from the support of other group members who have been where you are now. Sometimes we need to find a group of people who are familiar with our problems and share deeply with them instead of overburdening our loved ones. Group members offer one another emotional comfort and moral support that can help you through a difficult period in your life. For more information, call Jewish Family & Children’s Service (314) 993-1000 or...

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Helping Mom and Dad Remain At Home

Helping Mom and Dad remain at home My mom is in her 80s and seems to be having more trouble living independently. My siblings and I would like to see her move somewhere with care (like an assisted living facility), but she refuses, saying she wants to stay home. Is there a way to respect her wishes but also help us feel she’s safe? Most seniors, when asked, say they want to remain at home as they age (also known as Aging in Place). And that starts by asking some tough questions. • Do dementia, physical or mental health limitations affect your mom’s ability to live at home? Can her health needs be met at home? • Are family or friends able to provide the care your mom may require? • Do you or your mom have the financial means – primarily savings and/or long-term care insurance – to cover in-home services? Medicare will cover some medical home health services, but it won’t pay for 24/7 care in the home, nor will it cover meals delivered to the home, homemaker services (such as cleaning and cooking), or personal care services (such as bathing and dressing). • Is the layout of your mom’s home conducive to aging in place? Will stairs or the lack of a bathroom on the main floor affect your parents’ ability to remain in the home? • Can your mom afford the home modifications necessary to be able to move about her home as aging affects her physical abilities? • What kinds of community services are offered in the area? Are they affordable? • Are transportation services available? Preparing the home for aging in place There are other considerations, too, particularly regarding the home’s appropriateness for your parents. Consider the following in preparing her home: • Check door widths to allow for wheelchairs • Make showers and tubs easily accessible; install grab bars and grips • Remove throw rugs, especially in the bathroom and at the top or bottom of stairs • Add or secure sturdy handrails on both sides of steps and staircases • Make sure electrical cords are not crossing walkways or near water • Make sure smoke alarms are in working order • Install adequate lighting along walkways and stairways, especially during middle of the night trips to the bathroom • Make sure exits and walkways are free of clutter Helping Mom and Dad remain at home Community support. Nearly every county in the United States has a network of services that allow seniors to stay in their home longer. Traditional services include delivered meals, homemaker services, senior centers, social activities, transportation services, and delivered meals. Technology. Emergency Response Systems (“I’ve fallen, and I can’t get up!”) was one of the first types of devices to help at-home seniors, and new technology is evolving daily to help even more. Older adults may be unaware of technologies, such as medication reminders, home activity sensors, and fall detection devices, which would help them remain healthy and safe at home. ________________________________________ Bottom line: Helping your parents age in place requires planning, honesty, and the willingness to reach out to the services and agencies that are available to help. If it’s important to Mom and Dad to remain at home, then it’s worth the effort to start...

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What can a parent do to help their child who is being bullied?

How can a parent help their child who is being bullied? Dear JF&CS Therapy Team: I am worried that my daughter, who is in middle school, is being bullied by a child in her class. What can I do? Sincerely, Julia Dear Julia, Thank you for reaching out about this issue. October is actually Bullying Prevention Month. As a parent, it is important to help your child understand what is and what is not bullying. Bullying is defined as aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose. It is excellent that you are monitoring your child’s behavior and it is only normal to have some concerns. Here is a list of recommendations if you think your child is being bullied: • Keep the lines of communication open- talk to your kids regularly about their friends, school, and their concerns. Make sure you listen to them. • Encourage kids to be involved in activities. Sports, hobbies and clubs can give kids a chance to boost their confidence and can protect them against being bullied. • Model how to treat others with love and kindness. It is also important for kids to have a plan in place if they are being bullied or see someone being bullied. Make sure they tell a trusted adult if they have been bullied or see someone being bullied. If you notice any changes in their behavior and have already checked in with them then it is important to also check in with their teacher or school counselor. Make sure you give the school as much details about their change in behavior as possible. It may also be beneficial to seek counseling services. At JF&CS, we offer Individual and Family Therapy, Psychological Testing Services and Psychiatry Services. For more information, please visit our website jfcs-stl.org or call...

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September is Food Hunger Month

September is Food Hunger Month. Dear Readers. September is Food Hunger Month. We hope this month’s blog will inspire you to take action to fight hunger in our community. Who’s going hungry? Missouri has the 2nd highest rate for hunger in the nation. Hunger, also called food insecurity, goes hand in hand with poor nutrition. Hunger can lead to, or worsen health problems for anyone, however, children and seniors are especially vulnerable. • Hungry children do poorly at school. They may suffer from anemia, asthma and anxiety. They may not grow properly. • Hungry seniors may develop cardiac problems, Type 2 diabetes and hypertension. • Hungry people are sometimes obese. How can that be, you may ask? People who cannot afford to put nutritious food on their tables will often settle for high calorie, inexpensive foods like you might find at fast food restaurants. They fill the belly but don’t provide a healthy, nutritious meal. How does the Jewish Community help? Members of our community help support the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry (HKJFP) and other organizations which deal with hunger. The HKJFP provides food for any resident of St. Louis County who is in need. • In 2015, our pantry gave nutritious fresh and canned food to more than 5,000 families each month. • Of the 87,999 people we served, 40% were children and almost 20% were seniors. What can I do to help? There are a number of things YOU can do during Food Hunger Month and all year round. • Donate food! • Check out our website for a wish list: http://jfcs-stl.org/donate-food/ • When you go shopping, pick up some extra food. After a few trips you’ll have a great bag of nutritious food to deliver to a food pantry. • Hold a food drive at your synagogue or your child’s school. • Kids can make this a mitzvah project, an especially good idea for a Bar/ Bat Mitzvah. Ask your guests to bring canned food to the service. • Donate money to a food pantry and specify that it be used to purchase food. You may be eligible for a MO Food Pantry Tax Credit. It’s a Win/Win. • Tell others. Be an advocate for stamping out hunger during Food Hunger Month. No one should have to go hungry in a nation as splendid as ours. With appreciation, The Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry...

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Nowhere to turn, scared to death…….

Dear JF&CS, I am 62 years old, out of work, and have multiple health problems. I have asthma, diabetes, and am overweight. My doctor refers to me as obese, but I do not like that term. I have been told to apply for disability, but every time I apply, I get turned down. I am divorced, and have a strained relationship with my children. My parents are elderly, have problems of their own and are unable to help me. I have rapidly depleted my limited savings. I am now behind on my mortgage and utility payments. The bank said that they would begin foreclosure on my house unless they receive a payment this month. I am scared to death, don’t know what to do, and don’t know where to turn. I am so embarrassed. Can JF&CS help me? Sincerely, Mr. C. St. Louis, Missouri Dear Mr. C., I am so sorry to hear all that you are going through. Naturally, unemployment and the threat of foreclosure can be very frightening and stressful! Fortunately, JF&CS is here to help you develop a plan to get back on track. This could include providing some direct, short term financial assistance with your mortgage as well as utility payments. In addition, our social worker will help you to develop a plan for long term self-sufficiency. This could include, helping you to apply for social security disability and/or referring you to sources of obtaining employment such as MERS Goodwill or other programs. Perhaps you are eligible for affordable housing at Covenant Place or the Crown Center for Senior Living? There are lots of possibilities and options for securing help. You are not alone! Financial hardship can strike anyone. Job loss or illness can rapidly set someone back financially. Did you know that 24% of Jewish households say they “cannot make ends meet” and that 8% of St. Louis Jewish households are poor (under 150% of Federal poverty level)? We will do everything we can to confidentially help you through this difficult time. Please don’t wait any longer and call 993-1000. Sincerely, Jewish Family & Children’s...

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