Skip to main content

Davis Journal

Time for a mental health recharge

Jan 18, 2024 09:10AM ● By Becky Ginos
Stock photo

Stock photo

BOUNTIFUL—Along with all of the other resolutions for the new year, what about adding mental health wellness to the list? January is National Mental Health Wellness Month, a time to promote not only improving physical health but mental health too. According to WebMD, good mental health can positively affect physical health. 

“We’re seeing more anxiety in schools after COVID,” said Amber Willis, Ph.D., LMFT (Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist) and clinical director for Feller Behavioral Health. “Kids not going and social delays. For two years they weren't going to school and interacting in person. There’s more accessibility to social media. Teens are doing less face-to-face so going to school is hard.”

It’s had a definite impact, she said. “We’ve seen a lot more teens since COVID refusing to go to school. The positive thing about COVID though is that the number of people reaching out for therapeutic support has skyrocketed.”

Traditionally there has been stigma around mental health, said Willis. “The younger generation is more open to the idea of mental health and its validity. There’s a lot of pop culture around mental health.”

Willis recommends going to reliable sources for information. “Read books by people who have clinical training, not just podcasts. WebMD is a good source. Things based more on research. People who have degrees, not just opinions.”

Be cautious of self diagnosing, she said. “If you really think you have a significant issue with mental health in your life, reach out to a mental health professional.”

A large number of people don’t seek help out of shame, embarrassment or they don’t have access to insurance, said Willis. “Each family is different. The people surrounding them might have a negative message around therapy.”

There are a variety of challenges to stop people from reaching out, she said. “Some may not know English and it’s hard to find someone who meets that need. On the website Psychology Today you can look up therapists by qualifications and what they treat.”

Some therapists will let you interview them briefly, said Willis. “You don’t have to stick with a therapist. It’s OK to keep looking. Finding someone you connect with is extremely important. Someone who is giving the guidance that helps you. It’s not just venting, it’s getting support toward your goals.”

A therapist should do a good assessment the first session or second, she said. “They should talk openly about a treatment plan and have a good understanding of the client’s goals and how to meet those goals.”

Parents should know if they have a child in therapy that they can be involved in the process, said Willis. “A lot of them don’t realize they can ask. They shouldn’t just drop them off for the appointment, they need to share in the process on a regular basis and discuss the treatment plan as it evolves over time.”

It’s important to get their perspective as well as the child’s, she said. “They don’t need to know all of the details but it helps to have some point of reference on how it’s going.”

There’s always been anxiety, said Willis. “There’s more talk about it and acceptance. People are picking up on it more.”

Willis said people need to get educated on suicide prevention. “You don’t have to be a therapist. Question, Persuade and Refer (QPR). It’s designed to teach the layperson how to help somebody when they have suicidal thoughts.”

The biggest myth surrounding suicide is people believe they’re implanting the thought in the person’s head, she said. “The opposite is true. Being alone and not telling anybody is more of a risk. Encourage them to reach out for professional help without judgment.”

Take a chance and try therapy, Willis said. “We can all benefit from some personal help. You don’t have to hit rock bottom. Don’t wait until you’re at death’s door to seek help. It’s a beautiful thing to have hope that you’re going to improve. It’s about you – we’re here to help.”