March is National Nutrition Month

It has been known for quite some time that there is a definite link between mental health and healthy nutrition. The following is some helpful information on the topic.

Research shows that the foods you put into your body can have an influence on your mental health. It is no surprise that what you eat can affect your anxiety, depression, or bipolar disorder.

A healthy diet can support your mental health whereas a poor diet can negatively impact your mental well-being. Studies show that a poor diet can worsen symptoms of depression, anxiety, and other mental health conditions.

A high intake of fruits, vegetables, olive oil, whole grains, fish, lean red meats and low-fat dairy are rich in important nutrients such as folate, magnesium, vitamins and zinc, who all have an impact on body and brain functions including mood regulation.

When compared to the Mediterranean and some Asian diets, people following the Western diet consisting of high carbohydrates, saturated fats, red meat and refined sugars saw a 25% to 35% higher incidence of depression, thus worsening overall mental health symptoms.

Researchers have found that psychological stress such as depression or anxiety can cause inflammation in the brain. Eating a diet that decreases inflammation such as the Mediterranean diet can help reduce brain inflammation that may exacerbate mental health disorders.

Also, many people with mental health disorders have deficiencies in micronutrients like omega-3 fatty acids.

Evidence suggests that fish oil or omega-3 supplements may help stabilize mood over time in people with bipolar disorder or lessen depressive (but not manic) symptoms.

Foods high in omega-3’s include salmon, oysters, flack seeds, chia seeds, walnuts, soybeans, omega-3 enriched eggs, hemp seeds, and spinach.

Eating more whole foods and reducing the intake of processed foods may improve mental health outcomes.

Since the brain and gut are connected, eating more gut-friendly foods also may make a difference in overall mental health.

Ten Foods That Boost Mental Health:

  1. Salmon – A fatty fish that contains high amounts of omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin D.
  2. Chicken – A lean protein containing the amino acid tryptophan that helps to produce serotonin, a vital receptor in managing mood, etc.
  3. Whole Grains – Complex carbohydrates lead to a more even and consistent source of energy with less blood sugar spikes.
  4. Avocados – Full of vitamin K and folate providing a boost to memory and concentration.
  5. Spinach – Provide solid amounts of folic acid which has been shown to be a great deterrent to depression. It also helps fight off insomnia.
  6. Yogurt – Contains active cultures and a great source of probiotics which have been shown to play a role in the reduction of stress and anxiety.
  7. Nuts – Also an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids, helping to fight depression. Almonds contain a compound called phenylalanine, which is shown to help the brain produce dopamine and other neurotransmitters that boost your mood.
  8. Olive Oil – Pure, extra virgin contains polyphenols which help to improve learning and memory.
  9. Tomatoes – Contains lycopene shown to fight against brain disease and cell damage.
  10. Dark Chocolate – Contains high levels of flavonoids, an antioxidant shown to boost attention and memory, enhance mood and help fight cognitive decline.

Now Offering

Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) – Substance Use Disorders – Adults 18 and Over

The Substance Use Disorders IOP is an outpatient addiction recovery program that provides a more structured, intensive level of care for individuals suffering from substance use and co-occurring disorders.

Individuals attending this specialized IOP program may be required to spend more hours per week in treatment, or receive more supervision, than they benefit from in other forms of outpatient programs.

The program allows individuals to continue to live at home, go to work or school while continuing with their intensive treatment. Some may begin with an intensive outpatient substance abuse treatment program, or may be a part of step-down care following inpatient treatment.

Regardless of when someone enters IOP treatment, it can be a valuable part of a person’s recovery journey.

Upon admission, there will be an initial assessment performed so that a skilled treatment team consisting of mental healthcare practitioners, treatment professionals, doctors, nurse practitioners, and therapists can oversee the treatment regimen for each client. They work with each client to create an intensive outpatient drug treatment plan based on the initial assessment and individual needs. Below are services offered in this program:

Group Counseling

Intensive outpatient treatment, and other forms of addiction treatment, often use group therapy to enhance positive, healthy behaviors, develop communication skills, introduce structure and provide guidance. Groups can focus on different aspects of recovery, such as addiction education, relapse prevention, stress management, coping skills, life skills, interpersonal process and support.

Individual Therapy

During individual therapy, a person will work with their therapist to uncover underlying issues that influence drug or alcohol misuse and create new patterns of behavior. 

Medication Management

Medication can be effective in helping a person through withdrawal, promoting abstinent behaviors by decreasing cravings, blocking the desired effects of substances or treating co-occurring mental health conditions that may contribute to substance abuse. Medication can also be prescribed to treat some physical ailments caused by addiction.

Drug and Alcohol Detoxification

The detox process is an important first phase of treatment for addiction. However, detox alone is not typically sufficient treatment for a person to maintain long-term abstinence and recovery. It’s important for you and the treatment team at the intensive outpatient program to discuss continuing care after the detox phase.

Who Can Benefit from an IOP Treatment Program?

If an individual is considering intensive outpatient treatment, it’s important to remember that no matter what type of treatment they choose, individualized care is key to promoting long-term abstinence and recovery. Additionally, the treatment team should continue to evaluate one’s progress in order to readjust the treatment plan as needed. This may mean stepping down care to less intensive treatment or stepping up into a more structured and supportive environment.

In general, factors that make someone a good fit for an IOP therapy program include people with:

  • A strong support system at home, work and in the community
  • Stability in their home
  • Lower risk of relapse when returning home
  • Comfort working in group settings
  • No risk of severe withdrawal symptoms
  • Jobs or school responsibilities that require flexibility with their schedule

Call our Intake Department to register at (360) 939-7230

Dog Therapy at Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital

Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital is proud to offer dog therapy as an integral part of our treatment plan.

Providing affection and comfort to patients is the primary purpose of a therapy dog. The therapeutic effect of dogs is that they allow patients to connect with them and feel their love. Watch this video to see how a therapy dog spends their day at Smokey Point.

For more information on benefits of dog therapy for mental health, click on the link below:

The Life-Changing Benefits of Therapy Dogs in a Mental Health Institution

Inside One Family’s Journey to Accept their Transgender Teen

Learn about one family’s journey to accept their transgender teen.


Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital Expands Services in the Pacific Northwest with New Programs for Adolescents and Adults

MARYSVILLE, WA – With mental health at a crisis level in the region, Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital is announcing an expansion of services for adolescents and adults in Western Washington. New programming includes an Adolescent Inpatient Mental Health Program, an Adult Dual Diagnosis and Detox Program, and extensive Virtual Intensive Outpatient Therapy Programs. 


For Relief and Recovery, Find Expert Help in Smokey Point

Most of us have faced struggles this past year, at least from time to time.

There’s been plenty to worry about, from health threats to job stress and the chaos of remote school and work. There’s been plenty to be sad about, too, from the loneliness of isolation to losing people close to us. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought extreme challenges and extreme emotions, and it’s normal to feel sad or stressed for a while. But if stress or sadness is getting in the way of your daily activities for several days in a row, if you’re struggling to cope or coping in unhealthy ways like consuming excessive drugs or alcohol, Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital is here to help.

“If you’re in crisis, seek immediate help. If you or a loved one are showing signs of major depressive or anxiety disorder and substance abuse, you can call 360-651-6400 for a free assessment from Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital Certified Mental Health Professionals, 24 hours a day,” says Julian Thompson BSN RN MHP, Director of Business Development Referral Relations at Smokey Point.

Nearly four in ten adults in Washington have reported symptoms of anxiety or depression during the COVID-19 pandemic. If you’re struggling with mental health and substance use, you’re not alone.

Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital inpatient programs

The Adult Dual Diagnosis Unit at Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital is an inpatient diagnostic and treatment program for people confronted with two challenges at once: substance abuse and an emotional or psychiatric illness.

“No two people will present in the exact same way, and treatment requires a comprehensive approach, not just a ‘quick fix’ with medication,” Thompson says.

At Smokey Point, patients receive a comprehensive evaluation, and a treatment plan personalized to their individual needs. Patients learn ways to manage the symptoms of emotional or psychiatric illness in a healthy, constructive manner, and receive assistance in developing a lifestyle free from alcohol and drugs.

Signs you may need help from a dual diagnosis treatment program:

  • Needing alcohol or drugs to feel normal
  • Difficulty keeping a job, maintaining relationships and making or meeting social obligations
  • Erratic behavior, irritability, anger, depression or anxiety, especially when you stop using substances
  • Extreme emotional highs and lows
  • Financial and/or legal problems, especially if tied to substance abuse
  • Neglecting physical health, nutritional needs or hygiene

“Symptoms vary depending on the addiction and mental illness involved, but learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make you and those around you more resilient.”

Talk to your doctor or therapist to find out if inpatient treatment is right for you, or call 360-651-6400. The Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital’s intake department is staffed with certified Mental Health Professionals 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. If you are in crisis, get immediate help by calling 911. Learn more about mental health and the services at Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital at or follow them on FacebookTwitter and Instagram.

Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital Donates Life-Saving Medication to First Responders

Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital delivered 10 Narcan kits to the Marysville PD earlier this March, giving them another valuable tool in their emergency response kits when helping local residents.

Read the full article:
Local hospital donates life-saving medication to first-responders

Virtual Care Builds Mental Health Connections, Even When We’re Apart

Read the full article about Virtual Care at Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital here.

One Year in: Coping with the Pandemic Anniversary

March 2021 signifies the one-year anniversary of Covid-19 becoming a household name. When we reflect on anniversaries, we usually associate them with celebrations, but this specific anniversary brings forth feelings of loss, grief, sadness, and anxiety, affecting each one of us in different ways.

As our collective losses mount, we continue mourning as a community. The rollout of vaccines has provoked a sense of hope for the future and life beginning to return to normalcy, but until we’re able to fully conquer this virus, we continue to bear with the heartache the pandemic has caused in our daily lives.

Here are some reminders on how to promote and maintain positive mental health as we hit the one-year landmark of the pandemic:

Don’t Scrimp on Self-Care

Self-care is a term thrown around a lot, but experts say it’s often misunderstood. Self-care is important to maintaining a healthy relationship with yourself. It means doing things to take care of our minds, bodies, and souls by engaging in activities that promote well-being and reduce stress. Examples of self-care include meditating, creating art, going for a walk, or taking a luxurious bath. Practicing self-care can really help you feel rejuvenated even as we continue to navigate the disruptions to our daily lives caused by the pandemic.

Train your Brain to be Mindful

Mindfulness is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. For example, next time you’re enjoying a meal, slow down, pay attention to and savor each bite rather than gulping it down. Meditating is a great example of being mindful and in the moment, paying attention to each breath can be soothing.

Cultivate Gratitude

It is all too easy to focus on the negatives this pandemic has created, but it is more important than ever we turn our minds to gratefulness. Studies show that people can deliberately cultivate gratitude — and there are important social and personal benefits to doing so. Being thankful and acknowledging the positive in your life is a wonderful way to a healthy, positive mindset. For example, when your mind turns toward negativity, be mindful of this act and name some things you are grateful for. Gratitude helps people refocus on what they have instead of what they lack.

Garner Resilience

Resilience is the ability to adapt to or recover readily from adversity and major life changes. When stress, misfortune or trauma strikes, you still experience anger, grief and pain, but you’re able to keep functioning — both physically and psychologically. However, resilience isn’t about putting up with something difficult, being stoic or figuring it out on your own. In fact, being able to reach out to others for support is a key part of being resilient.

You will find that practicing the skills of self-care, mindfulness, gratitude, and resilience will definitely help you build inner strength to overcome these very trying times.

If you or a loved one are experiencing a mental health crisis, Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital is here to help and available 24/7. Find out more about our treatment options here. Call us today at 360-651-6400.

Leadership Spotlight: Dr. Ahmed

Although not new to Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital, our Leadership Spotlight focuses on the achievement of our very own attending psychiatrist to the position of Medical Director.

Dr. Ahmed completed his residency at Rutgers University—Newark, NJ, is board-certified with the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, Inc., and is a member of the American Society of Addiction Medicine – ASAM. He is fellowship trained in Transcranial Magnetic Stimulation (TMS) from Duke University Hospital and Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT) from UPMC Western Psychiatric Hospital.

In his spare time, Dr. Ahmed enjoys baseball, playing tennis, and spending time with his family.

Congratulations Dr. Ahmed!