Thanksgiving 2020: 5 Tips on how to protect mental health during this holiday season

Thanksgiving is traditionally a holiday for family togetherness, give your family a peace of mind by taking care of yourself this holiday season with these 5 tips from Medical News Today on how to protect your mental health.

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If you are having trouble managing your mental health this holiday season and need support, 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.


Guide to Mental Health Care for People Who are Transgender

Transgender Awareness Week, typically observed the second week of November, is a one-week celebration leading up to Transgender Day of Remembrance (TDOR), which memorializes victims of transphobic violence. Gwendolyn Ann Smith began Transgender Day of Remembrance in November 1999 to honor Rita Hester, a transgender woman who was murdered in 1998.

75% of transgender youth report they feel unsafe at school. Nearly half of transgender and nonbinary youth did not receive wanted mental healthcare due to concerns related to LGBTQ+ competence of providers in 2019. 40% of transgender and nonbinary youth reported being physically threatened or harmed in their lifetime due to their gender identity in 2019. Follow this link to Mental Health Match for a helpful guide from Dr. KS Stanley, Psy.D for information on how to care for people who are transgender and see how you can become an ally.

Coping Through COVID-19; 5 Tips to Help Teens Navigate the “New Normal” During a Pandemic

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) currently reports that the risk of exposure to COVID-19 is low for young Americans, research on natural disasters makes it clear that, compared to adults, children are more vulnerable to the emotional impact of traumatic events that disrupt their daily lives.

Adolescence is a phase when teens value time spent with friends and the pursuit of independence from their parents. The Coronavirus pandemic has left teens feeling even more isolated and burdened with social isolation. However, parents can help their teens navigate and develop strategies to make life easier for their teens, and themselves during this unprecedented time.

1. The Importance of Structure

Prior to the pandemic, teenagers’ schedules were heavily filled with nonstop classes, sports practice, part-time work, and social outings; today navigating through unstructured time may be difficult for them to adjust. Lisa W. Coyne, PhD, founder and senior clinical consultant at the Child and Adolescent OCD Institute at McLean Hospital states, “it’s important for parents to gently encourage their teens to have structure around schoolwork as well as household tasks.” She suggests parents teach teens a simple principle to organize their time. “First, do the hard thing, which is most likely schoolwork,” she said. “And then do the fun thing—a video call with a friend, or whatever it may be.” Coyne added, “Parents can emphasize that this situation is difficult for them too and model how to follow these guidelines themselves.”

Dr. Coyne suggests that regular sleep and exercise schedules are also beneficial, as these factors help to regulate mood and provide structure. “It’s important to remember in adolescence teens go through a sleep-phase shift. They tend to go to sleep later and wake later than when they were younger,” Coyne said. “At the same time, there are simple things parents can do to set some boundaries with this,” she added. “Setting limits on screen time in the late evening would be a big one, as screens can disrupt sleep onset.”

2. Balancing Family and Alone Time

A teenager’s time is precious to them and this pandemic can be difficult for teens to feel they have a sense of autonomy. “A teen’s room may be their haven, and I’d encourage parents not to immediately worry if their teens are spending a good bit of time in their room,” she said. Coyne suggests that parents be respectful by knocking before entering and asking permission. She adds, rather than making demands that teens have family time, parents can invite them. “Giving teens a role in the family, for example, to help with a particular daily task like setting the table, doing the dishes, can also be helpful and give teens a sense of structure.”

3. Connection Through Collaboration

Feeling the stress of social isolation in teens can be especially difficult during a pandemic. However, the era of social media and online gaming can be helpful for teens during this time, said Coyne. Teens are very good at pushing boundaries, Coyne suggests parents have collaborative conversations around the actual risks and how these work in the context of the family and physically distancing restrictions.

“Consider: Are there older, vulnerable family members at home? What are the government or town restrictions?” Coyne said. “Instead, approach the situation by empathizing and treating the teen as if they are just about to do the ‘next right thing.” According to Coyne, if teens feel empowered and trusted, they will sometimes make better decisions about risk. “The best way to get there,” Coyne said, “is to work on authentic, empathic, and more collaborative conversations with teens.”

4. Coping with Change and Loss

Many teens feel as though they are mourning a loss, like missing high school milestones – prom, graduation, school performances, sporting events, and parties. Coyne said the first action parents can take is to recognize that their teens maybe be grieving these losses. She suggests that parents can empathize and give space to their teens by listening, and then then receiving what their teens wish to say. Coyne points out that parents should “resist problem-solving in this conversation, as the most important ingredient would be for teens to feel heard.”

If parents want to help, Coyne said, they can then ask thoughtful questions, such as “Do you have any ideas about how you might mark these occasions a different way? What are your friends doing? If you could do something that would help you and your friends make this a meaningful event, what might that look like?” If the teens come up with an idea, such as a remote “Google Hangout” prom, parents can support it.

5. Coping with Frustration

Adolescence would not exist without constant barrage of frustrations between parents and teens, Coyne suggests that parents refrain from their first instinct of coming down hard on their teen and instead she encourages parents to remember a couple of simple rules: 

  • Timing Is Everything: A well-timed chat when a teen is calm goes much further than in the middle of a heated argument when nobody can hear anything the other person is saying.
  • Pick Your Battles: “Is your teen safe? Are they mostly responsive and connected in your home? Then see if you can let the minor irritations go,” Coyne said. “We all lose our temper sometimes, and it isn’t necessarily a mark of disrespect to one another.” Be gentle and empathic, she adds, and in quiet moments, set kind but firm boundaries when required about what behavior is, and is not, ok with you.

Most of all, Coyne said, parents need to listen, and allow to let in what their teen has to say. “It may be helpful for parents to take some time to think back to what they were like, and what they understood, and how they viewed the world when they were teenagers, and to let that ‘teen self’ out to chat with their own teen.”

If your teen is having trouble managing their mental health and needs support, Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital is here to help. Find out more about our treatment options for teensCall us today at 360-651-6400.

4 Ways to Cope with Election Anxiety, Backed by Science

It has been described as one of the most warring, garish and angry presidential elections in history. And it is taking a toll on our mental health. Among feeling anxiety and uncertainty due to the Covid-19 pandemic, more than two-thirds (68%) of U.S adults say the 2020 presidential election has significantly increased their stress – a 16% increase from the 2016 presidential race, according to The Harris Poll, conducted on behalf of the American Psychological Association. The A.P.A. recommends to “read just enough to stay informed.”

If you are feeling overwhelmed by the contentious election, here are some researched-based strategies that the APA says can help to cope with election anxiety.

  • Avoid dwelling on things outside of your control. Research has shown that ruminating, excessive overthinking, and repetitive thoughts can impair thinking and problem solving. Instead, distract yourself with meditation. Be aware of how much election talk is dominating conversations with friends and family and change the subject.
  • Focus on what you can control. Give yourself permission to take a break from the news and limit your media consumption. Avoid politics altogether if a conversation is likely to escalate to conflict.
  • Have a voting plan. Having a plan on how and when you will vote can help ease anxiety, and getting others involved will also promote follow-through.
  • Control your media use. If scrolling through social media and news channels elevates your anxiety, allow yourself to take a break. Instead, switch channels to something that takes your mind off from politics, go for a walk, or call a family/friend.

Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital is open 24/7 for immediate assistance – 360-651-6400

Coping with Mental Health During COVID-19

Studies have shown the emotional impact of quarantine during other disease outbreaks and indicate that such isolations can lead to negative mental health outcomes.

During this extraordinary time of uncertainty and fear, it is likely that mental health issues and substance use disorders among people with mental health conditions will be intensified. In addition, pandemics have shown to induce general anxiety across a population and may lead to new mental health and substance use issues.

Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital is open 24/7 for immediate support of mental health needs, and we have compiled a range of resources and information on coping with mental illness during the COVID-10 Pandemic, from blogs to webinars and resources within your community. We are in this together.



Additional Resources:

Mental Health is on the Presidential Ballot, learn about each candidates stance

It is so important that we are all aware of our choices and educate ourselves to those issues that impact our lives; be it mental health parity, suicide prevention or positions on the Opioid crisis.

Smokey Point Behavioral Hospital is here to encourage you to exercise your right to vote, to be educated to each candidates position, how it effects you and allows you to make an informed decision in this presidential election. Your vote matters, it matters for you, your loved ones and the future.

For more information on Presidential candidates’ positions see the link below.

COVID-19, Mental Health, and the 2020 Election: A Review of Candidate Platforms

Mental Health Awareness Week

Mental Health is not a destination, but a process. Its about how you drive, not where you’re going.

“Healing takes time, and asking for help is a courageous step.”
 – Mariska Hargitay

We join you all in Celebrating Mental Health Illness Awareness week. Mental Health is as important as physical health – Fight the stigma.

How Educators Can Spot Depression and Anxiety in Virtual Classrooms

As the pandemic has driven us to social isolation, we need to be paying particular attention to when students are struggling with mental health issues particularly in this new Virtual Classroom world. It is important that we are able to recognize signs and symptoms of depression and suicidal behaviors in youth in this new medium; kids in need don’t always know how to reach out to let us know they need help, symptoms may present differently than in the traditional brick and mortar classroom.

Having said that, some adolescents do, and It’s important for them to know its ok to reach out for help, we understand, we are here to help. We wish to applaud them and honor them for the bravery that they have shown in doing so. Their courage is an example to others to let them know you don’t have to feel alone, we are here to help, just a Call or email away… 24hrs a day/7 days a week.

For more information:

September is Suicide Prevention Month

During these trying times of social and political unrest, climate change and Covid Pandemic requiring social distancing, many people are left feeling not only physically distant, but emotionally distant too. Social isolation is a contributing risk factor for suicide, this being Suicide prevention month, we here at Smokey Point want to encourage you to stay connected to your loved ones, reach out, and be that helping hand.

We are here 24 hrs a day 7 days a week with skilled behavioral health clinicians to provide support and free assessments to anyone in need.

Learn About Minority Mental Health Month

“Once my loved ones accepted the diagnosis, healing began for the entire family, but it took too long. It took years. Can’t we, as a nation, begin to speed up that process? We need a national campaign to destigmatize mental illness, especially one targeted toward African Americans… It’s not shameful to have a mental illness. Get treatment. Recovery is possible.”
 – Bebe Moore Campbell, 2005


Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

In May of 2008, the US House of Representatives announce July as Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.

The resolution was sponsored by Rep. Albert Wynn [D-MD] and cosponsored by a large bipartisan group to achieve two goals:

  • Improve access to mental health treatment and services and promote public awareness of mental illness.
  • Name a month as the Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month to enhance public awareness of mental illness and mental illness among minorities.


About Bebe Moore Campbell

Bebe Moore Campbell was an author, advocate, co-founder of NAMI Urban Los Angeles and national spokesperson, who passed away in November 2006.

She received NAMI’s 2003 Outstanding Media Award for Literature. Campbell advocated for mental health education and support among individuals of diverse communities.

In 2005, inspired by Campbell’s charge to end stigma and provide mental health information, longtime friend Linda Wharton-Boyd suggested dedicating a month to the effort.

The duo got to work, outlining the concept of National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month and what it would entail. With the support of the D.C. Department of Mental Health and then-mayor Anthony Williams, they held a news conference in Southeast D.C., where they encouraged residents to get mental health checkups.

Support continued to build as Campbell and Wharton-Boyd held book signings, spoke in churches and created a National Minority Mental Health Taskforce of friends and allies. However, the effort came to a halt when Campbell became too ill to continue.

When Campbell lost her battle to cancer, Wharton-Boyd, friends, family and allied advocates reignited their cause, inspired by the passion of the life of an extraordinary woman.

The group researched and obtained the support of Representatives Albert Wynn [D-MD] and Diane Watson [D-CA], who co-signed legislation to create an official minority mental health awareness month.

Source: NAMI 2020, Learn About Minority Mental Health Month, National Alliance on Mental Illness, accessed July 1, 2020