Since our world has been a bit crazy lately, our focus for this month is on mental health. Here are some valuable observations and insights from trusted mental health providers in our community!
Meet Charlotte Fritz, a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist with 12 years of experience in the field. Over the past few months, she has observed some common themes with her clients: “I have seen an uptick in anxiety and issues with families- parents of school aged children, burdened by having to work and care for children. Most families receive some amount of support from grandparents, other family members, friends and the church. Right now, due to social distancing, many of those support systems are not available.”
Charlotte identified being in community as a key ingredient to mental health. “Research shows the #1 healing factor in people’s life is social support. Figuring out how you can safely create a community for yourself is key. Even though Zoom calls are awful, and we often hate them – we need them. It’s easy, under stress, to just shut down and drift away from your social network – but it’s detrimental not just to your own mental health but also to those you’re in community with.”
Another tip Charlotte mentioned that’s helpful for anxiety is grounding. “You have to find solid ground, something that will remain the same. It can be spiritual, for me I know that God does not shift. It can also be as simple as going for a walk and noticing the trees. As we pay attention to our senses and what is in front of us- we are not thinking about things we cannot control, or the future.”
Want to try a simple grounding exercise? It’s called the 54321…just pause for a moment and take in your surroundings. Then identify 5 things you can see, 4 things you can feel, 3 things you can hear, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. In just a few moments, you’re better connected with yourself and your environment!
Meet Jeff Redmond! He’s been leading Celebrate Recovery for 20 years and has 25 years of sobriety himself. Celebrate Recovery is not just for those with drug or alcohol problems, but for anyone dealing with any kind of hurts hang-ups and habits.
“Bad habits come from our broken places- it’s how we try to fill the holes. We do what we think helps- but it doesn’t. I used alcohol.”
When asked about the current trends that he is seeing Jeff replied, “Everybody is crazy – depression is through the roof. Abuse has increased in marriages and the use of pornography has skyrocketed. People are just giving up quicker.”
“If you know someone struggling with addiction, you can’t pretend it’s just going to go away. Encourage them to get connected- they can’t do this on their own. We have to accept the fact that we’re all broken people and don’t have all the answers. But there is a program in place that leads to a better life for those that work through the steps.”
It may look different than before, but community is vital to recovery. “You have to admit you have a problem and you say it out loud to another human - someone that you can trust.”
And in the midst of it all Jeff encourages us to stay lighthearted. “Keep your sense of humor, we need to be able to laugh and know that there are better days ahead.”
Celebrate recovery meets in online groups and if you are interested in more information – check out Bayside Granite Bay Celebrate Recovery.
Meet Amy Foraker! Amy is an Associate Professional Clinical Counselor from the Sacramento region.
When asked about the current trends, Amy has noticed that “people are struggling, not having the coping skills needed to make the amount of changes they are required to make on a daily basis. In normal life the changes are not so frequent. Our brains are not able to cope with the speed with which we are required to change.” She also noticed that the number of people reaching out for help has increased. “It seems that more are accessing counseling. Maybe people feel better to attend on Zoom or it is just more accessible, but more people are getting help.”
Amy indicated that addressing collective and individual grief in this season is key to moving forward. “It is important for both parents and kids to talk about loss. ‘What have we lost?’ ‘How do you feel that you are not going back to school?’ ‘What are you going to miss about school.’ It provides space to process and gives children a chance to respond to all the changes they are experiencing. Empathy creates connection and connection enables healing. Giving voice to your feelings and knowing someone is with you allows each of us to move forward.”
Amy encourages us that in order to be present with others we must first be present with ourselves. “Take some time to understand what you are feeling everyday as the parent. Take even 5 minutes a day to notice what you are feeling. It can be walking outside and putting your feet in the grass and asking yourself the question – ‘what am I feeling right now?’ ‘What am I noticing in my body right now?’”
Like many other experts in the region Amy emphasized the importance of connection. “Maintain connection with close friends that you are able to bounce ideas off of and bring some normalization to what you are feeling. That way you know someone is with you.”
We’d like to introduce you to Mike Boon. Mike is the Senior Chaplain & Executive Director of the Placer County Law Enforcement Chaplaincy with 13 years of experience.
When asked about current trends, Mike shared from his vantage point. “We have seen an uptick in suicides this year – on a record setting pace. Since January there have been 30 Placer County deaths from Covid19 and 34 suicides. Covid19 gets all the attention but we are missing a big element of mental health: the hidden factor of isolation. We truly don’t know how much despair is going on. The other trend we’ve heard from the deputies is an increase in domestic violence.”
Mike encourages us to look outwards and get involved in the lives of others, especially in these challenging times. “Don’t be afraid to ask hard questions of those you trust and to stick your nose into people’s business in a caring way. We have to look outside of ourselves and begin to care for others. There is an old adage – ‘The more you care for others the more you will be cared for.’ The phone still works, email and text still work. We have to bear one another’s burdens.”
We are not in this alone, there are amazing resources to help as we navigate this season. “If you are caring for elderly family or friends, look at the webpage Seniors First and get familiar with the resources. There is a hotline in Placer County for peer to peer elder counseling. Since in-person visits are often not possible, think of connecting more regularly in other ways.”
Finally, Mike reminds us that the only way we will get through this is together. “We need to help as a family. It is beyond us or any one organization; we need to come together as a community.”