Social Anxiety: Is It Real?

Social Anxiety: Is It Real?

It’s so easy to feel “you’re losing it” when you have social anxiety.

You’re heart races, your body tenses up, you become quite confused, and you feel every ache in your body.

After hours later, you analyze the scenario you were in, dissecting how you should have handled the situation or environment. You feel quite alone, as you see friends and family moving forward with their day.

We’re here to tell you , You’re Not Alone!

In the era of information overload, it can sometimes be counterproductive to our own anxiety.

We are providing tips by stating the reality :

There is no quick fix, yet embracing the fact that there is no “one” way to reduce or manage social anxiety gives you the ability to know you have the power to engage what tips works for your specific anxiety.

Examining your social anxiety from within – meaning there is always a deeper root to everything – self discovery, self-love, self-care gives you the opportunity to explore more of how it all began- as we say at Embracing Empowerment CS- ” peeling the onion”

Understanding that we are imperfect beings is a very powerful tool. Social anxiety teaches us that we are suppose to be perfect, in a perfect situation, in perfect clothing, perfect outlook on life. We are here to say – there is beauty in imperfection. It’s okay to not be okay.  no matter who you are, your economical status, your gender, your culture, your race – you are Worthy and Valued to have all the tools and guidance to help you become a healthier & stronger selves.

A Sense of Belonging – Social Media And The Impact On Our Mental Health

A Sense of Belonging – Social Media And The Impact On Our Mental Health

For the past decade, social media changed  on how we think, look and interpret our world. Social media has given a platform for awareness on mental health, environment, injustice, political and social views.  With a click of button, our world is interpreted through many eyes, however not all are seen in a positive light.  Despite some positive impact that social media has it has also increased the perception of perfection, such as how someone should look like, how someone should feel, how someone should act, how someone should interact. Social media is an interpretation platform which is often subjective from person to person. One may look at a profile picture and may see a beautiful person while another may dissect on what the profile picture should look like.  Social media definitely has an impact on one’s mental health. How?  Imagine this for a minute:

A young woman, decided to change her profile picture from a filtered one to unfiltered. You may think that others would accept her as she is, yet she received numerous comments, calling her “pig” “ugly” “loser” . Now imagine the young woman reading this. She just wanted to be accepted for who she is and not what others wanted her to be.  The name calling continues, and this young woman felt unwell, she started to isolate herself, withdraw from friends, family, school. She stayed in her room with the blinds closed, and just stared at the words that she was called by her so called friends.  The names continued and the young woman learned to accept the words she was being called. The young woman took her own life, based on what social media portrayed her as – unwanted.

The co-relation between social media and mental health is fairly new, yet we continue to see tragic stories like the young woman on a daily basis.

In 2016 Anxiety UK conducted a survey  on social media use – the survey indicated about 53 percent of social media users had changed their behaviour and 51 percent of these were reported to be negative impacts on social media use. Another alarming statistics according to Enough is Enough an organization that assists in helping families have safer guidelines for internet usage, about 95 percent of teens using any social media platform have witnessed cyberbullying! 95 percent! An alarming rate!

Social media is a great place for advocacy however to outsource the positive from the negative we must understand triggers, signs when someone is feeling that social media has had an impact on their lives.  So how do we help?

For every negative word, we Speak up! For every negative outburst, We Use our Voice! For every negative outcome, We share our heartbreaking story.  We overturn and outsource the real, the raw about the darkness as it is the sharing our story, that changes the outcome. We can use our voice to change , however to know that when we no longer have a voice, we seek help so others can be our voice . Lending a hand, a listening ear and a compassionate heart, not only changes our view of the world but it changes how we look at ourselves!

Therapy – The Power of Conversation

Therapy – The Power of Conversation

According to World Health Organization ( WHO) one million around the world take their own lives every year.  To make it even more gruelling – every 40 seconds another life is taken by suicide.

No matter if you are a friend, family member, a stranger or a mental health professional these statistics are unsettling.

I remember a time when I had a friend contemplating on taking their own life.  I’m not sure what I said to them but it swayed them from not going through with their plan. Years later, we reconnected, and I asked them what made their decision to not end their life – they said ” our conversation ”

What happen if I wasn’t there at that point of time ? Would they have gone through with their plan? The magnitude feeling you have,  knowing that you saved somebody by merely having a conversation is surreal.

Today, we are in the heap of technology, social media – everything appears to be online. For the past few years online therapy has become a huge phenomenon. It’s easy, it’s convenient. However there is some tweaks yet to be made on how it would be delivered, received and the risks still have yet to measured.

For some getting into the techie world is not something they are ready for, and believe conversing a face to face conversation can be beneficial.

The options are open to all.

The power of conversation can save a life – “our voice is the most powerful tool – it can help guide you to your path and it can also help another who lost their way.” (quote by Founder, Owner & Therapist Of Embracing Empowerment Counselling Services –  Parul Shah-08.23. 2016)

Call To Action – The Essential Need For Community Help

Call To Action – The Essential Need For Community Help

Call to Action means placing our conversations into physical motion.  We hear ” keep the conversation going” we say ” let’s talk”, but what  happens after the talk, what happens when meeting time to discuss important issues end and everyone goes home. As Therapists, we often hear, ” the conversation never stopped whether in our own heads or with someone else, we feel all this talking has made strides,  but to where, when I’m still feeling anxious, depressed, anger, numb, or suicidal. Now I’ve added another thing onto my life..addiction”

As Therapists, As Policy Makers we know it takes time for physical  change to happen such as easier access, faster access, implementation. According to Public Health Agency of Canada we all must make a commitment to learn , which means building a mental health resource kit, way before crisis occurs as the wrong time to prepare for CRISIS is when we’re in it. We’re all accountable, and it’s time to walk our talk, it’s time to Call to Action. SPEAK UP! REACH OUT! EDUCATE! SHARE! And IMPLEMENT!

Mental Health Breakdown – Power & Control in the Workplace

Mental Health Breakdown – Power & Control in the Workplace

Stigma is one of the biggest reasons why mental health is not being addressed efficiently in the workplace especially when employees feel inadequate in their job or feel they would be warned for not doing what they were told based on timeline workload. There is an overall consensus that if an employee divulges their deterioration of mental health that it would increase tension for them at work, therefore keeping quiet or increasing their sick days would omit the discussion of talking about it with their employers.  According to New York Times about 25 percent of employees receive negative responses for their problems including being bullied and the reason why they aren’t being promoted by their employer. Yet, employers advertise to the public that they have compassion and empathy for their employee’s well being. A definite mix message to any employee who is struggling with their own mental health. Power and Control in the Workplace is a traditional tactic to produce sales from their employees without the burden of losses due to a number of workers off the job.

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Even today when mental health is on the forefront of corporate discussions, employees still feel they cannot speak of their own mental health breakdowns.   Companies have brought in more wellness and mindfulness techniques for their employees . Business wellness is an 8 billion dollar industry, yet the simplicity of just asking an employee how they are doing has become fragmented by business stocks and status. According to World Health Organization (WHO) by 2020 they estimate that depression will be the second leading cause of disability worldwide. Many companies end up failing to address the root of their employees mental health breakdown and bandaid by introducing more wellness into the company.

Empathetic and Compassionate Employers are ESSENTIAL! Your compassionate care for mental health must be treated like any physical injury at work, respond immediately, provide care immediately, and ask how it happened!

Supporting Someone with Mental Health and Illness

Supporting Someone with Mental Health and Illness

Mental Health Affects everyone not just the person who is actually suffering from it. It’s hard to examine the day when you are unsure how to support one another through the challenging life of mental health. Here are a few ways to engage and support those who are living with some form of mental illness:

1. Acknowledgment- a huge hurdle as we avoid and label .Acknowledging that mental health is a serious problem that needs to be addressed and voiced can alter and even omit stigma.

2. Understand that even though someone suffers from mental illness does not always require 24 hour care. We call it Space Support – where you acknowledge that everyone needs space but can always be there for them. A listening ear is an essential part of support.

3.  Voicing that you care for someone who is dealing with mental health is the most powerful tool that can even save a life! ” You are Worthy!”

4.Understanding that those who are dealing with mental health , they don’t want to be ” fixed”, they want you to understood that they will have “bad days” just be there for them.

5. To be accepted. Accepting means opening up that mental illness does not always have physical wounds, some are invisible, and even hard to detect. So when it’s being said that they are feeling down and their brain isn’t the same, acknowledge the wounds . Compassionate acceptance is evolution of crushing Stigma.

6. Labels are labels they are not to be used to define someone. Calling someone “crazy” or using the words like “crazy, or mental breakdown” in ordinary daily language isn’t going to change how we look at mental health and the person dealing with it, we actually grow the gap even further.

7. Asking, ” how can I help you” or ” how are you” can open their darkest gate and start a conversation. It can be that simple.

8. Hugs – when words cannot be expressed, bear hugs can let any guard down, reduce stigma, stress, anxiety

9. Being accepted for who they are now is the only truest way to be free.

10. Words can be only words unless they have meaning, so when you are truly there for someone – phrases like ” I believe you” can alter and even save a life. Mental health affects all!

Closing The Gap: Bullying, School and The Rise Of Suicide

Closing The Gap: Bullying, School and The Rise Of Suicide

Bullying is a learned behavior.  Bullies have one point of another have been bullied themselves. Bullies enter their own school property and pick on younger students, older students, or even their own friends. Primary anti-bullying days are all over the school, not in workplaces, or rallies, or events. The Bullied feels scared, unworthy, anxious, sad, depressed and even suicidal. The Bullied connects with others who have been bullied themselves.They either get angry and form a bully pact or  A Suicide pact because they believe there is no other way out. According to Canadian Institutes of Health and Research, has the 9th highest rate of bullying and about 1 out of 3 teens reported being bullied.  Another factor to add onto this, is that more bullying occurs to certain cultural and ethnic groups, therefore bullying and suicide rates increases. For instance, “In Manitoba and Saskatchewan, 53 per cent of trans youth (ages 14 to 25) reported being bullied in school. (excerpt from Winnipeg Metro News-May 2017)”

So how do we change this? Can we change this? Where do we start?

All incredible questions that have one major answer, bullies cannot be stopped until the origin of how it started gets addressed. It’s called the  trickle effect theory, but there are times in our lives we have to do things we may not have a choice, like paying our taxes. But we always have a choice to VOICE our thoughts, VOICE how to be respected, VOICE to be heard, VOICE to be listened to, VOICE to be accepted as we are. Our Voice can change how the trickle down theory can be demolished. So let’s go back to the school system

A student is bullied. A student calls out for help.  A bully gets called into the office and spoken to. The bully leaves the office, says nothing until the next day and rebullies. The student goes to the office again for help. The student is advised to walk away if they “bother” them again. This time the student walks aways, but isn’t able to get up after being beaten outside of the school yard. The student is terrified. The student receives inappropriate emails, texts. The student feels worthless. The student ends their life.

Bullies have been bullied before, and were not given a chance to VOICE their hurt, and only know survival skills, so they bully to protect their own pain.

A VOICE IS THE MOST POWERFUL TOOL ANYONE CAN OBTAIN AND THE MOST DEFINING MOMENT WHERE POLICIES CAN CHANGE, IN A WORKPLACE, IN A HOME, IN A SCHOOL.

The Journey of A Federal Framework – PTSD

The Journey of A Federal Framework – PTSD

Changes and Implementations of Federal Policies and Legislation takes time, sometimes it can take years.  A disheartening fact but important to recognize when advocating for Mental Health initiatives for any geographical area or population.

600 days ago, An Federal Proposed Bill C-211 was born.  An Newly Elected Federal MP took on this Bill and brought it to life, of the reality, the hardships, the dedication, the challenges and the heartbreaking stories of First Responders, Correctional Officers, RCMP, Military and Veterans trying to overcome their Mental Health Injury – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder or now verbally known as Post Traumatic Stress Injury.  There is that heart wrenching reality that some who dedicated and sacrificed their lives for Canadians could no longer hold on to their pain and took their own life.

Death by Suicide is a very dark fact amongst Police Officers, Paramedics, FireFighters, Correctional Officers, RCMP, Active Soldiers, and Veterans. Stigma continues to be present not only in the public arena but at times within their own services.

So there was a very important job to do, and that was to have Bill C-211 a Federal PTSD Framework to come to light in the House Of Commons.  600 days ago the process of debates began.

For every Private Member’s Bill/Federal Proposed Bill – there are steps to take for it to be recognized of it’s importance.  Data and Statistical analysis begins, interviews, collaboration, listening to hours upon hours of traumatic and heartbreaking stories and then the debate (a tiered process) in front of all Federal MP’s to understand why this Bill weighed more than another.

For any Bill to move onto the next stage, they must pass all tiered process or as they call it in the House of Commons – Readings which they are three.  Bill C-211, passed 1st reading, the two parts of 2nd reading, the Health Committee, and as of Friday June 16, 2017, passed the 3rd and Final Reading. It now enters into the last phase before it officially passes from a Proposed Bill to a Legislative Bill.

Everyday a life is gone, Everyday someone puts on a uniform whether it be First Responders, Corrections, RCMP, Military or Veteran, and knows that their life becomes second to anyone they protect, serve and save.  It’s time to take care of them. It’s time to put them first.Federal-PTSD-Framework-C211

Mental Health Crisis- Can Traditional Mental Health Delivery Survive?

Mental Health Crisis- Can Traditional Mental Health Delivery Survive?

According to Mental Health Commission of Canada 1 in 5 People in Canada experiences mental health problem or illness. 70 percent of youth who are dealing with mental health reported that their symptoms began during childhood years. An alarming statistics! Wait times still exist in the mental health industry and the increase of need is ever growing. So how does traditional mental health deliveries overcome such demand? It’s simple. We need to adapt to change.

Many initiatives are being developed every single day in order to better mental health services, but reality is many are not ready to adapt to drastic changes. We are immuned to our old ways. One way to ride the wave is to implement and place into action through simple changes. For example, being able to provide free clinics in order to determine urgency versus ongoing assistance. When a person who is struggling with their own mental health, the wealth of information and services become overwhelming, therefore they are unsure what to do. Simplifying the “how to ” can keep our traditional mental health deliveries alive. Breaking down barriers, bringing up new initiatives is a step to the right direction, but action is what will alter and save a life.

Mental Health Delivery is in crisis and so are many who are struggling with their own mental health – but we can save the omission of traditional delivery by knowing we all want TO BE HEARD and UNDERSTOOD. We cannot bandaid mental health by providing a quick fix to how we deliver services. Take the time to hear someone’s story because it can alter or save someone or even themselves.