Is cutting myself a big deal?

Image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons

“Why do I cut myself?” is not a question most people would think of asking themselves, but it is a reality for countless individuals, the vast majority of whom are in their youth. Self-injury is more common than most of us realize.

Self-harm (which occurs when someone cuts, burns, or otherwise hurts him or herself— the condition is clinically known as non-suicidal self-injury (NSSI)). There is no intention of being suicidal, and the condition involves quite a bit of secrecy, shame, anxiety, and often lying. It may involve mental illness, and is also a very isolating activity, making it more difficult for someone to admit to harming himself or herself.

A common misperception is that young, white females engage the most in NSSI, but studies have shown that at least 35 percent and possibly as many as half of the self-injurers are male. Research indicates that about 15 percent of college students engaged in NSSI at least once and that about 17 percent of adolescents had engaged in NSSI at least once. Reported self-injury is much less common in adults (about a five percent lifetime rate) and in most children. Note that about 1.3 percent of children aged 5 to 10 self-harm, and that rate spikes significantly if the child has a diagnosed anxiety disorder or chronic mental distress.

More often than not, “cutters” work overtime to keep their self-harm in secrecy (covering up cuts, burns, scars, marks, etc.) because they feel ashamed about their covert self-harming activities. Interestingly, research has shown that those that feel higher levels of shame are more than likely to harm themselves.

Why all the secrecy? Frequently, one of the secrets that lead to self-harm is the underlying reason the individual is cutting him or herself, to begin with. The lying and covering up may be an attempt to hide some severe trauma (such as sexual abuse) that the cutter isn’t willing to discuss. Sexual abuse, by the way, makes someone far more likely to self-harm.

Someone who self-harms may continue this lifestyle of secrecy driven by acute stress, guilt, shame, and self-blame (esp. in the case of having been sexually abused). A cutter may feel that he or she needs to be “punished” for being responsible for something so shameful, which can lead to a cycle of self-harm, shame, self-blaming, more self-harm, etc.

Other cutters may feel shame about the self-harming in and of itself. They may often feel “weak” or “foolish” because of their self-harm habits, and that therefore, they feel compelled to keep it all a secret. They may worry about being judged for their self-harming behaviors, about being “looked down” upon, or that others will be shocked and repulsed by their self-harming tendencies.

Whatever the reason for secrecy, this stress-fueled cycle of shame pushes an individual into an isolated world where “no one can know about me cutting myself.”

Other reasons for self-harm include:

  • To distract oneself, focus attention elsewhere, or get control again of one’s mind when being inundated with unavoidable, intrusive, and unsettling thoughts and/or feelings.
  • To “feel something” when day-to-day life becomes associated with a sense of emotional dissociation and “numbness.”
  • To release tension associated with powerful emotions or overwhelming thoughts.
  • To poignantly communicate or express oneself regarding strong emotions that one feels powerless to articulate.
  • To feel a certain kind of passing and intense feeling of euphoria that can be experienced immediately after self-harming.

Most people who harm themselves never have any intention of significantly injuring themselves to the point of being dangerous. Yet self-harm, cutting in particular, poses a lot of health risks, such as serious infection, blood loss, other complications, and even death. Admitting that you harm yourself is nothing to feel shame about. If you are cutting yourself, you’re likely coping with life stresses in the best way that you know how.

Know that by not keeping your self-harm a secret, by confiding in someone you trust (though that may take quite a bit of courage), can help you figure out better ways of dealing with your problems, and the next natural step will be to get professional help if necessary, which will lead to you stopping to hurt yourself. You will feel less isolated, less guilt, and less shame when you realize that you really do have people who care about you and support you regardless of how you feel about yourself.

Do you secretly cut yourself? Are you afraid of what others might think if they were to find out? We’d love to hear from you, even just to talk! If you or someone you love need to talk to someone about self-harm or feelings of being overwhelmed, we want to help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at
Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.




Best mental health blogs

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Top mental health blogs? Maybe it’s never occurred to you to follow one.

It’s no simple task to keep up with all the latest in regards to mental health research, updates, news, etc. To be sure, it’s a landscape that is constantly in flux. If you live with a mental illness or have someone you care about that does, you should be following as many expert mental health blogs and writers on as many related and relevant mental health issues as you can. Many are fighting hard to reframe the mental health discussion, tearing down misperceptions and stigma regarding mental health, and to just give you a new way to think about the issues you face. With any luck, one day the world can be one where mental health issues are taken seriously, and those with mental health are not discriminated against.

Check out some of the following blogs and writers, and see if you can’t learn something new from them:

  • Reddit (Mental Health/Mental Illness)
    For those not familiar with Reddit, it is a U.S.-based social news aggregation, web quality content rating, and open discussion website. Registered members can submit content to the site such as articles, text posts, images, and other links, and then the Reddit community votes each post up or down. The most popular and interesting, relevant, and interesting posts surface to the top.Website:
    About This Blog: A place for openly discussing mental health and mental illness with other interested community members
    Frequency: Nearly 30 new posts weekly
    Facebook followers: 1,159,181  Twitter followers: 565K
  • The Mental Elf (Mental Health)
    Oxford, UKA resource to help you find just what you need in keeping up-to-date with all of the latest important and reliable mental health research and guidance. Blog posts featuring short and snappy summaries that highlight evidence-based publications relevant to mental health practice.Website:
    About This Blog: Keeping you up to date with the latest reliable mental health research, policy, and tips.
    Frequency: 3 new posts weekly
    Facebook followers: 5,641  Twitter followers: 59.6K
  • Sluiter Nation (Mental Health)
    West MichiganKatie Sluiter (pronounced “Sly-ter”) is a wife, a mother, a teacher, a reader, and a writer living in a small town in West Michigan. She has a Master’s Degree in English Education from Western Michigan University and teaches in a Title 1 Junior High School near Grand Rapids, Michigan. Her writing has been published in the 2012 anthology of Every Day Poets, the May 2013 issue of Baby Talk Magazine, the book Three Minus One ,  the anthology My Other Ex, and in the Language Arts Journal of Michigan. Most recently her essay about her struggle with postpartum depression was published in Mothering Through the Darkness: Women Open Up About the Postpartum Experience.Website:
    About This Blog: Katie has experienced many challenges in her life including various losses and mental health issues. The adversity she has faced inspired her to write her story and set up a blog to provide inspiration to the people and mothers, who like her, grapple with mental illness.
    Frequency: 2 new posts weekly
    Facebook fans: 1,274  Twitter followers: 5,981
  • Elisha Goldstein, Ph.D. (Mindfulness/Psychotherapy)
    West Los Angeles, CADr. Goldstein is currently a licensed Psychologist in private practice in West Los Angeles and also teaches mindfulness-based programs through The Center for Mindful Living and InsightLA. It’s all about mindfulness. Mindfulness is the ability to cultivate awareness of the present moment while putting aside our programmed biases. It is being in connection with the direct experience of the present moment, the here and now.
    About This Blog: Articles, free audio/video, and other resources that can give you insights into working through a mental illness and toward growth and recovery. Stress? Anxiety? Depression? Trauma? Addictive behaviors? No matter what you bring to the table, this is a place where you will find help and support.
    Frequency: 4 new posts monthly
    Facebook followers: 11,085  Twitter followers: 20K
  • From Both Sides of the Couch | Psychology Today (Mental Health)
    New York, NYA therapist reflecting on her time with patients…and her time as a patient. Her writing explores her journey with mental illness and healing.Website:
    About This Blog:  Gerri Luce is a licensed clinical social worker, publishing under a pseudonym to share her experience and insights. Now in her 50s, she spent her late twenties and thirties battling anorexia, major depression, and borderline personality disorder. Her essays have appeared in a number of literary journals and anthologies.
    Frequency: About 1 new post monthly
    Facebook followers: 7,384,665  Twitter followers: 571K

What are you waiting for? Get out there and start following a mental health blog that really speaks to you! Come to think of it, why not keep up with the valuable information in this blog?

 Do you or someone you love struggle with mental health issues? Fear not! You got this! If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.


Did you know that spending time alone can help you improve your quality of life?

Alone time is something that people either enjoy or fear. Unfortunately, many people struggle with being alone because they’re unsure of what to do.

While being alone can seem daunting, alone time benefits people in many ways if they know how to take advantage of it.

Here at Solara Mental Health, we regularly help people turn their lives around by changing how they think about being alone. We’ll outline why spending time alone is essential so you can also live a better life.

Read on to learn about how to spend time alone and the benefits of doing so.

The Benefits of Alone Time

When spending time alone, many people find it difficult to see what the benefits are. However, you can reap the benefits of alone time if you know how to approach things.

One of the main things we want people to understand is that being alone isn’t the same as loneliness. Alone time is simply time spent away from others, whereas loneliness is the feeling of being without someone.

Voluntarily spending time away from others can allow you to do the following:


When you’re constantly interacting with others, it can be challenging to think about yourself. However, self-reflection is crucial if you want to live a healthy lifestyle, as it also comes with many benefits.

Alone time will make it much easier to self-reflect because you won’t be focusing on others. Approach self-reflection with a positive mindset and use the time to improve yourself as a person.

Become More Productive

Alone time benefits those that are looking to get things done. If you’re never alone, you’ll have a hard time doing anything productive (unless it requires others).

Spending time alone will give you the chance to complete that project you’ve been putting off. The sooner you get things done, the quicker you can go back to being social.

Focus on Health

Similar to self-reflection, spending time alone lets people focus on improving their health. Whether it’s physically or mentally, alone time will ensure you can eliminate toxicity in your life and allow yourself to “reset.”

During alone time, think about the foods and beverages you have when surrounded by others. Not only will an unhealthy diet negatively affect your physical health, but it can also affect your mental health. Things like depression caused by a poor diet can increase the likelihood of feeling lonely, even when around others.

Find Comfort

If you’re someone that struggles with loneliness, spending time alone can help you learn how to find comfort when away from others.

Those who are afraid of being alone often feel that way because they’re unsure how to use their time. If you can learn how to get the most out of being alone, you can have more control over your life. The comfort that comes with accepting alone time will increase your overall happiness.

How to Get the Most Out of Being Alone

Learning how to spend time alone isn’t difficult; you’ll just need to use that appropriately. If you find that being alone isn’t comforting, you can fill up that time with things to do. Whether it’s work or school obligations, exercise, or hobbies, doing activities will help.

Getting the most out of being alone can be done by planning your alone time and eliminating distractions. Here’s how to do that:

Plan Everything

It’s easy to feel lonely when you have nothing to do, and no one’s around. This can be prevented by thoroughly planning how your days will go.

From the moment you wake up until you go to bed, your entire day should be planned, including the time you’ll dedicate to doing nothing. While it may seem excessive, it’ll help you stay active, so you don’t end up feeling lonely.

Creating structure in your life will make the time spent alone more enjoyable, especially if you don’t go out much. If you’re someone that actively hangs out with others, you’ll eventually start cherishing the time you get to yourself.

Get Rid of Distractions

Aside from planning your day, you must eliminate distractions if you’d like to ensure that everything goes smoothly. Distractions can prevent you from getting things done, which will make you feel worse if you’re alone.

Whenever you’re working on something, you should never start browsing social media or random things on the internet. Instead, leave your phone in another room and consider getting something that’ll block certain websites so you can work productively.

Another type of distraction is thinking about negative things. For example, you may be watching TV, and a negative thought may cross your mind. Instantly you want to go down the rabbit hole; next thing you know, your upset with yourself because your thoughts took you to a dark place.

Reframe your thoughts and put your thoughts into perspective. Stop the train of thought you are going down and tell yourself out loud that what you’re doing is not right. This will strengthen your mind in order to take control of your thoughts.

It’s best to be engaged with something as often as possible. You’ll notice that relaxing after a long day of work is enjoyable, even if you’re by yourself. This is because you’ve gotten the most out of being alone.

Start Spending Time Alone More Often

With all of this information, you’re ready to reap the benefits of alone time. All you must do is start spending more time alone to get a better understanding of what exactly makes you feel lonely.

We encourage you to prioritize obligations to make your days more satisfying. If you still feel lonely after getting everything done, you can pick up some hobbies to keep your mind off things.

If you’re having a hard time in life, contact us to learn about how we can help you.

Abuse can be hard to understand and recognize, especially when you’re not familiar with the cycle of abuse and how it works. However, knowing this information could potentially save you or someone else’s life! 

If you’re struggling with abuse and mental health problems, then keep reading to learn more about this serious topic. 

Cycle of Abuse

This four-part cycle helps distinguish certain behaviors and patterns that abusive partners tend to have. By knowing these patterns of abuse, you can better protect yourself in future and current relationships. 

The four-part cycle starts with tension building, then an incident where abuse or violence takes place. After that, reconciliation is made, followed by a calm state. This tragic cycle repeats itself over and over again until the victim becomes worn down.

1. Tension Building

Tension building can be brought on by anything. Some of the triggers for an abusive partner are fatigue, overworking, being hungry, and other family issues.

The abusive partner will then begin to show signs of anger, fear, and feeling unempowered in the relationship. The tension that builds up as a result of these feelings can weigh heavily on you.

You might try to find a peaceful resolution. However, there may not be a solution until the abusive partner feels in control again.

Because of this, you might start feeling anxious and even scared. It is considered emotional abuse. Often, abusive partners use this tactic to inflict pain on others. 

2. Incidents of Abuse or Violence

Once the abuser has reached the breaking point, they will externalize these feelings. Abusers will use physical and verbal tactics to gain back control.

For example, they won’t allow you to wear certain clothes, or they’ll make you cut off communication with family and friends. Sometimes these tactics turn into sexual and physical aggressions. 

It is the most dangerous stage of the cycle. In fact, a recent report stated that six women die every hour as a result of domestic violence.

3. Reconciliation 

This stage in an abusive relationship can be very confusing. Often, the victim thinks that the abuse has stopped because the abuser has calmed down.

The abuser will start to show the victim their preferred love language like gift-giving or physical touch. Unfortunately, this “honeymoon” stage only lasts for a little bit.  

Often, those in a normal relationship don’t understand why the victim “doesn’t just leave.” For starters, the victim might not be physically or financially able to leave the relationship. 

The abuser might also hurt them for trying.

Most importantly, mental abuse causes a shift in a person’s brain chemistry. During the “honeymoon” stage, the victim’s brain releases oxytocin and dopamine.

Often, the victim is longing for this gratification, but the abusive partner will withhold affection to gain control. This causes the victim to stay and chase this feeling of “happiness.”

4. Calm State

During the calm state, the abuser will try and justify their abuse by apologizing. However, the apology is never sincere. It is really just a tactic to make the victim think the abuse won’t happen again.

The abuser will also blame their actions on others or sometimes the victim.

Here are some examples:

  • “I’m sorry I yelled at you, but you made me mad.”
  • “Sorry for snapping you earlier; it’s just my job has been stressing me out.”
  • “The only reason I hit you was because you were provoking me.”
  • “I didn’t even hit you that hard; you should get over it.”

After their apology, the abuser will convince the victim that it won’t happen again. They might try to manipulate you by making the situation seem smaller.

You might start doubting yourself and think that you were dramatic. And slowly, you start believing that your partner will change. 

How Does Abuse Affect Mental Health?

This cycle of abuse can leave someone with permanent damage. Many times battered women and men show symptoms of PTSD.

This mental disorder can bring on intense feelings of anxiety and paranoia, even if the victim has left the relationship. Over time, being in an abusive relationship can diminish someone’s self-worth and confidence.

It happens because the abuser is constantly attacking them and making them feel less than them. The abuser will use this tactic to wear down an individual not to seek happiness outside of the relationship.

Battered women and men are also likely to develop depression and suicidal ideations. Overall, being in an abusive relationship can deteriorate someone’s mental health. That’s why it’s essential to get help immediately!

Gaslighting and Manipulation 

Gaslighting and manipulation go hand in hand with the four stages of abuse. For starters, gaslighting is a form of lying by creating a false reality. 

For example, if a person finds their spouse cheating on them and the abuser outright denies the accusations, this is considered gaslighting. 

This tactic makes the victim’s reality and perception unclear. Often, the victim will feel “crazy,” but just because they don’t know what’s real and fake anymore. 

Manipulation is similar to gaslighting. For example, an abuser will try and control a situation by providing false information or showing empathy. Nevertheless, the abuser is doing this to establish control over a person.

Red Flags to Look Out For

All of the abuse mentioned doesn’t necessarily begin at the start of a relationship. Sometimes abusers will withhold these strong emotions and actions until they feel secure. 

However, there are minor signs that you should look out for during the start of a relationship. For example, love bombing is when a partner shows a lot of attention and affection during the first few weeks of being together.

It may seem normal at first, but this will progress at an unusual pace. The abuser might tell you they love you and that they want you to meet their family.

The problem with love bombing is that when the abuser has “locked” you down, they begin to withhold love. Love bombing eventually turns into a cycle of abuse.

Living Your Truth 

Abusive relationships can leave you feeling hopeless. But knowing the cycle of abuse can give you back some power! If you or a loved one is struggling with an abusive relationship, get help immediately!

If you have any more questions, contact us today to receive more information on our different services!

Knowing the signs of mental illness helps play a crucial role in our ability to lead fulfilling lives. Because mental illness is invisible, it isn’t always easy to recognize when we or someone we love is living with a mental health condition. It’s important to know when you or a loved one needs professional help to diagnose and treat mental health conditions. 

Overcoming Barriers To Detecting Signs of Mental Illness

Regardless of age, socioeconomic status, race, or gender, mental illness affects nearly one in five people in the United States. For some, there exist barriers to detecting the symptoms early to prevent the ongoing worsening of a person’s mental well-being. Factors that prevent early detection of a mental illness include:

  • Stigma and prejudice against people who have a mental illness.
  • Lack of mental health education and awareness.
  • The dismissal of a person’s symptoms.
  • Waiting lists for treatment.
  • Financial restraints and lack of health coverage.

Prominent people like celebrities are helping normalize mental health challenges by talking about their own experiences reducing the social stigma. Business leaders that acknowledge mental illness and the need to help care for their employees are beneficial for workers with mental health issues. CEOs are regular users of mental health services to help keep their lives balanced.

By removing the stigma of mental illness, more people will feel more comfortable getting help. Knowing the signs of when a person needs to seek treatment for a mental illness can help the person live a better life.

The Warning Signs of Mental Illness You Need To Know

Some warning signs of mental illness are similar for different conditions. Only a medical professional can diagnose a mental health disorder. However, some symptoms can alert you to the possibility of having a mental health issue. 

Many symptoms hinder you from performing the daily activities of life as normal. This may be the time to take note of the symptoms impacting your life, including:

  • Inability to sleep, or sleeping too much.
  • Constant fatigue that’s unexplainable.
  • Long bouts of deep sadness or irritability.
  • Withdrawal from social activities.
  • The onset of paranoia and excessive anxiety.
  • Intense mood changes.
  • Unexplained body aches and pains.

When you experience these symptoms, it’s recommended to reach out for help. Mental health disorders are treatable with proven medical interventions and support from family and friends.

Mood Disorder Symptoms

Multiple mood disorders including depression, major depression, and bipolar disorder share symptoms that are cause for concern including:

  • Suicidal thoughts and suicide.
  • Feelings of hopelessness and despair.
  • Excessive feelings of guilt and worthlessness.
  • Slowed movements and speech.

Complicated bereavement is also classified as a mood disorder. The grief we all experience upon the passing of a loved one becomes too much to bear for some people, the symptoms include:

  • Inability to accept death-causing intense feelings of sorrow and emotional pain.
  • Emotional numbness or feelings of anger.
  • A false belief that the person can’t live without the deceased.
  • A desire to die to join the deceased loved one.
  • Physical symptoms including weight fluctuations, fatigue, muscle pain, and nausea.

There are numerous treatment options for people diagnosed with a mood disorder. A specialist will help you determine the best plan of care specific to a person’s needs.

Anxiety Disorders and Symptoms 

There are a few common types of anxiety disorders that are treatable. These include:

  • Generalized anxiety disorder. People living with this condition experience chronic worry leaving them unable to relax while suffering from physical and emotional pain.
  • Social anxiety disorder. The symptoms vary in intensity for each person ranging from extreme self-consciousness, physical symptoms including sweating, blushing, and shaking, and an excessive fear of public humiliation.
  • Panic disorder. Symptoms of this mental illness include extreme physical discomforts and a distorted sense of reality.
  • Agoraphobia. Common symptoms include avoidance of places where people may feel like they can’t escape such as public transportation and elevators.
  • Separation anxiety disorder. Common in children, a person feels distressed when out of the presence of a loved one.
  • Selective mutism. The main symptom, usually occurring in children, is not being able to speak in some normal everyday situations, but otherwise they can communicate comfortably.

When you recognize some of these indications of a mental health issue, be sure to reach out for help.

Psychotic Disorders

A few symptoms of psychotic disorders are similar to each other for schizophrenia, schizoaffective psychotic disorders. The symptoms of these disorders include:

  • Depression symptoms.
  • Lack of hygiene and self-care.
  • Hallucinations; both audible and visible.
  • Trouble with speech.
  • Difficulty functioning socially, academically, and at work.

Sometimes people living with a mental illness require more specialized treatment when they live with another psychological problem as well.

Co-Occurring Disorders

When a person is having difficulty living with either a diagnosed or undiagnosed mental health challenge, they may turn to substances to alleviate symptoms. Addiction can make a diagnosis and the treatment of a mental health disorder more difficult. People living with impulse control problems such as gambling and another mental health challenge face problems in their:

  • Health
  • Professional life
  • Social life
  • Personal life 

Though it’s challenging, with the right coping skills and therapies, people can learn to manage their symptoms successfully.

Available Treatments For Mental Illness 

There are numerous options for treating mental illness. Some people benefit from a combination of psychotherapy and medications, while others receive more help from transcranial magnetic therapy. 

When you or a loved one need the most comprehensive treatment for mental illness, Solara Mental Health provides expert clinical and medical treatment. Solara Mental Health is recognized for providing the best programs with the highest rate of success. Find relief of symptoms of mental illness by the seaside within a safe compound at Solara Mental Health.

California’s a place known for its gorgeous beaches, sunny weather, and breezy attitudes. But that’s just how it looks from the outside.

Research has shown that there’s a darker reality for those who live in our West Coast state. Forty-four percent of Californians say they experience high levels of anxiety and depression.

But that’s taking a look at the statistics through a wider lens. What about San Diego?

As it turns out, San Diego depression statistics aren’t much better. Here’s what you need to know.

San Diego Depression Statistics: The Current Situation

Our city already has had a mental health crisis on its hands. For reference, 429 people committed suicide in 2019.

Those figures came in before the outbreak of COVID-19. Since then, mental health has gotten worse for many of us. This isn’t just a San Diego problem, either: worldwide, people have suffered from depression more than ever because of changes and closures caused by the pandemic.

That’s one way that experts have explained the rising suicide rates in San Diego. Gun-related suicides increased three-fold during the pandemic, so it’s easy to see a cause-and-effect relationship. People who felt lonely, isolated, or hopeless during lockdown could have felt like there was no escape.

A Look at the Statistics in the Past — and Across Demographics

This isn’t to say that mental health is a new issue in San Diego, though. Records from 2015 indicate that five percent of the city’s residents dealt with such issues in that year.

And it’s not an equal spread across all demographic groups, either. Low-income San Diegans tend to experience mental health issues more frequently than those with higher paychecks.

In San Diego, mental health and homelessness go hand in hand, too. Nearly 5,000 people in the city are homeless, and almost half of them have some sort of mental health diagnosis.

The San Diego veteran population accounts for some of the mental health diagnoses, as well. This group is more likely to suffer from PTSD, anxiety, and depression.

As our city’s number of elderly residents increases, then there will be more people with mental health needs within our borders, as well. These types of diagnoses are quite prevalent in older adults.

And then, there’s the teenage population to look at, too. As of 2016, more than 40 percent of students reported feeling overwhelmed by their day-to-day lives. They also have the stressors of their social lives — both in real life and online — with which to contend. So, that may be why more of today’s adolescent youth have depression and anxiety than before.

What These Mean and How to Move Forward

San Diego depression statistics may seem bleak. But there’s a light at the tunnel — and, if you’re feeling depressed, you aren’t alone.
At Solara Mental Health, we have an in-residence program for people who are dealing with depression. We’re here to help — call us today to learn more.

There are few places in the world where you can snag as much sun as you find in California. The carefree life of surfers and hippies looks pretty enviable when you find yourself stressed out by the corporate world.

If you need some relaxation, a place for an annual vacation where you can find mental clarity, and a break away from the daily routine, look into wellness retreats in California. The state with sunshine, mountains, beach, and just about any terrain offers the ideal place for a wellness retreat.

Keep reading to learn about what makes California the perfect place for a wellness retreat.

1. You Find a Full Range of Help Available

If you’re suffering from any mood, mental, or emotional struggles, you can find help at a professional wellness retreat. Professional wellness retreat centers understand how to treat a variety of conditions including the following disorders:

  • Depression
  • Major depression
  • Bipolar disorder
  • Anxiety
  • Social anxiety
  • Panic disorder
  • OCD
  • PTSD
  • Complicated bereavement
  • Childhood trauma
  • Borderline personality
  • Narcissistic personality
  • Dependent personality
  • Schizophrenia
  • Schizoaffective
  • Suicidal ideation
  • Impulse disorders

If your emotional or mental state is preventing you from living life fully, a weekend wellness retreat could help you.

2. You Experience More Than a Holiday

You may think of a retreat as a holiday. However, they’re more than just a holiday. They’re an opportunity for healing and restoration.

Holidays, especially those that involve family, rarely lead to the type of rest you receive from a retreat. You will find silence, rejuvenating nutritious food, and relaxing yoga.

Yoga is a simple exercise routine focused on stretching, deep breathing, and relaxation. You find yourself more rejuvenated and relaxed than when you started after just a simple session of yoga. Yoga has proven itself as an effective way to alleviate stress.

With a retreat, you receive the holiday rest you’re hoping to receive because of the purposefulness of a retreat center.

3. You Form Bonds

If you go on a wellness retreat, you’re bound to form some tight bonds with your companions. If you’re going on a corporate retreat or a retreat with a group of friends, expect to come away closer to your companions.

When you go to a retreat with a group of people, you have a focused, single mindset. You’re aiming to learn, rest, and relax. With this common purpose, you form strong bonds. Conversations turn from water cooler talk to meaningful discussions.

4. Retreats Encourage Stronger Work-Life Balance

Everyone is looking for a better work-life balance. A weekend away from the office, whether you’re going with corporate partners or alone, will encourage this balance.

You’ll quickly discover that you may be on the cusp of burnout. You’ll come away with a renewed sense to accomplish a balance that leads to a more productive and meaningful life both at home and at work.

Plus, a wellness retreat will educate you and your companions on the health effects of mental stress.

5. Retreats Encourage Whole-Body Wellness

Wellness retreats offer the opportunity for physical fitness. You won’t find yourself in the gym for hours, pounding away on a treadmill. Rather, picture hikes or casual walks through nature on trails, soaking in the scenes.

A wellness retreat will inspire individuals to live a healthier lifestyle. Once they receive a taste of how good wellness feels, they’ll want to keep up the routine at home.

Many retreat centers believe in holistic therapy that involves physical fitness, nutritious foods, as well as therapy for behavioral, mood, and emotional disorders.

6. You Learn to Manage Emotional Stress

Emotional stress has wreaked havoc on employees, especially in the past couple of years. The chances that have taken place in the office and the health fears that accompany working in close quarters lead to emotional stress.

A retreat will help you learn to manage this stress. You’ll come away more confident and able to do your job. You’ll learn the dangers of comparison and the power of responding to criticism positively.

As a result, people who go to wellness retreats will have improved mental wellbeing. They’ll be able to keep their emotions in check and be able to do their jobs better.

7. Retreats Give You The Gift of Time

We all know we need to slow down and take a break. But the demands of work and family are always calling.

A wellness retreat forces you to slow down. It gives you the gift of time to stop, breathe, and think. You leave the retreat with a new joy of life and the mental clarity to make better decisions.

You can work with your companions and co-workers to discuss more effective solutions and ways to care for each other. As a result, you’ll take the same care and concern back to the office, and you’ll improve the corporate climate.

8. You Draw Energy From Nature

When you go on a retreat, as much as you may want to, you won’t just stay in bed and drink champagne all day. Instead, you’ll be spending time in nature, drawing energy from it.

Natural environments affect human health positively. They allow you to recover from stress. Plus, you enjoy the physical healing effects of being in nature.

9. You Have Access to Experts

Individuals who lead retreats are experts in their field. They understand how to teach stressed-out people to relax. They know all the tips and tricks for lowering blood pressure naturally.

Additionally, you can personalize the session to your particular mental, emotional, and physical needs. You leave with the tools you need from experts on how to handle your stressful life.

10. You’ll Make Better Decisions

Earl Miller, an MIT neuroscientist, conducted studies that revealed multi-tasking actually negatively affects our brains. A wellness retreat will teach you mindfulness and the ability to focus on the task at hand. As a result, you’ll come away as a better and more efficient decision-maker.

Book Wellness Retreats in California Today

Wellness retreats in California will solve your anxiety problems. You’ll be able to soak in the California sun and breathe in the fresh California air. You’ll come away from the retreat a more productive employee and a better person overall.

Are you looking for a retreat center? Contact us. We can set up a retreat for you and your companions today.

Did you know that one in four adults in the United States have some kind of mental health disorder? From anxiety and depression to PTSD and OCD, these patients need expert guidance on how to improve their mental health.

One of the preferred ways to take a step forward is by attending a mental health retreat center. These treatment centers help individuals with mental health issues work through the struggles that they may be having. And, you’ll learn tools and tricks to work with your mental illness out in the real world.

These retreat centers aren’t as out of reach as they may appear at first. So, you may want to get to researching.

Let’s talk about how to choose a mental health retreat center and explore one of the better mental health retreats in California.

Choosing a Mental Health Retreat Center

Choosing the right mental health retreat center can make all of the difference in whether you heal or not. Whether it’s because a retreat center doesn’t soothe you or doesn’t have the right resources for you, all retreat centers are not equal.

You have to find the best match for you. Let’s look at some of the traits that you should take into consideration.

1. Timing

First of all, you have to see whether or not your personal timing matches up with the program’s timing. Are you going to be able to work with one of the schedules that the program is offering?

Of course, you should always work to seek help for mental health problems, whether or not you have other responsibilities. But, you shouldn’t have to completely change your life for the sake of receiving treatment.

Different centers offer different times and dates for their patients. Look into what kind of schedule you’d want to have and compare it to what retreat centers are offering.

2. Goals

Each retreat center is going to have a different end goal. Some retreat centers are going to let you make your own.

Some retreat centers value mindfulness while others value progress. Some may want you to feel like your old self while others want you to be functional.

What kind of goals do you have when it comes to your mental health? Look for a retreat center that can help you reach those goals.

3. Approach

Depending on your condition and the center, physicians and other health personnel may approach you differently. They may want you to talk everything out through therapy. They may want you to hone your feelings into something physical.

They may want you to focus your energies on both of these things.

The approach for how to treat a mental illness will differ based on the treatment center’s philosophies and beliefs. Make sure to do your research before you find out that you don’t like a treatment center’s approach.

4. Offers

Look at the classes and activities that each treatment center offers. Make sure that the treatment center you’re going to choose offers classes that you’re actually interested in.

If you’re a creative person and the treatment center you’re looking at doesn’t offer creative outlets, it’s not going to be a good fit.

5. Location

Location and presentation matter. Whether you prefer to be near or far, location can make a difference in your retreat experience.

Think about whether you want to heal on the beach, in the mountains, in the city, or somewhere else. Determine whether you’d like to be near home or far from home.

Then, look at how the place itself looks. We all hear horror stories about psychiatric treatment centers having steel walls with mattress on the floor. While we’ve come a long way from those days, you still shouldn’t settle for anything less than the best.

This is a mental health retreat after all. How are you supposed to heal in a place that you don’t like?

6. References and Reviews

Look at the references and reviews for each treatment center you’re considering. You may be surprised at what people have to say, regardless of the location, activities, and other characteristics.

A place may look nice on paper but have horrible reviews.

As with any place, you should always take the reviews with some skepticism. However, you should also be wary of complaints, especially if they show up multiple times.

7. Interviewing

Call and ask questions about the retreat center. Ask about food and activities. Get to know what your daily life will be like.

If you read some concerning reviews, be sure to bring those up and clear the air. The staff may have an explanation or there may have been a change in policy.

You should also consider touring the facility to make sure that you feel at home there.

Take a Mental Health Retreat in California

If you’re looking for a mental health retreat center in California, look no further than Solara Mental Health in San Diego, CA. We take pride in our individualized approach and successful results.

We offer residential inpatient treatment and intensive outpatient treatment so that our patients can choose the schedule that they want. On top of this, we offer a variety of therapy programs, including cognitive behavioral therapy and dialectal behavior therapy. These therapies focus on helping you cope with your condition and learn strategies to assist you in living functionally with it.

With therapy, we offer one-on-one therapy, group therapy, holistic therapy, family therapy, and more. Overall, we focus on a holistic health approach that includes mindfulness and self-love. This includes a strong belief in individualized care and treatment for each patient.

We treat a wide range of mental health issues, which include depression, anxiety disorders, trauma disorders, personality disorders, psychotic disorders, and more. And, we offer group therapy for each of these conditions as well as coexisting struggles.

Located in Pacific Beach, California, our mental health retreat center is gorgeous. We’re sure that you or your loved one will settle nicely in our relaxing bedrooms and calming common spaces.

Contact us today so that we can talk about how we can help you.

Since the first of January in 2005, the Mental Health Services Act (MHSA) has been working to support mental health programs in California. Otherwise known as Proposition 63, the Mental Health Services Act focuses on progressing the resources and funding for mental health services.

No matter the age of the person or the problems that that person is facing, the Mental Health Services Act is for them. If you live in California, the MHSA covers you and your mental health.

To learn more about the Mental Health Services Act and how it affects you, keep reading.

What Is the Mental Health Services Act?

The Mental Health Services Act, or MHSA, is a piece of legislation that the government in California passed in 2004. Once it went into effect in 2005, the proposition worked to strengthen mental health services in California.

Specifically, the MHSA in California works to provide funding, staff, and other resources for country mental health programs across the state. This monumental piece of mental health legislation in California also works to create a goal-oriented mental health approach for people and families of all ages.

By spreading their reach the Mental Health Services Act works to combat all kinds of mental health disorders, including those that Americans are most worried about.

Who Does the MHSA Serve?

If you live in California, the MHSA is here for you and your mental health. The act is not isolated to those with serious mental health conditions.

Instead, the MHSA works to provide resources for all Californians who want them.

Overall, this reduces the impact that untreated mental health conditions can have on individuals and families. In turn, this also takes some pressure off of state and local budgets.

Considering that the government intended that these budgets provide services that insurance companies typically don’t cover, the government was seeking a way to pull resources from other sources. The Mental Health Services Act was the way to go.

Where Does the MHSA in CA Get Its Funding?

This California mental health proposition gets funding from the higher-earning residents in the state. Those individuals who earn more than $1 million must pay a 1% tax on their income. This money provides funding for various mental health services and programs throughout the state.

This simple 1% tax makes more than a billion dollars of difference. Yes, each year this tax brings in over a billion dollars in funding to mental health services in California.

Where Does the Funding for the MHSA Go?

The Mental Health Services Act addresses a broad selection of mental health needs across the state. This includes prevention and early intervention programs that aim to get mental health problems under control before they become more serious.

The more than a billion dollars that go into the MHSA every year are distributed among different areas like infrastructure, technology, and training as well.

There are five components that the government has required that the MHSA cover across the state:

  1. The CSS (Community Services and Supports) component requires direct funding to individuals that have a serious mental illness
  2. The CFTN (Capital Facilities and Technological Needs) component requires funding towards an increase in technological capacity as well as building projects for the improvement of mental health services delivery
  3. The INN (Innovation) component requires funding to underserved populations with the intent to further collaboration across entities and increase the quality of services
  4. The PEI (Prevention and Early Intervention) component requires officials to spend 20% of the MHSA funds on outreach programs that focus on spreading information about the early warning signs of mental illnesses
  5. The WET (Workforce, Education, and Training) component requires funding for the purposes of increasing the capacity of mental health services across the state

All of these components work together to stretch the impact of the Mental Health Services Act and ensure that any and all Californians can benefit from mental health services in California.

What Has the MHSA Accomplished So Far?

The Mental Health Services Act has been rolling out changes since the government implemented it in 2005. It’s been more than 15 years since its beginning, and there have been several changes in the condition of health in California.

The Mental Health Services Act has worked with several other programs in the San Diego area to impact the health of its citizens. In their annual report, Live Well San Diego reports the changes that all of these programs worked to make in the area.

Here are some of the most notable changes as depicted in the annual report:

  • 12% fewer deaths associated with preventable health threats
  • 22% fewer heart attacks in San Diego County
  • 1% increase in life expectancy
  • 3% increase in people who are 25 years of age or older and have a high school diploma or GED
  • 9.2% increase in households that spend less than a third of their income on housing
  • 10% fewer homeless individuals living in San Diego
  • 17% lower youth disconnection rate
  • 76% fewer youth arrests
  • 26% lower crime rate

Together with other programs in San Diego, the Mental Health Services Act has helped initiate these changes. By helping those individuals with mental health issues, the city and the state as a whole are looking out for their citizens.

By caring for citizens’ mental health, the state is reducing problems that arise as a result of mental health problems.

How Can I Benefit from the Mental Health Services Act?

If you feel that you can benefit from the Mental Health Services Act, there’s no better time than now. There are plenty of mental health facilities in the state of California that can help you with your mental illness, whether you’re in the early stages or have a serious condition.

If you’re looking for proven successful results, we recommend coming to Solara. Our mental health facility is focused on helping you cope with your mental health conditions. With the highest success rate of any comparable program, we’re sure that you’ll find the help you need with us.

Call now at 844-600-9747 to get into contact with us. Otherwise, contact us online so that we can talk about how we can help you.

It’s easy to think that mental and physical health doesn’t affect each other. Research, however, tells us the opposite is true.

Your mental health affects your physical health in various ways, and vice versa. Conditions like addiction and mental illness have major impacts on your body.

So, how do you effectively address both sides of this equation?

That’s where behavioral health comes in. In this article, we’ll be discussing what behavioral health services are, who needs them, and what benefits they bring.

What Is Behavioral Health?

Behavioral health describes the connection between your behavior and well-being. It describes the overall health of the body, mind, and spirit. How do things like drinking, exercising, or eating affect your physical and mental health? The key is looking for a connection.

In past decades, behavioral health was seen as singling out behaviors that prevented illness or affected health. Later, it became concerned with behaviors that help manage diseases.

There’s also been much more attention paid to how mental health affects our behaviors. We’re realizing more and more how traumatic events affect our physical state of being.

Behavioral health looks at how conditions like addiction affect other symptoms like anxiety.

Behavioral Health vs. Mental Health: What’s the Difference?

Behavioral health often gets mixed up with mental health. This is because of their similar focus on how a person’s mind affects their everyday lives.

When talking about these two disciplines in tandem, it’s important we don’t confuse these terms.

Behavioral health is a blanket term that includes mental health. It looks at how behaviors affect someone’s physical and mental health.

In other words, mental health is a single category of behavioral health.

Mental health has a variety of factors including biology, habits, and psychology. Behavioral scientists look at how those habits are affecting a person’s mental and physical health.

A behavioral scientist might address an eating disorder differently than other doctors. They’ll track down behaviors and habits that contributed to that person’s disorder.

What Are Behavioral Health Services?

So, what do behavioral health services look like?

We’ve established how behavioral health encompasses a wide range of symptoms and issues. This complicates our definition of behavioral health services.

In other words, behavioral health services look different for each patient. One person might need help overcoming addiction. Another person might need help addressing their anxiety or eating disorder.

When patients engage with a behavioral health service program, they have a wide range of professionals to choose from.

Behavioral health professionals include:


Psychiatrists are the most qualified physicians when it comes to things like mental health and addiction. They can diagnose your condition and single out behaviors that might be affecting your overall health.

Social Workers

These professionals are part of institutions aimed at helping people overcome mental and physical health issues. Child, family, or substance abuse social workers are pivotal in addressing behavioral health symptoms.


Psychologists offer help to those that need psychotherapy or a more specific psychological diagnosis. They can help narrow down psychological symptoms that might be affecting your behaviors.


Counselors don’t provide specific diagnoses or prescribe medication. Instead, they help patients address a specific condition or issue, such as addiction or marital issues.

Benefits of Behavioral Health Services

But what are the benefits of behavioral health services?

Behavioral health looks at a person’s health from a holistic perspective. This means addressing their addictions or issues this way improves both physical and mental health.

This means no stone is left unturned. Behavioral health services help patients find the root cause of some of their symptoms.

As such, positive behavioral health leads to happier lives. It means you can be more productive at work. You’ll be able to cope better with everyday stresses since you know where your stressors come from.

It helps eliminate negative behaviors like addiction. This means healthier eating or sleeping habits.

Who Benefits from Behavioral Health Services?

Broadly speaking, almost everyone will benefit from behavioral health services. The CDC claims that more than 50% of Americans will suffer from mental illness at least once in their lives.

As we’ve established, there are also connections between mental health issues and medical issues. Heart disease, respiratory illness, and other physical health challenges are often connected to mental health.

Behavioral health services can benefit anyone who suffers from these problems. Professionals can help get to the root of those issues and address it in a healthy and meaningful way.

Let’s look at two examples of people who benefit from behavioral health services here:

American Workers

These mental and physical health challenges often intersect in the American workplace. Over 60% of American adults are part of the workforce, and nearly 1 in 5 are struggling with mental illness.

Behavioral health services in the workplace can help address some of these issues. It can lead to better work engagement, happiness, and productivity.

It can also prevent further health complications for workers. Addressing their mental health early decreases the risk of heart disease or other physical health issues down the line.


People struggling with addiction benefit greatly from behavioral health. For example, counseling and therapy can break down someone’s behaviors and habits that are leading to substance abuse.

It combines counseling with medication to get at the root of the issue. Behavioral health services help manage these symptoms to the point where people can use other strategies to overcome addictions.

Leverage Behavioral Health Services Today

Addressing mental health or substance abuse is always complicated and doesn’t have one convenient solution. Behavioral health services look at finding those solutions in a productive and holistic way.

Use this article to understand what behavioral health does and how it can help those in need.

Are you or someone you know suffering from mental illness or substance abuse? Contact us today and we can help you find the right solution.

It’s estimated that the average person has more than 6,000 thoughts every day.

This being an average, it means that some of us will have fewer thoughts. Some of us will have many more.

If you find that your mind is becoming overactive, it can cause a lot of stress. A busy mind can leave us unable to fully switch off or relax, which isn’t good for our health.

If this sounds like you, then read on as we look at some simple but effective ways to curb a busy mind.

What Is a Busy Mind?

A busy mind can be a mixture of thoughts, worries and anxieties, emotions, doubts, and other thought patterns.

We all have these types of thoughts on a daily basis, but when the sheer number of these thoughts begins to get too much, then you’re suffering from a busy mind. There’s nothing wrong with thinking about things, but when you start overthinking and aren’t able to control the number of thoughts you’re having, then you might want to consider ways to curb your busy mind.

How to Curb a Busy Mind

There are some simple but effective exercises you can try which can help to calm your busy mind. By incorporating these exercises into your daily life, you can begin to calm your mind and remove the stress that a busy mind can cause.

The Power of Pause

The modern world moves at a relentless pace, and it can feel like it’s not going to stop to give you a chance to catch your breath. Even if the world doesn’t pause for a second, it doesn’t mean you shouldn’t.

Take a moment to pause and focus your attention on your senses, allowing you to refresh and renew yourself without any other concerns. One of the simplest ways to do this is with a body scan.

  • Sit comfortably with your feet flat on the floor and your hands in your lap
  • If you can, close your eyes
  • Bring your attention to your feet and feel the sensations as they interact with the floor
  • Bring your attention to your legs and how they feel against whatever you are sitting on
  • Now bring your attention to your chest and focus on your breathing, noticing the rise and fall
  • Bring your attention to your arms and hands, noticing any sensations within them
  • Open your eyes and feel how a short pause has made you feel refreshed and renewed

If you find your busy mind starts to think about other things during this exercise, don’t allow this to cause tension within you. Just acknowledge what has happened and redirect your attention to your body.

The power of the pause doesn’t have to involve taking a long break from your day. Try to incorporate short pauses into your daily life to slow things down a little. You could take a short pause:

  • After completing your current task and before moving on to the next
  • If you are interrupted, before dealing with the interruption
  • If your phone rings or you get a message or email, take a short pause before checking your phone

By building these small pauses into your day, you break up the relentless pace of daily life and allow yourself room to breathe.

Mindful Listening

Have you ever had a conversation with someone where you suddenly realize you didn’t take in a single thing they said? Sometimes our minds are racing so much we fail to give attention to the person speaking.

Mindful listening involves bringing your full attention to the conversation you are having. Follow these steps:

  • Stop whatever else you are doing and focus solely on the conversation
  • Take a breath to give yourself time to process what you hear
  • Focus only on the content of what is being said rather than how it makes you feel
  • Ask yourself if you understand what has been said and if not, ask for clarification
  • Reflect back on what you have been told to confirm your understanding

It can be harder to practice mindful listening when you’re on the phone rather than face to face. During phone calls:

  • Put down anything you are holding so you’re not tempted to fiddle
  • If it helps, close your eyes so that you’re not distracted by anything in your field of view
  • Try to sit as still as possible to remove any distracting physical sensations

Connecting With Your Senses

A busy mind usually stems from thinking or worrying about things that have happened in the past or things that will happen in the future. A simple but effective way to pause those thoughts is to focus on the present moment.

One way to do that is to connect with your senses and bring your attention to what you are feeling in the here and now. The beauty of this technique is that you don’t have to take time out to do so; you can perform this exercise whilst going about your day. For example:

  • When you’re eating, focus your attention on the sensations in your mouth and on your tongue
  • When you’re getting dressed in the morning, bring your attention to the feeling of your clothes against your skin
  • If you’re in bed at night, listen to the sounds in your room and outside
  • If you’re driving, notice the sensations of your hands on the steering wheel
  • If you’re out walking, notice the different smells around you

By bringing your attention to the present moment, you stop your brain from worrying about the past or the future, giving your busy mind a break and allowing yourself to reset and recharge.

Are You Looking to Curb a Busy Mind?

If you’re struggling to curb a busy mind and you find that these techniques aren’t sufficient to make a difference, then we’re to help.

We treat a wide range of mental health issues, from mood and anxiety disorders to trauma and personality disorders. We have the highest success rate of any comparable program based on published scientific outcome statistics. We also offer luxurious off-site housing right next door to our treatment center so that you can move seamlessly between your appointments and your accommodation.

We’re here to help; contact us today.

There are over 1,000 mental health apps available to smartphone users.

These apps cover a broad scope, touching on everything from therapy with a live counselor to guided meditations. Some of the apps connect users to licensed therapists, while others are personally-oriented and don’t offer access to medical professionals.

Having these apps as supplements, tools, and guides is a fantastic option, but it’s worth noting that only about 14% of them include evidence such as clinical research. Doing your own research before downloading and using is a wise idea.

That’s likely why you landed here, where we compare Talkspace, Headspace, and BetterHelp — three of the more notable offerings. If you’re curious, keep reading for an honest look at the pros and cons of each.


First on our list is Talkspace, the #1-rated online therapy app that boasts over one million users.

Talkspace attempts to take the place of an in-person therapist. Users take a brief assessment, which pairs them with a list of recommended therapists. If you end up choosing one, you’ll begin a therapy journey with that counselor.

Here’s what you need to know.


Talkspace provides 24-hour access seven days a week. Often, a person can’t predict when they’ll genuinely need a conversation with their therapist. Talkspace provides access when you need it.

If you begin your journey with one therapist and find the connection isn’t working for you, you can switch—at no extra cost. Additionally, Talkspace has several plans that fit a wide range of budgets.

Talkspace also specializes in treating teens (13-17) or couples.


Unfortunately, many things can be missed when one does therapy over the phone—even slight behavioral changes that are noticeable in-person.

Humans are nuanced creatures, and diagnosing someone virtually may prove to be more difficult for severe mental health disorders.


Headspace is a guided app that covers a different part of mental health: meditation.

If you find meditation challenging to do on your own, Headspace makes the practice easier and more rewarding. It aims to help its users be “less stressed,” “more resilient,” and happier.

We talk about its advantages and negatives below.


Headspace can be done for minutes at a time, offering users a world of convenience. Perhaps you arrived to work five minutes early, you’re sitting in your car in the driveway after a long day, or you’re about to make a major decision. Simply pull out your phone and allow yourself that brief but meaningful escapism.

Headspace also covers a wide range of topics, allowing users to find something specific to their current needs. Maybe you want to learn more about mindful eating, how to sleep better, or wish to cultivate a more mindful office space.

Headspace talks about all these subjects and more.


While Headspace does provide its users with a handful of free meditations, it’s likely you’ll soon want to upgrade.

The free ones tend to be shorter in length and are limited, meaning you can make your way through the entire selection—ten sessions—quickly.

Headspace is a wonderful supplement to your regular mental health routine. Still, those with more serious disorders will need something besides the app, such as a program, to care for themselves adequately.


Finally, we have BetterHelp — another app like Talkspace that connects its users with licensed therapists that offer counseling sessions.

BetterHelp also specializes in individual therapy, couple’s therapy, and therapy with teenagers.


BetterHelp allows users to connect with their therapist in several ways. One can communicate over the phone, through video, or through messaging or chat options. This feature lets you choose a preference that’s most comfortable for you.

Additionally, BetterHelp doesn’t require the use of appointments. One can message their therapist at any time, and from there, schedule a live session at the next convenient moment.


While you can message your therapist at any time, that doesn’t mean there’s a specific time when you’ll hear back. This point can leave some users feeling dejected.

While you can switch therapists if you find your match doesn’t quite fit, BetterHelp encourages its users not to choose their own.

Rather, BetterHelp wants to connect you with a therapist of its choice based on answers you provide to a questionnaire. Again, like Talkspace, this process may feel a little impersonal to some. It may also cause the app or its therapists to miss something that could be important to your mental health journey.

Finally, the cost of BetterHelp is about the same cost as a traditional, in-person therapist.

Of course, you won’t have the convenience of speaking to them from the comfort of home (or elsewhere)—but some see that as a reason to have reduced costs. Expect to pay anywhere from $60 to $90 per session with BetterHelp, or $240 to $360 a month if you do weekly sessions.

Are These Mental Health Apps Right for You?

Having options is a good thing. It allows you to work with individual apps or use two or more in tandem.

Perhaps you find you enjoy using Talkspace to speak with a therapist, followed by a quick guided meditation on Headspace. Or, maybe BetterHelp is enough for you.

Either way, we hope this article provided you with transparent insight into each of these apps. At Solara Mental Health, we care about providing honest information and compassionate help. Our priority is you.

Click here to learn about our own programs, which provide anything from screenings and assessments to family programs or 24-hour, in-person programs. We look forward to hearing from you.

You are probably familiar with the effects of smiling on your own mind and body. From living a better and longer life to appearing more approachable and confident, from reducing the risk of certain serious diseases to releasing hormones that help decrease stress levels, the benefits of smiling are plentiful.

But are you aware of the effect of a smile on others? Yes, when you smile, the people around you can benefit from it, too.

Let’s shed light on why you should smile for the sake of your own happiness as well as that of others. Are you ready to smile more often?

Triggering Positive Feelings

Countless studies have shown that the very act of seeing another person smile triggers an automatic muscular response that produces a smile on our face. Yes, smiling is contagious, and science has demonstrated that time and time again.

When someone else smiles at us, regardless of whether we know them or not, it automatically lifts our mood. We can’t help but smile back, in an act that is almost involuntary, but which releases a wealth of benefits that we might not even be aware of.

The main one? A waterfall of positive, happy feelings. If we felt like we started our day in the wrong way, seeing someone smile at us will inevitably make us feel better.

All of a sudden, our day won’t look that terrible anymore—thanks to the power of someone else’s smile.

Because smiling back at someone is an automatic act (if you don’t do it, it’s normally because you are actively choosing not to), we are now reaping all those great, feel-good benefits that we would if we were the ones initiating the smiling.

Promoting Better Health for Everyone

Smiling at and with other people — whether they be friends and family or complete strangers that we come across on the street — also releases a host of great hormones in our bodies, which enhance everyone’s health. Stress levels are lowered, thus reducing any related chance of inflammation and pain.

And did you know that by decreasing inflammation, you also help prevent some of the root causes of serious diseases, such as cancer and heart disease?

Smiling more and smiling at other people can have such an incredible ripple effect, helping to make you and others around you lead healthier and longer lives.

Making Others Feel Rewarded

What other emotion would you say you feel if someone smiles at you? Besides happiness, calmness, and improved mood, another feeling triggered by a smile is a sense of feeling fulfilled and content.

It turns out that this is not just the psychology of smiling, but it has some medical and physical cause. Several scientific studies have noticed that when someone smiles at us, the part of our brain that controls feelings of reward is activated.

Yes, you’ve read it right: if we receive a smile, we may feel like we have been given a beautiful prize. And, of course, this feeling generates other positive sensations, which in turn continue to produce positive effects on our minds and bodies.

Facilitating Good Relationships

Picture this scenario. You are a student, on their first day at a new school, feeling understandably nervous, shy, and a bit lonely. You sit at your desk and start looking around at your new school mates, who are sitting all around you.

Some of them are greeting you with a smile, others are ignoring you, and another group is staring at you without smiling. Which ones will you be speaking to first, hoping to create some new friendships?

Correct: the ones who are smiling at you. In any situation, but particularly in those that might make us feel uneasy and anxious, we are drawn to bond with people who show us that they are friendly, approachable, and interested in getting to know us.

In this specific example, the students who are smiling at you are also very likely to be the ones who start a conversation and end up involving you in their lives and wanting to become a part of your life. In a nutshell, they are the ones who are going to become your friends.

Of course, this doesn’t mean that you won’t ever be able to make friends with people who don’t smile at you! It means that it might take a little bit longer, as your guard might be up and you might be feeling more uncertain if you were in a relationship with them.

The Effect of Smile on Others: A Powerful Tool for Greater Wellbeing

As we have discussed, smiling is not just a wonderful way to stay happy, positive, and healthy. It also creates a ripple effect on the people around you, who reap some pretty amazing benefits from such a simple and daily act.

The effect of a smile on others is so powerful that you should really consider smiling more, and at more people, regardless of whether you know them or not.

By smiling at others, you can contribute to their happiness and their health can make them feel rewarded and create strong and long-lasting bonds and relationships.

Are you feeling like you don’t have any reason to smile at the moment? This might be a symptom of something more serious going on. Why not get in touch with us and see if we can help you?

Mental health wraparound services are a wonderful way for the mental health care community to care for children who experience mental health or behavioral challenges and their families.

This innovative approach brings people together and provides all parties involved with the support they need and to ensure that all the needs of the family and child are met so that mental health and behavioral goals can be met, too.

In the past, mental health issues in children were traditionally treated using a science-based, counseling-focused approach only. This still works for some children in crisis, but it doesn’t work for everyone.

Wraparound services symbolize a movement towards a new kind of aid for youth. Through these methods, the focus is not only on the child but on the child’s entire family. It builds on the goals and strengths of the family unit to help the child and, in turn, the entire family.

Read on to learn more.

Families Need Wraparound Services

Many young people and their families today face countless challenges. Sadly, many homes and families in our country today experience issues like poverty, family disharmony, unemployment, illness and disease, lack of food, violence in neighborhoods, domestic violence, and so much more.

These challenges can be overwhelming when faced one at a time, but many families experience more than one simultaneously.

When, on top of that, a child experiences mental or behavioral health challenges as well, it may seem impossible to move forward. Facing and overcoming these difficulties may seem insurmountable for some.

Wraparound services recognize that families face many challenges every day. This method of care also recognizes that all families have their own goals and strengths.

These should be embraced and harnessed to help the family thrive together as one, which will help the child who experiences behavioral or mental health challenges in countless ways.

Who Is Eligible for Wraparound Services?

Participation in a wraparound services program is optional and voluntary. In most cases, a mental health professional who is already familiar with the child’s issues, family, and needs will identify the need for a wraparound services plan.

Families eligible for this type of program include a child who has mental health or behavioral issues that interfere with the functioning of the family or participation in school or community activities.

Often, the child is already at risk of being placed in a residential psychiatric treatment facility.

The goal of wraparound services is to keep the child in the home with his or her family.

How Wraparound Services Work

The process of engaging a family in a wraparound services program is simple. The length of time each family will use these services varies and will differ from family to family and situation to situation. However, the process is linear for all participants.

Step One: Determine Needs

Once it is apparent that a family could benefit from wraparound services and all parties agree to give it a try, a team is assembled to facilitate the delivery of services.

Each team will have a coordinator to work with the child and the family to determine what the family needs. All family members will have a voice in the process. The coordinator will make sure all participants are on board with changes and decisions.

Step Two: Create a Plan

After discussing the family’s needs, the coordinator will reconvene with the support team to create a plan.

This plan will be based not only on the needs of the family but on the strengths of each member as well. It will also incorporate the use of community-based mental health services to offer support.

Step Three: Evaluate and Adjust the Plan as Needed

In order to reach the child’s goals, the plan will then be put into action. The family and the team will meet on a very regular basis to review the plan and to discover what is working well and what is not.

If the plan is not working, the team will develop new strategies to help the family and their child.

Step Four: Success and Transition

This process will continue until progress on the child’s goals is evident. Once the intended outcomes are reached on a regular and ongoing basis, the family can begin to transition out of the wraparound services program.

Benefits of Wraparound Service Programs

It’s clear that wraparound service programs can be a great help to families with children in behavioral or mental health crises. The benefits of this sort of comprehensive care are numerous and immense.

Many families embrace this type of program because it focuses on the strengths of the family and on the strengths of each individual family member.

It gives everyone in the family a voice and an opportunity to participate in finding solutions and in reaching both short and long-term goals.

Further, wraparound service programs are outcome-based. Although services like counseling and support groups are undoubtedly vital components in mental health treatment, the lack of clear, concrete, visible outcomes can be challenging for many.

On the other hand, wraparound service programs set solid, attainable, achievable goals, and when they are reached it is clear to everyone involved.

Most importantly, wraparound services are personalized. The administration of these services takes a big step away from the one-size-fits-all style of treatment. It takes into account the family’s needs, culture, resources, and preferences, and helps to create independence, confidence, and stability in the families that voluntarily choose to participate.

Wraparound Services Empower Families

As you can see, wraparound services can be very helpful and powerful to families who need them. No family wants to have to send their child away for inpatient care if it can be avoided.

Wraparound services are an intervention that, in many cases, keeps that from happening.

They allow families to play an active role in helping their children to overcome the mental health and behavioral obstacles they face. It’s likely that wraparound services will become more common and widespread moving forward from here.

If you believe your family may be one that is a candidate for wraparound services in San Diego, please contact us. The helpful staff at Solara can help lead you in the right direction to get the help that you need.

eating right affects mental health

Mental health, particularly depression, is a global concern. Despite an increase in mental disorder treatment, the illness is increasing rather than decreasing, more common in young people. The 20th Century has witnessed a dietary shift globally. There’s an increase in the consumption of snacks, sugars, high-energy, and takeaway foods. On the other hand, the use of fiber-dense and nutrients foods is declining.

As we always say, what we eat affects not just our physical health but our mental health and wellbeing too. Our brain takes care of our thoughts, our physical movements, breathing, and senses. It works continuously 24/7, which means your mind requires premium fuel. Our food is fuel for our brain, and hence what we eat directly affects the function of our brain and, ultimately, our mood. Eating high-quality foods loaded with minerals, vitamins, and antioxidants nourish our brain and protect from oxidative stress.

Food = Mood

Serotonin is a neurotransmitter responsible for regulating our appetite, sleep, moods, and inhibit pain. Fact, 95% of our serotonin is produced from our gastrointestinal tract, and it is lined with a million neurons or nerve cells. The inner workings don’t just help digest food but guide our emotions.

The billions of good bacteria influence the function of neurons and serotonin production. These good bacteria make up our intestinal microbiome. These bacteria protect our intestines lining and creates a strong barrier against toxins and limit inflammation, improve how well nutrients are absorbed and activate neural pathways that travel between the gut and the brain.

Studies reveal that when people intake probiotics, their stress perception, anxiety levels, and mental health improve as compared to people who did not take probiotics. Other studies have shown that traditional diets like the Japanese or Mediterranean diet have shown that the depression risk is 25% to 35% lower compared to the modern diet.

how eating right affects mental health

These traditional diets are high in fruits, vegetables, unprocessed grains, seafood, and fish and moderate amounts of lean meats and dairy. Sugar is considered a significant reason for inflammation and feeds harmful bacteria in the GI tract. It also causes a temporary spike in dopamine, a “feel good” neurotransmitters. This results in a fleeting sugar rush followed by a crash that breaks down your mood.

While sticking to healthy food, you face fewer mood fluctuations, a happier outlook, and an improved concentration. To sum up, good food = a good mood!

What type of food should you pick?

So, what should you put on your plate? Here’s a quick overview of what food you need to put in your cart.

  • Whole foods: Food colorings, preservatives, and other additives may induce or worsen hyperactivity and depression. Remember to eat real food or minimally process food. Think of fresh vegetables and fruits.
  • Fiber: Fiber helps your body absorb glucose or food sugars, helping you avoid sugar crashes. Fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and beans are rich in fiber.
  • Antioxidants: They are called inflammation fighters. They are commonly found in leafy green, vegetables, berries, turmeric, Omega-3 fatty acids, salmon, and black chia seeds. Dark chocolate is also rich in antioxidants but indulges in moderation.
  • Folate: Folate helps with dopamine production without forcing sugars in the body. You can find them in lentils, greens, and cantaloupes.
  • Vitamin D: Vitamin D is essential in the production of serotonin, and we get it from sunlight. However, reishi, cordyceps, and maitake mushrooms are a good source of Vitamin D.
  • Magnesium: They take care of everything from muscle and nerve function to keeping heartbeat steady. But it’s also essential for the food-mood connection. A magnesium deficiency can hurt your gut bacteria and cause depression. Find them in dark chocolate, almonds, cashews, spinach, leafy vegetables, beans, and bananas.
  • Fermented Foods: Fermented food are loaded with probiotics- live bacteria good for your GI tract. They are hidden in kimchi, sauerkraut, tempeh, kombucha. These foods are also high in sodium, so consume in moderation or avoid them if you have high blood pressure.

What do you need to do?

Start paying attention to your diet. What are you eating? How are different foods impacting your mood? Try switching to a clean diet for a few weeks—which means cutting out sugar and processed foods. You can add fermented foods or try going dairy-free or grain-free. See how you feel. You can slowly introduce new superfoods in your diet accordingly.

Incorporating functional foods in your diet can be a little challenging in the beginning, but you can prepare a week meal. Inrush, you can use frozen or canned vegetables minus the salt, whole-grain couscous, or quinoa. You can switch from white rice, bread, or pasta for whole-grain versions. And replace a bag of chips, pick a side salad packed with seeds, nuts, and colorful vegetables. It may take some adjustment but it is essential that you do whatever it takes to help your mental health so that you can live a healthy, happy, and productive life.


In the research of finding causes of mental disorders, scientists are connecting the dots at genetic factors. Often, we get the compliment that we look like our parents. We might have their mannerisms, physique, cleverness, attitude, or physical features. But does it relate to the fact that my parents are the reason for my anger or anxiety? Is it because I suffered a tragic loss of my brother in the growing years? Or is it written into my DNA?

The fact is, if a family member has a mental disorder, the chance of an individual having a mental disorder is higher. Even though mental illness is inherited, there may be differences in the symptoms among family members sharing the disease.

One person might have a mild case, while others will have a severe case. However, mental illness does not follow a pattern of inheritance.

Mental health is sometimes a difficult topic to talk about. Those who deal with it always looks out for a reason to avoid the discussion. 

Mental illness is not about a single gene but a collection of genes. According to a recent study, the chances of schizophrenia or bipolar disorder being carried down through family members depend on the type of mental illness and severity. See the table below-


  Schizophrenia Bipolar
Lifetime chance (the chance of someone in the general population developing the condition during their lifetime) 1 in 100 Bipolar
If one of your biological parents has the condition 13 in 100 2-30 in 100
If both of your biological parents have the condition 45 in 100 15 in 100
If your brother or sister has the condition 9 in 100 50 in 100
If your identical twin has the condition 40-50 in 100 40 – 70 in 100
If your non-identical twin has the condition 10-15 in 100 20  in 100
If a second degree relative has the condition (for example, your aunt, uncle or grandparent) 3 in 100 5 in 100


Always remember the chances of not developing a mental illness even though it runs in your family is high, then chances of developing one. The table clarifies that the chances of not developing bipolar are 97 out of 100. That’s on the positive side.



The Intersection Of Mental Illness And Inheritance

  • Epigenetic Regulation: This affects how a person perceives and reacts to environmental patterns and may contribute to mental disorder. Epigenetics is not a constant one. It goes on and off over time — a right combination of epigenetic regulation and environmental factors are responsible for a mental disorder to develop.
  • Genetic Polymorphisms: Polymorphisms found in our DNA make us unique as an individual. It alone may not lead you to mental illness. However, the combination of many specific polymorphisms and environmental factors can lead to the development of a mental disorder.

For example, in addiction, genetics plays a significant role in knowing whether someone is likely to develop an addiction or not. But there are a lot of other things that one should consider–like the environment, mental health history in your family, and complications you might have. Parents who have experiences with mental disorders in the past can help children equipped with solutions when they see the first symptoms. 

The Risk

The probability of developing a specific mental disease is high when a biological parent or other related family members have the same condition. Researchers are working extensively to find patterns in twins and adopted children. The risk of developing schizophrenia is 1% in the population, but the risk is ten times higher if a parent suffers from the illness. The chance increased to about 40% if both parents have schizophrenia.

San Diego Mental Health Facility

The lifetime risk of schizophrenia is correlated with the degree of relationship to the patient (first-degree relatives are at higher risk than second-degree relatives)


How Can Parents Work on Mental Health Challenges?                                                                                         

  • Talk to your child: You may feel a little anxious before taking this issue up. But speaking openly about mental health issues and your story is an invaluable way to reduce the risk of passing the illness to your child. Make your children aware of your behavior, how difficult you feel sometimes, and how they can help you overcome those challenges together as a family. There’s no shame in feeling depressed or anxious. Explain to them don’t blame anyone. Children often internalize their parent’s moods. This will lay a foundation for them to stand with strength when they walk down the same mental health path in their life.
  • Inculcate healthy exercise: Try and incorporate daily exercising and meditation sessions in your family wellness program. It helps to boost your therapy while improving your child’s concentration and memory. Explain to them how the treatment is helping you improve your disease. Your kids will learn at the early stage how it is essential to take care of mental and physical health equally.
  • Don’t fear but teach: It is common that those with mental health issues fear of passing the illness to their kids. There is a genetic element to many mental disorders. Please don’t shy away from the fact that there are chances that they might not inherit them. There are so many factors that you don’t have control over. Right now, you have the power to create the most supportive and nurturing environment for your kids, where they can talk openly to you and share their challenges.
  • Stop Punishing Yourself: You have both good and bad days while going through mental health issues. Honestly, parenting is challenging, and it can trigger mental health issues. Do not ignore these signs and, if possible, take a break and divert your energy on your mental condition. When your kids are aware of your situation, they will understand and help overcome those periods.  

There’s no hidden fact that mental health issue is a tough topic, and we all have a fear of passing them to our children. But believing in fear and creating an overprotective environment might pull your kids away, affecting your conditions. It’s better to talk about the situation with your doctor. Learn how you can bring this topic with your family and build a support team, not just for yourself but for your future generations. Unlike yesterday, we are having a healthy discussion on mental health. As we see, more solutions and support are coming forward to help people suffering from mental health disorders live a healthy and fuller life.

Toxic Workplace-two words define everything that might be going wrong in your life. We tend to spend a big chunk of our life in our workplace. We learn, share, and grow as an individual while climbing the career ladder. However, these winning moments also overshadows our efforts, mental stress, and ignorance that we take every day. Firstly, your job is your self-worth. You do what you love. Honestly, your job pays your bills. But can money drive your mental health?

That constant fear in your gut.

The constant pressure to impress your boss.

Those anxiety-fueled thoughts, restless nights, never-ending nightmare. Yes, you’re right. Your job is killing you.

Is your boss responsible for mental trauma? Do you enjoy your office environment? Ask yourself.

As “The Toxic Boss Survival Guide” says – It’s easy to spot a toxic leader. They’re controlling, egomaniacal, two-faced, and narcissistic.

But when you know your boss is killing your work culture and affecting your mental health, how do you cope up with such situations.


Work on Controllable Task

Working in fear is damaging your physical and mental health, according to health experts. A toxic boss brings worry into your life and work. You don’t enjoy your work because you have constant pressure to impress and deliver. This takes a toll on your skills and experience. The fear of losing a job, being bullied, or targeted for every silly mistake are some of the reasons for your mental fatigue.

In such a situation, you must stay calm. Pick things that make you feel positive, create a balance between work and personal life, and detach yourself from work in your free time. One of the best advice ever heard- work on your controllable task and stop worrying about uncontrollable things. You can control your work, next presentations, but people’s reaction, getting a raise is something beyond your control. This allows focusing on the happenings that you can control.  

San Diego Mental Health

Exercise, Food, Sleep and Repeat

I don’t have to emphasize on the benefits of exercise, food, and sleep. Kickstart your day with a power exercise and health-loaded breakfast. You can pick yoga, meditations, a brisk walking under the sun, or a Zumba training. Keep yourself active and nourish your body with a balanced diet.

Sleep deprivation can hinder your ability to react to complex challenges at a personal and professional level. When work is keeping you all night, try sleep hacks- read a book, pick a coloring book, use morning for your worry time, exercise for 20 minutes, practice sleep meditation before bed or set up a sleep routine.


Connect with your team/colleagues

A very early sign of toxic, dysfunctional workplace brings significant communication challenges and often between multiple departments, employees, supervisors, and management.

We’re a social animal by nature. Community is a baseline of our behavior. But you might shut yourself from co-workers because of the micro-management from your boss. You put yourself in a social isolation zone that can bring loneliness. Such isolation is linked to increasing levels of stress hormones, accelerated cognitive decline, and poor sleep patterns.

Cultivate healthy relationships with your colleagues, who plays a significant role in keeping your work environment stress-free. Treat them with humility and gratitude, become an observer, listener, and plan an informal dinner/meet-n-greet outside your office.


Say No

Never try to become a guy who know-it-all and do-it-all because in this situation, you work like crazy without getting recognition. Take projects where you can dedicate your energy and time, which is also beneficial to your company.

Don’t turn down a project on a whim. For example-

The project is challenging – if you have the skills, you can try to learn new skills and implement them quickly.

Different than your job description- if you have the skills to complete the projects, don’t turn down because it wasn’t part of your job description.

But say no because of the unrealistic deadline, too much on the plate, you lack the necessary skills. Explain your management about your current workload. Delegate your work and set realistic benchmarks and timeframe. But Say NO when needed. Don’t take projects to avoid a conversation with your boss.

boss contributing to mental illness

Address The elephant in the room

After all the tactics, you still feel pressured and bullied at your workplace. It’s time to have to talk to your boss about his treatment. Explain the A-Z of his behavior with you- how negative attitude is disturbing your mental health. It’s difficult to open to someone who has a history of being unnecessarily rude to you. But at times, you need to spot the elephant in the room. You can’t let him ruin your day, your health, and your life.

If you don’t feel comfortable, ask your human resource team to join the conversation. Don’t make yourself look weak, but don’t forget to point out flaws in your boss’ leadership. If they fail to find a solution that works for you, I believe it’s time to leave your current employer and look out for an environment where you are valued.


Be Honest and Make a Choice

The foremost important thing is to ask yourself – is your job killing you? Do you want to see your boss tomorrow again? Are you being ridiculed in front of your co-workers? Is he putting your confidence down every time you speak in the meeting? Think harder.

So, the job that is killing your will to live is not the right job for you. Do you agree? You can’t hang in the toxic workplace with a control-freak boss looking for hope. I know, quitting a job is a tough decision. But don’t take this decision hastily. But if you know, it’s the time to bid goodbye, plan your options and make the right move. You deserve to be respected and treated well for your ideas, your work, and your experience. 


Things aren’t perfect, and you can’t walk away from an opportunity without trying. You can decide to strike a balance and give your 100 percent to make things work for you and your boss. But you can’t pick your toxic job over your mental health. Don’t let a lousy history play with your confidence. Look out for new opportunity stored for you. Putting your health- physical and mental- will bring back strength in your life.

Cinema has always been a huge source of education. It is a fact that we can learn a lot by watching a movie. There have been, unarguably, tons of movies based on mental illnesses. However, very few films have managed to explore the subject with seriousness and incisiveness that is demanded. Some films breathe mediocrity by arousing strong emotional celebration amongst the viewers, which is a huge sign of failure. On the other side, some films deal with mental illness more maturely. The following are the movies that have been regarded as some of the most beautiful films on this subject.


Silver Lining Playbook

This comedy-drama film by David O ’Russel is about a young man named Pat portrayed by Bradley Cooper. Pat has been diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He is discharged from the psychiatric care after he got in a brutal fight with the man his wife cheated on him with. 

The film is shown from the pat’s point of view. It focuses on his mental health journey as he strives to get back his wife. The film circles around him and a young widow named Tiffany, played by Jennifer Lawrence. Tiffany helps Pat with dance practice as he appears in a dance competition.

This film has been a subject of a lot of debates about if this movie is a precise exploration of the illness. No matter that these debates are constant, one thing is for sure that the film is genuinely optimistic and a hopeful view of life from someone who is stuck in the murkier and dark waters of bipolar disorder.

mental health treatment in san diego

Taxi Driver

The taxi driver is regarded as one of the brilliant movies made in the 20th century. The film follows Travis Bickle (played by Robert De Niro), who is a Vietnam War veteran. As he has insomnia, he takes up cab driving. Things take up a terrible turn when his attempts to reconcile his love for a woman named Betty fail.

The film has a lot of layers to it. Right from his inability to connect with his immediate surroundings to the degradation of modern culture, this film takes on a broad range of themes. However, at the center of this, we sense the real loneliness of this man. Regarded as one of the detailed explorations of loneliness and boredom, this film does not provide any easy answers but raises a lot of essential questions. 


Raging Bull

Raging bull has often been mistaken as a film about boxing. The movie is based on the true story of boxer Jake La Motta. This film explores his mental deride that is, in many ways, a consequence of what happens inside the ring. 

Jake La Motta is plagued by paralyzing jealousy and sexual insecurity that makes his life difficult. Once he loses grip from reality, he loses all his loved ones around him. Considered as one of the great classics of cinema, Scorsese makes no mistake here. There is more to this film, which makes it one of the most incisive character studies. It is one of the most influential and imperative movies that everyone should watch.

san diego psychiatric treatment facility


The Aviator is a psychological biopic-drama based on the life of Howard Hughes (played by Leonardo DiCaprio). Howard Hughes was a famous businessman and one of the most influential movie directors. His life was a constant pendulum between cinema and aviation industry, further perplexed with his romantic affairs with some beautiful Hollywood actresses. His life goes on a negative spiral as his obsessive-compulsive disorder becomes more and more intense.

As his condition worsens and his life begins to crumble down, he gets completely detached from the outside world in the last decade of his experience. This is one of the best performances (often overlooked) by Leonardo DiCaprio. 

Yet another masterpiece by Scorsese, despite its grandiosity and glossiness, the film takes its viewers inside the mind of this genius creating a real portrait of Howard Hughes and his demons.  


Good Will Hunting

Good Will Hunting is centered around Will Hunting, played by Matt Damon. Will is a janitor at MIT University. He is a bright young man who can have a promising future. He solves incredibly complex puzzles in his spare time that the other college students find hard time-solving.

However, things are not easy for Will because he has experienced a harsh and abusive childhood. Even though he is incredibly gifted, his mind is a dark pool that makes his life difficult. His life begins to take shape when he meets his therapist (played by Robbie Williams). It’s only when he develops a strong bond with his therapist; he begins to look at life much differently. This helps him get over his depression and build up his life. Good Will Hunting is an instant classic and an essential watch for anyone who is going through a difficult time. 

mental health awareness

These five movies are highly essential for people going through a tough period in their lives because mainly, it imbues you with a sense of assurance that you are not the only one going through something like this. 

Films like Taxi Driver and Raging bull gives you a harsh look into the minds perplexed by its complexities. And movies like Good Will Hunting and Silver Lining Playbook are films with beautiful and uplifting messages that will help you see life from a different perspective.

A recent study found that most people who remain in unhappy relationships do so for the sake of their partner. In other words, they’re not staying because they believe that things will improve but rather because they don’t think their partner could take the breakup. 

If there are red flags in a relationship but you continue to stick around, we understand that you feel like you’re doing the right thing. However, take into account the ways that your negative relationship could affect your health in the short and longterm.

Research has shown that people who stay in bad or unhealthy relationships not only have increased mental health issues but have a heightened risk of physical health problems. These include high blood pressure and even fatal heart conditions. 

If you’re wondering how to know when your relationship is over, read on. We’re going to talk about some of the red flags that indicate that it’s time to move on.

Your Goals in Life Are Different

At some point in your relationship, discussions of the future will arise. These tend to encompass big things like where you want to live, what job you want to pursue, and whether or not you want to have children. 

It’s okay and normal to have some disagreements and to make compromises for one another. However, everyone has a handful of goals in life that they shouldn’t have to compromise. In fact, you may have some goals that differ so much from your partner’s goals that a compromise simply can’t be reached.

Take, for example, the subject of having children. If one partner has always wanted children and one partner has never wanted children, how can this be resolved? No matter what, one person is going to be unhappy.

You’re Moving in Different Directions

The direction you’re moving in falls into a similar category as the goals you keep. The difference is that your direction correlates not just with what you hope to achieve, but what you’re actively achieving (or not achieving) in the present.

This applies to more than the concrete directions you’re moving in with, say, your career or your education. Consider the direction you’re moving in with your mental health. Perhaps you’ve been suffering from depression and have begun seeking therapy but your partner, also suffering from mental health problems, is not putting in the work to cope and heal.

When we move in different directions, it becomes harder to come together as a couple. What’s even more of a red flag in a relationship is when one partner’s direction is either harmful or inhibitive to the other’s.

Mental Health Treatment in San Diego

The Patterns in Your Relationship Aren’t Healthy

As relationships develop, we develop patterns with our partner that create a sense of unity and continuity. If these patterns are healthy, this is a great way to sustain the relationship. 

If the patterns are unhealthy, they’re going to cause harm to both partners. It may also be a lot harder to break those patterns for yourself when they’re reinforced by your partner’s desires or behavior.  

The “Bad Days” Are Becoming Bad Cycles

No relationship escapes a few bad days here and there. It’s normal to argue and even to fight, but only on occasion, especially if these fights are high-stakes. 

Perhaps your partner gets angry with you when they’re in a bad mood and apologizes later, rather than recognizing their behavior before it gets away from them. It happened from time to time in the past, but now you’re noticing that it’s happening more frequently or the bouts of anger are lasting for longer periods of time.

Bad cycles are an indication that your partner either doesn’t recognize that their behavior is harmful or that they do and simply won’t work on it. Either way, these bad cycles are exhausting, manipulative, and leave you on edge.  

You’ve Realized the Relationship is Codependent 

When it comes to codependency, it takes two to complete the cycle. Both partners have a role to play and both need to play it. Unlike dependence, where feelings are mutual and care is both given and received equally, codependency entails that one partner needs the other while the other partner needs to be needed.

This may not sound too bad, but it’s actually a huge red flag in a relationship.

Partner A cannot feel positive emotions or self-worth without the constant feedback and approval of Partner B. In order to fulfill these needs, Partner A will alter their behavior or make large sacrifices that attract the attention of Partner B.

Meanwhile, Partner B enjoys this role and may even take advantage of it. It makes them feel powerful or satisfied that they have the ability to both give and take away Partner A’s happiness, health, and safety.

If this sounds familiar, it is important that you leave your relationship. By the very nature of your codependent relationship, you cannot fix these personal issues together. This goes for both Partner A and Partner B. 

San Diego Depression Treatment Center

Being Together is Draining

We’ve all heard the metaphor about introverts and extroverts that goes as follows: introverts are drained by interactions with others, while extroverts are recharged. That being said, even introverts should feel recharged (or at the very least, not drained) by the presence of certain people, including partners.

If you find that spending time with your partner leaves you feeling tired, unhappy, or frustrated, break down the reasoning. It might be that they treat you poorly or it might be that you’ve simply grown weary of their actions and mannerisms you once found endearing. Both are valid reasons to move on from the relationship.

Don’t Ignore Red Flags in a Relationship

When you start to see red flags in a relationship, pay attention to them. They may indicate small issues that can be addressed and overcome with proper communication, or they may indicate that your relationship is not going to work.

If you aren’t leaving a bad relationship out of a concern for your partner, ask yourself why you aren’t granting yourself the same care and consideration. You may find that you’re neglecting your own mental health issues.

Even if you are married, there is good news for people who are divorced. For whichever reason you have to stay in your relationship, you should be considering the grand scheme of how it may affect you, and even your partner or children.

We believe that taking care of your mental health is important, and we also believe that you shouldn’t have to do it alone. If you need help adjusting or managing your mental health, contact us today to find out what we can do for you.

Despite the overwhelming benefits that technological advances have brought us in the past few decades, the negative consequences of social media are now apparent. Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram alike – all have the potential to cause some serious issues like depression, anxiety, and other mental disorders.

Suicide rates are at an alarming high

Depression and anxiety are a natural part of morning talks over coffee. 

Antidepressants are prescribed seemingly as fast as babies are being born. 

(Okay, maybe not that last one. But you get what we’re saying).

Meanwhile, technology is booming, but it’s a double-edged sword. 

With sweeping and infinitely-expanding innovations in healthcare, business, retail, sustainable energy, and the overall lifestyle of ordinary, middle-class individuals in the United States, technology’s influence has reached astronomical proportions of 21st-century living.

With depression, anxiety, and other mental health disorders statistically on the rise, scientists and common folk alike are asking the same question: why? 

Many are left to wonder whether the rate of mental illnesses is truly on the rise, or the stigma is lifting on mental disorders- or both.

However, today, we’re going to be focusing on only one small category of technology that has evident detrimental effects on mental health: social media.

Social Media And Young People

It started with myspace, then came Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. For people of all ages, social media is a platform to network, share thoughts, photos, articles, support causes, lend opinions, and broadcast personal messages that can potentially reach millions. A new twist on advertising, social media marketing, is often a large (and profitable) part of both small and corporate business marketing strategies worldwide. 

Of course, social media is maybe best understood by the younger generations – referred to as the millennials and “generation Z.” 

Strangely enough, it is in these generations that mental illness rates have climbed highest.

In children, teens, and young adults, social media can be especially detrimental to proper brain development as well as self-esteem. Social media can also:

  • Encourage and enable online bullying
  • Stop children from physically playing with each other and participating in other healthy hobbies and activities
  • Promote body image issues, such as body dysmorphia and eating disorders

One study even found that “Young adults aged 18-25 years had the highest prevalence of [any mental illness] (25.8%) compared to adults aged 26-49 years (22.2%) and aged 50 and older (13.8%)”.

So, what’s going on, and where’s the connection?

A lack of these normal childhood activities can cause kids to feel isolated in technological interaction disguised as true quality time with friends.

Let’s start with what happens to naturally tag along with social media usage, do to the fact that it’s on phones and computers: blue light. 

San Diego Mental Disorder Treatment Technology Addiction

All About Blue Light

Perhaps you have heard the term “blue light” thrown around in conversations in the media, or with peers, but not many people actually understand its true definition and possible side effects.

Blue is shown to:

  • Disrupt Sleep
  • Encourage disease development
  • Encourage an inability to focus

Harvard Health even claims that people ought to stop looking at screens as early as three hours before bedtime.

Of course, blue light is also derived from natural sources. However, people nowadays are actually receiving more of it than ever before. Of course, too much of a good thing is, well, a bad thing.

Instagram Addiction

If ten years ago, people were asked to predict how entirely groundbreaking an effect Instagram would have on the world, most would probably have gravely underestimated their response. Not many saw technology coming to the extent that it now has. 

Yet, here we all are, in the thick of perhaps one of the most innovative times on our planet. 

Instagram is a platform that remains booming, even almost ten years after its birth. Appealing to our innate love for visual learning, Instagram boasts one billion active users each month (yes, you heard that right: one billion users worldwide).

Over half of people aged 18-29 use Instagram. And, in a certain survey, Instagram was actually ranked the worst for mental health out of five social media platforms including Snapchat, YouTube, Twitter, and Facebook. 

Some of the negative mental health side effects included a worse body image, loneliness, depression, anxiety, and something called “FOMO”, or the fear of missing out. 

Instagram is a platform that has had a wild effect on our population in the past decade. Some of its effects are positive, while some of its aftermath is highly consequential. 

If someone doesn’t get enough likes on their photos, or as many as another peer, they may begin to feel inferior or even less loved. 

Comparison is also a prominent issue that platforms such as Facebook, Instagram, and even Twitter encourage. Most people only highlight the best part of their lives on social media, which gives everyone a bit of a warped view of how life should be.

Not only this, but the comparison of body image is also a prevalent issue among young adults. In fact, across the world, the rate of eating disorders continues to climb as young people continuously see photoshopped photos on Instagram. 

There’s no doubt that an unhealthy amount of time spent on Instagram can contribute to people everywhere feeling less happy about their own lives.

Psychiatric Residential Treatment Center in San Diego

False Connection

Human beings are social creatures; it’s how we’ve survived for so long. 

Some animals don’t need to run in packs, but it’s our tribalism that has protected us for hundreds of thousands of years. Without our power of numbers, we probably would have gone extinct by now.

Despite anyone claiming that they are a “loner,” practically everyone needs someone to fulfill the biologically programmed brain spot in their brain for authentic human connections. 

Inadequate Socialization is a closely related booming problem due to Instagram and other smartphone-related interactions. It seems that, in the age of social media, nearly everyone is substituting a large portion of necessary in-person contact for online “socialization.”

At first, this socialization might seem sufficient, but it simply is not. 

This socialization is not real- it’s more like “mock” socialization. 

In order for most people to feel fulfilled, they need a certain amount of socialization time that includes in-person observation of facial expressions and body language. 

Besides this, physical touch releases a ton of endorphins that we’re missing out on if we don’t get to physically give our friends those beloved welcoming hugs at a get-together.

Most people in the 21st century (75% of millennials, in fact) report they’d rather text than call someone. 

No wonder there are rising rates of social anxiety – everyone is unlearning how to truly socialize with each other. However, texting and phone calls simply aren’t enough for our brains to function optimally.

San Diego Mental Health Treatment Center

Staying In Solution

Listen, we’re in the year 2019. 

Technology can’t be completely avoided (and that’s not what we’re arguing, either), but it is possible to develop a healthier relationship with social media. 

There is a flip side to social media. Some of its benefits include:

  • The ability to spread information quickly
  • The ability to connect more with those who may live very far away from us
  • A quick, easy way to research businesses

Perhaps, there isn’t a black-and-white solution to what social media is doing to the mental health of people of all ages.

However, small things can help those who are interested in protecting themselves from the negative mental health repercussions of applications like Instagram and Facebook.

For example, to manifest a healthier, happier, and more responsible usage of social media (and technology in general), one might want to:

  • Limit their time on social media
  • Set their phone on “airplane mode” before going to sleep
  • Participate in activities that purposefully do not include phone use
  • Make it a point to put their phone away during social activities
  • Only subject themselves to healthy content, such as accounts that do not contribute to large amounts of comparison and thus make someone feel worse about themselves

All in all, social media isn’t the worst thing to happen to humanity. In fact, it’s got some serious perks. When used in moderation, social media can have an amazingly positive effect on individuals, but the key to this narrative is balance.

The landscape of healthcare has frequently been changing – especially in its mental health division. The rate of mental illnesses has reached an all-time high in recent times, putting pressure on the healthcare industry to deliver proper treatment to sufferers of these disorders.

For example, certain statistics explain that, as of 2019, over 43.8 million people will experience a mental illness in any given year. Luckily, awareness is also growing in mental health struggles. Therefore, reaching out for help without shame is becoming easier for those who would have previously struggled in silence with depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, or other mental health disorders. 

Under scrutinizing debate is the controversial topic of whether primary care physicians should be treating their patients for mental health concerns. It’s a fairly common phenomenon that, when people begin suffering from alarming mental health irregularities, their first course of action is to seek out a family care doctor. 

This decision is, perhaps, because people don’t know where to turn at first. This choice is likely the smartest and most proper course of action when someone is experiencing abnormal psychological symptoms. However, sometimes, patients make their stop at a family doctor and then go no further.

Psychiatrists Vs. Family Physicians

For multiple reasons, a specialized psychiatric medical doctor must be sought out for concerns specifically regarding mental health. Sometimes, it’s even necessary to seek a reputable in-residence mental health care center to stabilize a patient before they begin routinely visiting a psychiatrist.

General practitioners are trained excessively to treat a broad range of illnesses, but psychiatry is as delicate a branch of healthcare as any other specialty. Therefore, it requires a comprehensive initial assessment and thorough follow-ups. 

The human mind is complex and still being studied for all of its mysteries. Although family doctors are highly-trained professionals, MDs who are explicitly trained in psychiatry ought to be sought out for long-term treatment considering their career-long focus on the human brain. 

Psychiatric treatment facility in san diego

What Exactly Makes Psychiatry Essential In Treating Mental Illness?

Doctors of psychiatry, or psychiatrists, have gotten some bad raps in the past. However, it’s important to remember that psychiatrists nowadays are regulated heavily by statewide professional entities called boards of psychiatry. 

The board of psychiatry in each state exists solely to monitor professionals that practice in the psychiatric industry heavily. They enforce proper ethics and ensure that no improper or illegal actions take place.

Psychiatrists are required to renew their licenses in psychiatry frequently. Besides this, these particular MDs devote their entire days and research time to the human mind. Often, they’re to work closely and in conjunction with clinical psychologists (therapists), thus providing a more specific and integrative treatment plan for clients seeking help for their mental illness.

Thorough Initial Examinations And Consistent, Specific Follow-ups

We encourage those who need mental health services to pursue assistance specifically from psychiatrists that will do a thorough initial assessment of a clients’ life and mind.

Initial psychiatric assessments serve a specific purpose: gather sufficient information to make an educated diagnosis. Initial psychiatric evaluations are typically:

  • Hour-long appointments used to collect well-rounded details of any particular client’s life and mental health history
  • The standard first step in establishing an outpatient treatment plan for psychiatric patients
  • An important way for a doctor to attain a much higher level of insight on a patient’s mental disorder than a quick check-in with a family physician

With an overall shorter amount of face-to-face time with patients, family care physicians and general practitioners are unable to draw extensively-accurate conclusions of a patient’s proper diagnosis (or diagnoses). Improper diagnoses have the potential to cause pervasive damage to those with mental disorders, considering that inadequate treatment may inevitably follow as a consequence. 

Individuals in need of mental health help deserve to have the proper time, diagnosis, and treatment provided to them so that they can reach a sustainable headspace.

San Diego mental health treatment facility

Expertise In Medication

Although many general practitioners are not hesitant to divvy out psychiatric medications, this is probably a better task to leave to a specialist. Sometimes patients visit general practitioners for immediate or urgent help, and it is necessary to treat them quickly with a temporary medication until they can make an appointment with a psychiatrist. However, even in these cases, it may be best to seek a reputable mental health treatment center instead.  

Psychiatrists spend lengthy amounts of time studying the effects of SSRIs (Selective Serotonin Reuptake Inhibitors) and other mental health medications that are frequently prescribed. These specialists have the most knowledge possible of any type of doctor, including general practitioners. 

Often, these medications are able to work wonders for patients who have been correctly diagnosed and who do not have any adverse side effects. Psychiatrists have the capabilities necessary to closely monitor their patients and watch for any negative reactions until optimal mental stabilization is achieved.

Although a quick visit to a general practitioner regarding mental health isn’t awful, it’s still necessary to follow up on this appointment with a visit to a psychiatric specialist. An ethical, professional, and comprehensive psychiatric treatment plan has the potential to change one’s quality of life entirely and indefinitely. With a proper diagnosis and a well-rounded treatment plan, patients who seek assistance for their mental illnesses are – more frequently than not – able to alter their lives and minds forever.

Saving our mental health

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A Former Google Manager is Spearheading Efforts to Limit the Negative Effects of Technology and Social Media

What are the negative effects of technology and social media on us? We’re aware of its influences on our mental health, with studies linking excessive social media use to depression and anxiety. What other grips does cyber-reality have on us?

In 2012, a young manager at Google named Tristan Harris made an impassioned plea in a presentation for his bosses to attend to “[our] moral responsibility to create an attention economy that doesn’t weaken people’s relationships or distract people to death.”

His ideas for a more ethical digital world gained some traction for a time, and it even got him tapped to be the company’s design ethicist. The company lost focus, however, and shifted its attention to other priorities.

Harris left Google in 2015, and three years later, Google produced a screentime tracker known as Digital Wellbeing, so that Android users could see how much time they were spending each day on each application they tapped into. Apple followed suit with a counterpart app for iPhones.

Continuing the Crusade

Were the new screentime tracker apps enough of a leash? Not according to Harris. In Harris’ estimation, the “free” business model is the most expensive business model ever invented.

More recently, Harris started the Center for Humane Technology and has expanded his thinking to bring more awareness to the negative impacts of the internet on our lives. From misinformation/disinformation being proliferated on various social media platforms (e.g., Facebook and YouTube (owned by Google)), to election tampering and invaded privacy, and finally to political divisiveness in our country, the internet gets blamed for a lot. And probably with good reason. Just think about how much control we give our cyber lives over our actual lives.

Harris continues to grow his audience with various national media appearances, conferences, and additional presentations of his own. The biggest takeaway he wants his listeners to remember is the mistake it is to treat mobile technology drawbacks as mutually exclusive from those inflicted by social media. It’s all part of what he refers to as the “extractive attention economy (EAE).”

Our Private Information Used as a Currency

It’s been said that “money talks.” Well, so does information in the EAE. Its business model is driven by gathering and leveraging data about its users and what they like. In order to keep them engaged online, more and more of what users want to see is constantly being fed to them, faster and faster, by automated platforms. This may sound great and convenient, but it actually gives them more extreme, sensationalized content, which only feeds upon their frailties.

Without any thought, judgment, or intent, people dealing with mental health issues might be looking on YouTube for ways to improve their mental health, while being unwittingly steered via “recommendations” toward videos about suicide and death. The only thing the platforms care about is how the relationships between what users are searching for and what the algorithms calculate they like will keep users online, engaged and clicking.

The Unbearable Lightness of Technology

What happened to “fun” social media? Harris warns that our addiction to retweets, likes, comments, and reshares, is only keeping us distracted and depressed.

Steve Jobs spoke of technology as an “exercise bicycle for the mind.” Harris has responded that the exercise bike is taking us down dark, unfamiliar roads where we might not ever want to find ourselves.

Harris believes that language can help shape reality, but he had to work through a growing fear that the language we were using to define the real impact of cyber-reality on our lives was very much lacking. It wasn’t enough to describe what he warns as a coming hailstorm.

One of his epiphanies was the realization that the real danger we’re in isn’t technology overpowering our strengths (like the cliche science fiction bit when computers take over the world). The real danger is when technology learns to overwhelm and leverage our emotional weaknesses against us… for profit.

Harris and his cohorts brainstormed themselves to a point where they thought that what might be going on was a process of diminishing, of degrading human lives and humanity as a whole. Technology, as we give it more and more of our time and attention, is causing the downgrading of human relationships, of human attention, of our common sense of decency, of democracy itself.

How Social Media Negatively Affects Us

Harris has commented specifically about how various social media platforms negatively affect us:

  • Snapchat turns conversations into “streaks,” redefining how children value real friendship.
  • Instagram glamorizes the picture-perfect life, eroding our sense of gratitude for our real lives, along with diminishing our sense of self-worth.
  • Facebook puts us into separate echo chambers, dissolving our real communities.
  • YouTube auto-plays the one video after the next, within seconds, regardless of what it does to our sleep.

Four Ways Technology is Hurting Us

Harris shares the four main ways he sees our subservience to technology is taking its toll:

Mental Health

The rat race to keep us on screen 24/7 makes it harder to disconnect, increasing stress, depression, anxiety, and sleep deprivation.


The rat race to keep children’s attention trains them to replace their sense of self-worth with the number of likes they get, encourages them to compare themselves with others, and creates a non-stop illusion of missing out…which can lead to coping problems and mental health challenges.


The competition for attention forces social media users to prefer virtual interactions and rewards (likes, shares, etc.) on their screens vs. interaction in a real face-to-face community.


Social media unwittingly rewards faux rage, sensational facts, while reducing the role of factual information. It’s dividing us and making it increasingly difficult to agree on what is “real.”

So, where does this leave us? Possibly with additional challenges for those coping with mental health issues brought on by extensive technology use.

The good news is that you can take back control of your life by better managing your social media use.

Curious to hear more?

Do you suspect that excessive technology use and social networking are having a negative effect on your mental health or on that of a loved one? If you or someone you love need to talk to someone about mental illness or feelings of being overwhelmed, we want to help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Which mental health concerns do people worry about most in the United States? Why do we stress, and what do we stress about?

According to a recent study, more fellow Americans consistently suffer from mental and emotional distress. Unfortunately, many of them are unable to access adequate treatment, in spite of governmental efforts over the last 10 years to reduce such gaps in coverage.

The journal Psychiatric Services has analyzed interview data from census interviews and in 2017 estimated more than 3 percent of the U.S. population (in excess of 8 million Americans), suffer from what’s known as serious psychological distress (SPD). The term has been used to define feelings of worthlessness, despondency, and sadness dangerous enough to interfere with someone’s overall well being. Before the Psychiatric Services study, surveys have gauged SPD at around less than 3 percent.

SPD is more of a colloquial term than a medical diagnosis, though it overlaps significantly with clinical conditions like depression and anxiety. The survey consists of six questions, posed to participants in conjunction with an annual general health survey that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) conduct. Every year the survey reaches over 35,000 households nationwide, and over 200,000 adults from several socioeconomic backgrounds.

Let’s discuss the implications.

Mental Illness in the U.S.

Research continues to indicate that reliable mental illness predictors remain difficult to pinpoint, even for common disorders such as depression. One factor that seems to lead many Americans into feeling depressed and anxious is an excess of free time with relatively few pressing demands. Interestingly, people  in less-developed countries are generally less depressed overall than we are in the U.S. For people in different parts of the world who are frequently in “survival mode,” dwelling on depressive feelings seems to take a back burner to more urgent demands. Based on this finding, one might argue that we’re “too comfortable”!

Over any given year, as many as 27 percent of American adults will go through some sort of mental health issue, making the U.S. the country with the highest prevalence of mental illness. Such disorders include anxiety disorders, attention deficit/hyperactivity disorder, mood disorders, and substance abuse.

During a typical lifetime, the average American has a 47.4 percent chance (nearly one in two people) of having any kind of mental health disorder. For projected lifetime prevalence, the odds are stacked even higher: for those who reach age 75, chances can go as high as 55 percent.

What are the Most Common Mental Illnesses in the U.S.?

Mood disorders, including bipolar disorder, dysthymic (persistent depressive) disorder, and major depression are the most prevalent mental illnesses in the U.S.:

  • 7 percent of adults will experience one of these disorders during a given year, and over 21 percent will experience one of them during a lifetime.
  • Women are 50 percent more likely to suffer from mood disorders than men.
  • About 19 percent of all American adults will go through some sort of anxiety disorder this year, but this number jumps to around 31 percent during a lifetime.

Mental Illness Continues to be a Problem

What mental health issues are people in your state most concerned about? That depends upon where you live.

The modern “American” lifestyle involves “burning the candle at both ends” : constant stimulation, working overtime, and “keeping up with the Joneses: all continue to be formidable challenges for those struggling with mental health issues. As awareness increases, we turn to the one source of information we feel we can rely upon: Google.

There is an abundance of information available online, and it continues to be important to review as information from as many perspectives as possible. It’s also helpful to seek expert opinion when necessary.

What Credible Mental Health Sites Indicate

Life insurance provider TermLife2Go accessed mental health-related sites such as and the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)  to compile a list of the most common mental health conditions researched on Google, along with corresponding symptoms and stressors. The results were later run through Google Trends to pinpoint mental health concerns by state around the country between 2018 and 2019.

What are our mental health concerns?
Image courtesy of TermLife2Go


Some Discoveries

Right off the bat, major depressive disorder, internet addiction, and memory loss tied for the most Googled mental health concerns in America.

Other findings include:

  • Arizona, Maryland, and South Carolina were concerned about “stress at work,” while those in Georgia and Pennsylvanians researched “stress headaches.”
  • “Seasonal affective disorder” was the most Googled concern in Alaska, where days at a time can pass in the wintertime without even a glimpse of the sun.
  • Utah and Louisiana were wanting to know more about postpartum depression. As for Utah, the CDC typically ranks the state in the top ten for highest birth rates.
  • Massachusetts, Oregon, Virginia, and Washington worried about possible internet addiction, while Missouri was concerned about social media habits.
  • Alcoholism is the top mental health concern for those in Minnesota, New Mexico, and Wyoming.

Moving Forward With Your Mental Health Management

Do your research and find out what you can about managing mental illness if you need to. Individuals can manage many mental health issues, but often they become overwhelming and seemingly unmanageable. This is when you might seriously consider seeking out a mental health professional.

What are your biggest mental health concerns? Leave us a comment below!

What is the latest regarding your mental health? Always remember that it is very treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.



what can i do to feel better right now

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“What can I do right now to improve my mental health?” You may have asked yourself this more than once. Life comes at you fast, and some days can feel like a real uphill battle.

Sometimes external things like traffic, a difficult coworker, your significant other, finances can leave you feeling run ragged. Other things become internal stressors, like anxiety, depression, and excessive stress itself.

Internal battles can be stressful and scary, and sometimes they can leave us drained and feeling flat.

Why does feeling happy feel like so much work sometimes?

Happy and fun feelings aren’t always spontaneous. One thing you should always remember: Keep on doing things you enjoy, even if they feel like hard work. Keep in touch with friends. Meet them for dinner. Keep up with all your favorite movies and shows.

Mental illness often robs you of your “enjoying life” skills. But the good news is, it never has to be permanent. You have to relearn how to do it from time to time. Eventually, things will normalize and you can go back to feeling like yourself again.

There are no magic bullets to immediately relieve depression, stress, or anxiety. But, Mental Health Awareness month is just around the corner, so what better time to pick up some powerful new habits? Let’s walk through some things you can do RIGHT NOW to improve your positive outlook and boost your state of mind:

  1. Get your body movin’. Exercise boosts your endorphins (feel-good chemicals), and over time, it can sustain your good moods longer. It helps you reprogram your brain into positive patterns.

Again, start simple… just walking for 45-60 minutes or so a few times a week will be enough to help you feel accomplished and good about yourself.

  1. Be good to yourself. Speaking of your body, make sure you are:
  • Getting adequate sleep every night (6-8 hours). To help with this, go to bed and wake up at the same time every day and avoid naps. Get your computer and TV out of your room. Before long you’ll notice your sleep improving.
  • Avoiding smoking and drinking
  • Eating a balanced diet and minding portion sizes (stay away from junk food, and go for foods rich in omega-3 fatty acids like fish, as well as foods rich in folic acid like avocado and spinach). If you binge eat or overeat when you’re feeling anxious or depressed, getting a better handle on your eating will help you feel better about yourself.
  1. Set some S.M.A.R.T. goals. Depression leaves you feeling like you’re worthless and can’t do anything right. Prove that negative self-talk wrong. Start with small S.M.A.R.T. goals like cleaning and organizing your desk, cleaning out your car, fixing or building something as a hobby.

A S.M.A.R.T. goal is:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time-bound. (e.g., “I will clean out my car (or organize my desk), and vacuum it this Saturday afternoon at 3 p.m.”)

As you get better and gain momentum, you can start tackling more challenging things. Make a game out of it.

  1. Say “No!” to negative thinking. In your struggles with anxiety and/or depression, much of the battle is mental, and you’ll learn that to win, you need to reprogram the way you think about yourself. Whenever you immediately jump to the worst-case scenario in your head or keep thinking about what a failure you are… You’re a fighter, right? Learn to recognize and logically challenge each one of those thoughts for what they are: just passing thoughts. You’re under no obligation to believe every single thought that passes through your mind.

What evidence do any of these thoughts have, anyway? Over time and with practice, you’ll get in a more consistent habit of sending those negative thoughts off running. And you’ll be in better control of your self-image.

  1. Get yourself into a routine. Depression is often described as the result of feelings of helplessness and despair. You don’t know what to do, and what’s worse, you don’t even know if you care enough to keep on trying. You feel a lack of meaning, purpose, and structure. You feel out of control. If you’re feeling depressed, nothing will help you get more of a grip on your day than getting into a gentle routine to help you feel like you’re in the driver’s seat.
  2. Take on new responsibilities. When you are feeling anxious or depressed, your first inclination might be to turn and hide inward, avoiding other people, the outside world, and life in general. Resist this temptation. Get engaged with life by involving yourself with daily responsibilities.

You can:

  • Volunteer in your community.
  • Get a new job, even if it’s just part-time.
  • Sign up for some online classes.

New responsibilities will give you a sustained sense of accomplishment, self-esteem, and worth.

  1. Try something new. Get yourself out of the rut you feel you’re stuck in when feeling anxiety or depression, even if you have to push yourself a bit. Check out an art exhibit. Go to the library and find some interesting books to read. Take an online class to learn a new language.  You’ll start seeing how interesting life really is.

You will want to touch base with your doctor if you’re thinking of taking some new dietary supplements like magnesium, Vitamin C, St. John’s Wort, or Vitamin B12. This goes double if you’re already taking medications.

Keep in mind that these things can help you right away, and over time, can develop into healthy habits. They will not cure serious depression and anxiety by themselves. For help with severe depression and/or anxiety, be sure to consult with a mental health professional.

What is the latest regarding your mental health? Always remember that it is very treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

What if I can't afford mental health?

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What if you can’t afford mental health counseling? You read up on all the mental health blogs, you keep yourself informed, you study everything you can. But healthcare costs are so high, and if you don’t have insurance, it can be a huge challenge. Especially if you’re struggling with your mental health.

The demand for treatment of mental illnesses such as depression, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), to name a few, is increasingly on the rise. When demand for something goes up, so does its cost.

It’s estimated that around one in five adults experiences a serious mental illness in the United States, and that around 56 percent of them don’t get the mental health help they need. The percentage may be higher among teens-the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports an exponentially increasing suicide rate for teens.

More Problems

It’s not just about cost, either. Unfortunately, in our modern American society there’s an unfortunate negative stigma regarding mental illness that intimidates and therefore discourages those who would otherwise consult a mental health professional.

Another problem arises because our health care system today in the U.S. does not treat mental health as thoroughly as it does physical health. Insurance often doesn’t entirely cover mental health exams or therapy, and those professionals who accept insurance often have to jump through plenty of hoops to get reimbursed by insurance providers.

What’s the use? It’s enough to make anyone want to give up.

Not to worry, here are seven ways you can get the mental health help you need, at minimal to no out-of-pocket cost:

  1. Several private mental health care providers frequently determine their fees by a sliding scale.

Most mental health care providers are very understanding and empathetic. They really want to get you help, and will be willing to negotiate something that works for you.

Some therapists do not accept insurance coverage, but, again, depending on your income (don’t forget your tax return!), you can get quality mental health care for as little as $10 per hour.

It’s not uncommon for professional mental health offices to ask patients how much they can afford, and do their best to work something out. If the office employs has interns or medical student on staff, they may be able to charge even less.

  1. If you have healthcare, find a professional within your network; if not, find a federally-qualified health center near you.

Insurance providers typically have a pool of mental health care professionals they work with, but typically cover at least a significant portion of visits to professionals outside of the company’s local network.

If you don’t have insurance, you can get help at a local social services agency, a student health center if you’re a student, or at other federally-qualified and funded health centers in your community.

If you’re eligible for Medicaid, you might qualify for free therapy (being below a certain income level is what qualifies individuals, so be sure to have documentation from your previous year’s tax return.

Some people try to check themselves into an Emergency Room, but this isn’t the best idea, especially if you don’t have insurance, because you could get stuck with a huge tab. Also, ER’s typically aren’t equipped to counsel individuals and work with them to help improve a mental health situation over an extended period of time. Only look into an ER if you find yourself in the middle of a critical crisis.

States and local communities also may offer fully-, or at least partially-funded mental health services. At the writing of this article, Georgia had become the newest state offering some kind of mental health service for free, via a smart phone app.

And don’t forget about NAMI. The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) has a helpline offering free help 24 hours a day. Simply text NAMI to 741741.

  1. University hospitals employ and train medical students who can work for lower fees, and many of these hospitals are not-for-profit.

Most university medical programs have psychology/psychiatry programs, and most university hospitals offer on-the-job training to medical students, interns, and residents, based on an income-determined sliding scale.

Many state-funded non-profit agencies, and even private agencies offer top-notch mental health consultations and therapy at reduced rates for those whose lower incomes qualify them.

  1. Local psychotherapeutic training organizations often provide free consultations for up to two years.

If you’re willing to commit to going to therapy three to five times weekly for up to two years, you can get high quality, thorough mental health treatment by a professional in training, closely supervised, and very focused/specific.

  1. Open Path Psychotherapy Collective is another available option.

Open Path Psychotherapy Collective (OPPC) is a not-for-profit organization that will match what lower- to middle-income individuals and families can pay to get mental health services.  Those who need it can get good care, without hanging their mental health professionals out to dry. Rates range from $35 to $55 dollars per hourly session.

  1. Finally, never give up on yourself. The resources you need are waiting for you.

It may take some patience and due diligence on your part to find the right mental health professional, and in the meantime, your smartphone may be of more benefit to you than you’d thought.

Putting technology to work for good, what’s known as tele-mental health has become an increasingly valuable resource for states and communities to provide mental health care.

Some obstacles exist for the providers in terms of licensing (a provider can’t live in California and consult with someone in Colorado, for example),  but tele-mental health is officially a growing thing and isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Check with your local healthcare network/hospital system to see if they have these services available.

  1. In case of emergency, get yourself to a clinic or call for help.

Desperate times call for desperate measures, and if you are in a mental health crisis and needing immediate assistance, get to your local community mental health clinic. Such clinics can often offer low-cost therapy, as they are funded from organizations like United Way.

Another available option is to contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1.800.273.TALK) if you are prone to harm yourself or someone else. This is another free resource, 100 percent confidential, and available 24 hours a day.

Are you having a hard time finding a mental health professional that you’re comfortable with? Is the stress making your depression and/or anxiety worse? Depression and anxiety are both treatable, and their treatment usually leads to a better night’s sleep. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Can learning how to cook help your mental health?

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“Cooking can help your mental health?” you wonder. Can you really manage your anxiety and/or depression by simply preparing your own meals? After a long day, maybe the last thing you feel like doing is putting together a meal, then having to clean up. But let’s take a closer look at cooking and how it can help your mental health.

For one thing, the process of chopping, stirring, tasting, and even cleaning can be meditative, introspective, calming, and just what you need to clear your mind. Maybe you’ve heard the zen instructive: “When you cook, just cook. When you wash dishes, just wash the dishes.”

Cooking has been described by aficionados as “therapeutic, cleansing, nourishing, centering,” and as “nothing else you will do at any other time of your day.”

Preparing a meal as a therapeutic exercise is also known as culinary therapy, therapeutic cooking, and culinary mindfulness. But at the end of the day, can cooking really help your mental health?




Here are nine reasons you might want to give it a try:

  1. Developing patience.

Patience may or may not be a virtue, but in a world where everyone needs to have everything right this minute, patience can instill a refreshing sense of calm in you. Think of patience as a super power, if you will. It means emotional freedom, allowing you to calmly observe, pause, and know when the ideal time to act is.

  1. Getting organizedYou might start with simple recipes, but eventually, a sense of what flavors go well together will become second nature. You will also learn another level of organization–when you start planning your meals for the week and go to the store, you’ll better know what ingredients you already have in the pantry, which will help you with the grocery budget, eating healthier, and staying organized.
  2. Helping you nurture a healthier relationship with food.

You might not have considered it, but learning how to prepare meals yourself can improve how you think about and approach food and eating. Teaching yourself how to cook not only boosts your confidence, but planning your meals in advance really gives you a victory over that feeling of not knowing what to do when it’s dinnertime.

  1. Exercising your creativity.

You may wonder what is so creative about cooking, but you’ll be surprised. Speaking of creativity, by getting your creative juices flowing, you not only refine those skills, you bolster your own mental health. Try it sometime. Drawing, singing, writing… cooking. You’ll see for yourself why creative people are happier people. As you prepare a meal, regardless of what recipe you’re using, try swapping out different ingredients, like substituting cauliflower for potatoes in this recipe for cauliflower mashed potatoes.

  1. Sparking that sense of accomplishment

Whenever you prepare a meal for yourself or someone else, you set a short-term achievable goal for yourself – then you accomplish it. This is otherwise known as behavioral activation, a method used to treat anxiety and depression by increasing a subject’s proximity to a “payoff” or reward.  Behavioral activation can also be implemented to overcome procrastination with reinforced goal-driven outcomes. You can try out whatever recipe or meal planner fits your skill level and voila! Dinner is served, and your self-esteem is boosted.

  1. Clean, healthy living.

Do you have health goals? Just start out cooking for yourself a couple of nights every week, then work your way up to more. Those who prepare their own meals tend to eat healthier than those who go out to eat more often. Keep in mind that 95 percent of your serotonin (the neurotransmitter that regulates your mood, your pain tolerance level, and your sleep) is generated in your gastrointestinal tract. Eating healthier also improves your mental health.

  1. Control over how you spend your time.

Nothing boosts your self-esteem more than feeling like you’re in control of things. Cooking for yourself will help you manage and allocate your time better, giving you a better sense of having a grip on your day rather than wandering without objectives through it.

  1. Sense of purpose.

You’re now on track to a feeling of purpose, direction, and determination, which is another way to feel more in control of your time and your day. No more wandering to the nearest fast food restaurant to get your dinner through the drive through. You know what you’re doing, and control how your meals come about.

  1. Better budget control.

Eating out less for dinner, and having leftovers ready to take to work the next day will help you keep more of a handle on your finances. It will also save you time and gas because you’ll be driving around less.

The truth is that culinary therapy is being used in treatment methodology for various mental illnesses, including anxiety, depression, ADHD, addiction, and eating disorders–the very process of mindfully preparing a good meal can nourish your psychological well-being.

Taking it a step further, preparing a meal with your partner can smooth communications and teamwork by setting aside differences in order to accomplish a mutual goal. It’s also a chance to work on conflict resolution skills when differences in taste and likes arise. Make it a date night!

Are you anxious about your lack of sleep? Is your lack of sleep making your depression and/or anxiety worse? Depression and anxiety are both treatable, and their treatment usually leads to a better night’s sleep. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

Does bedtime affect mental health

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Can your mental health be affected by your bedtime? We all know the age old mandate about “early to bed, early to rise,” and “get your 6-8 hours every night,” and so on, but how much does your bedtime matter?

Beware of sleep deprivation

First, let’s talk about not getting enough sleep and your mental health. It’s common knowledge that sleep deprivation can impact the quality of your mental health and psychological state, as sleep and mental well-being go hand in hand.

Experts will tell you that if you frequently feel sleepy throughout the day or experience what are known as “microsleeps” (i.e., briefly drifting off into a light doze throughout the day, even momentarily), then sleep-deprivation or a sleep disorder may be something you need to look into. Other signs that you’re not getting enough sleep include: trouble falling asleep (i.e., insomnia), not waking up feeling rested, pounding coffee, tea, soda, or energy drinks to get through the day, fighting to stay awake while driving or during normal activities like watching a movie, trouble with your memory, waking up in the wee hours of the morning and then having trouble going back to sleep (a.k.a., terminal insomnia).

Some facts about problematic sleep and mental health follow.

  • Problematic sleeping is a sign of depression. Problematic sleep is a common symptom of depression, and it also contributes to it. From 65 to 90 percent of adults (and about 90 percent of children) in the U.S. with clinical depression are likely to have some degree of difficulty getting a good night’s sleep. Usually, the problem is insomnia, but about 20 percent of problematic sleepers have problems with sleep apnea. Hypersomnia (e.g., severe fatigue throughout the day) is also commonly reported by individuals with depression.
  • Concerns regarding sleep are more likely to affect individuals with mental health problems. Ongoing problematic sleep affects between 50 to 80 percent of those with mental disorders and from 10 to 18 percent of adults in the U.S. Treating a sleep disorder may help mitigate the effects of depressive symptoms, and vice versa.
  • Anxiety and problematic sleep are often co-occurring. Disordered sleep affects more than half of adults with generalized anxiety disorder and is also typical among those with bipolar disorderpanic disorder, phobic disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and obsessive-compulsive disorder. Anxiety can also fuel problematic sleep, taking the form of nightmares and/or insomnia, while sleep deprivation can increase the risk for the individual to develop an anxiety disorder.

Bigger answers for bigger bedtime questions

Now… Here’s a deeper question. If you get enough hours of sleep in, does it matter what time you go to bed?

The human body produces a wide range of molecular processes, including hormone levels and core body temperature, as well as sleeping and waking up. It is impacted by genes as well as many lifestyle factors including exposure to artificial light, jobs, activities, and diet.

A 2018 broad genetics study conducted by researchers at the University of Exeter in the United Kingdom reports that individuals who are genetically inclined to wake up early are linked to a greater sense of being content with life, and with a lowered risk for depression and schizophrenia.

The researchers found results indicating that if you’re a “night owl,” chances are good that you could be at greater risk to develop some sort of mental health issue. Night owls have a tendency to constantly push back against their own bodies’ natural clock, which can be exhausting, especially for those who have to be at work or school early in the morning.

Good news for all the evening types out there, however. Though previous research linked poor sleeping habits to a higher risk for obesity and diabetes, this newest research did not find any links between these health issues and body clock genes.

It’s noteworthy that this new research underscores the need for further study of the link between someone’s genetic disposition to being an early versus a late riser and his or her mental health.

So I can just start going to bed earlier, right?

Can you just start going to bed and waking up earlier? Well, it’s not that simple. You have what’s known as a chronotype, also known as your tendency to fall asleep and rise at a certain time, and this is largely determined genetically.

Differences between early and late risers have to do with differences in the ways our brains react to external light signals as well as the normal functioning of our internal clocks. There’s not a lot to be done to change this.

There are some things you can do, however if you’re a night owl and want to get in the habit of hitting the sack earlier in order to arise earlier the next morning. It may take a week or two for your body clock to adapt to the change in schedule.

  • Be consistent. Go to bed and wake up at the same time every night and day.
  • Try going to bed an hour or two earlier, though this may not always be realistic.
  • Do something consistently every single night before bed, like taking a hot shower, brushing your teeth, reading with a dim light on, doing some gentle yoga stretches, or practicing some mindful breathing meditation.
  • Avoid alcohol, nicotine, and caffeine after about 4-6 p.m.
  • Get out into the natural light throughout the day, and get some exercise in (at least 30 minutes) at some point every day. Three 10-minute exercise sessions spread out through the day are just as effective as one 30-minute session.
  • Use your bedroom only for sleep; avoid having a desk or keeping a laptop in your room, and avoid using your cellphone right before bed as much as possible.

Are you anxious about your lack of sleep? Is your lack of sleep making your depression and/or anxiety worse? Depression and anxiety are both treatable, and their treatment usually leads to a better night’s sleep. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

psychedelic drugs could well be the future of mental illness treatment

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Hallucinogens can provide a treatment solution for mental disorders?

Most people associate psychoactive drugs with hippies from the 60s, with all night rave party goers, perhaps with music festivals like Burning Man, or with burnout slacker cult heroes from TV shows and movies (Remember Jeff Bridges’ line from The Big Lebowski? When asked what he does for “recreation,” he mumbles something about how he likes to “Bowl… drive around..       . [and enjoy] the occasional acid flashback…”).

In the not too distant future, however, hallucinogenic substances may be a go-to method for mental health professionals as they help their patients working through mental health issues such as social anxiety and grief to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and depression.

Like the majority of antidepressant medications, hallucinogens affect how the brain utilizes serotonin, the brain chemical relevant to memory, sleep, and mood. Different from antidepressants, however, hallucinogens appear to change how different parts of the brain communicate with one other – that may be why many individuals who have taken hallucinogens take away a “significantly altered sense of self,” not to mention an increased degree of “open-mindedness.”

Powerful tools

Psychoactive drugs are among the most powerful substances known, and can have potent effects on the central nervous system. Like any powerful tool, they can be either hazardous or of benefit. If they are administered properly and monitored, they have shown potential to be extremely beneficial.

Research into psychedelics

According to researchers, when combined appropriately with psychotherapy, psychedelics such as MDMA (ecstasy), LSD, psilocybin (“magic mushrooms”), and ayahuasca have been known to improve symptoms of depression, anxiety, and PTSD. Research continues to help us better understand the possible benefits of these substances, while psychologists help bring awareness to any possibly related cultural, ethical, and clinical questions associated with using them.

MDMA. Another study’s findings reflect that symptoms of social anxiety in autistic adults may be manageable with a combination of MDMA and psychotherapy. The results of the MDMA and psychotherapy treatments showed positive results for months, and even years in some cases, for the majority of the research subjects. Notably, social anxiety, which is common among autistic adults, has seen few if any effective treatment options.

LSD,  psilocybin, and ayahuasca. Research studies have also delved into how people coping with depression, anxiety, and eating disorders may benefit from psychotherapy coupled with monitored doses of LSD, psilocybin, and ayahuasca.

In one study, participants discussed past experiences with hallucinogens, in terms of their relationship with their emotions, and their spirituality. The use of psychedelics was reported by the vast majority of participants to be associated with greater levels of spirituality, leading to enhanced emotional stability, and subsequently fewer symptoms of depression, anxiety, and disordered eating.

More on ayahuasca. Other research studies have indicated that the use of ayahuasca has shown increases in generosity, spiritual connection, and altruistic feelings; the use of ayahuasca has also been tied to the relief of depression along with mitigating addictive behaviors, as well as relieving stress for those dealing with trauma.

Other landmarks:

  • In December 2016, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) approved plans for the third phase of a clinical trial testing MDMA in the treatment of PTSD. The study is expected to document the treatment experiences of over 200 people over the course of two to three years.
  • That same month, a research team at Johns Hopkins University released results of a study that tested psilocybin in a group of cancer patients who showed signs of depression and anxiety. High doses, around two to three times a typical recreational dosage, significantly reduced these symptoms, and four out of five continued on with significant overall decreases in depressed mood and anxiety six months later.
  • In studies of the effects of ketamine (also known as “Special K”) on severe depression, patients typically get ketamine either through an IV or a nasal mist about once a week, in a clinic under strict medical supervision. In some participants, ketamine can ease depressive symptoms in a matter of a few hours.

The times, they are a changin’

This new research coincides with a time when social and political attitudes toward drugs are shifting immensely.

The prevalent abuse of prescription opioid painkillers is framed more as a public health issue than as a law enforcement issue, and in the meantime, an increasing number of states are legalizing medical and even recreational marijuana.

Members of Congress asked the Drug Enforcement Administration to hold off on plans to make the herbal supplement kratom illegalscientists claim that kratom may be useful to treat addiction and chronic pain.

Researchers tell us that we are still “newcomers and amateurs” in our understanding of how hallucinogens may help. What all the studies are meant to help researchers understand is how permanent changes to the brain’s functioning may be, and how such changes might help those with depression, anxiety, and addiction.

There are currently hundreds of research projects underway, and to date, there is no known research that the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) has rejected or put the brakes on. Furthermore, the DEA has also been having talks with researchers and mental health professionals about streamlining the agency’s approval process.

Curious about better ways to address your own depression and/or anxiety? Both are treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

8 things you can do to bolster your mental health in 2019

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Life changes are coming, as with every new year. Now with the holidays behind us, it’s time to take on 2019. Problems getting started? You want this year to be different, but you are not sure what to do? No worries.

Let’s get away from any nomenclature having to do with “resolutions” for the new year. Resolutions are easily forgotten, you get discouraged not too long after the new year, and then what? You’re going to wait until next January to start up with improving yourself? You can get a grip on your depression, anxiety, what have you.

Goals, not New Year’s Resolutions

You don’t need a new year, or a new week, even to start working on yourself. How about starting out by setting some short and long-term goals? It may seem overwhelming, but you don’t have to start big. Maybe you want to get better at stress management, or incorporate a more healthy lifestyle. Personal growth is the key, so remember, to just keep moving forward!

One of the best things you can do to help bolster your mental health is to be prepared for and to anticipate change. Our ability to cope with and deal with changes that life throws at us determines in large part how well-adjusted we are, and how proficient we are at problem solving.

Once you get rolling and in the habit of setting and accomplishing goals, you’ll be unstoppable. Don’t get discouraged, and don’t ever give up on yourself. One step at a time. Here are some suggestions to get you started.

  1. Be ProactiveProactive is a bit of a buzzword, and it is usually associated with something positive. Think of proactive (ahead, in front) versus reactive (afterward). See where you can “work ahead” on things at home, at work/school. If you’re a procrastinator, practicing the art of proactivity can get you out of just about any funk. Set a goal to not just meet the bare minimum, just in the nick of time, but get as far ahead of the curve as you can. Get that assignment done a week early. File that paperwork before the deadline. Set up that appointment when you have an extra 5 minutes on your lunch break. You’ll feel better about life, about yourself, and about your abilities.
  2. Get Organized. Which brings us to getting organized. Entering a space that is organized and tidy has a much more positive effect on your mental health than walking in to a messy space has. One is inspiring, while the latter is depressing and unsettling. Watch some YouTube videos and read some books if you need to, but start working on the habit of staying organized. Ever seen Marie Kondo’s show on Netflix?
  3. Watch What You Eat, Exercise, and Get Your Sleep. Taking care of your body has a huge impact on your mental health, though healthy eating, getting exercise, and getting adequate sleep (healthy living) are often overlooked. Avoid junk food, eat only wholefoods, more protein, fewer carbs, and in smaller portions. Exercise for at least 20-30 minutes, five times weekly. Get 6-8 hours of sleep every night. Get these things down, and you’ll be well on your way to being better able to manage your mental health effectively.
  4. Pick up a New Hobby, Learn a New Skill, Improve One of Your Talents. Maybe you think hobbies are too “old school” for you. You can develop your mind, ease stress, learn to breathe meditatively, etc., when engaging yourself in some pastime that interests you. Do you have a creative side? Take a class in watercolor painting. Do you like music? Have you ever thought of taking up the guitar or piano? Developing a hobby, skill, or talent will help lift your mood, and increase your self-confidence.
  5. Reign in Your Use of Technology.Excessive time on electronic devices, chatting, posting, gaming, etc. has been shown to be tied in with feelings of depression, low self-esteem, suicidal ideation, negative self talk, etc. Have you ever thought of taking a break for a week or two from Facebook, or Instagram, or Twitter? Why not give it a try? You may feel more liberated than you ever thought possible.
  6. Build Up a Reserve.  Research shows that investing time into quiet, introspective activities, like mindful meditation, can be a great help for mental health. Mindfulness practice also helps you build up a reserve of inner strength and groundedness to help you cope with any kind of future challenges you may find yourself facing.
  7. Get in the Habit of Telling Yourself Positive Things.It should come as no surprise that the way you think about yourself can have a huge effect on how you feel. Get in the habit of using words in your self-talk that reinforce feelings of self-worth and personal power. For instance, instead of saying: “I’m such a loser. I won’t get the award because I blew it writing my essay,” say something more like, “I didn’t do as well on my essay as I was hoping, but that doesn’t mean I won’t get the award.”
  8. Start a Gratitude Journal. Expressing gratitude and remembering the things you have to be thankful for have been unmistakably linked with a healthier sense of well-being, happiness, and mental health. Start a journal if you don’t already have one, and write down three things every day that you are grateful for. Think on them every day, and let them soak in. How does it feel?  Pretty good, right?

Now for a great year. Here’s to your mental health and winning 2019!

Gearing up for a great 2019? If you’ve ever struggled with mental illness or low self-esteem, now is the perfect time to address mental health issues. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.

avoid family drama during the holidays

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You can avoid family conflict during the holidays (or at least minimize it).  Avoiding family drama during the Christmas/holiday season can be a bit of an art, but it is certainly something you can manage. And well.

Imagine: One person (or one person’s wife) ends up resentfully doing most of the organizing, cooking, and work, while another relative imbibes too much and blurts out a dark secret, and then another relative’s child throws an unbearable tantrum. Any single one of these occurrences, not to mention a combination of several, can be all it takes to ruin yet another annual family holiday gathering.

The holidays tend to be stressful for just about anyone. Combine this stress with the fact that some individuals can be thoughtless, inconsiderate, nitpicky, irritating, and sometimes outright spiteful. Worse, many such individuals (yes, including your own family members) never own their own behavior, and really don’t care how hurtful, problematic, or careless with the feelings of others they may be. It is always “someone else’s fault.”

Holiday stress + wanton emotionally reckless behavior. It makes quite the combination, and it’s enough to make everyone else hate the holidays, hate getting the family together and wish they could fast forward the clock past New Year’s.


What Drives it All?

What are some of the dynamics that create an atmosphere ripe for familial holiday conflict? Let’s look at a few:

  • “Short fuses.”A family member (or members) is prone to angry outbursts that are typically disproportionate to the situation or to the initial trigger (“I said NO PECANS!! Why can’t you do ANYTHING right???”).
  • Opinionated individuals tend to be extremely rigid in their thinking, suspicious without reason, unwilling to concede anything, or seemingly just defiant and argumentative for the sake of it (“I know what I’m talking about, and if you don’t agree with me, you’re an idiot!”).
  • Attention hogs. You know him or her. The family member who needs to be the center of attention at all times, who sometimes acts out when offended at feeling left out of any conversations, outings, events, or what have you.
  • The buzzkills. Then there are the family members around whom you feel ever physically and emotionally drained, or worse yet, you feel agitated, anxious, unsettled, or upset.
  • The martyrs. A relative who loves to play the victim, or who feels entitled to receive special treatment. Vindication for perceived injustices and having unreasonable demands met are the sought-after prize for these individuals. All at the expense of others, of course. (“One day you’ll be sorry when I’m gone!”)
  • The wound collectors. Fixates on past offenses, slights, mistakes/flaws of others, and is ever ready to bring them back up at the drop of a hat. No forgiveness or forgetting. No peace.
  • Irresponsible speech and behavior. A family member who always seems to irritate or hurt others’ feelings, as if the negligent perpetrator feels no obligation whatsoever to “turn on the filter” (“I tell it like it is!”).
  • The never-ending family feud. Not nearly as fun as the game show, family feuds among your relatives may be brief outbursts that last a few minutes, or that maybe go on for hours, days, even weeks and months with minimal effort (or even desire) to reconcile or end them.
  • Feelings of unhappiness, of being emotionally drained, edginess, lack of fulfillment, worthlessness, etc. You “walk on eggshells,” around the family get-together, constantly on your toes to avoid the next incident that will embarrass you or leave you feeling hurt.

The first thing you should do is recognize that none of this is your imagination. Such individuals may act reasonably one day, but that doesn’t mean you should simply ignore such flagrantly bad habits and behaviors, especially when they hurt you or others. These people need help and should seek out a professional who can help them become more aware of their behavior and manage it better. Meanwhile, you still have to protect yourself. Remember, such incidents can serve as a trigger to set off your own mental illness.

Mind your own boundaries

Here are some suggestions regarding what you can do when dealing with such bad behavior from family members and to help avoid family drama during Christmas break or any other time of year:

  1. This is no time for therapy. Remember that family time at the holidays is not the time for a therapy session. That is for professionals to handle in private at another appropriate time. Don’t let your holiday cheer be robbed by going for the bait and ending up being drawn into drama that you don’t want.
  2. Set boundaries. Without being too exacting, determine ahead of time what you will and won’t tolerate. You may have to separate yourself from the group or not attend at all if things start to head south. Do not ease up on your boundaries until inconsiderate behaviors change (e.g., if dinner is scheduled at 6, then start at 6. Latecomers will just be late. No attention hogs, no dramatic entrances, no shows of dominance, etc.). You are under no obligation whatsoever to be victimized.
  3. See reality for what it is. Words matter little if there is no action behind it to back it up. Don’t just write off hurtful behaviors.
  4. Taboo topics. Get a consensus upfront regarding what everyone else is willing to discuss and not discuss (e.g., religion, politics). These discussions can tend to bring out the worst in people.
  5. Taboo behaviors. Some individuals revert to coping mechanisms/behaviors such as binge drinking in order to create a divide in the group, antagonize, or irritate others, and such antics should be squelched beforehand. You can set the rules in your house, but if you and your family are elsewhere, don’t join into the discord.
  6. Call for help if you need to. If someone gets violent or draws a weapon (especially after drinking/drugging), don’t even hesitate to call the police.
  7. Safety is not a guarantee. Just because you are with family does not mean you are emotionally/physically/psychologically safe. Watch out for yourself and avoid/avert anything or anyone who might do you harm.
  8. Plan on having a good time together! Don’t give an audience to someone in the group who insists on hijacking the rest of the group and “holding them hostage.” Don’t give something unsavory a life by giving it your attention. Focus on creating positive memories together with your loved ones.

Awkward and unhappy family moments do happen, even with the best intentions, so don’t feel like you’ve failed if a family holiday get-together goes awry. Be polite, be loving, but be firm in taking care of yourself.

Holidays with the family got you down? It may not be just a case of the “holiday blues.” Depression and anxiety are treatable and manageable. If you or someone close to you need to talk to someone about family dysfunction or other mental health issues that seem overwhelming, we can help. Consider reaching out to our expert team at Solara Mental Health at 844-600-9747.