On a scale from 1 to 5, 5 being excellent and 1 being poor, how would you rate your mental health? One definition of mental health is a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being. You are not alone if you aren’t at the top of the scale. While researching this topic, we found a quandary of statistics and resources.
Mental Health America describes themselves as a community-based nonprofit dedicated to addressing the needs of those living with mental illness and to promoting the overall mental health of all Americans. They cited:
Over 44 million American adults have a mental health condition. Rate of youth experiencing a mental health condition continues to rise.
Do you know someone experiencing a mental health challenge? It’s encouraging to know that the space has widened to discuss and receive help with mental illness. There is still work to do but there are more options and resources available.
“Everyone should seek help, whether preventative or as an intervention, to maintain and sustain mental wellness.” Dr. Angel Dowden
Dr. Dowden served on the Improving Mental Health and Coping with Stress panel with Jelyse Dawson this month at Wake Med Hospital. The panel discussion was sponsored by the National Black MBA Association. Enjoy the interview that pushes the dialogue forward.
Introduction: Dr. Angel Dowden, is the owner/operator/therapist at Core Counseling & Consulting, PLLC and Associate Professor and Program Coordinator in the Department of Counseling at North Carolina A&T State University.
Question: What inspired you to choose this profession?
Dr. Dowden: The desire to help people be their best self and live their best life.
Question: May is Mental Health Awareness Month but we see people needing support throughout the year. Are there seasonal highs with symptoms of mental illness?
Dr. Dowden: I often see an increase in clients seeking therapy in the spring/summer and during the holidays. It has been my clinical experience that clients want to take advantage of nice weather and get out and connect with people and nature, but feel trapped and isolated because of mental health issues. This triggers them to seek support.
Question: What signs should people look for regarding mental health issues? Feel free to take any group, i.e., toddlers, children, teens, adults.
Dr. Dowden: I think across age groups people should look for changes in their mood, lack of interests in previous interest or daily task, physiological symptoms (e.g. headaches, stomach aches), feeling overwhelmed, tired/sleepy, lack of appetite, or short tempered).
Question: What strategies can you sharewith adults to sustain mental health?
Dr. Dowden: Develop a self-care plan that intentionally requires the individual to engage in activities in the following areas: self-awareness, spirituality, exercise, social engagement, and mental stimulation.
Question: What do people need to know about the stigma associated with seeking help?
Dr. Dowden: Stigma associated with mental illness is a myth created to make people feel like seeking help makes them weak. Mental wellness is essential to physical wellness, longevity and prosperity. Everyone should seek help, whether preventative or as an intervention, to maintain and sustain mental wellness.
Thank you Dr. Dowden for your insights and commitment. In closing, Dr. Dowden shared her research interest which is biopsychosocial issues impacting African Americans and qualitative methodologies. See article citation below and visit her website at Core Counseling & Consulting, PLLC.
Dowden, A. R., Decuir-Gunby, J., Warren, J. M., & Boston, Q. (2014). A phenomenological analysis of invisibility among African American males: Implications for clinical practice and client retention. The Professional Counselor, 4(1), 58–70.