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Mental Health Resources

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Mental Health

Our mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Over the course of your life, if you experience challenges with your mental health, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health concerns

We all face ups & downs, but sometimes the distress we face outweighs the skills we have to cope with it effectively. If you are experiencing signs of distress, consider talking to a mental health professional about your concerns. Hokie Wellness can provide more information on EAP and referrals to providers in the community.

Retrieved from MentalHealth.gov -- Let's talk about it.

Emotional Health

How you feel can affect your ability to carry out everyday activities, your relationships, and your overall health. How you react to your experiences and feelings can change over time. Emotional wellness is the ability to successfully handle life's stresses and adapt to change and difficult times.

People who are emotionally well learn skills to be able bounce back from difficulties faster. This quality is called resilience. Another sign of emotional wellness is being able to hold onto positive emotions longer and appreciate the good times.

To develop a more positive mindset:

  • Remember your good deeds. Give yourself credit for the good things you do for others each day.
  • Forgive yourself. Everyone makes mistakes. Learn from what went wrong, but don't dwell on it.
  • Spend more time with your friends. Surround yourself with positive, healthy people.
  • Explore your beliefs about the meaning and purpose of life. Think about how to guide your life by the principles that are important to you.
  • Develop healthy physical habits. Healthy eating, physical activity, and regular sleep can improve your physical and mental health.

Everyone feels stressed from time to time. Stress can give you a rush of energy when it's needed most. But if stress lasts a long time—a condition known as chronic stress—those "high-alert" changes become harmful rather than helpful. Learning healthy ways to cope with stress can also boost your resilience.

To help manage stress:

  • Get enough sleep.
  • Exercise regularly. Just 30 minutes a day of walking can boost mood and reduce stress.
  • Build a social support network.
  • Set priorities. Decide what must get done and what can wait. Say no to new tasks if they are putting you into overload.
  • Think positive. Note what you've accomplished at the end of the day, not what you've failed to do.
  • Try relaxation methods. Mindfulness, meditation, yoga, or tai chi may help.
  • Seek help. Talk to a mental health professional if you feel unable to cope, have suicidal thoughts, or use drugs or alcohol to cope.

Social connections might help protect health and lengthen life. Scientists are finding that our links to others can have powerful effects on our health—both emotionally and physically. Whether with romantic partners, family, friends, neighbors, or others, social connections can influence our biology and well-being.

To build healthy support systems:

  • Build strong relationships with your kids.
  • Get active and share good habits with family and friends.
  • If you're a family caregiver, ask for help from others.
  • Join a group focused on a favorite hobby, such as reading, hiking, or painting.
  • Take a class to learn something new.
  • Volunteer for things you care about in your community, like a community garden, school, library, or place of worship.
  • Travel to different places and meet new people.

The concept of mindfulness is simple. This ancient practice is about being completely aware of what's happening in the present—of all that's going on inside and all that's happening around you. It means not living your life on "autopilot". Becoming a more mindful person requires commitment and practice. Here are some tips to help you get started.

To be more mindful:

  • Take some deep breaths. Breathe in through your nose to the count of 4, hold for 1 second and then exhale through the mouth to the count of 5. Repeat often.
  • Enjoy a stroll. As you walk, notice your breath and the sights and sounds around you. As thoughts and worries enter your mind, note them but then return to the present.
  • Practice mindful eating. Be aware of tastes, textures, and flavors in each bite, and listen to your body when you are hungry and full.
  • Find mindfulness resources in your local community, including yoga and meditation classes, mindfulness-based stress reduction programs, and books.

Reference: NIH Emotional Wellness Toolkit

Resources

As part of Virginia Tech's health care benefit program, employees who are covered by the university's health insurance have access to the Employee Assistance Program.

Employee Assistance Plans offer professional help if you or someone in your family is experiencing:

  • Alcohol or drug problems
  • Family and relationship troubles
  • Emotional difficulties
  • Stress-related problems
  • Parenting concerns
  • Conflicts at work or home
  • Other personal concerns

Getting help is simple, convenient, and confidential. Employees may call the program directly at the number listed below or contact an Employee Relations or Hokie Wellness staff member. The Employee Assistance Program professionals will discuss the situation with the employee and provide a confidential list of local providers. The first four visits are free.

Click here to learn how to contact the appropriate program help.

Hokie Wellness offers the Koru Mindfulness program for both employees and students. Koru Mindfulness is an evidence-based curriculum specifically designed for teaching mindfulness, meditation, and stress management to all ages.

If the situation is potentially life-threatening, get immediate emergency assistance by calling 911, available 24 hours a day.

If you or someone you know is suicidal or in emotional distress, contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline. Trained crisis workers are available to talk 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Your confidential and toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in the Lifeline national network. These centers provide crisis counseling and mental health referrals.

Get general information on mental health and locate treatment services in your area. Speak to a live person, Monday through Friday from 8 AM to 8 PM, EST.