Tender Moments

Mental Health Matters at Tend & Beyond

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. According to the CDC, 1 in 5 Americans will experience mental illness at least once a year, 1 in 25 Americans live with serious mental illness (schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression), and 1 in 5 children are currently/or will at some point deal with debilitating mental illness. For so many years, talking about mental health was taboo and wasn’t something that was embraced by society - but it is 2023 and we are living in the era of empowerment so it’s time for us to take the wheel and start spreading awareness. 

In this Tender Moment, we connected with Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT), Haley O’Bryan, and she gave us an inside look at Mental Health through the eyes of a professional. First, who is Haley? Haley originally went to school for accounting, but later found herself as a crisis hotline counselor for The Trevor Project - pushing her to go back to school to become a therapist. After getting herself through school, completing the necessary hours (of internship) for licensing, and passing her licensing exam; Haley became a Licensed therapist at the beginning of this (2023) year! Haley now works at a private firm, but has experience working at youth crisis shelters and child welfare services. Here’s a breakdown of the topics we covered during our Tender Moment:

Mental Health, what is it?

The definition of Mental Health can be broad and interchangeable. As a therapist, Haley defines mental health as “it encompasses everything that we think about, how we handle emotions, how we handle our social life, our stressors, our spiritual journey - the aspect that cannot be explained by medical health professionals.” 

Mental Health in the Workforce

“Our motivation is determined by our mental health at that moment and people who are emotionally exhausted will not be doing their best work”. When you become mentally drained, it becomes hard to not only have to show up for yourself, but have to also show up for others who rely on you to complete your assigned tasks and manage your workload. When you are unable to show up for yourself and others, it becomes harder to meet performance expectations; thus leading to write-ups or terminations.

Doing Mental Health Work, at Home

Seeking therapy through a licensed professional is highly advised, but we know it is not always affordable so here are some self-help tips from Haley: 

  • YouTube channels that are positively run by people with lived experience with mental health struggle or, have a lot of knowledge/are scholars willing to give free advice. Psych2Go and How to ADHD are a couple channel favorites of Haley.
  • Apps such as Insight Timer that have free meditations or YouTube videos for guided meditations. 
  • Just saying ‘no’! “One of the reasons why people are struggling, mentally, is because they are not giving themselves enough time to just exist”. An act of self-care we often do not utilize enough - saying no - because we find ourselves always trying to please everyone and ourselves (by not missing out or ‘FOMO’) - but always being a ‘yes-man’ can lead to major burn out. 
  • Going out and taking a walk. It may not be accessible to all, but if/when possible; simply just stepping out and getting some fresh air can make a major difference in mood.

How to Just Exist

More often than not, we immerse ourselves into the hustle of life; that we forget to just exist. Haley explained that “just existing is a matter of being able to sit with yourself and not try to assess your productivity to the world. It’s the act of sitting or being where you’re not trying to be productive, not trying to impress anyone (or yourself), just enjoying life by resting, engaging in leisurely activities, and not thinking about your obligations to the world.” Take the time to enjoy the fresh air, the cool breeze, the quiet moments in bed before starting the day; stop, drop (everything you’re doing), and exist! 

When to Seek Professional Help

Signs of depression are something to keep a steady eye on. Here are common signs that Haley advises to look for to help pin-point when it may be time to seek professional help:

  • Changes - any changes to eating habits (eating more or eating less) and changes to sleeping (sleeping more or sleeping less)
  • Feeling more irritable
  • Feeling worried or preoccupied with thoughts that there’s nothing you can do to get your mind off of the worries in your mind 

Affordable Professional Help

One of the many things that isn’t well known is sliding scale therapy. A sliding scale therapist is someone who agrees to see their clients based on a scale, which is based on what their client can afford. Haley noted that when she used to see clients at the shelter she worked at, she would tell her clients to pay what they can afford - or what makes sense to them, what can they afford - whether it be $10 or $60 per session. To find a sliding scale therapist, you may be able to locate one at local community centers or local shelters who have outpatient clinics with therapists that welcome clients - without residing in the shelter. Or you can simply Google “Sliding Scale Therapists Near Me”. Haley also noted her favorite site, a non-profit organization (Open Path Collective) that allows you to find therapists that charge $40-$70 per session.

Help During Crisis

If you find yourself in a space of feeling hopeless and become engulfed with suicidal ideations, please seek help immediately. If you cannot reach out to a loved one, you can call a confidential hotline that is run by trained professionals. If you do not feel comfortable reaching out to a hotline, Haley advises to stop and think about at least one reason to stay; whether that be a pet, a family member or friend, or us at Tend. You matter and your existence is important. Please see links below for more information on confidential hotlines and resources to use in times of crisis. 

Resources for Crisis

Suicide Crisis and Hotline - Call 988

988 Lifeline Website for Chat

Crisis text line - Text HOME to 741741 

Veteran's Crisis Online Chat

Resources for Therapy

Open Path Collective

To Write Love on Her Arms

Local Community Centers/Shelters (will vary by city/state)

Special thanks to Haley for taking the time to shed some professional insight!

Haley’s LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/haleyobryan/ 

Haley’s Web page https://www.prospecttherapy.com/meet-haley 

Really insightful Instagram page (belonging to Haley’s supervisor) @prospecttherapy

Header Image credit: Total Shape

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