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GOOD GRIEF

What is grief?

Grief is a natural reaction to loss. It can be a loved one, friend, co-worker, pet, and even sometimes objects such as a house or car. It’s important to understand that grief is a way in which our minds and bodies cope and that grief can be a healthy, even necessary, process. Everyone experiences grief at some point in their lives and works through it on their own terms. In fact, 1 in 5 people will experience the death of someone close to them by the time they are 18. Grief can be an extremely personal time where people may reach out to others or isolate themselves. We will discuss the difference between healthy and unhealthy grieving, along with the common stages of grief.

The stages of grief

Depending on where you look you can find anywhere from 5 to 7 stages of grief. For sake of brevity, we will focus on the core 5 stages. The stages are:

  1. Denial
  2. Anger
  3. Bargaining
  4. Depression
  5. Acceptance

While these stages represent an overall progression, it is important to note that it is possible to move back and forth between stages, skip stages and even begin the stages again once you’ve reached acceptance. For instance, you may skip the bargaining stage and go straight into the depression stage but then fall back into the anger stage before finally reaching the acceptance stage. The healing process will be painful and depending on the level of grief you are experiencing can often take a long time. Sometimes it may take weeks, other times it can years to reach some form of resolution to the grieving process. It is important to focus on happy memories and positive thoughts when working through a loss. In 2008 psychologist Dale Lund of California State University surveyed 292 recently bereaved men and women age 50 and older and found that 75 percent reported finding humor and laughter in their daily lives and at levels much higher than they had expected. Other research has shown that being able to draw on happy memories of the deceased helps you heal — those who are able to smile when describing their relationship to their husband or wife six months after the loss were happier and healthier 14 months out than those who could only speak of the deceased with sadness, fear, and anger. Everyone works through grief their own way and in their own time but it is important to recognize when the grieving process has stagnated and is not progressing toward acceptance in a healthy way. This may be a sign that professional help is needed.

When is grieving good/bad?

As we mentioned above grief is a very natural, human reaction to tragedy and necessary to our healing process. Grieving is healthy when we are able to use it to process our thoughts and emotions in a way that lets us heal and eventually reach a state of acceptance that lets us move on from the tragedy. This does not mean forgetting about the people we may have lost or the events that might have happened, but simply reaching a place emotionally that allows us to live our lives normally. Grief is unhealthy when we stop progressing through the stages and get stuck. This may happen in any one of the stages and you may even switch between a couple but are never able to reach the acceptance stage. This can happen for any number of reasons. Depression, isolation, and compounding life sources of stress and grief are just a few factors that could lead to obstacles in the grieving process. If this becomes the case, it is often best to seek professional help. Contacting a professional grief counselor is the best first step in assessing where you are in the grieving process and to determine if there are other areas of concern that need attention. To get in touch with a qualified counselor you can talk to your primary care doctor and they can often make a referral. You may also have direct lines to behavioral health benefits through your employer’s health plan or Employee Assistance Program. Check with your Human Resources Department if you are not sure.

How to grieve in a healthy way

As we said, there is no right or wrong way to grieve, but there is healthy and unhealthy grieving. In order to help yourself stay positive and productive in the healing process it is helpful to keep in mind:

  • You are not alone – Friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, church groups, and others you know socially can help. Think about whom you know that can support you.
  • Don’t let others tell you how you should feel – Only you know what’s right for you. What someone else went through when they dealt with grief may not be what you experience.
  • Let others know how they can help – What you need while navigating the grieving process may be different from moment to moment, day to day, and week to week. Let others know how your needs are changing.
  • Everyone’s grief is unique – There is no guide to tell you when to start and stop grieving or when to move from one stage of the process to the next. However, if you feel that your grief is getting worse and that you are not progressing, there is help. Contact a grief counselor or EAP to get in touch with help. If your EAP is MINES our contact information is below.

Of course, this is not a comprehensive list and as you navigate through the healing process you may find that certain things help and others don’t. Find what works best for you.

How to help others grieve

At this point, you should see that grief is personal and can be a sensitive topic to some people. It can be hard to find ways to talk about grief or offer help if you know someone is grieving or struggling with a loss. There are things you can do, however, that offer support without being intrusive or overbearing. Things you might try include:

  • Just being around – Sometimes there is nothing you can say that will make a person feel better. But just the fact that you are around can help. By being present and ready should they need something, the grieving person will feel supported even if you or they don’t know exactly what to say at the moment.
  • Food – When someone is grieving, sometimes food is the last thing on their mind. They may not feel up to cooking or going out to get something. Or they may be suffering from lack of appetite which is common during grief. Being handy with quick, nutritious, easy to eat items such as fruit, veggies, or simple dishes can be a great help. As well as helping them remember when they ate last and ensuring they are getting enough sustenance.
  • Support for decisions – When depressed, people’s decision-making ability can suffer. Try to help the griever put off big decisions until they are in a better state of mind. If necessary be there to act as a voice of reason and clear thought should important choices come up that need to be addressed.
  • Listening – If and when the grieving person is ready to open up and talk, be there to listen. Offer simple understanding and words of support. Try and keep them talking so that they can vent their emotions when they have a chance. Steer away from any judgment and instead offer encouragement as much as possible. Talking is healing.
  • Let them cry – Seeing our loved one’s cry can be painful, but don’t let that make you discourage them from doing so. Crying can be an important part of emotional processing. Instead, comfort them, offer them tissues, and even cry with them.

Be there for the person in need but allow them the chance to choose to open up to you on their own terms and in their own time. Trust that if you are there for them they will let you know when they need you. Intervene only if you sense that they are getting worse and not taking care of themselves in a way that will help them get better in time.

Moving on

If you are currently grieving, supporting someone who is, or have grieved in the past but have reached acceptance, continue to focus on and preserve the good memories you have. You may always feel the sting of the loss to some extent but as you remember your passed loved one, lost relationship, or even a lost pet, the pain will slowly disappear over time and the fond memories and times that made you laugh and smile will be all that remain. If you are struggling and having trouble reaching the point of acceptance and do not feel as if you are healing, please reach out to someone. Find a close friend or family member you can confide in, seek out a grief counselor to talk to, and again if your employer has an Employee Assistance Program use that resource to find the help you need. If you have MINES as your EAP, we are always here to talk 24/7, please reach out to us anytime at 1-800-873-7138.

 

To Your Wellbeing,

Nic Mckane

The MINES Team

 

Sources

Children’s Grief Awareness Day. (n.d.). Retrieved March 24, 2017, from https://www.childrensgriefawarenessday.org/cgad2/index.shtml

Konigsberg, R. D. (2011, March 14). Grief, Bereavement, Mourning Death of Spouse. Retrieved March 24, 2017, from http://www.aarp.org/relationships/grief-loss/info-03-2011/truth-about-grief.html

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Through Imagination and Exploration, Find Joy at Work

This March compiles three events that are all based on children and the importance of remembering to explore the world, use your imaginative side, and have fun. Children demonstrate all you need to know to have good work/life balance. From the re-imagined Disney® classic Beauty and the Beast coming out to celebrating Little Red Wagon Day, we are reminded that we can (and should) use the same lessons that we teach the younger generation. We’re also reminded of the importance of looking at problems from all sides and discovering new avenues to work through everything.

From the original to Disney®

This month Disney® released the reimagined Beauty and the Beast in a live-action retelling of a story that was originally written by a French novelist in the 1740s to audiences (http://bit.ly/2mNh3EU). Disney’s® 1991 version brought a variation of the original story that wowed audiences. Disney® captured the story of a beast, a magical castle with a magical rose, and the love between a father and daughter and transformed it into a story of love and exploration with plenty of imagination thrown in with talking furniture and accessories. However, even with adding some elements to the original story, Disney® honed in on life principles that can be applied to everyone. Both the original story and the 1991 movie focus on the love between a father and selfless child, and about giving up something precious to discover more. It is about looking beyond the veil and not accepting the status quo.

Takeaways from the new Beauty and the Beast

The new rendition that debuted this month focuses on a girl trying to find her place in the world and includes plenty of imagination and laughter. Bringing together elements from the original story, the Broadway musical, and the 1991 Disney version, this story centers on looking past first impressions and addressing the pain and hurt each character dealt with in the past. (Spoiler alert! The remainder of this paragraph contains minor spoilers for the new movie. Please skip to the next section if you wish to avoid this.) This version hones in on the explanation of why the rose is important to Belle to why the Beast reacts to everyone around him, along with closing the other characters’ stories. Belle discovers the truth of her past and the Beast realizes he is stuck in the past. Maurice is a grief-stricken father who struggles providing for his daughter and feeling guilty of his past actions. However, both Maurice and Belle allow their imagination to rule and accept magic which in turn allowed them to explore their past so they could succeed in their future. The movie concludes with all the characters being reunited with their loved ones and they all, well almost all, lived happily ever after.

Are you a Beast, Belle, or Maurice at work?

No matter which version you watch or read, these characters appear as a prince turned into a beast due to his arrogance and self-focus, a young lady who loves knowledge and sees past initial impressions, and a father who loves his daughter and will do anything to see her succeed. Each character makes good and bad choices along the adventure and it isn’t until they learn to get along that they can reverse the bad situation they are in.

Everyone has bad days and it can be hard to let go of the past. However, if you take the time to look deeper, you will see that not everything is the way it appears. When you are feeling frustrated by a co-worker’s actions, take the time to review the situation and check in with your co-worker to see if there is something going on in their lives that may have caused them to react other than you were expecting. Review your past and see what is holding you back from building relationships with your co-workers or seeking to improve your work-life balance. Each Beauty and the Beast character drives home another point about not accepting things at face value and using the talents of those around you.

Imagination is key to all ages

The imagination that Disney® brings to the screen helps provide a formula that makes the movie a success. Imagination is a great tool, whether it is with inventing something that can take you where you need to go or helping you find solutions to problems at work. We all go through changes at work and at home and struggle with how those changes affect us. Next time you are struggling, think outside the box to find solutions. You will be amazed how a little imagination will help you achieve your goal. If you struggle with staying engaged with your work or with your team, find a creative team-building activity to do or use your imagination to find new ways to stay engaged. Sometimes you need to explore new avenues to find joy in your job.

Exploration is essential

Let your imagination take you places so you can continue to succeed and grow both professionally and personally. Take time to explore and enjoy the world you live in – both at home and at work. Spending time in nature is known to help reduce anxiety and stress. Whether it is taking five minutes see what is outside your work building or taking the time to look at your company’s website, take the time to explore what new things you can find and appreciate. You never know what new possibilities you might find or new ideas that will come through exploration. When Belle showed the beauty that surrounded Beast’s castle, the Beast’s eyes were opened and his heart began to heal. Without exploring what can be, it is easy to become disillusioned with your job and lose that joy of working for a great company.

Take action

Using these key things, do something. Don’t sit and complain. Be like Belle’s dad, Maurice, and take action. Don’t sit back when you see something isn’t going right. Stand up for what is right even if you co-workers think you are “odd”.  Do something to make work even better! Does your company have a Wellness committee? Would this help you be more successful? Your “happily ever after” is possible only if you act to secure it.

From work to your community

March 30th celebrates Little Red Wagon Day and provides a chance to celebrate imagination and to encourage kids to get outside and be active.  Radio Flyer, which is perhaps one of the most well-known red wagon producers, states that “The majority of Americans have owned a red wagon, and a majority of those people will pass their wagon down to the next generation.” For almost 100 years, Radio Flyer has been creating warm memories that last a lifetime and support unstructured outdoor play.

Use this day to see how you can use your imagination and explore ways to help your community live up to the spirit of this day. Check out Radio Flyer’s website here for more information and suggestions on how you can do this. http://www.radioflyer.com/little-red-wagon-day/

 

To your wellbeing,

Raena Chatwin,

The MINES Team

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Psychology of Performance #60: Eating Disorder Awareness Week

3967455172_5b27628bae_bThere are many areas of life where body image and being thin are associated with performance. Certainly, more for women (a significantly higher percentage) than men, body image and eating disorders continue to be issues. Weight loss strategies, such as those used by individuals with eating disorders (anorexia, bulimia, body dysmorphic disorder, compulsive overeating, and others), can detract from performance, by adding undue suffering on a psychological level and negatively impacting so many areas of their lives, their families’ lives, their employers’ and co-workers’ lives.

I started doing research and psychotherapy with individuals with eating disorders in 1980 when there were six articles on the treatment of bulimia. Since that time, research on treatment has evolved significantly. Unfortunately, societal pressures have not changed much; the incidence level has not changed and countless people continue to suffer. Each generation gets to cope with a misogynistic and sexually oriented culture, filled with distorted imagines in the media and body shaming on social media. However, with weeks like eating disorder awareness week, we can bring these disorders to the forefront. The good news is that there is help. People do recover from eating disorders. If you know someone or have an eating disorder yourself, please either encourage them to seek help (they may not be ready so don’t get discouraged) or get help for yourself.

There are several national resources and helplines, including:

http://nedawareness.org/get-help

http://www.anad.org/get-help/

https://oa.org/

 

Have a day filled with loving kindness and compassion!

Bob

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., Chairman and Psychologist

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National Eating Disorder Awareness Week

For National Eating Disorder Awareness Week this year, we wanted to highlight a local community member and eating disorder awareness advocate, Amy Babich. Amy was gracious enough to provide us with her thoughts, experience, and resources to help others that may be struggling with an eating disorder. Amy’s insights are below:

This week is NEDA Week, a.k.a. National Eating Disorder Awareness Week, and every year I make it a priority to openly discuss this deadly disease that is often left in the dark. Unfortunately, it seems that unless a celebrity addresses the topic, or an extremely severe case finds its way to the media, eating disorders are rarely talked about. This makes them more stigmatized, underfunded, and a seemingly ‘less important’ mental health issue.  Also, the lack of discussion and education about eating disorders can make it much more difficult for those struggling to seek help.

The Facts

  • Anorexia nervosa has the highest overall mortality rate and the highest suicide rate of any psychiatric disorder.
  • Eating disorders have very low federal funding, totaling to only $28 million per year. *To give you an idea of how limited that amount of research money is, Alcoholism: 18 x more funding ($505 million), Schizophrenia: 13 x more funding ($352 million), and Depression: 12 x more funding ($328 million)
  • Every 62 minutes, at least one person dies from an eating disorder.
  • There are more eating disorders than just anorexia and bulimia; there is also EDNOS (eating disorder not otherwise specified), orthorexia, ARFID(avoidant restrictive food intake disorder), and diabulimia.
  • Only 1 in 10 people with an eating disorder will receive treatment in their lifetime.
  • Insurance companies’ often refuse coverage for eating disorder treatment. *Based on level of care needed, treatment costs between $500-$2,000 PER DAY.

My Own Battle

It took me many years, and numerous rounds of treatment, to get to where I am today: recovered from anorexia. I wanted to start by saying that so that people can realize if recovering from an eating disorder was as simple as “just eat your food,” it wouldn’t have taken 4+ years, 3 different facilities, and 8 admissions to do so. For me, my eating disorder was a slow suicide, and one of the many self-destructive behaviors I engaged in. It wasn’t about the food, and if you ever are to hear anyone talk about eating disorders, they’ll also tell you the same.

Recovery didn’t come until I really wanted it, which took much longer than the people who were by my side through it all had hoped, including myself.  What it really took for me to choose recovery was a very serious medical complication. In my last relapse, I had a seizure on my best friend’s floor at 2 a.m. The seizure was caused by refeeding syndrome, which is a life-threatening reaction that the body has when it is severely malnourished, then suddenly increases its food intake.  Unfortunately, it took me losing complete control over my body to want to take back control of my life; and as strange as it may sound, I am so grateful for that seizure, and truly don’t know if I’d be here now, had it not happened.

Because of the struggles I have endured, I am an advocate for eating disorders, mental health, the LGBTQ+ community, women, and children. I believe whole-heartedly that I am here on this earth to let people know that they are not alone.

To Those Struggling

There is help out there, and it’s okay to ask for it. That’s why things like eating disorder treatment facilities, programs, and specialized therapists exist. Know that you are worthy of love, happiness, and freedom and that you are not alone. Asking for support takes a great amount of strength, so please try not to look at it as a weakness. Recovery is possible, and this big, beautiful, chaotic mess of a world needs you.  Stay strong, and keep fighting.

Resources

NEDA Helpline: 1-800-931-2237

Suicide Prevention Hotline: 1-800-273-8255

Sexual Assault Hotline: 1-800-223-5001

National Domestic Violence Hotline: 1-800-799-7233

 

 

With wishes of happiness & health,

Amy Babich

Final thoughts from MINES

Eating disorders are serious. Please don’t wait to reach out if you need assistance. Employee Assistance Programs like MINES are here to provide resources and guidance to make sure you get the help you need. We are always here to talk. Please call us at 1-800-873-7138 if you or someone you care about is struggling with an eating disorder, depression, or any other work/life issues that you may need help with.

Sources:

https://www.aedweb.org/index.php/education/eating-disorder-information/eating-disorder-information-14

http://www.anad.org/get-information/about-eating-disorders/eating-disorders-statistics/

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Total Wellbeing: March 2017

 

 Total Wellbeing Icon

March 2017: Financial Wellbeing and Internet Safety

Get Involved!

Heart HandsWelcome to the March issue of TotalWellbeing! If you have been following TotalWellbeing you know that every month we focus on one of the 8 Dimensions of Wellbeing. This month we will discuss how your emotional wellbeing dictates how you work through change. Change is hard no matter how you look at it. Whether it is changes at work or in your personal life, it is hard to recalibrate and accept the changes that inevitably come. The state of your emotional wellbeing will determine how you are able to deal with these changes.

For a closer look at this month’s topic and helpful resources please check out The Path and The Connection below or check out our new infographic here!

Last month we hit many important topics on MINESblog. First, in the wake of the Super Bowl, our own Dr. Robert Mines examined the psychology behind professional athletes in high pressure situations. Next, we took a step back to look at the tradition of Groundhog’s Day and looked at ways you can avoid running from your own shadow. Finally, Dr. Robert Mines and our CIO Ryan Lucas took an in-depth look at the gap of care that exists between students and care providers, and how Employee Assistance Programs can help get students the care they need. Finally, we also had a friend and community member, Amy Babich share her insights on Eating Disorders as Feb. 27 – Mar. 3 is Eating Disorder Awareness Week.

As always, for more information please check out the links to the left or hit the share button to send us a message. To be notified when we post more resources and articles make sure to subscribe to MINESblog. See you next month!

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

The Path: from your Emotional Wellbeing to Managing change

Emotions and change go hand-in-hand. The changes you have experienced in your career and in your home life affect your emotional state and depending on your emotional state, change may be harder to accept or work through. When you lose the promotion you have been waiting for, you may react negatively and feel like you failed yourself, especially if you are not able to find a way to stay positive and you do not have the emotional support needed to survive this type of change. When you decide to change your current behaviors and work on those New Year Resolutions, how you look at the failure or success of those resolutions is determined by your emotional wellbeing. The key is to find ways to stay emotionally healthy so you can work through these changes and thrive no matter what is thrown your way. Make sure you take time for yourself and work on your emotional resilience, so that when you come across these changes, regardless if they are changes you can control or not, you can work through them successfully. Get perspective about managing change. Take the time to talk to someone who has dealt with change in their life and see how they reacted to that change and what you can learn from them.  Those who have dealt with daily changes that they have no control over have very different, but effective, ways to handle change and their emotional wellbeing related to those changes.

Check out these resources about how to best manage changes in your life.

Tips for you:

Choose one change at a time and think SMART when you decide how you want to work on that change. Choose a goal that is Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely and accept that it is ok to slip up on occasion. Check out this webinar for more about change.

The Connection: Get Involved

Wellbeing does not simply start and stop at the individual. Our community is connected to each of our own individual wellbeing in a huge way. When we are well we can better function within our community.  We can help our fellow humans thrive, and in turn, when our community is prospering, it helps each of us reach our goals as individuals. So why not help our community so we can all thrive together? Each month we will strive to bring you resources that can help you enhance the wellbeing of those around you or get involved with important causes.

Community Wellbeing Resources:

This month check out this link to find ways to help foster change in others’ lives. Click here to learn more

Don’t forget that PersonalAdvantage, an online benefit available through MINES, has tons of great resources for all the dimensions of wellbeing that we discuss here, along with some articles and assistance for Change Management. If you haven’t checked it out yet, or want to see what resources they have for this month’s topic check out the link below. You’ll need your company login, so make sure to get that from your employer or email us and we’ll be happy to provide that to you.

Check Out PersonalAdvantage Here!

 If you or a member of your household needs assistance or guidance on any of these wellbeing topics, please call MINES & Associates, your EAP, today for free, confidential, 24/7 assistance at 800.873.7138.
 mines_logo_blue MINES does not warrant the materials (Audio, Video, Text, Applications, or any other form of media or links) included in this communication have any connection to MINES & Associates, nor does MINES seek to endorse any entity by including these materials in this communication.  MINES accepts no liability for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided herein, nor any additional content that may be made available through any third-party site. We found them helpful, and hope you do too!

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From ‘a dangerous wait’ to ‘weightless service’

Introduction

Student Assistance Programs (SAP) go a long way in addressing the concerns mentioned in Meg Bryant’s excellent article: Survey: Colleges struggling to meet mental health needs of students based on a recent report from STAT titled “A dangerous wait: Colleges can’t meet soaring student needs for mental health care.” Ms. Bryant brought up many issues: access, limited sessions, stigma concerns inadvertently setting students up not to be seen in a timely manner, high demand for service and limited resources, and finally the role telehealth may play in the future.

A growing problem

While the needs of university students have been recognized and provided for for years, the increased demand with a decreased stigma in accessing services and asking for help has led to a need for increased capacity for these services. There are many opportunities that moving to a larger, external network could afford.

Patient ratios

Many of the schools highlighted in the report had student:provider ratios that were quite high – ranging from the low end of 400:1 to over 1,500:1. While provider ratio alone does not determine quality or even capacity, it’s an indicator of potential. Given the average university size of approximately 4,200 students, MINES’ average student to provider ratio would be under 5:1.

Additionally, this breadth of coverage means increased specialization available to those students. MINES’ network can be searched based on type of provider, populations they work with, modalities of treatment, languages that they speak, and much more. This results in a better match in the provider/patient relationship from the beginning.

Fall-over capacity

Utilizing an external network also creates the ability to respond to increased demand on the university counseling staff for times when there is increased stress or pressure on the students, for example when there is a critical incident or even during midterms or finals when the added stress of accomplishment for the students may increase.

Integrated care

Using an external network also adds to capacity and expertise for referral after initial services are completed when a short-term therapy model will not resolve the issue the student is dealing with. Because MINES works with groups all across the country, with different health plans in place, our Case Management staff is adept at making referrals into those plans.

Student Health Plans

For some students with a university health plan, MINES can work directly with the plan to provide integrated care, supporting the other providers on the medical side of the plan with coordinated care planning and treatment adherence support.

ACA provisions

Following the passage of the Affordable Care Act in 2009, coverage for children under their parent’s plan up to age 26 means that a student’s health plan may be more difficult to access given a student’s school of choice when that school is in a different state from where their parent is employed. With MINES national presence, we can work with these students to help them access those services on their behalf.

The SAP model

Student Assistance Programs are based on an Employee Assistance Program (EAP) platform. These programs are cost effective; however, they do have session limits similar to college/university counseling center programs. The advantage of a SAP program is that it can be a service extender of the counseling center under ideal budget circumstances. A SAP could replace a campus-based counseling center similar to EAPs replacing internal company programs. Why would this happen? It can bring greater access to the students with lower costs for the organization. Additional services are also provided in a SAP that many counseling centers do not provide such as legal/financial services, 24/7 access, sessions offered outside regular counseling center hours, and online access to resources. Telehealth services are also available in a SAP, further improving access to care. Most SAPs built on an EAP platform have much lower counselor to student population ratios. This allows for faster access for most of the issues or concerns for which a student may be calling. Finally, as the student does not have to go to the counseling center for the appointment, where other students may see them and make inferences as to their mental health, they can go to a therapist or counselor off campus and have greater privacy. This reduces the stigma reluctance some students may have.

Cost as a barrier to entry

While many of the programs listed in the report have some number of sessions covered for the students, most of them were limited to only a very limited number of sessions being free with a nominal cost thereafter. Even such a nominal cost, however, could be a barrier to continued treatment, especially as the costs of access to higher education continue to outpace the cost of living here in the United States.

Engaged students starts with engaged clients

MINES believes that, as is true for engaged employees, engaged students need to be engaged clients. This means approaching all of the elements to engaging in total wellbeing. We use the SAMHSA model for approaching this subject and even coordinate our regular communications with our employers around this model.

Using this as a starting point, we can tailor our interactions with individuals to help increase their capacity for creating healthier lives from each of these perspectives. With a holistic approach to therapy and coaching, we can work with an individual on many layers, increasing their health and wellbeing. This also allows us to begin engaging with an individual from one element and build trust to engage in other elements.

Reaching millennials

Millennials now make up the majority of students in higher learning institutions and there is a different set of expectations in working with this generation compared to generations before. Part of that change has to do with the use of technology, but what might be even more important than the technology itself is the way that technology can be applied to change entire models. There are examples of national suicide lines using texting to successfully intervene. Of course there are clinical limitations that need to be understood before SAP programs incorporate them to improve access.

Telehealth

Telehealth (which comes in many forms from texting a dedicated provider, requesting a prescription, or even videoconferencing!) has taken a major leap in recent years with legislative changes from state-to-state and technology companies attempting to pick up the slack in the emerging market. Millennials, in particular, want these solutions to improve communications with providers, for both qualitative and quantitative reasons.

New models

And telehealth also means new opportunities to change the traditional treatment model. With improved security (especially identity management) and mobile data capacity, these telehealth solutions could result in a greater reliance on asynchronous communications with students. Relying on higher frequency of communication with lower time needs per communication, the traditional 50-minute model no longer has to be the default for treatment, allowing the provider to engage in treatment at episodic highs and without needing to rely on waiting for the next appointment.

Further, while most mental health centers provide access to counseling, a Student Assistance Program can also have an expanded role for those students including financial coaching and legal assistance, which are typically included in an Employee Assistance Program. This is an even broader set of problem resolution options that could be made available to students.

Why we think we can help

We have a robust psychological services platform that could be applied to Student Assistance Programs. Furthermore, we already serve many college students through our Employee Assistance Programs and managed mental healthcare services under their parent’s benefits. By working directly with universities, MINES is well-positioned to provide more robust support to these mental health centers in serving their populations.

Want to learn more?

Reach out to us to discuss how MINES can help support your organization by calling 800.873.7138 or emailing us at info@minesandassociates.com

To your health,

Ryan Lucas
CIO

Robert Mines, Ph.D.
Chairman & Psychologist

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Why the Groundhog is a Pessimist: Or How I Learned to Stop Hiding from My Shadow

groundhog-629863_960_720Last week it was that peculiar time of year where we watch a furry little rodent, made famous by the infamous Bill Murray movie, pop out and either rejoice in the delight of incoming spring or run back into the ground prepping for 6 more weeks of impending winter, all based on whether or not it sees its shadow. Well, I don’t know about you but that raises some questions for me. First, why retreat from the winter weather, doesn’t the groundhog ever go skiing? Couldn’t the groundhog just have come out facing the other way? And lastly, why does the groundhog have to be so pessimistic? Before we look at some of these a bit deeper let’s discuss why this is relevant in the first place. I think that there is a little groundhog in all of us and when things get a bit gloomy they will pop their heads out and react in either a positive or negative manner. Whether we run in fear of 6 more weeks of winter or come out and face the world with optimism is up to us.

What is the groundhog scared of anyway?

Of course by now you’ve realized that we are talking about more than just a groundhog’s shadow here. The shadow really is anything that might represent unknown situations, new paths in life, or adverse situations that we may be worried about that may be stressful or undesirable like a lost job or medical procedure. Like the winter months, uncertainties and uncontrollable circumstances are unavoidable. These are the shadows in our lives and how we learn to think of these shadows can make all the difference when it comes to maintaining a positive mindset and continuing on with our lives productively and without causing ourselves undue stress. While it is natural to face challenging situations with caution, you must not let the need to be careful and thoughtful lead to fear and anxiety. Instead it is important to focus on what you can control and let logic, mindfulness, and confidence guide your thoughts because by letting go of what you can’t control you give yourself less to worry about that can’t be helped while more energy is spent on matters you can actually impact in a positive way.

Look at the bright side

Being optimistic is all about maintaining focus on the good in our lives while letting go of the bad. This sounds simple but as most of us can agree this can sometimes be very difficult to achieve. With the right tools and a little practice it is totally possible. Your mental state and perception can have a profound effect on how you feel physically and emotionally – affecting things like how much energy you have, how motivated you are to do physical or strenuous tasks, or how much anxiety or grief a negative interaction can create. To combat this, it is helpful to set your expectations in a positive manner by imagining positive outcomes rather than always feeling the worst will happen. Try using positive self-talk to promote good thoughts that bolster your confidence. This includes internal phrases such as “I can do it,” “This will work,” and “Everything will be okay.” These may sound cliché but it is important that we have these positive expressions in our repertoire to act as a counter to the negative thoughts that can creep into our minds in order to give you a way to balance out the nature of thoughts that may be passing through your mind at any given moment.

If anxiety, worry, or fear are a common occurrence you can help break your mind of these habits with practice. Working on being proactively mindful throughout the day can help with this. There are many ways to do this and it is important to figure out what works best for you because there is no “one size fits all” when it comes to positive thinking.

To get you started here are a few ideas. Practice meditation or just some mindful breathing exercises for a temporary respite from your day. Find quiet spots where you can spend a moment or two to unwind and take a few deep breaths during your routine. If you have more time you can schedule in regular meditative or mindfulness practice. While tough at first, meditation becomes easier. For starters you can try a mindful breathing exercise. To do this simply close your eyes and breathe in and out slowly making each inhalation and exhalation last 4-6 seconds. Count the seconds in your head or out loud if it helps and make sure to focus on each breath as it flows in and out. You will slow your heart rate and begin to relax. I recommend doing this for at least a minute but go for as long as you want as the longer you practice this the more at rest you will feel. This is a great way to wind down at night before you go to sleep as well.

This next one is a tip that a counselor once recommended to stop negative thoughts, or all thoughts really, if you are feeling overwhelmed. This may sound odd but what you do is dunk your face or even your entire head in cold water. What this does is provide a shock to your system that acts as a thought interruption and force some reallocation of blood flow. This will help distract your mind from negative thoughts you may be dwelling on and reset your fight or flight response. Again this one may sound uncomfortable, but trust me, when you do it your anxiety will definitely feel less overbearing.

Here at MINES there is an exercise that we ask people to do when we are teaching our clients about optimism and positive thinking. First thing you need to do is find a partner as you will need two or more people. Next, think of a challenging situation or instance that would normally trigger pessimistic thoughts or negative thinking. Share your thoughts, pessimism, and reasons behind them to your partner(s). Your partner(s) then challenge your beliefs or thoughts about the situation. This exercise is designed to show you how different perspectives can be had around the same situation and to challenge the basis of negative thinking. Another benefit of this group dynamic is that you get to share your worries and thoughts, more often than not finding that others share similar feelings. This creates a sense that you are not alone which helps create another source of comfort.

Don’t Run from Your Own Shadow

It’s important to understand that a lot of our negative assumptions are rooted in habit, otherwise it’s easy to place blame on yourself which is counterproductive. And just like any bad habit it will take some determination, mindfulness, and patience to break. Always keep in mind that you are not alone in your efforts. Reach out to friends, family, and co-workers and help each other challenge negative thinking. We hope that some of the tips and techniques that we talked about here will help you stay positive, and if your employer has an EAP like MINES don’t hesitate to call them up and talk to someone that can help you with your goals. Continue to practice challenging your negative thoughts and maintaining an optimistic outlook and we are confident that regardless that the groundhog saw their shadow this year you certainly won’t be the one to hide from 6 more weeks of winter.

 

To Your Wellbeing,

Nic Mckane

The MINES Team

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Psychology of Performance #59: Brady, Belichick, White, and the Greatest Comeback in Super Bowl History

Greatest Comeback in Super Bowl History!

Super Bowl 51 saw all time win records for Tom Brady (including an All Time MVP record) and Bill Belichick while James White set a record for receptions and touchdowns. How did all this happen? The psychology behind it may never be known, however, there is nothing like the laboratory of professional sports to get some hints and ideas.

As you may know by now, the Patriots overcame the largest deficit in Super Bowl history to set the records mentioned above. There were a number of psychology factors worth mentioning.

Group Dynamics and Managing Adversity

The psychology of group dynamics and managing adversity along with individual perceptions of adversity have to be considered. During the first half the Patriots were dominated by the Falcons on both offense and defense. In addition, the Patriots made errors in performance on their own. In the second half there was a major momentum change. What happened? Football is an interesting sport as the teams execute a play, regroup, and repeat. The Patriots appeared to be focused, one play at a time, not dwelling on the last play or earlier plays that did not go well. Brady never appeared to be rattled or distressed and neither did his teammates. Focus appeared to lead to better execution and communication in second half. Even when odd things such as a missed extra point occurred, the team did not let up.

Situational opportunities are part of resilience and subsequent performance. There were passes caught (Edelman with three Falcon defensive backs around him) that were the result of being in the right place, with the right preparation and skills, at the right time. A half-second earlier or later and it would have been incomplete rather than sustaining the drive. Later, a holding call after a sack on the Falcons’ quarterback took the Falcons out of field goal range. Sometimes being in the right place at the right time makes all the difference.

Preparation and Performance

Brady reported in an interview earlier this year that his self-preparation prior to the season has allowed him to perform better physically than five years earlier. At 39, one could argue Brady is in the best shape of his career. Psychologically, Brady had significant adversity and outside distractions. Any one of the setbacks suffered by the Patriots could have affected his focus and his performance. He had personal distractions as well including his mother who has been ill all season. The Super Bowl was the first game she came to all season. Additionally, he overcame the adversity of his 4 game suspension as did his team (going 3 and 1 while he was out). Brady has made adversity his personal challenge starting in college as a backup, then again when he entered the NFL as a backup. He reportedly approaches every practice doing his best assuming he could be beat out on any given day. Super Bowl Sunday he appeared centered and calm regardless of what was going on in the game. Was experience a factor? Again, it appeared to be so once the momentum started to change. The team did not give up. Atlanta appeared to tighten up to a degree. Mistakes were costly to both teams and Atlanta seemed unable to recover, while New England just kept moving past their own – adapting as the game went on.

Leadership

Belichick has earned the accolade of “greatest coach of all time.” What makes him such a great coach? The speculation will continue for a long time. He is focused on his job, and he demands high levels of performance from everyone in his organization. The team handrail this year was “do your job.” He has developed his system and his players each have their role to play. He holds people accountable.

It may take a while for accounts of what happened during half time, what adjustments were made, what was seen by the coaching staff, and what the players did regarding their own individual performance psychology factors, for us to have a better understanding of this unprecedented performance. Regardless of who anyone rooted for, there are significant psychology of performance lessons in this historic game. We can all look forward to learning what they may be over the next few months!

 

 

Have a day filled with loving kindness and compassion,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D., Chairman and Psychologist

 

List of records set or tied in Super Bowl LI between New England Patriots and Atlanta Falcons: http://dpo.st/2kLBfJN

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Total Wellbeing: February 2017

 

 Total Wellbeing Icon

February 2017: Financial Wellbeing and Internet Safety

Get Involved!

8-ux-pitfalls-to-avoid-in-mobile-app-designWelcome to the February issue of TotalWellbeing! If you have been following TotalWellbeing you know that every month we focus on one of the 8 Dimensions of Wellbeing. This month we will review how internet safety can affect your financial wellbeing. These two topics intersect and influence each other on many levels and it is important to occasionally review where they may conflict and what you can do to protect yourself. For a closer look at this month’s topic and helpful resources please check out The Path and The Connection below.

Speaking of internet safety, did you know last Saturday was National Data Privacy Day? If you have been keeping an eye on MINESblog you may have seen our own ideas around data security and the importance of being diligent with your information written by MINES’ own security officer and CIO, Ryan Lucas.

As always, for more information please check out the links to the left or hit the share button to send us a message, and to be notified when we post more resources and articles make sure to subscribe to MINESblog. See you next month!

To your total wellbeing,

The MINES Team

The Path: How Internet Safety Influences Your Financial Wellbeing

Whether you do all your shopping online, are a nominal internet user, or are a parent, internet safety is important. Not only is it important to take note of when you give out your personal information, it is important to take time to reflect how you spend your money online. With less and less people balancing a checkbook, it has become much easier to lose track of where your money is going and to catch mistakes when they happen. Whether you allow things to be paid automatically online or you allow websites that save your credit card information, it has become easier to spend more money without realizing it. You also need to be careful about what websites you allow to have your information so that your information isn’t stolen, which can severely impact your financial wellbeing. If you are a parent, you need to be aware of how your child is spending their time online and how much information they are sharing. A teenager may not think it is a big deal to share that your family is leaving town but if the wrong person finds out, you may be robbed while you are gone.

There is good news! By using websites and Wifi networks that are secured, it is possible to have stronger and safer financial wellbeing. By having quick access to your financial statements, being able to autopay or receive instant reminders to pay your bills, you can feel more confident in your financial status and reduce stress when it comes to trying to keep track of your financial wellbeing. If you are confident in your internet safety and do everything you can to protect yourself, the financial freedom the internet provides you is exhilarating and freeing.

 Check out these resources to help you hone your internet safety skills.

Tips for you:

Did you know the “S” in the URL stands for secure? Next time you are online, look at the URL (web address) to see if the site you are visiting is secured before you put your personal information in. You will know the URL is secured if the URL starts with “https://”. If the site you are visiting just says “http://” it is not a secured site and you should be careful about giving any personal information on there.

The Connection: Get Involved

Wellbeing does not simply start and stop at the individual. Our community is connected to each of our own individual wellbeing in a huge way. When we are well we can better function within our community.  We can help our fellow humans thrive, and in turn, when our community is prospering, it helps each of us reach our goals as individuals. So why not help our community so we can all thrive together? Each month we will strive to bring you resources that can help you enhance the wellbeing of those around you or get involved with important causes.

Community Wellbeing Resources:

This month, think about helping out a third world entrepreneur start their business by providing capital for their business even if it is a small amount. Just remember to be careful anytime you give your financial information out over the internet. Check out this website and look for ways you can help in your community https://www.lendwithcare.org/.

Don’t forget that PersonalAdvantage, your online benefit through MINES, has tons of great resources for all the dimensions of wellbeing that we discuss here, along with some articles and assistance for Retirement Planning. If you haven’t checked it out yet, or want to see what resources they have for this month’s topic check out the link below. You’ll need your company login, so make sure to get that from your employer or email us and we’ll be happy to provide that to you.

Check Out PersonalAdvantage Here!

 If you or a member of your household needs assistance or guidance on any of these wellbeing topics, please call MINES & Associates, your EAP, today for free, confidential, 24/7 assistance at 800.873.7138.
 mines_logo_blue MINES does not warrant the materials (Audio, Video, Text, Applications, or any other form of media or links) included in this communication have any connection to MINES & Associates, nor does MINES seek to endorse any entity by including these materials in this communication.  MINES accepts no liability for the consequences of any actions taken on the basis of the information provided herein, nor any additional content that may be made available through any third-party site. We found them helpful, and hope you do too!

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On #DataPrivacy Day

Introduction

On Data Privacy Day, I thought it might be helpful to write a little bit regarding the nature of privacy in the healthcare world. Many people know that there are laws like HIPAA that are in place to protect patients from their personal health information being breached. And while there are stories regularly about breaches, the amount of effort that goes into protecting health information is immense. Maybe by providing some insight into that world you, as a reader or one of our clients, might gain a greater sense of confidence or understand ways in which you can also protect yourself.

It’s more than just privacy

In order to manage the private information of all of our clients across the United States, MINES employs the use of an electronic health record system that stores and protects access to information, even from within our own company. We use layers of access and control as well as tracking our own users within the system. This also means that we have to employ some pretty strict control mechanisms within the system to ensure that security of data is maintained.

But, there are many times when we need to exchange information with other groups on your behalf. An example of this is providing an authorization to the provider that they are pre-approved to receive payment for services. To do so, many providers elect to receive this information via email, in which case the provider is sent a notification email where they are prompted to log into a secure website where that information can be accessed. We have structured our agreements with these providers to protect that information as best we can from the very beginning.

Part of the key to good data privacy policy that MINES employs is to only ask for information that is needed to provision services. For most of our clients, especially on the Employee Assistance side of our services, we ask for the last four digits of your social security number. This is used to help verify identity for later discussions with you. But the reason we don’t ask for your full social security number is because it creates a situation where we are storing information that isn’t critical to our needs to serve you.

Identity and security

As mentioned above, a critical element to protecting your privacy is tied to identity. Without going too deep into how this is handled across the healthcare industry, identifying an individual is usually done at MINES by their date of birth and last four digits of their social security number. From there, all internal work is handled by using a unique identifier, called a Patient ID. This allows us to be able to reference information from the central patient database without using your name, or other personally-identifiable information; decreasing the likelihood of erroneously sharing your data.

A note on confidentiality

Your information is never shared with your employer except in the case of Work Performance Referral in which case you will be asked to complete a letter explicitly allowing us to communicate with your employer regarding your progress. Your information is also confidential from disclosure to other employees at your company or anyone else for that matter without your permission. For example, even your spouse or family member cannot receive information about you from our staff without your permission. The exception to this is when information that we receive poses a threat to others, in which case we may be legally required to act.

Ways you can protect yourself

This isn’t meant to be alarmist, or to suggest that you shouldn’t provide as much information as you can with MINES. We implement a lot of control to make sure that the information that you provide to us is protected. However, below are a few things that you can do to help protect yourself.

Email

If you elect to receive email from us – for example, to communicate about an upcoming session, or request additional information – you should know that email alone is not secure. While most information that would be sent isn’t highly sensitive, it’s certainly something to be aware of. Regarding corporate email, specifically, most information that flows through corporate email servers is logged, stored, and likely accessible to IT professionals on some level at your organization.

Request a copy of the privacy notice

All providers should have this readily accessible to clients. By reading through the privacy notice, you can get a sense for how information about you can be used and what recourse you have in the case of a breach or needing a copy of your record on file with the provider. If you’d like to see our privacy policy, you can find that on our website, here.

Voicemail

As mentioned above, regarding the confidentiality of your information, when you call into MINES to receive access to services, the staff will ask if it is okay to leave voicemail. By providing a voice mailbox that is accessible only to you, we can make sure that your information is not being shared with other parties.

What’s on the horizon for us

In an effort to continue to meet the needs of privacy in an ever-more-connected world, MINES is engaged in a number of initiatives that will further protect and ease information exchange to simplify how we work with you. Soon, you will be able to create an online account with us where your history with MINES can be accessed. You and your provider will be able to use this platform to communicate with each other in a secured environment. You will be able to create your own account with us without calling in, so that if you want to request services but are concerned about someone overhearing the call, you can do so silently. And perhaps most exciting from my perspective, you will be able to create and access your account using a Facebook or Twitter account, allowing you to quickly authenticate your identity without pesky usernames and passwords!

We take security very seriously at MINES. We want you to have peace of mind when sharing information with us. If at any point in time you have questions, concerns, or suggestions regarding how we handle privacy and security, we welcome your insight. You can email or call us during regular business hours at info@minesandassociates.com or 800.873.7138.

To your health,

Ryan Lucas
Chief Information Officer
Security Officer
MINES & Associates

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