Posts Tagged Managed Behavioral Care

Mental Health Awareness: As Told by a New Dad, who is Mentally Unaware

I was told the birth of my daughter would have significant effects on my sleep schedule, social schedule, and life in general. One can never truly understand what that means until one is in that situation. Needless to say, our newborn baby, while we love her dearly, has caused my wife and I to change some things in our lives, if only temporarily. One of those things that have changed is our sleep (or lack of) schedule. I’ve always thought I was quite efficient at functioning with little to no sleep. Having certain sets of life circumstances… think long nights in Vegas, middle of the night hiking trips, and overnight flights across the globe… I always saw myself as someone who can manage without sleep, and still have the ability to be aware of not only my needs but other people’s as well. With this new experience of fatherhood, I’m learning that long nights in Vegas and long nights with a crying baby are two drastically different experiences. Being a new father has also made me realize how unaware I can be of my own mental health. I find myself thinking mostly about my new baby and my wife, and what their needs are, and by the time I realize what I’m needing, it’s too late and I’m in a crabby mood.

Thinking more about this made me realize how easy it is for us to lose track of what we’re needing, as well as other people’s mental health needs. As a therapist, I like to think that I am usually good at being aware of others’ needs, understanding what kind of support they are seeking, and encouraging them to pay attention to their mental health. However, when a big, life-changing event happens, or when we get wrapped up in our day to day lives, it’s easy to lose focus of what we may be lacking emotionally, and what we need to “fill up our tank”.

Because of how easy it has become for me to lose awareness, particularly on days after a very long sleepless night, I’ve started a new habit. Every day on my way home from work, after I exit on to a certain street, I use that time to check in with myself and ask myself how things are going. That exit is my signal to make myself aware of anything I may be needing.  As I work to cement this new habit into a daily ritual, I will also start to look at what strategies I can employ and how I can adjust my perspective so I won’t be burnt out or be frustrated at my darling daughter.

What is your “exit” on the way home from work? What is needed to keep your “tank” full? I encourage you to take a moment and make yourself aware of what you may be needing and how you’re doing. It doesn’t take much time and it sure beats waiting until you’re emotionally exhausted to realize you’re struggling. Once you find your “exit” and know what you need to do so you don’t get burnt out, take the necessary time to find what strategies you can employ and how you can make this a new habit.

Here are some identifiable warning signs that you be close to burning out to watch for along with some self-care tips.

Warning Signs

  • Increased illness
  • Loss of appetite
  • Your mind feels fuzzy
  • You feel stressed all the time, along with increased anxiety
  • Loss of enjoyment or pleasure for working, successful completion of projects, or even being with friends and family.
  • You are crabby, grouchy, or just not in a good mood
  • You forget appointments, due dates, and possibly even social events.
  • You have chronic fatigue

Self-Care Tips

  • Just say “No”- It is ok to decline a new project if you are feeling overwhelmed.
  • Take time to relax. If you need assistance with this try guided meditation, massage, or even yoga.
  • Make sure you take the time to fulfill all 8 areas of your wellbeing on a regular basis to help you overcome burnout and eliminate some stressors.
    • Physical- sleep, eat, exercise enough.
    • Spiritual- keep an eye on what you value and what your purpose is and make sure you do that activity often.
    • Intellectual- Find an activity that is interesting to do- something to stretch your imagination, creativity, and make you use your brain in a different way than you do every day.
    • Financial- Try using a financial calculator or meet with a financial advisor to discuss your personal situation. Talking about your finances and knowing what you need to accomplish to be financially stable is a good starting point to feeling less stressed, overwhelmed, and burnt out.
    • Social- Even if you don’t feel like you have time, make time to be with friends and family so they can support you in your goals, or babysit your child so you can be with your partner alone.
    • Emotional- Stay positive. Find something positive each day to focus on- your daughter is healthy, you have a job etc. If you struggle with this, look up how to reframe negative thoughts into positive ones.
    • Environmental- Your environment includes your social, natural outdoor, and built environment. Take time look at your surroundings and maybe check out that store or museum you always drive by because you are too busy.
    • Occupational- Take 5 minutes of your day to talk to a co-worker to learn from them, connect with them, and see how you can support each other at work.

We all have these areas that we need to fulfill in order to be successful, less stressed, and energized to face the next day and adventure. I hope with these tips and reminders, you can quickly recognize when and how to fill your “tank” and be able to handle late nights and responsibilities that we all have. And don’t forget to find that “exit” so you are reminded to take the time to do these things and be mentally aware.

As always if you need help with any of this or just need to talk, please use the resources that are available to you. If you have an Employee Assistance Program at work don’t hesitate to call them. If MINES is your EAP give us a call anytime. It’s free, confidential, and available 24 hours a day. You can reach us at 1-800-873-7138.

 

 

To Your Wellbeing,

James D. Redigan, LPC

The MINES Team

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Drug Abuse Prevention

I recently attended an annual dinner/forum for a local non-profit group which focused on Drug Abuse Prevention. We’ve all heard, or experienced first-hand, the devastating effects of drug abuse on family, employment, education, and just about every other facet of human life. What we don’t always hear about are the amazing efforts by some making an incredible impact on prevention. By taking small steps to identify risk factors, especially for our youth, we can have a tremendous impact. At the forum, one of the panelists made a great point about how parents and doctors don’t ask the difficult questions, and often times because they are afraid of the answer, or maybe they are suffering themselves. Why do our doctors have no problem asking us about our diets and suggesting cholesterol screenings, but very seldom ask us a simple question like, “How are you feeling emotionally?” or, “Does your child seem to be fitting in, and participating in a healthy way?” When we look at diabetes and heart disease compared to major depression or substance abuse disorders only a small fraction of those suffering from behavioral disorders are actually being diagnosed and treated compared with their medical counterparts.

As the prescription drug epidemic continues to rise we need to do more in the area of prevention. Here are some wonderful resources for prescription drug abuse prevention from our friends at Peer Assistance Services:

http://www.peerassistanceservices.org/prescription/drugabuse_materials.php

Ian Holtz,
Manager, Business Development

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Psychology of Performance – 35: Attachment to the Status Quo

In over 35 years of working with people on making change, improving their performance, and living more fully it is still interesting to me how many people persist in doing the same self-defeating actions over and over despite saying they want to improve, grow, or change for the better (whatever that means). So the following are four questions worth asking yourself if you want to improve your performance in some area of your life.

  1. Situation Questions – Tell me about your life? How is it working now?
  2. Problem Questions – Can we be specific about what is not working? Are you concerned about your current quality of performance?
  3. Implication Questions – What happens if you don’t do something different?
  4. Need-Payoff Questions – If you act and it improves – how does that impact your life?

Take time to reflect on these questions, write down your answers, and be curious about where this may take you. If you find yourself resisting the questions or process, look more deeply into that instead.

It’s up to you….as they say “no one can do your push-ups for you.”

Exchange love and happiness with everyone you meet today.

Bob
Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist

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Psychology of Performance – 34: Spark!

The book, Spark, by John J. Ratey, M.D. is the holy grail of research applications related to the interaction of exercise, neuroplasticity, and performance. The information on brain chemistry changes in the areas of learning, addictions, anxiety, depression, women’s issues, ADHD, and aging is priceless. The essence of the book is that the data indicated the brain is able to create new neuronal connections, grow new nerve cells throughout life, manage major psychological conditions, pain conditions, and learning is significantly enhanced through exercise. Ratey stated that “exercise is the single most powerful tool you have to optimize your brain function”- based on hundreds of research studies (p.245). Ratey suggested that the more fit you get (regardless of where you start), the “ more resilient your brain becomes and the better it functions both cognitively and psychologically. If you get your body in shape, your mind will follow” (p. 247).

How much is enough? Ratey stated that walking is enough. Low-intensity exercise is at 55 to 65% of maximum heart rate, moderate is 65-75% and high intensity is 75-90%. “The process of getting fit is all about building up your aerobic base” (p.251). Ratey goes on to discuss the role of strength training and flexibility as important elements of optimizing your brain chemistry and hormone levels.

What does this have to do with optimizing your performance at work and in all areas of your life? Everything! Get started today and stick with it.

Have a day filled with optimal brain chemistry,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist

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Psychology of Performance – 32: Nutrition, Depresssion, Alcoholism and Performance

I ran across some interesting information on the role of niacin, depression, and alcoholism in performance at www.doctoryourself.com. It is well documented that depression and/or alcoholism may negatively affect performance across just about any domain one can perform in. In the treatment of depression and alcoholism there are very effective cognitive-behavioral psychotherapy interventions. In addition, exercise and medication may add additional therapeutic effects. The role of nutrition may have further potentiating influence.

According to this site, Bill W., the founder of AA, was successfully treated for depression with 3,000 mg of niacin a day. Unfortunately, this information has not been widely discussed or published in the media. I would be interested to hear from any of you who have used niacin as a means of treating depression or alcoholism and what your results were. Please let us at MINES know.

Have a day filled with mindfulness,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist

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Psychology of Performance – 17 Mirror Neurons

In his book The Mindful Therapist, Dr. Dan Siegel discusses the role of mirror neurons in actions that have a perceived intention behind them. He stated that the mirror neurons function as a bridge between sensory input and motor output that allows us to mirror the behavior we see someone else enact (p.36).  Practically this means that when we see someone drinking from a glass, the mirror neurons become activated (firing off electrical currents called an action potential). If we were to drink from the same glass, the same specific neurons that fired when we saw someone else drinking also become activated. Dr. Siegel said “We see a behavior and get ready to imitate it,” (p.36).

The implications of this line of research are significant for performance. For example, if you watch a movie with alcohol being consumed and you are in recovery, now you have internal neuronal firing similar to drinking the alcohol yourself. Now you have to override the neuronal firing with “white-knuckling it,” or better yet with mindful awareness, or you will increase your probabilities of a relapse.

The upside of this research is that seeing others perform a behavior successfully – mentally rehearsing the image – would theoretically strengthen the neuronal firing and increase the probabilities that you will execute the behavior successfully. This concept is foundational to performance coaching. As coaches, therapists, and bosses we need to think about our current training techniques and how they incorporate watching, rehearsing, and doing as part of the sequence.

Have a day filled with Mindfulness,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.

CEO & Psychologist

MINES and Associates

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Psychology of Performance – 14 Negative Emotional States

When you allow your mind to focus on negative emotions does your performance improve or deteriorate?

Negative emotional states arise from expectation violations and then get potentiated by adding judgments about the negative feelings. Does “whipping yourself” help you improve? I had the opportunity to play in the DAD’s day (Dollars Against Diabetes) golf tournament sponsored by the Colorado Building Trades today. Golf is a wonderful laboratory in which there is a richness of self-talk, expectations, and emotional states  available to observe in myself and others. A feature of golf is that each shot actually is independent of all of the other shots one makes (much like many aspects of our work). As we let our self-talk build, it can decrease performance; but, the mind has a wonderful ability reset itself in the moment and let go of the thoughts about the previous shot. Practicing a mindfulness meditation technique of just observing the thoughts, feelings, and physical experiences without judging them and then visualizing the shot (performance) you want can go a long way in improving your performance.

This works in the rest of our life as well

It requires gently returning to this technique each time as the old thought habit patterns return with force until you learn to to redirect and focus on the outcome you want, not the outcome you do not want.

Have a day filled with mindfulness,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.

CEO & Psychologist

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Psychology of Performance – 12 Role and Performance

The social psychology of role has been extensively researched in psychology. Elliot Jacques in his book, Social Power and the CEO, discussed how role in organizations, clarity regarding accountability and authority, and cognitive complexity (Jacques refers to it as strata) account for higher performance more than other constructs such as personality, motivation and so forth. In addition, role is more predictive of behavior than the previously mentioned constructs.  Role is defined in Jacques’ business applications as front line producers, supervisors, managers, vice presidents and CEOs. Those with the budget authority are accountable to the level above them. When roles are collapsed (one person from a higher role also functioning in a lower role) performance can suffer in the organization due to a number of issues that arise such as “being spread too thin”, confusion from subordinates regarding which role, therefore, which authority their boss is operating from, which accountability should be assigned to the person by upper management, having title with no authority (e.g., being a director, an assistant vice president, assistant medical director, captain in a fire department (leads the team, no authority to deselect, veto a new hire, no budget). These problems result in inaction, misallocation of resources, consensus decision making (one of the worst ways to run a business as decisions are political, not informed per se for better business results), poor morale on the part of those who appear to have authority and do not, yet are still held accountable for results. There are many other problems in ill defined vertical accountability and authority. The senior staff in the MINES BizPsych division regularly consult on managerial hierarchy and organization design problems related to the above problems.

 The second area that is associated with numerous referrals relates to cross functional (dysfunctional) communication between departments related to accountability and authority. I will address this topic in my next blog.

Have a day filled with clarity in your role (s)!

Bob

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.

CEO & Psychologist

MINES and Associates

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Healthcare Consumption

Today, Sunday, will be a day for history regarding the Healthcare Reform Bill. Our elected officials are to vote on the bill later today. The good news, most people agree something needs to be done to provide all people with quality medical and behavioral health care. The bad news is that the Republicans and the Democrats can not see eye to eye on how to get it done. It is all going to come down to a very close vote this afternoon.

While this blog is not meant to pick sides or say who is right and who is wrong, it is simply meant to say that something has to be done sooner rather than later. I have friends and family on both sides of the debate and on both sides of the need.

The Parity Act went into effect this past January to help people with behavioral issues. It was designed to make sure that people received the same behavioral care insurance coverage as someone with a medical issue. MINES & Associates provides several different types of behavioral care programs through employee benefit plans. Our Managed Behavioral Care Program provides high quality service to employees and at typically reduced rates to the employer.

Behavioral health is a part of the health care reform bill.

Some statistics from AARP magazine note the following:
– 1% of our population accounts for 24% of medical costs
– 5% of our population accounts for 49% of medical costs
– 10% of our population accounts for 64% of medical costs
– 50% of our population accounts for 97% of medical costs
– The remaining 50% of the population,
is the healthiest group and accounts for just 3% of medical costs

In 2006, health care costs for the +/- 300 million people living in the US was a staggering $2.1 Trillion.

Many Americans are stressed and worried about healthcare and MINES & Associates can help. Through our EAP (Employee Assistance Program) available to employees by their employers we can help. Whether you feel depressed about a medical condition, are worried about loved ones with no insurances, feel anxiety about what changes may effect you, or need financial assistance our trained counselors and therapists can help. We encourage you to check with your HR department for the name and contacts information of your EAP provider. Whether it is MINES & Associates or someone else, just know there are people ready to help you.

MINES & Associates is a 30 year old national business psychology firm providing EAPS, Managed Behavioral Care, Prescription Drug cost reduction plans, and BizPsych consulting. If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to contact me. Allan Benson 720-979-8046
Have a good day!

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Psychology of Performance – 11 What happens when the C level is impaired?

As a business psychology firm, we get to consult and intervene with top performers in the C-Suite whose performance has dropped. There are many factors related to the performance drop. For this blog I am addressing those at the C level who are using enough alcohol that it affects their performance in overt and subtle ways. More than two drinks a day puts a person at risk for health and behavioral problems. It is not uncommon for one a C level person to get referred to us who is drinking 4-8 oz of alcohol per day and they report that they do not have a problem. How this shows up at work comes in the form of “fuzzy thinking”, just not as sharp as they used to be; missed deadlines (which at this level can be disasterous for the company; health markers deteriorting, which creates succession concerns; interpersonal behavior becomes unskillful or unwholesome such as kissing employees who do not want to be kissed, irritable outbursts, avoidance of difficult decisions; behavioral risks such as driving while under the influence, emabarrassing the organization at public functions. The costs to the company and the individual can be enormous. The good news is that the majority of alcoholics who are employed can get into treatment, return to sobriety and regain their previous level of performance. The motivation to get into recovery is provided by the employer requiring them to get help or lose their job. We have seen many successes. If you think you may fit any of these descriptions please contact your employee assistance program or if you do not have one, call us, we will help you get treatment.

Remember, I like you.

Bob

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.

CEO & Psychologist

Mines and Associates

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