Posts Tagged managed mental health care

Psychological Aspects of Financial Wellbeing

There are countless resources online that give advice on how to budget, how to get out of debt, how to save, how to invest, and so many more topics on money and finances. The interesting question, then, is why is money still such a difficult issue for people?  Why don’t we all feel financially confident and successful, all the time?

At first glance, money and wellbeing (one’s state of overall health, across all components of life) may not seem to go together. However, there are numerous psychological components associated with people and their financial wellbeing. The broad categories include brain chemistry, the behavioral economics of loss aversion, family views of money and what it means, and personal beliefs regarding money, its meaning and how to manage it. There are also many others that will not be addressed in this blog.

The neurochemical elements related to money have to do with brain changes related to spending money versus saving money. It is well documented that when people act on urges for immediate gratification (i.e., I need those shoes NOW!), they activate specific chemical “pleasure centers” in the brain, which can cause them to have stronger, more frequent urges to repeat the gratifying behavior.  Some people have a more difficult time delaying gratification than others.  This experience alone accounts for significant differences in people who are able to save: they are able to study instead of play, achieve higher levels in education and subsequently higher levels of income, which can be tied to money wellbeing later in life. People who routinely act on spending impulses often run up debt, have cash flow problems and subsequent stress related to these situations. Other neurochemistry-related conditions that negatively affect financial wellbeing include addiction (to food, drugs, alcohol, sex, gambling, etc.), which often includes diverting money to support those immediate gratification demands of addiction with corresponding money problems.

The area of behavioral economics includes a significant body of research related to factors of influence and people’s decisions about money and subsequent financial wellbeing. For example, most people would rather not lose money than take the risk of getting more money. This was played out again in the last recession, when people pulled their money out of a market that was dropping in prices, bonds paid virtually nothing. Yet people who had cash and were risk-aversive did not reinvest ended up missing out on 70-200% returns in stocks over the next few years. Those who thought bonds were safe ended up losing money against inflation, even as low as it was during that time. This clearly had an impact on financial wellbeing.

Family views about money are passed on in the form of modeling, messages and social influence. For example, a family that views money as a typically scarce resource that should be shared equally will expect family members who do succeed in attaining higher levels of financial wellbeing to subsidize them. This can create family stress if the individual who has the money disagrees with the others’ beliefs about it. There is case after case of lottery winners suddenly being contacted by family members they had not heard from in a while asking for money. There are also a number of lottery winners who went bankrupt. Some of the reasons for this can be traced to family views about money, a feeling or belief that they did not deserve it, not knowing how to manage it, and an inability to tolerate the social isolation of being in a different economic stratum than their extended family, among other elements.

Individual beliefs about money play an important role in financial wellbeing. How people think about money plays out in their everyday decisions. If one cannot see their “future self” clearly, they may have difficulty saving or participating in their employer’s 401K. Those who do have a clear view of their future self generally find it easier to save and invest systematically. Some people have “all or none” beliefs about money. If they have it, they spend all of it.  If they were going to save, and spent it instead, then they say they will start tomorrow. Unfortunately, tomorrow never comes because they repeat the same sequence the next time. This is in contrast to people who view money with more complexity, who are able to allocate money to budget categories, and value the practice of paying themselves first (saving) versus spending.

What can you do to build your awareness of the psychological aspects of financial wellbeing, and make them work in your favor?

  1. Spend time becoming aware of your thoughts and beliefs about money. Where did you learn them? How do they serve you? How do they positively or negatively impact your financial wellbeing?
  2. If your neurochemistry is part of your financial wellbeing in a negative way (addictions, impulse control) consider seeking professional help.
  3. Identify your family patterns related to money. How do they enhance or detract from your financial wellbeing? How do you feel about what you learned or did not learn from your family related to money?
  4. Become aware of external factors related to behavioral economics that lead to risk-aversive versus “irrationally exuberant” decisions.

To Your Wellbeing,

Mines, R.A., Stone, W.C., DeKeyser, H.E.


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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:

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.

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 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 – 15 Business Unit Effectiveness, Management and Leadership

How effective are your various business units?

What are your performance indicators?

Do each of your employees get held accountable for the results or just the managers?

All businesses and organizations get to address these questions and do their best to implement solutions depending on the answers. Elliot Jacques and Stephen Clement wrote an especially helpful book, Executive Leadership, which addresses these questions and many more. This posting will address a few of the many nuggets in their book.

One of the recurring BizPsych questions we get to answer and intervene on relates to individual differences in performance.  Jacques and Clement argue that role theory accounts for performance more than individual differences such as personality. They add that people perform to their role in very predictable ways. There is a significant amount of social psychology research to support this. Yet in many businesses, individual personality characteristics are looked at for explanatory hypotheses related to performance over clarity of role. Role clarity for a manager – from Jacques and Clements point of view – would include an adequate organizational design, an assumption that the manager has the knowledge, skills, commitment, values of the organization, and cognitive complexity to do the functions of the role. In the role of manager they would  have formal accountability for results and authority to allocate resources including staff, budget, and decision capability related to the complexity of the  tasks in their role. In addition, they have the interpersonal skills to develop a team of people who think they add value as a manager and are enthusiastic about accomplishing the goals of the business unit. The role clarity for a manager includes organizational support to veto an appointment (their manager has the authority to fire the employee if no other suitable position can be found), decide task assignment, decide personal effectiveness and merit awards, and decide to initiate removal from a role.

If the above conditions are satisfied, Jacques and Clements would predict a higher performance level from that business unit versus those that have role confusion. In our BizPsych division we encounter organization after organization that are addressing these topics in their design. If it comes to dealing with human performance, we are all in continuous recalibration mode.

Have a day filled with loving kindness,

Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.

CEO & Psychologist

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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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Effects of 2010 Gulf Oil Spill and Mental Health

We’ve begun to see editorials, videos and news stories about the effects of the Gulf Oil Spill on behavioral health.  Most recently I watched an expose about the effects of Exxon-Valdez on alcohol and substance abuse, increases in divorce rates and suicide attempts and how experts warned of the same fallout from the Gulf crisis.  Additionally, mental health experts are warning that the current crisis could dredge up unresolved feelings from Hurricane Katrina.   Here is a link to the story and video:

We wish the best to all those impacted by the gulf oil spill. 

Posted by Ian Holtz (Sales @ MINES and Associates)

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Psychology of Performance -13 Too Many Hats!

In BizPsych we often run into CEO’s, VP’s, Managers, and Supervisors who have performance problems related to “wearing too many hats”.  Elliot Jacques’ work described a variety of systems and organizational design problems that resulted in inefficiencies, interpersonal problems, bottlenecks, and other performance issues. When a person is “collapsed down” or in the weeds, which means they are below their role in a business, higher-priority strategic thinking, decisions or actions can be neglected or result in outright failure. Wearing multiple hats means that none of the roles assigned to that person will get full-time attention. In smaller businesses this may be a “sweat equity” issue, however, the results are still the same. I encourage you to look at your position, how many roles do you have and what is the performance result?

Have a day filled with Equanimity


Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.

CEO & Psychologist

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