To commemorate Mental Health Month, we asked clinicians a number of questions about mental health. Today, Sara Morrow, MSMFT, shares her reflections on mental health and offers helpful hints for working towards good mental health.
How do you define mental health?
My personal definition of mental health is the well-being of our emotional selves. Of course, this mental well-being can interact with out physical health (and vice versa!), and so it is hard to separate the two!
How are mental and physical health connected?
They are definitely linked! I work with a lot of anxiety and see this. It makes sense: if you’re always keyed up, tense, or on edge, this creates a feedback loop that the brain picks up on! This leads to a “vicious cycle” of body stress feeding into mental stress, which further exacerbates physical stress. And on and on it goes!
What are some tips for good mental health?
The “little” stuff matters: are you eating healthy, balanced meals throughout the day? Are you sleeping adequately? Exercising regularly? How much alcohol do you consume per week? Log all of these things for a week and see what the relationship is between these factors and mood.
I treat Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD). Many people feel shame around this disorder or think that everyone has “some” OCD to a certain extent, so why seek help? Doing a course of Exposure Response Prevention Therapy (ERP) can be very effective for OCD — and it is worth getting help for it as OCD can be very debilitating! I also encourage partners and family members to come into therapy to learn about the impact it can have on them and also how they can best handle and support their family member who is struggling with OCD. It impacts the whole system surrounding a person!
Sara Morrow, MSMFT, is a Clinical Program Fellow with The Family Institute in the Cognitive Behavior Therapies program. She has advanced specialized training in using Cognitive-Behavioral Therapy in the treatment of Depressive Disorders, Anxiety Disorders and Obsessive Compulsive Disorders (OCD).
The Family Institute offers affordable, effective mental health counseling for families, couples and individuals in Evanston, Chicago, Northbrook and Westchester. Learn more about our services on our website.