WEST SPRINGFIELD — How’s your mental health? It is estimated to be less than optimal for most adults in this country, meaning conditions like anxiety or depression may be impacting their behavior and health in negative ways.
The Center for Human Development is offering help in this area with a call-in program, “How Are You? We Want to Know,” on March 9, from 5 to 9 p.m., and March 11 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m, during which CHD’s licensed clinical professionals will be available to listen and to offer direction for what Kimberley A. Lee calls “either long-term or situational emotional distress.”
“Individuals can call for themselves, a friend or loved one and receive guidance, a helping hand to help them make an appointment or to make a connection with someone who can help. It’s free and could be absolutely life changing for those who call,” said Lee, CHD vice-president of development.
One of the participants who will be standing by to take phone calls is Janice L. Mitchell, senior clinical director who oversees all of the outpatient clinics in CHD’s clinical division.
A clinical social worker for two decades, Mitchell said, “What we will try to do for people who call in is – first and foremost – create a sense of safety.”
“When a person actually picks up the phone and calls for help we need to make them feel safe in doing so,” Mitchell said.
“Once that connection is made during the call-in, we will work to assess each situation and make viable recommendations from that point.”
She added someone should consider therapy “when the weight of a person’s concerns becomes too much for them to bear alone.” She also acknowledged that seeking help for mental health issues is not always an easy decision.
“Therapy is an act of great courage,” Mitchell said.
“To seek therapy is to seek change but to change requires a huge commitment to self. That requires bravery.”
She noted that therapists “do not tell their clients what to do,” but are there to listen.
“The art of therapy is to listen and find a place to begin the work,” Mitchell said.
“The work of a therapist is very subtle and that is where the change for the client will begin – in the subtlety of the intervention. It is a very gentle and slowly paced process. During this process the connection between the therapist and the client will be created and the work will begin.”
She added, “People are struggling to survive situations which may seem overwhelming.”
“We live in a very fast-paced world and everyone has a piece of that to deal with,” said Mitchell who runs CHD’s outpatient Behavioral Health Clinic in West Springfield, which serves surrounding areas.
“Whether we are looking at a family ravaged by addictions or by domestic violence or a myriad of other issues, such as gang violence, deaths due to that violence, unemployment or poverty, or just not being able to care for their families, it all comes down to getting the help needed to create change.”
She added that “the situations we see in the clinic are responses to those struggles and the courage to ask for help.”
Mitchell said she feels society, often through the media, allows for more open discussion of personal issues today and, as a result, people have come to “understand that others suffer and there is no real need to carry that burden alone.”
“There is nothing better than guiding someone through the therapeutic process and witnessing positive change,” said Mitchell of the work of her staff and the feedback received.
“The feedback is not as clear as a thank you, although that sometimes happens. Seeing confidence where there was none, seeing an affect where there was none, feeling the trust that builds between the people engaged in the therapeutic process is beyond words.”
She added, “Being a witness to the bravery inherent in change is humbling.”
“In my career, I have felt honored to have been a part of so many lives and to have been trusted in so many ways, I think, for me, all of that is feedback,” said Mitchell whose career included many years in private practice.
The number to call during CHD’s phone-in sessions to talk with a staff member is (844) CHD-HELP. Interested individuals may also call that number outside that time period to set up an appointment at one of CHD’s outpatient clinics which offer comprehensive mental health and addiction services.
Article appeared on MassLive, February 27, 2017. http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2017/02/area_agency_offers_free_call-ins_for_mental_health_check.html