Emotional mental health ‘self care’ called ‘priority regardless of gender’

Lindsay Morin Ciepiela, the Center for Human Development’s program director for health and wellness, stresses that “regardless of gender, people in general should be making issues of emotional mental health a priority.”

“It is becoming a more socially acceptable form of self-care,” Ciepiela said.

“There is an increased understanding that emotional health is a critical component of overall health, and that it is OK to talk socially and publicly about it.”

She noted that historically men were often reared to “minimize emotional wants or needs,” and statistics show that fewer men seek therapy for mental health issues despite the known benefits.

Recent data shows one in five adults in the country to have a mental health condition. The complexity of the issue was in the headlines recently with the self-inflicted deaths of designer Kate Spade and celebrity chef Anthony Bourdain.

“Proper attention to emotional wellness can save money and save lives — it supports the wellness of the individual, family, workplace and society as a whole,” Ciepiela said.

In picking a therapist, Ciepiela sees gender as “immaterial.”

“A good fit is unique to the person and not based on gender. In my experience, some men tend to be more comfortable with women talking about history of sexual abuse, for example,” she said.

“Therapists are not meant to be an individual’s friend, honest candor is important,” Ciepiela said.

She advises “self-advocacy if the connection doesn’t work.”

Ciepiela said a significant life event – kids leaving home, a job change, or even something happening in the world – can trigger negative feelings and behaviors and create the need for therapy.

She said the type of therapy should be “unique to the needs of the client,” but should be “evidence-based treatments specific to symptoms and presentations.”

“There are no broad strokes when it comes to therapy,” Ciepiela said.

“They should ask their clinician what is the treatment plan or modality targeting my symptoms.”

With job issues, Ciepiela said therapy can help an individual build self-confidence and develop better communication and planning skills as well as become aware of how feeling overwhelmed can lead to negative reactions.

“Therapy is a neutral place to develop a problem-solving plan, stress management techniques, relationship building,” Ciepiela said.

“If you’re experiencing good mental health, productivity increases.”

With relationship issues, Ciepiela said therapy may “facilitate insight into life-long relational patterns that affect current relationships.”

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