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5 Ways Spravato® is Different Than SSRIs

5 Ways Spravato® is Different Than Most Depression Medications

5 Ways Spravato® is Different Than SSRIs

Spravato® is a version of ketamine administered as a nasal spray. It is used to treat a type of depression called treatment-resistant depression. Treatment-resistant depression is a type of depression that is not improved by other medications. Spravato® is different from SSRIs, which are commonly prescribed for depression, in a few ways:


1. How it works:

Spravato® affects a different part of the brain called the glutamate system, and blocks certain receptors to help improve depression symptoms. Whereas SSRIs work by inhibiting the reuptake of serotonin changing the levels of this chemical in the brain.


The glutamate system and the SSRI system are different in terms of their role in the brain and how they affect depression. In simpler terms the glutamate system and the SSRI system are like two different teams in the brain that work in separate ways to help with depression. 


Glutamate plays a role in regulating mood. Glutamate is the most abundant neurotransmitter in the brain and is involved in various brain functions, including mood regulation, cognition, and learning. It acts as an excitatory neurotransmitter, meaning it helps facilitate the communication between nerve cells.On the other hand, the SSRI system focuses on a different brain chemical called serotonin. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter that also plays a role in regulating mood. SSRIs, which stands for selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, work by increasing the levels of serotonin in the brain. By preventing the reuptake of serotonin, SSRIs help to keep more of it available in the brain, which can improve mood and relieve depression symptoms.


Both systems have different ways of addressing depression, and medications like Spravato and SSRIs target these systems to help people with depression feel better.


2. How you take it:

Spravato® comes as a nasal spray that you use in your nose making the absorption very quick. SSRIs usually come as pills that you swallow.


The nasal spray does of Spravato® are administered after you’re seen by clinic or center staff, and a psychiatrist. From there the effect of the medication will start to set in, and the psychiatrist and medical staff will monitory and support the patient during the appointment which typically lasts 2 hours. Those taking Spravato® should have a ride home after their appointment, and have a restful sleep before driving.


3. When it’s used:

Spravato is used when other medicines, like SSRIs, haven’t worked for depression. SSRIs are often the first choice for treating depression.


Diagnosing treatment-resistant depression involves a full evaluation. Initially, depression is diagnosed based on symptoms and criteria, and some people find successful reduction of symptoms with medication, therapy, or both.  However for some, these first-line treatments don’t work. For those individuals, a psychiatrist will assess treatment history, including the types of medications, other interventions, and side effect. From there they may recommend a different type of treatment, like ketamine or Spravato®. 


4. How quickly it works:

Spravato® has rapid benefit with some patients experiencing improvement within hours or days. SSRIs usually require several weeks of continuous use for symptom relief.


The method of taking Spravato®, as a nasal spray, is one reason why patients’ feel effects rapidly. However, quicker symptom relief is also related to the way in which Spravato® connects with the brain. Researchers are also studying the ways in which Spravato® improves neuroplasticity, or the brain’s ability to change, which can accelerate the relief the symptoms of depression especially when offered in combination with therapy. 


5. Where it’s taken:

Spravato® is given in a clinic or center with mental health care experts on hand for you. In contrast, SSRIs can be taken at home  as a daily pill. 


Many patients find the presence of their mental health professionals very comforting. Since Spravato® is a version of ketamine some people may be hesitant to participate in treatment out concern about the psychedelic-like effects of the medication. However, the dosage and care of each patient is closely monitored by psychiatrists, nurses, and medical assistants who are familiar with Spravato® treatment enhancing both safety and efficacy. 


It’s important to know that Spravato has risks and side effects, so it should only be used with a doctor’s guidance. If you have questions about depression treatments, it’s best to talk to a doctor who can give you personalized advice based on your situation.

Connect with care, today!


Welcome Dr. Aneel Ursani, MD

Heading Welcomes Dr. Aneel Ursani, MD

Heading Welcomes Dr. Aneel Ursani, MD

Dr. Aneel Ursani has joined Heading as Chief Medical Officer. With his years of leadership and entrepreneurial experience Dr. Ursani brings drive for innovative medicine and a belief that nimble, mission-driven businesses will lead the way for better patient outcomes and a healthier mental outlook. 



In connecting with Dr. Ursani about this new position he shared his insights and excitement about the new role and what he hopes to accomplish both for Heading and how his plans for Heading align with his vision for improved psychiatric medicine.


Why did you choose Psychiatry?

I chose Psychiatry for many reasons, but I was drawn to it in medical school because of how different it was from the rest. Rarely in other specialties do you have the privilege of personally getting to know your patients at such a deep level. Patients share things they wouldn’t share with anyone else. You often see them in their hardest moments and can play a pivotal role in their recovery.


How does Psychiatric Medicine continue to inspire you?

The approach to treatment is comprehensive and every case is personalized. Solutions are not solely pharmacological but often involve troubleshooting deep rooted issues which have strong psychological and social components. That’s certainly challenging, but it’s rewarding when it leads to long lasting positive change in a person’s overall health and wellbeing.

What’s your vision for the future of mental health care?


We have a lot to address to improve mental health care in our country. We have gaps in access to care, long wait times, a provider shortage, concerns about affordability, as well as accountability. At Heading we are directly working to address all of these.  


How is a team approach, with psychiatrists and therapists working together, particularly beneficial?

Patients who have been struggling for a long time often need a combination approach, and they need providers who take their insurance. 

Offering more than one service line, with in-network providers, makes the care process easier for patients. Our goal at Heading is to treat patients with the same care and compassion we’d offer our family – with the right treatment combinations to ultimately achieve full remission. As a company who believes in value based care, having a combination of providers in one practice is a win for everyone involved – providers, payers, and most importantly, patients.


Ketamine therapy is growing in interest, as is interest in other psychedelic treatments. How do you think psychedelic treatments will be part of the mainstream psychiatric landscape in the future?

Ketamine therapy has a special place in the psychiatry treatment algorithm. 


There is a large subset of patients who are treatment resistant to traditional oral medications and talk therapy. Ketamine certainly has a huge impact on these patients and the fact that we are able to offer this and other interventional treatments to our patients is exciting. Having access to these treatments, and potentially the treatments that may be available in the future, makes me excited about how the field of psychiatry can continue to address gaps.


Interventional treatments like Spravato® and ketamine, and other psychedelic therapies which may become more available soon, are still considered fringe by many. How can Heading continue to pave the way for broader acceptance and access for those who need these services?


The opportunity lies particularly in the subjects of accountability and outcomes. 


We must be a data driven healthcare system anchored in measurement based care – we have to demonstrate that we can help patients heal. 

Our patients deserve the highest quality care, and that means access to the treatment that is right for them. Ketamine may not be the answer for everyone. SSRIs may not be the answer for everyone. Staying close to the science, and offering highly tailored care means better outcomes.  


At Heading we strive to provide them the right treatment through our variety of treatment offerings. This includes evaluating the appropriateness for traditional as well as cutting edge interventional treatments. 


Heading is a mental health practice offering virtual medication management, virtual therapy, and virtual nutritional therapy statewide in Texas, and in-person IM Ketamine and Spravato® therapies at their centers in Austin and Dallas-Fort Worth.  Heading treats adults dealing with a wide variety of mental health disorders and has a particular speciality supporting patients with long-standing and hard to treat disorders like treatment-resistant depression, major anxiety disorders, and PTSD. As he comes on board Dr. Ursani will lead the way in continuing to advance a team-approach for more holistic in-network care that keeps patients at the center of every treatment plan. 

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How to Prepare for Your First Psychiatry Appointment with Jen Smith, MSN, RN-BC

Getting Ready for Your First Psychiatry Appointment with Jen Smith, MSN, RN-BC

Getting Ready for Your First Psychiatry Appointment with Jen Smith, MSN, RN-BC

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. When it comes to mental health awareness an understanding of how to navigate psychiatry and therapy appointments can help with the anxiety that might come with starting a new treatment. With that in mind, we asked our provider team what they want people to know about getting mental health care.

In this article, we’ll be sharing tips from Jennifer Smith, a registered nurse and nurse educator at Heading Health with centers in Austin, and Dallas-Fort Worth, on how to prepare for your first psychiatry appointment.

Here are Jen’s tips before your first session:

Tip 1: “Feel free to write down a list of questions you want to ask your provider.”

It’s helpful to remember that your providers are on your team, and there to support you exactly as you are. While it can be nerve-wracking, there is nothing to fear.  Remember that you are doing something positive for yourself, and the agenda and goals you have for your health are important. Your Psychiatrist will be eager to learn more about you and your needs. 

Before your appointment, take some time to think about any questions you may have for your provider. Writing them down can help you remember them and ensure you get the answers you need. You might want to ask about your diagnosis, treatment options, medication side effects, treatment duration, follow-up appointments, and self-management strategies.

Tip 2: “You can take notes too! Write down notes from your provider.”

You might have a vision of a doctor with a clipboard, or a screen where they are writing down information in your chart.  Sure, that’s an important part of keeping track of your needs and information from your session.  But the provider isn’t the only one who is allowed to write down information. You can keep notes too.

During your appointment, your provider will likely discuss your symptoms, medical history, and treatment options with you. To help you remember important details and discussions, take notes. You can use a notebook or note-taking app on your phone. 

Some practices, like Heading Health, have digital communication systems that allow patients to ask questions of their provider through a secure patient portal. This can be helpful when you have questions between appointments. 

Tip 3: “There will be tasks including paperwork. Complete paperwork prior to the appointment, bring a list of medications and a summary of your health history.”

Before any medical appointment, even those that take place via telehealth, there is necessary intake paperwork that has to be filled out. This includes insurance information, consent, medical history, and sometimes it also includes information about appointment and care preferences.  Completing this paperwork prior to the appointment is best.

When it is time for the actual appointment bring a list of medications you’re currently taking and a summary of your health history. This information helps your provider understand your medical background and any medications you’re currently taking. 

Make sure to include the medication name, dosage, and frequency. Additionally, include any medical conditions you have, surgeries you’ve had, and allergies you have.

Tip 4: “Remember, it’s totally ok to be nervous.”

It’s natural to feel nervous before your appointment. After all, you’re discussing something personal and may not know what to expect. However, your provider is there to help you and provide the best possible care. If you’re feeling nervous, try taking deep breaths and remind yourself that you’re taking an important step towards improving your mental health. 

It might be helpful to tell a supportive friend or family member about how you’re feeling before and after your appointment. Or, keep a journal about your experience. It can be helpful to express feelings or anxieties about the process and may even be helpful to reflect on it later.

Tip 5: “Keep in mind that you know yourself better than anyone else. Be your own advocate.”

Remember that you know yourself better than anyone else. Speak up about your symptoms, ask questions, and share your concerns. If you’re not comfortable with a particular treatment option, let your provider know. If you feel like you’re not being heard, don’t be afraid to seek a second opinion. By advocating for yourself, you’ll ensure that you’re receiving the best possible care.

It’s also ok to speak up if something feels out of sync. Often times bringing up concerns about communication or fit during care can feel daunting. But, it’s important to speak up. Your care team wants to know if you feel like the work you are doing together is gelling, and also won’t be offended if it’s time to match you with a provider that might be a better fit either within the same practice or by referring out.

In summary, preparing for your first psychiatry appointment involves writing down your questions, taking notes, bringing a list of medications and health history, acknowledging that it’s normal to feel nervous, and being your own advocate. By following these tips, you can have a successful first appointment and start your journey towards better mental health. Remember, seeking mental health care is an important step towards taking care of yourself, and you deserve the best care possible.

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Improving Mom’s Mental Health Beyond Mother’s Day

Improving Moms Mental Health

Celebrating Moms on Mother’s Day and Beyond

Even in households with two working parents up to 78% of women report that they carry out the vast majority of invisible labor of raising children, the stress and burden of this is only intensified for single mothers. Research also suggests that women, including women who work full time, take on much more housework on average than their male counterparts.


This adds up to moms having more stress, and less time to engage in stress reduction activities.


Mother’s Day is a special occasion to celebrate the amazing moms in our lives, but it’s also a reminder of the challenges that come with motherhood. Moms often struggle with their mental health, with depression, anxiety, and stress being common issues. As a community, we can all do our part to support moms’ mental health, not just on Mother’s Day but every day.


In this blog post, we’ll explore some practical ways to support moms’ mental health, from normalizing mental health struggles to offering practical support, educating ourselves about mental health, and showing our appreciation for all that moms do.


Normalizing Mental Health Struggles and Encouraging Screenings

The first step in supporting moms’ mental health is to create a safe and supportive environment where they feel comfortable talking about their struggles. There’s still a lot of stigma attached to mental health issues, and many moms feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit that they’re struggling. By normalizing mental health struggles and creating a non-judgmental space, we can help moms feel more comfortable seeking help.


Meghan Murchison, a therapist in Austin who works at Heading feels that the medical and behavioral health communities can be doing more, and sooner, to make moms mental health a priority. She shares, “Physicians could be more proactive and do better in making sure that they partner with psychiatrists and partnering with therapists. Establish good relationships with behavioral health providers, and be ready to refer. Women should be getting help immediately, and preferably long before their 6 week postpartum checkup because finding a therapist after you’ve had a baby is probably the very last thing on your mind.” 


Many moms feel overwhelmed by the prospect of finding a therapist, especially if they’ve never been to therapy before. Maybe you know a friend who is struggling, or a woman in your own family. Proactively offering to help find someone, sharing the name of your own therapist, or even just talk through the search process can help minimize the stigma around seeking support.

Offering Practical Support: Helping Moms Prioritize Themselves

A poll of what moms really want for mother’s day reporting that 58% of moms simply want time for themselves – a small stat that speaks volumes. Many moms put their own needs last, but it’s essential to prioritize self-care for mental health and well-being. As friends and family, we can offer practical support to help moms make time for themselves and take care of their mental health.


Lead by Example

You can help create a safe and supportive environment where mental health is prioritize when you lead by example, especially in the workplace or in your social circle. Share your own experiences with mental health struggles, if you feel comfortable doing so. If you go to therapy and feel comfortable sharing that with a friend or colleague, perhaps mention that you see a therapist and that it’s been helpful. By being open and honest, you can encourage others to do the same.


Offer Your Time

One way to offer practical support is to take care of the kids for a few hours, so mom can have some time for self-care. Whether it’s a fitness class, a walk with friends, a massage, or just a few hours to read a book or take a nap, time for self-care is essential for mental health and well-being.


Normalizing Parental Leave for all Parents

A recent survey found that when women became parent’s their ability to care for themselves declined, while the opposite was true for men. When men became fathers they began to take better care of themselves.


A practical way to create more equity is to take a look at the language and expectations around parenthood – for example Parental Leave. Even the concept of Paternity leave or Parental Leave is relatively new in our culture. But the benefits of parity between parents when it comes to leave, right from the start, can have significant benefits on the welfare of children, mothers, and families. Reducing burnout for moms and primary caregivers, means that dads and co-caregivers need to have the ability to step up at home. Paternity and parental leave policies are benefits that make this more possible, as long as those benefits are taken. One New York Times article in 2020 noted that many many take only 10 days off when they welcome a new child to their family. The reasons vary from fear of job loss, or their parental leave not being fully paid or not paid at all. Shifting expectations around this is not in everyone’s control as most of us cannot dictate our employer’s leave policies. But those that do receive paternity leave and parental leave benefits taking them, and being open about taking them, can help shift the conversations around moms ‘leaving work’ to people prioritizing families.


Educating Ourselves: Understanding Mental Health and Its Impact on Moms

A survey of working moms found that nearly half, especially during the pandemic, were diagnosed with anxiety or depression.


Mental health is a complex issue, and understanding how it impacts moms specifically can be helpful in providing support. Many moms experience postpartum depression or anxiety, and these issues can continue long after the baby is born. By educating ourselves about these issues, we can better support the moms in our lives and help them access the resources they need.


One way to educate ourselves is to read up on mental health issues that impact moms specifically. Postpartum Support International is an excellent resource for information about postpartum depression and anxiety, and they have resources for friends and family members as well as moms.


Another way to educate ourselves is to ask questions and listen to moms’ experiences – this is especially true for those who are not mothers, and for men. Every mom’s experience with mental health is unique, and listening to their stories can help us understand what they’re going through and how we can support them better and appreciate them for all that they do for us.


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5 Tips for Managing Work Stress from Patricia Hernandez LCSW, Therapist in Austin, Texas

5 Tips to Reduce Work Stress with Patricia Hernandez, LCSW a Therapist at Heading in Austin, Texas

5 Tips to Reduce Work Stress with Patricia Hernandez, LCSW a Therapist at Heading in Austin, Texas

Working in a high-pressure job can take a toll on mental health. 


Truth is that 85% of Americans note their workplace as stress as significant, and 25% say that work stress is the biggest stress in their life .


Whether it’s on a shift, in the office, over a virtual all, or a bit of all of it, workplace culture and the demand of our jobs has significant impact on mood health, and wellbeing. Changing an entire workplace culture, the style of our boss and colleagues, or finding a dream job with broad flexibility are not things that are in the average worker’s control. Most people when they find themselves in a stressful work environment don’t have the luxury of quitting their job to find something else. 


But, that doesn’t mean there are things every individual can do to make their work experience better. 


Patricia Hernandez, LCSW, a therapist at Heading in Austin, Texas, offers practical tips to help you reduce stress at work. Implementing these tips can improve your productivity, well-being, and overall satisfaction at work.

Tip 1: Empower Yourself with a Calm Space.

“Curate calm within the chaos,” Patricia notes.

It’s essential to create a sense of calm within your workspace, especially if your job involves a lot of chaos.



Patricia suggests doing this by adding personal touches to your workspace, such as pictures of loved ones, or objects that make you feel happy. Using your favorite mug for coffee or tea can also bring a sense of comfort and calmness, setting a routine of self-care amidst an otherwise stressful routine. 


Take a look at your desk. The images on it may help you reduce pain. In fact a study showed that looking at images of loved ones had pain-relieving effects.  Similarly, calming images such as looking at nature, space, or beautiful art – like taking a mental vacation – can reduce tensions and anxiety. 


Taking small steps to create a more positive and pleasant work environment can go a long way in reducing stress.

Tip 2: Don’t Skip Your Lunch Break

Patricia suggests, “Don’t work through lunch. It may seem counter-productive, but it’s the very thing that will give you a boost for the rest of the day.”

It’s easy to fall into the trap of working through lunch, but it’s essential to take a break and allow your mind and body to rest. Use your lunch break to step away from work and recharge.


Working lunches may seem like a great way to maximize your output and time, but they tend to have the opposite effect. 90% of workers who take lunch breaks note that they feel more refreshed,, less stress, and ready to tackle the rest of the day with a better outlook. Workers that feel less overwhelmed tend to be more productive, and effectively manage their time. Breaks are good for employees health and good for company morale.


You can take a walk, read a book, or simply enjoy a quiet meal. Taking a break from work can help you come back feeling more refreshed and motivated, ultimately improving your productivity and well-being.

Tip 3: Socialize at Work

“We spend a lot of time at work. Developing relationships while working is good for our wellbeing. Find a work buddy to chat and occasionally vent, but don’t co-ruminate,” Patricia recommends.

Sometimes, it can be helpful to have someone to talk to when you’re feeling stressed at work. Find a colleague who you trust and feel comfortable venting to about work stress. However, it’s crucial to ensure that you’re not ruminating on the stress and negativity, which can make things worse. Instead, focus on small talk and building a positive work relationship that fosters a sense of belonging and community.


For those worried that workplace friendships might derail their day, don’t fret. Research shows otherwise. A Gallup poll found that workplace friendships increased job satisfaction, boosted overall productivity, and even lessened workplace injuries. So, circle up to the IRL or virtual water cooler and chat up a friend.


Tip 4: Use all of your vacation time.

Use your PTO. It’s your benefit to use, and everyone needs and deserves time away from work,” Patricia states.

Most people don’t use all their allotted PTO in a year, but it’s essential to take time off work to rest and recharge. Using your PTO can help you break away from the daily grind, relieve stress, and give you time to engage in activities that bring you joy and fulfillment. Whether it’s taking a vacation or just taking a mental health day, using your PTO can be a powerful tool for reducing work stress and improving your overall well-being.


But taking breaks is not limited to just lunch and PTO. It’s important to step away from the screen throughout the day. Taking short breaks throughout the workday can be incredibly beneficial for your mental health and productivity. Even if you’re pressed for time, taking five minutes to step away from your desk and clear your mind can make a significant difference in how you feel. You can take a walk around the office, stretch your body, or practice mindfulness meditation. Remember, taking a break can help you come back feeling more refreshed and focused, ultimately boosting your productivity and reducing stress.

Tip 5: Bring Mindfulness Into the Workplace

“When you’re feeling stressed at work, taking a few deep breaths can help you calm down, and refocus. Use a powerful mantra that resonates with you, and repeat it to yourself as you inhale and exhale,” Patricia coaches.

The term ‘mindfulness’ is more mainstream than ever. But without regular practice the concept can seem like nothing more than a fluffy feel-good idea, or a even a little too new-age for a serious go-getter at work.


However, nothing could be further from the truth. People who take the time to regulate their nervous system through breathing, meditation, and simple movement like walking have a happier time at work and less difficulty engaging in decision making, and managing their projects. Mindfulness practices may look different from person to person, but the goal is the same: to move out of a reactively highly aroused state of mind, to a more calm, focused, and present state of mind. This can help you feel more centered, grounded, and present, ultimately reducing your stress and anxiety levels, and feel more in control of your actions at work.


In conclusion, reducing work stress requires intentional effort and self-care. By implementing these tips from Patricia Hernandez, a therapist at Heading Heath in Austin, Texas, you can take control of your mental health and well-being at work. Remember to prioritize self-care, take breaks, and seek support when you need it. These small changes can have a significant impact on your stress levels and overall satisfaction at work.

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Mental Health Awareness Month: What Experts Want You to Know

Mental Health Awareness Month:
What Experts Want You to Know

Mental Health Awareness Month: What Experts Want You to Know

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time for promoting education, raising awareness, and reducing stigma around mental health. 


This year’s theme is More Than Enough highlighting the importance of encouraging all people to show up – fully themselves – with less shame or doubt.


This is especially important for people who are struggling with mental illness, and may feel that their struggles define them or that by speaking up they risk being seen by others as less-capable or merely 2-dimensional.


Taking part in a vision of people and communities that are more mentally well requires collective effort. As we kick off this important month, we asked our providers what it means to help people thrive. We also wanted to know what our providers wished everyone knew about mental health, and asked them to to share simple tools they suggest to support mental wellness. Throughout the month we’ll share their answers.  Here’s what they had to say to start:


Mental Health Must Be A Priority

“As a mental health care provider, I envision a world in which mental health is prioritized and openly discussed,” said Patricia Hernandez LCSW who offers virtual therapy to patients across Texas. 


While attitudes towards mental health are changing, stigma is still a huge barrier. In fact a World Health Organization survey reported that people wait, on average, 11 years (and often more) before seeking help. Adding to the urgency in reducing stigma, and increasing access, is the fact that depression is a leading cause of disability and missed days at work. As employment interruption grows, the symptoms a person is experiencing can increase, feelings of self-worth and quality of life can diminish, and a person’s financial ability to address the problem and find appropriate support increases – thus accelerating the cycle.


Mental health care providers play a critical role in reducing stigma by creating safe spaces for people to talk about their mental health struggles without fear of judgment or discrimination. By offering compassionate, non-judgmental care, providers can help individuals feel seen and heard, which is essential for building trust and promoting healing.


However, the responsibility is not all theirs. Everyone can take part in reducing stigma, and since each person will be affected personally or know someone they love who is affected by mental illness, the importance of prioritizing mental health cannot be understated.


Anxiety and Depression Symptoms Aren’t Clear Cut


“I wish everyone understood that emotions are complex and often difficult to pinpoint. [For example] you can be anxious, but perhaps not recognize yourself as anxious emotionally,” explained Tyson Lippe, MD, a leading psychiatrist at Heading Health based in Austin, Texas.


Mental health struggles are often invisible and can be challenging to describe or identify, and they aren’t ‘all in the head.’ Unlike an x-ray that might clearly show a broken bone mental health symptoms aren’t always so obvious. 


“Something that is often misunderstood about mental illness is that it presents so differently for everyone. For some it may be avoidance, others self neglect, etc. It can also be tricky to see and easy to miss even with close family members,” noted Ryan McWhiter, psychiatric nurse who works with Dr. Lippe at Heading’s Austin Texas center.


By promoting mental health literacy and helping individuals recognize and name their emotions, providers can help reduce the shame and isolation that often accompanies mental health challenges.


Physicality and Physical Spaces Matter


While a physical change is not a ‘fix-all’ for mental health concerns, and appropriate treatment is always recommended, mental health care providers recognize that mental health is not just about addressing what’s going on between the ears. Physical sensations and physical experiences have an impact on overall wellbeing. 


“Personally, I think it’s helpful to recognize the physical side of mental health, and I like to approach mental health from the physical side. If you’re feeling anxious, you can touch something cold like a bowl of ice, or do box-breathing (there are so many videos [on the internet] for help). Focusing on how what you can sense really helps,” shared Ryan. 


“While the physical connection to mental health is discussed more often now, I truly want people to know that regular exercise, a healthy diet, and good sleep are just as important for mental health as they are for other parts of your health,” Dr. Lippe shared.


Being physical means considering the inner environment of the body, and it also means the external environment and surroundings. Research agrees. Stress management is not simply getting control of thoughts, but also acknowledging that stress responses exist in the physical body. Physical activity has a positive impact in the reduction of symptoms of depression and anxiety in both near and long term ways, from improving stamina, cognitive function, and healthy sleep patterns. 


What the physical body senses, takes in, and observes is also impactful. While not everyone has the ability to completely overhaul their physical space at home, and at work, there are simple changes that can be made.  Physical space can influence mood and creativity, and purposeful use of space can be a simple way to boost feelings of positivity and wellbeing. “Chaotic environments make it harder to think and process. Take charge of what you can. Soothing colors. Declutter your space. Allow the doorbell and phone to be tools, rather than notices that demand your attention,” suggested Sunne Hogan, LPC who offers virtual therapy to patients in Texas.


Patricia agreed,”Nurture a plant. Choose the mug you love. Play and dance to music. Use candles and aromatherapy that stimulate your senses. Declutter your space. These are all ways you can improve the environment around you, and promote better mental wellbeing.”


Addressing Mental Health Isn’t Just For Those Who Struggle


Mental wellness is not just about avoiding illness, but also about promoting a sense of thriving and flourishing. Most people at some point in their lives will be directly impacted by mental illness, be it their own health or someone’s close to them. Learning tools to support mental wellbeing can be a lifelong if and when struggles do arise.


“Mental wellness is not just the absence of mental illness but also the presence of positive emotions, thoughts, and behaviors,” shared Kirsten Jarvis, Psychiatric Nurse at Heading Health in Austin, Texas. 

She continued, “Mental wellness is essential for overall health and is a critical component of a fulfilling and productive life. To me, mental wellness is developing the skill to ride the waves of life.”


Like any other skill, it takes practice. 

Seeking Help is Strong


“Seeking help does not mean that you are weak or ‘crazy.’ It just means that you know that something’s happening in your brain and body, and you may not have the energy or understanding to get yourself through it alone. Help is available,” explained Sunne. 


The work that is done in psychiatry and counseling sessions can be deep and challenging.  There’s nothing ‘weak’ about addressing vulnerabilities and difficult emotions.  Counselors, like Bonnie Morphew LCSW, wholeheartedly agree. Bonnie said, “A former patient of mine once told me to tell every new patient this: It’s hard work – but it’s always worth it in the end. And I couldn’t agree more!”


By promoting help-seeking behaviors and reducing the shame and stigma around mental health struggles, providers and lay people alike can help individuals feel supported and empowered to take charge of their mental health. Reducing stigma not only encourages more people to seek the help that they need, but it also amplifies the personhood of all people struggling with mental illness. No one deserves to be defined by their struggles.  Rather they should be seen as a whole person, with struggles, and also with strengths, values, goals, dreams, skills, and ambition. 


What is clear, this Mental Health Awareness Month is that embracing the concept of More Than Enough is not just an inside job – it’s everyone’s job.


If you or someone you love is struggling please know that help is available! You can contact a practice, like Heading, to scheduled an appoint. If you are in crisis call or text 988, or call 911.