Treating “the Whole You” Helps Overcome Stigma
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Published on July 05, 2017

woman stressed out at work

Treating “the Whole You” Helps Overcome Stigma

We live in “do it all” times where many of us – especially busy moms, the CEO of the family – take on any challenge that comes down the path.

Since our lives can lead to stress and other emotional reactions, we have to be aware that we often approach physical problems and emotional or psychological issues differently. But because mental and physical health are closely related, getting holistic help is best.

“If you’re doing well mentally, you’ll be better off to help others,” said Psychologist Nancy Wise-Vander Lee, PhD, of Avera Medical Group Behavioral Health. “While as a culture we have reduced the stigma that goes with getting help with mental health, it’s still there and it is still something I see every single day.”

Scared of Labels

Many people may worry they will be “labeled” if they seek help for a psychological condition. Maybe you – like many people – fear that there’s some deficiency. But Wise-Vander Lee encourages you to get past that point.

“There’s no deficiency when it comes to holistic health – we need to treat our mental and spiritual health with the same straightforward methods we would for a cut or another physical problem,” she said. “When my patients do that, they are surprised – it wasn’t too bad. They didn’t get labeled and they feel better. They ask when they can come back. It’s another part of getting well, just like you’d go to the doctor when you have any health concern.”

Wise-Vander Lee reminds us all that behavioral health professionals are not just there to talk, but to apply evidence-based approaches that can help you with anxiety, stress, depression or mood.

When you feel better mentally, you’ll notice positive impacts in all aspects of your health.

“There are many factors in our age of technology and immediate connections that can make anxiety or depression worse. Research is already confirming that brain function changes correspond to technology’s impact, and sleep is a prime example,” she said. “Women are naturally caregivers and their roles are changing. That’s why seeing a professional – someone who can be an objective, supportive listener could provide approaches that may help you.”

Never Have Time

Many women, especially moms, may feel they just don’t have time to visit with a professional in mental health services. The kids need you, your team at work needs you – your extended family and your friends are all counting on you being there.

Wise-Vander Lee said remember: you’re better when you’re healthy.

“Setting an example by getting that help and the benefits that come with it will really make a difference for all those who surround and support you – and for all those who need you, too,” she said. “It’s a healthy choice, and if you’re healthy, you’re going to be there and do better for your kids and family, for your team at work and for your friends. When you feel better, you’ll be better.”

It takes a team, and Wise-Vander Lee knows this. She said she collaborates regularly with physicians such as Matt Barker, MD and the Avera Urogynecology team to combine expertise. This can really improve your outcome depending on the condition and situation.

To get better, she said, sometimes it takes an important first step.

“There’s value in that first meeting with someone who can support you, provide insight on approaches to help you,” Wise-Vander Lee said. “We can all use allies and perspective on what we face in life.”

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Avera is a health ministry rooted in the Gospel. Our mission is to make a positive impact in the lives and health of persons and communities by providing quality services guided by Christian values.

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