Wednesday, May 15, 2013

Mental Health: The Role of Well-Being

I'm Blogging for Mental Health.The mass media and our own stigma would still have us believe that "mental health" is a term that revolves around negative terms: sadness, violence, lethargy, apathy, angst, etc. While those terms may apply to certain types of mental health conditions, mental health also focuses on positive factors.

Carol Ryff's (1989) research on psychological well-being identified six positive factors involved in life satisfaction and happiness. Focusing on these in your daily life may help you not only maintain positive mental health, but create strong coping skills that can act as a buffer when depression or anxiety seem to be overwhelming.

Accepting who you are, flaws and all, can help your overall sense of happiness. Don't try to live up to unrealistic expectations of the media or others, but rather take yourself for who you are and find a positive attitude toward yourself.

Positive Relations With Others
Having empathic, warm and trusting relationships with others is strongly related to positive mental health. In this day and age of social media relationships, it is our personal, face-to-face relationships that continue to offer the strongest boost to emotional well-being.

Independent, self-assertive behavior that allows one to regulate your behaviors from within, rather than externally, is linked to life satisfaction and well-being. Evaluate yourself according to your own standards, rather than the standards of others.

Environmental Mastery
Feeling like you have some control over your environment and managing your everyday affairs can help you maintain positive well-being. Take advantage of external opportunities, or create opportunities for positive experiences.

Purpose in Life
Frankl's (1959) Man's Search For Meaning explored the idea of meaningfulness and purpose in life. If one can find a goal and sense of direction for life, then it seems one can overcome almost anything. "He who has a why to live for can bear almost any how." ~Nietzche

Personal Growth
Being open to new experiences, realizing your potential, and being able to grow and improve your own sense of self and behavior is one way to maintain positive mental health. Stagnation is detrimental to health in many ways, so continue to grow and reach your potential throughout your life.

Notice that many of these factors are within your control, if you make the effort to mindfully incorporate them into your day. Work at maintaining your positive mental health!

Thursday, May 9, 2013


Article by Guest Blogger, Kimberly Burkhart, Ph.D.

Bullying is a relationship-based form of aggressive behavior, which involves the use of repeated intentional acts to humiliate, dominate, and oppress others.  There are four types of bullying that are most common among children and adolescents:  Verbal, physical, relational/social, and electronic.  

The 2009 Youth Risk Behavior Survey indicated that 20% of students had experienced some form of bullying in the previous 12 months.  Moreover, research suggests that 10-40% of youth reported being victims of some form of electronic bullying.  Bullying is associated with increases in suicide risk, depression, irritability, anxiety, sleeping difficulties, somatic problems, violent behaviors, and higher rates of school absenteeism among victims.  

Children who have special healthcare needs, specific language impairment, learning disabilities, pervasive developmental disorders, co-morbid psychiatric problems (internalizing and externalizing disorders), and those who have identified or who are perceived as being part of the LGBTQ community are more likely to be the victim of bullying.  

Some signs that a child may be bullied include unexplainable injuries, destroyed property, changes in eating habits, decline in academic performance, decreased self-esteem, avoidance of social situations, and engaging in self-destructive behavior.  

Some signs that a child may be bullying others include getting into physical or verbal fights, acquiring new belongings that are unexplainable, increasing aggressiveness and competitiveness, and blaming others for his/her mistakes.  

For more information on how to prevent or respond to bullying, please consult

 * * * * * 

Kimberly Burkhart, Ph.D. is a Clinical Child Psychology Fellow at Nationwide Children’s Hospital.  She is the Chair of the Ohio Psychological Association’s Bullying Prevention Task Force.    

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Day

Ohio Psychological Association Raises Awareness for Mental Health Awareness Month
Association focuses on Bullying for National Children’s Mental Health Day on May 9

The Ohio Psychological Association (OPA) is taking part in Mental Health Awareness Month to bring public awareness to the critical importance of mental health. This Thursday, the association is joining the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) in recognizing National Children’s Mental Health Day.

According to the American Psychological Association (APA), systematic international research has shown school bullying to be a frequent and serious public health problem.  Psychologists and other mental health professionals are using this research to develop bullying prevention programs that are being implemented in schools around the world.

Current OPA president, Dr. Jim Broyles launched a task force to examine how psychologists may become a part of the solution to prevent and respond to bullying.

Dr. Broyles said, “As a group, psychologists are very aware and concerned about this topic, and the ongoing issues which continue to spring to light associated with it. Many of us work with children and families who are affected by bullying. Our clients can be individuals who are the target of a bully or in some cases may be the bullies themselves, who have their own unique psychological issues and needs.”

Dr. Kimberly Burkhart chairs the Bullying Prevention Task Force whose mission it is to increase awareness about warning signs that bullying may be occurring and to connect families, as well as school staff with resources.

Children who bully may exhibit the following characteristics:
·         Getting into physical or verbal fights
·         Acquiring new belongings that are unexplainable
·         Increasing aggressiveness and competitiveness
·         Blaming others for his/her mistakes

Children who have been victimized may have some of the following characteristics:
·         Unexplainable injuries
·         Destroyed property
·         Changes in eating habits
·         Decline in academic performance
·         Decreased self-esteem
·         Avoidance of social situations
·         Engaging in self-destructive behavior
·         Frequent stomachaches or headaches
·         Sleep problems

Students who experience bullying may feel depressed or anxious. If your child or student is having trouble at school, problems with relationships, or displaying signs or symptoms listed above as a result of bullying, a mental health professional, such as a psychologist, can help your child develop coping skills to manage negative emotions and to respond to bullying.  Mental health professionals can also work with children who bully to help decrease behavioral problems and better manage anger.   

Located in Columbus, OH, The Ohio Psychological Association is a membership organization of approximately 1,600 Ohio psychologists. Its mission is to advance the creation, communication and application of psychological knowledge to benefit society and to improve people’s lives in Ohio. For more information, or for a psychologist referral, visit

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Out of the Darkness Suicide Prevention Walks 2013

Please consider participating in one of the Out of the Darkness suicide prevention walks this fall. Participation can include walking as part of a team, volunteering your time, or giving a donation to the effort. Here is the information for Ohio walks that have been scheduled at this time.

September 28, 2013

October 13, 2013
Join the OPA/COPA team!

October 19, 2013

October 20, 2013

YMCA Healthy Kids Day -- Cleveland

OPA participated in the YMCA Healthy Kids Day in Cleveland, OH on Sunday, April 7th. 

OPA Members Nancy Duff-Boehm, Wendy Kellon, Cathy Gaw (pictured above) and Kathleen Ashton participated in the event. 

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

May is Mental Health Month!

Welcome to Mental Health Month. This year's theme is Pathways to Wellness.  For more information, or access to the 2013 Toolkit from Mental Health America, please visit their website.

May is Mental Health Month 2013 horizontal banner

Key Messages

  1. Wellness - it's essential to living a full and productive life. It's about keeping healthy as well as getting healthy.
  2. Wellness involves a set of skills and strategies that prevent the onset or shorten the duration of illness and promote recovery and well-being. Wellness is more than just the absence of disease.
  3. Wellness is more than an absence of disease. It involves complete general, mental and social well-being. And mental health is an essential component of overall health and well-being. The fact is our overall well-being is tied to the balance that exists between our emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health.
  4. Whatever our situation, we are all at risk of stress given the demands of daily life and the challenges it brings-at home, at work and in life. Steps that build and maintain well-being and help us all achieve wellness involve a balanced diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, a sense of self-worth, development of coping skills that promote resiliency, emotional awareness, and connections to family, friends and community.
  5. These steps should be complemented by taking stock of one's well-being through regular mental health checkups and screenings. Just as we check our blood pressure and get cancer screenings, it's a good idea to take periodic reading of our emotional well-being.
  6. Fully embracing the concept of wellness not only improves health in the mind, body and spirit, but also maximizes one's potential to lead a full and productive life. Using strategies that promote resiliency and strengthen mental health and prevent mental health and substance use conditions lead to improved general health and a healthier society: greater academic achievement by our children, a more productive economy, and families that stay together.