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Can We Just Talk Mental Health?


On this week's podcast, I spoke with Anna Maria Ortiz and Elizabeth Pastina about mental health. Below are their notes. Hopefully they prove to be helpful!


Anna Marie completed her undergraduate degree at Franciscan University and is currently finishing up her PhD in clinical psychology at the University of Kentucky, where her research and clinical work specializes in eating disorders.


Liz is a licensed social worker in Ohio. She received her Bachelors of Arts in Psychology at the University of Dayton (aka the greatest school out there) and her Masters in Social Work at the University of Tennessee. Liz completed her clinical internship during her graduate studies working with adults and teens in an Intensive Outpatient Program using the treatment Dialectical Behavioral Therapy. She currently works as a therapist with children and families.

1. Why is mental health sometimes seen as taboo? Why are some afraid to talk about it?

We see ourselves as broken. Like there is something wrong with us and we are broken.

o Perceived as being weak

o Uncomfortable

o Talking about uncomfortable things evokes fear. People don’t know how to talk about it. We don’t have the tools

The more we don’t talk about it, the more uncomfortable it is

o Driving factor = shame

· Tools of where to start in these conversation

o We are chipping away at the stigma

o Identifying with illness. Hopelessness to change

· Unlike physical illness, what needs healing isn’t visible. More tied to who you are

· Seen as a personal weakness/failing. Seen as not having your shit together.

Just “choose not be like that”


· People think that it is tied to their identity. Hopelessness to change

What developments have we seen over the last 10 years in this field?

· People are becoming more aware of mental and emotional health

· People are more comfortable with it and self-check ins

· “Push through mentality” is not as strong. “Check-in mentally” is stronger.

· Progression in developing specialized treatments (different treatments)

· Accessibility

o Telehealth

o Technology

o social media

· Crisis Hotlines

· Language around mental health

o Person-centered language

o Less about identifying with illness and more acknowledging that mental health, the brain, is part of the human body and needs attention to.

o Conversation in larger companies about this too.

· People are more comfortable with it and self-check ins

o We are getting better at talking about mental health in our society.


How does your faith tie into your pursuit of helping others?


· Showing Christ’s love through meeting our client’s where they are.

· Even if Christ is not brought up in session…but sitting in other’s pain and stories

· Practice (imperfect) unconditional love. “Unconditional positive regard”

o Safety and security

· You give a chance, person to person, to be fully accepted in your most vulnerable moments. That is what Jesus does for us and that is so beautiful. Jesus asks for our most vulnerable hearts. And while it’s not even close to this kind of relationship we have with our Lord….I believe that therapist’s try to make Christ’s love know by trying toprovide this safety and security.


· Being able to be with someone and respond to their pain with love and acceptance

· Even if faith isn’t brought up

· Sit with their pain help the process- like Jesus

· Help give safety and security derived from unconditional love

· Showing Christ’s love through meeting our client’s where they are.

· Even if Christ is not brought up in session…but sitting in other’s pain and stories

What’s the difference between a counselor, psychologist and a psychiatrist? What are you?

Liz: Social Worker

· Licensed Social Worker in Ohio

· Masters in Social Work and passed my first licensure examination and working towards my independent license currently.

o Social-Justice and Person-Centered. Licensed Social Worker can work in several areas of social services. They can provide therapy in a clinical setting.

· Counselor (Licensed Practicing Counselor - LPC or LMHC)

Anna: Psychologist vs Psychiatrist

· Psychologist: feedback, testing, evidenced based, research training (evaluating the data literature to know evidence based practices to help inform treatment)

· Psychiatrist: med school, medicine, rarely provides therapy

If I’m someone dealing with anxiety, depression, addiction, eating disorder, etc. what are some first steps?

- Seeking out social support

- Even if something “seems like not a big deal”

- “How many times has these crossed your mind?” How much mental space is this taking?

- It is OK to ask for help!! (SAY IT 100 TIMES OVER )

· Functional impairment (social, work, personal)

· When you’re ready for the next step seeking out a therapist to process whatever it is that is going on.

· Seeking out a therapist (others may have recommendations, universities for clinical trials can often be free)

· Check with your insurance

· Psychology today, research labs at local universities specialized treatment for free

So why can’t we just pray?

· If you do need therapy, it does not mean that there is something wrong with you spiritually

o Everyone has a story. It doesn’t matter how old, young you are, what you been through, haven’t been through.

o Through our stories is how he makes himself known. But we need to understand our stories. Going through therapy can help us find our story, tease through the messiness.

· Therapy is a God-given gift.

o God wants us to be in community to heal and grow.

o We can use this God-given gift to help further heal and become the best version of ourselves

· It is OK to see someone who is not Catholic/Christian

o The therapist meets you where you are. But also, there are Catholic and Christian therapists out there.

o At the end of the day though, it is about your process and healing and not so much about the therapist views and beliefs.

· Practice (imperfect) unconditional love. “Unconditional positive regard”

· Safety and security

Difference Therapy and Spiritual Direction:

· Relationship with God vs mental well-being

· Can overlap!

· Spiritual director is there to help guide your relationship with the Lord

· Therapy is to help process struggles in community with one another

· Liz: I am undergoing spiritual direction and I struggled with this for a while. I had the mindset “isn’t that just therapy?”. And then I began to understand the spiritual director is a liaison to aid in helping your relationship grow

· Everyone has a story. It doesn’t matter how old, young you are, what you been through, haven’t been through. God gives us each a story. Through our stories is how he makes himself known. But we need to understand our stories. Going through therapy can help us find our story, tease through the messiness


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