mental health

My own roots are many, but the largest portion by far is Asturian, a people from northern Spain. Asturians have immigrated to this land for centuries, often driven by poverty and hunger. Perhaps the largest wave of immigration occurred in the late 1800s and early 1900s, when my grandparents arrived. Many of them came to work in the zinc smelting industry, in our coal mines, or in the cigar factories of Florida.

Asturian American immigrants living in West Virginia in the 1920s.

In their early years in the US, these Asturian immigrants experienced a great deal of racism and classism. In the West Virginia town where my Asturian grandparents settled, the KKK burned crosses to intimidate southern European immigrants, including Spaniards, Italians, and Hungarians. Local leaders, even the grade school principal, conspired to keep their immigrant neighbors disempowered.

This prejudice was due to skin color, anti-Catholic sentiment, and discomfort with people who work with their hands, eat different foods, and speak a different language.

Prejudice against Spaniards occurred throughout the United States. Poor Spaniards who were hired to work on Hawaiian sugar plantations in the early 1900s were transported from Spain in what have been described as "slave ships." Many of those immigrants left Hawaii complaining of extremely brutal working conditions. Between 1915 and 1919, hundreds--possibly thousands--of Spanish-speaking residents in Texas were indiscriminately killed by the Texas Rangers. This 1949 sign posted in Texas shows that the prejudice continued for many years.

Whites only sign 1949 Texas
A sign from Texas in 1949. We serve Whites only, no Spanish or Mexicans.

I don't want to suggest that Asturians faced the same ferocity of prejudice that Blacks have faced for hundreds of years. The extent of disrespect and utter violence that Black Americans have experienced is much greater.

And maybe your family didn't suffer under Jim Crow, but it may have suffered under "Juan Crow" or the many other forms of racism and classism in America.

Did your parents or grandparents teach you to speak their language? Did your family change the spelling of its last name? Have you wondered why so many children of immigrants turned their backs on their heritage in order to blend in? Very likely, it was to escape prejudice.

No one in the Land of the Free should suffer physical, mental, and economic abuse.

We are all one, all human. We deserve equal treatment socially, economically, and politically. We're so much stronger when we value the contributions, perspectives, and humanity of all.

Remembering that our own families have been targeted by racism and classism, may we reject any such hatred or fear that targets anyone. May we all breathe freely.

References
https://AsturianUS.org/forum/
https://www.amazon.com/PINNICK-KINNICK-HILL-AMERICAN-STORY/dp/1933202149
https://www.texasstandard.org/stories/texas-exhibit-refuses-to-forget-one-of-the-worst-periods-of-state-sanctioned-violence/
https://tracesofspainintheus.org/hi/recortesclippings/

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Each of us will decide when we feel confident enough to begin in-person contact with others. Like many, psychotherapists must weigh the risk to their clients, families, and themselves.

As you consider this question for yourself, the article in the link below will be very useful:
https://erinbromage.wixsite.com/covid19/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them.

In his article, Erin Bromage has given a sobering, detailed analysis of the primary ways that people have gotten infected. Some of the main behavioral sources of transmission are toilet flushes, sneezing, coughing, yelling, speaking, and simply breathing. As most are aware and Bromage notes, actions such as touching contaminated surfaces and then touching your face can also transmit the virus.

The most common locations for the transfer of the virus have been in private homes, prisons, religious ceremonies, choirs, indoor sports facilities, and workplaces. Restaurants, parties, and funerals have also been high-risk settings. Curiously, Bromage did not mention hospitals, nursing homes, doctors' offices, and other health care facilities.

Basically, as the work closures are loosened, and we start to venture out more, possibly even resuming in-office activities, you need to look at your environment and make judgments. How many people are here, how much airflow is there around me, and how long will I be in this environment. If you are in an open floor-plan office, you really need critically assess the risk (volume, people, and airflow). If you are in a job that requires face-to-face talking or even worse, yelling, you need to assess the risk.

https://erinbromage.wixsite.com/covid19/post/the-risks-know-them-avoid-them

There is a lot we do not know yet, but it is clear that the risk of contracting COVID-19 will be on-going. For many of my clients and their families, this risk could be life-ending.

I do not believe we will be able to meet safely in an enclosed office for many more months.

It is possible that some therapists will opt for providing talk therapy in outdoor sessions, such as while walking in a park. I will be considering the use of outdoor sessions, although that would require additional safeguards for safety and privacy.

The good news is that teletherapy via video-conferencing is possible and works very well with most forms of psychotherapy. I will continue offering teletherapy.

Neurofeedback conducted in the office with both therapist and client present will likely be impossible for an extended period of time. Clients who wish to purchase or rent a neurofeedback system will be able to do neurofeedback in their own homes with my supervision via video conferencing.

I hope that you and your family are safe and remain healthy. If you, like many of us, have lost family members to COVID-19, I am deeply sorry for your loss. If you have suffered with COVID-19, my heart goes out to you and I wish you a speedy and full recovery.

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We are designed to feel anxiety. Anxiety is protective because it helps us survive by warning us of dangers.

Everyone experiences anxiety, although some of us get so anxious that we wonder if we can handle it. And sometimes our anxiety may be unreliable, giving us false alerts.

Luckily, there are a number of relatively simple, effective, and inexpensive ways to deal with anxiety. ...continue reading

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Mental health providers and other professionals often talk about a child or adult's "dysregulation" and "self-regulation," but these terms are often left undefined. A 2017 summary and the 2015 report from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services help define self-regulation and show the complex social, biological, and environmental factors involved in development of self-regulation.

The summary defines self-regulation as "the act of managing one’s thoughts and feelings to engage in goal-directed actions such as organizing behavior, controlling impulses, and solving problems constructively."

Components of self-regulation
Self-regulation is a term that refers to a number of essential capabilities for successful human functioning.

Being able to self-regulate helps us succeed in many aspects of life, including creating satisfying relationships, tolerating difficulty, prospering in school and work, managing finances, and maintaining physical and mental health. Self-regulation is a critical life skill. ...continue reading

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Therapeutic farms use work in a natural environment to improve mental health.

Did you know that the State of Maryland was actually an innovator in this approach over a century ago?

In the 1970s I spent a summer working with older men at the Springfield State Hospital in Sykesville, MD. Long before Springfield was a mental institution, it was an estate and working farm, originally developed as the dowry for the daughter of a wealthy Baltimorean, William Patterson. His daughter was intended to marry Napoleon Bonaparte's brother, Jerome Bonaparte, although the marriage was later blocked by Napoleon.

In 1896, the State of Maryland transformed Springfield into a mental institution. Springfield was intended as an advance, using a more humane medical model for care instead of the prior practice of housing the "insane" in almshouses and poor farms ...continue reading

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Work and intensive contact with nature can help people recover from psychotic disorders, sometimes completely.

Maryland was an innovator in this approach over a century ago. The state abandoned this model, perhaps due to the public's fluctuating concern for the mentally ill and unwillingness to fund treatment programs. Eventually Maryland's mental institutions were better known for abuse and overcrowding.

Therapeutic farms are making a comeback. In the US, the Hopewell Community is having positive outcomes with its therapeutic farm community by using work and contact with nature as a means to improving social skills, emotional self-regulation, and consistent medication use. ...continue reading

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