On April 29, 2022, President Biden signed a yearly Proclamation declaring May as National Mental Health Awareness Month. This Proclamation spotlights the importance of mental health for the well-being of children, adults, families, and communities in America.
As a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, it’s become abundantly clear to me that more youth and aging persons are looking for Psychotherapy. Our youth are being influenced by their classmates, school environments, bullying, their peers, stressors at home, and one of the biggest influences, social media. Youth are being exposed to constant chaos and deception by what they see on the internet at the most vulnerable times in their lives when they reach out for acceptance and community. Our aging seniors are witnessing their friends and family passing away, prices rising with inflation, limited retirement options, medical issues that limit their independence, and technology that is often confusing and frustrating. Families are finding themselves sandwiched between their young children and their aging parents as baby boomers have more birthdays than their parents and children have fewer babies later in life. Suicide among our youth and seniors is increasing. The face of the American family is ever-changing and in the midst of it all is the overall decline of our mental health.
The Diagnostic and Statistical Manual 5th edition (DSM-5) is the bible of mental health professionals. “Clinical training and experience are needed to use the DSM for determining a diagnosis. The diagnostic criteria identify symptoms, behaviors, cognitive functions, personality traits, physical signs, syndrome combinations, and durations that require clinical expertise to differentiate from normal life variation and transient responses to stress” –American Psychiatric Association, DSM-5 Introduction, pg. 5. What does all that mean? You have to go to college, educate yourself, and continue to study even after graduation to be a therapist. As a therapist, you are required to research and take continuing education classes to keep up with discoveries, theories, therapies, and methods to assist you with the treatment of your clients. This is something that I chose to do late in life.
My name is Vicki Jones. I’m a Licensed Clinical Social Worker having graduated from Utah State University in 2018 with a master’s degree in Social Work and Certificate in Gerontology. I was a non-typical student, meaning I was older than most everyone else with whom I graduated. I was 60 years old. My college degree journey began when I was 45 and newly divorced. That is when I went to a mental health therapist who helped me through a very difficult time in my life. After three and a half years of therapy, and excruciating self-reflection, my counselor recognized that I had a knack for counseling, and helping others, and told me to get a degree to become a Licensed Clinical Social Worker. It was all the encouragement I needed to pursue the career that I find myself in right now.
Upon graduation, I was fortunate to return to Fallon to work at New Frontier Treatment Center as a Mental Health and Drug and Alcohol Counselor. It was there I was able to get a myriad of experiences to hone my skills as a therapist. NFTC had been awarded a grant as a Community Behavioral Health Center and I enjoyed being a part of the growth and acceptance of mental health treatment while there. I recently opened a Private Practice here in Fallon and work doing individual and marriage counseling.
Finding a mental health therapist can be difficult. Because of the growing need for counselors in Fallon, and the surrounding areas, it can take a while to find a good fit and to get on their calendar. It’s been my experience that most therapists have a full schedule and a waiting list but don’t give up. Mental health counseling is ever-evolving, and openings happen when least expected. The main thing is recognizing that you have a mental health issue and want to do something about it. If you, or someone you know, wants or needs a therapist, keep looking. Don’t give up. I always tell my clients in our first meeting that, “taking care of yourself and your mental health is the most excruciating and rewarding work you will ever do.” Be brave. Be vigilant. Be determined. Take care of your mental health.
If you or someone you know needs immediate assistance with suicide prevention, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK.
Vicki Jones has committed to writing a column on mental health for The Fallon Post. She invites the public to send Mental Health questions to [email protected] and will post her answers in her educational column called “Get Real About Mental Health.”
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