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The Benefits of
Mental Health Therapy

by Julianna Strano

When individuals are experiencing physical health concerns and symptoms, they find a time to schedule a trip to the doctor's office. Most people promote and talk about the importance of taking care of themselves physically. However, there isn’t as much importance placed on taking care of our mental health.

For many people, mental health is seen as a taboo topic. Not everyone feels comfortable talking about their emotions and feelings. It is also hard for many people to know when they should seek professional help for their mental health.

When Should You Consider Therapy

An article from Psychology Today explains when you should consider  talking to a mental health therapist.

According to the popular magazine, “It's difficult to know if the thoughts, feelings, and behaviors you're experiencing are normal. It can also be tough to admit that you could benefit from professional help. It’s not always clear-cut whether you should talk to a therapist.” 

A few symptoms that would indicate that finding a therapist would be beneficial include:

  • If your mood feels "off"

  • If your sleep habits have changed

  • If your psychological health is affecting your physical health

  • If you are using unhealthy coping skills

  • If your relationships are impacted by your emotional state

 

The Many Benefits of Therapy

Going to therapy has many benefits. An article from Talkspace explains how therapy can be beneficial for everyone, no matter what is currently happening in your life.

Talkspace therapist Kate Rosenblatt states, “You don’t have to wait for a crisis moment in your life to see a therapist. You don’t have to live in suffering. You can see a therapist when things are going really well in your life, or when you’re about to go through a big life transition.

A few key benefits of seeing a therapist include

  • Improved communication skills

  • Learning to resolve conflicts

  • Improving mental health conditions

  • Changing negative thought patterns

  • Alter negative behaviors

Therapy and talking to a professional has been proven to have a positive impact. Research completed by The American Psychological Association concluded that it leads to positive changes in people's lives.

“Over 75% of people who enter psychotherapy show some benefit. Other reviews have found that the average person who engages in psychotherapy is better off by the end of treatment than 80% of those who don’t receive treatment at all."

Seeking therapy and choosing to talk to a therapist can have a huge positive effect on our lives and mental health. The CDC explained that in 2019 19.2% of adults received mental health treatment during the year including 15.8% who had taken prescription medication for their mental health and 9.5% who had received counseling or therapy from a mental health professional.” 

Seeing Your Therapy As a Partnership with the Therapist

When choosing to go to therapy and speak with a professional, it’s important to look at it as a partnership. The patient and the therapist share the same goal. With that being said, patients should have the goal of taking therapy sessions seriously and practicing the advice given to them by the professional.

Therapy doesn’t help immediately after one session or overnight. It takes time to work through our thoughts, emotions, and develop healthy and helpful coping mechanisms that will in turn improve our lives and mental health.

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Julianna Strano is a senior at The University of Arizona majoring in journalism and sociology. Julianna is passionate about all topics related to health and wellness and has the goal of educating and informing others through her writing. Julianna joined the editorial staff of Today's Patient to have the opportunity to help educate others on patient rights and discuss topics that she is passionate about.

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The Omicron Variant:
and Why the Pandemic
Is Not Over Yet

by Nikita Amin

Recently, news broke out about that yet another mutation of the omicron strain of COVID-19 has been flagged as a threat in the United States, known as the BA.2.12.1 variant.  At the same time as this announcement was made, multiple public officials spoke out again about the lingering dangers of COVID-19, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, who recently spoke about the pandemic on PBS’ “NewsHour”.

 

Initially he made the statement: "So, if you're saying, are we out of the pandemic phase in this country, we are. What we hope to do, I don't believe — and I have spoken about this widely — we're not going to eradicate this virus. If we can keep that level very low, and intermittently vaccinate people — and I don't know how often that would have to be." 

 

Later, Dr. Fauci corrected this statement to clarify that he actually meant that only the "full-blown explosive pandemic phase," had ended, and that the pandemic was still ongoing.

 

“We’re really in a transitional phase, from a deceleration of the numbers into hopefully a more controlled phase and endemicity,” he said in an expansion of his remarks in the Washington Post.

 

It was also reported on April 26 that Vice President Kamala Harris tested positive for COVID, and is currently under strict guidelines in order to prevent any chance of infection of other public officials.

 

With the sudden onslaught of news about COVID-19 in the news this past month, it is natural to be concerned.  What can we do?  Will the pandemic ever end? Should I be worried about catching the Omicron variant?

 

What We Need to Know and Understand

First, its important to understand more about the many mutations of COVID-19 that make it so difficult to entirely eradicate the virus. The previously mentioned BA.2.12.1 variant is specifically an Omicron variant, an entire subgroup of COVID-19 variants that became well known earlier in this year for its contagiousness, which caused a sharp rise in worldwide cases. 

 

This new Omicron mutant comes from the same lineage as other Omicron viruses, but is still unique in virus structure despite being from the same family. Currently, it is known that the broader category of BA.2 variants have been more resistant to treatment and vaccination efficacy, despite generally being a less severe infection. 

The biggest current concern is how fast this BA.2.12.1 variant has been spreading.  The CDC reports it to have been responsible for 29% of new COVID-19 infections throughout the nation between April 19th and April 26th, 2022. This high virulence is concerning because people with pre-existing health conditions, of older age, or that are currently unvaccinated still face possibly life-threatening symptoms, meaning this variant is still a serious health risk to many. 

Moreover, even with vaccination, a recent breakthrough study showed that vaccine effectiveness has slowly been decreasing: vaccine protection fell from 87.9% to 48.1% during the surge of the Delta variant in 2021. Despite there not being direct evidence of the vaccine’s protection against Omicron possibly waning in the future, the results are applicable to predict that the effectiveness will slowly wear down with time in a similar way. 

 

According to Dr. Barbara Cohn of Public Health Institute, “The recent studies give researchers, policy makers and others a strong basis for comparing the long-term effectiveness of COVID vaccines, and a lens for making informed decisions around primary vaccination, booster shots, and other multiple layers of protection, including masking mandates, social distancing, testing and other public health interventions to reduce chance of spread.”

 

This is Not the Time to Relax the Guidelines 

It is clear that now is not the time to let up on following COVID-19 guidelines, and it is our responsibility as public citizens to do our best to continue preventing the spread.  COVID-19 is still a dangerous disease, especially for those with health issues that make them more vulnerable to fatal infection.  Masking, social distancing, quarantiing, regular testing, and most importantly, getting vaccinated and boosted when recommended, will all be necessary to continue preventing the pandemic from worsening.

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Nikita Amin is a third year undergraduate student at the University of Virginia double majoring in Biology and English.  She hopes to go into the biological research sciences, and is passionate about making the academia she is passionate about more accessible.  This is one of her main focuses as a Senior Contributor at Today's Patient, writing articles that make scientific news more readily available to the general public.

May 2022 page 5