Happy New Year*

This morning when I woke up I wanted to share yuletide greetings with the larger IPAS mental health family. I wanted to take a moment to speak positive affirmations of worth, love, and strength into the lives and future of our mental health community. But instead I woke up to this New York Times headline:

“Black Doctor Dies of Covid-19 After Complaining of Racist Treatment”

Full article can be found here

This article reminded me of the work we (providers) still have to do. This article reminded me of the reason why IPAS clinicians have come together as a mental health community to support and affirm the needs of all people in a respectful, culturally attuned, evidenced based manner. This article reminded me of IPAS’s ultimate mission: To provide quality mental health care to the BIPOC, MaGes, LGBTQIA communities in a safe and supportive space.

So as we embark on this New Year, IPAS mental health is proud to provide the needed outreach and mental health support for all communities that is safe and respectful of your unique experience. To learn more about our clinicians please reach out to us at ipasinc.net or follow us on Instagram or Facebook.

Wishing you the best and safest of holiday seasons!

About Stephanie Williams, PhD
Licensed Clinical Psychologist

Stephanie Williams, PhD, is the founder and clinical director of Integrated Psychological Assessment Services which is licensed in the state of California. IPAS staff are an group of inclusive therapists that focuses on the connection between what we think, feel and do, and how changes can improve one’s life. IPAS believes in empowering people to help them grow, change, or just deal with the daily demands of life.  Call IPAS today to see how the right therapist can help you : 408-359-6700.

Holiday Season and the Importance of Self Care.

As we embark on this 2020 holiday season, we must first acknowledge how different this season is from previous seasons due to the stressors of the 2020 election, COVID-19 pandemic and our country’s racial reckoning. With all these added stressors we need to make sure to care for ourselves to prevent burnout and cracks in our mental health.

Self care often seems out of reach for BIPOC people and allies as we continue to deal with the daily stressors of fighting, teaching and engaging in social justice for our communities and the communities we love. But sometimes self-care is as simple as saying “no”. Although our society says that this is a time for giving, sharing, and over-extending ourselves in an attempt to show love; this could be the down fall for many who no longer have the emotional reserves from such a stressful year.

Here are a few steps:

Assess burn out. Burn out occurs when people who are usually passionate, and committed become disillusioned. When we think burn out we typically think work, but burn out can impact multiple areas of our life including home. So take a moment to assess.

Assess your boundaries. Boundaries are standards that we set for ourselves that help keep us safe and more importantly help us care for ourselves. Often times during holidays we over-extend ourselves and let go of our boundaries which may initially seem like a thoughtful thing to do but can ultimately leave you worse off. Here are a few types of boundaries:

  1. Physical boundaries
  2. Emotional boundaries
  3. Material boundaries
  4. Time boundaries
  5. Intellectual boundaries
  6. Sexual boundaries
  7. Spiritual boundaries

Assess your budget. Maintaining a budget is a major part of self-care. When we think of how we can become unraveled with the lack of physical, mental, emotional self-care one should expect the same outcome when we do not practice financial self-care. During the holidays, gift giving not only feels good but it also reinforces and occasionally strengthens relationships. However, falling into debt can leave one with a holiday hangover that may be hard to recuperate from.

Although this is just a small list of ways that you can keep self-care front and center this holiday season there are many other forms of self-care that you can say yes to including exercise, quality time with friends and family, reading, listening to music and checking in with a licensed mental health counselor for support.

Wishing you the best and safest of holiday seasons!

About Stephanie Williams, PhD

Stephanie Williams, PhD, is the founder and clinical director of Integrated Psychological Assessment Services which is licensed in the state of California. IPAS staff are an group of inclusive therapists that focuses on the connection between what we think, feel and do, and how changes can improve one’s life. IPAS believes in empowering people to help them grow, change, or just deal with the daily demands of life. Call IPAS today to see how the right therapist can help you : 408-359-6700.

Black Lives Matter: Yesterday, Today, Tomorrow, and Forever.

Here at Integrated Psychological Assessment Services (IPAS), we believe that no lives matter until Black lives matter. We are outraged at the continual violence against Black people through systemic racism in the judicial system, poor policing practices, redlining practices and education system. We are dedicated to compassionately supporting communities of color.

If you are a Black, Indigenous, Person of Color (BIPOC) we understand that mental health needs to be your first priority during these unprecedented times of psychological distress. Please find several resources available below:

44 Mental Health Resources for Black People Trying to Survive in This Country

Therapy for Black Girls

Boris L. Henson Foundation

If you are an ally and want to learn more about America’s atrocious history of racial discrimination and violence towards people of color or need some resources to learn how to be an ally please see below:

This List Of Books, Films And Podcasts About Racism Is A Start, Not A Panacea

5 ways to start being a better ally for your Black coworkers

A Detailed List of Anti-Racism Resources

Together, we can end racism in all its forms and develop and create an anti-racist society. 

With Love and Unity,
Stephanie Williams, PhD
Integrated Psychological Assessment Services

Depression and US, part II

During this six part series on depression, I will share some of recent research on depression as it pertains to various groups in the United States. Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders, with over three million cases diagnosed in the United States per year. Depression is described as a persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that can lead to a range of behavioral and physical changes. Some of these symptoms may include changes in sleep, energy level, concentration, and self- esteem. In the most severe cases depression can also cause thoughts of suicide. 

If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide please call the national suicide prevention line at 800-273-8255 or go to your local emergency room for immediate assistance.

Depression Among Asian Americans

            Asian Americans are “the fastest growing minority population in the US” and with nineteen unique ethnicities that include Cambodian, Chinese, Indian, Japanese, Korean, Pakistani, Filipino, Thai, and Vietnamese, detection of mental health symptoms can be somewhat complicated. A significant percentage of Asian Americans suffer from depression, but are less likely to be diagnosed than any other ethnic group.

One major reason for this diagnostic shortcoming is that Asian Americans presentation of depressive symptoms are different than any other ethnic/racial group. Asian Americans “may not report sadness or depressed mood” to providers as their main complaint, so they may not meet the criteria typically used to measure depression. Instead Asian Americans have been found to display more physical symptoms of depression, such as “changes in appetite, headaches, backaches, stomachaches, insomnia, or fatigue.” This may be why Asian Americans are less likely to be diagnosed with depression, and are “less likely to access any depression treatment.”

            Researchers estimate that 26.9% – 35.6% of Asian Americans may have depressive symptoms; 4.5% – 11.3% of Asian American adults meet the criteria for major depression. Research supports that higher rates of depression are found among Koreans and Filipinos, while lower rates are found with Japanese and Chinese ethnicities. Overall, these numbers suggest that there needs to be more research and support for Asian American communities in order to support their mental health.

            Mental health providers can better detect depression and increase mental health services for Asian Americans by understanding diversity, and taking a more insightful approach to diagnostic assessment of Asian American mental health needs.

——

References: Kim, H.J., Park, E., Storr, C.L., Tran, K., Juon, H.S. (2015). Depression among Asian-American Adults in the Community: Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis. PLoS ONE, 10 (6).

About Stephanie Williams, PhD

Stephanie Williams, PhD, is the founder of Integrated Psychological Assessment Services. Her practice focuses on the connection between what we think, feel and do, and how changes can improve one’s life. Dr. Williams believes in empowering people to help them grow, change, or just deal with the daily demands of life.

Call Dr. Williams today for a free consultation: 408-317-0687.

Depression and US, Part I

During this six part series on depression, I will share some recent research on depression as it pertains to various groups in the United States. Depression is one of the most common mental health disorders, with over three million cases diagnosed in the United States per year. Depression is described as a persistent feeling of sadness or loss of interest that can lead to a range of behavioral and physical changes. Some of these symptoms may include changes in sleep, energy level, concentration, and self- esteem. In the most severe cases depression can also cause thoughts of suicide.

If you or anyone you know is struggling with thoughts of suicide please call the national suicide prevention line at 800-273-8255 or go to your local emergency room for immediate assistance.

Depression Among Black Men

            Studies have shown that Black men regularly underutilize mental health services. Based on a series of focus groups, perceptions such as social norms, distrust and affordability of medical care, and objections to using antidepressant medications may be involved. This sheds light on how Black men interact with mental healthcare, and provides opportunities for increasing mental health. Prior research suggests that although depression is more prevalent among Whites than Blacks, Black men may be “more vulnerable to experience of depression” and more disabled by depressive symptoms than their White peers. Despite the impact of depressive symptoms on Black men, they are half as likely as their White peers to use mental health services.

            In a recent study, a focus group was conducted with a small sample of approximately 26 Black men in St Louis to obtain their perspectives on depression and mental healthcare. Most participants described depression “as being down, feeling hopeless, or being stressed.” A small amount of participants stated “that depression does not exist,” that it was a choice to give in to “feelings of depression.” However, the majority of participants believed that it was important to seek professional help for depression. Although they believed mental healthcare to be important, most participants did not want to seek medical treatment because of the costs involved. They were also not sure how to seek mental health services, and were strongly opposed to the possibility of using medications for mental health. Social factors were also a major deterrent to seeking mental healthcare, with believes about masculinity and men not wanting to be “labeled as weak or crazy” for seeking psychiatric help. The participants also reported concerns about privacy, about “discomfort with the idea of being judged by a professional that did not identify with culturally or socioeconomically.”

Interestingly, social factors may also provide a solution. The participants found that discussing stress and depression “in nonjudgmental support groups,” such as the focus group study, was very helpful and wished to participate in future focus groups. This provides an actionable solution for Black men dealing with depression: seek out social connections and discussion of shared experiences.

——

References: Hudson, D.L., Eaton, J., Banks, A., Sewell, W., Neighbors, H. (2018). “Down in the Sewers”: Perceptions of Depression and Depression Care Among African American Men. American Journal of Men’s Health, 2018, Vol. 12 (1), 126-137.

About Stephanie Williams, PhD

Stephanie Williams, PhD, is the founder of Integrated Psychological Assessment Services. Her practice focuses on the connection between what we think, feel and do, and how changes can improve one’s life. Dr. Williams believes in empowering people to help them grow, change, or just deal with the daily demands of life.

Call Dr. Williams today for a free consultation: 408-317-0687.

Parenting during COVID-19: The use of grounding techniques to calm your children (or yourself)

It is not an exaggeration to say that every aspect of our lives is being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Faced with these challenges, maintaining  positive coping skills during this stressful time can be invaluable. Research has shown that practicing meditation and mindfulness may help us take on these challenges by significantly reducing symptoms of distress and anxiety based disorders like obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

The study by Williams et. al  (2019) examined the effects of “a meditation, mindfulness, and mantra intervention on youth” who were detained. The all male participants ages between 16 to 18, engaged in a four-week mindfulness intervention. The youth attended the facilitator-led intervention for one hour per week, and were asked to practice the mindfulness techniques for ten minutes per day.

Assessments taken before, during, and after the intervention show that it was undisputedly beneficial. Participants showed statistically significant reductions in mental illness severity, distress over mental illness symptoms, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, paranoia, and psychoticism.

What does this mean for our mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic? It means that daily practice of meditation, even just ten minutes per day, may significantly improve our ability to cope with and respond to our current challenges. By creating inner strengths such as calmness within ourselves, may allow us to be able to handle even the most challenging situations.

Questions? Please post them in the “Comments” section below.

——

References: Williams, S.N., Parkins, M.M., Benedict, B., & Waelde, L.C. (2020). A Pilot Study of a Meditation Program with Detained Juveniles: An Adaptation of Inner Resources for Teens (IRT). Journal of Forensic Psychology Research and Practice, 2 (1), 1-14.

About Stephanie Williams, PhD

Stephanie Williams, PhD, is the founder of Integrated Psychological Assessment Services. Her practice focuses on the connection between what we think, feel and do, and how changes can improve one’s life. Dr. Williams believes in empowering people to help them grow, change, or just deal with the daily demands of life.

Call Dr. Williams today for a free consultation: 408-317-0687.

In Challenging Situations, Use Inner Strengths

It is not an exaggeration to say that every aspect of our lives is being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Faced with these challenges, maintaining  positive coping skills during this stressful time can be invaluable. Research has shown that practicing meditation and mindfulness may help us take on these challenges by significantly reducing symptoms of distress and anxiety based disorders like obsessive-compulsive behaviors.

The study by Williams et. al  (2019) examined the effects of “a meditation, mindfulness, and mantra intervention on youth” who were detained. The all male participants ages between 16 to 18, engaged in a four-week mindfulness intervention. The youth attended the facilitator-led intervention for one hour per week, and were asked to practice the mindfulness techniques for ten minutes per day.

Assessments taken before, during, and after the intervention show that it was undisputedly beneficial. Participants showed statistically significant reductions in mental illness severity, distress over mental illness symptoms, obsessive-compulsive symptoms, paranoia, and psychoticism.

What does this mean for our mental health during the COVID-19 pandemic? It means that daily practice of meditation, even just ten minutes per day, may significantly improve our ability to cope with and respond to our current challenges. By creating inner strengths such as calmness within ourselves, may allow us to be able to handle even the most challenging situations.

Questions? Please post them “Comments” section below.

——

References: Williams, S.N., Parkins, M.M., Benedict, B., & Waelde, L.C. (2020). A Pilot Study of a Meditation Program with Detained Juveniles: An Adaptation of Inner Resources for Teens (IRT). Journal of Forensic Psychology Research and Practice, 2 (1), 1-14.

About Stephanie Williams, PhD

Stephanie Williams, PhD, is the founder of Integrated Psychological Assessment Services. Her practice focuses on the connection between what we think, feel and do, and how changes can improve one’s life. Dr. Williams believes in empowering people to help them grow, change, or just deal with the daily demands of life.

Call Dr. Williams today for a free consultation: 408-317-0687.