Most of us would feel so much better if we worked less, ate less, drank less, slept more, turned off our electronic devices once in a while, and spent more time with the people we love.
Simply put, sometimes it’s easier for us to engage in unhealthy behaviors than it is to start the hard work of improving our health. It can feel overwhelming to tackle our medical or emotional problems, and since none of us likes to feel as though our lives are not going well, we can opt for unhealthy coping mechanisms. The trouble with that is that rather than solving our problems, at times our coping mechanisms prolong them.
I know my saying this won’t necessarily make people pull out their phones and make an appointment with a behavioral health provider, but I just want to plant this seed: wouldn’t it be powerful if you could let go of the past emotional baggage we all carry and advance to a new understanding of yourself?
As a primary care provider who works in behavioral health, I have seen patients get to a place where they felt happier, more relaxed, and more comfortable in their own lives. Seeking behavioral therapy is a courageous choice. I tell my patients, “This could be a hard year. Transition is often hard. It takes focus to dig into the deep issues that affect our lives. But ultimately, I think you’ll have a deeper understanding of yourself.”
Even when people are willing to do the work, the barriers to seeking mental health treatment can loom large. The stigma around mental illness can be difficult to overcome, both the opinions of others and people’s own opinions of what it means to be in counseling or taking medication.
Sometimes seeing the benefits of change is not enough for us to overcome our reluctance to seek treatment, to address our emotional lives. The status quo can feel safe, even if it isn’t ideal. In my own life, I try to reduce stress and live a healthier, more authentic life and help my patients do the same.
What does it mean to try to live an authentic life? It can be the hardest thing we do. It means living a full life while being true to yourself. Each of us has to figure out what this means because it is different for each individual. Unfortunately, society doesn’t make this self-discovery process easy.
When I work with behavioral health patients, I listen to their issues, share my knowledge about medication and pathways to counseling. Patients must find answers for themselves. We can talk about the tools for self-discovery, and we can discuss how to find a more centered place, but patients need to recognize this is work for them to do. The goal is, perhaps for all of us, finding a more centered place.
Whether patients suffer from depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, or other psychological stress, it’s up to them to decide what to do and how to live. Sometimes people believe medication is the best way to help themselves, when what they may need is counseling. Although medication can be life-changing, the patient’s relationship with their provider is typically the true gateway to healing and understanding.
When it comes down to it, we are all responsible for our own health, but as a community, we have to come together to accomplish community health. That’s what we try to do every day at Mendocino Coast Clinics. As healthcare providers, we are here for support, but we can’t do the work for others. My goal as a provider is to help each of my patients feel as healthy as possible while trying to live an authentic life.
If you’d like to take a first step in this direction, consider scheduling an appointment at a community health center like Mendocino Coast Clinics. We do not turn anyone away on the basis of whether you can afford care. We accept patients whether you have insurance or not. If you think we can help you, give us a call. If you think your health is in jeopardy, give us a call. If you want to heal, let’s do this. We are here to connect with you.
James Thomas is a physician assistant at Mendocino Coast Clinics, a local, non-profit, federally qualified health center offering medical, dental and behavioral health care to people in the coastal communities of Mendocino County.
We’ll be at Interior this evening for our fun and fabulous Healthy for the Holidays event! Come by and get a free blood pressure check or a free vision test and spin the wheel for prizes. Nibble on some healthy snacks and get tips for staying healthy and happy over the holiday season! See you at Interior, 224 East Redwood, starting at 5:00!
October is Breast Cancer Awareness Month. Our friendly, dedicated medical providers and medical assistants are ready to schedule your mammogram! Just give us a call at (707) 964-1251 or ask us during your next visit about scheduling this important, life-saving screening.
According to The New York Times, new guidelines suggest that young children should mostly drink just dairy milk and water. Plant based milks are not recommended due to added sweeteners. The idea is to stop children from developing a taste for sweet drinks when they are young that could lead to health problems later in life.
Here are the new recommendations by age group:
Birth to six months: Infants should drink only breast milk or infant formula. They should not drink juice, milk, flavored milk, so-called transition or weaning formulas (also called toddler milks, growing-up milks or follow-up formula), low-calorie sweetened beverages (diet or “light” drinks, or those sweetened with Stevia or Sucralose). These children also should not receive plant-based and nondairy “milks,” caffeinated beverages (soda, coffee, tea, energy drinks) or sugar-sweetened beverages (soda, fruit drinks and fruit-flavored drinks, sports drinks, energy drinks, sweetened water, and sweetened coffee or tea).
6 to 12 months: Babies should still rely on breast milk or infant formula. Once they have begun eating solid food, they can start sipping water. Parents should avoid juice, milk, flavored milk, transition formulas, low-calorie sweetened beverages, plant-based and nondairy milks, caffeinated beverages, and sugar-sweetened beverages.
12 to 24 months: Children should drink one to four cups of water daily, and they can start drinking plain pasteurized whole milk. They should have no more than four ounces of 100 percent fruit juice per day; the juice may be watered down. Parents should avoid other drinks (flavored milk, transition formulas, caffeinated drinks, plant-based and nondairy milks, sugar-sweetened beverages and low-calorie sweetened beverages).
2 to 3 years old: Toddlers should drink one to four cups of water daily and transition to fat-free or low-fat (1 percent fat) milk. They should drink no more than four ounces of 100 percent juice and should not be given other drinks.
4 to 5 years old: These toddlers should drink 1.5 to five cups of water a day, skim or low-fat milk, and no more than four to six ounces of 100 percent fruit juice. They should not be given other drinks.
Your Wellness Challenge for September is to have at least one serving of protein in each of your meals, 5 days per week. Wondering what a serving is? For lean protein, it’s 3 ounces, or about the size of your palm.
Wondering what protein does for your body? One or two things:
• It is a component of every cell in your body. In fact, hair and nails are mostly made of protein. • Your body uses it to build and repair tissue. • You need it to make enzymes, hormones, and other body chemicals. • It is an important building block of bones, muscles, cartilage, skin, and blood.
Wondering how to get this important nutrient into your diet? Here are some ideas.
With school starting on August 14 in Fort Bragg and August 26 in Mendocino, those with school-aged children should be scheduling their yearly child wellness checks and sports physicals. Connecting your child with medical care each year is an important way to prevent some health problems and to catch others while they’re still relatively easy to manage. Does your daughter need glasses? Can your son hear well (maybe he isn’t just ignoring you)?
PREVENTION IS THE BEST MEDICINE
One of the most important things we can do for our children is to vaccinate them. Decades ago, many families had to experience the tragedy of losing a child to polio, whooping cough, or other infections, but thanks to modern vaccines, this is no longer the case. Today, children can be protected against measles, chickenpox, rubella, HPV, meningitis and more.
When we all vaccinate our children, we help create what’s called “herd immunity,” protecting not only those who receive the vaccines but also the most vulnerable people in our communities—those who cannot be vaccinated such as babies younger than six months old and people with weakened immune systems. We are lucky to live in a time when we don’t see the devastating effects of these diseases very often. Let’s keep it that way!
TRACK GROWTH AND DEVELOPMENT
Another important reason to check in with a medical provider every year is to measure your child’s growth and development for their age and stage. If your child is not reaching common milestones, it may indicate a problem. Often, the younger the child, the easier it is to help them catch up. If a problem exists, your healthcare provider can take care of it or send your child for the right therapy or specialized care.
Here are five main areas of development providers consider:
Cognitive skills are those used to think, learn and solve problems. Kids use these skills to explore the world around them with their eyes, ears, and hands.
Social and emotional skills are those used to relate to other people and include being able to express and control emotions.
Speech and language skills are essential to use and understand language.
Fine and gross motor skills include the use of small muscles (fine motor), particularly in the hands, and large muscles (gross motor) in the body.
Daily living activities are those required to manage everyday tasks. They can include things such as eating, dressing, and bathing themselves.
Children’s bodies change a lot during between the ages of 12 and 18, and an annual checkup is a great time to make sure those changes are going well. During the tween and teen years, sports can be a healthy way for adolescents to release stress; the key is to make sure it’s safe. Intense physical activity like the kind required during competitive school sports can bring to light problems no one knew about. A thorough sports physical can identify symptoms that prevent catastrophic medical problems.
Since sports physicals are often the only time adolescents see a medical provider each year, these appointments can also provide a critical opportunity to provide health education or diagnose problems that might not come up otherwise. Many providers ask parents if the parents would be willing to step outside for a few minutes, so teens can discuss health concerns privately with providers. Providers can provide a safe space for teens to discuss life stressors or behaviors related to social pressures, drug use, alcohol, sex, anxiety, and mental illness. Providers can help keep teens healthy by sharing accurate information. At Mendocino Coast Clinics, we have male and female clinicians, so teens can choose whichever they are more comfortable with.
BRING YOUR QUESTIONS
Sports physicals and annual wellness checks are a good time for parents to ask questions, too. If you have questions about development, behavior, sleep, eating, or social interactions, note your top three to five concerns and ask your child’s clinician about them at the start of the visit.
Just because children don’t exhibit any obvious problems doesn’t mean they shouldn’t see a healthcare provider. When we identify problems early, they’re usually easier to fix.
It’s that time of year! If your child needs a back to school, sports, or camp physical, just give our Pediatrics office a call at (707) 964-5696.
Appointments are available daily with one of our three pediatricians – the only pediatricians on the Mendocino Coast. And until August 2, make an appointment and receive a free swim pass or Cowlick’s gift card for your child! You will also be entered into a weekly drawing for an even bigger prize.
Come on in and see us at 510 Cypress Street Suite D for the #bestcareanywhere for your child!
Happy Farmers’ Market Day! Today’s special, made by our very own Registered Dietitian Susie, is tomato bisque soup. Enjoy the summery flavors of tomato and basil, and take the recipe with you to try at home. This vegetarian delight can easily become vegan by omitting the yogurt and using vegetable broth.
Come by and try a sample of delicious soup, ask Susie your health and wellness questions, and ask our Advocate Albert about Medi-Cal, Medicare Part D, Covered California, and Cal Fresh. They have the answers to all those important questions!
They will also be giving away Market Bucks to children up to the age of 18 and adults 60 and up. These can be redeemed for fruit and vegetables at the Fort Bragg Certified Farmers Market. And don’t forget: If you receive CalFresh, you can double your buying power at the Farmers’ Market. See you there! #behealthywithus
Did you know? Mendocino Coast Clinics has a weekly support group for existing MCC patients who are experiencing chronic pain. It’s every Wednesday from 5:00 to 6:00 pm in the conference room at 205 South Street.
No reservations are needed, and there is no cost to attend.
The group is led by our Chronic Pain Manager and dedicated therapists. Come, learn, and connect. Snacks are provided.
Copyright by Mendocino Coast Clinics. All rights reserved. This Health Center receives HHS funding and has Federal PHS deemed status with respect to certain health or health-related claims, including medical malpractice claims, for itself and its covered individuals. This Health Center is a Health Center Program grantee under 42 U.S.C. 245b, and deemed a Public Health Service employee under 42 U.S.C. 233 (g)-(n). Any claim filed against MCC must be done in federal court.