Mental Health Connections

Mental Health Connections

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, so we checked in with one of our Response for Teens clinicians, Zatio Kone, to learn more about the subject.

“I really think that mental health is about learning how to live with the range of human emotions and learning how to tolerate everything that comes our way,” Zatio said. “It’s ok to struggle sometimes, it’s ok to feel less than great.

“It’s important to find our ‘why,’ or the reason we do things,” she added. “What matters most is when we feel connected to a reason, or when we feel connected to some kind of purpose.”

If you are struggling, Zatio says it’s important to connect with people who will listen to you and hear you. Those connections can form in several ways, whether it be with friends, religious professionals or even internet communities.

“Being connected to another person can be very powerful,” said Zatio, who works primarily with teens, but also sees adults.

She added that expression can also support mental health.

“One of my mottos is ‘Emotions Need Motion.’ Emotions need to move through us. They need a conduit.

“So whether it’s writing or drawing or doing music, or even taking an audio journal and just talking out loud, I think it’s really important to just get the feelings out, get them moving,” she said. “Not to get rid of them, just to express them.”

Zatio said we should not put mental health on a pedestal and equate it to happiness or complete fulfillment.

“It’s not about maximizing your mind or yoga-ing yourself into nirvana.” she said. “I think that bad things happen when we try to seek out perfection.”

Rather than doing meditation, yoga and seeing a therapist every week, Zatio said good mental health can be as simple as going on regular walks with your family or dog, or talking to your rabbi, advisor, friend or another trusted person in your life. And she said it’s good to get help when you feel that you want it – it doesn’t have to be a need.

Finding the right therapist can take time, and Zatio recommends meeting with more than one in the beginning to find the right fit.

“Don’t get discouraged,” she said.

Go here for more information on finding a therapist.