6 things you need to know about mental health

By Rose-Ann Aragon - Reporter

HOUSTON - Life after Hurricane Harvey has been difficult for many people, as they struggle to put their lives back together. But there is help for those who are feeling they are affected by post-traumatic stress disorder.

Here are six things to know:

1) One in five adults have a mental health condition, according to Mental Health America.

That's 40 million Americans and larger than than the populations of New York and Florida combined.

2) Stressful or traumatic events like Hurricane Harvey may trigger biological and psychological reactions from the body, whether you know it or not.

You may think you're not affected by the stress, but your body may say otherwise.

"There are biological changes going on. Stress hormones are being released, changes in neurotransmitters, but there are also certain biological changes like feeling overwhelmed or not having trust in the world," Dr. Micah Knobles, a child psychiatry fellow at the University of Texas, said.

3) Replaying or seeing traumatic images is not good for your mental health.

Seeing images can trigger a trauma response or bring back old feelings of fear or terror. Mental health experts suggest removing yourself from the stressor and avoiding showing or seeing those images frequently. 

"It affects people in a deep way. It gets embedded, and it kind of rewinds and keeps playing," Dr. Becky Hauri, a professional psychologist at Houston Community College, said.

4) Answering questions that your children have about stressful situations or experiences can help.

"I think it can help if your children has questions, just to be present and to be open," Knobles said. "So, if they come to you and have questions about what they've seen on the TV like, 'What does this mean? What's going on?' It's OK using language that's appropriate for them, that's on their level, to provide reassurance. You don't have to give every detail, but you can say, 'We are here for you, and we'll do our best to keep safe.'"

5) Most people who have mental health conditions, don't get help.

Fifty-six percent of Americans with mental health conditions, did not receive treatment, according to Mental Health America. Some issues include access to mental health care and the stigma that getting help may be perceived as weakness.

"There are many barriers to accessing mental health services," Knobles said. "Many people don't have health insurance or if they do, it's still difficult to afford seeing a psychologist or a therapist or doctor. If they have the health insurance, maybe they can't find one on their plan that's easily accessible. There is also the concern. It takes a lot of courage to talk about what's going on in your lives."

6) How can you help yourself?

Remove yourself from stressors, talk with someone, open up dialogue with your children and seek out help from your community.

Resources: 

Mental Health America

Mental Health America of Greater Houston

Crisis Numbers:

  • Suicide Hotline 1-800-784-2433 
  • Crisis Intervention Houston: 832-416-1177 
  • Mobile Crisis Outreach Team: 713-970-7520 
  • HPD Mental Health Unit 713-970-4664 
  • Houston Police Department 713-884-3131 
  • Crisis Hotline (Main) 713-468-5463 (English) 713-526-8088 (Spanish) 
  • Gay and Lesbian Switchboard Houston 713-529-3211 
  • Ben Taub Psychiatric Unit 713-873-2636  
  • NeuroPsychiatric Center (NPC) 713-970-4600 
  • National Suicide Prevention 1-800-273-8255 
  • National de Prevencion del Suicidio 1-888-628-9454
  • National Suicide Prevention - Options for Deaf & Hard of Hearing 1-800-799-4889
  • Veterans Crisis Line 1-800-273-8255

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