February is American Heart Month. Heart disease, it is the cause of 1 in 4 deaths in adults in the United States, according to the Center for Disease Control. That is about 610,000 people in the US per year. So we use the month of February to encourage everyone to implement simple life changes such as: managing stress, eating a balanced diet, exercising, getting adequate sleep, and using spices instead of salt.
We want to encourage you to address your heart’s physical health, but we also want to encourage you to address your heart’s emotional health. One way we do this is to have the Olson Marriage and Family Therapy (OMFT) Clinic come on Valentine’s Day. Depression is known to spike around Valentine’s Day, as single people can feel very alone. The masters level students provide depression screenings if our patients are interested, and then they are able to offer appointments in their clinic. OMFT provide counseling services on a sliding-fee scale that can be much more affordable for our patients without insurance. We post when the depression screenings are going on in the clinic, and anyone can walk-in to see the OMFT students, even without an appointment.
Imagine being a single mom, overwhelmed by the pressures of life. Your kids have insurance through the state, but you cannot afford the high premium costs of employer offered insurance. Life begins to feel more and more lonely. You begin to struggle with sleeping, finding yourself to be more irritable than usual, and having a hard time working up an appetite. Each day there just seems to be this looming sadness from the moment your feet hit the floor. Someone recommends seeing a counselor, but there is no way you can pay the full rate of the session fees and make rent. Then you see a flyer at His Hands for a free depression screening. Hesitantly, you walk in. Soon you are at ease as a caring counselor leads you through a screening. They offer you an appointment and let you know that the fee will be $10 a session, which you know you can manage. After some appointments with a counselor you find yourself developing coping mechanisms. You make some small changes to routine to make the mornings go smoother. You identify other people in your life that you can lean on for support. Slowly, the fog of sadness begins to dissipate and you find yourself smiling more and having fun with your children again.
His Hands also wants to boost emotional health by reminding you and our patients that you are valued and important. We are all are created in the image of God. Our monthly bulletin board displays 28 verses and truths straight from the Bible to encourage patients’ hearts. Examples include: “I am chosen,” “God sees me,” “I am not forsaken,” and “I am treasured.” All throughout this month patients also have the opportunity to write to someone who has made an impact on his or her life. Sometimes we forget to express how much people mean to us. It only takes a minute and can make such a difference in encouraging someone else!
Our prayer is that during American Heart Month you and our patients will be encouraged to improve both the physical health of your heart and your emotional health!
Amy DeLay, Patient Advocate