Addressing the Stigma of Mental Health and Seeking Treatment

By Melissa Lafferty, M.S., PLMHP

As we begin October, which is Mental Health Awareness Month, I am constantly reminded in our society that mental health needs and “having sad feelings” makes people uncomfortable and scared.

But as a mental health provider, I am left asking why?

  • Why does having a mental health diagnosis scare and frighten others?
  • Why do those who struggle and survive every day feel left alone and abandoned when they share their mental health challenges with others?
  • Why do we lie to ourselves and others about being “fine” just to save face in the public?

Through our work and research at Nebraska Mental Health Centers, we strive to answer these whys and to give hope, relief, and empower adults, families, and children with mental health diagnoses.  Mental health disorders are so complicated.  They are impacted by our biological, cultural, and societal standards that are constantly telling us all “how” we should live our lives to be happy, productive people.  But life is not a one-size-fits-all dish that serves us all.  We all have different meanings for what it means to be happy and healthy.

But for those individuals who strive every day to understand their feelings of unhappiness or unrest, to understand their repetitive behaviors, to understand their constant worries, or to understand why their child can’t learn like other children can learn, we as a society need to support their goals to find answers, not shame and accuse them of being “crazy” because they are searching for the answers to find happiness for themselves and their families.  Every day should be a message to individuals with mental health needs that we are here to love, support, and encourage them to have a voice to help them find happiness and health in their lives.

Be a voice, be a supporter, be a hopeful message for everyone that surrounds you to find the happiness in their lives!

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Understanding Depression

Facts about Depression

Facts about Depression

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NMHC teaming up with SCIP, Saltdogs to Stand Up Against Bullying

NMHC teaming up with SCIP, Saltdogs to Stand Up Against Bullying

We’re proud to announce a partnership with SCIP (School Community Intervention and Prevention) and the Lincoln Saltdogs in an effort to stop and prevent bullying. Please visit our Facebook page in the link above to find out more.

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Getting There Slower

By Joanna deSupinski, M.A.

Take a deep breath. Wait, first sit down. No, really sit down and not just on the edge of your seat. Sit as if you are anchoring yourself and not the strongest wind could blow you over. Let your legs stretch out in front of you. Now let your shoulder blades spread out as you sink into the back of the seat. Your spine should straighten like an unraveling vine. Your arms should dangle at your side like arms on a puppet. Now take a deep breath from the pit of your stomach filling your lungs such that your ribcage expands fully. As you exhale notice the rhythm of your breath like ocean waves steadily tumbling in and out. Take a moment to notice any changes in your body. Did you notice any tension that has now subsided? If your breathing rate has not noticeably slowed, re-read this paragraph and follow the steps until it has and then read on.

You may now proceed in reading this blog.

In the words of John Kabat Zinn, founder of a leading stress reduction clinic and Stress Reduction and Relaxation Program (SR & RP) at the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, “the stress in our lives is now so great and so insidious that more and more people are making the deliberate decision to understand it better and to bring it under personal control (p.2).” Recent research is following this cognitive thread and revealing that we would be a more productive society if we just tried to get to our destination point a little slower. Mednick and Ehrman (2006) encourage naps as the most efficient remedy to both mental and physical health issues. Additionally, they provide evidence of greater productivity when nap time is factored into the daily routine. In a recent article from CNN, the history of Sunday was explored revealing that a ‘stop day’ is no longer adhered to by contemporary society. Sunday used to be a day of rest when stores shut down and families retreated to their homes, enjoying relaxation and each other’s company. Most frightening however, are the effects of prolonged stress that inevitably ensues just in thinking about work each day of the week. As a mental health service provider, I am well acquainted with the resulting depression that is never a far cry from constant stress.

Research shows that work-oriented cultures, such as the US and Japan have higher levels of depression and stress-related medical conditions among employees than other countries (Mednick & Ehrman, 2006). In fact, there is a condition in Japan known as “karōshi,” literally meaning dying from overwork (Happy: The movie. 2011). Also common among these cultures is a sense of guilt when not working.

Don’t worry employers, this does not mean I condone playing hooky. I do encourage commitment to health and well-being and that includes taking an intentional and focused break. It seems then, that in order for R & R to be effective it must become a part of everyday society.

Take a second to ask yourself, should greater productivity really be the goal of self-care and mindfulness?


Happy: The movie. The Movement. (2011). Michael Pritchard.

Kabat-Zinn, J. (1990). Full catastrophe of living: Using the wisdom of your body and

            mind to face stress, pain, and illness. New York, NY: Bantam Dell Publishers.

Mednick, S., & Ehrman, M. (2006). Take a nap! Change your life. New York, NY:

Workman Publishing Company, Inc.

Tinker, B.  (2013, January 11). The Importance of a ‘stop day.’ CNN. Retrieved from

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Is Punishment Always the Answer?

Exploring Alternative Methods for Addressing Problematic Behaviors from Children

By Tessa Mak, M.A.

Trying to find an effective method for disciplining your child when he/she is misbehaving can be a challenge, especially when you feel like punishment is the only option (i.e. spanking and taking everything away).  Although punishment can be effective, it may not work in every situation or for every child.  For example, some children can have all of their toys taken away and still continue to demonstrate the same problematic behaviors.  In addition, spanking may result in immediate compliance with requests, but excessive disciplinary spanking can also increase aggressive behavior in children.  Therefore, it is important to have a wide variety of strategies to address your child’s problematic behaviors.

When addressing your child’s problematic behaviors, it can be helpful to first understand why your child is misbehaving and what he/she is gaining from these problematic behaviors.  For some children, their misbehavior is to gain attention from adults or peers (it is important to remember that even negative attention is still attention). 

For example, a child may start screaming because he/she wants attention from a preferred adult who is busy doing another activity or a child may burp loudly in public to make siblings or classmates laugh.  Other children may misbehave because they are trying to escape or avoid an uncomfortable situation.  An example of this would be when told to begin working on homework that the child does not understand how to complete, he/she may start to scream or cry in an attempt to not have to start the difficult task.  Still other children misbehave because their actions either feel good to them (i.e. making noises with their mouth because it feels good) or relieve internal discomfort (chewing on shirt collar because it is soothing).

Once you understand why your child is misbehaving you can start to use more effective methods for addressing his/her problematic behaviors.  When you start to utilize some of these strategies, it is important to be consistent and follow through with what you have started.  One strategy is to address the triggers that cause your child’s problem behaviors.  This may involve teaching your child appropriate ways to ask for attention as well as identifying and discussing with your child age-appropriate specific behaviors for them to do at home, school, with peers, and in public.  Another strategy is to give the child appropriate choices for their behaviors (i.e. your child can walk holding your hand or sit in the cart when at a grocery store). 

Another strategy is to utilize effective consequences for both your child’s positive and negative behaviors.  When your child behaves in a positive way, give specific praise about what you liked so your child knows he/she behaved appropriately and he/she will be more likely to do the behavior again to receive praise from you.  When your child behaves inappropriately, use logical consequences, which may involve taking away privileges or requiring the child to do extra chores.  When giving a logical consequence for a negative behavior make sure the punishment fits the crime because children who feel like the punishment will never end are less likely to feel motivated to make changes to their behaviors. 

Even when using some of these alternative strategies, addressing your child’s problematic behaviors may still be a challenge.  Therefore, it is important to use your own social support (i.e. talking with friends and family) to help decrease your emotional distress as well as help you stay consistent with your approach.  It may also be beneficial to gain some professional assistant from a mental health provider to develop, establish, and maintain effective discipline strategies specific for your child.  

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How Do I Know If I Need Therapy?

By Brindi Streufert, M.A.

Have you been feeling down lately? Maybe your nerves are starting to get the best of you or you can’t get those worrisome thoughts out of your head. Are you struggling to get along with someone important in your life? Maybe you’re not sleeping as well as you used to.

Sure, everyone goes through obstacles and bumps on the road of life. Often we can make it through those obstacles with some hard work, good stress management, support from family and friends, or some vacation time.

But what if your usual tricks to beat the blues or calm your nerves just aren’t working like they used to? How can you tell if it might be time to get some professional support for what you’re going through? Could you really benefit from therapy?

To know if it might be time to seek some professional help, you might benefit from asking yourself these questions:

• Have I ever experienced this level of difficulty?
• Is my mood or worry affecting how I live my life?
• Are my job, school, or relationships suffering because of my current experiences?
• Have I ever had this much difficulty getting back to living the way I want to live?
• Have I been able to get better on my own?
• Do I know how to get better on my own?

Your answers to these questions may indicate that you would benefit from therapy. If you find yourself experiencing more distress than you have had to cope with in the past, and the distress is significantly affecting your job, school or relationships, you might benefit from therapy. If you are unsure of how to help yourself get better or your efforts are not helping you feel better, you might benefit from therapy.

If you think you might benefit from therapy, we, at Nebraska Mental Health Centers, would be happy to assist you. You can call us at 402-483-6990. If you don’t live nearby, the American Psychological Association (APA) can help you find the provider in your city who might be right for you at this link:

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Free presentations on mental health

FREE Mental Health Presentations will be given at NMHC  for parents, caregivers, and anyone who works with children starting next week as part of Children’s Mental Health Week. Here is a list of the upcoming topics.

A Parent’s Guide to Bullying: Mon May 7 at 6:00pm

When to Worry About Worrying: Tues May 8 at 7:00pm

ADHD or Inattention: Wed May 9 at 7:00pm

Coping with Trauma: Thurs May 10 at 7:00pm

Managing Problem Behaviors: Fri May 11 at 5:00pm

We hope you can join us for what we feel will be an informative series on mental health and its importance in our everyday lives.

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NMHC to hold special event on Parent-Child Interaction Training


Dr. Kimberly Zlomke

March 14th, 2012 11:00am at NMHC

Current Practices and New Research in Parent-Child Interaction Training (P-CIT)

in Evidence-Based Treatment for Childhood Behavior Disorders


  • Basic procedures and populations of P-CIT

  • Primary effectiveness of P-CIT with differing special populations (autism spectrum)

  • Key components of P-CIT that support changes in family functioning


NMHC is located at

4545 S. 86th St.

Lincoln, NE 68502 

(on the southeast corner of 84th and Pioneers)

Please call Thomas McPherson at 402-483-6990 or email if you wish to attend or have any questions.    

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NMHC to take part in Autism Spectrum/ADHD Event this Monday

We at NMHC are proud to have been invited by Learning Rx Centers in Lincoln to take part in a very special event this upcoming Monday. Here is the official release:


As one “Biggest Loser” couple explained on national television, autism doesn’t just impact individuals. It impacts entire families.


You may remember Phil and Amy as contestants on Season Six of “The Biggest Loser” reality TV show. Phil and Amy’s youngest son, Rhett, was diagnosed with autism when he was just two. Stressed by the impact of the disorder on their family, Phil and Amy say that they turned to food to comfort, putting on a combined total of more than 250 unwanted pounds. They eventually lost that weight—and found new resources to cope with autism.


You are invited to meet Phil and Amy and hear their story at a community-wide autism and ADHD resources event on March 5th. Also present will be representatives of numerous local care providers and support groups that specialize in helping those impacted by autism and ADHD.


Phil and Amy, since their appearance on “The Biggest Loser,” have created a 90-day fitness challenge. They will be sharing their story about autism, as well as their journey to a healthy lifestyle. Numerous weight loss clinics will be in attendance to share their resources and products, too.


Nebraska Mental Health Centers is proud to be a participant in this important event. Please join us and take advantage of the opportunity to learn more about our programs, as well as other local and national resources available to you and your family. A nurse from Madonna ProActive will be doing free health screenings at the event.


Meet Phil and Amy Parham from “The Biggest Loser” and hear their autism and weight loss story at the Community Autism and ADHD Resource Event.

March 5th at 6:30pm

The Lodge at Wilderness Ridge: 1800 Wilderness Woods Place Lincoln, NE 68512


Autism and ADHD are the fastest growing developmental disabilities in American, with 1 in 110 children (and 1 in 70 boys) being impacted by autism. Because autism is a “spectrum” disorder—with symptoms ranging from very mild to severe—it impacts individuals, and their families, very differently. Knowing what local and national resources are available to address the unique needs of your family can make all the difference in the world.


While reservations are not required, your R.S.V.P. will help us know how to prepare and are appreciated. Please respond to this email and let us know you’re planning on attending.

 We look forward to seeing you on March 5th.

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Hello and Welcome

WELCOME to the official blog of Nebraska Mental Health Centers. I’m very excited to bring you news and other goings-on here at NMHC, and look forward to the insights our clinicians will contribute here about mental health and whatever else might be on their minds.

I am not a mental health professional, but one thing that struck me upon taking this job is how much stigma there is surrounding those who seek mental health treatment. In some cases it could lead to one denying help when he or she really needs it. Too often, society regards those who seek mental health services as “crazy,” “unstable,” or “weak” when the person may merely have a problem that affects his or her quality of life. Many organizations and individuals have come forth to combat this stigma—it’s made headlines both here in the U.S. and other countries. We as a society should not condemn or label anyone who seeks help when it’s needed.

Keep in mind, erasing the stigma won’t be the only mission of this blog. What I hope this blog does is engage, entertain, and educate. Whether you live right here in Nebraska or thousands of miles away, I hope you find what’s written here worth reading.

We look forward to talking more. In the meantime, you can check us out at our official website at or find us on Facebook or Twitter. We can also be reached the good ol’ fashioned way on the phone at 402-483-6990.


Thomas McPherson

Technical Coordinator

Nebraska Mental Health Centers


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