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Coach Kaela is the mental health liaison at Industrial Athletics. Each month, she highlights an area of mental health in an effort to bring awareness, education, and understanding. This month, she reached out to a therapist who works in the Greater Pittsburgh area to get her view and opinion on mental health and ways to cope as well as ways to help a loved one who is fighting a mental health battle.

Therapy is a great way to overcome any mental health struggles a person has, but can carry a stigma. Kaela has gone to therapy on and off since she was a teenager and currently goes regularly. She finds that when she attends consistently that she has more control over her thoughts, feelings, and emotions. She reached out to Abby Ritter of Calm Pittsburgh for a little Q and A.

  • Tell us a little about yourself: My name is Abby Ritter, and I am a therapist at Calm Pittsburgh. I am also an E-RYT 500hr Yoga Teacher and Ayurvedic Health Counselor.
  • How long have you been in this profession? I have been in this profession for two years.
  • What brought you to becoming a therapist? What lead me to become a therapist is really a culmination of life events, one of those being the loss of my father to suicide.  My father’s death was the catalyst for me which first led me to yoga training. Many of the yoga teachers in my trainings at that time were also therapists. Within the yoga teachings and philosophies, I learned a lot about how much our bodies and minds are intimately connected.  That is what ultimately led me to go back to school.
  • What would you say is your specialty? I specialize in grief and loss with a special interest in supporting those who have lost a loved one to suicide. I also specialize in sex therapy.
  • In your own words, define mental health? Mental health can affect daily living, relationships and physical health. It includes our emotional, psychological, and social wellbeing and affects how we think, feel, and act.
  • If you only had one minute to convey something important to a person suffering, what would that be? It would depend on the situation but if they were in crisis, I would encourage them to call RESOVE Crisis Services (888) 796-8226 to get immediate support.
  • What advice would you give someone who has a loved one suffering? I would encourage them to gently guide their loved one to seek support from a counseling or medical professional.
  • What are the top 3 coping mechanisms for someone suffering from mental health? It depends because it is unique to each individual and their needs. I would say the most accessible coping skill is learning how to breath diaphragmatically which will help calm the nervous system.  I would also encourage the person to get outside into nature and engage in physical activity if possible.
  • In your professional opinion, what are your thoughts on someone going to therapy and/or taking medication? One of the most courageous things someone can do when they are suffering is to reach out for help. I think both therapy and medication are beneficial depending on the individual’s needs.  The intention of therapy and medication is to help bring balance to one’s emotional and mental wellbeing.  I think that prioritizing your mental health and wellbeing is just as important as your physical health and wellness.
  • What have you seen being the biggest indicator of someone suffering? I think that sometimes people suffer in silence so it is not always something that you can see, but some indications could be withdrawing socially, not being able to complete daily tasks, not finding enjoyment in the things they once did and changes in sleep or appetite, to name a few. 
  • What have you seen that is the biggest cause of mental health problems? The origin of mental health issues can come from a variety of factors which can include but aren’t limited to genetics, environmental factors, childhood trauma, stressful life events, negative thoughts and unhealthy habits. 
  • Any final thoughts you may have on the importance of knowing and understanding mental health? It can be empowering for clients to build their coping skills and have a deeper understanding of how to support themselves mentally, physically and emotionally.

We just started 2022 and many of us went back to work and normal life after being disrupted during the holiday season. The holiday season can cause stress in many people and getting back to normal life can cause more stress. During this time, keep your feelings in mind and what you are going through. Know what makes you happy and fulfilled and be sure to make time for thatas you get back into the swing of things. If you or a loved one is suffering now or ever, please refer them to the RESOVE Crisis Services Hotline. The phone number again is 888-796-8226. Stay safe, stay mindful and make time for yourself.