Everyone goes through emotional stress. From demanding jobs to relationship troubles, it’s normal to experience stress that affects your mood and makes life difficult. And even if you don’t have a behavioral health condition, mental health coping skills are important to help everyone get through these tough times.
But mental health coping skills are particularly important for people with preexisting mental health issues. When living with a mental health disorder, emotional stress can come from just going through daily life, and it can be overwhelmingly difficult to stay calm and make healthy decisions. Developing coping skills for your mental illness symptoms is an important tool for leading a healthy, functional life.
What Are Mental Health Coping Skills?
Coping skills are daily strategies that everyone uses to manage both positive and negative external situations. Coping skills help you tolerate, minimize, and deal with stressful situations in life. Managing your stress well can help you feel better physically and psychologically and it can impact your ability to perform your best.
Mental health coping skills are strategies you can use to deal with problems caused by mental health issues. There are two main types of coping skills: problem-centered coping and emotion-centered coping. Understanding how they differ can help you determine the best coping strategy for you.
Problem-centered coping is helpful when you need to change your situation, perhaps by removing a stressful thing from your life. For example, if you’re in an unhealthy relationship, removing that toxic influence from your life can help to reduce the amount of stress you experience. Problem-centered mental health coping skills deal with exterior factors that cause problems for your mental health, like your personal relationships and environment.
Emotion-centered coping skills are tools you use to take care of your emotional health when you can’t change what stresses you, such as when a loved one dies. You use emotion-centered coping skills when you need to take care of your emotional well-being. For people with mental health issues that cause persistent stress, emotion-centered coping skills are important for managing their daily health.
Healthy vs Unhealthy Coping Skills
Everyone has different ways of coping with stress. Some people focus on their hobbies, while others may get comfort from spending time with their pets or exercising. These are examples of healthy coping skills— positive and productive ways to react to life’s stressful situations.
But not all coping methods are positive. Relying on things like substance abuse, self-harm, or other self-destructive behaviors are examples of unhealthy coping skills.
Unhealthy coping skills are an example of avoidance, a trait most common in people with PTSD. They may provide a temporary feeling of relief from emotional stress, but ultimately, they’re a barrier to a functional life.
Healthy mental health coping skills lead to the problem being resolved in a way that reduces stress and harm. Unhealthy coping skills don’t resolve the problem in the long-term and cause harm. Unhealthy coping strategies may feel like they are having the desired effect in the short term, but they only provide a temporary relief, and it always ends too soon.
Many people who struggle with mental illness develop unhealthy coping skills to deal with their emotional triggers. It can be difficult for anyone to unlearn harmful habits, but for people who rely on harmful mental health coping skills to manage their mental illness, it can sometimes seem impossible. A professional mental health treatment program can help provide the tools needed to make lasting, positive change.
How to Learn Healthy Coping Skills
For people who struggle with overcoming unhealthy behavioral issues on their own, a behavioral health program may be helpful. In a behavioral health program, you’ll meet with mental health professionals to discuss the mental health issues you’re facing.
Working with a therapist can be helpful for the development of mental health coping skills. Together, you’ll create a personalized treatment plan to help you develop healthy coping skills. A therapist can help you identify the biggest challenges in your life, process your thoughts and feelings, and find ways to respond to negative events with positive actions
One of the leading treatments in mental health recovery is cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT focuses on addressing the emotional triggers behind unhealthy actions and teaching patients how to respond to them in positive ways. CBT encourages patients to readdress harmful mental health coping skills and replace them with healthier ones.
Benefits of Dual Diagnosis Treatment
Drug or alcohol abuse is particularly common among people with mental illness. According to the National Institute for Mental Health, half of all people who experience mental health disorders also develop substance abuse disorders at some point in their lifetime.
Dysfunctional mental health coping skills like substance abuse often provide a feeling of immediate relief, but have harsh long-term consequences. Mental health programs can help you learn positive mental health coping skills, but for people with co-occurring mental health and substance abuse disorders, drug use and emotional control go hand-in-hand.
For people with co-occurring disorders, dual diagnosis treatment can help. Dual diagnosis treatment isn’t just treatment for substance abuse issues— it’s a combined addiction and mental health treatment program. Dual diagnosis programs are designed to treat addiction as well as the underlying mental stress that causes it.
A dual diagnosis treatment program is the best way to make sure you’re addressing all the problems that can contribute to a mental health or drug abuse issue, no matter which one may have caused the other. A dual diagnosis program offers integrated treatment plans that will include things like group psychotherapy, mental illness education, 12-step programs, relapse prevention, and more.
Learning Healthy Coping Skills Today
Connecting with a support group or professional help can give you the resources you need to learn healthy mental health coping skills. At Baton Rouge Behavioral Hospital, we’re more than happy to help you take this step.
We provide our clients with a supportive environment which addresses their unique physical, emotional, and social needs. This means staying in touch with clients throughout their stay to discuss their concerns and goals for treatment. Every step of the way, we are constantly updating treatment plans and working with our clients to help them achieve long-term health and sobriety.
In our adult mental health program, our counseling team will work with you to create strategies for coping with both internal and external stressors in positive ways. In doing so, you can break through damaging patterns of thought and replace destructive habits with healthy alternatives. Our adult psychiatric treatment program includes:
- Cognitive behavioral therapy
- Medication management
- Group therapy
- Recreational therapy
We believe that healing starts from within. If you’re ready to start on the road to healthy living, reach out to us today. You can contact our admissions specialists at 225-300-8470, or you can reach out via our confidential contact form.