Compassion Fatigue & Compassion Satisfaction: How to Keep Going for the Long Haul

By: Cathy Salomon, MA, MBA and Taylor Transtrum

While most of us are familiar with the term “burnout,” a lesser known term which can lead to burnout and stress is “compassion fatigue.” Read on to learn about the toll of compassion fatigue and burnout—and how we can combat the two in order to achieve compassion satisfaction.

Understanding Compassion Fatigue

Compassion fatigue occurs as the result of experiencing a combination of secondary traumatic stress and burnout. Secondary traumatic stress (STS) impacts us cognitively, emotionally, behaviorally, and physically. Without boundaries, we neglect our own needs and put others needs above ours, which can then turn into compassion fatigue.

The chart below illustrates cognitive, emotional, behavioral and physical signs of compassion fatigue to look out for.

How is Burnout Different from Compassion Fatigue?

While compassion fatigue is caused by a combination of secondary traumatic stress and burnout, burnout can exist on its own without secondary traumatic stress. Burnout can also happen in any profession, since burnout has more to do with the workplace than the work itself. 

Rather than leaving your profession altogether, it’s better to examine what in your current work environment is contributing to your burnout. In order to resolve burnout, the environmental factors causing it need to be addressed as soon as possible. Some of the most common factors that lead to burnout include inadequate supervision, lack of support, micromanagement, and underwhelming or overwhelming tasks.

A healthy work environment in which employees are respected, treated well and supported in their needs prevents burnout.



What is Compassion Satisfaction?

Compassion satisfaction is defined as “The pleasurable and satisfying feelings that come from helping others.”

It’s because of compassion satisfaction that people are drawn to altruistic fields of work—such as mental healthcare, social work, mental health crisis care, teaching and healthcare of many kinds, among other fields—as well as volunteering. 

Signs of compassion satisfaction are experiencing feelings of fulfillment, reward, achievement, enrichment, inspiration, hope and gratitude. 

Compassionate and empathetic people are often driven towards careers where they can help others or a cause that is important to them. This type of work can be both difficult and overwhelming, while also being highly rewarding at the same time. 

In order to achieve and maintain compassion satisfaction, it’s important to recognize the signs of compassion fatigue and burnout, and create boundaries around your work and taking the time for self-care.


Coping with Compassion Fatigue & Achieving Compassion Satisfaction 

Compassionate and empathetic people tend to throw themselves fully into their work and/or causes that matter most to them. As a result, they are more likely to experience secondary stress and burnout, which can lead to compassion fatigue. In order to prevent this, or recover from it, it’s important to implement boundaries and self-care practices into everyday life. After all, you need to take care of yourself first in order to have anything left to give to others.


Here are some ways to achieve compassion satisfaction: 

  • Let go of what you can’t control 
    • Practice setting aside a designated “worry time” for half an hour to an hour. When you feel overwhelming feelings of worry pop-up outside of this time, make note of what you’re worried about and save it for later during your “worry time.”
  •  Talk it out
    • Accept that overwhelming feelings are natural. A few ways to deal with these feelings are journaling, talking to a friend/loved one, and talking to a therapist.
  •  Take small breaks during the work day
    • When stress and emotion start getting in the way of your work day or peace of mind, give yourself a short break to distract yourself and relax your mind.
    • This can look like a short walk around the block, heading to a coffee shop to grab a calming cup of tea, your favorite caffeinated beverage, or snack. Or, do a quick guided meditation or breathing exercise for 5-10 minutes. 
  • Nourish yourself & tend to your basic needs
    • It can be easy to get so caught up in your work or worries that you forget basic things like eating and drinking water.
    • Always have water and small snacks on hand. If you need to, set an alarm on your phone with reminders to take a snack or meal break, or even to drink a glass of water. 
    • Plan out healthy snacks and meals in advance, so the food you eat doesn’t end up making you feel worse.
  • Get physical
    • Set aside time for joyful movement, which means moving your body in a way that is joyful to you. While this can look like a full gym workout, if that’s not your thing, a leisurely walk, dance break, yoga, bike ride, etc. are just as good! It’s really up to you what ways you prefer to move your body. 
  • Prioritize rest
    • Plan your days and evenings in advance so you’re getting a full 6-8 hours of sleep per night. Choose a regular bedtime and wake-up time for each day. This helps train your body to naturally get tired at your bedtime, and energized at your wakeup time. 
    • Create a sleep schedule that looks right for you and take 30 minutes before going to bed to unwind (no screens). You might need to play around with your “wind down” routine, but some places to start would be reading your favorite book, coloring in a coloring book, drinking decaffeinated tea, or taking a bath before bedtime. 
  • Practice saying no
    • Sometimes, we may want to provide extra help by taking an extra shift, helping a coworker with a project, or taking on extra tasks inside and outside of work. But if you’re already in an overwhelming place, or you know taking on this extra work could push you over the edge, it’s okay—and even a good thing—to say “Sorry, I would love to help but I can’t take that on right now.


Your workplace environment also plays a key role in making compassion satisfaction possible. In addition to working for a cause and goals that are important to you, there are several factors to consider in your working environment.

Factors to consider when looking for a compassion satisfaction friendly workplace:

  • Effective communication, teamwork, collaboration
  • Appropriate staffing
  • A culture with meaningful recognition
  • Effective leaders that promote a culture of caring
  • Professional development opportunities
  • Debriefing
  • Eliminating distrust and intimidating behavior


While workplace stress is inevitable, it cannot be emphasized enough that your workplace should be a safe space to voice feelings of burnout and need for additional support. If you’re having difficulty with any of the above factors, voice to your supervisor what the problem is and what additional support you need. If they aren’t receptive to you asking for help, it may be time to look for another job that fulfills your needs.



Final Thoughts

Remember, help is just a phone call away. If you are having suicidal thoughts or experiencing a mental health crisis, please dial 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline. For New Jersey residents, to find mental health services in your area, and receive emotional support, please call the NJMentalHealthCares Hotline at 1 (866) 202-4357. The Mental Health Association also has services that are geared towards specific populations such as individuals suffering with substance misuse, those seeking peer-to-peer connection, and even those interested in starting or joining a support group.

For additional mental health support—including virtual therapy, psychiatry and medication management—schedule a free consultation with Valera Health using this form or by calling (646) 450-7748.



[Disclaimer: The Mental Health Association in New Jersey is not affiliated, associated, authorized, endorsed by, or in any way officially connected. Valera Health. MHANJ provides referrals to various mental health facilities, serving underserved populations throughout the state of New Jersey. All product and company names are trademarks™ or registered® trademarks of their respective holders. Use of them does not imply any affiliation with or endorsement by them.]

The Importance of LGBTQIA+ Affirming Mental Healthcare 


In most—if not all—fields of healthcare, LGBTQIA+ people are stigmatized and discriminated against. For the health and wellbeing of those in the LGBTQIA+ community, affirming healthcare is necessary for better health outcomes for all. 

When it comes to mental healthcare, “LGBTQIA+ inclusive mental health care is about building a community safety net for folks to be seen, heard, and affirmed. It is about creating a society different from the one we learned. A society that values difference, adaptability, and community support and engagement,” says Emily R. Dunn, LMSW, associate therapist and group therapy facilitator at Valera Health.


Mental Health Risks for the LGBTQIA+ Community

Due to our heteronormative and discriminative society, the LGBTQIA+ community is at an increased risk when it comes to mental health outcomes

As stated by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)  “…There is strong evidence from recent research that members of [the LGBTQIA+ community] are at a higher risk for experiencing mental health conditions — especially depression and anxiety disorders. LGBT+ adults are more than twice as likely as heterosexual adults to experience a mental health condition. Transgender individuals are nearly four times as likely as cisgender individuals individuals to experience a mental health condition.”


Harrowing facts by Mental Health America (MHA) about LGBTQIA+ mental health outcomes include:

  • Over 39%, or nearly 5.8 million, of those who identify as lesbian, gay or bisexual have reported having a mental illness in the past year.
  • LGBTQ+ teens are six times more likely to experience symptoms of depression than non-LGBTQ+ identifying teens.
  • LGBTQ+ youth are more than twice as likely to feel suicidal and over four times as likely to attempt suicide compared to heterosexual youth.
  • 48% of transgender adults have reported that the have considered suicide in the past year, compared to 4% of the overall U.S. population.


According to the same article, in a survey of LGBTQIA+ people over half of survey respondents said they have experienced healthcare providers denying them care, providers using offensive/demeaning language, or providers blaming sexual orientation or gender identity as the cause for a patient’s illness. Due to the fear of these experiences, some LGBTQIA+ people completely avoid getting needed healthcare services.



What LGBTQIA+ Affirming Therapy Looks Like

The American Association for Marriage and Family Therapy (AAMFT) defines affirmative therapy as “…an approach to therapy that embraces a positive view of Lesbian, Gay,

Bisexual, Transgender, and Queer (LGBTQ) identities and relationships and addresses the negative influences that homophobia, transphobia, and heterosexism have on the lives of LGBTQ clients.” 

This therapeutic framework creates a safe, supportive and non-judgemental space for individuals who identify as LGBTQIA+. Core principles of LGBTQIA+ affirmative therapy are acceptance, respect and validation. LGBTQIA+ affirmative therapy doesn’t shy away from heterosexism, discrimination against transgender people and those who identify as non-binary, and addresses the impact that discrimination has on the mental well being of the LGBTQIA+ community as well as celebrates diversity.

Intended outcomes of LGBTQIA+ affirmative therapy are to empower individuals, address systemic barriers, and facilitate personal growth and self-acceptance.



Valera Health Provides LGBTQIA+ Affirming Mental Healthcare

At Valera Health, we believe in inclusive and accessible telemental healthcare for all. Around 1 ⁄ 3 of our New York providers and either specialized in LGBTQIA+ affirmative care, and/or identify as LGBTQIA+ themselves, including virtual therapy, group therapy, psychiatry, medication management and more. Valera Health services are available in 13 languages for those ages 6 and up.

We’re happy to announce the launch of our LGBTQIA+ therapy and support group for adults ages 18+.

The anticipated start date for this group is June 12th, 2023. Currently, this group is only open to current Valera Health patients, however based upon interest we plan on expanding this group to those who are not currently a patient with Valera Health. For current Valera Health patients who would like to join the LGBTQIA+ group, we encourage you to speak to your current provider to learn more or sign-up for the group. 

“This group is a collaborative, community-building, and peer therapist-led group of LGBTQIA+ adults who identify anywhere on the gender identity or sexual orientation spectrum, specifically supporting individuals who are under the queer umbrella.” says Emily R. Dunn, LMSW, and facilitator of the LGBTQIA+ group. 

“We will focus on topics such as coming out, late bloomers, navigating healthy relationships, communicating with family, building community, queer parenting, accessing gender-affirming care, kinks and non-monogamous relationships. While sessions will be structured around a topic, the group will be drop-in style and serve as support for queer and gender expansive individuals.”

If you are interested in joining future sessions of the group—or interested in individual therapy—but are not a current Valera Health patient, you can schedule a free consultation with a dedicated Health Connector using this form or by calling 646-450-7748.

On the form, make sure to select “group therapy” or mention this when calling the Health Connector hotline. Currently, this group is only offered for those residing in the state of New York, however we plan to expand our group therapy offerings to more states in the near future—stay tuned!

10 Quotes About Living with Schizophrenia 

By Taylor Transtrum & Laurie Engel

People living with schizophrenia face stigma, prejudice and discrimination and have unjustified assumptions placed on them by others. While this can be an incredibly complex and painful disorder, it is also one filled with humor, creativity, strength and hope. Schizophrenia can happen to anyone, from your next door neighbor to Nobel Prize winners, celebrities, prominent writers, artists and some of the world’s greatest thinkers. Living with and navigating schizophrenia can be filled with pain and fear, but people with schizophrenia can also live fulfilling, beautiful, loving, joyful and impactful lives. 

Rather than stigmatizing schizophrenia, we should learn more about the disorder, the immense strength and courage that those with schizophrenia have, and how we can support them. 

The following quotes give insight into experiences, creativity and courage of those living with schizophrenia.

“Schizophrenia may affect how we perceive reality, but it cannot diminish the power of our imagination and the strength of our spirit.” — Dr. Rameez Shaikh

“Living with schizophrenia requires immense courage and resilience, as we navigate a world that may not always understand or accept us. But let us remember that our experiences and perspectives are valid, and that our journey has the potential to inspire and empower others.”

― Dr. Rameez Shaikh

“I needed to put two critical ideas together: that I could both be mentally ill and lead a rich and satisfying life.” — Elyn R. Saks, The Center Cannot Hold: My Journey Through Madness

“There are a number of things that family and friends can do to help a person with schizophrenia. One of the simplest and most effective is to create a positive environment around the person.” – Milt Greek, mental health advocate and author of Schizophrenia: A Blueprint for Recovery

“As well as being one of the worst things that can happen to a human being, schizophrenia can also be one of the richest learning and humanizing experiences life offers.” — Mark Vonnegut

“I have schizophrenia. I am not schizophrenia. I am not my mental illness. My illness is a part of me.” — Jonathan Harnisch

“I say, ‘We shall overcome.’ I use that all the time. We shall overcome all of the bad notions people have, the preconceived notions.” — Brian Wilson, interview with Ability Magazine

“You are not your illness. You have an individual story to tell. You have a name, a history, a personality. Staying yourself is the battle.” – Julian Seifter,

“I have schizophrenia. My eyes do see. My ears do hear. I am still me, so let’s be clear. My memory may fade, my walk may slow, but I am me inside. Don’t let me go.” – Unknown,

“I am not strong all the time and you do not have to be strong all the time.  There are days when I wonder where my strength has gone.  What I know is that I have strength and so do you.  There are times in my life when I have felt weak or may have felt weak, and in those times, I felt strong in my weakness, if that makes any sense. I believe we are built with strength, resilience, and the ability to handle anything this world gives us.  We are made to weather the storm even when we think we are not made to.”— Samantha Mercanti, author of Embracing Schizophrenia

You deserve love & support. If you are living with schizophrenia or know someone with schizophrenia, treatment and support is available. Since schizophrenia is a chronic illness, treatment should be ongoing and long-term to manage and reduce schizophrenic episodes. 

At Valera Health, we specialize in telemental health services for individuals with a serious mental illness (SMI), including schizophrenia, using a collaborative care approach to treatment. To schedule a free consultation with a Health Connector, click here or call 646-450-7748.

The Impact of Pregnancy & Motherhood on Our Mental Health 

From hormonal changes to changes to our bodies and physical and mental health, new and expecting mothers face many challenges. 

“While everyone’s experiences during pregnancy and after giving birth can vary, for some, moderate to severe mental health struggles may arise,” says Lori Talbert, MSW and clinical therapist at Valera Health. “Valera’s Maternal Wellness Group provides an essential supportive community that normalizes these feelings, allowing perinatal women to feel empowered and able to parent with more competence and confidence.”


Mental Health Issues for Perinatal & Postnatal Women 

Throughout pregnancy and after giving birth, a multitude of stressors may arise that can lead to maternal mental health issues and mental health disorders.  

Common types of maternal mental health disorders include:

Postpartum Depression (PPD)

  • PPD is a form of depression that occurs after childbirth. Factors such as hormonal changes, fatigue, increased stress and adjusting to motherhood can contribute to PPD. 


Persistent Depressive Disorder (PDD)

  • Also known as dysthymia, persistent depressive disorder is a mild to moderate form of chronic depression that lasts for at least two years. Although the verdict on what causes PDD is undecided, some studies have suggested a possible link with the prenatal period spurring PDD in those with a genetic predisposition to it. One study published by the National Library of Medicine found that a group of participants with dysthymia “..had higher prenatal cortisol levels, and their fetuses had lower fetal growth measures including estimated weight, femur length and abdominal circumference, as measured at the first ultrasound visit.”   


Birth-Related Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

  • For some, traumatic birthing experiences can result in post-traumatic stress disorder. Symptoms of birth-related PTSD may include flashbacks or nightmares related to the event, insomnia, anxiety, avoidance of stimuli related to the trauma, intrusive trauma-related thoughts, hypervigilance, loss of interest in once pleasurable activities, irritability/agitation, guilt or loneliness. 


Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD)

  • While it’s common to worry before or after having a baby, key features of GAD are persistent symptoms such as extreme worry, restlessness, problems sleeping as well as physical symptoms such as a racing heartbeat or having trouble breathing. For those with pregnancy and/or postpartum related GAD, these worrying and persistent thoughts may be closely related to the pregnancy itself as well as medical related fears or other fears regarding their baby or parenting skills.


Maternal/Perinatal Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD)

  • This disorder is marked by OCD symptoms that develop during the perinatal or postnatal periods. OCD is an anxiety disorder in which a person tries to manage anxiety symptoms such as intrusive thoughts or persistent fear and worry with rituals known as compulsions. 


This is not an exhaustive list of all maternal mental health conditions. Other mental health challenges expecting or new mothers may face include (but are not limited to) grief related to a miscarriage or the passing of a newborn baby, postpartum mania and postpartum psychosis.



Seeking Help

Whether you identify with the maternal mental illnesses outlined in this blog post, or are otherwise having mental health struggles during this time, it’s important to let your healthcare providers know. 

If you have a previous history of mental health conditions, such as depression, tell your healthcare providers—including your obstetrician-gynecologist (OB-GYN)—if you are planning on becoming pregnant, or as soon as you find out you’re pregnant so that they can help you come up with a mental health plan.

Valera Health offers a specialized program for maternal wellness that includes a dedicated care team and personalized virtual individual and group therapy options designed specifically for new or expecting mothers.


About Valera Health’s Maternal Wellness Group:

Facilitated by Lori Talbert, this virtual group is for pregnant or new moms seeking a safe space to heal and process their maternal experience and emotions while learning coping skills, relaxation techniques and communication skills. It provides an opportunity for participants to connect with and learn from others who share the same experience. Focus areas of the group include prenatal and postpartum support for anxiety and depression. Tools utilized in the Maternal Wellness Group include psychoeducation and other evidence-based interventions, and even humor to help manage the stress that arises during pregnancy, childbirth and parenting and help prevent postpartum depression. No topic is off limits. 

Current Valera Health patients should reach out to their Valera Health provider(s) if they are interested in joining the Maternal Wellness Group. If you are not a current patient of Valera Health and would like to learn more about the Maternal Wellness Group, or are interested in any other Valera Health services, click here or visit or call 646-450-7748 for a free consultation with a Health Connector.


Please note that at this time, our virtual Maternal Wellness Group is only open to those residing in the state of New York, but we will be expanding our group therapy offerings to other states in the future—stay tuned!


The Power of Being Present: How Meditation Can Transform Your Mental & Physical Health 

Meditation has been on the rise across social media and self-care centered media, for good reason. Studies have shown promising results for the mental health benefits of meditation, including reducing anxiety and mental stress levels. It should come as no surprise that many therapists incorporate meditation into their practices.

One popular form of therapy that has shown great success in reducing anxiety and depression symptoms, Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT), draws from Zen Buddhism and mindfulness, which both incorporate meditative practices. Keep reading to learn about the benefits of meditation and how to incorporate meditation into your mental healthcare and wellness routine.


Who can benefit from meditation?

You don’t have to be an expert or a guru to benefit from meditation. Along with the many benefits that meditation can bring you, it can be done by anyone, anywhere, at any time, for free! For those with anxiety disorders, such as Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD), meditation has been shown to be highly successful in improving symptoms, reducing anxiety and improving outcomes for those with this mental health disorder. 

A blog post titled “Mindfulness meditation may ease anxiety, mental stress”, which was published on Harvard Health Publishing, Harvard Medical School’s blog, shared that Johns Hopkins University researchers reviewed close to 19,000 studies on meditation, finding that mindfulness meditation can be highly beneficial in regards to psychological stresses such anxiety, depression and pain. To learn more about these studies, click here.  

The blog also shared similar findings from Dr. Elizabeth Hoge, who is a psychiatrist at the Center for Anxiety and Traumatic Stress Disorders at Massachusetts Hospital and an assistant professor of psychology at Harvard Medical School.

“If you have unproductive worries, you can train yourself to experience those thoughts completely differently,” says Dr. Hoge. “You might think ‘I’m late, I might lose my job if I don’t get there on time, and it will be a disaster!’ Mindfulness teaches you to recognize, ‘Oh, there’s that thought again. I’ve been here before. But it’s just that—a thought, and not a part of my core self.”



How can meditation benefit me?

Meditation can provide many benefits including physical, emotional and cognitive benefits.

An article by Headspace outlines the following 12 benefits of meditation:

  1. Reduced Stress
    • Mindfulness Meditation in particular has been shown to reduce the inflammation caused by stress. This reduction in inflammation can both lower stress levels and improve physical conditions caused by stress.
  2. Decreased Anxiety Levels
    • Since meditation can help lower stress levels, this results in reducing anxiety as well.
  3. Better Emotional Health
    • Meditation can lead to an improved outlook on life and improved self-image due to a decrease in negative thoughts.
  4. Enhanced Self-Awareness
    • Meditation teaches us to be present in our bodies and in our thoughts which can result in an enhanced understanding of ourselves. 
  5. Improved Attention Span
    • Since meditation is a focused practice, it can lead to an improved attention span. 
  6. May Reduce Age-Related Memory Loss
    • Studies have shown that meditation can actually improve performance on neuropsychological tests for those experiencing age-related memory loss.
  7. Increased Positivity & Kindness
    • Certain forms of meditation include a special focus on generating positive feelings both towards yourself and others. According to Healthline, “Through practice participants can better learn how to extend kindness and forgiveness eternally, first through friends, then acquaintances, and ultimately enemies.” 
  8. May Help Fight Addictions
    • When meditation is used as part of treatment for substance use disorders such as alcohol use disorders, it can help participants develop mental discipline which can help them fight dependencies and triggers. Meditation can also help control food cravings.  
  9. Improved Sleep
    • In one study on insomnia/sleep disorders, meditation was shown to help participants stay asleep longer and improved their insomnia severity. This is likely because meditation can help relax your body, release tension and help fight against racing thoughts by bringing you back to the present moment. 
  10. Reduced Physical Pain
    • Some research has shown that meditation can improve the feeling of physical pain, since perception of pain is connected to your state of mind. The stress reduction aspect of meditation can be particularly helpful in improving stress related disorders such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS), post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and fibromyalgia.
  11. Can Decrease Blood Pressure
    • Meditation can help control blood pressure by relaxing nerve signals which correlate with blood vessel tension, heart function and that can trigger the “flight or fight” response.
  12. Meditation is Accessible Anywhere!
    • Meditation is a super inclusive practice that requires no special equipment or space. Meditation can be practiced no matter what age you are, and there are virtually limited guided meditations that are available for little to no cost.


Different types of meditation

When it comes to meditation practices, it isn’t one-shoe-fits-all. Fortunately there are many different types of meditation out there to explore. 

5 Types of Meditation:

  1. Mindfulness Meditation
    • Mindfulness meditation is often incorporated into Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) and Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT). The concept behind this type of meditation is rooted in mindfulness which is the practice of being fully present with yourself, your body, your thoughts and emotions in order to observe them without judgment. 
  2. Guided Meditation
    • In this form of meditation, a guide instructs you through relaxing certain muscles, controlling your breath, and visualizing mental images or concepts. This form of meditation can be especially helpful for those who are new to meditation.
  3. Loving-Kindness Meditation
    • Also known as metta meditation, in loving-kindness meditation you direct loving energy and wishes towards both yourself and others. This practice can help with self-acceptance, our connection with others, and help us let go of rage/anger and practice forgiveness. 
  4. Transcendental Meditation
    • Transcendental meditation involves silently repeating positive words or a personal mantra in order to ease the mind and relax. 
  5. Movement Meditation
    • During movement meditation, you will engage in a physical (but relaxing) activity involving repetition. Examples of movement meditation include yoga and tai chi.

If you’ve never meditated before, it may feel odd at first, which is why we encourage you to keep practicing to achieve full benefits. We also encourage you to try different types of meditation to find the type that fits best with you and your goals!



How can I practice meditation?

For self-guided meditation, free resources and guided meditations are available online, including on YouTube. Although Headspace, a guided meditation app, is a paid subscription service, free trials are available for new Headspace members. Headspace also has a Youtube channel with some free meditations. 

For those who would like additional support and guidance with meditation concepts, mindfulness, and other helpful practices, Valera Health offers multiple DBT Skills Groups for both adults and adolescents/teens. Many of our individual therapy providers also offer DBT and CBT therapy. 

Please note that our DBT Skills Groups are currently only available for those residing in the state of New York, but we will be expanding our therapy groups to other Valera Health states in the future—stay tuned!

If you’d like to schedule a free consultation with a Health Connector to join individual or group therapy through Valera Health, click here.

We Need to Talk About the Children’s Mental Health Crisis

Childhood is a time full of learning and reaching developmental milestones that shape who we will grow up to be. Oftentimes, childhood is seen by adults through rose colored glasses—marked by nostalgia and fond memories. But this isn’t always reality. 

Depending on many factors including one’s upbringing, social and educational experiences, genetics, health and more, childhood can be a tumultuous time full of change. 

We tend to think of things such as depression, anxiety and stress as adult-only issues, but these things can affect children’s mental health and development in a multitude of ways. 

That’s why we need to have candid discussions around children’s mental health and how we can support children who are struggling.

What Being Mentally Healthy Looks Like in Children

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “Being mentally healthy during childhood means reaching developmental and emotional milestones and learning healthy social skills and how to cope when there are problems. Mentally healthy children have a positive quality of life and can function well at home, in school, and in their communities.”

Mental health plays a key role in the wellbeing of our children, and children who experience mental health issues and don’t get the help they need are more likely to experience additional difficulties down the road. 

“Mental disorders are chronic health conditions—conditions that last a long time and often don’t go away completely—that can continue through the lifespan,” says the CDC.

“Without early diagnosis and treatment, children with mental disorders can have problems at home, in school, and in forming friendships. Mental disorders can also interfere with a child’s healthy development, causing problems that can continue into adulthood.”

Even if a child doesn’t qualify for a diagnosable mental health disorder, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are doing okay when it comes to their mental health.

As explained by the CDC, “Children who don’t have a mental disorder might differ in how well they are doing, and children who have the same diagnosed mental disorder might differ in their strengths and weaknesses in how they are developing and coping, and in their quality of life. Mental health as a continuum and the identification of specific mental disorders are both ways to understand how well children are doing.”

Warning Signs of Mental Illness in Children

How can we know when our child is having mental health issues? While they might not yet have the vocabulary or understanding of mental health to be able to tell us they are struggling, there are many ways children show they are having a hard time through their behaviors.

Signs to look out for include:

  • Outbursts, tantrums or lashing out
  • Extreme anger, rage or irritability
  • Persistent sadness lasting two or more weeks
  • Hurting oneself or expressing a desire to hurt oneself
  • Fascination with death or suicide
  • Hitting or acting violently towards other children or adults
  • Drastic changes in mood or personality
  • Sleeping problems
  • Loss of weight or refusal to eat
  • Frequent stomach aches
  • Frequent headaches
  • Extreme shyness
  • Poor academic performance
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Avoiding or missing school 
  • Bullying others
  • Reporting being bullied
  • Being socially withdrawn or avoidant

Common Childhood Mental Health & Developmental Disorders Include:

  • Anxiety Disorders
  • Depression
  • Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD)
  • Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD)
  • Eating Disorders
  • Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)

The State of Children’s Mental Health By The Numbers

Oftentimes, anxiety and depression disorders are co-occurring, and various approaches to psychotherapy have been developed to treat them both. Among the most popular types of therapy for treating both anxiety disorders and depressive disorders are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which are considered to be “gold standards” among psychologists. 

Mental health disorders and struggles have no minimum age requirement, and impact more children than you might think. It’s estimated that 20 million of youth in the U.S. could currently be diagnosed with a mental health disorder (American Psychological Association). 

According to 2023 numbers by Mental Health America (MHA), over 2.7 youth are currently experiencing severe major depression, with depression numbers found the highest in youth that are more than one race. In addition, 6.34% of youth were reported to have a substance use disorder, and 59.8% of youth with major depressive disorder (MDD) did not receive any mental health treatment this past year. 

The same report shows that states with higher access to mental healthcare for youth have the lowest prevalence of mental illness in children than those without. 

With mental health issues on the rise for America’s youth, providing proper resources and removing the stigma around children’s mental health plays a crucial role in combating the country’s mental health crisis.

How to Help if Your Child is Struggling

Many parents are hesitant to seek help for their children due to fear of being judged or labeled as “bad parents.” However, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Taking your child to a mental healthcare professional when they are struggling is no different from taking them to the doctor if they were sick with a bad fever or had a broken arm. Mental healthcare is the same as any other form of healthcare, and it shouldn’t be taboo. As parents and caregivers, it’s our responsibility to take care of our children when they are unwell

From psychiatry and medication management to therapy, Valera Health offers specialized mental healthcare services for youth ages 6+ through its Child and Adolescent Program (CAP). 

CAP is an inclusive, virtual mental health clinic rooted in evidence-based care for children and teens that also includes parental and familial support. 

As an expansion to our CAP program, we are happy to announce that we are now offering group therapy programs designed for teens that are based in cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavioral therapy (DBT). Valera Health has also launched a Conscious Parenting Group to help parents and caregivers navigate with the challenges that come with raising children, while also providing them with a safe space to connect with other parents. 

Please note that currently these groups are only available to those who reside in the state of New York.

To learn more about individual therapy options for youth and parents, as well as our group therapy offerings, visit or click here.

Anxiety & Depression Are On The Rise—Here’s What You Need To Know

If you’ve been feeling anxious or depressed lately, you’re not alone. Depression and anxiety are on the rise in the U.S. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), anxiety disorders and major depression are the most common mental health disorders in the country. Without treatment, outcomes for these disorders can only get worse.


Alarming Statistics

According to Mental Health America (MHA), over 50 million adult Americans, or 20.78%, were experiencing a mental illness in 2019-2020. Key findings of MHA’s 2023 The State of Mental Health in America report show that over 1 in 10 youth individuals experienced depression severe enough to significantly impair their ability to function at school, home, work or in their social life. Of those ages 12-17, 16.39% reported suffering from at least one major depression episode (MDE) in the past year, and over 2.7 million youth have experienced major depression.

Anxiety disorders are the most common disorders in the U.S., followed by major depressive disorder. According to statistics by the Anxiety & Depression Association of America (ADAA), 40 million adults, or 19.1% of the population, are affected by anxiety disorders every year. Anxiety disorders also affect 31.9% of adolescents ages 13-18. Research has shown that teenagers with untreated anxiety disorders are at a higher risk for performing poorly in school, missing out on important social experiences, or experiencing substance abuse, according to ADAA. Generalized anxiety disorder (GAD) is the most common anxiety disorder in the U.S. 

Unfortunately, an alarming number of people suffering with a mental illness do not receive mental healthcare treatment. Research conducted by the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) shows that approximately 60% of adults with a mental illness didn’t receive mental health treatment in the year prior to the study. As much as half of youth ages 8-15 with mental health issues also went without treatment the year prior. Mental healthcare treatment was also inequitable—in the time frame the research was conducted—Black and Hispanic Americans received mental healthcare services at close to half the rate of white Americans and Asian Americans received mental healthcare services at about ⅓ of the same rate as white Americans. 

Fortunately, a rise in remote treatment options, such as Valera Health’s telemental health services, are helping to fill in the gaps care.


Popular Forms of Treatment For Depression & Anxiety

Oftentimes, anxiety and depression disorders are co-occurring, and various approaches to psychotherapy have been developed to treat them both. Among the most popular types of therapy for treating both anxiety disorders and depressive disorders are cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and dialectical behavior therapy (DBT), which are considered to be “gold standards” among psychologists. 

CBT has been shown to be an effective treatment for treating both anxiety and depression symptoms, with a success rate between 50-75%. In CBT, a patient works with a therapist in a structured setting. The main goal of CBT is to help individuals become aware of negative thought patterns and equip them with the tools to challenge and overcome these negative thought patterns, reframing them in a positive and helpful way.

Another bonus is that CBT is a short-term therapy, which can take as few as six sessions to complete. However, the suggested duration of treatment can vary on an individual basis. For more information about the benefits of CBT, check out this article by the Mayo Clinic. 

While DBT is rooted in CBT practices, there are a few key differences between the two. Both focus on equipping individuals with tools they need to improve outcomes of depressive disorders and anxiety disorders. One difference between DBT and CBT, however, is the philosophy behind each.

CBT is a more problem-focused approach to therapy, with the aim to change negative thought patterns and behaviors that contribute to mental health symptoms. DBT, on the other hand, takes the approach of emphasizing the importance of accepting and validating emotions and can improve stress tolerance, emotional regulation and more. DBT also incorporates mindfulness and grounding practices.

Unlike CBT, DBT requires a longer duration of treatment. Typically, patients undergoing DBT are recommended to spend six months to a year in this type of treatment. Like CBT, DBT has a high success rate in treating both depressive symptoms and anxiety symptoms. 

DBT has also been shown to be highly effective in treating Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), with one study showing improved BPD outcomes so much that after a full cycle of DBT treatment, 77% of study participants no longer met the criteria for a BPD diagnosis. 

While CBT and DBT do not necessarily cure anxiety disorders and depressive disorders, they have a proven track record of improving anxiety symptoms and symptoms of depression, as well as improving outcomes for a wide variety of other mental health disorders. 

If you’re interested in learning more about warning signs of clinical depression, click here, and warning signs of anxiety, click here.



Valera Health Can Help

If you are interested in joining Valera Health’s Conscious Parenting Group, please fill out this quick form to schedule a free consultation with a designated Health Connector. Make sure to select “group therapy” under the “What brings you to therapy today?” section. Please note that at this current time, our virtual Conscious Parenting Group is only available to those in New York. Stay tuned for more group therapy offerings from Valera Health in the future.






Works Referenced:

Berge, J. M., Law, D. D., Johnson, J., & Wells, M. G. (2010). Effectiveness of a psychoeducational parenting group on child, parent, and family behavior: a pilot study in a family practice clinic with an underserved population. Families, Systems, & Health, 28(3), 224.

Friedrich, M. (2020, December 2). Census Bureau Releases New Estimates on America’s Families and Living Arrangements. Retrieved April 18, 2023, from,2010%20to%2063.1%20million%20in 

Izadi-Mazidi, M., Riahi, F., & Khajeddin, N. (2015). Effect of cognitive behavior group therapy on parenting stress in mothers of children with autism. Iranian journal of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, 9(3).

Minjarez, Mendy Boettcher, et al. “Impact of pivotal response training group therapy on stress and empowerment in parents of children with autism.” Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions 15.2 (2013): 71-78.

Parenting Therapy Groups Can Improve Parents’ Lives & Strengthen Families

Parenting is the most significant and challenging responsibility a person can assume. Despite this, there is no formal training on how to be a parent, much less how to be a “good” one. Given there are around 63.1 million parental guardians living with children under 18, resources for parents are essential (Friedrich, 2020). One such resource is Valera Health’s Conscious Parenting Group. Read on to learn about the benefits of parenting groups and how to join one at Valera Health. 

Scientific research has shown that parenting therapy groups reduce parent stress, increase empowerment, and improve family functioning. In a study of mothers who had children with autism, researchers found participation in a parenting therapy group significantly reduced parents’ stress and distress (Izadi-Mazidi, 2015).

Another study that examined parents before and after participating in a parenting therapy group found that levels of empowerment significantly increased (Minjarez, 2013). A study that examined parents enrolled in a psychoeducation group therapy program found family functioning and child behavior significantly improved when the group was implemented (Berge, 2010). Overall, these results suggest that participation in a parenting therapy group not only will boost your experience as a parent, but will also improve the lives of your family members.

How Can Valera Health’s Conscious Parenting Group Help You

Valera Health’s Conscious Parenting Group is a coaching and parent education group focused on teaching parents mindful ways to communicate with their children. In addition to skill-building, this group also serves as a platform for support. The information provided in the group was designed to provide parents with the tools they need to move forward and create lasting positive changes within their own familial unit.

How Do I Join the Conscious Parenting Group?

If you are interested in joining Valera Health’s Conscious Parenting Group, please fill out this quick form to schedule a free consultation with a designated Health Connector. Make sure to select “group therapy” under the “What brings you to therapy today?” section. Please note that at this current time, our virtual Conscious Parenting Group is only available to those in New York. Stay tuned for more group therapy offerings from Valera Health in the future.

Works Referenced:

Berge, J. M., Law, D. D., Johnson, J., & Wells, M. G. (2010). Effectiveness of a psychoeducational parenting group on child, parent, and family behavior: a pilot study in a family practice clinic with an underserved population. Families, Systems, & Health, 28(3), 224.

Friedrich, M. (2020, December 2). Census Bureau Releases New Estimates on America’s Families and Living Arrangements. Retrieved April 18, 2023, from,2010%20to%2063.1%20million%20in 

Izadi-Mazidi, M., Riahi, F., & Khajeddin, N. (2015). Effect of cognitive behavior group therapy on parenting stress in mothers of children with autism. Iranian journal of psychiatry and behavioral sciences, 9(3).

Minjarez, Mendy Boettcher, et al. “Impact of pivotal response training group therapy on stress and empowerment in parents of children with autism.” Journal of Positive Behavior Interventions 15.2 (2013): 71-78.

Introducing Valera Health’s Therapeutic Book Club

By Emily Vanderhoff & Sedell Bobcomb

Book clubs present an excellent opportunity for participants to become involved in a new form of self-care and have the potential to help them develop their social identity while learning from other book club members by engaging in dynamic conversations full of new perspectives and insights. 

Valera Health is excited to announce our latest group therapy offering, Therapeutic Book Club: Coping Between the Lines. 

Our first-ever book club group focuses on books that cover wellness, self-care and other mental health related topics. Our book club, led by Valera Health therapists Emily Vanderhoff and Sedell Bobcomb, takes a unique approach of incorporating the positive benefits of group therapy. Group therapy allows for a space to be created with therapeutic structure and the ability to develop social interaction for those who find it a place of struggle.


Additional Benefits of Book Clubs

MacGillivray, Lassiter, Sauceda & Wiggin (2019), presented in their study the correlation of a recovery book club and sociocultural theory. Sociocultural theory provides an opportunity to explore perspectives and voices while in a specific setting. This setting can then shape individual and collective beliefs, attitudes, values and aspirations and how the practices respond to place, time and challenging circumstances (MacGillivray, Lassiter, Sauceda & Wiggin, 2019).

Our First Book Club Selection

Our first book club selection is The Practice of Groundedness: A Transformative Path To Success that feeds—Not Crushes—Your Soul by best-selling author Brad Stulberg. 

In The Practice of Groundedness, Brad shares a healthier, more sustainable model for success with groundedness being at its core.  The book interwaves modern interventions such as Acceptance Commitment Therapy (ACT) and Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) with traditions from Buddhism, Stoicism, and Taoism.  He takes you on an  in depth journey of the six principles of groundedness, as well as actionable steps to live a more grounded life. 

How Do I Sign-Up for Coping Between The Lines Book Club?

Our first book club, Coping Between the Lines, offers book club members  a wide array of benefits. As a participant, you’ll experience stimulating conversation with other individuals,  gain new support and a sense of community and learn easy to incorporate skills to improve mental stability such as one minute meditations before we dive into the text and action steps to work on outside of the club based on the reading. Other benefits include creating a sense of  normalcy, support for implementing self care, and an opportunity to explore how others view the world. We welcome you to join us on Wednesdays at 6pm EST.  

To enroll in the Coping Between the Lines book club, fill out this quick form to schedule a free consultation with a designated Health Connector, or talk to your current Valera Health therapist about enrollment. Make sure to select “group therapy” under the “What brings you to therapy today?” section. Please note that at this time, this club is only available to those in New York. Stay tuned for more group therapy offerings from Valera Health in the future!

Works Referenced:

MacGillivray, L. Lassiter Ardell, A., Sauceda Curwen, M. & Wiggin. (2019). “I feel normal here”: The social functions of a book club in a residential recovery program. Journal of Language and Literacy Education. 14:2. Retrieved from:

How Nature Can Improve Your Mental Health & Wellbeing


After a long, cold winter, spring has finally sprung! Now’s the time to seize the outdoors while the weather allows for it. Not only does nature offer fresh air and stunning scenery, but it also hosts a wide range of benefits for our physical, cognitive and mental health. Read on for ideas that will help you enjoy the great outdoors while reaping the benefits of what Mother Earth has to offer.

How are nature & mental health connected? 

According to the Mental Health Foundation, “Nature can generate many many positive emotions, such as calmness, joy, and creativity and can facilitate concentration. Nature connectedness is also associated with lower levels of poor mental health, particularly lower depression and anxiety.”

Numerous studies have shown this to be true. The reverse is also known to be true—not getting enough time outside can have a negative impact on mental health.

While not recognized as an official medical condition or psychological disorder in any medical manuals such as the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM-5), there is a concept known as “Nature Deficit Disorder” (NDD). Nature Deficit Disorder was first introduced by author and co-founder of Children & Nature Network, Richard Louv, in his book Last Child in the Woods: Saving Our Children from Nature Deficit Disorder

“I coined the phrase to serve as a description of the human costs of alienation from nature and it is not meant to be a medical diagnosis (although perhaps it should be), but as a way to talk about an urgent problem that many of us knew was growing, but had no language to describe it,” the author explains in a blog post about NDD. 

He goes on to say, “Since 2005, the number of studies of the impact of nature experience on human development has grown from a handful to nearly one thousand. This expanding body of scientific evidence suggests that nature-deficit disorder contributes to a diminished use of the senses, attention difficulties, conditions of obesity, and higher rates of emotional and physical illnesses. Research also suggests that the nature-deficit weakens ecological literacy and stewardship of the natural world. These problems are linked more broadly to what health care experts call the ‘epidemic of inactivity’ and to a devaluing of independent play. Nonetheless, we believe that society’s nature-deficit disorder can be reversed.”

Mental health benefits of being in nature include:

  • Improved mood
  • Improved cognitive functioning
  • Increased feelings of well-being
  • Decreased anxiety

Final Thoughts

Even spending just half an hour per day outside can do wonders for our mental health. If you have limited exposure to outdoor spaces or vitamin D, vitamin D light therapy through a vitamin D can help. Vitamin D lamps can also help with seasonal affective disorder (SAD). 

For more mental health tips, check out this blog post by Valera Health. If you’re interested in Valera Health’s services—including individual therapy, group therapy, psychiatry and medication management—sign up using this quick form to get connected with a designated Health Connector for a free consultation.