Mental Health and Borderline Personality Disorder Awareness Month

Many are aware that May is Mental Health Month. A time of the year to continue to reduce the stigma by talking about mental health, whether it be how we are addressing our mental health or helping support a friend or loved one who may be struggling with their mental health. Perhaps lesser known is that May is also borderline personality disorder (BPD) awareness month. BPD is a mental health disorder that affects a person functioning in everyday life, including issues with self-image, difficulty managing emotions and behavior, and a pattern of unstable relationships. This disorder is often misunderstood and as a result, people are hesitant to talk about BPD and seek help. By spreading awareness about BPD, we can reduce stigma and increase awareness and help those in need access evidenced based treatment show effective in treating BPD.

It is believed that along with biological vulnerabilities, being raised in an invalidating environment contributes to the development of BPD. Validation is an essential component to development and when a person is invalidated, either in childhood or adulthood, it can be painful and lead to feeling disconnected from others, questioning our emotional experience, and difficulty regulating emotions. In an environment with continued patterns of invalidation, a person is unable to learn how to tolerate unpleasant emotions and can develop unhealthy behaviors to cope, struggle with sense of self, and feel at a constant state of heightened arousal, looking to the environment for signals on how to feel and potential “threats” to emotionally painful situations.

Dialectical Behavior Therapy (DBT) is an evidence-based treatment modality for the treatment of BPD. A key component of DBT is validation, which is essential in creating meaningful connection with others. Validation means finding the kernel of truth in another person’s perspective or situation. It is acknowledging that a person’s emotions, thoughts, and behaviors have causes and are therefore make sense, given the persons history, current circumstances, and ability to cope. When validating another person, we can acknowledge and validate the person's emotions without agreeing with the other person.

In celebration of Mental Health Month and BPD Awareness month, we present you with a guide on how to validate others. In the DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets (Linehan 2014), Marsha Linehan describes a “How To” Guide to Validation. Practicing these six levels of validation can help reduce pressure to prove who is right, reduce negative reactivity and anger, improve relationships, and makes problem solving, closeness, and support possible; all essential components in providing support to others who may be struggling with their mental health, including people with BPD.

A “How To” Guide to Validation
(Adopted from DBT Skills Training Handouts and Worksheets, Second Edition, 2014)

1. Pay Attention: Look interested, actively listen to the other person. Make eye contact and respond with facial gestures (laughing and smiling at something happy or funny, looking concerned when you hear something sad or painful).

2. Reflect Back: Say back what you have heard to be sure you actually understand what the person is saying. When we validate and reflect back, we are not giving advice but instead reflecting what the person is expressing.

3. Read Minds: Notice what isn’t being said by the person. When practicing validation, pay attention to facial expressions, body language, what is happening and what you know about the person. Show you understand in words or by your actions. Importantly, be open to correction.

4. Understand: Look for how the other person feels, is thinking, or if they are making sense, given the person’s history, state of mind or body or current events- even if you don’t approve of the person's behavior.

5. Acknowledge the valid: Show that you see the person’s thoughts, feelings or actions are valid, given current reality and facts. Only validate the valid. A person’s emotions are always valid; however, the facts may not be.

6. Show Equality: Be yourself! Don’t “one-up” or “one-down” the other person. Treat the other as an equal, not fragile or incompetent.

We encourage that for Mental Health Awareness Month and BPD Awareness Month, that we all take the opportunity to practice validation. By providing validation to someone struggling with their mental health, we can send a message that their experience makes sense, increase a sense of connection, and importantly send the message that they are not alone.

Laura Mueller, LMSW, ACSW
Clinical Social Worker, DBT Therapist
Lakes DBT Center
Mental Health
Awareness Month
Mental health is an important part of overall health and well-being. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.

Many of us face challenges that can be stressful, overwhelming, and cause strong emotions. It is natural to feel stress, anxiety, grief, and worry. Learning to cope with stress in a healthy way will make you, the people you care about, and those around you become more resilient.

One Step at a Time
"You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step."
- Martin Luther King, Jr.

Think of something in your life you want to improve, and figure out what you can do to take a step in the right direction. #lakesdepression
Prep for the Week
Try prepping your all lunches or picking out all your clothes for the work week. You'll save some time in the mornings and have a sense of control about the week ahead.

We provide comprehensive psychiatric and psychotherapy services for a vast array of mental health issues, including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychotic illness, borderline personality disorder, substance abuse/addiction, trauma related issues, relationship difficulties, life transitions, and behavior problems. Call (248) 859-2457 to set up an appointment.
Did you know? SPRAVATO® can have a rapid antidepressant response and is added on to an antidepressant and the rest of your regimen. It is the first new mechanism of action to treat depression that has come out in over 30 years. 
There is hope for treatment-resistant depression. Call (248) 859-2457 to set up an appointment.
Marsha Linehan, developer of Dialectical Behavioral Therapy (DBT), explained that “people with Borderline Personality Disorder are like people with third degree burns over 90 percent of their bodies. Lacking emotional skin, they feel agony at the slightest touch or movement.” We can help. Learn more.
Lakes Psychiatric Center remains open for business. We are offering Zoom online tele-therapy appointments for new and existing clients as well as in person sessions. Please contact the front desk to assist you with your appointment type or instructions for using Zoom. Call (248) 859-2457 for info.
Lakes Depression Center is continuing to provide SPRAVATO® treatments per the usual schedule. We have enhanced our safety and cleaning protocols. You are safe to start treatment or continue treatment. Call (248) 956-7164 for info.
Shannon McInchak, LMSW
Clinical Social Worker

Shannon has been working in the social work field for over 10 years. She received her Master’s in Social Work from Wayne State University in 2015 and has been working as a therapist for the last five years. Shannon has worked with survivors of domestic violence, child abuse, and trauma as well as those with various mental and physical illnesses seeking help in primary care. She has experience working with all ages, but her passion is working with adults who are struggling with PTSD and anxiety.

Angela Stathopoulos,
Nurse Practitioner

Angela Stathopoulos is a 2002 graduate of Michigan State University's College of Nursing and a 2005 graduate of Wayne State University's College of Nursing's Master of Science in Psychiatric Nursing Program. She is ANCC board certified as a Psychiatric and Mental Health Nurse Practitioner.

Angela comes to Lakes Psychiatric Center with over 17 years of full time work experience as an NP in outpatient psychiatry.