The Importance of Mental Health
- “Dancing with the Stars” alum Cheryl Burke, 38, recently announced that she was retired from the show. Now, the professional dancer says she hopes to turn her focus to mental health.
- Your mental health should always be a priority. One way to help you address your mental health is through therapy.
- One of our experts recommends practicing mindfulness and meditation in order to begin a journey of healing.
- Genetic testing can help determine the best course of mental health treatment for people struggling with issues like anxiety and depression. This testing help doctors gauge which medications are likely to work for their patients and cause the least amount of problematic side effects.
Burke is a “Dancing With the Stars” alum. She first auditioned for the show as a professional Latin dancer in 2005, and the rest was history.Read More
Cheryl Burke Leaves “Dancing with the Stars”This past season, Burke was partnered with “Good Morning America” weather anchor Sam Champion. The two were eliminated during the fourth episode in October.
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“I am sitting here full of so many conflicting emotions about the words I am about to write,” she penned in an emotional Instagram post on November 20. “Tomorrow night will officially be my final dance as a pro dancer on @dancingwiththestars. This has been one of the absolute hardest decisions of my life & I am also confident that it is the right one.”
She went on to say that the show has “been [her] 2nd family since [she] was 21 years old.”
“The cast, crew & fans have seen me through my highest highs & some of my lowest lows, & I honestly don’t know who I would be today without them,” she wrote. “I also know that it is time for me to begin the next phase of my career, although dance will always be a part of me. I am excited about the idea of evolving, about being challenged in new ways, having the ability to expand my commitment to mental health advocacy, focusing on my new found love for podcasting, & I’m ready to face the uncertainty (though it’s scary as sh**) of what the future holds – I do have a few things up my sleeves though, so don’t worry.”
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In a conversation with E! News, Burke expanded on the role mental health will play in her retirement from “Dancing with the Stars.”
“I’m really into mental health right now,” she said at Nov. 21’s finale taping. “I believe that I’ve been given and blessed to have this platform to be able to talk about my own experience. I’m no professional, but I do know how I help people by talking about my journey.”
Burke also mentioned that she wants to start a dance program next year that “has to do with mental health and movement” in addition to working on her “Burke In the Game” podcast. She even teased that there may be another TV show in the works.”
“Listen,” she said. “I’m just leaving it up to God!”
Prioritizing Your Mental Health
Mental health should be a priority for everyone. So, it’s important to be aware of the following signs that there may be something affecting your mind:
- A change in eating or sleeping habits
- Losing interest in people or usual activities
- Experiencing little or no energy
- Numb and/or hopeless feelings
- Turning to drinking or drugs more than usual
- Non-typical angry, upset or on-edge feelings
- Yelling/fighting with loved ones
- Experiencing mood swings
- Intrusive thoughts
- Trouble getting through daily tasks
Symptoms of a mental health disease or issue can vary from person to person, so it’s always crucial to promptly speak with a healthcare provider if you’re experiencing any changes to your physical or mental health. There are many treatment options available and many different healthy ways to help you cope.
One such option is therapy. In a previous conversation with SurvivorNet, ovarian cancer survivor Ni Guttenfelder talked about how finding the right counselor helped her process the feelings that came after her diagnosis.
“One of the things that my counselor has taught me from the very beginning that has helped me is the concept of acceptance,” she says. “Acceptance is a process. It’s like downloading a computer file in increments. Visualizing it in that way has really helped me.”
In addition to therapy, meditation and practicing mindfulness can also be used to cope with a mental health struggle. Dr. Deepak Chopra, acclaimed author and pioneer of mindfulness movement, spoke with SurvivorNet about how asking yourself who you really are is the first step down the path to practicing mindfulness.
“If we can combine our actions in the world with reflective self inquiry, love and compassion, and a state of secure, stable, ornamental, peaceful being without the addictions that humans have, then we can begin our journey of healing,” Dr. Chopra explained.
Medicating isn’t the right choice for everyone when it comes to addressing a mental health issue, but there should be no shame in turning to medication when you need it. That being said, it can be hard to find the right one. These days, however, there is a form of genetic testing that has shown the ability to match people with the best medication for mental health treatment.
We’ve seen genetic testing used for treatment plans for other diseases, such as certain types of cancer, but the ability to use it to help people who are suffering from things like anxiety and depression is relatively new.
“Doing the genetic testing has absolutely transformed the landscape of psycho-pharmacology,” psychiatrist Dr. Lori Plutchik told SurvivorNet. “It’s something that I highly recommend for anybody that is taking medication, whether they are being treated for cancer, or not … I recommend it for children who are taking medication. I recommend it for elderly people. Anybody who is taking medication, I think, can greatly benefit from genetic testing.”
Genetic testing can give a profile of how a person is likely to respond to different types of psychiatric medications, Dr. Plutchik explained. Testing is also available to create a profile of how patients will likely respond to different sorts of pain medications, which can be really beneficial for those going through some other sort of health issue.
Genetic testing “gives me information about which medications are likely to work without having problematic side effects. It also gives information about interactions between any of the psych medications that we choose,” and other medications a patient may be taking, Dr. Plutchik said.
The genetic test that Dr. Plutchik was discussing, Genomind, looks at multiple factors before determining which treatment is likely to have successful results and minimal side-effects. The test examines certain genes that are associated with responses to medications commonly prescribed for mental health issues and then looks into the patient’s ability to metabolize medication.
If you’re considering going on medication for mental health treatment, consider asking your doctor if genetic testing might be helpful for you.
Contributing: Dr. Lori Plutchik