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Mental Health Trends to Watch in 2017

It’s important to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to mental health. Take a look at these mental health trends to watch in 2017.

The mental health field is constantly changing.

Not so many years ago we relied on a Psychiatrist who prescribed medications and also provided therapy to patients.

A Psychiatrist providing therapy is basically non-existent today. That’s because over time the Mental Health field has made many changes based on the needs of society. We now have Psychologists, Licensed Counselors, Social Workers, School Counselors, Therapeutic Aids, Behavioral Specialists, Therapeutic Support Staff, Forensic Psychologists, Addictions Specialist, and more. The list goes on and on.

You can get a mental health disorder just by trying to figure out which provider to call first. It can be frustrating not knowing who to make an initial appointment with when you are not even sure if you have a problem.

2017 will most likely offer even more providers to choose from. I know, not what you wanted to hear. But wait, the good news is that each of these professionals in mental health will continue to evolve in their abilities to provide better services to people who are suffering emotionally. This means that once you find the best provider of services for you, they will be at their highest in regards to training, experience and education.

Therapists and Psychiatrists will start to promote the healthy brain and recommend a more patient centered treatment plan where communication is open between providers, alternative treatment methods are recommended, and even the diet of the client will be taken into consideration.

This next year will also take elements from previous years and enhance them. Prevention efforts will be improved and expanded to younger children.

Even the way counseling is performed will transform from the traditional office setting to some counselors providing therapy online.

Online Counseling

You can go to school online. You can shop online. You can even date online.

Why not be able to receive counseling online?

Well, you may not have to wait much longer to be able to participate in email therapy or Skype therapy or some other type of online therapy.

Meeting with a counselor online is taking place right now but there are some limitations such as payments, confidentiality breaches, and state licensure requirements. However, these kinks are being worked out and in 2017 there is sure to be an increase in online services. So, instead of logging in and Googling your symptoms, you will actually be able to log in and communicate directly with a mental health professional.

The digital age is moving forward in all areas, including digital psychotherapy. Many professionals in the counseling world agree that technology used for counseling will be a huge trend in the coming years.

There are counselors already using technology to hold therapy sessions. This method has many advantages and disadvantages. Some advantages of online counseling are that people with disabilities and people in remote areas can have access to therapy and education surrounding their problems. If you live way out in the country with no transportation, this would be a perfect way for you to get the help you need. Even if you have suddenly become disabled, whether temporarily or permanently, you don’t have to stop therapy at all.  You can continue therapy through online methods.

Some disadvantages include insurance companies not paying for online therapy and there are major concerns surrounding the privacy and in the ability of therapists to respond to patients in a crisis situation. However, many therapists are willing to offer rates similar to a co pay for online treatment. Many people aren’t concerned with the privacy violations online, especially if the therapist has a secure process set up for counseling. Most people just want help and are willing to take a few risks in order to get the help they need.

Other advantages include online therapy being affordable and can reduce the stigma, encouraging people to get the help they need. Disadvantages may include technical difficulties and finding it hard to stick to all of the ethical boundaries of counseling.

Online groups
are already taking place with many different types of support groups. Alcoholics Anonymous is one organization offering online support groups. People in recovery can log in and check in with others working the 12 steps. It is instant support for people who may not be able to make it to a meeting or can’t find a meeting near them.

Online support groups also have their disadvantages such as having the wrong type of people, those who want to interfere with another’s recovery, log in. These are kinks that will get worked out in the coming year as many more online support groups form and grow.

One major area that already offers online support is nutrition and eating to be healthy. There are many weight loss, vegan or vegetarian, and other nutrition related groups or forums in existence today. And all of them seem to be realizing that nutrition has a direct impact on mental health, making it an important area of focus next year.


Which came first, the mental health disorder or the bad diet? This is a conversation discussed between both professionals and those seeking help. Some say all the carbs and sugar you eat in the middle of the night contributes to our depression and anxiety. Others claim the feelings of depression and anxiety make you want to binge on chips and cookies. It is possible that both are true.

There is a lot of evidence supporting the role nutrition plays with a person’s mental health, whether good or bad. Researchers have examined people with
depression and found they have poor dietary choices.

There are many health problems related to being overweight or obese. Mental health illnesses such as attention deficit and autism issues have also been shown to have a connection to dietary conditions.

Having a healthy brain can lead to a healthy mental state. You can get a healthy brain just like you would go about getting a healthy body, feed it the right stuff. Some psychiatrists are prescribing nutrient rich medicines and vitamins as a therapeutic technique.

Some reports claim probiotics can help ease anxiety and give a person a better overall outlook. They also claim depression is lower among those who eat Mediterranean and Japanese diets. Maybe it’s time to start checking out these cultures and their eating habits.

There seems to be a connection between mental health disorders and the food we eat. Mental health illnesses are increasing. We see more and more people with a diagnosis or multiple diagnoses. At the same time, the nutrients in our food seem to be disappearing. There are some processed foods that have zero nutrition. The more processes a food goes through to preserve it for a longer shelf life, the less nutrition it has. Foods that are as close to their natural state are the very best choices.

Natural color in foods is a key to its ability to provide needed nutrients. Orange carrots, green lettuce, and dark yellow egg yolks are examples of what to look for in nutrient rich foods, which can influence your brain in a positive way. If your mind is nourished, your body will be also. This connection will prove to be a fundamental concern among mental health professionals in the next year.

Mind-Body Connection

Mind-Body Therapy is designed to help patients create a healthy mind so that the brain can create a healthy body.

Having a healthy mind can lead to a healthy body and having a healthy body can lead to a healthy mind. It’s true. Just ask that stomach ulcer that keeps coming around every time your boss adds more work to your already full load. Or what about the feelings of anxiety that appear when the in-laws come over for Sunday lunch? Your brain needs to be healthy so it can handle life stressors appropriately.

Doctors will use the mind-body connection to heal patients by incorporating the entire lifestyle of the patient into the treatment plan. Psychiatrists can work with your doctors, social workers, and family members to discover the areas that may be contributing to your mental health disorders.

Some psychologists only like to focus on observable behaviors and don’t spend too much time on how the brain and the body are connected, if they are connected.

Researchers say it is important to incorporate several mind-body therapeutic techniques to help patients. These include positive psychology, being grateful, self-affirmations, being optimistic for depression and psychological acupressure, dissociation and future pacing.

Incorporating these techniques means there will be more professionals in your life, one for each technique. This is a good thing. There are no one-stop shops for doctors in today’s times. There are many specialists who are better trained to handle your more specific concerns. Just like you wouldn’t go to an orthopedic to delivery your baby, you want to find the right specialist for your disorders, the ones who have great experience and knowledge in that area.

This will mean that communication between these professionals and with the patient will need to change and become more flexible, while still abiding by confidentiality laws.

Communication among Providers

This is an area that has needed attention for a long time to avoid patients being able to “Dr. hop”, meaning they go to several different doctors about several different symptoms and end up with several prescriptions that may or may not interact, all the while none of the doctors know this is happening. That lack of communication is dangerous.

Every provider that is treating a mutual patient should be in communication with one another to create the best and safest treatment plan for the patient. Providers are starting to feel the need for increased communication with the other providers in a patient’s life. They are realizing it is best to work together as one unit to develop a treatment plan so they can have a complete picture of the client versus just a small snapshot.

In the future, Psychiatrists will focus more on the patient and the lifestyle of the patient versus just on the patient’s symptoms. They will learn the patient’s strengths as well as weaknesses. This means they will find out more about your family life, your work life, your recreational life and other treatments you are already pursuing before just prescribing a pill.

Improving communication between psychiatrists and primary care doctors and therapists is so important in helping the patient become healthy as a whole.

Confidentiality and privacy are still of great importance and no provider should be violating these rights. It is important, however, for you to give all of your provider’s permission to communicate with each other so you can get the best all around treatment.

Informed consent is you giving your therapist permission to talk to your family member.

Different ways working together can help is in treatment adherence, assessment and screening, and especially in prevention programs.


Prevention seems to be an area of constant evolvement due to the steady efforts of professionals to improve the way society treats mental health.

Prevention of mental health illnesses can begin as early as the prenatal period to early childhood. Babies’ brains are developing even before they are born so it is important to make sure they have the healthiest environments to grow. Factors to be considered will be the mom’s health, substance abuse by the mother or other family members in the home, domestic violence, access to food and their overall environment in which they live.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration claim there is a stage even before prevention called promotion. In this stage people are introduced to all of the stages that include prevention, treatment and recovery.

One strategy to promote mental health includes priorities such as increasing awareness about how to promote positive mental health, creating mentally healthy work environments, intervening early when problems first arise and increasing capacities of facilities that can help everyone from infant to elderly.

While there will be many other trends in the upcoming year in the mental health field, these are just a few that will certainly improve the way mental health services are provided to individuals and families. It is up to you to do your part in assisting your providers in implementing any new techniques or plans created for you. Working with your provider is always the best solution. You both have the same goal for the New Year, getting you as healthy as possible. Working together, you can do it!