Embracing Mental Health Awareness – Joy Pendola, LMFT LADC, Chief Clinical Officer


Day 22 on FM 97.3. Third Wednesday of the month, we always get a meeting or get one of our great guests in from the McCall Behavioral Health Network. It’s been a little while since we’ve interviewed Chief Clinical Officer Joy Pandola, but she joins us once again. Joy, nice to have you back.

Nice to be here. Thanks so much.

Now for those who have heard the ads that we have running, or the announcements, the messages that we’ve had going from a call for this month, mental health is our focus and the World Health Organization states there’s no health without mental health. Is this a new proclamation? Is this a new effort at awareness? Or have they been doing this every year and we’ve just been missing it? I think we’re a little more aware of it than we had.

We had just been talking about COVID and how I think both of us agree that COVID has really highlighted issues around mental health. But I think the concept has been around for a long time about mind-body connection. But what does that really mean? And also, what does the research show? And the research has shown that it’s just not a connection that there’s a fundamental link between physical health and mental health and when you really think about it, there’s no part of the human body that’s purely physical or mental. You know when we’re anxious, you know, we start having digestive problems and tummy aches. You know when we’re stressed, you know, we may develop a headache. But also, you know, when we’re in physical pain, it’s hard to concentrate and certainly not necessarily in a good mood. So when you think of anything, there’s a constant interaction between the two.

Well, I’m reminded of the phrase, I have a gut feeling. And it’s been said that your gut is like the mini brain and that it also intuits things that have an effect on environmentally how we’re doing, atmospherically, and how that’s affecting us and our stress levels and all of it. Some of it’s subconscious, but eventually that works up to the conscious, and that’s when problems begin, because that’s when it interrupts the harmony of our lives.

Yes, and I mean, we’re finding, you know, in research, you know, depression is linked to a lot of chronic conditions, arthritis, diabetes, cardiovascular health. And then, on the other hand, they’re finding that some mental health interventions, like positive psychology skills and cognitive behavioral therapy, is actually helping with managing chronic pain or decreases the rate of having a stroke or heart condition. So there’s just constant threads there that if you treat both, you really are going to be in overall better health.

It’s a long path to get here. It was not that long ago and just being somebody who’s a bit of a political junkie, I remember the presidential campaign of Edmund Muskie which had to be abandoned because they found out that he was seeing a mental health therapist. That was seen as a sign of weakness. That’s it. So we’ve come a ways since then but we got a ways to go, don’t we?

We do have a ways to go. I mean, we are seeing more integrated health care. We are seeing more acceptance of mental health as being, you know, part of your overall well-being and needing to take care of that to truly be healthy. But we still have such silos with physical health versus mental health. And I think oftentimes, still in Western medicine, we still look at treating symptoms, right? And not looking at the root cause or looking at a person holistically and what can contribute to all of those things. We’re getting there slowly but surely. I think one of the best strategies is integrated care. So, you know, I don’t know, Les, have you been to your primary care physician, but now they have depression screenings that they do. Now they ask you questions about your job and your relationships and your stress level. So there are steps in that direction, but I think that ultimately the best thing would be that when you’re going to a healthcare practitioner, both your physical and mental well-being are being addressed simultaneously.

Or cause and effect, absolutely. And of course, to the core mission, or one of the core missions for McCall Behavioral Health Network, which has been aiding those who are substance challenged, there is always pain of some kind associated with someone who is in that fight. And quite often, that gets to their mental well-being. Yes.

I mean, substance addictions, substance use disorders are, you know, inherently linked to not only mental health, but also physical health. I mean there’s a lot of times that people are self-medicating that are looking for ways to cope and they are all interconnected. McCall, you know, has a reputation of treating people with substance use disorders but you don’t need a substance use disorder to come to McCall. We treat people with mental mental health disorders, anxiety, depression. We have licensed practitioners who, you know, work in evidence-based mental health practices and have med providers that also can consult around medication. But we also create those linkages to physical health as well. We always identify if somebody has a primary care physician and, you know, coordinate care and also linkages to care if necessary.

Our guest this time, if you’re joining us, Chief Clinical Officer Joy Pandola from the McCall Behavioral Health Network. The message from McCall is from the World Health Organization that there’s no health without mental health. So I guess what we’re seeing here is an increasing awareness that the two are inextricably tied, you know, just mental health and physical health. And when you look at one, you really need to look at both, don’t you?

You absolutely do. And the same things that help physical health help mental health. You know, regular exercise.

Those of us who do yoga know this.

Yes, regular exercise is one of the absolute best things you could do for your mental health and physical health. A nutritious diet, sleep, you know, avoiding alcohol and substances. All of those things, those four things alone, contribute greatly to your overall well-being.

That’s a terrific way to wrap it up. Chief Clinical Officer Joy Pandola, our guest this time from McCall Behavioral Health Network. So check in with your mental health this month and every month and could lead to a happier, healthier you. Oh, thank you. Same to you. Joy, thanks for and could lead to a happier, healthier you. Oh, thank you. Same to you. Joy, thanks for being our guest this time. And the folks at McCall Behavioral Health.