Dr. Giordano’s Blog

Living with purpose and intention

Many of us report that we “want to live with purpose,” or say things like, “I want our lives to be meaningful.” Stated simply, the purpose, intention, or objective of life is to continually learn, understand and practice ways of becoming a better human. In so doing we can relate better with and make life better for others. Now in my 56th year of life, I have learned some difficult lessons through the experiences I have had the good fortune to endure. These range from being born into a first-generation Italian-American family. I had a rich multi-cultural experience living in NYC in the mid-1960s. Growing up in that environment I learned that I was part of a deep heritage, enjoyed wonderful foods, wine, lots of passionate, hard-working, wonderfully hospitable people who loved deeply and who were passionate.

My Depression-era grandparents, great uncles, and great aunts taught me that working hard, being frugal, having integrity, and enjoying relationships were the most important things in life. I’d say my takeaway was that our work serves the sole purpose to fund our life, which is synonymous with relationships. “La Famiglia!” my relatives used to say with such enthusiasm [meaning, the family is the most important thing in our lives; everything we do serves our family]. Family meals were the context where this was most powerfully illustrated. Everyone was welcomed and there was always room at the table. For my Italian family, food was a barometer of life: if you had a good appetite, life was good, if not, someone would ask, “What’s wrong?” “are you not feeling well?” . . .

In that family I learned that together, we could get through any difficulty: shared burdens are divided and were more easily managed. Also, shared joys were multiplied. I experienced the joy and relief that come with both giving and receiving generously. My Nana [maternal grandmother] illustrated this beautifully. She dropped out of 8th grade in 1929 to raise her siblings when her mother died. Throughout her life, Nana gave generously to anyone who had a need. She never had much in a material sense, but she never wanted for anything. She lived an abundant life.

Today the very essence of life for me happens in savoring moments with the people in my life. Enjoying relationships with family, friends, neighbors, is synonymous with living for me today. My work serves to fund my life; my work is not my life. That is, I work so I can enjoy my time preparing and sharing meals, hiking, traveling, recreating, and doing life with my family, and friends.

We can all get more money and material things are replaceable. However, time is getting spent whether or not we savor it, or enjoy it. Time can’t be saved, therefore Time is our most precious resource and I do not want to waste it. To live with purpose, I put those things that I value most onto my schedule: Sleep, time with God, meals, exercise, breaks, time outside, time with family, friends, going for motorcycle rides, and doing only enough work to fund these activities. I have learned that we never “find time” rather we must “make time” that is, schedule what we value most. This for me is living with intention. Peace to you.

Findings from “The State of Mental Health in America 2021.”

Many of us have felt the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. The research presented below highlights how the past year has impacted the Mental Health of Americans. Mental Health America issued their 2021 report on the state of mental health in America. I included the key findings from that report below. The full report can be found at the Mental Health America website by clicking here.

Key Findings

  • Youth mental health is worsening. 9.7% of youth in the U.S. have severe major depression, compared to 9.2% in last year’s dataset. This rate was highest among youth who identify as more than one race, at 12.4%.
  • Even before COVID-19, the prevalence of mental illness among adults was increasing. In 2017-2018, 19% of adults experienced a mental illness, an increase of 1.5 million people over last year’s dataset.
  • Suicidal ideation among adults is increasing. The percentage of adults in the U.S. who are experiencing serious thoughts of suicide increased 0.15% from 2016-2017 to 2017-2018 – an additional 460,000 people from last year’s dataset.
  • There is still an unmet need for mental health treatment among youth and adults. 60% of youth with major depression did not receive any mental health treatment in 2017-2018. Even in states with the greatest access, over 38% are not receiving the mental health services they need. Among youth with severe depression, only 27.3% received consistent treatment. 23.6% of adults with a mental illness reported an unmet need for treatment in 2017-2018. This number has not declined since 2011.
  • The percentage of adults with a mental illness who are uninsured increased for the first time since the passage of the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Nationally, 10.8% are uninsured, totaling 5.1 million adults. This figure differs dramatically across states – in New Jersey (ranked #1) 2.5% of adults with AMI are uninsured, compared to 23% in Wyoming (ranked #51).

This year’s report includes a spotlight on the impact of COVID-19 on mental health, using the over 1.5 million people who have taken a screen on MHA Screening from January to September 2020. From these screens we have found:

  • The number of people looking for help with anxiety and depression has skyrocketed. From January to September 2020, 315,220 people took the anxiety screen, a 93 percent increase over the 2019 total number of anxiety screens. 534,784 people took the depression screen, a 62 percent increase over the 2019 total number of depression screens.
  • The number of people screening with moderate to severe symptoms of depression and anxiety has continued to increase throughout 2020 and remains higher than rates prior to COVID-19. In September 2020, the rate of moderate to severe anxiety peaked, with over 8 in 10 people who took an anxiety screen scoring with moderate to severe symptoms. Over 8 in 10 people who took a depression screen have scored with symptoms of moderate to severe depression consistently since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020.
  • More people are reporting frequent thoughts of suicide and self-harm than have ever been recorded in the MHA Screening program since its launch in 2014. Since the COVID-19 pandemic began to spread rapidly in March 2020, over 178,000 people have reported frequent suicidal ideation. 37 percent of people reported having thoughts of suicide more than half or nearly every day in September 2020.
  • Young people are struggling most with their mental health. The proportion of youth ages 11-17 who accessed screening was 9 percent higher than the average in 2019. Not only are the number of youth searching for help with their mental health increasing, but throughout the COVID-19 pandemic youth ages, 11-17 have been more likely than any other age group to score for moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety and depression.
  • Rates of suicidal ideation are highest among youth, especially LGBTQ+ youth. In September 2020, over half of 11-17-year-olds reported having thoughts of suicide or self-harm more than half or nearly every day of the previous two weeks. From January to September 2020, 77,470 youth reported experiencing frequent suicidal ideation, including 27,980 LGBTQ+ youth.
  • People screening at risk for mental health conditions are struggling most with loneliness or isolation. From April to September 2020, among people who screened with moderate to severe symptoms of anxiety or depression, 70 percent reported that one of the top three things contributing to their mental health concerns was loneliness or isolation.
  • People who identify as Asian or Pacific Islander are searching for mental health resources more in 2020 than ever before. The proportion of screeners identifying as Asian or Pacific Islander increased 7 percent, from 9 percent of screeners in 2019 to 16 percent in 2020.
  • While rates of anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation are increasing for people of all races and ethnicities, there are notable differences in those changes over time.  Black or African American screeners have had the highest average percent change over time for anxiety and depression. Native American or American Indian screeners have had the highest average percent change over time for suicidal ideation.

New Appointments/Communicating

Good morning. My counseling practice has certainly been inundated since the start of the pandemic. There is more demand than anyone in my profession can meet. Many mental health professionals report the same volume. I am adding new referrals to a waitlist. I am in the process of hiring a scheduling assistant to receive and manage new referrals. Meanwhile, please use the e-mail link if you wish to contact me for counseling services, instead of calling or leaving a voicemail message. Click the contact link on my webpage: https://giordanocounselingservices.org/contact/ which will lead to my Kareo page https://provider.kareo.com/dr-louis-giordano. For those interested in communicating, click on “contact,” then click on “send message.” Thanks for your kind consideration.

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