The Advancement of Mental Healthcare in the Age of Technology – Bringing Empathy and Eye Contact Back to Drive Health and Connection

By Demand, Solstice Adds San Clemente to Serve Alongside Existing Mission Viejo Clinic

Solstice Pacific Southern California

Some of the Team Serving Teens and Adults in Mission Viejo and San Clemente California

In Southern California, an integrative psychiatry clinic, Solstice Pacific, develops habits with patients based on their goals and puts progress markers on a timetable. Every milestone is made up of dozens of ways to connect with themselves and others. The pursuit creates a dopaminergic experience that is replicable from day to day without Solstice. Through new mental frameworks, individuals can make meaning, face insecurity, and overcome uncertainty while reducing suicidal ideation and psychological pain. 

Solstice Pacific is resolving the dopamine depletion many face.

"Fear, isolation and lagging skills are actually the door to dopamine," says Solstice Pacific Operations Manager Ramsden Florento. To develop skills, the approach comprises a mix of residential mental healthcare (RTC), partial hospitalization (PHP Day Treatment), intensive outpatient (IOP), MeRT, Spravato, and family intensive workshops. "There are no easy days," one program graduate said last month, "but I'm no longer bitter, cynical, controlling, or anxious."

As empathy decreases, social rejection and mental illness increase. Alternatively, the changes in human relationships could be traced to ubiquitous technology. While cause is important, right now, the U.S. needs a plan for families to strengthen relationships and for coworkers to bring out the best in one another. Solstice Pacific is giving control back to families. Margo Christou in Southern California explains, "I trusted Solstice Pacific with the care of one of my family members after being disappointed elsewhere. They are an oasis of world class mental health care in a patient ecosystem in great need of their services. More than a mental health services provider, Solstice Pacific is a community that wraps its arms around you every step of the way. They consider the whole patient, not just one issue. I cannot speak more highly of the quality of care, the thoroughly trained staff and the outcomes."

In this therapeutic setting, education leads 45% of the program's graduates back to work and 30% back to school. 10% increase their community service. Participants quickly learn that activities releasing dopamine are countless and simple changes over time, like sleep, wake-up rituals, and nutrition, giving them the drive to face more complex tasks.

Since empathy is relatively expensive compared to the alternatives, teens and adults have developed coping mechanisms to briefly satisfy or disguise their need for control. When Men's Health interviewed 1,111 people using SurveyMonkey, 75% stated they are close to someone struggling with addiction, and 40% claimed they have increased urges for addictive substances or behaviors. Human beings naturally require choices around power and control. They control a car when they drive it. They power a recipe when they combine ingredients. But, Solstice clientele lose some control when they leave their environment or step out from behind the screen. Awareness of power and choice is muddied when avoidance includes substance misuse or chronic depression.

The chaos reported and observed comes down to how customers want to get dopamine. Want is the key word. There is some dopamine in safe screen experiences, but this pleasure hormone also comes from problem solving, cooking, eye contact, community, and more. Staying in an artificially controlled technological environment can limit mental well-being through neurodegeneration, impacting both physical and mental health. Conversely, sacrificing some comfort for a healthier dopamine release will create trust. The body is wired for connection.

Working memory, cognitive control, and time with friends and family all start with choice and power. The behaviors people choose immediately impact emotion and what comes next. While emotions can sway and are frequently uncomfortable, they still have the power to choose habits that they want to repeat, even when diagnosed with developmental disorders, traumatic brain injury, mental health disorders, or substance use disorders.

Dialectical skills and Collaborative Problem Solving© are two pillars in the Solstice practice of psychiatric care. Dr. Randall Turner, Psychiatrist, Solstice Medical Director talks more about routines and thoughts than medication: "By bringing the power to the inside: movement, communication, creativity … our patients report improved mood, cognition and behavior. A connection to self, a connection to others gives meaning in a world of mixed signals and intense stimuli. Our customers have choices about what they believe and desired results. We remind you that independence and effort have some risk but nowhere near the risk of avoiding pain or progress."

Humans are made for relationships. The good news is that this curious, proactive group of South Orange County mental health providers has developed proprietary screening, assessment, and treatment for barriers to human connection. Skills require practice, and this Community Mental Health Center has created an environment for courage and walking into the problem instead of avoiding it.

According to author and psychology professor Mitch Prinstein PhD theory in Popular: The Power of Likability in a Status-Obsessed World, "When they're reliant on others for their sense of self, only feeling good if they get positive feedback from makers of status, they're at risk for depression." Solstice educates, trains, and practices skills like teamwork and cognitive flexibility. Participants in the program report fewer hours scrolling for validation. Patients learn to create shared experiences—closeness—rather than waiting for or expecting such from another. The new Solstice 24-hour mental health facility in San Clemente assists adults in developing new habits that fulfill and generate neural pathways for resilience at home, school, or work.

Patients and their families are introduced to varied perspectives, discourses, timetables, breathing patterns, and solutions to catastrophizing or emotional reasoning. According to Brianna Riddlebarger, Solstice Physician Assistant, "Change and growth is vulnerable and can feel very risky… but befriending your internal locus of control leads to accepting that you're capable of positive change. Crossing the threshold from what was to what is takes bravery." Solstice walks their customer through a 300-page Success Handbook during the 90-day integrative psychiatry program, reviving the skills of reading, writing, art, and... uncomfortable group discussion. Participants in the program are next to the beach, which comes with soothing sounds and smells. But, their full-time job is suspending judgment and following the schedule so the therapeutic benefits stack up.

Today, Solstice, calls for a reset. "When a machine isn't functioning optimally, the operator takes pause, takes inventory, and carefully resolves the problem before inefficiency, injury, or systemic degradation take effect," says Narges Maududi, one of Solstice Pacific's Licensed Clinical Social Workers. "Our program staff, and patients alike, understand that in 2023 everyone is trending towards some robot-like behavior. Without interruption we can all take our corners and avoid eye contact. People are hurting because they want to be aloof, but they also want to be seen." 

What stands out about the Solstice practice of medicine is the interdisciplinary team. They apply Psychiatrist Dr. William Glasser's Choice Theory, which says human motivation centers around five needs, but to differing degrees by person: Survival, Love & Belonging, Power, Freedom, Fun. These needs are incorporated into the recovery of the screen-dependent patient to help modify behavior and restore a sense of self.

"We call the space and time spent with us reset and rise," Maududi continues.

Solstice educates families through their proprietary Solstice 360 care plans, and shortly into the work, participants are in the habit of noticing how and when dopamine and other neurotransmitters come on the scene.

According to Ken Duckworth, M.D., Chief Medical Officer of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, any fraying of connectivity can trigger addictive behaviors (alcohol, painkillers, drugs, porn, gambling). Solstice's response is to limit an assignment to a short burst of time. Take a break. Then, another task for a short burst. The blend builds self-trust and trust for others, and it also helps restore neural pathways that have lost traction. Britten Devereux, Solstice CEO, reflects, "Addiction and mental disorders are feedback that some skills need to increase. Ignored, individuals suffering can identify themselves by their feelings, underestimate their strengths and isolate. Our bodies and brains don't love quick fixes. We are finding that when consumers dedicate time in the system we've developed, they feel better."

Contact [email protected] or text 949.200.7929.

Solstice Integrative Holdings, a Texas Corporation establishes and monitors the standard of care for all Solstice hospitals and clinics. 

Contact Information:
Patricia Gail de Jesus
Technical Assistant
[email protected]

Original Source: The Advancement of Mental Healthcare in the Age of Technology - Bringing Empathy and Eye Contact Back to Drive Health and Connection
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