Chambers talks mental health, stress control at luncheon

By EMILY SPARACINO / Staff Writer

COLUMBIANA – Mental health and stress management were the main topics of Dr. Lemeshia Chambers’ speech at The Shelby County Chamber Connections luncheon on Thursday, March 5.

Chambers, the market director for the Behavioral Health Service Line at Brookwood Baptist Medical Center, presented “ABCs of Mental Health: What You Need to Know” during the luncheon, which included a Healthy Lifestyles Expo organized by the Health Services Work Group.

“Mental health includes our emotional, psychological and social well-being,” Chambers said. “It affects how you act, but it also affects how you think and feel.”

Chambers defined stress as a normal physical response to events that make someone feel threatened or upsets his or her balance in some way.

“Stress has a mental health component,” she said, adding it is not always bad in small doses. “You have to have a certain degree of stress, but you must be aware of your limits, and not be afraid to say, ‘I have reached my limits.’ Your body can’t constantly run in emergency mode.”

Chambers reviewed the ways in which poor mental health and stress can negatively affect people in the workplace, from job performance to communication with coworkers to physical capability and daily functioning.

Chambers said individuals’ ability to tolerate stress depends on many factors, including the quality of their relationships, general outlook on life, emotional intelligence and genetics.

“Stress is going to happen,” she said. “It is our response to stress that is going to make it a good or bad situation.”

Chambers listed ways to manage stress, including reaching out to family and friends in times of crisis, getting treatment at the earliest sign of a problem and considering long-term maintenance treatment to help prevent a relapse of symptoms.

In the case an illness is diagnosed, managing the illness through education, support, a structured lifestyle and, in some cases, medication is key, Chambers said.

“Have a sense of independence, but know when you need help and can’t do it on your own,” Chambers said. “Focus on the good things about yourself and in your life. No one is perfect. Learn to enjoy the little things that make you happy.”