Four Ways a Healthy Brain Makes Life Better

Brain health is a popular topic these days. It seems like every malady or remedy is somehow tied back to brain science, whether from a scientifically rigorous study or some j.v., b.s., w.t.f. claim. I think we can all agree that the fat between your ears is pretty important, but let’s be specific – how does a healthy grey prune enhance your life?

4. Better Work – This is a no-brainer (yes, intended, and you’re welcome). More focus, better processing, less stress, the absence of negative emotions, a strong memory — these are key ingredients for a creative, productive, emotionally balanced work life.

3. Better Sleep – Healthy brain equals healthy sleep. Why? Fewer concerns to preoccupy you, healthier coping mechanisms, more time allotted for sleep, and a focus on diet and exercise, which makes The Sandman happy.

2. Better Sex – The largest sex organ? Cool your jets, Sparky, it’s your brain. And in order to keep the fires burning in the bedroom, it’s vital that your brain is in top condition. A fatigued, stressed out, sluggish brain equals a strain on your funky time as well.

1. Better Life – Think of your “good life” – it probably includes some recipe of financial security, healthy relationships, physical performance, emotional balance, a rational perspective, and creative exploration – all require a brain that performs at a high level. We tend to spend more time focused on the maintenance of our car’s engine than we do our brain. Don’t you think it’s time to devote some energy to Central Command of your life?

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Five Reasons to Get a HeadCheck

Look, we know taking tests is probably not your leisure activity of choice. It isn’t ours, either. But according to the Stones’ seventh best song, you can’t always get what you want. But if you try sometimes you just might find, with HeadCheck, you get what you need.

So, we present to you the five best reasons to get a HeadCheck:

5. It’s cheap. You could spend three to five grand to learn that nothing is wrong with your noggin. How about spend three hundred to learn if you even need a deeper level of assessment?

4. It’s quick. Full neuropsychological batteries can take two or three days to complete. We’ll get you in and out in an hour and change.

3. It’s valid. If you’re interested in your brain function, you’ve probably tried online tests or taken a screen in a magazine or something. They’re fun, but no medical professional would take them seriously. Our tests are scientifically validated and used often in medical and psychological circles. No one is going to blow off our results.

2. It’s a baseline. The most common complaint from neurologists and neuropsychologists: we don’t know how they were before the (injury, illness, crisis, etc.). If you get in a car accident and lose memory, how is anyone to know how much memory was lost unless they have a baseline? And the applications shoot up from there.

1. It’s loving. I have friends who have been with a loved one who suffered an illness or trauma and they just want answers. How impared is she? How much did he lose? How much can he do now, and where does he need to improve? These are normal questions, and a HeadCheck helps people answer these questions quickly.

No one is saying assessments are fun, although we have friendly people, comfortable chairs, you get a lollipop with every HeadCheck, and a t-shirt to boot, but the answers above are more important.

Knowing your brain helps you and everyone around you. Get a mental health checkup with us or someone else. But since no one else offers a better HeadCheck, come here first.

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Visit our Facebook or website or email us directly: ryan@ryanhowes.net

“Why Charge for HeadCheck?”

ImageI’ve told many friends about HeadCheck. They have a variety of reactions:

  • Oh my God. If only my ____ (aunt, dad, friend, boss, etc.) had one of those before ____ (the accident, the illness, the stressor) happened, everything would be different.
  • Dude. This is huge. 
  • Why has no one thought of this before?
  • Great idea (laugh)! Maybe I need one of those (laugh)!

All great responses with implications worthy of their own post. But here’s the comment I want to discuss here, the one I hear from my business savvy friends:

  • Why don’t you offer it for free, tell everyone they need therapy, and keep them as clients?

I know they mean well, but this one stings. This misses the whole point of HeadCheck.

It’s no secret, my primary career is psychotherapy. I spend most of my work week as a therapist in private practice, I write a blog about therapy, hell, I founded National Psychotherapy Day. I may be one of the world’s biggest evangelists for psychotherapy as a profession. I love therapy and believe in good therapy 100%. But HeadCheck isn’t therapy, nor is it a way to drum up therapy business for myself.

HeadCheck is about mainstreaming mental health awareness. Not just mental illness awareness (a worthy cause led by these guys), but mental health awareness. We’d like everyone to take their mental health as seriously as they take their physical, dental, financial, occupational, and all other forms of health.

We’d like “Check Between Your Ears Every Two Years” to become a rule of thumb like “change your oil every 3 months or 3000 miles” or “spend two month’s salary on an engagement ring” or “an apple a day keeps the doctor away.” We want to change our attitudes, and therefore our culture regarding mental health issues. Restaurants now report calories on their menus to promote physical health awareness because our culture is acutely concerned with issues surrounding our bodies. But we’re still in the dark ages when it comes to the care and wellbeing of our brains, emotions, and relationships.

We charge for a HeadCheck because it is a stand-alone mental health service, not a loss-leader to get more therapy clients. We’re not offering free tests on the street in order to convert you. We charge a fair rate (about 10% of a full assessment battery) that pays for our time, materials, experience, opinions, and a written report. We don’t recommend therapy to everyone who takes a HeadCheck, just those who have an emotional or relational issue that could benefit from therapy. And even then, we’ll give several referrals that may not include one of us. We’re thrilled when we give a HeadCheck and find that person is WNL on all 50 dimensions. Good to go. See you in two years.

We charge because what we offer is worth it. HeadCheck isn’t bait, it’s the real thing.

The Serious Post

ImageOklahoma City. Columbine. 9/11. Hale Bopp. Virginia Tech. Fort Hood 1. Aurora. Clackamas. Seal Beach. Newtown. Boston. Fort Hood 2.

I know there are dozens more. No disrespect to the many victims and survivors, but I don’t have the stomach to do the research to develop a comprehensive list of mass killings over the past 20 years. It’s depressing. Some of these killers had known psychiatric illnesses. Others were undiagnosed and flew completely under the radar. Others still might not have shown up as disordered, but clearly had some distorted views on the value of life vs. their particular cause.

What I’m not saying: (Big disclaimer here) I’m not writing this to suggest that HeadCheck would have prevented these tragedies and saved those many innocent lives. I’m not proposing that HeadCheck be used as an instrument to weed out potential killers — those aren’t the type of measures we conduct, and we don’t aspire to move into that field. I’m not talking about HeadCheck today, I’m talking about mental health stigma.

What I am saying: The year is 2014, and we still have a mental health stigma. We don’t talk about mental health issues, we don’t talk about distress, we view people who go to therapy or seek other mental health treatment as somehow flawed. I don’t know the details, but I’ll bet that many of those infamous killers saw a physician and a dentist within two years of their horrific act. Why? Because every American knows you should see a physician yearly and a dentist every 6 months. What if it were just as common to see a mental health professional at regular intervals? Again, I’m not saying that all of these events could have been prevented and the lives spared. Someone hell-bent on destruction is hard to contain.

But I will propose that if every American citizen felt as comfortable discussing their mental health as their dental health, if they sought treatment as often and didn’t feel shame for having problems, we’d have fewer tragedies like those mentioned above.

HeadCheck isn’t designed to identify mass killers in the crowd. But it is designed to demystify and de-stigmatize mental health issues, and help people see it’s actually fun, cool, and beneficial to know your strengths and limitations. You see, our business provides mental health checkups to the Pasadena area, but our mission is to help change global attitudes about mind health and wellness. If this attitude becomes the culturally accepted norm, I hope these horrific tragedies will become the exception rather than an all-too-common reality.

The Quest for WNL

wnlOur one-hour experience measures over 40 dimensions of mental health, from life satisfaction to psychosis and many points in between. Those sixty intense minutes have two goals – spot areas of concern and set a point of comparison for future measures. Find red flags and set baselines. Not thrilling, but incredibly important.

This isn’t a Mensa entrance exam or a Jeopardy qualifier. Success for HeadCheck is ruling out problems, not proclaiming your superiority. You know that relief when your dentist says “no cavities, see you in six months”? Or your MD’s office calls to say your blood work is normal? That’s what we’re shooting for here. Everything checks out. Keep up the good work. Have a lollipop.

In a field flooded with acronyms, we’re aiming for a big one: WNL – Within Normal Limits. No major problems, no need for treatment. You’re still unique and vulnerable to occasional discomfort and hardship, as is common for every “normal” person, but there isn’t  a major obstacle that causes distress for you or those around you.

WNL is what we like to see, but if we find some yellow or red flags we’ll guide you to the help you need. We’re well-connected and respected in the San Gabriel Valley, so finding good help shouldn’t be a problem. Life is better WNL. We’ll help you get there.

Imagine

Imagine a world where mental health checkups are as normal as an annual physical, a 3000 mile oil change, or a bi-annual dental visit. Just imagine if people went to a HeadCheck professional every two years to make sure they were thinking, feeling, and relating at their highest potential. What if that was our routine?

How many undiagnosed problems would be revealed? How many lives would be saved, dreams reached, and treatments begun in time? How many people who erroneously fear “I’m going crazy” would gain peace of mind? How many in need of a motivating nudge would finally seek the help they need? How many?

We can’t say for certain, but lots. Imagine that.

HeadCheck Theme Song

HeadCheck is a scientifically valid, medically sound mental health checkup overseen by a board-certified clinical psychologist. The measures, administration, and report are beyond reproach and respected by every health care professional in the world. We engage serious issues with all the gravity, urgency, and discernment they are due.

But that doesn’t mean we can’t have fun. Enjoy our theme song. Woo hoo!