In a bid to start 2024 with the healthiest possible mindset, a psychotherapist shares the trends in mental health which he hopes will be widespread in the New Year.
Nicholette Leanza, a psychotherapist at LifeStance Health in Ohiohas experience working with children, adolescents and adults in a variety of treatment settings.
He also hosts the podcast “Convos from the Couch”, where he talks with industry thought leaders.
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Based on his treatment experience and expert conversations, below are nine trends Leanza envisions for 2024 and ways everyone can achieve better mental health in the coming year
1. Blurry lines between therapists and mental health coaches
As the number of unlicensed “mental health coaches” continues to increase, Leanza stressed the need for people to seek out credentialed therapists.
While unlicensed coaches can help provide coping skills and cognitive tools, she cautions that they shouldn’t be seen as a substitute for trained and licensed clinicians.
“There is a difference between therapy and skill development so people need to have a clear understanding of the appropriate role played by both types of professionals when it comes to mental health support and guidance,” he told Fox News Digital.
2. Increase in community-specific mental health teams
“As people navigate an increasingly disconnected world and begin to be more open about mental health struggles, we’re seeing an increasing number of community and condition-specific groups come together on social media and the workplace,” Leanza predicted.
“If it involves finding harmony and comfort in similar conditions from depression with OCD to ADHD, or struggles faced with specific cultural identities, people will naturally come together to form ecosystems and resources for specialized advice and guidance,” he said.
3. Music as relaxation therapy
The year 2023 marks one of the strongest years for fan loyalty to specific artists such as Taylor Swift, Beyonc and Harry Styles, Leanza pointed out.
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“Traditionally, soothing and ambient noise has been used as a source of relaxation, but as artist craze deepens, people are seeing the use of their favorite musicians as a way to relieve anxiety,” he said.
In the New Year, the therapist hopes people will continue turn to the music as a form of therapy to lift them up and down through the various emotions, moods and cycles of life.
4. Culture of rapid weight loss
As weight loss drugs continue to become more popular and accessible, Leanza hopes that people will begin to accept the emotional impact of significant weight loss.
“I can see types, between the physical and psychological aspects of losing weight, and a change of mind that will focus on how you feel inside, despite what you look like on the outside,” he told Fox News Digital.
“People need to reflect inward and focus on building strong body awareness now more than ever.”
5. Moderate and long-term sober living
Instead of the annual “Dry January” trend, Leanza hopes to see a shift away from an “all or nothing” mindset when it comes to alcohol.
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“Instead of going cold turkey for one month out of the year, I hope to see more people focus on being sober-curious year-round, and be more mindful of their drinking alcohol as they work to develop a more sustainable healthy lifestyle,” he told Fox News Digital.
6. Mental health at work
Leanza foresees a growing trend of people prioritizing their mental health over work that is largely dominated by Gen Z.
This could include using sick days to deal with anxiety attacks, taking time off between jobs to focus on mental health or taking time off for intensive outpatient programs, she said.
“It’s changing the way we think about work-life balance and communication in the workplace,” Leanza said.
“I find that young people are more open and transparent about discussing mental health at work, especially since hybrid and virtual office settings have blurred the lines between work and life, where the “Zoom meetings sometimes even transition to in-person pouring sessions to replace colder conversations,” he says.
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By 2024, the therapist also expects more companies to begin offering mental health support and resources to their employees.
7. Understanding mental health content on social media
In 2023, there was an “explosion” of TikTok self-diagnoses about mental health issues and the therapist issued a warning about it.
“It’s gone beyond the mainstream and almost become a point of pride, especially for Gen Z,” he told Fox News Digital.
By 2024, Leanza expects people to have a more “discerning eye” on the mental health content they consume on social media.
“I think they will hold it to a higher standard, hopefully licensed mental health professionals to assess and advise them instead of looking to influencers,” he predicted.
8. Increased demand for in-person therapy
“Gen Z is coming of age at a time when mental health awareness is at an all-time high,” Leanza told Fox News Digital.
Although that age group has grown up in a digital world, he says they also crave face-to-face interaction, especially when it comes to their mental health.
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“Although it depends on the patients and their specific diagnosis, for many younger clients, it’s their first time seeing a therapist,” she says.
“Having sessions in person can help them build a relationship with their therapist and create a more comfortable environment for them to open up.”
9. More holistic New Years resolutions
While physical movement has benefits for general health, Leanza says it should not be used as a substitute for therapy.
“Running can help release endorphins and ease anxiety in the moment, but it’s still critical to properly address deeper issues and trauma with a licensed professional rather than relying on exercise as a band-aid.” aid,” he told Fox News Digital.
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“As we look to the New Year and set resolutions, I expect to see an increase in people committing to therapy rather than the gym as they deepen their understanding of it and recognize that mental health is just as important as physical health.”
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