Psyching the Zietgeist:
Current Culture Through a Mental Health Lens

Smoky Summer Affecting Mental Health Around Pacific Northwest

We’ve had two summers now with significant smoky air from west coast wildfires. We northwesterners look forward to and treasure our short, perfect summers, so it’s disheartening to have to stay inside during our precious warm weather. There are health impacts as well as significant environmental degradations from these increasingly frequent and intense fires, but we’re affected also on a personal level, as our brief summer slams to a close.

Local shop owner/herbalist, Karyn Schwartz wisely observed about our smoky skies on her Instagram feed:

Remember that your physical well being and your emotional well being are not two separate things…. [I]f you have been agitated or anxious or just overwhelmed with feelings – you are not alone. This is part of the sickness we are all enveloped in. The smoke is exacerbating struggles we already have, and making it impossible to ignore a lot of things we all wish were not true. Part of our collective medicine is to be kind and gentle with ourselves and each other.

A recent story on the CBC website focused on these personal impacts on our mental health. For many people, they feel isolated and depressed, having to stay inside during the one time of the year when we normally can savor warm sunny days, dine al fresco, swim, and enjoy long, light-filled evenings. For others more drastically and directly affected by wildfire, they struggle with loss of home and livelihood.

These long-term significant disruptions to one’s place in the world can have profound effects on your mental health. If your feelings of despondency don’t fade when the air improves, it’s a good idea to seek out mental health assistance.

by Judy Koven

What is Feminism?

At a recent Women’s Therapy Referral Service member meeting, we explored the questions, “What is feminism?” and “What does it mean to be a feminist?”. We are a feminist organization, after all, and questions such as these are good ones for us to periodically explore.

The outcome of this discussion was interesting. While we all could agree that WTRS is a feminist cooperative, not all of us identified as feminists. Some of us don’t identify with that label because we believe in lifting up ALL people, not just women, but could get behind the idea of  Intersectional Feminism once they understood what it meant. Others resonate with Radical Feminism, which is about getting to the roots of bias in our society. 

What does Feminism mean to you? Here’s what it means to these feminists:

Nellie McKay sings a catchy, tongue-in-cheek little song. 

Chimanda Adichie tells us we should all be feminists, and talks with Trevor Noah about feminism in this great interview .

These two “unapologetic feminists” have regular conversations about all kinds of things, from a feminist point of view.

And finally – here are Irish Women celebrating the repeal of their country’s strict abortion laws with hugs, tears, and a feeling that Ireland is finally “embracing” its women.

These are just a start; there are lots of great resources available online for learning about feminism. And as you reflect on what Feminism means to you, we invite you to explore these and other resources.

by Anne Ihnen