How do you feel today?

Tired?

Unable to cope?

Distracted?

Isolated or uncommunicative?

Caring for your personal mental health and the mental health of your loved ones is increasingly important in today’s hectic world.

According to the National Mental Health Association, more than 54 million Americans have a mental disorder in any given year, although fewer than eight million seek treatment.

The stress or anxiety of life can often lead to depression and self-sabotaging behaviors.

Depression greatly increases the risk of heart disease.

People with depression are four times more likely to have a heart attack than those with no history of depression, according to a 1998 National Institute of Mental Health study.

Another 1999 study by the institute reported that 12 million women in the U.S. experience depression every year — roughly twice the rate of men.

Airport Marina Counseling Service has offered treatment for a wide range of mental health issues in Westchester since 1941.

Nancy Iben, new clinical director at the counseling service, says that ongoing treatment can be useful in resolution of difficulties.

“Unlike Medicare or Medi-Cal, where coverage often stops after eight to ten sessions, Airport Marina Counseling Service offers ongoing long-term therapy, giving clients the option to continue sessions with a therapist,” she says.

Dr. Patricia Goldsmith, counseling service executive director, says that the scope and diagnosis of many mental health disorders can be assessed during a one-hour initial consultation.

“Whether the course of treatment leads to individual and couples counseling, family and child counseling, group therapy or a circumstance that requires crisis intervention, help is available and easily accessible here,” Goldsmith said.

Iben adds, “When an individual’s behaviors begin to impair their normal level of functioning, such as being unable to realize their dreams, goals and ambitions, beginning therapy is often the first step toward regaining their ability to live a productive life.”

On the issue of community awareness, Goldsmith mentions the importance of offering variety.

She says that the clinic seeks to offer a wide array of programs that meets the needs of clients, as well as continuing education for therapists in training.

One of her goals is to provide special no-cost programs, which specifically benefit children and young teens, such as those offered at Westchester High School and The Boys and Girls Club of Venice.

Both Iben and Goldsmith agree that affordable and continuous mental health treatment must be made available for everyone and must be easily accessible.

Information and scheduling, Airport Marina Counseling Service, (310) 670-1410.

The clinic is open seven days a week and is at 7891 La Tijera Blvd., Westchester.