Mental Health Awareness


The Patient As Advocate
March 22, 2009, 12:01 pm
Filed under: awareness, Education | Tags: , , , ,
Stand Up, Speak Up – Getting the Best Care for Yourself
Everyone has a role in providing the best health care for you – organizational executives, physicians, therapists, nurses and technicians. And, above all, YOU! You do this by becoming an active, informed, and involved consumer and member of the health care team. 

Medical errors are one of the leading causes of death in the United States, with almost 98,000 occurring annually according to the Institute of Medicine. The more involved we are, the less likely we are to have an adverse reaction. Ways to do this include

Speaking up if you have any questions or concerns, and ask again if you still dont understand. It is your body and you have the right to know.

Pay Attention to the care you are receiving. Make sure you are getting the right medications, for instance. Don’t assume anything. 

Educate Yourself about your diagnosis, any medical tests or procedures you will have done, and be an active participant in determining your treatment plan.

Ask a trusted family member or friend to be an advocate for you that can ask questions you may not think of under stress, and may not remember the answers to.

Know what medications you take and why you take them. Know their side-effects, and how long the side-effects should last if you are just beginning a medication. Learn if there is anything you can do to alleviate the side-effects. Medication errors are the most common health care mistake.

Participate in all decisions about your treatment. You are the center of the health care team.

After following these general rules, more specifically, try to:

Inform your doctors about medications your are taking, including prescriptions, over the counter drugs, and herbal or dietary supplements.

Inform your doctors about your allergies any any adverse reactions you may have experienced

Inform your doctors of any dietary restrictions you may have

Ask your staff for written information about possible side effects to your medications

Be an advocate of your own care. Ask your friend or relative to also be your patient advocate

Question your nurse, doctor, or pharmacist if your medications look different from the way they looked before, or if the number of medications is different

Learn about your condition by asking your doctor, nurse, therapist, or any other reliable sourse any questions you may have regarding your illness

Make sure that your prescriptions are legible

If you are in the hospital, when you are discharged if you have any questions regarding your treatment plan to be used at home, ask your doctors or staff for an explanation.

Finally, discuss any concerns you have with your caregiver in an assertive (not aggressive) manner.

Source
 
 

 

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Seasonal Affective Disorder
January 9, 2009, 1:41 am
Filed under: awareness, Education | Tags: , ,

Seasonal Affective Disorder

The holidays are a celebratory time for most people, but those affected by Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) may experience continuing episodes of depression during the late fall and winter, alternating with periods of normal or high mood the rest of the year. While the environment can trigger the disorder in some people, a new study suggests that others may have a genetic predisposition to SAD.

People living with SAD may experience oversleeping, daytime fatigue, and weight gain. Others may show symptoms associated with depression, such as decreased sexual interest, lethargy, hopelessness, suicidal thoughts, lack of interest in normal activities, and social withdrawal. Many people with SAD do not feel “normal” until May.

In the study, researchers observed 220 people, including 90 people without depression and 130 people diagnosed with SAD. In the latter group, seven people had two mutated copies of the photopigment gene in the eye, which helps detect colors. The mutation makes a person with SAD less sensitive to light.

This information one day may be used to predict whether a person may have a higher risk for developing SAD, or whether light therapy will be effective.

While researchers have not identified specific causes of the disorder, seasonal circadian rhythm interruption, as well as changes in serotonin and melatonin production, may also play a role in the disorder.   

When seasonal changes trigger recurring mild feelings of depression, some people living with SAD find that light therapy—using bright lamps or scheduling more time outdoors in winter—helps to manage symptoms. If symptoms noticeably affect one’s daily living, he or she should consult a mental health professional who is qualified to treat SAD.

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Famous people with mental illness…
December 24, 2008, 1:02 pm
Filed under: awareness, Education | Tags: , , ,

Famous People with Mental Illness

Mental Illness is not confined to any particular ethnic, racial, religious, or financial group. Anyone can get it, at any time.

Even though most mental illnesses have devastating effects on the lives of those affected, many have found that these illnesses can produce extraordinary clarity, insight, and creativity as well.

Below you will find the names of many famous people who felt not only the devastation, but also the extraordinary creative potential, as well as the courage to use it. It’s quite a list. Please take the time to browse it thoroughly.

Abraham Lincoln
The admired sixteenth President of the United States suffered from severe and incapacitating clinical depression which sometimes led to thoughts of suicide as well.
Virginia Woolf
The British novelist who wrote To the Lighthouse and Orlando experienced the severe mood swings of bipolar disorder which included feverish periods of writing and weeks spent in the gloom of depression. Anthony Storr wrote about her story in The Dynamics of Creation .
Lionel Aldridge
As a defensive end for the legendary Green Bay Packers of the 1960’s, he played in two Super Bowls. During the 1970’s, he suffered from schizophrenia and spent two and a half years homeless. Before he died in 1998, he gave many inspirational talks concerning his battle against paranoid schizophrenia.
Eugene O’Neill
The famous playwright, author of Long Day’s Journey Into Night and Ah, Wilderness!, is documented as having suffered from clinical depression.
Ludwig van Beethoven
The brilliant composer is documented as having suffered from bipolar disorder, in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb.
Gaetano Donizetti
The famous opera singer suffered from bipolar disorder.
Robert Schumann
The “inspired poet of human suffering” lived with bipolar disorder, as one of many creative people discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr.
Leo Tolstoy
Author of War and Peace, Tolstoy revealed the depth of his own mental illness in the memoir Confession. He suffered from clinical depression, hypochondriasis, alcoholism, and substance abuse. His experiences are discussed in both The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Inner World of Mental Illness: A Series of First Person Accounts of What It Was Like by Bert Kaplan.
Vaslov Nijinsky
His autobiography, The Diary of Vaslov Nijinksy, documents the dancer’s battle with schizophrenia.
John Keats
This renowned poet’s mental illness is documented along with the illnesses of many others in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Broken Brain: The biological Revolution in Psychiatry by Nancy Andreasen, M.D.
Tennessee Williams
The playwright wrote about his personal struggle with clinical depression in his own Memoirs, and his experience is also documented in Five O’Clock Angel: Letters of Tennessee Williams to Maria St. Just, 1948-1982; The Kindness of Strangers: The Life of Tennessee Williams by Donald Spoto; and Tennessee: Cry of the Heart by Dotson.
Vincent Van Gogh
The bipolar disorder that this celebrated artist suffered from is discussed in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb and Dear Theo, The Autobiography of Van Gogh.
Isaac Newton
The English mathematician and scientist who formulated the theory of gravitation is suspected of suffering from bipolar disorder, as discussed in The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr and The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb.
Ernest Hemingway
The Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist’s bouts with suicidal depression are examined in the True Gen: An Intimate Portrait of Ernest Hemingway by Those Who Knew Him by Denis Brian.
Sylvia Plath
The suicide of this poet and novelist was caused by her lifelong struggle with clinical depression, as discussed in A Closer Look at Ariel: A Memory of Sylvia Plath by Nancy Hunter-Steiner.
Michelangelo
The Dynamics of Creation by Anthony Storr discusses the mental illness of one of the world’s greatest artistic geniuses.
Winston Churchill
The quote “Had he been a stable and equable man, he could never have inspired the nation. In 1940, when all the odds were against Britain, a leader of sober judgment might well have concluded that we were finished,” was written by Anthony Storr about Churchill’s bipolar disorder in Churchill’s Black Dog, Kafka’s Mice, and Other Phenomena of the Human Mind.
Vivien Leigh
The British actress of the 1950’s & 60’s, star of Gone with the Wind and A Streetcar Named Desire suffered from the mental illness bipolar disorder, as documented in Vivien Leigh: A Biography by Ann Edwards.
Jimmy Piersall
The Truth Hurts, written by the baseball player for the Boston Red Sox, detailed his experience with bipolar disorder.
Patty Duke
The Academy Award-winning actress revealed her bipolar disorder in her autobiography and made-for-TV move Call Me Anna, and in A Brilliant Madness: Living with Manic-Depressive Illness, co-authored by Gloria Hochman.
Charles Dickens
The clinical depression of one of the greatest authors in the English language is documented in The Key to Genius: Manic Depression and the Creative Life by D. Jablow Hershman and Julian Lieb, and Charles Dickens: His Tragedy and Triumph by Edgar Johnson.
John Forbes Nash
Mathematician, author of the game theory of economics, winner of the 1994 Nobel Prize in Economics, he suffered from paranoid schizophrenia. He was also the subject of the book and movie “A Beautiful Mind” <!–
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Smoking and Mental Illness
December 22, 2008, 11:51 am
Filed under: awareness, Education | Tags: , , , ,

A new report from Australia provides striking evidence that individuals with mental illness smoke at four times the rate of the general population.

The study notes that, despite a reduction in smoking by 50 percent among Australia’s general population, there has been little change in smoking rates among people with psychiatric disabilities.

Study author Kristen Moeller-Saxone from the University of Melbourne’s Melbourne School of Population Health, says smoking rates remain high even though three quarters of those involved in the study said they wanted to quit or cut down on cigarettes.

Ms Moeller-Saxone’s study surveyed 280 clients of a psychiatric support service — most of whom had schizophrenia — in Melbourne’s northern suburbs.

It found that found that more than six in 10 (or 62 per cent) of those surveyed smoked, compared to fewer than two in 10 (16 per cent) members of the general population.

It also found that:

Smokers with mental illness consumed 50 per cent more cigarettes a day than the general population, averaging 22 cigarettes a day;
The heaviest smokers in the group smoked up to 80 cigarettes in a day;
Almost three in five (59 per cent) said they wanted to quit smoking;
Almost three quarters (74 per cent) said they wanted to cut down;
One in 10 (12 per cent) had successfully given up smoking; and
Smokers with mental illness were almost three times more likely to consume illegal tobacco.
Ms Moeller-Saxone said the study showed the need for specialist services to help people with mental illness stop smoking.

She said previous research by SANE Australia and ACCESS economics showed smoking among people with mental illness cost Australia more than $30 billion a year.

“Smoking compounds many of the health problems already experienced by people with mental illnesses,” she said. “Combined with drug therapies that often make them overweight, they are at even greater risk of diabetes, heart attacks and strokes if they smoke.

“The biggest cause of death among people with mental illness is not suicide, it is cardiovascular disease.”

Ms Moeller-Saxone said smoking also placed a big financial imposition on many people with mental illness, some of whom spent more than 20 per cent of their income on cigarettes.

However, governments had provided very little support for quit programs among the mentally ill.

“This is typified by the current Victorian Tobacco Control Strategy which doesn’t specifically recognise the mentally ill as a group to be specifically targeted,” she said.

“We really need to focus on people with mental illness as a specialist sub-group which needs tailored support rather than just including them with other socially disadvantaged groups.”

Ms Moeller-Saxone said her study also showed that helping people with mental illness to cut down, rather than quit straight away, may also be a good strategy for reducing smoking rates.

The study was published in the Australian and New Zealand Journal of Public Health.

Source



Violence and mental illness
December 21, 2008, 1:28 am
Filed under: awareness, Education, Resources, stigma | Tags: , , , , ,

Violence and Mental Illness: The Facts

The discrimination and stigma associated with mental illnesses largely stem from the link between mental illness and violence in the minds of the general public, according to the U.S. Surgeon General (DHHS, 1999). The belief that persons with mental illness are dangerous is a significant factor in the development of stigma and discrimination (Corrigan, et al., 2002). The effects of stigma and discrimination are profound. The President’s New Freedom Commission on Mental Health found that, “Stigma leads others to avoid living, socializing, or working with, renting to, or employing people with mental disorders – especially severe disorders, such as schizophrenia. It leads to low self-esteem, isolation, and hopelessness. It deters the public from seeking and wanting to pay for care. Responding to stigma, people with mental health problems internalize public attitudes and become so embarrassed or ashamed that they often conceal symptoms and fail to seek treatment (New Freedom Commission, 2003).”

This link is often promoted by the entertainment and news media. For example, Mental Health America, (formerly the National Mental Health Association) reported that, according to a survey for the Screen Actors’ Guild, characters in prime time television portrayed as having a mental illness are depicted as the most dangerous of all demographic groups: 60 percent were shown to be involved in crime or violence. Also most news accounts portray people with mental illness as dangerous (Mental Health America, 1999). The vast majority of news stories on mental illness either focus on other negative characteristics related to people with the disorder (e.g., unpredictability and unsociability) or on medical treatments. Notably absent are positive stories that highlight recovery of many persons with even the most serious of mental illnesses (Wahl, et al., 2002). Inaccurate and stereotypical representations of mental illness also exist in other mass media, such as films, music, novels and cartoons (Wahl, 1995).

Most citizens believe persons with mental illnesses are dangerous. A longitudinal study of American’s attitudes on mental health between 1950 and 1996 found, “the proportion of Americans who describe mental illness in terms consistent with violent or dangerous behavior nearly doubled.” Also, the vast majority of Americans believe that persons with mental illnesses pose a threat for violence towards others and themselves (Pescosolido, et al., 1996, Pescosolido et al., 1999).

As a result, Americans are hesitant to interact with people who have mental illnesses. Thirty-eight percent are unwilling to be friends with someone having mental health difficulties; sixty-four percent do not want someone who has schizophrenia as a close co-worker, and more than sixty-eight percent are unwilling to have someone with depression marry into their family (Pescosolido, et al., 1996).

But, in truth, people have little reason for such fears. In reviewing the research on violence and mental illness, the Institute of Medicine concluded, “Although studies suggest a link between mental illnesses and violence, the contribution of people with mental illnesses to overall rates of violence is small,” and further, “the magnitude of the relationship is greatly exaggerated in the minds of the general population (Institute of Medicine, 2006). Other risk factors have more to do with violent behavior such as past violent victimization, lack of social supports, and substance abuse,. (Hiday, 2006; Swanson, J. et al., 2002).

In addition:

  • “Research has shown that the vast majority of people who are violent do not suffer from mental illnesses (American Psychiatric Association, 1994).”
  • “. . . [T]he absolute risk of violence among the mentally ill as a group is still very small and . . . only a small proportion of the violence in our society can be attributed to persons who are mentally ill (Mulvey, 1994).”

 

People with psychiatric disabilities are far more likely to be victims than perpetrators of violent crime (Appleby, et al., 2001). Researchers at North Carolina State University and Duke University found that people with severe mental illnesses, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder or psychosis, are 2 ½ times more likely to be attacked, raped or mugged than the general population (Hiday, et al., 1999).

People with mental illnesses can and do recover. People with mental illnesses can recover or manage their conditions and go on to lead happy, healthy, productive lives. They contribute to society and make the world a better place. People can often benefit from medication, rehabilitation, talk therapy, self help or a combination of these. One of the most important factors in recovery is the understanding and acceptance of family and friends.

  • “Most people who suffer from a mental disorder are not violent — there is no need to fear them. Embrace them for who they are — normal human beings experiencing a difficult time, who need your open mind, caring attitude, and helpful support (Grohol, 1998).”

References

American Psychiatric Association. (1994). Fact Sheet: Violence and Mental Illness. Washington, DC: American Psychiatric Association.

Appleby, L., Mortensen, P. B., Dunn, G., & Hiroeh, U. (2001). Death by homicide, suicide, and other unnatural causes in people with mental illness: a population-based study. The Lancet, 358, 2110-2112.

Corrigan, P.W., Rowan, D., Green, A., et al. (2002) .Challenging two mental illness stigmas: Personal responsibility and dangerousness. Schizophrenia Bulletin, 28, 293-309.

DHHS. Mental Health: A Report of the Surgeon General. Rockville, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Mental Health, 1999. http://www.surgeongeneral.gov/library/mentalhealth/toc.html

Grohol, J. M. (1998). Dispelling the violence myth. Psych Central. Available: http://psychcentral.com/archives/violence.htm

Hiday, V. A. (2006). Putting Community Risk in Perspective: a Look at Correlations, Causes and Controls. International Journal of Law and Psychiatry, 29, 316-331.

Hiday, V.A., Swartz, M.S., Swanson, J.W., et al. (1999). Criminal victimization of persons with severe mental illness. Psychiatric Services, 50, 62–68.

Institute of Medicine, Improving the Quality of Health Care for Mental and Substance-Use Conditions. Washington, DC: Institute of Medicine, 2006.

Mental Health America. American Opinions on Mental Health Issues. Alexandria: NMHA, 1999.

Monahan, J. & Arnold, J. (1996). Violence by people with mental Illness: a consensus statement by advocates and researchers. Psychiatric Rehabilitation Journal, 19, 67-70.

Mulvey, E. P. (1994). Assessing the evidence of a link between mental illness and violence. Hospital and Community Psychiatry, 45, 663-668.

Pescosolido, B.A., Martin, J.K., Link, B.G., et al. Americans’ Views of Mental Health and Illness at Century’s End: Continuity and Change. Public Report on the MacArthur Mental health Module, 1996 General Social Survey. Bloomington: Indiana Consortium for Mental Health Services Research and Joseph P. Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, 2000. Available: http://www.indiana.edu/~icmhsr/amerview1.pdf

Pescosolido, B.A., Monahan, J. Link, B.G. Stueve, A., & Kikuzawa, S. (1999). The public’s view of the competence, dangerousness, and need for legal coercion of persons with mental health problems. American Journal of Public Health, 89, 1339-1345.

New Freedom Commission on Mental Health, Achieving the Promise: Transforming Mental Health Care in America. Final Report. DHHS Pub. No. SMA-03-3832. Rockville, MD: 2003.

Swanson, J.W., Swartz, M.S., Essock, S.M, et al. (2002).The social-environmental context of violent behavior in persons treated for severe mental illness. American Journal of Public Health, 92, 1523-1532.

Wahl, O. (1995). Media Madness: Public Images of Mental Illness. New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press.

Wahl, O.F., et al. (2002). Newspaper coverage of mental illness: is it changing? Psychiatric Rehabilitation Skills, 6, 9-31.

For more information about how to address discrimination and stigma, contact the SAMHSA Resource Center to Address Discrimination and Stigma (ADS Center), a program of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Center for Mental Health Services at http://stopstigma.samhsa.gov, e-mail stopstigma@samhsa.hhs.gov, or call 800–540–0320.

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NAMI Walks
December 18, 2008, 10:32 pm
Filed under: awareness | Tags: , ,

namiwalks_sidead

Every journey begins with that first step. In 2008, thousands of concerned citizens in more than 70 communities across the nation will join NAMI’s Campaign for the Mind of America and walk together to raise money and awareness about our country’s need for a world-class treatment and recovery system for people with mental illness. Won’t you join us?

NAMI depends on generous volunteers to raise funds and awareness at each of our Walk sites. View upcoming Walks or click your state on the map above to find out what you can do, or to make a donation in support of NAMIWalks.