Thursday, July 20, 2017

Stigma and Mental Illness

There are five levels of stigma that can affect your daily living experiences if you have a mental health disorder. 
Stigmatizing beliefs occur on a personal level, in the general public, within professions, via labels and by associative connections.
1. Self Stigma is the self-blame you attach to your identity as being someone who has depression. Whether it's your personal or professional identity, you attach negative self-beliefs about your abilities or worthiness. These pessimistic beliefs can become such a part of your thinking style that you become passive and accepting of their power. In truth, the self-stigma you've assigned yourself is not based in reality. To combat this experience, you need to educate yourself about that mental illness is a REAL illness. Disorders are largely neurobiological issues, not a result of laziness or weak character. Try using these more positive affirmations:
  • "Depression is a real medical illness."
  • "I am much more than my mental illness."
  • "Living with a mental illness offers me greater insight and compassion."
2. Public stigma is the experience where myths and misinformation keep the general public fearful about mental illness. Commercials that make fun of someone with depression or anxiety might sell a product, but we'd all agree it perpetuates stigma. Movies, television shows, newscasts and jokes that use mental illness as a tool for ridicule worsens public stigma. Just like self-stigma, educating the public is the key here. Be it writing a letter, firing off an email, or talking to someone directly, taking on a public stigmatizing experience can become a teachable moment.
3. Professional Stigma occurs when stigmatizing views of mental illness go beyond the general public to the so-called educated levels of professionals. Studies have shown that well-trained professionals from an array of health fields stereotype psychological disorders. To combat professional stigma, don't be afraid to educate. Take your personal knowledge of mental health disorders and help others learn what it's really about. Just because a person is a professional, does not necessarily mean they are truly educated.
4Label Stigma occurs with the use of diagnostic labels. It's important to note that diagnosis is a meaningful way to identify illness. However, the language of diagnosis can make having a mental illness stigmatizing. For example, "He's schizophrenic" feels more negative as a descriptor than "He is a person who has schizophrenia". Again, put yourself out there and correct the misuses of labels or language that dehumanize.
5. Stigma by Association is the experience of being stigmatized because you know someone who has a mental illness. If you are a family member, friend, coworker, or neighbor of someone who has mental illness, you have the potential for finding yourself socially disqualified from others. Sometimes called courtesy stigma or associative stigma, stigma by association devalues your status because you share an affiliation with a child or adult who has mental illness. If you are someone who has a mental illness, talk to your family and friends and teach them about the stigma by association. Give them permission to address stigma should they feel the need to do so. For example, if your spouse can educate a misinformed person about a mental illness , three things happen. First, your loved one confirms your importance and value. Second, your loved one minimizes stigma by teaching about the realities of mental illness, and third, the stigmatizing person learns a valuable lesson.
Now that you understand how the psychosocial cycle of stigma presses on you, it's time to shift the focus of shame off of your shoulders. As you continue to educate yourself, make the leap to teaching others so that the myths of mental illness can be addressed. 

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month

July is Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. 

This awareness day was named after mental health activist and author Bebe Moore Campbell - and focuses on building awareness about the importance of mental wellness and effective mental health care for minorities. 

According to research, minorities are less likely to receive a mental health diagnosis, less likely to receive treatment for mental illness, have less access to and availability of mental health services and often receive a poorer quality of mental health care. More specifically:

  • The percentage of Black and Latino children who use mental health care services is less than half that of Caucasian children (4­–5% & 10%, respectively)
  • 88% of Latino children with mental health issues have unmet needs
  • More than 25% of African American youth exposed to violence have been shown to be at high risk for post-traumatic stress disorder
  • Adolescent Native Americans experience the highest rates of suicide of any population in the United States—at least three to five times the national average
  • In the Asian American youth population, suicide ideation and suicide rates continue to increase
To learn more about the needs of mental health services for diverse populations, or for where can find local activities celebrating this month, please go to the National Alliance on Mental Illness

Monday, June 26, 2017

June is Men's Health Month

The purpose of Men’s Health Month is to increase the awareness of preventable health problems and encourage early detection and treatment of disease among men and boys. 

This awareness month encourages health care providers, public policy makers, the media, and individuals to encourage men and boys to seek regular medical advice and early treatment for disease and injury. 

Take a look at statistics on physical aspects of health for men and link here for mental health facts.

Sunday, June 11, 2017

June is Post Traumatic Stress Awareness Month

In order to bring greater awareness to the issue of posttraumatic stress disorder, June has been designated as PTSD Awareness Month by the National Center for PTSD (NCPTSD). And the United States Senate has designated June 27th as National PTSD Awareness Day

PTSD is a mental health problem that can occur after an adult or child has been exposed to a traumatic event(s) such as sexual or physical assault, natural or man-made disaster, and war-related combat stress. 

Symptoms of PTSD include persistent intrusive thoughts and distressing dreams about the traumatic event, triggered emotional responses to reminders of the trauma, efforts to avoid thinking or talking about the trauma, and persistent hypervigilance for cues that indicate additional danger or trauma may occur.

PTSD is a treatable disorder. If you are struggling with symptoms, link here to find out how to access professional mental health.

Friday, June 02, 2017

13 Reasons Why and Suicide Prevention

On this radio show of Psych Up Live, listen to me, Dr. Shane Owens and host Dr. Suzanne Phillips talk about the controversial show "13 Reasons Why"  - and ways to help prevent suicide, understand the kinds of trauma teenagers experience, and other crucial aspects of this groundbreaking series.

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Terrorism and Disaster Reactions

When news of a terrorist attack occurs, it can cause suffering not only to those at ground zero, but others who witness the aftermath.

Watching a traumatic event unfold on television, radio, the internet or social media sets into motion a variety of psychological reactions, called Disaster Reactions.  

The list above shows you some of the many kinds of experiences children, teens and adults can have after a crisis. 

Tips for Coping with Terrorism

1. Stay active Falling into passivity can worsen psychological and physical disaster reactions. Children and adults need to engage in meaningful activities. 
2. Stay on track Resume a normal routine as soon as possible. Tending to your daily schedule helps ground you in normalcy. For children, this is especially important.
3. Understand trauma Remind yourself that it's expected to have these kinds of reactions in the face of the disastrous event. It's especially important to teach children that reactions like these are normal.
4. Don't numb your pain Be aware that reducing or avoiding pain with drugs or alcohol will only lengthen your traumatic response. Talk to you children about stress reactions and model healthy behavior for them.
5. Express yourself Whether it's talking about your experience or expressing it in other forms, releasing your thoughts and feelings about the disaster will help you heal. Talk openly about the event and encourage discussions. For younger children, drawing and playing can help them express disaster reactions.
6. Reach out to others While it's expected that you may want to be alone to deal with the trauma you've witnessed, studies shows that connecting to others helps us recover more quickly from disaster. If your child or teen wishes to "be alone" or disconnects from others, talk about the importance of connection and the healing benefits of staying bonded to others. 
7. Unplug from media When disaster strikes, the media tends to over-report and over-saturate the public with images, misinformation and high anxiety information. Limit nternet, television and radio experiences to help shield you - and your children - from over-exposure.
8. Be patient with others Realize that those around you are also under stress and may not act or react in a manner you would normally expect. 
9. Watch your caffeine Avoid caffeine as its effects can amplify anxiety and disaster stress response. So limit your intake of coffee, soda and tea. And for kids, too much chocolate, and caffeine drinks can heighten anxiety and irritability.
10. Celebrate goodness Remind yourself and your children that there is exponentially more good in the world than bad. Celebrate kindness and beauty, and revive your connection to humanity so your mind, body and soul can heal.