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Tag Archives: mental illness

Mental Illness: Confronting Stigma at Work

Mental Health 11In this day and age, we’d like to believe that those with mental illness experience the same opportunities for employment as everyone else in the workforce. Unfortunately, these beliefs are not always true. While we’ve certainly made great strides as a progressive society, according to Lisa Smusz who serves as the head of PEERS (Peers Envisioning and Engaging in Recovery Services), a voluntary program shedding light on the stigma associated with mental illness – there is still a lot of progress to be made.

The irony is that many Americans will experience a mental health disorder within their lifetime, but it’s generally not something we like to discuss. Smusz points out that according to 2012 figures released by the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, nearly 20 percent of Americans, or 46 million people, reported symptoms of a mental health disorder, regardless if they were officially diagnosed or not.

While individuals living with mental health conditions such as OCD, depression, bipolar disorder, and anxiety often want and need to work for recovery, they may be afraid to disclose such ailments to companies for fear of being labeled or rejected for employment. Numerous studies illustrate that there is a correlation between unemployment rates and mental illness among those with disabilities and that bosses are hesitant when it comes to embracing someone with past emotional health issues.

This just goes to show that society still holds polarized views of mental illness – many wanting to be supportive while secretly harboring certain judgments and fears, even though the majority of people with mental illness are peaceable and productive. Since federal law provides that companies make “reasonable accommodations” to meet special needs of the disabled, employers may avoid choosing applicants they believe have mental disorders to evade any potential conflicts.

Stigma in the workplace exists because people fail to understand the true nature of mental illness. While mental health disorders may be challenging, they are often manageable with appropriate treatment and attention. If you or someone you know is living with a mental health issue, Family Guidance Center can help to achieve employment and other long-term goals. Learn more at www.familyguidance.org.

Self-reports of Mental Illness Among Older Adults May Not be Accurate Over Time

Addiction 3Mental illness can affect any individual, regardless of age, from children to seniors. However, we may hear more about the occurrence of mental health disorders among young adults and adolescents. Research indicates current health assessments tend to underrepresent the incidence of mental ailments relative to physical ailments commonly occurring among our nation’s older population.

Findings from the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health reveal that for both middle-aged and senior adults, figures for conditions like high blood pressure and arthritis were more highly reported than past instances of depression and other mental health conditions. The study included the responses of 1,071 adults who had participated in several sets of interviews over a 24-year-period from the 1980’s through 2005. The interviews were part of the comprehensive Baltimore Epidemiologic Catchment Area Survey.

Despite having reported a mental disorder in a previous assessment, many middle-aged and older participants failed to mention the occurrence of such disorders compared to past physical problems, namely, high blood pressure, diabetes, cancer, stroke, and arthritis. As an example, while only approximately 10 percent of participants were likely to underreport a prior instance of diabetes, discrepancies for conditions like substance abuse, depression, and obsessive compulsive disorder were notably higher.

According to lead study author and assistant professor, Ramin Mojtabai, MD, PhD, MPH, MA, of the Bloomberg School Department of Mental Health, simply relying on participant recall of mental illness over time did not present an accurate picture of the occurrence of mental health disorders over time.

One explanation for this, says Mojtabai, is stigma that is still connected with issues of mental health. Another reason Mojtabai gives for the difference in reporting is the fact that mental disorders tend to have an earlier onset and be more prevalent at a younger age than many of the enduring types of physical problems found in middle, and older-aged adults.

For many years, Family Guidance Center has worked to eliminate stigma, which often stands in the way of treatment of mental illness. Confronting mental health issues takes a lot of courage and is the first step toward the journey through recovery. Recovery can and does happen; contact your local Family Guidance Center to learn more.

Poverty: The Not-So-Silent Enemy Affecting Childhood Mental Health

It’s no secret that poverty has been linked with crime. But what many people don’t know is that it can also affect mental health. Growing up impoverished can be stressful on many levels, factors that impact a child’s capacity to learn, interact with others and reach his or her true potential. Research shows that kids who grow up at or below the poverty line are at triple the risk of developing a mental healthPoverty 1 disorder.

Just as Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs demonstrates, basic physiological and safety needs must be met before individuals can evolve to more advanced goals like forming healthy relationships with others, building self-esteem, and attaining self-actualization. The lack of proper food, shelter, sleep or safety that is often associated with poverty disrupts the achievement of higher level needs and can negatively affect a person’s psyche.

According to Dr. Jean Clinton, psychiatrist employed at McMaster University’s Offord Centre for Child Studies in Canada, another major source of stress for children living in poverty is observing the daily struggle of their parents to pay bills and put food on the table. It’s difficult for parents to fully focus or invest in their children as they’d like when they have to spend the bulk of their energy on survival, she says.

While Clinton advises that not every child who grows up in poverty is destined to experience problems, she adds that living in impoverished neighborhoods does leave certain children open to vulnerabilities. These vulnerabilities include compromised physical health and academic setbacks due to language and cognitive delays. One study demonstrated that these delays could even be seen through the fourth
grade.

One measure of a child’s communication skills, emotional aptitude, and cognitive development is the Early Development Instrument (EDI), which is widely used throughout Canada and across the globe. The EDI is a tool used to assess school readiness and helps ensure that services are allocated to areas where they are needed most.

Providing early access to required services is key in countering the impact that poverty can have on childhood mental health. Family Guidance Center offers families assistance regardless of income. To learn more about available services and screenings provided through Family Guidance Center, call or
click today
.

Howie Mandel: Shaking Hands is No Deal

As a viewer, you may have tuned in and watched the show Deal or No Deal with host Howie Mandel, aOCD 2 television actor, host, and comedian originally born in Canada. What you might not know is that Mandel
rarely ever shakes hands with anyone, including contestants on his show because he has obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD) and an irrational fear of germs. Mandel has also been known to douse himself in hand sanitizer before extending a hand to The Tonight Show host Jay Leno when appearing on the program recently as a guest.

According to an interview with CNN, Mandel’s OCD started when he was a child. Though, at the time, he didn’t understand what made him not want to touch his dirty shoe laces. The condition left him feeling isolated even though the National Institutes of Health stimates that OCD affects more than 2 million Americans.

The problem, says Mandel, is that our country still views mental disorders in a negative light and has disproportionate resources for coping with issues of mental health as opposed to other areas of wellness including medical and dental care. He advocates that mental health, particularly youth mental health, is
deserving of the same attention we give to other aspects of healthcare and that it’s unjust for people to feel shamed for seeking help with depression when they are encouraged to see a professional for say, a routine infection.

Mandel, who also lives with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and depression, says that OCD is complicated. Sometimes he is more affected by it than other times. And while he knows that touching someone’s hand is physically not going to kill him, there have been times when he can’t keep his mind from racing when just such an encounter occurs.

As Mandel has proven, it is possible to live a successful life in the midst of mental illness. The first step is to talk to a mental health professional if you suspect something out of the ordinary. Family Guidance
Center has mental health professionals  trained in helping both children and adults work through various issues
affecting mental health. To learn more, contact a team member at your local Family Guidance Center.

Mental Illness is Common but Hard to Identify

ADHD 7There are many forms of mental illness that can occur during the childhood years. Conditions such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), autism spectrum disorders, anxiety disorders, mood disorders, eating disorders, and substance abuse are fairly common among youth but may initially be hard to identify. Young children especially may have difficulty putting their feelings into words and may only be able to express that they “don’t feel good”.

There are other factors which may interfere with a diagnosis of mental illness. Symptoms of mental health concerns may be intertwined. For instance, a child could be affected by both depression and an eating disorder or anxiety and ADHD. Since children are still in a crucial stage of development, it can be easy to chalk symptoms up to growing pains or simply going through a phase.

So how do you as a parent know when to be concerned? Speak to your child’s pediatrician if you notice any of the following:

  • An abrupt change in sleeping or eating habits.
  • A sudden loss of interest in school or persistent poor grades.
  • Change of personality. For instance, a once happy, upbeat child becomes emotional, distant or exceptionally nervous.
  • Pattern of substance use.
  • Difficulty interacting with others at home or at school.

The bottom line is, if you are a parent concerned about mental illness, listen to your instincts. It’s better to have something checked out than to ignore a potential problem that could evolve and worsen over time. Additionally, early identification and attention to mental health conditions typically yield the best treatment options.

If your pediatrician suspects a mental health concern may be present, he or she can help connect you to a mental health professional who is better equipped to provide the care and services your child needs and deserves. School counselors and other families living with mental illness are also excellent sources of support.

Family Guidance Center is committed to walking families through the process of coping with mental illness. Last year alone, Family Guidance Center was able to provide assistance to nearly 1,000 children across 50 schools. Mental health is a manageable disease; contact Family Guidance Center to learn more about programs geared toward youth.