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What Everyone Should Know About American Mental Health

Mental Health 13The term mental illness still has a negative connotation for many Americans. This is partially due to lack of education and understanding of what it means to be affected by a mental health condition. Still others have let television and the movies, which often focus on extremes, shape their opinions of mental illness.

Sadly, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), only little more than half of adults in this country feel that the public sympathizes with those living with mental illness. Those experiencing symptoms of a mental disorder also feel the disconnect, with three-quarters reporting that American adults don’t show concern for people affected by mental health conditions.

The paradox is that mental illness is fairly common in the United States, and its prevalence has been increasing over the last several decades. Part of the reason for the increase is advancements in identifying and treating the disease. Looking around, there are about 20 percent of adults that live with mental illness on any given day says SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration. Per 2011 figures, severe mental illness affects up to 11.5 million Americans age 18 and older.

The most prevalent mental health conditions faced by Americans include disorders related to depression and anxiety. According to the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey for 2005-2006, those between the ages of 40 and 59 were at twice the risk of depression as the rest of the population. CDC data also indicates that psychological stress and poverty go hand-in-hand. Yet, per 2007 figures, not even half of those reporting serious mental distress had sought treatment the year prior.

For years, Family Guidance has been working within the community to stamp out stigma related to mental illness. Stigma can serve as a barrier to keep those who need help from getting it, but many people who seek help lead very productive lives despite mental illness. Learn the truth about mental illness, visit familyguidance.org.

 

Mental Health Closely Tied to Physical Health

The cost to treat issues of mental health is often greater than meets the eye. A person’s mental health Mental Health 12does not exist in a vacuum, and mental health disorders are often deeply intertwined with physical health conditions. The bottom line is that for an individual to be healthy, his or her overall health has to be addressed in its entirety, including both the physical and mental aspects of wellbeing.

As Pamela Hyde, administrator for the U.S. Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) puts it, furthering community wellness means that behavior health and physical health be treated with the same regard. Recent SAMHSA figures showed that adults with mental health disorders were at higher risk of developing diabetes, hypertension, asthma, and heart disease. While figures for the general population for hypertension and asthma stand at 18 and 11 percent respectively, those figures jumped for individuals with mental illness: twenty-two percent developed high blood pressure and about 16 percent were diagnosed with asthma by comparison.

Of particular concern is depression, which according to a SAMHSA report increased one’s risk of diabetes from seven to nine percent, hypertension from 20 to 24 percent, asthma from 11 to 17 percent, heart disease from five to seven percent, and stroke from one to three percent. Those living with a mental health condition were also shown to use emergency department services and be hospitalized more often than others not affected by mental illness.

Because of this, Family Guidance Center has created its Health Care Home Program, a team approach to treating mental and physical health. The program allows those living with both mental illness and a chronic medical condition to receive coordinated care from mental health professionals, a nurse care manager, and a care coordinator. The program focuses on prevention and patient education with the end goal of improving overall health.

The Health Care Home program can help patients monitor symptoms and watch for medication interactions. The comprehensive nature of the program is designed to reduce the need for hospitalization and emergency care by concentrating on prevention. To date, Heath Care Homes has saved $394,000 in medical expenses in northwest Missouri alone. To learn more, contact Family Guidance Center .

Patients Influenced by Media Depictions of Mental Illness

Mental Health 11More often today than ever before, mental illness is gaining a prominent platform in television and movie roles. In the past, it would be unusual to find a lead character playing the part of someone with a mental illness like bipolar disorder. However, today in shows like Homeland and Girls, characters living with mental illness are commanding center stage.

According to mental health professionals such as Dr. Vasilis Pozios, forensic psychiatrist and consultant for Broadcast Thought, the media is doing a better job of accurately showing the many facets of mental illness including both symptoms and available treatments. For instance, in the show Homeland, character Carrie Mathison has bipolar disorder. Dr. Pozios says he’s glad the show doesn’t just show one side of the disorder but rather fully depicts the episodes of depression and mania that is characteristic for people with bipolar disorder.

The media has certainly had an impact on bringing issues of mental illness to the forefront of real life conversations. Doctors are finding that patients are paying attention to the way these characters are confronting the disease and are applying what they see to their own lives. On the flipside, however, entertainment value often dictates that television and movies only show the extremes, which can give the public a distorted view of mental illness.

Despite the challenges that mental illness such as bipolar disorder can bring, Pozios says that there are many examples of people with such conditions leading normal, happy lives both at work and at home.  He adds that it’s refreshing to see this represented in Carrie Mathison of Homeland and Girls character, Hannah, who is affected by obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD).

Despite potential inaccuracies, there are many patients that can relate to the ups and downs that characters with mental illness confront both on the big and small screen. To learn more about therapies and treatment programs for adult mental health, visit http://fgcnow.org/.

 

Addressing Issues of Substance Abuse and Mental Illness

It’s not uncommon for substance abuse and mental illness to exist together. Drugs and alcohol are often used as a coping mechanism to deal with the symptoms of mental disorders, especially before affected individuals receive a diagnosis and don’t understand why they are feeling a certain way. Other times, substance abuse can lead to depression or anxiety when things start to deteriorate at home, work, or school because of the effects of drugs or alcohol.

Coping with either substance abuse or mental illness alone can be difficult. Confronting both disorders presents other unique challenges. Per figures from NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, up to half of all people affected by severe mental illness abuse alcohol or drugs. NAMI also estimates that nearly 30 percent of all individuals diagnosed with a mental disorder will engage in substance abuse.

Research shows that individuals living with both drug addiction and mental illness have a greater chance of relapsing and developing more serious mental health conditions. Additionally, symptoms of mental health disorders often worsen with continued substance use. This may be due to interactions between the alcohol or drugs and required medications. Or, it could be the result of irregular or discontinued use of prescribed medications.

Treating co-existing disorders requires a combined approach addressing issues of both substance abuse and mental illness. Per information from SAMHSA, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, effective treatment for both conditions should:

1. Help affected individuals set short and long term recovery goals
2. Connect participants with support networks and employment services that will aid in recovery
3. Educate regarding the impact and role of substance abuse in one’s life
4. Provide therapy designed with both disorders in mind.

It is possible for individuals living with co-occurring disorders to live a normal, healthy, and productive life. Family Guidance Center can help. Family Guidance works within the community to offer mental health and addiction treatment services for lasting recovery. To learn more, visit our website at http://fgcnow.org/.

 

 

Parenting With a Mental Illness

Parents with mental illness face unique challenges as compared to others. Mental illness can affect Mental Health 10families in many ways, but being aware of potential issues can help both parents and children with efforts aimed at prevention and intervention. Some of the concerns for parents affected by mental illness include stigma, parental capacity, and other issues relating to their children.

Stigma can stand in the way of those with mental illness from getting the help they require. TV often portrays false perceptions of mental illness that paints affected individuals as unstable. Because of lack of education, children may also have negative experiences due to a parent being diagnosed with a mental disorder.

Parents living with mental illness still have to face all the same challenges of every other mother or father balancing home, work, and family life. When a parent is working through issues such as depression or anxiety, it could hinder the ability of the parent and child to communicate. Intervention programs can help families work through these issues by addressing the needs of both parents and children. Successful programs typically involve long-term, comprehensive support for the entire family.

Stigma is a big culprit when it comes to parents with mental illness not being able to effectively raise their children. There still exists an opinion that seeking mental health services may mean a person is weak or unfit as a parent. However, it takes more courage to admit the need for help and to seek effective symptom management (as in any chronic disease). It’s not reaching out for support that could result in a diminished ability to care for one’s children.

Most types of mental illness are both manageable and treatable. Learn the facts about mental illness. Contact Family Guidance Center for more information about area adult mental health services and family support.