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Family Guidance Blog

Pop Star Encourages More Open Discussion of Mental Illness

The Stigma of Mental Illness Keeps Many From Seeking Treatment

mental illnessPop star Demi Lovato is perhaps best known as the voice of Disney’s Frozen theme song “Let It Go”. She is also lending her voice these days to the cause of mental illness. The singer, who herself has lived with bipolar disorder and addiction, wants to encourage more Americans to be open about their mental health issues. Lovato acknowledges, along with mental health professionals, that stigma keeps many people from admitting their problems and seeking the help they need.

Removing stigma helps the healing of mental illness as it opens the door to talk about personal struggles and frees individuals to reach out for help and support. Many people suffer in secret because they fear that acknowledging their problems will result in guilt or public shame.

Nearly one quarter of the world population experiences mental illness at one time or another during their lives. Depression alone will affect around 10 percent of all Americans at some point. Mental illness is real and it is not rare. It is a health condition that needs and deserves public understanding and public discourse.

However, it’s not enough just to talk about mental illness. Treatment is needed. It is important for individuals with mental illness to feel comfortable reaching out to a mental health professional that addresses personal issues in a meaningful way. Our staff of mental health professionals at Family Guidance Center can provide treatment that is as unique as each individual who comes looking for help. Mental illness is an illness like so many other illnesses such as cancer or diabetes. And like other illnesses it is important to seek professional treatment. Don’t let fear prevent you from getting the help you need. Call us today.

What You Can do When a Member of Your Family Receives a Mental Illness Diagnosis

Your Response to a Mental Illness Diagnosis is Important

There are millions of Americans living with mental illness. Whatever their diagnosis, when a person receives a mental illness diagnosis, itmental illness diagnosis not only affects them but those they love as well. The illness of a loved one will inevitably impact all family members. One of the challenges for families is knowing what they can do to help and support the one with mental illness. There are several practical ways to help:

1. Learn and read all you can about what your loved ones mental illness diagnosis is. The diagnosing professional (medical doctor or mental health professional) can give you pamphlets explaining all about the condition. The more you understand about the illness, the less apprehensive you will be.

2. Help your loved one get the most from treatment. You can offer to drive them to their regular appointments. If you live with the person you could also help by journaling symptoms, successes and challenges. Keeping track of the condition’s daily, weekly and monthly trajectory can be immensely helpful.

3. Hold out steadfast love and hope – two things your loved one needs. They may not always be able to verbalize their gratitude for your stalwart support because of their illness, but it does make a positive difference. Treatment for mental illness is effective, but can take time. Having a cheerleader on hand can help your loved one stay committed.

The more your loved one sees you engage with their mental illness diagnosis, the more hopeful they will feel. The support role can be exacting so consider joining a support group. At least take healthy self-care breaks. At Family Guidance Center we have resources for treating mental illness, but also for helping those who fill the support role. Contact us and learn how we can be part of your practical response.

New Studies Link Mental Illness to Food Insecurity

Lack of Access to Nutritious Meals Associated With Greater Risks of Mental Illness

mental illnessA lack of access to nutritious food, or food insecurity, is not a small issue. Not only does the lack of steady, nutritious meals negatively affect physical health and development, but new research is starting to link food insecurity with mental illness as well. Negative mental health risks among the food insecure have been shown to be notably higher than among the food secure.

Single mothers are among those who experience food insecurity. As a result, these moms face a tripled risk for depression according to one study. Other studies have found that mental illness for single moms increases as food scarcity continues. Mothers unable to provide regular, healthy meals were shown to experience a greater prevalence of major depression or anxiety compared to moms without that pressure. Kids in these homes also showed negative outcomes. They exhibited more behavior problems, mood disorder or substance abuse the longer food scarcity persisted.

Single mothers and their children are not the only ones who must deal with food insecurity and therefore are not the only ones affected. A study involving 3,500 low income men and women found a definite association between food insecurity and higher risks for depression and even suicidal ideation. Anyone living with food uncertainty may experience a heightened risk for mental illness.

More research is needed, but in the meantime, as a community there are ways we can help. First, we can come together and focus on addressing issues of food insecurity. Second, mental health services need to be made available to low income community members. At Family Guidance Center our doors are open to all the members of our community. If economic pressures are getting you down, we’re here to help. Please stop by and make an appointment. We can help give you the tools to cope in healthy ways.

Mental Illness in the Workplace

What Employers Can do to Encourage Getting Treatment for Mental Illness

mental illnessA recent article in The Wall Street Journal reported that employers can expect to have 20 percent of their office staff dealing with some form of mental illness at any given point in time. While employers or co-workers may be comfortable encouraging someone to seek treatment for other kinds of illness, when the problem is mental illness, people can be hesitant to speak up. This reticence could be because of mistaken beliefs about mental illness.

The media has been peppered in recent years with stories of violence occurring in a situation where an individual has a mental illness condition. This, unfortunately feeds the stigma that many mental health patients are prone to violence. The fact is that the cases which wind up on the news are a miniscule representation of patients and often are for persons who never got treatment for their illness.

Even if the misperception does not have to do with myths about mental illness, there may be persistent worries that persons with mental illness will perform sporadically at work or become undependable in other ways. It is true that major depression can lead to missed workdays, but this is the case most often when someone is not being treated.

Employees may be hesitant to speak up about their mental illness or to look for help because they worry about losing a job or being stigmatized by co-workers. Offices can defuse these concerns by going over what insurance plans will cover and encouraging employees to make use of coverage. Talking openly about mental illness as a regular health issue can put to rest concerns about getting help.

As an employer, if you feel that an employee may be struggling with a mental health issue, you can quietly pull the person aside and encourage them to get a mental health screening. Reassurance about confidence in the person and the hope of treatment are needed. If you need a place to refer employees, call us at Family Guidance Center. We can help your employee with the treatment they need.

Women More Apt Than Men to Develop a Mood Disorder

Researchers Believe Female Hormones Could Trigger a Mood Disorder for Women

mood disorderWhen studying illness researchers are interested not only in how the disease behaves and progresses, but also in what may cause or contribute to the development of the illness in the first place. Risk factors are those things which seem to make a person more likely to contract or develop specific health issues. Risk factors can be behavioral (e.g. smoking may lead to lung cancer), they can be hereditary (certain illnesses run in families) and they can be environmental (loud work environments may cause hearing loss). For some conditions, even your gender may pose a risk factor. Women, for example, are two times more apt than men to experience a mood disorder.

Hormones Could be Attributed
One reason that women may be more susceptible to developing a mood disorder could stem from their hormone system. Investigators believe that hormones are linked to mood disorders because it is only during a woman’s reproductive years that there is a measurable difference in the prevalence of mood disorder between men and women. Before and after that season of life mood disorders seem to affect similar numbers of males and females.

In fact, hormones and mood disorder could be symbiotic. Women face a higher risk of mood disorder around hormonal events such as menstruation, childbirth and menopause. At the same time, the presence of a mood disorder can impact hormonal events such as early menopause. This means that if you are a woman still in childbearing years, it’s important that you not ignore any signs of a mood disorder.

Mood disorders can become chronic and persistent — but they are manageable with help from experienced mental health professionals. Please contact us at Family Guidance Center. We understand and we can help.