Final Assessment

Global Problems/Global Solutions

For this final Post Course Assessment project the instruction was to come up with a problem or challenge that people face in their daily basics, and then propose a solution to this issue. I choose the topic about mental health. Mental illness is big subject to talk about, specially when this is something that affect everyone somehow either directly of indirectly.

About one in five American adults experienced a mental health issue. One in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression. One in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression. Even these conditions are very common, there is a huge stigma about mental illnesses in society because of the lack of education about this subject.

In order to deal with this challenge, I propose to create a mobile Application where people around the world can inform them-selves about mental health, and what they can do to help. I decided to named this application AwareMe. Mission Statement: Our mission is to inform and educate everybody around the world about mental health and its impact in our life. Below is a video I created to show the functionality of the app.

App-Icon
App. Icon

Below is the information I obtained by researching about this topic.

There are many different conditions that are recognized as mental illnesses. The more common types include:

Anxiety disorders: Anxiety is a normal emotion that we all experience, such as in the run up to exams or a job interview. But when anxiety becomes much more severe this feeling can take over and begin to interfere with everyday life. Conditions under the anxiety disorder umbrella include: generalized anxiety disorder (GAD), panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), phobias, and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). For people with an anxiety disorder, feelings like stress, panic and worry are longer lasting, more extreme and far harder to control. Symptoms may also include feeling restless or agitated, having trouble concentrating or sleeping, sweating, shortness of breath, dizziness and heart palpitations.

Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder: Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) is a developmental disorder that makes an individual more likely to have short attention spans, be impulsive and hyperactive. Most cases are diagnosed when children are 6 to 12 years old and it can have a big impact on a child’s ability to learn at school. ADHD often occurs alongside other problems, most commonly depression, but also anxiety or sleep disorders among others.

The symptoms of ADHD often persist from childhood into teenage and adult years. However, the symptoms of ADHD can be subtler in adults and affect them in a different way to children.

The causes of ADHD are not clear, but we know that people who have a parent or sibling with the condition are much more likely to be affected. It has also been suggested that low birthweight and premature birth may play a role too. Both behavior therapy and medication can be used to improve the symptoms of ADHD. Behavior therapy focuses on helping a person to control their behavior, while medication can help improve attention span and reduce impulsive behavior.

Bipolar Disorder: Bipolar disorder is a mental health condition that affects a person’s mood, energy and ability to function. It is characterized by extreme mood states, described as:

  • manic or hypo-manic episodes (feeling high)
  • depressive episodes (feeling low)
  • potentially psychotic symptoms – where an individual experiences delusions or hallucinations

These episodes are much more severe than the normal ‘highs and lows’ of life that we all feel – they may last for several weeks or months, and can leave those affected feeling out of control or ruled by their moods. Equally a person may not be aware they are in the midst of a manic episode. These extreme moods can make work and relationships very difficult, and people with bipolar disorder are at an increased risk of suicide. There are several types of bipolar disorder: bipolar I, bipolar II, and cyclothymic disorder. These share symptoms, but are different in terms of severity and intensity. Some people experience periods of ‘normal’ mood between episodes.

Depression: We all experience low mood sometimes – it is a normal part of life especially after a loss or bereavement. Depression in the medical sense however can leave people feeling severely sad, empty, hopeless or guilty for weeks, months or even years. It can affect every part of a person’s life. Relationships. Work. Physical health. They all suffer. And, at its most severe, depression can be life-threatening. Depression can also have physical symptoms, such as fatigue, sleeping badly or much more than usual, poor appetite or overeating, and loss of sex drive. Everyone experiences depression differently. But however it affects people, it’s definitely not the same as simply feeling low for a few days or something that people can ‘snap out of’.

Eating Disorder: An eating disorder is when a person’s eating habits and relationship with food becomes difficult. Eating problems can disrupt how a person eats food and absorbs nutrients, which affects physical health, but can also be detrimental both emotionally and socially. The three most common eating disorders are:

  • Anorexia nervosa (restricted food intake and/or excessive exercise)
  • Bulimia nervosa (binge eating followed by deliberate purging)
  • Binge-eating disorder (BED) (episodes of overeating in a short space of time)

Eating disorders often occur alongside other mental health conditions, such as anxiety, depression, panic disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and substance misuse disorders. There is no single reason why someone may develop an eating disorder – it can be the result of a combination of genetic, psychological, environmental, social and biological factors. While they can be very serious mental health conditions they are also treatable and, although it may take a long time, full recovery is possible.

Treatment normally consists of monitoring a person’s physical health while addressing the underlying psychological problems with psychological therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) or family therapy. Medication such as a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs) may be used to treat bulimia nervosa or binge eating.

Obsessive Compulsive Disorder: OCD is an anxiety disorder which causes people to experience obsessive thoughts followed by compulsive behaviors. Obsessions are frequent intrusive, unwanted thoughts which cause anxiety, disgust or unease. Compulsions are activities carried out repetitively in an attempt to temporarily relieve the distressing feelings of the obsessive thoughts.

For some people with OCD, obsessions and compulsions may occupy an hour a day, but for others it can become so severe that it takes over – preventing them from living a normal life, holding them captive, and potentially damaging their health, relationships, education or employment.

Treatment for OCD has improved and has a good chance of relieving and controlling obsessions, or preventing the condition from getting worse. Treatments are generally either cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT), medication such as a type of antidepressant called selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors (SSRIs), or a mixture of the two.

Post-traumatic Stress Disorder: Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) is a type of anxiety disorder triggered by traumatic events in a person’s life such as real or threatened death, severe injury or sexual assault. PTSD can affect people of any age, and the symptoms normally begin within the first three months after the traumatic experience. People with PTSD usually experience nightmares, flashbacks, and vivid upsetting memories of what they went through. They may also feel very anxious and ‘on edge’, and may try to avoid being reminded of the traumatic event.

The condition can cause severe and lasting distress and the memories of traumatic events can be very difficult to come to terms with, but it is never too late to seek help. Fortunately, 2 in every 3 people who develop problems after a traumatic experience get better within a few weeks without treatment. How ever if you need treatment for PTSD, this is usually a psychological talking therapy such as cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). Around half of adults with PTSD will recover within three months, while some will be affected for over a year or much longer.

Schizophrenia: Schizophrenia is a severe mental illness, which disrupts how someone thinks, their understanding and perception of the world around them, including what they see or hear. Quite often the condition will cause psychotic symptoms, which means the distinction between thoughts and reality become blurred – a person may experience delusions or hallucinations. This can make the condition alarming and confusing for both the person affected, and their family and loved ones. Schizophrenia tends to develop when people are in their late teens or twenties. And while it is normally a lifelong condition, the symptoms are treatable and most people affected will get better over time.

List of ways we can Impact mental health awareness in our community:

  • Host a mental health screening event. Visit the Screening for Mental Health website to find out more: www.MentalHealthScreening.org.
  • Talk about it. Ask people how they’re doing and mean it! Always be ready to listen and encourage. Ask questions and never judge.
  • Share your story. Have you personally struggled or currently struggle with mental illness? Don’t hesitate to tell friends and family about it. Your story can encourage others to ask for help.
  • Encourage non-judgmental speak. Try to educate those around you on how to talk about mental illness. Never use words like “crazy” or “insane” as insults.
  • Read about it. Educate yourself about mental illness and suicide. Learn about the signs and symptoms and where to receive help in your area.
  • Talk to loved ones about how they are feeling. Regularly check in with those close to you, especially if you know they are dealing with a mental illness.
  • Talk about mental health with your children. Don’t assume kids are too young to understand. Depression can affect children in elementary school.
  • Distribute educational information from Screening for Mental Health. Our mental health screening kits contain great informational handouts and flyers that explain mental health issues and encourage awareness.
  • Share mental health screening sites (like HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org) on social media. Facebook and Twitter are great places to spread mental health awareness.
  • Volunteer with local mental health awareness organizations. The National Alliance on Mental Illness is a great place to start.
  • Encourage your friends to screen themselves. When discussing mental health, be sure to mention HelpYourselfHelpOthers.org–it’s a great resource for those concerned about how they are feeling.
  • Write a blog post about mental health awareness. Include up-to-date statistics and facts on mental health and always include information on where people can find help.
  • Encourage your or your child’s school to start a suicide prevention program. Screening for Mental Health offers evidence based programs.
  • Spread the word about Screening for Mental Health’s social media pages on Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn.
  • Use hashtags on social media. #MHSM (mental health social media) is a great place to start. We promote #NDSD during National Depression Screening Day… join the discussion!
  • Be a supportive friend. Sometimes spreading mental health awareness can simply mean supporting and listening to those close to us.
  • Watch out for bullying at school or in the office. Bullying can lead to many difficulties including depression. Be aware of destructive behavior around you and report it to a trusted adult when necessary.
  • Learn the signs and symptoms of depression. Know what to watch for in yourself and those around you. Symptoms can be different in men and women.
  • Volunteer in your community. Donate your time to help others. You’ll boost your mental health as you work to help those in need.
  • Learn what to do when someone threatens suicide. Visit StopASuicide.org be prepared. If someone is in a dangerous situation, just call 9-1-1.
  • Memorize the suicide prevention hotline: 1-800-273-TALK (8255). This hotline is available 24/7. You can call for advice for yourself or a friend.
  • Encourage friends and family to eat healthy for mental health. Good nutrition can make a difference in how we feel. Healthy fats, carbohydrates, and fruits and vegetables are all important.
  • Organize group workouts with friends to improve your mental health. Exercise is a great mood booster and is even more effective when you spend time with friends!
  • Write to your local government leaders to support mental health legislation. Educate yourself on the issues and get involved.
  • Participate in local advocacy efforts to support and expand mental health legislation. Visit NAMI’s website for ideas.

Mental Health Myths and Facts:

Mental Health Problems Affect Everyone

Myth: Mental health problems don’t affect me.

Fact: Mental health problems are actually very common. In 2014, about:

  • One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue
  • One in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression
  • One in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression
  • Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It accounts for the loss of more than 41,000 American lives each year, more than double the number of lives lost to homicide

Myth: Children don’t experience mental health problems.

Fact: Even very young children may show early warning signs of mental health concerns. These mental health problems are often clinically diagnosable, and can be a product of the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors.

Half of all mental health disorders show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24.

Unfortunately, less than 20% of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need. Early mental health support can help a child before problems interfere with other developmental needs.

Myth: People with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable.

Fact: The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%-5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population. You probably know someone with a mental health problem and don’t even realize it, because many people with mental health problems are highly active and productive members of our communities.

Myth: People with mental health needs, even those who are managing their mental illness, cannot tolerate the stress of holding down a job.

Fact: People with mental health problems are just as productive as other employees. Employers who hire people with mental health problems report good attendance and punctuality as well as motivation, good work, and job tenure on par with or greater than other employees.

When employees with mental health problems receive effective treatment, it can result in:

  • Lower total medical costs
  • Increased productivity
  • Lower absenteeism
  • Decreased disability costs

Myth: Personality weakness or character flaws cause mental health problems. People with mental health problems can snap out of it if they try hard enough.

Fact: Mental health problems have nothing to do with being lazy or weak and many people need help to get better. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes, physical illness, injury, or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems
  • People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely

Helping Individuals with Mental Health Problems

Myth: There is no hope for people with mental health problems. Once a friend or family member develops mental health problems, he or she will never recover.

Fact: Studies show that people with mental health problems get better and many recover completely. Recovery refers to the process in which people are able to live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. There are more treatments, services, and community support systems than ever before, and they work.

Myth: Therapy and self-help are a waste of time. Why bother when you can just take a pill?

Fact: Treatment for mental health problems varies depending on the individual and could include medication, therapy, or both. Many individuals work with a support system during the healing and recovery process.

Myth: I can’t do anything for a person with a mental health problem.

Fact: Friends and loved ones can make a big difference. Only 44% of adults with diagnosable mental health problems and less than 20% of children and adolescents receive needed treatment. Friends and family can be important influences to help someone get the treatment and services they need by:

  • Reaching out and letting them know you are available to help
  • Helping them access mental health services
  • Learning and sharing the facts about mental health, especially if you hear something that isn’t true
  • Treating them with respect, just as you would anyone else
  • Refusing to define them by their diagnosis or using labels such as “crazy”

Myth: Prevention doesn’t work. It is impossible to prevent mental illnesses.

Fact: Prevention of mental, emotional, and behavioral disorders focuses on addressing known risk factors such as exposure to trauma that can affect the chances that children, youth, and young adults will develop mental health problems. Promoting the social-emotional well-being of children and youth leads to:

  • Higher overall productivity
  • Better educational outcomes
  • Lower crime rates
  • Stronger economies
  • Lower health care costs
  • Improved quality of life
  • Increased lifespan
  • Improved family life

List of all the Mental Health Professionals:

Prescribe and Monitor Medication

The following professionals are able to prescribe medication. They may also provide assessments, diagnoses and therapy.

Primary Care Physicians

Primary care physicians and pediatricians can prescribe medication but it may be wise to consider a visit to someone who specializes in mental health care. Primary care and mental health professionals should work together to determine the best treatment plan for each person. Shortages of health care professionals are not uncommon in many parts of the country. As a consequence, more primary care physicians are being trained and equipped to provide mental health care.

Psychiatrists

Psychiatrists are licensed medical doctors with medical and psychiatric training. They can diagnose mental health conditions and prescribe and monitor medications. Psychiatrists are also able to offer counseling and provide therapy. Some have special training in child and adolescent mental health or substance use disorders or geriatric psychiatry.

Psychiatric or Mental Health Nurse Practitioners

Psychiatric or mental health nurse practitioners with a master’s or doctoral degree and specialized training can provide assessment, diagnosis and therapy for mental health conditions or substance use disorders. In some states, they are required to work under a psychiatrist’s supervision.

In some states physician assistants or nurse practitioners are also qualified to prescribe medication.

Therapy and Assessment

A therapist can help someone better understand and cope with their thoughts, feelings and behaviors. The therapist can provide guidance and help improve the ability to reach recovery goals. These mental health professionals may also help assess and diagnosis mental illness.

Clinical Psychologists

Clinical psychologists with a doctoral degree in psychology are trained to make diagnoses and provide individual and group therapy. Some may have training in specific forms of therapy like cognitive behavioral therapy or dialectical behavior therapy, along with other behavioral therapy interventions.

Psychiatric or Mental Health Nurses

Psychiatric or mental health nurses may have various degrees ranging from a nurse with an associate’s degree to a nurse with a doctorate degree as a Doctor of Nursing Practice. Depending on their education and licensing, services can include assessment and treatment of mental health conditions, case management and therapy.

School Psychologists

School psychologists with advanced degrees in psychology are trained to make diagnoses, provide individual and group therapy and work with parents, teachers and school staff to ensure a healthy school environment. They may also participate in the development of individualized education plans (IEP) to help improve the school experience of the student with a mental health condition.

Counseling

Working with a counselor can lead to better ways of thinking and living. Counselors assist with developing life skills and improving relationships.

Clinical Social Workers

Clinical social workers have a master’s degree in social work and are trained to make diagnoses and provide individual and group counseling, case management and advocacy. Clinical social workers often work in hospitals or clinics or in private practice. Licensed, independent social workers (LICSW) have undergone an extra certification process.

Counselors

Counselors are trained to diagnose and provide individual and group counseling. Counselors may focus on different areas and can have titles such as: Licensed Professional Counselor, Mental Health Counselor, Certified Alcohol and Drug Abuse Counselor, Marital and Family Therapist.

Pastoral Counselors

Pastoral counselors are clergy members with training in clinical pastoral education. They are trained to diagnose and provide counseling. Pastoral counselors are members of the Association of pastoral Counselors (AAPC) and can have equivalents to a doctorate in counseling. Chaplains are trained in Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE).

Peer Specialists

Peer specialists have lived experience with a mental health condition or substance use disorder. They have often received training and certification and are prepared to assist with recovery by developing strengths and setting goals.

Social Workers

Social workers (B.A. or B.S.) provide case management, inpatient discharge planning services, placement services and other services to support healthy living.

Psychiatric Pharmacists

Psychiatric pharmacists work directly with patients and caregivers to apply specialized clinical knowledge and skills to impact treatment outcomes. Psychiatric pharmacists are often doctoral and resident trained to provide comprehensive medication management which involves assessing the efficacy of psychiatric medications, performing medication histories, and providing treatment strategies for a therapeutic plan. Psychiatric pharmacists are most often employed within health care systems such as Veterans Affairs, hospitals, and clinics, and serve as a member of the treatment team in conjunction with a physician.

Talking someone in need:

  • I’ve been worried about you. Can we talk about what you are experiencing? If not, who are you comfortable talking to?
  • What can I do to help you to talk about issues with your parents or someone else who is responsible and cares about you?
  • What else can I help you with?
  • I am someone who cares and wants to listen. What do you want me to know about how you are feeling?
  • Who or what has helped you deal with similar issues in the past?
  • Sometimes talking to someone who has dealt with a similar experience helps. Do you know of others who have experienced these types of problems who you can talk with?
  • It seems like you are going through a difficult time. How can I help you to find help?
  • How can I help you find more information about mental health problems?
  • I’m concerned about your safety. Have you thought about harming yourself or others?

When talking about mental health problems:

  • Know how to connect people to help
  • Communicate in a straightforward manner
  • Speak at a level appropriate to a person’s age and development level (preschool children need fewer details as compared to teenagers)
  • Discuss the topic when and where the person feels safe and comfortable
  • Watch for reactions during the discussion and slow down or back up if the person becomes confused or looks upset
  • Sometimes it is helpful to make a comparison to a physical illness. For example, many people get sick with a cold or the flu, but only a few get really sick with something serious like pneumonia. People who have a cold are usually able to do their normal activities. However, if they get pneumonia, they will have to take medicine and may have to go to the hospital.
  • Similarly, feelings of sadness, anxiety, worry, irritability, or sleep problems are common for most people. However, when these feelings get very intense, last for a long period of time, and begin to interfere with school, work, and relationships, it may be a sign of a mental health problem. And just like people need to take medicine and get professional help for physical conditions, someone with a mental health problem may need to take medicine and/or participate in therapy in order to get better.

Taking care of our Mental Health:

1. Value yourself:

Treat yourself with kindness and respect, and avoid self-criticism. Make time for your hobbies and favorite projects, or broaden your horizons. Do a daily crossword puzzle, plant a garden, take dance lessons, learn to play an instrument or become fluent in another language.

2. Take care of your body:

Taking care of yourself physically can improve your mental health. Be sure to:

  • Eat nutritious meals
  • Avoid cigarettes — see Tobacco Cessation: You Can Quit!
  • Drink plenty of water
  • Exercise, which helps decrease depression and anxiety and improve moods
  • Get enough sleep. Researchers believe that lack of sleep contributes to a high rate of depression in college students. See Sleep

3. Surround yourself with good people:

People with strong family or social connections are generally healthier than those who lack a support network. Make plans with supportive family members and friends, or seek out activities where you can meet new people, such as a club, class or support group.

4. Give yourself:

Volunteer your time and energy to help someone else. You’ll feel good about doing something tangible to help someone in need — and it’s a great way to meet new people.

5. Learn how to deal with stress:

Like it or not, stress is a part of life. Practice good coping skills: Try One-Minute Stress Strategies, do Tai Chi, exercise, take a nature walk, play with your pet or try journal writing as a stress reducer. Also, remember to smile and see the humor in life. Research shows that laughter can boost your immune system, ease pain, relax your body and reduce stress.

6. Quiet your mind:

Try meditating, Mindfulness and/or prayer. Relaxation exercises and prayer can improve your state of mind and outlook on life. In fact, research shows that meditation may help you feel calm and enhance the effects of therapy.

7. Set realistic goals:

Decide what you want to achieve academically, professionally and personally, and write down the steps you need to realize your goals. Aim high, but be realistic and don’t over-schedule. You’ll enjoy a tremendous sense of accomplishment and self-worth as you progress toward your goal. Wellness Coaching, free to U-M students, can help you develop goals and stay on track.

8. Break up the monotony:

Although our routines make us more efficient and enhance our feelings of security and safety, a little change of pace can perk up a tedious schedule. Alter your jogging route, plan a road-trip, take a walk in a different park, hang some new pictures or try a new restaurant.

9. Avoid alcohol and other drugs:

Keep alcohol use to a minimum and avoid other drugs. Sometimes people use alcohol and other drugs to “self-medicate” but in reality, alcohol and other drugs only aggravate problems.

10. Get help when you need it:

Seeking help is a sign of strength — not a weakness. And it is important to remember that treatment is effective. People who get appropriate care can recover from mental illness and addiction and lead full, rewarding lives.

Impact of Mental Illnesses in families:

Understanding Denial

When mental illness first strikes, family members may deny the person has a continuing illness. During the acute episode family members will be alarmed by what is happening to their loved one. When the episode is over and the family member returns home, everyone will feel a tremendous sense of relief. All involved want to put this painful time in the past and focus on the future. Many times, particularly when the illness is a new phenomenon in the family, everyone may believe that since the person is now doing very well that symptomatic behavior will never return. They may also look for other answers, hoping that the symptoms were caused by some other physical problem or external stressors that can be removed. For example, some families move thinking that a “fresh start” in a new environment will alleviate the problem.

Understanding Stigma

Even when all members of the family have the knowledge to deal with mental illness, the family is often reluctant to discuss their family member with others because they do not know how people will react. After all, myths and misconception surround mental illness. For many, even their closest friends may not understand. For example, the sister of a young man with schizophrenia pointed out that when a friend’s brother had cancer, all his friends were supportive and understanding. But, when she told a few, close friends that her brother has paranoid schizophrenia, they said little and implied that something must be very wrong in her family to cause this illness. Family members may become reluctant to invite anyone to the home because the ill person can be unpredictable or is unable to handle the disruption and heightened stimulation of a number of people in the house. Furthermore, family members may be anxious about leaving the ill person at home alone. They are concerned about what can happen. The result is they go out separately or not at all.

Understanding Frustration, Helplessness and Anxiety

It is difficult for anyone to deal with strange thinking and bizarre and unpredictable behavior. Imagine what it must be for families of people with mental illness. It is bewildering, frightening and exhausting. Even when the person is stabilized on medication, the apathy and lack of motivation can be frustrating. A mother mentions how her daughter, when asked to put her clothes in the closet, looked at the freshly pressed blouses for over an hour before making a move to hang them up. What was a matter of routine for this young woman in the past, now seemed to take an inordinate amount of time. Even though the parent knew it was not so, she had to fight the feeling that her daughter was deliberately not doing this one, small task.

Understanding Exhaustion and Burnout

Often families become worn out and discouraged dealing with a loved one who has a mental illness. Having gone down many dead-end streets in an attempt to find assistance, they may be hesitant to try another approach for fear of another failure. They may begin to feel unable to cope with living with an ill person who must be constantly cared for. Hopefully they can develop a plan to allow each family member to take responsibility for different tasks and/or to trade off times of primary responsibility. But often, they feel trapped and exhausted by the stress of the daily struggle, especially if there is only one family member. Members of the congregation can alleviate the situation by offering to assist the family with some of the care responsibilities. This may mean taking the person out for a drive, getting the person to an appointment, bringing in a meal, offering to spend time with the person to relieve the family, etc.

Understanding Grief

One of the greatest difficulties for families in accepting any life altering illness of a loved one is dealing with a changed future and expectations. The grief is particularly acute for families where a loved one has a mental illness. This illness impairs the person’s ability to function and participate in the normal activities of daily life, and that impairment can be ongoing. Families struggle with accepting the realities of an illness that is treatable, but not curable.

Understanding the Need for Personal Time and to Develop Personal Resources

Clergy working with families should remember that often the family is the first line of defense for their ill loved one. If family members deteriorate due to stress and overwork, it can result in the ill family member having no ongoing support system. Therefore, families must be reminded that they should keep themselves physically, mentally and spiritually healthy. Granted this can be very difficult when coping with their ill family member. However, it can be a tremendous relief for families to realize that their needs should not be ignored. There may be no one else except the pastor who will help them to focus on their needs and their concerns. The pastor should continually remind them that it is necessary to take time for themselves, despite the demands of assisting their family member. For anyone living and/or working with a person who has a mental illness, one should:

Develop Spiritual Resources: Understand that feelings of spiritual distress are a normal reaction to having a family member or friend struck by a life altering illness. Realize that other people of faith have feelings of abandonment, frustration, anger, anxiety, helplessness, isolation and hopelessness. Develop your spiritual identity and resources. Seek help from your pastor, a pastoral counselor, or a therapist who affirms the importance of spiritual resources. Continue your connectedness with your faith community.

Avoid placing blame and guilt: Recognize that you are a loving family member and/or friend and not a magician. None of us can change anyone else, we can only be supportive of ourselves and our loved one as each of us attempts to find ways to manage mental illness. Focus on the good things that happened during each day. Realize that we all have physical and emotional limits. Do not blame yourself or others if that limit is reached.

Look for support: Learn to give support, praise and encouragement and learn to accept it in return. Use a support network regularly for empathy, reassurance, affirmation and refocusing. Attend a support group (see listings in the “Community Resources” section). Accept practical, appropriate assistance from educated family members and friends.

Seek relief from stress: Find a pleasurable place to go each day. Find a place where you can be alone. Use it whenever you need it. Be gentle with yourself. Spend some time away from the person with mental illness. Avoid activities that increase your levels of tension. Inject some humor in your life.

Learn to gain control of your life: Learn to set limits and to make choices. Learn to say “no” and mean it. If you can’t say “no,” what is your “yes” worth? Use the expression “I choose to” rather than “I have to,” or “I should.” Learn to say “I won’t” rather than “can’t.” Take care of your own nutritional and sleep needs. Establish short term and long term goals for yourself. You may find it helpful to keep a journal.
Continue outside interests: Realize that you should continue your leisure activities, your church activities, your relationships with others, your hobbies, etc. Remember to find times every day, however brief, to enjoy life. Get plenty of physical exercise.

Learn about the illness: Learn about resources. Learn what to do if a crisis occurs.

Understanding the Effect of Inappropriate Professional Assistance

Many family members have had hurtful experiences with those in the helping professions. For example, a pastor who has a son with schizophrenia had a painful experience when he led an in service training session at a mental health center. One staff member stated categorically to the group, “Families are usually sicker than the patients,” (Cannon, 1990, 216). This statement was inappropriate and not based on any accepted theory of causation. When clergy, from lack of knowledge, also articulate such myths, the family quite naturally recoils. This is not atypical because for many years psychotherapy was based on the mistaken theory that family patterns caused mental illness. One learned about poor parenting, pathological families, identified patients in the family, etc. One particularly destructive theory was that of the “schizophrenigenic” mother, and the “ineffectual” father, who both used parenting skills that caused schizophrenia in their children. None of these theories are any longer creditable. However, some are still believed by people who have not kept abreast of advances in the field over the last twenty-five years. The dynamics of what happens in the family when a member is struck with any life altering illness, including mental illness, are important. Mental health professionals and support and advocacy groups have a variety of tools to use to assist the family in dealing with what has happened. Referring a family to a mental health professional and a support and advocacy group can be very beneficial to them in learning about mental illness and how to assist the person who is ill and themselves in managing it.

Facilitating a Referral

Getting the family to a helping professional or organization is of little value if they arrive too angry, confused or defensive to be able to listen or be helped. Family members who accept the referral out of compliance, or simply to please the pastor, other family members or friends, may still be closed to any assistance.

The minister must first foster an open and trusting relationship. Family members should be encouraged to share their feelings about the proposed referral. Objections and any feelings of rejections can then be identified. The pastor should make clear why the referral is being made. And the pastor should emphasize that he/she will continue to give spiritual support and guidance.

The goal of the referral is not to force an unwilling person(s) to spend a few minutes with someone who has expertise. The goal is to help the person(s) visit an additional source of information and resources with openness and hopefulness.

Dealing with Objections

The family may be unwilling to accept the referral because of receiving inappropriate advice in the past. Listening to the family’s prior experiences, if there are any, with the mental health system can help clarify objections and make it possible to work around them. Acknowledge the pain and frustration this may have caused. But also acknowledge that a pastor does not have all the technical answers the family may require or the skills to assist them in working out some of the problems the family may be experiencing and that is why they are being referred to other resources.

 

Mental health charities list:


American Foundation for Suicide Prevention

This national charity works to understand and prevent suicide by supporting research looking at the causes of suicide, helping those who have suicidal thoughts or those who have lost someone to suicide, and working with federal and state government on policies to prevent suicide and care for those at risk.

Brain & Behavior Research Foundation

This foundation awards scientific grants to those working to make discoveries in understanding the causes and improving the treatments of mental disorders, such as depression, schizophrenia, anxiety, autism, and bipolar, attention-deficit hyperactivity, post-traumatic stress, and obsessive-compulsive disorders. They’ve awarded close to $310 million to more than 3,700 scientists in the past 25 years.

Treatment Advocacy Center

This charity works to improve the treatment of severe mental illness by promoting policies and practices for the delivery of psychiatric care and supporting the development of treatments for and research into the causes of psychiatric illnesses, such as schizophrenia and bipolar disorder. 

Multidisciplinary Association For Psychedelic Studies

 Founded in 1986, the Multidisciplinary Association for Psychedelic Studies (MAPS) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit research and educational organization that develops medical, legal, and cultural contexts for people to benefit from the careful uses of psychedelics and marijuana. MAPS furthers its mission by: -Developing psychedelics and marijuana into prescription medicines -Training therapists and working to establish a network of treatment centers -Supporting scientific research into spirituality, creativity, and neuroscience -Educating the public honestly about the risks and benefits of psychedelics and marijuana MAPS envisions a world where psychedelics and marijuana are safely and legally available for beneficial uses, and where research is governed by rigorous scientific evaluation of their risks and benefits.

 weSPARK Cancer Support Center 

weSPARK is a special place dedicated to enhancing the quality of life for cancer patients, their families and friends. weSPARK provides free of charge, a center where one can join with others to share their experience, strength, and hope. weSpark offers multiple services designed to heal the mind, body and spirit of all those lives that have been affected by cancer. 

Metro Atlanta Recovery Residences Inc 

Metro Atlanta Recovery Residences (MARR) is dedicated to bringing lasting recovery to alcohol and drug addicted individuals and their families.

Soaring Spirits International

Metro Atlanta Recovery Residences (MARR) is dedicated to bringing lasting recovery to alcohol and drug addicted individuals and their families.

Sober Living America Inc

Join Sober Living America and Fight the Addiction Epidemic – Stand Up/Friends Care. SLA grew out of the need to provide a safe, sober and structured living environment for men and women who are beginning their recovery from alcoholism and drug abuse, regardless of their financial condition. Their target recipient is unemployed or underemployed, often homeless, and without the means to utilize expensive medical recovery facilities. With facilities in 6 states and housing more than 325 residents, Sober Living America strives to provide a hand up for those who want a sober, productive life. 

Knights of Heroes Foundation

Knights of Heroes empowers children who have lost their fathers during military service by providing positive adult mentorship, character development, and lasting friendships forged during an annual wilderness adventure camp. KOH hosts families with common losses allowing them to share experiences and build relationships while increasing public awareness and ensuring that families with losses are not forgotten with the passage of time. 

The Trevor Project, Inc. 

The Trevor Project is the leading national organization focused on crisis and suicide prevention efforts among lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and questioning (LGBTQ) youth. The Trevor Helpline, 866.4.U.TREVOR (866.488.7386), is a free and confidential Helpline open 24/7 that offers hope through its trained counselors. The Trevor Helpline receives tens of thousands of calls each year. In addition to the helpline, the organization’s website provides information on identifying and assisting potentially suicidal youth and Ask Trevor, a confidential resource where youth can ask questions about sexual orientation and identity issues. The Trevor Project also provides lifesaving guidance and vital resources to educators and parents. The organization was founded by three filmmakers whose film, Trevor, about a teenager who attempts suicide after realizing that he might be gay, received the 1994 Academy Award for Best Short Film (Live Action). Governed by a 30-person Board of Directors, The Trevor Project has an operating budget of $6 million, a full time staff of 30+ and more than 500 dedicated volunteers. 

Westchester Jewish Community Services, Inc.

A wide range of affordable clinical and community-based mental health, counseling and support programs, autism supports, home health care services, learning programs and services for people with developmental disabilities assist those who live or work in Westchester County. Service is offered in homes, schools, clinic settings, and in the community. We are committed to delivering the highest quality of services, to being responsive to changing community needs, and maintaining fiscal and programmatic responsibility. Specific programs, funded through UJA-Federation and private foundations, serve the Westchester Jewish community.

 Hope of Survivors

 The Hope of Survivors is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting victims of clergy sexual abuse and misconduct, as well as providing educational and informational materials and seminars to pastors and churches worldwide. Other divisions include: Latino, Australia, Romania, UK and Canada. Professional memberships include: Adventist Association of Family Life Professionals (AAFLP), Adventist-laymen”s Services & Industries (ASI), Outpost Centers International (OCI), the American Association of Christian Counselors (AACC), and the International Board of Christian Counselors.

NAMI

NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

What started as a small group of families gathered around a kitchen table in 1979 has blossomed into the nation’s leading voice on mental health. Today, we are an association of hundreds of local affiliates, state organizations and volunteers who work in your community to raise awareness and provide support and education that was not previously available to those in need.

How does this issue relate to your readings for this course?

This issue relates to one of my readings for this course. In the information Economies .pdf the author states that “The most profound impact of information technology has been to transfer the potential of the scientific method—the ever-expanding accumulation of knowledge—to the cultural sphere. Internet protocols allowed us to link any two computers, enabling an explosive global network of networks (pg. 2). In this case I use a mobile application as a method of information technology, where emerging grid protocols for distributed computing allows us to link everything else—data-bases, simulation and visualization tools, and the unused computing power of machines—generating a worldwide cultural accumulation beyond imagination, available to anyone, anywhere.

This issue also relates to the reading, in the book “Design as Future Making” by Anna Barbara. She said that; “The future is already present in the ways we inhabit spaces using new media – simultaneity, ubiquity, and super – fast transport – which can warp space coordinates” (225). There are many kind of medias and form we can communicate an idea or message. By creating a mobile application to create awareness about mental health is a way of using the digital media to spread the word around the world.

References:

Yelavich S. and Adams B, 2014. “Design as Future Making”, (pg. 225).

Author unknown, year not listed. “Information Economies”. (pg. 2).

https://mentalhealthscreening.org/blog/25-ways-you-can-impact-mental-health-awareness-in-your-community

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/myths-facts/

http://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Treatment/Types-of-Mental-Health-Professionals

https://www.mqmentalhealth.org/mental-health/mental-health-conditions?gclid=Cj0KEQjwt6fHBRDtm9O8xPPHq4gBEiQAdxotvHG47PkbwgiYIRmog1bICqPjZ5QDaqZRSrPkLM5TY9EaAipP8P8HAQ

https://www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/friends-family-members/

https://www.uhs.umich.edu/tenthings

http://www.aaets.org/article180.htm

http://time.com/money/3108381/robin-williams-dead-mental-health-donations/

https://greatnonprofits.org/categories/view/mental-health

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