According to the SAMHSA website (Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration):
“September is Recovery Month. Recovery Month promotes the societal benefits of prevention, treatment, and recovery for mental and substance use disorders, celebrates people in recovery, lauds the contributions of treatment and service providers, and promotes the message that recovery in all its forms is possible.
Recovery Month spreads the positive message that behavioral health is essential to overall health, that prevention works, treatment is effective and people can and do recover.”
Because of this, I wanted to write this month on basic mental health information. Stigma still exists regarding mental health issues and yet most families have somehow been impacted by mental health issues. It is rare to find a family that hasn’t been impacted by mental illness or substance abuse issues.
There are some important things to know about mental illness.
-It can be treated. Those with mental health issues can learn coping skills–their own triggers and then ways to cope with the triggers.
– Mental illness is a NEUROLOGICAL condition. It cannot be cured with will power or pulling yourself up by your boot straps.
– It does not define the person. A person may have schizophrenia, but they are not schizophrenia.
– Mental illness varies in severity.
– Mental illness can affect anyone.
– Treatment has been found to be effective.
-Early identification is important.
There are some symptoms that are seen among those with mental health issues that should be addressed and evaluated by either a doctor or a mental health professional
Social Withdrawal–not wanting to participate in activities that a person use to enjoy, not returning calls, avoiding social situations.
Depression–feeling sad without a known cause. Crying, feeling hopeless, indifferent, unable to express joy.
Interrupted thoughts–Forgetting things–events, dates or what was being said, having a hard time “putting thoughts together”, unable to concentrate, poor reason, memory or judgment, unusual use of words or language structure, disorientation in time, place or person.
Expressions of feelings that are not “in tuned” with the situation–at a party and looking sad, feeling overwhelmed doing daily tasks.
Behavior Impairments–doing “odd” behaviors or socially “inappropriate” behaviors, hyperactive or inactive, lack of interest in hygiene, changes in sleeping and eating patterns.
Decreasing participation in life–watching more TV, play more video games, laying in bed more, having a difficult time performing daily tasks, no interest in performing daily tasks.
Feeling overwhelmed with minor problems- “I can’t deal with one more thing”
Feeling irritable for no reason, hostile.
Excessive, irrational fears or suspiciousness.
Reckless behaviors or attempts to “escape”.
Suicidal thoughts, behaviors, attempts.
If a family member is expressing suicide thoughts, contact a mental health provider immediately or go to your local emergency room. This is not a time to take the “wait and see approach”.
While experiencing one symptom listed above may not mean a person has a mental health condition, they should not be ignored. Remembering that good health includes good mental health is important. Good health care includes taking care of the person’s psychical, mental and spiritual health.
Please encourage those around you to take care of themselves in every way that they can.
To support suicide prevention, the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention is having their community walk on Sept 29th at Independence Grove, Libertyville. There is no fee to register and no minimum fund raising requirements. The goal is to support suicide prevention through research, advocacy and education, reduce the stigma related to mental health and to support those that have lost someone to suicide.
To sign up go to: www.ChicagoWalk.org