Educate yourself on the importance of mental health treatment
Believe it or not, October is here and The Pulse took some time to speak with Gayle Lodato at the Helen Ross McNabb Center to discuss mental health, as the United States Congress has declared the first week of October mental health awareness week.
“We want to reduce the stigma of mental illness,” says Lodato. “We want as many people as possible to access services, and not to feel ashamed or embarrassed in doing so.”
The stigma for those affected by mental illness is that they are damaged, but that is clearly not the case. Think of mental illness as a cancer we don’t understand. Cancer is simple; it’s bad and it tries to take your life. Mental illness is like a cancer no one can see, a cancer that people think you shouldn’t talk about, a cancer that breaks you down mentally rather than physically. It is not something to be ignored, cast aside, or judged, but aided.
In our chat with Lodato, we discussed the statistics: 1 in 5 children ages 13-18 will experience a serious mental illness, such as mood disorders, anxiety disorders, or conduct disorders, while 1 in 5 adults experience mental illness. 1 in 25 adults have a mental illness that causes a significant functional impairment such as a psychotic disorder.
For those of us 4 out of 5 who don’t understand what it’s like to deal with anxiety, depression, or the multitude of other things associated with mental illness, it can be difficult to know what to do to help someone in need. A good way to be helpful is to point out to your friend, family member, co-worker, whoever it may be, what it is you’ve noticed differently about them lately.
Sometimes, asking “are you okay?” is the tipping point to an individual trying to deal with their emotions. Instead, try telling them that you’ve noticed they looked upset, and ask if there is something you can do for them. How can you be helpful to them rather than condescending?
Monitor your family, friends, and yourself for any changes in mood, sleep, appetite, any increased spending, or reckless behavior. If what you or someone else is experiencing lasts a couple weeks or longer, seek medical help. A high number of individuals who don’t get treatment try to self-medicate with drugs or alcohol, which can exacerbate symptoms and lead to a harder road.
Our world is slowly changing, becoming more knowledgeable about such issues as well as becoming more accepting towards mental illnesses the more they’re understood. Mental health issues can arise in anyone, sometimes from loss, stress, predisposition.
People are slowly beginning to understand that mental illness is a medical diagnosis, and that it impacts not only our brain, but our very way of life. It is not always seen on the outside, but it is very much a real thing on the inside for those affected. Be kind, reach out to those around you.
Helen Ross McNabb Center: (423) 266-6751
Mobile Crisis for Adults: Volunteer Behavioral: 1-800-704-2651
Youth Villages: 1-866-791-9225
National Association of Mental Illness (NAMI): 1-800-771-5491