Tag Archives: Mental Disorders

And The Winner Is…..

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Children's Mental Health

Children’s Mental Health

I used to work in a mental health hospital that was a 19-bed unit for children and adolescents that required temporary hospitalization. Many times, we saw the effects of acting out due to anger issues. And on many occasions, there were absolute mental health issues that included behaviors with depression, bipolar disorder and obsessive compulsive disorder.

During the time I worked there, I had the honor of meeting a real gem of a child psychiatrist who not only involved himself with the medication component of these children’s care, but also who helped us to become better therapists and counselors as well, having a positive impact on this aspect of their therapy while they were with us, as well.

One of the children admitted to our care during my time there, came face to face with this amazing man, regarding a major blow-up he had with another patient. He showed his true colors and caused a huge disruption on the floor after something happened, that angered him severely. The issue required more than just a brief sit-down and involved this man, who was in charge of the ward.

I recall the incident as if it were yesterday, although it is many years later. But the part I recall the most, involved this Doctor talking with the young, angry boy afterward in which he explained to him that there were really only two different scenarios that could play out for the remainder of the young man’s life. He began by telling him that he could promise him there would be many more times that this young man was going to come face to face with situations that angered him. Sometimes he would become exactly as angry as he had just become. Other times, he wouldn’t be nearly as angry and more than likely, there would be other times when he would become even angrier than he was here. Doctor Z. stated clearly, three or four times, that he could guarantee this young man of this.

No Choice

No Choice

He emphasized that this young man had absolutely no choice in this. There was nothing that any of us could do, no matter who we were and how much we may want to help him, that could prevent the situations from happening in the future and then he surprised this young boy by telling him that he wasn’t going to do anything to try and prevent the young boy from getting angry in the future over these things. He told him that if anybody expected to be able to prevent their anger was a fool.

I had never heard of this type of a technique when it came to dealing with anger or any emotion for that matter. I was young and fairly wet behind the ears and I though my job was to help these children from becoming too angry or too anxious or too sad. But I learned from Doctor Z. that if I intended to prevent such things, I not only was foolish, but I would fail miserably.

The Winner Is

The Winner Is

That day, Doctor Z. taught me and that young man that there is indeed a choice, but that the choice is about whether that feeling rules us or whether we rule that feeling. It isn’t about having the feeling or about how strong the feeling is. It is about who ends up in control – us, or our feelings?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!

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Where is the Evidence for Evidence Based Therapies?

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I invite discussion of this short article – and look forward to many responses. The author’s perspective is one that is supported through his research, and the suggested readings within the work speak to his knowledge of these areas of controversy.  The article also speaks to the ‘manualization’ of therapy…something we should all be concerned with in our clinical interests – and the best interests of our clients.  See the link below…

Excerpt:  “A study from a prestigious psychology journal recently crossed my desk. It found that clinicians who provide Cognitive Behavior Therapy or CBT—including the most experienced clinicians—routinely depart from the CBT techniques described in treatment manuals. “Only half of the clinicians claiming to use CBT use an approach that even approximates to CBT,” the authors wrote.”   http://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/psychologically-minded/201310/where-is-the-evidence-evidence-based-therapies

 

The Awful Stigma of Mental Illness

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Human Brain

Human Brain

Between 70% and 90% of people who are looking for employment and who have been diagnosed with a mental illness do not find work! Let me rephrase this. The unemployment rate of people with diagnosed mental illness is close to insurmountable.

What is it about mental illness that frightens us so? Why would a boss hire someone with a physical disease (as long as they knew it was not contagious) but fear employing a person with bipolar disorder or schizophrenia?

Let’s imagine a piece of a conversation during an employment interview in which a qualified applicant for a customer service representative position is very straightforward and tells the human resource person they self-inject insulin due to having Type 1 diabetes. I think we can all correctly assume this would in no way negatively impact being considered for the job.

But what if that same applicant informed the human resource person that they were diagnosed schizophrenic and were on medication because they hear voices? So what is it about mental illness that we find so awful?

global_mental_disorders

I have always believed that people fear more of what they cannot see than what they can see. The unknown is more frightening than the known is to most people. And mental illness is something that doesn’t show up on an x-ray. Although we are making significant breakthroughs in learning more about the way the brain works, for most of us, it is still ‘uncharted territory” and as such, much more likely to be feared.

But there is more to it than that. There also is a sense of pessimism involved or seeing the glass half empty. Since we don’t know much about the way the brain works, it stands to reason that we don’t know that much about the way it doesn’t work correctly either. This means we don’t understand the way disorders work. So why do people so frequently choose to think the worst? What reason do we have to believe if we hire the person with schizophrenia, that person will ‘go off’ rather than be extremely creative? What makes us focus on the negative aspects of mental illness rather than some of the other aspects of different brain functions?

Site of Navy Yard Shootings

It most certainly doesn’t help when a man goes on a killing rampage the way Aaron Alexis, the Washington DC Navy Yard killer, did last month and the news comes across about how he suffered from mental illness. Then that becomes the main focus of the news and people who are likely to hold negative views toward mental disorders feed off that. It is almost as if when something like this occurs, it can be used as proof by those who already stigmatize the mentally ill.

The popular mindset is that education is the only antidote to prejudice. I would like to say that I believe it works, but I know too many people who refuse to be confused by the facts because they already have their minds made up. For the time being, I am afraid mental illness stigmas are going to be around for a while and it will continue to be a seriously uphill battle for those effected by it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!