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Mental Health – Not Just the Absence of Mental Disorders

Most people think that mental health only applies to those people who have diagnosable mental disorders. The truth is ALL of us should be concerned about our mental health. It is our basis of being healthy. It is the holistic approach to health.

In fact, many people adhere to the belief that mental health is the core of healthiness. Health starts and ends with mental health. It encompasses everything and it is everybody’s business.

For virtually all people, mental health is often neglected until something apparently becomes wrong. Until then, we will have to wait for signs that it is vital to our existence, to our well being, to our relationships with other people, to our perceptions, to our fulfillment and even to our own happiness.

Even though we have achieved great medical advancements, there still seems to be lacks in our general knowledge on mental health. We have developed quick fixes to our physical ailments but we are left far behind with our solutions to mental illnesses.

If we have anything, there still remain some loopholes and what we know is inconclusive. We haven’t developed universal treatments for psychological disorders and even assessments and diagnosis of such ailments are flawed.

In the past, the general concept for being healthy is the “absence of disease“. If so, then someone who doesn’t have diagnosable heart attack but experience irrational fear on something like chicken or heights is a healthy person. In fact, no.

While blood pressure, cholesterol level, and body temperature are easy to asses these are still seen as singular components of our health. Disruptions in these mechanisms mean that a person could be physically ill.

However, the health of a person is not only associated to how well his body functions but also to how well are his psychological, emotional and social dispositions.

Manifestations of mental illness are much harder to asses since most symptoms occur discreetly during the developmental stages of the disorders and internal states are dependent on the subjective nature of the disorder.

For example, someone who usually feels “blue” may or may not be diagnosed with depression.

We also have to take into account the social aspect of mental health. People who have sickness have more obvious manifestations that they are ill, therefore the society and immediate environment could easily identify whether or not a person is sick.

For mental health, however, ignorance could lead to wrong perceptions. For example, a teenager who became drug-dependent and later committed suicide is viewed as irresponsible and desperate when in fact he may be suffering from a psychological disorder.

A simplistic definition to mental health could be “successful mental functioning“. But what are the parameters of this definition? What could possibly tell us that someone is struggling through mental illness?

  • Someone who is distressed for a prolonged period without apparent, logical reason.
  • Someone who has disruptions in thinking
  • Someone who has altered behaviors and moods
  • Someone who relies on substances such as drugs, alcohol and cigarettes may have issues on their mental health
  • Someone who has impaired social functions

These are just representations of how a person with mental health may behave. However, these are not conclusive bases.

As we may yet to understand, mental health is directly correlated with physical ailment or health. Both may be one and the same but are very different in nature.

Perspectives on Mental Health Recovery

If you have a chronic disease like heart attack or diabetes, you will have to live life with it. You will learn to adjust after each attack and would know the signs that there is an acute attack budding. The same is true with recovery from a mental illness.

You cannot expect that during treatment, you will be a renewed man. Symptoms would still be apparent and you would experience things that are sometimes hopeless and debilitating but still you have to adjust through them. And with each adjustment, you would feel that you are starting to move forward, leaving your mental illness behind.

Mental health recovery is all about improvement from a bad case to something better. It is a continuous process and definitely not a linear one. You would move from square one to square two but you should always be ready to move one step back.

You would learn newer ways to control the symptoms of your mental illness and would have insights on how to cope with them. There would be a lot of disappointments and errors the results from these errors are oftentimes rewarding.

Mental health recovery is a lifelong process as much as mental illness took years to develop sometimes even decades. A person could struggle through years of being controlled solely by a mental disorder and will have to face a lifelong effort to get out of it.

You may achieve a life beyond the chains of your previous mental illness symptoms but you would still have to bout with intermittent attacks of symptoms.

One crucial factor to all kinds of illnesses is early intervention. Someone who presents symptoms of schizophrenia during earlier stages have a better chance of easier recovery with early intervention than someone who has aggravated case.

Likewise, any signs of relapse that are recognized and treated early could define the barrier between going through the same disorder again or completely shutting all doors towards total recovery.

However, recovery from a mental disorder is just one of the many parts of the process. A person suffering from mental illness should also work to restore his mental health or sense of well-being.

Many individuals who have histories of mental illness often resort to a life that is withdrawn from the public due to social stigma and discrimination associated with the mental disorder. This leads to impaired sense of self-worth thus invaliding the whole idea of recovery.

For most people, the hardest stage of the recovery process is not the beginning but the end. In this stage, a person has to reclaim everything that he has lost during the entire period he had the mental illness plus every lost opportunity that he would have taken prior to the onset of symptoms.

Sadly, reclaiming these bits of life is far harder than all the aspects of recovery combined. Going back to “what could have been” takes a very long time as well as mending the damages caused by the mental illness due to very limited opportunities opened to people who have suffered a mental disorder.

But this shouldn’t be. You may not be able to go back to your previous job or do the things that you used to do but you could redirect your life to something different but equally rewarding. This has happened before to other people, it will happen to you.

What are Mental Health Jobs?

Now that you’ve finished your medical degree, it’s time to find a job. In hospitals or medical facilities, nothing can be more difficult and demanding as mental health jobs. That is why we often see a great demand of these jobs when we make job searches in the internet or in advertisements. Also, the increase in mental patients in most facilities and institutions contribute to the increase in demand for these jobs.

Contrary to what most people think, there are many aspects of mental health. In the field of psychology alone, there are other areas of specialization such as neuropsychology, geropsychology and health psychology. There is also what we call school psychologists.

These are the counselors in most schools and universities. Another kind is called developmental psychology, which focuses on a man’s psychological development through life. There is also what you call industrial psychology, which focuses on the mechanics of employees in the workplace.

Mental health nurses are those who have graduated the regular nursing course. During the course training, they need to specialize in mental health in order to qualify as mental health nurses.

Doctors who specialize in mental health are commonly called psychiatrists. Each state would impose qualifications before one can practice. For most countries, they are those who graduated the regular physician’s course, and a few years of specialization in psychiatry. There is also a field called psychotherapy, which deals more on counseling and therapy instead of the clinical aspect of treatment.

Mental health jobs can also be found in medical schools where mental health courses are offered.

Aside from those mentioned, there are other jobs in the mental health field. Some of them are medical or hospital social workers, psychiatric technicians and other hospital personnel.

Some mental health centers hire other hospital personnel such as dieticians, physical therapists, pharmacists, dentists, laboratory staff, radiologists, speech pathologists, optometrists, and many others.

As for the pay, the salary range for these jobs is quite wide. Depending on a person’s education and experience, one can earn twice as much as those who work in the same position. And like jobs in other industries, companies prefer applicants who are better qualified and trained. This can be seen in their educational background and previous job experiences.

Aside from the skills necessary to carry out their jobs, an unwritten qualification is added, and that is, their ability to care for the patients and listen to their needs. Mental health patients have extra needs than ordinary medical patients. That is why there is a need for mental health workers to be more patient and understanding than workers in other medical fields.

Health care industries shall continue to expand in the coming years. This means that more mental health jobs shall be available. If you want a job in the mental health field, it is easy to find one. You just have to know where to find them. Make a search for jobs wanted within your area.

You can visit the website of the medical facility or company that you wish to work in to see their job opportunities. Or you may register in a job support website. These websites not only provide you with a list of the jobs available, they also provide articles on career advice, industry news and articles, and tips on job hunting and interview.

Men and Depression

Men and women suffer depression almost equally. Men, however, are taught that any need for help shows weakness.

They are, however, at greater risk for depression-related illnesses and suicide because they hide what is going on from everyone, often even denying it to themselves.

Most men hide their depression by trying to cover their feelings. They most often do this with drugs, alcohol, sex, or work.

Depression shows in men not as helpless or hopeless, but as angry, frustrated, and other aggressive feelings.

Men are less likely to seek treatment than women and they are less likely to admit that they have a problem.

Depression and men is a silent battle that barely makes a rumble until the battle is over. The drugs and the smiles and the carrying on and acting hide many of the typical signs of depression from others.

It’s hard to pick up on the signs of depression if you are close to the person, and it’s even harder if they are trying to cover the feelings up.

If you notice that a loved one is showing any of the typical depression signs like oversleeping or not sleeping, tension, or uncontrollable anger (in the case of men) you should address the topic and let the person know that you care about them and that you are ready to listen when they are ready to talk. It’s important not to push the issue and just let things run their course with men.

If you are a man who is depressed, there are a few things you can do to help yourself:

  • Talk about how you feel
  • Stay active (Find an activity that you enjoy)
  • Give yourself a break to do something you enjoy
  • Find a way to relax at the end of a busy day
  • Try to eat properly

Loving Someone with Bipolar Disorder

Giving unconditional love for bipolar disorder patients is a tough job. If you do not understand what is happening to your loved one, then you will have difficulty relating to them.

Do not think of the illness as humiliation. If you will feel ashamed of your loved one because he is inflicted with such illness, then you are not helping him restore his good health, instead you are letting him do worse than expected.

Trust is essential to individuals with Bipolar disorder. They need you to trust them, not entrust them to other people or institutions such as the psychiatrists or an asylum. To build up trust, an open and honest communication is needed.

Keep the communication line open. An open and honest communication is vital. Encourage your loved one to talk about what he thinks and feels. Let him suggest ways on how you are supposed to relate to him.

Do not suppress what you feel. However, there are positive ways to let your loved know how you feel. It is recommended that you avoid nagging, preaching or lecturing an individual with Bipolar disorder.

Such negative actions will drive him to detach. If you are concerned about him, let him see how concerned you are in a gentle and encouraging manner.

Let him do things his way. Along with trust and communication, let the person experience what he can do for himself. Let him solve problems if he can find solutions.

Let him live the way he is supposed to live. By that, he will feel that he is important and has a good reason why he lives.

Be there. Although you allow him to do his own way, it does not mean that you will not be there when he needs you to. Let him do things his way but make sure that you are around to give assistance when needed.

Most importantly, apart from assistance, you need to offer your love, understanding and support.

Herbs That Help With Anxiety

Anxiety disorders are the most common of all mental health disorders. Fortunately, anxiety disorder is highly treatable, and with professional help, it can often be completely overcome. Many times, successful treatment depends only upon individual or group therapy and learned relaxation techniques.

In some cases, however, anti-anxiety prescription medication is also recommended. Medications can carry a risk of alarming side effects and can be highly addictive, spurring many people to seek safer, more natural alternatives.

There are many natural herbs for anxiety, which have been proven to effectively ease many of the symptoms of with a very low risk of side effects. Just as with prescription medications, everyone reacts differently to natural medications, and it can take time to find the right combination and dosage for your body.

Passionflower – an ingredient that is often used in natural medicine, alleviates hyperactivity, anxiety, insomnia, nervous tension — and is even sometimes used to treat Parkinson’s Disease. Passion flower soothes and calms and can lower high blood pressure.

Lemon balm – a general restorative for the nervous system, can reduce blood pressure and also calm the digestive system.

Lavender – an excellent anxiety treatment and one of the best natural panic attack treatments. Lavender is a general tonic for the nervous system and a natural relaxant.

Valerian – a popular natural ingredient that can be used as a sedative and a painkiller. It is often effectively employed as a treatment for anxiety and for insomnia, as well.

You may find that with psychotherapy, cognitive-behavioral therapy, relaxation exercises or support groups, or some combination of all of them, you do not need any medication.

But if you do decide to explore the option of medication, natural treatments for anxiety can provide you with safe, effective results, without the risk of side effects that prescription medications pose.

Natural medications are becoming increasingly popular as awareness of them grows, and you might find that they are the right treatment for you as well.

Expressive Therapies in Mental Health

Many people who are diagnosed with mental issues show an extreme liking for or talent in the creative arts. It only makes sense that some of the alternative treatments incorporate this natural tendency. Below I cover three such alternative treatments. Often each is combined with more traditional methods, but not always.

Art Therapy: Drawing, painting, and sculpting help many people to reconcile inner conflicts, release deeply repressed emotions, and foster self-awareness, as well as personal growth.

Some mental health providers use art therapy as both a diagnostic tool and as a way to help treat disorders such as depression, abuse-related trauma, and schizophrenia. You may be able to find a therapist in your area who has received special training and certification in art therapy.

Dance/Movement Therapy: Some people find that their spirits soar when they let their feet fly. Others-particularly those who prefer more structure or who feel they have “two left feet”-gain the same sense of release and inner peace from the Eastern martial arts, such as Aikido and Tai Chi.

Those who are recovering from physical, sexual, or emotional abuse may find these techniques especially helpful for gaining a sense of ease with their own bodies. The underlying premise to dance/movement therapy is that it can help a person integrate the emotional, physical, and cognitive facets of “self.”

Music/Sound Therapy: It is no coincidence that many people turn on soothing music to relax or snazzy tunes to help feel upbeat. Research suggests that music stimulates the body’s natural “feel good” chemicals (opiates and endorphins).

This stimulation results in improved blood flow, blood pressure, pulse rate, breathing, and posture changes. Music or sound therapy has been used to treat disorders such as stress, grief, depression, schizophrenia, and autism in children, and to diagnose mental health needs.

Exercise and Mental Health – Are There Connections

We all know that exercise promotes healthier body and better sense of well-being. It boosts confidence for people who need newer self image while it prevents the aggravation of physical illnesses for some. While nearly all of the research on exercise is focused on demonstrating positive effects on the physical body, there is a growing mass of research that seeks to prove that exercise is good for mental health as well.

A study conducted by the researchers from the Duke University along with other similar studies proved that exercise could help treat depression for 60{07965d1a73f172391d248434f2d27e2a2315fb5c95eb3ba6629368cfee7d254a} of all the participants. This result is similar with the total number of participants who are using medications for their treatment from depression.

However, you don’t have to be a sufferer of a mental illness before you benefit from exercise. You can boost your sense of well-being while walking on the treadmill or by combining yoga and meditation. In a way, exercise could be used as a potential medium for preventing the development of psychological and emotional conditions.

There are three dimensions at which we could look at when examining the benefits of exercise in the mental wellness of a person. Among the less well known is the biological aspect.

One theory suggests that physical workout or exercise could stimulate a part of the brain to release endorphins. Activities that are more likely to trigger the release of endorphins are swimming, cross-country skiing, running, bicycling, aerobics and sports like soccer, football and basketball.

Endorphins are comparable to opiates in a way that they resemble morphine. Endorphins could work in two ways- as a pain reliever (which is produced in response to the stresses brought about by physical work or stress) and as an enhancer of well-being. There are, however, no definite data that could support this claim.

On the other hand, exercise is also found to trigger the release of hormones norepinephrine, dopamine and serotonin. All these are known to help improve mood and is actually the main effect of Prozac, a known antidepressant.

Increase in these hormones could be best observed in a condition known as “runner’s high”. This feeling during after an acute exercise is directly linked to the increased number of the said hormones. However, there are still no conclusive studies proving that improvements on mood could be facilitated for a longer period of time.

Another is the physiological aspect. Nearly all of the feelings we associate with mental wellness come from our personal evaluation of the way our body feels. Say for instance, if you perceive a stomach pain as a form of stress then you will feel stressed (and sometimes even depression) every time your stomach aches. Likewise, exercise could render feelings such as muscle relaxation and easier breathing which we associate with “feeling better”. While this correlation is yet to have a better scientific grounding, we still could not deny the fact that muscle tension and increased blood flow go together with physical fitness.

No one knows yet how exactly exercise affects mental health. But it is common among patients to view exercise as a good medium to elevate their moods. In fact, according to a survey conducted by the Charity Mind nearly two-thirds of all people who said that they use exercise to relieve symptoms of stress and depression believe that exercise actually works for them. The scientific community is yet to understand how this happens though and for now, it remains a truth that people benefit from exercise for mental health.

Elgin Mental Health Center – More Than Just a Psychiatric Facility

If a friend or someone in the family is to be treated in a mental facility, we try to find the best facility for them. After all, the goal is for them to get well, and we believe that our choice of hospital is vital for the person’s recovery. In Illinois, when we speak of psychiatric facilities, one hospital easily comes to mind. That is Elgin Mental Health Center or EMHC.

As the second oldest state hospital in Illinois, this facility opened in 1872 under its former name, Northern Illinois Hospital and Asylum for the Insane. The first-ever physiological measurements of mental patients were recorded by the Elgin Papers back in the 1890s. By 1997, the Joint Commission for the Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations gave EMHC its commendation for two years in a row.

How the hospital was developed can be broken down into five phases. The first phase ended in 1893. A stable leadership was responsible for the gradual growth during this period.

After this phase, the hospital immensely grew to more than twice its size. This second phase, which ended by 1920, was characterized by a lot of politicking, leadership changes and power struggles in the system.

For the third period, growth was more rapid. Hospital population, which reached its peak by the 1950s, increased for both geriatric and veterans. This is because the period was post World War I and World War II.

By the time the third phase ended, hospital population declined. During this phase, psychotropic medications were introduced. Other milestones for this period include the development of community health facilities, deinstitutionalization, until the decentralization of decision-making and authority. This fourth phase ended until the 1980s.

The last phase is what some call the “rebirth.” It began in 1983, when hospital census was at its lowest. Because of this, the hospital was on the verge of closure. However, the state decided to close Manteno Mental Health Center instead.

During this time, the hospital was practically rebuilt. While the old buildings used a congregate model called the Kirkbride plan, new physical facilities were added such as cottages in order to adhere to a segregate plan. There are two divisions, civil and forensic. Each division has an acute treatment center, office and conference rooms which faculty and trainees can use.

Forensic programs were further developed, and new affiliations with medical schools were also made. Affiliations include that with The Chicago Medical School, among others. An increase in educational activities showed that EMHC is also concerned with the education of future doctors and medical graduates.

Hospital system operations were also modified. Activities of community mental health centers are integrated in the system operations. Community mental health centers refer their patients to EMHC. These community mental facilities include DuPage County Health Department, Lake County Mental Health Center, Ecker Center for Mental Health, and Kenneth Young Center.

At present, admissions are close to 1300 annually. Patients are usually African-American, Euro-American and Hispanic. The hospital holds 582 to 600 beds and about 40 full-time physicians.

Just like any health facility, EMHC is harassed with problems and controversies with respect to their policies and programs. Nevertheless, Elgin Mental Health Center continues to do what it is supposed to do, and that is to provide the best treatment for their patients.

Phobia vs. Fear – Is There A Difference?

Everybody has fears. We fear losing our jobs, our homes, our way of life. We may even be a little afraid of the dark or nervous when confronted with a spider. Fear is just nature’s way of warding us from danger, telling us to flee from things we are subconsciously afraid of. Yet in some cases, fear becomes something more – a phobia.

There is a difference between general fear and a clinical phobia. The difference is usually how extreme the reaction to the object of the fear or phobia is. If, for example, when you see a snake, you feel uncomfortable and your heart races a little, you are afraid of the snake. This is a normal reaction based on survival instincts. If, however, you see a snake and want to scream or run away, you begin to sweat or tremble or experience other symptoms of anxiety, then you have a phobia.

Sometimes, a phobia can become so pronounced the person cannot even say what it is they are afraid of – the word alone is enough to bring on a physical reaction of terror. Thousands of people refuse to even come in to contact with the object of their phobia if they can avoid it, such as refusing to fly on aircraft if they have a fear of flying. Phobias are an extreme, natural overreaction to everyday things, events and circumstances.

Phobias are primarily dealt with using exposure therapy, where a person forces themselves to ‘confront’ their fear. This can involve placing themselves in the same room as a snake, or boarding an aircraft. While terrifying, this kind of therapy is hugely effective, and phobias can be managed once and for all.

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