When one pours out one’s heart, one feels lighter.
National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
Great resource in helping to support families and educate them on mental illness.
The nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. NAMI advocates for access to services, treatment, supports and research and is steadfast in its commitment to raising awareness and building a community of hope for all of those in need.
-Find state organizations and local affiliates
-Family-to-Family Education Program free 12-week course
Mental Health America (MHA) also offers a variety of programs and resources.
Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration
Education& Resources; Find Treatment feature
This site is for people living with mental illness—and their friends. You'll find tools to help in the recovery process, and you can also learn about the different kinds of mental illnesses, read real-life stories about support and recovery, and interact with the video to see how friends can make all the difference.
Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous
Al‑Anon Family Group Meetings
Friends and family members of problem drinkers share their experiences and learn how to apply the principles of the Al‑Anon program to their individual situations.
– Find a Therapist Search by zip code, specialty, provider type
Popular Self-Help Books
The 36-Hour Day: A Family Guide to Caring for People Who Have Alzheimer Disease, Related Dementias, and Memory Loss
by Nancy L. Mace
The Complete Family Guide to Schizophrenia: Helping Your Loved One Get the Most Out of Life
by Kim T. Mueser & Susan Gingerich
Surviving Schizophrenia: A Manual for Families, Patients and Providers
by E. Fuller Torrey
Schizophrenia for Dummies
by Jerome Levine & Irene S. Levine
The Bipolar Survival Guide: What You and Your Family Need to Know
by David J. Miklowitz
The Emotional Survival Guide for Caregivers
by Barry Jacobs
I had the privilege to serve as a speaker during a national women's leadership conference. We had a lively discussion about how to offer support to loved ones with mental illness, as well as challenges of stigma, misconceptions, and importance of seeking help when needed. This post shares some key points from this discussion. The next post will follow up with additional resources available nationwide.
WHAT IS MENTAL ILLNESS?
Disorder characterized by psychological symptoms, abnormal behaviors, impairment in
functioning, or any combination of these, that causes significant distress and impairment
--Some examples include Schizophrenia, Bipolar, Depression, Anxiety, Substance
WHO IS AFFECTED BY MENTAL ILLNESS?
Almost everyone’s life is touched by mental or emotional problems.
--One in 4 adults and 1 in 10 children experience a mental health disorder in a given year.
--Major depressive disorder affects 6.7% of adults & is the leading cause of disability in US.
--Anxiety disorders affect 18.7% of adults & frequently co-occur with depression or addiction
--Less than 1/3rd of adults and ½ of children with mental disorder receive mental health
services each year.
Create environment of strengths and promote understanding with “people-first” language.
--Don’t label people as crazy, wacko, loony.
--Don’t say someone is a schizophrenic but s/he has schizophrenia.
--Instead of an autistic child, say a child with autism.
A person is so much more than their illness or label. Help make that distinction.
CHALLENGING COMMON MYTHS WITH THE FACTS:
Unfortunate myths and misperceptions abound when it comes to mental illness and emotional concerns.
Myth: Mental illness is due to personal failure, weakness, or a character flaw.
Fact: Mental illnesses result from the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors. Events like loss of a loved one or a job can also contribute to the development of various mental health problems. People aren’t weak; in fact, it takes courage to confront problems and seek help.
Myth: Children don't experience mental illnesses. Acting out is just a product of bad parenting and seeking attention.
Fact: Just like adults, kids experience clinically diagnosable mental health conditions from the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors. Behavior problems can be symptoms of mental problems, rather than merely attention-seeking devices. Kids can succeed in school with appropriate understanding, support, and mental health services.
Myth: Addiction is a lifestyle choice and shows lack of willpower.
Fact: Addiction is a disease generally resulting from changes in brain chemistry. Nothing to do with being a “bad” person.
Myth: People with mental illnesses are violent and unpredictable.
Fact: Actually, the vast majority of people with mental health conditions are no more violent
than anyone else. People with mental illnesses are much more likely to be the
victims of crime.
Myth: Once people develop mental illnesses, they will never recover. Therapy and self-help are a waste of time.
Fact: Studies show that most people with mental illnesses get better, and many recover completely. Treatment varies depending on the individual, but working with trained professionals during the recovery process can be effective. Therapy is often combined with some of the most advanced medications available.
HOW TO SUPPORT LOVED ONES
1. Educate yourself about the illness. Seek out resources.
2. Offer practical help and emotional support.
3. Have realistic expectations.
4. Be available to work closely with a treatment team, but let your loved one have control.
5. Set appropriate limits or boundaries.
6. Recognize your loved one’s courage, convey hope, and don’t judge.
7. Be an advocate. Get political.
8. Take care of yourself.
HOW TO COPE
1. Accept your feelings.
2. Establish a support network.
3. Seek counseling.
4. Take time out.
On the Mind...
Welcome to my blog offering information and thoughts on a variety of psychology topics and common concerns.
Megan M. Paris, PhD
I'm a licensed psychologist in Houston helping adults
work through life's challenges. I provide an objective and nonjudgmental space to explore your situation and improve your overall
Click here to learn more about my practice.