It’s that time of year again when I collaborate with a group of readers, writers, parents, twitter followers, friends, and colleagues to discuss, during 1 entire week on blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers (PsychCentral), their experiences with mental illness or other mental health challenges. Their experiences could be personal or professional and focus on challenges, miracles, systemic difficulties, financial strain, failures of the system, and many more issues that parents, families, friends, caregivers, and professionals have experienced. Come join us.
Change. It’s a simple word but it can mean so many things to the person experiencing the change. I’ve had many changes in my personal life, changes that were both good and bad. Some change is on time and other changes come at the wrong time. Still, other changes are the result of your desire to change something, while other changes are not. Continue Reading »
How many of you rely on your faith for strength and courage as a caregiver, as an individual living in this stressful world, or as someone suffering from a mental health condition? For many people, their faith is the only thing they have to hold onto.
Did you know that July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month? If not, you’re not alone. Sadly this month is often overlooked by the majority of Americans. It is a time when summer has bloomed, fireworks have entered the scene, and multiple summer parties and cook-outs are in full swing. It comes at a time of the year when so many people are outdoors, enjoying the summer time weather and penetrating sun. This lack of awareness, however, not only affects minorities struggling with mental health problems, but our society at large.
There are multiple things we need to do to bring greater awareness to minority mental health:
- Build awareness
- Remember services are difficult to locate
- Remind clinicians and mental health professionals to be culturally competent
- Understand that:
- Many cultures lack knowledge about mental illness or see it as taboo
- Lack support from their own culture to seek services
- Do not trust opposite cultures helping them
- Struggle with gender bias
Do you remember my article published on Alex Hribal, a 16-year old who stabbed 20 high school students and an adult in the Franklin Regional High School of a quiet suburb in Pennsylvania? The article was titled: Parental Responsibility in Tragedy through my sister-site Psychcentral/caregivers. The article focused on a very controversial topic which involves parents being held liable for the dangerous, violent, and careless behaviors of their children or a child whom they know struggles with behavioral or mental health challenges. Parents are held liable for cases such as Alex Hribal’s in many states. The difficulty is in proving negligence and arriving at a settlement for the “damages,” and in many case, lives lost. Continue Reading »
Each week I see myself mentally, physically, and emotionally deteriorating (in inches) every time I encounter a new client, a new situation, a new challenge, a new mystery. It’s part for the course as a helping professional. No one will escape the fatigue. The field of psychiatry and the profession of mental health is both an emotionally and mentally stressful job. It only works best when the people involved have been “called” to do such a work. It is only then that the job will get done correctly, promptly, and with care. It is when the field incorporates people who either have lost motivation to care or simply don’t care, that the profession deteriorates more and more. Continue Reading »
What do you think of this paragraph?
She had reason to worry. When her son showed up at her Queens home in May 2009, he beat her, striking her in her face multiple times, and then wrapped an electrical cord around her neck. “Mom, I am going to kill you,” he said, according to court records.
When she passed out, he stole her 2002 Toyota Corolla and fled.
Read more about this tragic situation involving mental illness and criminal behavior, a dilemma many of us (mental health professionals) have trouble connecting and understanding.
Is the mental health system making you feel all alone, lost, confused, and angry? If so, you are not alone. A therapist shares her experiences and insights about the system with multiple stories and resources for parents, families, and caregivers. She also offers a bonus chapter on bullying prevention and resources parents, families, and caregivers can pursue to protect their child with special needs.
Today I spoke with a good friend from graduate school about recent changes in her life. No matter how positive some parts of the change was, she found some way to think of the negative. We began to review what we had learned in school about “cognitive distortions.” We found that the both of us engage in some of these depending on the situation. Are you guilty too?
There are multiple types of cognitive distortions, but the 10 most common include:
- All or nothing/ black or white thinking: This type of thinking is “my way or the highway.”
- Should statements: “I should always be first,” “I should never take 2wks vacation.”
- Magnification/minimization: You exaggerate certain events or the negative and minimize (the “I don’t care” attitude) a situation.
- Over-generalization: You view a single situation (positive or negative) as never-ending, something that could happen again.
- Mental Filtering: You dwell on a single negative occurrence and focus in on it like a target. You can’t get your mind on other things. “Did you see how she looked at me!!!!”
- Labeling or mis-labeling: Instead of describing the situation for what it is (e.g., you filed your taxes too late), you begin to see yourself as the problem (“I’m so stupid, why can’t I ever do this earlier”).
- Emotional reasoning: You feel that your negative emotions reflect the truth, not error.
- Jumping to conclusions: You immediately believe the worst without first considering all the facts of the situation.
- Mind reading: “I know she thinks I’m crazy because of how I look today.” Have you ever said this? Mind reading occurs when you think you know what someone is thinking about you without you checking the facts
- Fortune Teller: You feel that something negative will happen without considering that perhaps something positive may happen.
- Personalization: You see yourself as being the reason for negative events.
- Disqualifying the positive: You point out all the negative facts without looking at the positive. You miss your beautiful daughter in her wedding gown because you just can’t get over her new mother-in-law.
As always, I wish you the best
When I go grocery shopping, I rarely stop at one store to buy all of my items. I often “cherry pick” by getting all meat from one store, my fresh produce at another, and then my dry goods at another. By the end of the week, I’ve been to about 3 stores total. Can you relate? Sadly, many families within the mental health system must act in the exact same way.
The mental health system seems to be one of the most complex systems in the world. There is always something getting in the way of proper treatment such as policies, state laws, high turnover which leads to reduced number of staff, high costs, little to no insurance coverage, etc. Families today are up against the biggest beast in our modern day society. Despite high numbers of severe mental health need (7.7 million suffer adults and 20% of children and teens suffer from severe mental illness), we have multiple problems within our system that often include incompetent or uncaring workers who waste the time of families in need. As a therapist, I see these things almost daily.
There are 7 types of workers, I have encountered, that all individuals should look out for:
1. The lazy worker: This type of mental health professional refuses to go far and beyond their duties at work. If it is after hours, they will not help you. If helping you means contacting outside agencies, researching a problem, or discussing something with you, this person will avoid it at all costs. They might even shift the responsibility to the client or family of the client. You may not feel helped or cared for by this person. They are incompetent, disinterested in truly helping, and may only be in the profession for recognition, personal identity, pay, or prestige. Some people thrive off of having a hand in telling others what to do or having some effect on their lives. Those who enjoy making a difference are different because they are truly interested in helping. But the “lazy worker” will do nothing, but want to be recognized.
2. The “for show” worker: This person is like the lazy worker, but might do more work for the purpose of being recognized. This person is constantly in competition with co-workers and will often appear genuinely interested during the initial phase of treatment. This person is selfish and hopes to find an identity by working in the field.
3. The “professional” worker: This person is so very professional and loves to dress the part, act the part, sound the part, and fantasize by getting overly involved in the lives of others. This person is so consumed with themselves that no one can crack the phony fasade. This person is basically a narcissist.
4. The “let me check” worker: This person is like the lazy worker, but constantly has to double check facts (even basic facts) because they are rarely tuned in to their job. This person knows very little and seems to lack a breadth of knowledge necessary for the duties of the job. Therapists like this are constantly unsure about their position or how to help. They need others to guide them before they can guide others. There is very little to no creativity with this person. A person like this might also lack life experience. Beginning therapists usually fit this profile.
5. The “actor” worker: This person is very much like the “professional” worker but seems to recite what others have said or done. This person is an imitator and lacks originality. Dressing, speech, behavior, activities, suggestions, or advice might be echoed from someone this person idealizes such as a boss, senior worker, or historic figure. Tone of voice, attitude, or dressing might change to reflect the characteristics of the idealized person. I would go so far as to suggest a sociopathic personality.
6. The “ingenuine” worker: This person is very ingenuine and doesn’t really care about the emotional needs of the client seeking help or the client’s family. This person is highly engulfed in his/her own life, but believes their personal experience will make them a good therapist. This person usually lacks true compassion, but is the first to believe that they have skill (because of personal experience) to help others.
7. The “social justice” worker: This particular person is very conscious of social justice issues and seeks any opportunity to bring up the topic of sexism, racism, ageism, etc. to explain away personal difficulties or challenges the client may face. For example, a woman may say that she feels undermined by other females at work. The “social justice” worker may view this as an attack due to age, gender, or race. Of course, this is something that happens all the time, but we cannot explain away ALL situations using this perspective.
Believe it or not, the field entails many of these individuals including a host of other personalities. It is important to keep in mind that not all mental health professionals or therapists exhibit these traits in negative ways, but many do. The thing to watch out for is how rigid the person is and whether or not they truly care for you or your loved one. “Shopping around” in the mental health system is important because every therapist is different, every therapist is trained differently, and every therapist has experienced life differently. No one is the same. “shopping around” allows you to find a therapist who truly has you or your loved one’s best interest at heart, truly wants to fight for the rights of her/his clients, and demonstrates a consistent character over time. If you recognize an inconsistent personality that seems overbearing and unauthentic, run!
I wish you the best
William Halsted and Sigmund Freud were two “scientists” who went down trying to crack the mystery of substance abuse use (Freud) and searching for the strongest numbing agent for surgical procedures (Halsted). Their nightmare was characterized by strong addictions, medical complications, and extreme health problems. Even more, their substance abuse addiction not only revealed their deep emotional and psychological needs, but the potential vulnerabilities of scientists in the world and the problems often associated with doctors who have access to prescription drugs. Watch the video to find out more and visit: http://halstedthedocumentary.org/.
Self-medication: Why doctors use prescription drugs
This is something I deal with daily in my work with youngsters. Many days it feels like we’re all doing everything wrong. Other days, are quite different. But where are we going to intervene and how? This is something we rarely discuss for fear of backlash from anti-stigma players, parents, families, and others too afraid to grapple with reality.
What are your thoughts about this continual and possibly worsening condition? It’s about time we find out.
Photo credit: Gabriella Fabbri
This presentation was presented at the Pittsburgh Carnegie Library, Business and Technology Series event December 19. This presentation discusses the problems associated with corporations, organizations, and other businesses in failing to bring awareness to the existence of mental health. This presentation also touches upon the inability of employees to seek mental health care without fearing loss of employment, loss of confidentiality, or stigma.
Most employees have legal or federal rights to protect their mental health information from employers, but there are exceptions to this rule. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996), which supposedly protects all mental and medical health information from being exposed, is briefly discussed.
Anchored-In-Knowledge was designed specifically for parents, families, and caregivers of individuals with mental health conditions. To find out how to navigate through this site, click here for my “Getting started” page.
This site is “family-friendly” for individuals seeking easily accessible and practical information. For daily updates, follow me on Twitter! For various topics relating to mental health, try my site at Mentalhealth.answers.com.
I hope you will find this site a resource
I wanted to personally send my best wishes for a wonderful holiday season. This time of year is a wonderful time because it allows us to think over the accomplishments of the year, remember people we love, give gifts from the heart, and move forward into the new year. I love Christmas. It is not only a time for family, gifts, and love, but reflecting on our purpose, our divine purpose.
What has your journey been and what will it be? I find myself asking this question a lot, but more during this time of the year. What accomplishments (that are not materialistic) do I want to make in the coming year? These questions are introspective and very significant. Meaning emanates from these questions and has a way of forming new meaning for the coming year.
For some people, like my mother, thinking that far ahead is difficult. You’ll figure it out when you get there! I get you, that’s all well and good. :)
But then, there are those who are suffering during this time with missing a loved one, missing someone deceased, or wishing they had the romance and love that Christmas commercialism demonstrates through commercials and music. Sadly, Christmas time isn’t always a joyous time for everyone. If you are someone or know someone who has lost a loved one, know that you are not alone. I lost my dearest cousin 5 days before Christmas in a very tragic way last year. It is something I push to the back of my mind in order to cope. As a family, we will never forget it. So I flood myself with the beauty of the season and I try to remain as realistic as possible. Getting swept up in commercialism, only makes matters worse.
I just spoke with a Twitter follower via email who lost his son during this time to suicide. His son took his life 3 days before Christmas. Instead of wrapping gifts, spending quality time with family, and enjoying the festivities, he was contemplating ending it all. The way this man and his family copes is by staying very close, engaging in family time, and remembering their son. Sometimes attempting to push reality away only makes it worse.
Other people are saddened by the fact that they do not have a child to wrap gifts for, a husband to wake up to, or a family to visit on Christmas Day. Just know that we are all struggling with something around this time and that sometimes the best way to cope with sorrow is by reaching out to others. Having a sense of gratitude also helps.
Remember the homeless, remember those struggling with depression or other mental health conditions, and remember those who may need your smile and love today.
All the best to you in the new year!
An article was published a few weeks ago and circulated by http://www.rethinkmentalillness.org. The question that was posed was “am I crazy for wanting a baby with schizophrenia?” Many responded with both positive and negative replies, but many were imbalanced. Imbalanced information in the field of mental health is not a shocker. Imbalanced information circulates throughout the system all of the time. This is not new news. But I’d like to offer a balanced perspective to this story.
Firstly, having children is a very complicated matter and many things can go wrong with health. Although I am not a mother (yet!), working with children of all ages (5-22) has afforded me an inside look at the multiple challenges involved in child-rearing. Infants can be complicated little creatures, although so very cute! They can develop health and mental health problems, developmental challenges, or have very touch temperaments. Some kids are overly hyperactive, don’t catch on in school fast enough for teachers or parents, struggle with adjustment issues, suffer from separation anxiety, struggle with parental problems such as divorces or unstable relationships, and other kids just struggle with peer pressure, following authority, or getting good grades. Most kids are sweet, loving, beautiful little people. I love them! But there is a reality that we all fail to look at. We fail to look at the fact that these cute little people will one day grow up!
What are the down sides?
When kids grow up, we see they are susceptible to a host of issues that adults are and some kids end up growing up with substance abuse problems, severe depression, having suicidal thoughts, and other issues. The question for any parent should always be “are you ready to deal with whatever might result in this child’s life?” The next question for all parents should be “are you emotionally ready for their challenges?” Not all kids have challenges but for those that do, strong parents are needed.
On the flip side of this, children are often highly affected by the emotional stability or instability of their parents. If a parent is not stable enough to raise a child, that child can grow to have many emotional and psychological needs. Some kids go straight into substance abuse, while other kids end up delinquent. This, of course, is not the fate of ALL kids, but this reality does exist in many areas.
What are the positives?
Some parents have children and everything turns out okay. The fact that one has a severe mental health condition does not automatically dis-qualify them from having children. But there are things to consider before taking that leap. I have worked with children who are being raised by parents who suffer from depression, have felt suicidal in their past, or experience anxiety at intense levels. Some parents even struggle with mild cases of autism, mental retardation (or intellectual disabilities), and other conditions. Having loving, strong, dedicated, and supportive parents has a way of trumping anything that could negatively affect a child in most cases. But there are a small number of cases that barely survive the emotional and psychological “trauma” of a parent. As a result, there are a few questions all parents struggling with mental health conditions should ask themselves.
The most important questions to ask a parent struggling with severe mental illness are:
- “Are you stabilized enough to have a child?”
- “How long will that stability last and what is the history of stabilization?”
- “Will medications taken affect the developing baby?”
- “Can you cope with the possibility of postpartum depression?”
- “Do you know or understand the genetic heritability of the disease?”
- “Are you prepared for dealing with the possibility of your child inheriting the disease?”
- “Do you have a support system?”
We have to be careful not to pre-prejudge a mother suffering from a severe mental health condition. But it is important to consider the pros and cons and evaluate whether having a child is in the best interest of the unborn child.
To read the article about this dilemma, visit Mail Online.
Families of an individual with a mental health diagnosis or special need are often the most frustrated and powerless among us. These individuals experience a host of fears and have concerns regarding diagnoses, what to expect, and how to secure financial support to cover costs. Mental Health In A Failed American System is a step-by-step personal guide that will offer the type of “companionship” parents, families, and caregivers need to develop knowledge about the mental health system. This brief guide highlights problems such as politics, universal lack of knowledge, and fear of stigma that contribute to poor policies, systemic barriers, and lack of resources. Millions of families identify with feeling alone, uninformed, and confused about the future.
Hill cautions all families to dedicate themselves to developing independence and empowerment through self-knowledge. She explains that self-knowledge is not simple rote memorization, but the objective investigation and comparing of information. She guides families to multiple resources and encourages in-depth evaluation of the field itself. Hill discusses the challenges inherent in the mental health system such as political control, ineffective science, and inadequate treatment protocols, state laws, and diagnostic measures. Carefully charting the continuing problems of mental health including the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, she evaluates widespread problems that are becoming burdens to society.
Bonus chapter: Legally protecting children with special needs from bullying
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I found myself asking this question after reading an article about a man in Fairview Oregon who was talking to himself in an apartment. When police arrived it was horrible, police fired several shots into the Fairview apartment after the man’s friend called 911. The man was taken to the hospital where he is in serious condition. “Is this what we are coming to?” After reading this story I found myself wondering if this is the type of society we are going to continue to foster as a result of a lack of knowledge regarding mental health issues. Continue Reading »
Yesterday I spoke with two awesome gentlemen from the New Jersey area NAMI group. These two guys host a weekly radio show through Hunterdon Chamber Radio on Mental Health Matters. Our discussion revolved around parents, families, and caregivers and included everything from talking about suicide, surviving within a very politically controlled, unfair mental health system, staying afloat as a parent, being valued and respected by mental health professionals, laws, civil commitment, and finding your voice as a parent, family member, or caretaker of someone with a mental health condition.
One of the most powerful aspects of this discussion was not the topics themselves, but the building of rapport, commonalities, kindness, and reciprocal ideas, worries, and frustrations. The power of discussion can move a mountain when the right people collaborate. Discussion opens avenues for greater insights, levels of expertise, and motivation. I can honestly say I walked away from the discussion feeling renewed, motivated to continue pushing for change within our mental health system, and further empowering families worldwide.
When you walk away from a conversation feeling turbo-charged for the future, you know something meaningful occurred and that the best is yet to come. There is hope for the future when discussions open new insights.
To listen to the radio recording, visit this site: http://www.hunterdonchamberradio.com/Radio_Shows/Mental_Health_Matters/Mental_Health_Matters-2013-12-02_07.mp3
To learn more about the show, visit their facebook page!
I wish you all the best!
Our mental health system has seriously left parents, families, and caregivers all alone, lost, confused, and uncertain. Do you know a family feeling this way? I believe there are 5 things our mental health system has failed to do to help this vulnerable population:
The law has given minors too much freedom
The system has devalued parents/families in healthcare facilities
Our system rarely considers the negative consequences of current laws
Our system lacks effective research
The system fails to offer all they have
I wish you well
When a therapist communicates his most intimate thoughts, feelings, beliefs, or behaviors to a client in a therapy session or therapy relationship, the therapist has crossed a professional boundary. However, it is important for all clients to carefully consider the situation because some therapists share details about themselves to develop rapport. Such an incident is known as self-disclosure. Some self-disclosure is good for building a long-lasting relationship with commonalities. But there are those therapist-client relationships that cross the line and end up making the client the therapist and the therapist the client.
Some individuals believe that transference (when the client begins viewing the therapist outside of his or her professional role) and counter-transference (when a therapist reciprocates feelings of the client) can occur in which a therapist has crossed boundaries, making it difficult for a client to benefit from the transference because the therapist simply enjoys the confusion. Freudians or psychoanalysts believe that transference can be a useful tool for helping both therapist and client evaluate feelings, thoughts, and past relationships. If this is not done properly, the client can be manipulated or violated.
There are a lot of signs of a bad therapist, but ethical violations can be very difficult to spot. So I recommend clients look for:
- Violation of Confidentiality: Confidentiality is your legal and moral right to protection of your conversations in therapy, your files, your phone calls, your emails, and other types of information shared about your personal life. There are instances in which therapists may have to discuss your case with:
- interns (students studying for their professional agree),
- supervisors (people with more experience in the field),
- lawyers (if a legal case is pending), police (if they request a warrant to search records), or
- teachers (if a child or adolescent is in the process of getting an IEP or Individualized Education Plan)
- Violation of HIPAA: HIPAA is the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996. This law was passed to protect all medical and mental health information from “outsiders.” But some people claim the ACT has not stopped their employers, lawyers, etc. from requesting information on a psychiatric file. An ethical therapist will make sure that he or she protects the clinical records of clients. Therapists who do not make their policies clear on how they work with HIPAA regulated files, be sure to ask in advance.
- Socializing with clients: It is a common rule that therapists think hard and long about socializing with their clients. Some therapists accept invitations to graduations, weddings, or even funerals. It is up to that therapist whether he or she will accept invitations. However, if a therapist chooses to attend, such events should be once in a lifetime and not frequent occurrences. Socializing with a client can reduce relational respect and professional boundaries.
- Text or email: Some therapists allow clients to text or email them, while others text and email their clients. This can become a really big violation because clients may interfere with the personal lives of therapists or therapists may interfere with the lives of their clients. Either way, for me, email is for office hours only and for certain things. Texting is out of the question! But different therapists do different things. Frequent texting or emailing should be a red flag.
- Sexual misconduct: Believe it or not, some therapists end up abusing their power by taking advantage of clients. Some clients flirt with their therapists and therapists reciprocate. Some therapists come on to their clients. Either way, this is a great ethical and legal violation that can lead to total career loss and thousands of dollars in legal fees.
You want to keep an eye out for therapists who walk over their clients, either blatantly or subliminally, especially if you are a parent, family member, or caretaker of a youngster in therapy. Young children and teens have a tough time evaluating what is good and what is bad for them. Adults are needed to do these things. With the permission of the child or teen and therapist, you may be able to sit in on a few sessions to get a feel of the therapist and his or her techniques and way of communicating.
As always, feel free to post your experiences. Let’s discuss and learn!
All the best
Are you looking for a therapist? Do you currently have one? Do you know someone who is looking for a therapist or thinking of changing therapists? If so, this article is for you. Looking for or being comfortable with a therapist takes time. A therapist-client relationship takes time to develop, but if your therapist isn’t a good one, the relationship will never develop! Continue Reading »
Delusions and hallucinations can be dangerous for the individual experiencing them and those around the individual. Hallucinations can cause people to act on their emotions. For example, an auditory hallucination is often in the form of voices telling an individual to do something dangerous such as harm themselves or others.
Delusions can turn into rooted beliefs that cause the individual to act on their belief. For example, a woman who writes letters to Alex Baldwin begins to believe he is sending her messages that he is in love with her, may attempt to buy tickets to all of his shows and cyber stalk him. A strong delusion such as this can lead to emotional (and maybe even) financial distress.
Delusions and hallucinations are not easy to cope with. But here are a few things to try:
- Do not argue facts: I always encourage families to re-frame from arguing with their loved one about their delusions or hallucinations. The key is to be mindful that the delusion or hallucination is very real to them. So if you go against the delusion or hallucination, you are “going against them.” Although not true, this is often the experience of people in these shoes.
- Understand their emotions: Hallucinations and delusions often have an emotional component of some sort. The woman attracted to and writing Alex Baldwin may feel “emotionally connected” to the point of behaving as if she “knows” him on a personal level. If you find there is a strong emotional connection with the delusion or hallucination, try to talk with your loved one and calmly discuss your concerns.
- Get inside their head: Individuals experiencing delusions or hallucinations may be difficult to talk to, especially if they do not believe they are impaired/ill. So wait until the individual brings up their experience and discuss it without judgment. Try not to ask questions that would make your loved one feel condemned or “crazy.” You want to try to understand, no matter how unstable their reasoning is, their thought processes. This is good “data” for if you ever have to discuss your case with a psychiatrist.
The most important thing to do in such cases is to be compassionate and understand that your loved one is going through something quite serious. Reaching out for help is important, but so too is showing love and understanding, even if the delusions or hallucinations are unrealistic.
I’d love to hear your thoughts, post below.
All the best
A very sad reality is that innocent and sweet children suffer from severe and often untreated mental illnesses. Attention-Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety disorders, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and a host of other mental health concerns have evaded the lives of many children and adolescents today. According to WebMD, about 20% of children experience a mental health problem, while about 5 million children and adolescents suffer from a severe mental illness.
We must not forget about our substance related problems. Adolescents and even young children are beginning to abuse substances (street drugs, prescriptions, OTC meds, and house-hold products). According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse (2013), about 6.5% of 12th graders reported using marijuana daily.
Despite these facts, a variety of myths still invade our society and has a rather strong effect on whether a parent, family member, or caretaker will consider seeking mental health treatment for their young loved one.
Having spoken to multiple families, parents, and caregivers, I have come to the conclusion that 5 myths prevent appropriate and timely mental health treatment:
- Children don’t have stress: Unfortunately, a lot of adults believe that ALL children have wonderful lives filled with Disney characters, fantasies, and no worries. This is sadly far from the truth for some youngsters. We must keep in mind that some kids experience many of the same issues that stress adults such as:
- Watching mom/dad struggle to pay bills
- living in less than ideal living conditions
- hunger or malnutrition
- discrimination and segregation
- bullying or harassment
- self-esteem issues
- physiological symptoms that interfere with daily life
- medical conditions such as diabetes
- Kids will outgrow their problems: The reality is that many kids will not outgrow their mental or behavioral health problems although some kids are able to manage their symptoms better as they age. If you see troubling signs, I encourage you to seek help. Kids never outgrow serious problems.
- No therapist can help me!: The idea that ALL mental health professionals are bad is incorrect and biased. There are quite a few good therapists and mental health professionals, but you must search for the best fit. While there are good therapists, there are also incompetent therapists as well. Search wisely.
- Every child has a problem: While most people have quirks and habits that may be bothersome, ALL children do not have mental health or behavioral problems. We don’t want to “normalize” a problem that can grow and progress into negative ways. If you see symptoms or signs that concern you, reach out.
- My child is too smart for mental illness: A lot of people believe that if you are intelligent, you are not mentally ill. This is one of the biggest mistakes and myths there is. Intelligence has zero connection to mental health. An individual could have severe bipolar disorder or schizophrenia, yet hold a PhD or run a company of over 600 people. We should not continue to be blinded by this myth. A child who is getting A’s in class, could also be suffering from hallucinations, depression, or attention problems.
It is important that we search for balanced, correct information. Mental health is becoming a very serous public health concern and we cannot continue to ignore it.
All the best
WebMD. (2013). Mental illness in children. Anxiety & Panic Disorders Health Center. Retrieved May 22, 2013, from http://www.webmd.com/anxiety-panic/mental-health-illness-in-children.
National Institute on Drug Abuse. (2013). NIDA For Teens: Marijuana. Retrieved May 22, 2013, from http://teens.drugabuse.gov/drug-facts/marijuana.
Photo Credit: Hidden (Doriana S.)
Photo Credit: Hidden (Kinsey)
- Mental Illness in Kids: The Surprising Warning Signs (everydayhealth.com)
Any type of psychotic disorder can be extremely disturbing for families, caregivers, and even friends. The individual suffering from psychosis can seem very far away and out of touch with reality. It can be difficult to relate to this individual or even comfort them. Keep in mind that while you may be experiencing stress, distress, and fear in regards to these hallucinations, the person suffering is probably even more afraid.
In moments where your loved one is experiencing a psychotic disorder, it is important that you monitor them (ensuring that they are not a danger to themselves or others) and reach out for support. If you have questions or concerns about this topic, feel free to send me an email or post below.
There are various types of hallucinations that families, caregivers, and friends should be aware of:
- Visual: These type of hallucinations often entail seeing shadows, seeing silhouettes of people, seeing demons or other frightening images.
- Auditory: Auditory hallucinations are the most common. When a patient or client comes into a psychiatric healthcare facility for evaluation, the most disturbing symptoms are often auditory hallucinations. These types of hallucinations are often the person’s name being called, dogs barking, doors slamming, one or more talking voices, or even sometimes white noise.
- Olfactory: Every human being has what is known as the Olfactory bulb, which is located in the forebrain (the area of the brain behind the forehead) that entails our perception of odors and controls our sense of smell. In cases where psychotic disorders are present, olfactory hallucinations are typical such as smelling smoke or something burning. Some individuals clam they can randomly smell the scent of flowers or cologne.
- Tactile: This type of hallucination has to deal with touch. It often entails feeling pressure on the skin or feeling things crawling on the body.
- Gustatory: These hallucinations have to do with taste. Some individuals state that they can taste poison in their food.
Most of the above hallucinations can also occur in individuals experiencing withdrawal from alcohol and other serious drugs such as methamphetamines known as DT’s (Delirium Tremens). Symptoms of DT’s can be extremely bothersome and frightening for individuals observing the withdrawal symptoms. Symptoms may include:
- extreme perceptual disturbance such as seeing rats of mice,
- agitation or autonomic hyperactivity,
- hypertension, fever,
- disorientation, confusion,
- nightmares, and feelings of imminent death
Keep in mind that although rare, children also experience these symptoms in cases involving psychosis or schizophrenia.
If you are dealing with any of these symptoms or have a loved one experiencing them, I encourage you to reach out to a local mental health professional. If you have questions, post them below.
I wish you well
Maintaining a relationship with a loved one who may be experiencing delusions is like walking on shaky ground. Every step you take could land you in an argument or adversarial position. Whether you intend to argue your points or attempt to bring reality to the attention of your loved one, you will always be on the opposing side. Delusions are strong beliefs held to be true despite evidence to the contrary.
Here is a listing of types of delusions to be watchful of:
- Grandiose type: Delusions involve inflated worth, power, knowledge, or identity. This is not the same as narcissistic thinking. Grandiose delusions might sound like this: “I am usually more intelligent than most, so I must rid the world of people not as smart as me.”
- Erotomanic type: Strong belief that another person of higher status (celebrity, congressman, etc.) is in love with them. This can occur even when there has been no relational ties with the person.
- Jealous type: Strong belief that an intimate partner is being unfaithful, despite evidence to the contrary.
- Persecutory type: Delusions or strong beliefs that the person is being persecuted or malevolently treated.
- Somatic type: Delusion that the person has a physical defect or medical condition. This is different from hypochondria.
- Mixed type: Delusions that may entail all of the above.
There are a few things you can do to cope with this behavior:
- Don’t argue: It is going to be very difficult to unravel the entanglement of delusions that your loved one is entertaining. Keep in mind that they truly believe what they believe and they have a “deficit” in deciphering truth from fiction. This person needs a certain level of compassion.
- Don’t directly reject the delusion: I’ve learned from experience that delusions are strongly connected to emotions, so it will be difficult to reject that person’s belief without becoming confrontational. You want to take a neutral stance. You can do something simple such as getting off the topic or redirecting the conversation in a subtle manner.
- Don’t jump to pathologize: Don’t label your loved one’s delusion(s) as psychiatric just yet. There are cases in which delusions are part of medical or neurological conditions and also what I call “conditions of human nature.”
This is a very difficult situation to live with. It is difficult to view reality from your loved one’s perspective when you know their perspective is skewed. It may be helpful for families and caregivers to discuss this situation with a therapist and ask for a consultation. In any event, make sure to take care of yourself and remember: do not argue with them. You won’t win.
I wish you all the best
For information on how to distinguish what type of delusions your loved one may be experiencing, visit my “sister site” at Caregivers, Family, and Friends.
Have you ever been to a mental health agency where everything appeared to be disorganized, unethical, and perhaps even illegal? Did a loved one receive mediocre mental health services, inadequate services, or no help at all? If so, you are not alone.I recently spoke with a former colleague who has worked in the position of residential advisor for 15 years. She has always been leery about the practices she has seen in previous positions in which she worked. She shared a story about a mother whose son was killed through asphyxiation during a physical restraint in a group home. He was only 17-years-old when three, medium build young guys, pinned him to the floor face down and held his arms down. Despite multiple cries for help and complaints of not being able to breathe, this young man died. It wasn’t until the restraint was over that staff could clearly see that this young man wasn’t breathing.
Believe it or not, hospital medical errors and incompetent procedures have become the 3rd leading cause of death in the U.S. It’s a public health concern that many families face each year. As a result, it is important that you understand how to protect your loved one.
To read more on this topic, visit my sister-site: blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers.
I wish you well
Are you the parent of a child, adolescent, or adult child with severe mental illness? How do you feel right now? Tired? Lonely? Discouraged? Or even stronger? Some parents say that they are struggling every single day of their lives with the reality that their child, teen, or adult child is suffering from both their own illness and stigma. Other parents say they are not as discouraged as they were before they found out what their child actually struggled with. No matter how you have chosen to view your situation, I’m sure you can agree with Melanie Jimenez.
Melanie is the mother of an adult son with paranoid schizophrenia. She writes her own blog titled Understanding Schizophrenia and hosts her own facebook page for readers, parents, and families with similar struggles as her own. Paranoid schizophrenia is a sub-type of schizophrenia characterized by delusions (false beliefs that are held to be true despite evidence to the contrary) and hallucinations (incorrect perceptions and sensory processes such as hearing or seeing things).
Schizophrenia, no matter what type the individual may have, is a very difficult condition to live with. It’s even more difficult for a parent or caregiver to deal with because understanding the disorder from the “outside” takes so much knowledge, patience, and love. Even more difficult for many caregivers or parents is finding medication and sometimes finding the right combination of medications to help a loved one. Listen to what Melanie had to say about this in a recent post on her blog:
So, last night we were back to square one. A VERY sedated Thomas greeted me at his bedroom door when I came to say good night and my heart broke seeing him like that. That is one aspect of the treatment of schizophrenia I will never get used to. We said good night and we all went to bed.
To read more about Melanie’s story, visit my sister-site: blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers.
Are you a mother of a son with a mental health or behavioral problem? How did you cope with the reality that your son would probably need your help and support for the rest of his life? For many parents, accepting an illness can feel like one of the worst things you’ll ever have to do. Many mothers have spoken to me about their struggle to not only accept but also to live with their child’s illness. It isn’t easy. It’s almost unimaginable.
That happy child you birthed is now a sad, overlooked young man who has become the victim of a failed mental health system, years of unhelpful medications, and mediocre therapy sessions. The stress and pressure of being the mother or father of a child who isn’t being helped, is insurmountable. For many families, an illness requires so many levels of adjustment such as emotional, psychological, physical, financial, and even social. Fear of stigma, of not being taken seriously, of being judged or blamed, of not being able to afford care, of being turned away by insurance companies, of your child getting into legal troubles, of being misunderstood, etc. lives in the hearts and minds of families experiencing the sting of severe mental illness.
To read more about Kathy Brandt’s story, visit my sister-site here: blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers.
Just a thought on my mind today….
Don’t let a #laughing person or #smiling person deceive you. Sometimes the most superficially joyful are the most hurting. #eyeswideopen
I recently spoke with a former colleague who shared a story of a young 17-year-old who was killed during a physical restraint (stay tuned for my Personal Stories Week on Psychcentral, coming August 17th-24th, for more on this story). She was not only disgusted by her colleagues but shocked that the agency suspended these three men with pay. This story sparked another story which sparked a series of questions about unethical behaviors and what they look like within mental health agencies. I have taken the opportunity to list a few below. Please feel free to share your experiences of unethical behaviors within mental health agencies in the comments section below.
What are common unethical practices?
It’s difficult for many families to determine what is ethical and what is unethical. Here is a list of unethical behaviors that often occur in mental health facilities:
- Neglecting to meet with clients during a set time. Life happens and emergencies happen where meeting at 2:30 every Wednesday may be difficult. But a therapist should call you in advance or make every effort to reschedule.
- Changing information in a contract or client’s file to make a mental health agency or professional look professional.
- Neglecting to respond to crisis calls or visits
- Having a dual relationship with a client (having a sexual relationship with a client or supervisee, going on a date with a client, developing an ongoing friendship with a client, going shopping with a client on a regular basis, or attending a client’s wedding party). The topic of dual relationships has always been controversial because some of the above practices are acceptable in certain scenarios, except for the sexual relationship with a client. For example, a child therapist may go shopping with her client to help her with social anxiety or to reward her 13-year-old client. However, a therapist who attends her client’s wedding party and mingles with the client’s friends and family and happens to get drunk is crossing the line big time!
- Maintaining a client-therapist relationship for the sole purpose of getting paid through insurance. For example, once you have worked on the issues that brought you into therapy and you’ve developed appropriate skills, it’s time to end the relationship. A therapist should not meet with you “just to see you” or “talk” if there is nothing to work on. This is insurance fraud.
- Hiring and paying an incompetent mental health therapist and covering their multiple mistakes. It’s okay to make mistakes, many professionals do. But when a few mistakes become multiple mistakes and the therapist is not either trained or disciplined, this is a problem.
- Fabricating data from mental health tests or clinical studies. The case of Diederik Stapel is a prime example of fabricated clinical data. Stapel was the lead scientist on many articles published in prestigious research journals. Not only did he manipulate data useful for understanding his studies, but he also fabricated the entire study. Outright lying and manipulating the results of a study is fraud. The fraudulent data was used in at least 30 published articles that were reviewed by a jury of his peers, that is, other professionals in his field who trusted his study. Even though he was touted as a prominent social psychologist with a passion for educating students, he dropped to an all-time low in his profession. He not only misled the public, but lied to his peers, other professionals, and the profession itself.
- Changing a mental health diagnosis in order to receive insurance reimbursement(s). Again, once therapy is over, it is over. Nothing should be changed, altered, or fabricated in order to continue therapy services.
- Changing billing information to reflect more time spent in therapy than truly spent in order to receive more money. For example, a therapist may get paid $75.00 for every 45min session and for every 60min session, get paid $100. A therapist who draws therapy out to 60min just to get paid more money is engaging in an unethical practice. A therapist who sees you for 20 minutes but tells insurance companies that you were seen for 45 minutes is also engaging in fraud.
- Having a client perform personal work (work on a therapist’s car, home, etc.) in exchange for therapy services is also unethical. This is called bartering.
- Spying on a client through Facebook, Myspace, Twitter, or any other social medial platform. This behavior can certainly extend over into legal areas and become stalking.
These are just a few common unethical practices that can occur within mental health agencies or among mental health professionals.