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An Insider's perspective on Mental Health, what works, what doesn't

Updated on September 19, 2011

Statistically Speaking

 In the United States alone, 57.7 million people age 18 and older suffer from a diagnosable Mental Illness ranging from Schizophrenia to Clinical Depression.  This number rises every year. The high number of mentally disabled workers rise as well.  Mental Health workers include Psychiatrists, Psychologist, Therapist, Counselors,  and Social Workers.  Although every one who works with mentally disabled patients are not qualified to deal with the behaviors they can encounter daily.  Secretaries, Receptionists and even the Housekeeping crew should be taught how to handle situations in a professional yet caring manner.  The job opportunities have doubled in the past 5 years.  The Law of Supply and Demand.  The amount of care that each individual receives varies.  In most cases newly diagnosed illnesses are treated aggressively until the patient is stabilized.  This is a critical time and needs to treated as though. 

Give your patient one minute of Social Interaction

Do's and Don'ts of Mental Health Providers

People who seek help from Mental Health Providers expect and should expect respect. Respect is foremost Important. After being diagnosed, often your patient is in denial. They don't fully understand what is going on and feel as though they are viewed as "crazy". Everyone from the Receptionist to the Doctor should respect these patients, not only as required by Law but because feeling inferior to Doctors or those who know about your condition is intimidating. Don't laugh, whisper, or talk about your patients amongst yourself. Mentally ill patients can hear. Don't make them feel worse about their situation than they already do. Always promote a positive attitude and never give in to arguing with the one's who are late for appointments, or miss them altogether. Humans not only Mentally Ill humans have car trouble, traffic, a sick child, or just forget. It doesn't mean they don't want to get well or stay stabilized, they're still human.

Trust your patient. Mentally Ill individuals are sometimes feel as though they are guinea pigs. Trust what your patient tells you about the problems with their meds. Most medications prescribed have severe side effects and sometimes they don't take them as directed for that reason. Try to encourage them to take their meds or prescribed something that will help ease the side effects. Walking around with the jitters, dry mouth, nausea, and the lovely taste of metal in their mouth is enough reason to quit.

Listen. Make time. Doctors are guilty of running their offices like a production line. If a patient has good insurance, their sessions are longer. If the patient has Medicaid or Medicare, the visits are limited to 13 minutes. Thirteen minutes to look over the folder to see who are talking to and what you prescribed, ask them the general "how are you" question write prescriptions, probably changing something as well and bidding them a good bye. Thirteen minutes once a month. I am sure you are very well appreciated. Spend just 1 minute talking to your patient about something that has nothing to do with why they are there. It creates Human contact and they feel more comfortable knowing you share the same interest in a book, movie, etc. Make that minute count, it will make a huge difference to your patient.

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    • fortunerep profile imageAUTHOR

      fortunerep 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Sometimes it is heaven and sometimes it is hell. It is how you learn to cope. By the way bc does stand for what you said it did.

      My best to your brother for denial is so common. I can imagine he would fear losing his job. but the bp gene is passed from mother to son and father to daughter. So it is possible. My father is Bipolar. Just drinks it off.

      Thanks for stopping by I always appreciate your input.

      hugs

      dori

    • SEM Pro profile image

      SEM Pro 

      9 years ago from North America

      Hi dori - not that I'm unsympathetic in any way but all of your suggestions are great for any patient, with any challenge. My housemate has worked in a hospital (mind you, fixing equipment) for 29 years and the stories he tells, well suffice-it-to-say, working amongst sick folks with side-effects etc. all day can make them less than emotionally involved or caring. All patients are people.

      My mom has BP and now Picks - they treat her well where she is but probably because she's one of the most coherent causing less problems than the others with more severe dementia.

      I am glad you have a grip on it - your honesty and openness speak volumes about how well you cope. My brother has BP too but don't think he admits it to anyone so people are caught completely off guard. He thinks its because of his disease he loses many jobs but really I think its that they're in shock not having suspected anything.

      It's better to be honest. Just my opinion and maybe formed with compassion through experience. My mom actually got to a point where she told me she couldn't allow herself to feel anything anymore due to fear. My whole life, I've been grateful I didn't have to go through what they have.

    • fortunerep profile imageAUTHOR

      fortunerep 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Dr. C I had my throid checked, it was ok I am just textbook bipolar. I was one of the first patients at my private hopital who actually had a DNA test to locate the gene which i am sure you know also caries, dyslexia, anemia and color blindness. It's pretty sad when your dna says you are crazy! Thanks for all your fine comments any more comments or info will be appreciated.

      dori

    • dr c profile image

      dr c 

      9 years ago from San Francisco Bay Area

      Wow, what a great range of comments!

      Just wanted to thank everyone for the depth of caring and compassion shown.

      Regarding the link between Bipolar & thyroid levels, the latest literature is showing that there is a higher proportion of people with mood disorders, particularly Bipolar disorder who have sub clinical levels of thyroid disorders, which is why it is often missed in a more general screening. While there appears to be some link, (which would make sense as the thyroid plays a part on regulating many body functions via hormone secretion, and is regulated in part by the amygdala, a part of the brain believed to be implicated in Bipolar disorder and emotion regulation), the literature seems to indicate a co-existence of these conditions which may exacerbate each other. It is not only one or the other.

      Symptoms of hyperthyroidism are usually related to an increase in the metabolic rate of the body and include: Excessive sweating, Heat intolerance, Increased bowel movements, Tremor (usually fine shaking), Nervousness or agitation, Rapid heart rate, Weight loss, Fatigue, Decreased concentration, Irregular and scant menstrual flow. In older patients, irregular heart rhythms and heart failure can occur. Mental changes, such as confusion and delirium, also may occur.

      There are therefore several symptoms common to both hyperthyroidism and Bipolar disorder such as agitation, decreased concentration, possible weight loss and feelings of being keyed up or on edge and it is always a good idea to make sure every aspect of your physical health has been checked before taking psychotropics. The research on subclinical thyroid conditions is also fairly new, so if your doctor is not aware of it you may want to bring it to their attention.

      I would however, strongly caution anyone with a Bipolar diagnosis or who is on psychotropic medications to talk with their psychiatrist before making any kind of changes. Bipolar is a distinct, chronic medical and psychiatric condition and psychotropic medication is almost always indicated in the treatment of moderate to severe cases. There is also a significant body of literature showing an increased rate of relapse and increased severity of episodes associated with medication discontinuance.

      Thank you all for your thoughts & feedback, I welcome further discussion.

    • Nordy profile image

      Nordy 

      9 years ago from Canada

      Great hub fortunerep, and great advice for mh professionals. I agree with everything you have said and sadly can't how many times I have wondered why the heck some of colleagues are in this business when they cant even be bothered to be polite let alone caring. Lets face it, no one goes into the mental health profession to get rich, so if they dont have a deep concern for humanity as a whole, then why bother! I do think, though, that the systems in which we work are at least partially responsible for creating a dehumanisation in mental health care. Having worked in the UK's NHS for 7 years, I came to realise that more and more my job seemed less about helping people and more about churning out figures. Every 1 hour contact with a new client I had generated about 5 hours of paper work. Seeing that I was seeing on average 10-12 new clients a month, that's about a week and a half solid of paperwork. I never went into mental health for that! It gets a bit disheartening, especially when there is nothing you can do about it. But, still, no excuse - just maybe part of the problme!

    • Dr Nancy Kenyon profile image

      Nancy Kenyon 

      9 years ago from Orlando, FL

      fortunerep,

      You are so right on. Even a single minute with the right body reinforcement and eye contact can have a significant impact. Thanks for this fine Hub.

      Nancy

    • fortunerep profile imageAUTHOR

      fortunerep 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      thankyou thankyou and thanks!! why dont you havyour friend write on HP, i am sure she has a great imagination!!

      dori

    • Jen's Solitude profile image

      Jen's Solitude 

      9 years ago from Delaware

      LOL, I know. I took a look at your hubs and you know which one caught my eye, right?  And she writes! She composes great poetry as well. I had to make sure you didn't live in her state cuz it got too weird there for a minute. LOL  You're not her though, so no freak outs needed. Small world though isn't it?

      Oh and a huge congrat on your 10,000th view! What an accomplishment.

    • fortunerep profile imageAUTHOR

      fortunerep 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      sounds like you're talking about me!! no paranoia here! lol Sounds like she is Bipolar? dori

    • Jen's Solitude profile image

      Jen's Solitude 

      9 years ago from Delaware

      Hi Dori, My friend amazes me with her will to fight. She truly doesn't know how strong she is, but I do and its one of the many reasons I value her friendship so much.

      She takes care of everyone else, and allows herself to get totally run down before she remembers to take care of herself, but eventually she will allow herself some time to get herself back on an even keel.

      She is special and it appears you are too! :)

      ~Jen

    • fortunerep profile imageAUTHOR

      fortunerep 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Jen, It is sad that so many people fall thru the cracks and don't rec. the proper care. But what can you expect for 13 minutes a month with a Dr.? I hope your friend strives to be who she can be and doesn't let her illness get the best of her. I learned a long time ago, don't fight it just embrace it, take care of myself and remember the correct coping skills for when times get hard. Tell your friend she is not alone.

      dori

    • Jen's Solitude profile image

      Jen's Solitude 

      9 years ago from Delaware

      Hi fortunerep,

      Like everyone before me, I truly appreciated your hub. One of my oldest friends suffers from a mental illness and I see how much she suffers when someone in the medical profession isn't competent. Conversely, I see how she flourishes when she is in the hands of caring professionals.

    • fortunerep profile imageAUTHOR

      fortunerep 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Candie V ! I was very happy to answer this request, Thirteen minutes once a month is ridiculous. I give credit to A Dr. in Durham who was my behavior therapist. I learned alot of coping skills and I am pretty good about handling things without alot of meds. That Dr. took that extra one minute, and it made all the difference in the world. Never met one like it since.

      Thanks

      dori

    • Candie V profile image

      Candie V 

      9 years ago from Whereever there's wolves!! And Bikers!! Cummon Flash, We need an adventure!

      I think the medical field, as a whole, has become more hands-off their patients. Get 'em in, get 'em out. It takes a rare professional to listen and respond. I hear it all the time in my work.. Patients feel slighted, almost dismissed. This is a great hub for anyone who works with the public.. medical or not! Take time to listen, you'll learn more than if you 'assume' what is wanted or needed! It's hard to educate people to listen to their own bodies, to take an active role in their medical care when they are stable.. it's impossible when they are not. Thank you for speaking up for those that can not/will not for themselves!

    • fortunerep profile imageAUTHOR

      fortunerep 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      BC_ you are so correct. Glad to have you back and I re-joined your fan club!

    • Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

      Tatjana-Mihaela 

      9 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

      Great! You are the owner of your body, not the doctors. Chech T3, T4, TSH and TPO (thyroid antibodies). Also check hormones of pituarity gland, estrogenes, progesterones etc.

      Good for you that your problem is not so new, because on the beginning of the having any illness of thyroid, blood tests usualy do not show results, so people think that everything is OK, even though is not.

      Healing any thyroid desease is so easy on any of natural ways,(altough it takes some time), first results you can see in just few days.

      I wish you all the best from all my heart. And I am very sure that you do not have BD.

    • fortunerep profile imageAUTHOR

      fortunerep 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      I agree with you 100% about the thyroid. Doctors don't want to hear that, they have a diagnosis and want to run with it. I am going to have mine checked at my next physical, I have been having problems gaining wieght and other issues that could be related to the thyroid. You are the first person in 16 years I have been diagnosed BP that ever made that suggestion. Sometimes doctors can't see the forrest for the trees. thks a bunch

      dori

    • Tatjana-Mihaela profile image

      Tatjana-Mihaela 

      9 years ago from Zadar, CROATIA

      Great article. The sincere attention,compassion and patience is the minimum one patient is asking for - this attitude heals...

      Lack of time is the reason so many people get misdiagnosed, and treated with drugs, even when there is no need fot it.

      BTW, if I am allowed to suggest you to check all your hormonal levels, especially thyroid if you are diagnosed as BP. In case you decide to accept my advice, please do it when you are stressed, not when you are calm. So many people get diagnosis that they are mentally ill, while actually having hormonal imbalance, which produces the same mood-changes, paranoic episodes etc, etc...

      I am very sad when I see so many people on heavy drugs - when there is actualy no need for that.

      I also had very bad mood swings for years, and thanks God I never told myself I had mental problem, on the contrary: I was listening my inner voice which was telling me that the problem is physical. And it was - my thyroid and due to it, all other hormones, were doing mess in my mind and emotions. As soon as I discovered that , and started to heal myself, on my own, my moods and thoughts start to change, literaly overnight.

      Due to the pollution and high level of radiation on our planet, so many people have thyroid gland affected - and it is main cause of so called "mental illnessis", as well as some other hormones can cause serious "mental problems". Scientists discovered that BP is so often connected with thyroid, I wrote a Hub about that subject.

      Thumbs up for your Hub!

    • fortunerep profile imageAUTHOR

      fortunerep 

      9 years ago from North Carolina

      Thanks Mighty Mom, It definately takes people with compassion and patience to work with MI patients. The severity vaires, but it seems as those "we" are all treated alike. I don't consider myself MI because I have bipolar. I consider myself lucky it is not as bad as I have seen.

    • Mighty Mom profile image

      Susan Reid 

      9 years ago from Where Left is Right, CA

      This is a very interesting perspective on mental illness. Unfortunately, mentally ill patients are very often non-compliant. It's not just the side effects of the drugs. It's that their condition tells them they don't have a problem (denial), plus co-occuring conditions including alcoholism and drug addiction are common. A patient who is self-medicating is not very reliable and will use all of those excuses you mentioned.

      I agree with you that mentally ill people need help and compassion. It breaks my heart that people shuns them -- out of fear. But with proper diagnosis, medication and medical followup, most can live very normal lives.

      Thanks for opening my eyes to the "other side" of things. MM

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