Tips for Improving Your Mental Health and Raising Awareness about Mental Illness
Mental Illness: (Science) Fiction or Fact?
The earliest recorded literature on Mental Illness in Science Fiction dates back to around 450 BC with Sophocles' Ajax, a Greek tragedy, wherein the protagonist - Ajax - commits suicide. And from then until now, mental illness has intrigued writers and readers alike.
For the writers, the inclusion of mental illness in the storyline proved profitable, as works of fiction with mentally ill persons created mystery, excitement, dread and thrill for avid readers thirsty for adventure and a peek into the taboo and unknown.
Here are five (5) of my favourites, which are also very well-known pieces of fiction:
1. "Don Quixote": Written by Spanish novelist, poet, and playwright Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, this 1605 novel is considered one of the greatest works of fiction ever published. It features a Spanish Noble who avidly reads chivalric novels, believes the stories to be true and takes on the persona of the protagonists in those novels.
2. "Hamlet": William Shakespeare's 17th century play which portrays both true madness (Prince Hamlet's potential wife Ophelia after the death of her father) and feigned madness (Prince Hamlet following his father's death and conversations with a supposed ghost) amidst "themes of treachery, revenge, incest, and moral corruption".
3. "To Kill A Mockingbird": Harper Lee's 1960 novel, which won a Pulitzer Prize. A little girl tells the story of the inhabitants of the town of Maycomb, including "Boo" Radley, a reclusive believed to be mad, who the adults of Maycomb are hesitant to talk about and the children are both terrified of and fascinated by.
4. "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest": A 1962 novel written by Ken Kesey, set in an Oregon psychiatric hospital and which tells the story of the happenings at a mental ward and the inmates. It was adapted into a Broadway play in 1963 and a 1975 film which won five (5) Academy Awards.
5. "Wide Sargasso Sea": Caribbean born (Dominica) Jean Rhys' 1966 prequel story of a mad woman who lives in the attic in Charlotte Bronte's 1847 "Jane Eyre".
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Help Yourself or A Loved One!
Listen To This! Soothe Your Spirit & Lift Your Mood!
Mental Illness is No Fiction!
Today, however, mental illness is not that far removed from us. Mental Illness has come frighteningly close to most of us.
Everyone knows someone who suffers from, suffered from or is recovering from some type of mental illness - a family member, a loved one, a co-worker, a fellow student, a neighbor, a church member, a social club member or you yourself. So it is important that we all become aware of and knowledgeable about mental illness, so that we can end the stigma associated with it, while learning how to maintain our own mental health.
Although there are countless types of mental illnesses, in this article, I will focus on one (1) primary form of mental illness - DEPPRESSION - based on two (2) startling predictions of the World Health Organization:
1. “By 2020, depression will be the second leading cause of world disability."
2. “By 2030; [mental illness] is expected to be the largest contributor to disease burden."
I will also share with you 10 simple, proven and practical ways that you can improve your mental health, so that you and your loved ones can avoid becoming mental statistics.
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Mental Health DAY & WEEK
MENTAL HEALTH AWARENESS WEEK 2014
Date: May 12 -18, 2014
WORLD MENTAL HEALTH DAY
Date: October 10, 2014
Theme: Living with Schizophrenia
Mental Health Awareness Week & World Mental Health Day
In May of each year, the Mental Health Foundation celebrated Mental Health Awareness Week. The theme for 2014 is ANXIETY , which “is one of the most common mental health problems in nearly every country in the world and, while a low level of anxiety can be a useful motivating force, in some cases it can take over your life” (Mental Health Foundation, 2014).
Past Mental Health Awareness Week themes included: Sleep, Loneliness, Fear, Anger, Friendship, Alcohol, Exercise, Mood, Work-life Balance, Out at Work, Friendship and Stigma.
The main purpose of World Mental Health Day is to raise public awareness about mental health issues, promote open discussion of mental disorders and generate investments in services for the prevention, promotion and treatment of mental disorders.
“World Mental Health Day 2014 will centre on the theme 'Living with Schizophrenia'” (WFMH).
Past World Mental Health Day themes included: Schizophrenia, Older Adults, Depression, Investment, Mindfulness, Tea & Talk, Look after yourself, Global Issues and Mealtimes.
What is Depression?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), "Depression is a common mental disorder, characterized by sadness, loss of interest or pleasure, feelings of guilt or low self-worth, disturbed sleep or appetite, low energy and poor concentration."
The real problem begins, however, when these depression symptoms "become chronic or recurrent, substantially impairing an individual's ability to cope with daily life.
"Prolonged depression often "prevents people from conducting normal lives, such as maintaining a job, attending school, and performing other normal functions. Individuals with depression appear to have a loss of interest in activities they would normally enjoy and other health issues may arise. They tend to have decreased energy, problems sleeping and/or eating, and feelings of low self-esteem (World Federation for Mental Health).
"At its most severe, depression can lead to suicide" (WHO).
The good news is that most cases of depression can be treated with anti-depressant medication, psychotherapy or other alternative and self-help techniques.
Signs, Symptoms, and Treatment of Depression
Who Do YOU Know that Suffers/Suffered From Depression?
Learn the Signs of Mental Illness - ...so you can help yourself or a loved one!
These books covers all the bases and fill in some essentials that other mental illness books have left out.
"Anger, fatigue, obsessions, memory loss, sexual performance problems, suicidal thoughts. Are these signs of mental illness? How can you tell? Should you consult your physician?
This reassuring book is for anyone seeking to understand their own symptoms or those of a loved one."
This book covers all the bases and fills in some essentials that other mental illness books have left out.
It is “An essential resource--featuring 50 proven Quick Reference guides--for the millions of parents, siblings, and friends of people with mental illness, as well as professionals in the field.”
Busting Depression Myths!
Depression is treatable!
Depression is not hereditary!
Depression is not a sign of personal weakness!
Depression is not the fault of the person experiencing depression!
No one should be embarrassed or ashamed if they suffer from depression!
Depression can affect anyone, at any age - man, woman, child, teenager, young adult!
Sources: World Health Organization (WHO) and Health Central
Soothe Your Spirit & Fight Depression!
I had some experience in dealing with people who have mental illness and depression, but I didn't see the signs in myself. I couldn't ask for help because I didn't know I needed help (Clara Hughes).”
How To Fight Depression
Part of really showing that you love someone is providing them with love, help and support.
What makes this book so special is that it is written by Dr. Cynthia Last who has a bipolar disorder and who is a highly regarded therapist/researcher. So she knows exactly how your loved one feels and what they need from you in terms of support.
“When bipolar disorder afflicts the person you love, you suffer too. How have other couples learned to manage the relationship strains caused by this illness? What can you do to provide your partner with truly helpful nurturance and support?
Know These Depression Facts!
- - Depression can lead to suicide!
- - Almost 1 million lives are lost yearly due to suicide (i.e. 3000 suicide deaths every day)!
- - For every person who completes a suicide, 20 or more may attempt to end their lives!- Depression is a real medical illness!
- - Depression affects 121 million people worldwide!
- - Depression is responsible for 850,000 deaths every year!
- - It is extremely important to seek help if you or your loved one suffers from depression!
- - Without proper intervention, depression symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years!
- - The World Mental Health Survey, conducted in 17 countries, found that on average about 1 in 20 people reported having an episode of depression in the previous year!
- - Learning about your options will help you decide what measures are most likely to work best for your particular situation and needs!
Source: World Health Organization (WHO)
Take this DEPRESSION QUIZZ!
Many people deny or ignore the signs of depression in themselves or their loved ones, because they refuse to believe that they can suffer from depression and fear the stigma that will be attached to them or their loved one if people found out.
Don't bury your head in the sand, when it comes to depression! Arm yourself with all the knowledge you can because "To ignore the evidence, and hope that it cannot be true, is more an evidence of mental illness (William Blas)."
Take this simple depression quiz , which was developed by John Rush, MD, a leading psychiatrist from the University of Texas Medical Center, to help you identify common symptoms of depression and their severity and help you determine if you or someone close to you needs treatment for depression.
Question: How Do You Avoid Mental Illness?
Answer: Practice Good Mental Health!
10 Simple & Effective Strategies for Improving and Maintaining Your Mental Health!
1. Listen to Soothing & Relaxing Music.
2. Engage in regular, daily exercise; a simple home routine will do.
3. Eat more fresh fruits and vegetables instead of fatty foods and foods with empty carbohydrates and high calories.
4. Cook more healthy, vegetable based meals.
7. Create a relaxing environment or visit tranquil surroundings to calm your mind and improve your mood.
8. Learn how to deal positively with grief, loss and/or disappointments .
9. Learn how to treat with negative people in your life. They sap your energy.
Resources for Practicing Good Mental Health! - ...and getting help for loved ones who are mentally ill
In this book, “internationally-recognized holistic health expert and pediatrician Dr. Kathi J. Kemper presents natural, affordable, safe, and effective treatments for mental health issues such as ADHD, depression, anxiety, stress, and substance abuse.”
End Stigma About Mental Illness
Stigma is the shame, disgrace and humiliation that persons with mental illness and their loved ones are made to feel for having mental illness. As a result of this stigma, there are three (3) dire consequences:
1. Mentally ill persons and their families are often denied employment opportunities, passed up for promotions, fired and prevented from normal participation in society.
2. Mentally ill patients and their families often refuse to seek mental health care and treatment because they fear the treatment that will be meted out to them and their loved one if by seeking treatment they confirm that their loved one suffers from mental illness.
3. Mild mental illness that could have been easily treated often turns into severe mental illness because it was left untreated due to shame and fear of discrimination.
A very surprising fact which WHO has pointed out is that, "Contrary to expectations, levels of stigma were higher in urban areas and among people with higher levels of education.
So wherever you are, in whichever part of the world, remember to start the process of ending the stigma about mental illness with YOU!
Your actions towards mentally ill persons can help create compassion for and understanding of mental illness.
“Family members and friends are often the first to realize when someone has a problem, but it is hard to know how to help or where to turn. Our mental health “system” can feel like a bewildering and frustrating maze. This book answers some very real and practical questions for family family, friens and loved ones such as: “How can you tell that someone has a mental illness? What are the first and best steps for you to take? Where do you go to find the right care? Which medications are helpful?” and more.
How You Can Help End Stigma About Depression!
1. Educate yourself on the issues that affect persons with mental illness.
2. Try to listen to what the person with mental illness is saying about how they feel and take their feelings seriously.
3. Join an organization or society that works with mentally ill persons.
4. Contribute to an organization that reaches out or provides assistance to mentally ill persons.
5. Do not hinder persons with a history of mental illness from gaining employment, being promoted or otherwise participating in society or the workplace.
6. Educate others about the issues that affect persons with mental illness. Do not stay silent in order to fit in.
This movie is an especially great gift and a must-see for anyone who has struggled with mental illness, as it offers great encouragement for the future of such persons whom society sees as finished.
A True Story of Triumph Over Mental Illness! - Nobody's Child
This movie, which is based on the TRUE STORY of Marie Balter, won an Emmy Award!
In real life, Marie Balter “was born in Boston to an alcoholic mother and was adopted by a couple in Gloucester who disciplined her harshly, sometimes locking her in the cellar.
Increasingly depressed, she was institutionalized in 1947 with symptoms that included muscle spasms, choking, hyperventilation and hallucinations.
”What is most impressive and touching about Marie’s story, is that after being institutionalized at the Danvers State Hospital (previously called the State Lunatic Hospital at Danvers, The Danvers Lunatic Asylum, and The Danvers State Insane Asylum) in Danvers, Massachusetts for more than 15 years, she eventually went on to earn a master's degree at Harvard and returned to that very mental hospital as its full-time administrator (see the New York Times article titled "Ex Patient is State Hospital Official")
A true testimony of the indomitable nature of the human spirit!
How Will YOU Play Your Part to End the Stigma About Mental Illness?
“For too long we have swept the problems of mental illness under the carpet... and hoped that they would go away (Richard J. Codey).”
© 2012 Heidi Vincent