Understanding Mental Health Disorders
Mental Health Disorders Rising
- One in 24 people lives with a serious mental illness.
- In addition, we know of one in 12 people who admit to a diagnosis of a substance abuse disorder; however, many more may exist.
- Currently, Alzheimer’s Dementia affects one in 10 people.
According to current records, mental illness in the United States increases daily, with one in five Americans experiencing mental illness. Most people know someone who struggles with mental illness or needs mental health support, yet health insurance and resources for mental health lag far beyond that available for physical ailments.
Brain Not Working Correctly
Mental illness or memory disorders often develop when the brain or nervous system malfunctions. For example, misfiring nerves, hormones that become imbalanced due to inappropriate triggers, and brain or nerve cells that stop functioning can prevent organs and cell matter throughout the body from working correctly. Often mental illness and memory loss occur with or without associated physical limitations.
Suffer in Silence
When a person recognizes they may have signs of mental illness or a memory disorder, the fear of the diagnosis often prevents them from seeking help. The stigma of associated labels, the negative impact on future earning potential, disapproval within the family and social groups, and sometimes spiritual or religious groups shun mental health symptoms, causing them to attempt to hide their need for help for as long as possible. As a result, many suffer in silence, never knowing “what is wrong with them.” Others consider committing suicide, ashamed to admit what they have.
Caregivers struggle to provide support but, without training, may be caught unprepared for the roller-coaster of changing emotions they encounter–one minute, they seem like a savior, and the next, like the enemy, maybe within minutes each other. Knowing what to say and do is often difficult.
Understanding how to approach a person with a particular type of mental health condition often helps a caregiver choose the best response in situations and helps keep them safe. Unfortunately, a person’s instinctual response in a “normal” conversation may trigger a violent outburst when someone interacts with someone experiencing a hallucination. Therefore, learning how to recognize signs of mental illness, how to approach them during those times, and the best way to interact is important for anyone who lives with someone struggling with one of those diagnoses.
Tools to Cope with Behaviors
My focus for the mental health and memory pages is to provide you with the tools needed to cope with behavioral situations. In general, when dealing with mental illness, staying in the moment with someone who is getting agitated or whose behavior seems risky is essential.
- Listen carefully to what they say and how they say it. The message is not always in words. Sometimes it’s in what’s not said, the behaviors (movements) used to express themselves, or the repetition.
- Take nothing for granted and keep an open mind to what it might mean if you were in that person’s shoes.
- Don’t think like yourself; think like them. Meet the person where they are at that moment and be there with them so you understand what they are trying to express. Once you understand, you can connect with them and hopefully progress.
- Be patient, kind, and forgiving–they are not always in control of what they say and do.