National Mental Health Awareness Month 2013

  • May is Mental Health Awareness Month.


    It remains to be seen exactly the number of people who change their minds about people diagnosed with mental health conditions. It remains to be seen exactly the number of outsiders who learn about the signs and symptoms so as to get immediate or early treatment.


    I would like to believe the word gets out to at least tens of thousands of people living in America.

    It's a flip-flop as to whether I would recommend a person disclose his diagnosis. It depends on the individual, on the other person's need to know and on any number of things.

    One guy I interviewed told me he tells other people on a "need-to-know" basis.

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    A woman I interviewed told me she would tell an intimate partner she wanted to get close to because to not tell would be to lie: to lie about a big part of her life.

    I do wonder about the true effect of Mental Health Awareness Month and other awareness months.  The total direct cost of mental health treatment is estimated to be $79 billion dollars in the U.S. alone.


    This year I will focus on getting yourself or a loved one treatment as soon as possible.


    You can read my Schizophrenia Early Warning Signs SharePost for a detailed list of possible symptoms.  Keep in mind that only a qualified professional like a psychiatrist can make the diagnosis.  Yet if you are experiencing these symptoms the quicker you get treatment with medication and therapy the better the outcome will be.  You will be given a medical exam to rule out or confirm other non-schizophrenia causes of the symptoms.


    Read my Schizophrenia Early Intervention SharePost to see the true cost of an extended delay in getting treatment and why respected clinicians and researchers think early intervention offers the best chance to get the right treatment.


    One of the symptoms of schizophrenia is anosognosia or in plain English the lack of awareness that you have an illness.  This causes you to refuse treatment because you don't think you're sick so won't take medication.


    Family members whose loved ones  exhibit anosognosia experience hell and heartache trying to convince them to stay in treatment.  I recommend everyone involved in the mental health field either as a peer, family member or professional or any other person read the classic guide to helping someone get treatment and stay in treatment: I Am Not Sick, I Don't Need Help by Dr. Xavier Amador, PhD.  The 2010 Anniversary edition (Vida Press) is the one to buy.


    Upwards of 50 percent of the people diagnosed with schizophrenia have anosognosia and this results in the revolving door hospital syndrome: a person goes in and gets medicated then get released and stops taking the medication and goes back in again over and over.


    Read my Schizophrenia and Commitment: How to Do It Sharepost for more details about getting better results in getting your loved ones admitted.


    Those of us with schizophrenia would do well to create a relapse prevention plan.  Read my SharePosts on Staying Out of the Hospital: Five Tips and Schizophrenia Tactics: How to Stay Out of the Hospital.


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    I provide these links once again to give a refresher to new community members whose landing at this HealthCentral Website might be their first attempt to find resources in a crisis or their first connection early on with mental health information.


    Also: I can only hope that members of the public land here and learn more about schizophrenia before it's too late and they're intimated involved either directly or through a loved one's episode.  Mental health activists and ordinary civilians can log on to the MentalHealthFirstAid Website to get trained to recognized warning signs and help other citizens get help.


    Turning a blind eye to other human beings who are in need of psychiatric treatment is not the solution to the ongoing mental health crisis in the world.  See IMHO: Fixing the Mental Health System for my take on what's going on in America and how to resolve this pressing dilemma.


    Knowledge is power.  Understanding that mental illnesses are medical conditions like heart disease or cancer is the first step in removing the stigma.


    I will go to my grave championing early if not immediate intervention with medication and therapy when someone exhibits the symptoms of schizophrenia.  I received the right treatment within 24 hours so it can't be a coincidence that I recovered and have been in remission over 20 years.


    Recovery is possible. The medication and treatments available today are better than those of 50 years ago.  New drugs and treatment options are becoming available every year.


    To this end, I will talk in the next SharePost about Cognitive Enhancement Therapy or CET, which shows great promise in reversing the cognitive decline evident in a great number of individuals diagnosed with schizophrenia.


Published On: May 09, 2013