Mental Illness Awareness Week October 7-13, 2018

  1. Everyone knows someone who suffers from mental illness. Unfortunately, it is often hushed and put aside instead of confronted so that people feel comfortable asking for help. Resources may not be readily available for patients, resulting in no care or delayed care. Mental Illness Awareness Week hopes to shed some light on mental illness with education.

    Mental Illness Awareness Week  October 7-13, 2018

    Whether it is a family member, friend, or you, mental illness can be devastating, especially when it goes untreated. When a person with mental illness reaches out to someone they feel safe with and then receive negative feedback, they can be devastated. People who don't understand, will often say something that hurts the person reaching out. As a result, that person may not tell another person, ever. People who are suffering with a disease need help, support and treatment. Mental illness is no different than any other disease but it is one that often gets hidden until something tragic happens. Sometimes all a person needs is for someone to listen. Caring enough to actively listen can mean a lot. We know as healthcare workers how much listening can change a situation.

    The National Alliance on Mental Illness is an organization here to help change America's perception of mental illness. They advance their cause through education, support, and patient advocacy. Their website tells us that eating disorders are the most harmful. Eating disorders can start young, so being able to detect a child with one could save their lives. The National Institute for Mental Health reported a study from 2015 that tells us that one in five people (43.8 million) adults have a mental illness. America's young people age 13-18 have a high number of those affected as well. In fact 21.4% will deal with some form of mental illness in their life. These numbers are high, and that isn't including those who do not discuss their problems with their doctors and go undiagnosed.

    Whenever we have a problem, no matter what it is, having someone who understands, helps us to feel better about the situation. We share our stories because we know that the other person relates on a gut level. As a person with a mental illness, finding a support group, or someone they can talk to, can make a huge difference in their treatment. Knowing that they are not alone can be the difference between life and death. Having family members who have mental illnesses, I see how ignoring the issue can make it so much worse. These people often mask their feelings with alcohol or drugs, leading to other physical illness. Many people refuse treatment while others take medication and once they feel better, they stop taking it. This cycle can be dangerous for the patient. Talking to our loved ones can be tricky. Staying nonjudgemental and open to what they say is essential. Having real conversations helps everyone involved.

    *The helpline for the National Eating Disorders Association is 800-931-2237

    *Text NEDA to 741741 to get connected to a volunteer National Suicide Prevention Lifeline 800-273-TALK (8255)


    The more we share information and talk about mental illness, the more the stigma will dissolve. We can be part of the movement to educate ourselves and others about mental illness. As nurses, we can talk to our patients openly and honestly helping them to get the correct treatment. Involving their families will also decrease the stigma that surrounds mental illness. Allowing both the patient and the family to ask questions of us and the doctors will help one by one getting past learned prejudices about mental illness. We as nurses can also be the voice of reason among our peers. A person who is mentally ill can cause their caretaker to fear them due to not knowing how to properly approach their care.

    When we coach our co-workers and lead by example we will improve the patient's experience along with educating each other. Understanding the dynamics of their illness will help us in treating them. Speak to the patient about their illness as you would their other physical issues. They will appreciate the openness and honesty. I know there are a lot of nurses out there that work in the field of mental illness. Share with us your experience to help us educate each other and the patient.
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    About Brenda F. Johnson, BSN, RN

    Joined: Oct '14; Posts: 231; Likes: 850
    RN at Gi Lab; from TN , US
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    5 Comments

  3. by   angeloublue22
    The problem that I always seem to run into and this actually happened tonight is that they refuse any help. I've offered to have a counselor come by and talk to her, offered to call a crisis line, offered to set her up with a counselor, call her family, and actively listened to her for quite awhile as has all staff. She refused all further help, then stated no one cares about her and no one wants to help her, while people are literally caring about her and trying to help her. I can't imagine what she is going through and I wish I had a way to magically help them when they refuse everything. Any suggestions?
  4. by   VivaLasViejas
    I have been diagnosed bipolar I since 2012, and even in that short time I've seen improvement in the way people talk about mental illness. The fact that we're talking about it at all is a big step in getting rid of the stigma surrounding MI. Articles like yours help as well. Thank you!
  5. by   BeenThere2012
    I'm not an expert by any means. Just started working in psych about 2 yrs ago, but I want
    to let you know I see the same thing over and over again.
    I work in an Acute psych hospital where the majority of patients are there on a hold and not there willingly. Of the ones who are there willingly, some are homeless and want a break from the streets.
    It's a horrible revolving door of treatment, release and then back to the same problems, not taking their meds or keeping appointments and then doing drugs (mostly weed and Meth) and then back again. I'm too am lost as to how to be of any significant help to them. Many have burned all the bridges without family, Room and Boards won't take them anymore etc...
    It is heartbreaking and frankly, been taking a toll on my own mental health. I'm starting to dread going in to work. I'm a shell of a nurse these days.
  6. by   Brenda F. Johnson
    Quote from angeloublue22
    The problem that I always seem to run into and this actually happened tonight is that they refuse any help. I've offered to have a counselor come by and talk to her, offered to call a crisis line, offered to set her up with a counselor, call her family, and actively listened to her for quite awhile as has all staff. She refused all further help, then stated no one cares about her and no one wants to help her, while people are literally caring about her and trying to help her. I can't imagine what she is going through and I wish I had a way to magically help them when they refuse everything. Any suggestions?
    I know, it is so frustrating. But often this is the case.
  7. by   Brenda F. Johnson
    Quote from BeenThere2012
    I'm not an expert by any means. Just started working in psych about 2 yrs ago, but I want
    to let you know I see the same thing over and over again.
    I work in an Acute psych hospital where the majority of patients are there on a hold and not there willingly. Of the ones who are there willingly, some are homeless and want a break from the streets.
    It's a horrible revolving door of treatment, release and then back to the same problems, not taking their meds or keeping appointments and then doing drugs (mostly weed and Meth) and then back again. I'm too am lost as to how to be of any significant help to them. Many have burned all the bridges without family, Room and Boards won't take them anymore etc...
    It is heartbreaking and frankly, been taking a toll on my own mental health. I'm starting to dread going in to work. I'm a shell of a nurse these days.
    Thank you for working in mental health, it is a difficult area. I understand what you are saying because I see it in my own family. We can hope that with more awareness, the younger generation will get treatment earlier and be more open to it.

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