Monthly Archives: July 2015

Mental Health Awareness is Key to Saving Black Lives – Atlanta Blackstar

July 27, 2015 | Posted by Tonya Pennington

July is National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month. Mental illnesses and disorders are a major problem in the Black community. With a stigma surrounding it, and little coverage and representation of it in the media, it feels like this issue is a shameful thing to be avoided. Yet, statistics and many stories of struggle and tragedy show that we must face this or risk losing our loved ones.
According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, suicide rates increased 233 percent across a recent fifteen-year span among African Americans ages 10-14. One-third of African Americans also can’t afford to receive help, and only two percent of mental health professionals are African American.

Part of the stigma attached to mental illness in Blacks is the idea that Black people shouldn’t get mental illness because we’ve become a strong race through hardship, and only white people have mental illnesses. We seem to have forgotten that we are just as human as anyone else and can have a variety of personal and socio-economic reasons for being mentally ill.
Soul Train host Don Cornelius, actor Lee Thompson Young, and blogger Karyn Washington are three Black people we’ve lost to mental illness and suicide in the past three years. Despite these tragedies, there have also been stories of resilience and hope. A recent article by a Black woman named Robbie Ann Darbie tells how she survived an eating disorder. Another recent article by Black blogger S.L. Young documents his battle with depression and how he is using his story to help others.

Other recent stories have been told via entertainment media. On an episode of the television series Empire, the character Andre Lyons was shown to have bi-polar disorder. At the beginning of the film Beyond The Lights, the main character Noni feels so stifled and invisible that she attempts suicide.
The worst thing you can do to a person suffering from mental illness is to make them feel that they have to deal with it alone and that no one understands their experience. While we are making progress, there is still a lot of work to be done to properly deal with mental illness.
An increase in media attention is a step in the right direction, but we also need more representation in the field. The community is in need of more Black psychologists and social workers, more easily accessible mental health services, and more resources like the Black Mental Health Alliance and Black Girls Smile.

Mental illness has no color, gender, age or any other demographic. It is something that everyone deals with and Blacks are no exception. We should not feel ashamed of mental illness. We should feel encouraged, because we can survive it.
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6 Helpful Things to Say to a Depressed Person

Providing non-judgmental support and showing empathy makes a difference Post published by Jean Kim M.D. on Jul 27, 2015 in Culture Shrink

My recent blog post focused on what NOT to say to a depressed person; I presented common statements that people tell their friends and loved ones in an attempt to alleviate the depressed person’s discomfort, but moreso their own unease in the face of a difficult, heartwrenching situation. But unwittingly or not, statements that tend to put blame on a depressed person’s willpower or lack of motivation and negative mindframe often backfire and increase that person’s feelings of isolation and hopelessness. The statements sometimes come from a fundamental misunderstanding of the illness that is depression, the biopsychosocial condition that traps its victims in a circuitous broken-record mindset that creates vulnerable, despondent thinking patterns.

So how can well-meaning people provide support to someone with depression, aside from avoiding tendencies towards judgment; how can one head towards greater empathy and understanding and connect with someone who is suffering?

1. I’m here for you.

Just offering to be there for someone with depression is a huge boon to someone who often feels trapped in a cycle of self-loathing and in turn feels unworthy of reaching out to people around them. They often worry about being a burden or nuisance to others, since they have some keen awareness of how infectious their mood can be for others nearby. When you decide to let them know you will be there for them, regardless of their fears of judgment or wasting your time or making them uncomfortable, they can feel less alone and feel less social pressure. You don’t even have to necessarily say anything to them while with them. This can help put a crack in the cycle of negative self-worth and have them realize people still care regardless of a sad outward presentation.

2. What can I do to help?

Depressed people may not necessarily be in a state of mind to know or say what will help them, but just hearing the willingness and openness of someone to do so can help lift their spirits. Even if they say nothing needs to be done, they have heard you. They can sense that you care, and that can reassure them when caught in guilt-ridden thinking. And if they do ask for something, you’re in a great position to help out. Even just being there to listen to their worries can help.

3. I like XYZ about you.

Low self-esteem becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy with depression, as it leads to feelings of being out of sync with everyone else, and feeling misunderstood. They often tend to beat themselves up with bad thoughts about themselves. Hearing positive reinforcement about themselves can help soften their self-berating tendencies and help reality-test their thoughts. The point is not to be treacly or fake with your praise; but to say honest reasons why you enjoy that person’s company or love them. Oftentimes their mood skews their perception of their lovability.

4. Yeah that is shi**y.

Some negative outlook during depression is not necessarily skewed or delusional. Some issues can be magnified or the person can become more sensitive to a bad event, but there is often valid reality to what is getting them down and real stressors happening. It’s important to acknowledge those concerns when brought up, so a person doesn’t feel they aren’t being heard and misunderstood/ignored and forced to be artificially happy. If they don’t feel alone in seeing a problem, they feel there is potential to move forward.

5. There are ways to get through this difficult time.

If you notice someone falling into a serious depression and not improving despite offering your finest support, the best thing you can do is to guide them to professional help. Taking that step can feel scary for most people, but if you are there to say it’s OK and accompany them in the process, that can make the difference between someone falling through the cracks or not. Feel free to reach out to mental health resources online or telephone hotlines as needed, to people you know who are mental health providers, or look up NAMI. Help people make appointments with therapists and/or help them consider adjunct medication carefully. Take someone to an emergency room if you are really worried about someone’s safety. Negotiating the fragmented mental health system can be tricky at times, so your advocacy can really matter to someone who can’t fight for themselves.

6. I’ve been through it too.

Coming from a place of mutual suffering can matter to someone who feels that no one understands them, or feels too ashamed to talk about their situation to anyone they know offhand. More and more stories are being shared in the media, in books and magazines about people of all walks of life who have gone through mental illness and have struggled to survive and improve. The more people talk about the reality of their conditions, the less misinformation will confuse the general public and help reduce ongoing feelings of stigma, loneliness, and social punishment. And the more people can see potential for recovery.

Overall, the goal with helping a loved one or friend with depression is to be caring and supportive, but also realistic and open to their state of mind. Each individual case of depression can be much more complex than I’ve outlined here, especially if complicated personality traits or problematic behaviors or substance abuse issues are mixed into the equation. But in general, the principle holds—to accept a depressed person without expectations of quick change or judgment, and to let them know they are loved and not alone in the struggle they face. Your caring can make a real difference.

5 Reasons Conflating Mental Illness with Demon Possession Hurts People

What are your thoughts?

Homeschoolers Anonymous

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HA note: The following is reprinted with permission from Lana Hobbs’ blog Lana Hobbs the Brave. It was originally published on April 18, 2014.

Conflating demon possession with ‘madness’ hurts people.

That may sound harsh, but this is a real problem. I have been hurt by this in the past, and in the present, and others have too. When people talk about an (apparently) mentally ill person and say ‘He was definitely demon possessed’ that hurts me as a person with a mental illness. When people tell the Bible story about the ‘madman’ with demons, when they use that word ‘mad’, they are saying that the mentally ill person has demons. I have never heard this Bible story told with a caveat that mental illness often has a biological cause. I have, however, heard it told to prove that mental illness is caused by demons.

Here are five reasons…

View original post 419 more words

“Direct Link Between Sin and Mental Illness”: The Mental Health Denialism of Voddie Baucham

This is why people who don’t know Christ and have a mental illness, won’t turn to the church for solutions. The mental illness already make them feel alone, but now we telling them that God doesn’t want them either. Yes there is sin in the world. But if he had cancer, I am sure he wouldn’t hesitate to get to the doctor for treatment. Mental illness is a MEDICAL illness, like diabetes or cancer. We wouldn’t beat them up about their illness. We try to make them comfortable. If I have a brain disorder, in my case bipolar disorder, I deserve to be treated respectfully and not with the stigma that is attached to it.

Homeschoolers Anonymous

By R.L. Stollar, HA Community Coordinator

Click here to read other transcripts by and posts about Voddie Baucham.

I recently listened to Voddie Baucham’s sermon “Nebuchadnezzar Loses His Mind.” Baucham is a popular speaker at Christian homeschool conventions — particularly as an advocate of corporal punishment for shy children and the stay-at-home-daughter movement. Baucham is also the Pastor of Preaching at Grace Family Baptist, where he delivered this sermon on April 8, 2012. Using a tenuous and strained exegesis of Daniel 4:4-37 and an extraordinarily outdated 1950’s anti-psychiatry worldview from Thomas Szasz, Baucham attempts to answer the following 2 questions: (1) What is the biblical view of mental health? And (2) How should Christians think about what he calls “the mental health industry”?

Here is Grace Family Baptist’s full description of the sermon:

It is difficult to go through Daniel chapter 4 without realizing that, in our day and time, Nebuchadnezzar would have been diagnosed…

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10 Tips for Living with a Bipolar Person

10 Tips for Living with a Bipolar Person By Charlie Centa

Living with bipolar disorder can be extremely challenging, but living with someone who has bipolar disorder can also have its difficulties. Growing up I lived with my mother and grandfather, both of whom had bipolar disorder. For years they hid it from me, I suppose hoping I would never find out. But sooner or later it all came to the surface and everything started to make sense.

Finding out about their illnesses was possibly the best thing that could have happened in that circumstance. Living with people who have bipolar disorder and not even knowing about it can cause a lot of friction. It’s easy to jump to conclusions about their behavior.

After taking the time to do some research on bipolar disorder, I began learning how to deal with it myself. At first I made lots of mistakes and it made my life a lot harder than it needed to be. Learning how to support and live in harmony with a person with bipolar disorder isn’t easy. It takes time and effort, but it’s vital in order to maintain a healthy relationship where you can support your loved one without letting their illness affect your own life. Here are some tips for living with someone with bipolar disorder:

Do your research.

Having bipolar disorder can be an extremely lonely experience. It’s easy to feel like no one understands what you are going through. That often makes depressive phases worse. Learn as much as you can about bipolar disorder so that you understand what they’re going through. In turn, they’ll feel like they’ve got someone on their side.

Take note of their symptoms.

See if you can work out their cycle. While some people with bipolar disorder may have up and down periods that come in waves just once every couple of years, others may have a continuous cycle from one to the other. Keep an eye on it and you should be able to predict their behavioral patterns.

Listen carefully.

It’s really important to listen to what someone with bipolar disorder has to say. When they’re in a depressed state, you may find it difficult to understand why they’re so sad. The best thing you can do is to listen. If you struggle to understand what they’re feeling, ask them to explain it to you. Your interest in what they’re going through may help make them feel better.

Watch out for the mania.

Bipolar disorder involves both depression and mania. While symptoms of depression are usually quite similar, levels of mania can vary from person to person. A manic period can be surprisingly difficult to deal with. Someone in the midst of mania can be extremely enthused and not always aware that their illness is the cause. All-nighters on the computer and elaborate ideas are all part of the parcel. Try not to judge or reason with them. If you want to try to calm them, it’s best not to draw attention to their behavior, but rather distract them from it with an activity that you can do together.

Ask how you can help.

There may be instances where someone with bipolar disorder can’t look after their children or take care of things at work. Ask if you can help. It could be something as simple as cooking dinner.

Don’t judge.

Bipolar disorder is not something you can just switch on and off. Don’t be pushy.

Encourage them to take their medication.

Because bipolar disorder comes and goes in waves, it’s easy for those with it to feel that they don’t need their medication. While it may make them feel better in the short run, they will probably soon nosedive into severe mania or depression.

Talk to them about your feelings, too.

While it’s important to listen to what they have to say, it’s also important to tell the person with bipolar disorder how you feel. They need to know how their illness is affecting you just as much as you need to know how it is affecting them.

Find your own support.

Living with a person with bipolar disorder can be difficult. Find someone you can talk to and vent your problems to. A professional counselor can help.

Give yourself a break.

Know when enough is enough. While your support will mean the world to your loved one, you must know where your limits lie. Being around their illness all the time can take its toll on you. Keep your own needs in mind as much as possible.Couple talking photo available from Shutterstock

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 24 Jul 2015
Published on PsychCentral.com. All rights reserved.