What it means to be a mental health ally and advocate

What it means to be a mental health ally and advocate

Anyone can be afflicted with a mental disease at any stage in life. It doesn’t discriminate on the basis of gender, caste or age. It has become a common occurrence experienced by millions worldwide. An estimated one in five people in the United States suffers from some form of mental illness every year as per the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI). Besides suffering from the actual symptoms of their conditions, people have to face something else which is perhaps worse – stigma, ridicule and discrimination. Read more

Importance of living a happy and stress-free life

Importance of living a happy and stress-free life

Mental health problems are a taboo in every society. The discrimination associated with mental disorders, owing to the stigma surrounding them, often prevents one from opening up freely about their condition. However, the secret of leading a happy and successful life lies in fighting the prevailing stigma and emancipating oneself from the consequences of serious mental health conditions. Read more

Coming to America: Mental perils of Afghan refugees

Coming to America: Mental perils of Afghan refugees

Life in the United States has proved to be a constant struggle for Afghan refugees after being awarded Special Immigrant Visa (SIV). The SIV is awarded to people for services rendered to the coalition forces in the war. But when these refugees discover that their credentials do not count in the U.S. and they must start over, these well-qualified people often feel lost.

With many of these people being doctors, engineers and translators in their homelands, starting a new life in an unfamiliar territory in bug-infested apartments with minimum-wage jobs and lack of understanding of U.S. culture is taking a toll on their mental health. They are now dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, anxiety, panic attacks and other health problems.

Sacramento, California has emerged as a prominent destination for Afghan refugees as they continue to arrive in the city. More than 2000 SIV holders with their families have settled in the city since October 2000. Many of these migrants, however, have suffered PTSD from their experiences in Afghanistan and are still battling with symptoms of anxiety and depression in trying to keep up with the perils of adjusting to a new place altogether. Even refugees with no prior mental illnesses may be suffering from Ulysses syndrome, a kind of PTSD that affects a healthy person living in adverse circumstances with little or no help, says Dr. Patrick Marius Koga, a UC Davis Medical Center psychiatrist.

One such case is of Faisal Razmal (28), a former interpreter for the U.S. soldiers battling the Taliban in Afghanistan. In August 2015, Razmal was shot in the face by a neighborhood teenager in front of his apartment in Sacramento. In the attack, Razmal lost sight of one of his eyes and feels like he has lost a piece of his soul. Prior to being shot, Razmal worked as a security guard at a shopping center. However, since the attack, his limited vision and PTSD has compromised his ability to keep a job of a taxi driver or a gas station attendant. The process of resettlement has turned out to be a nightmare for his family. As per his therapist, Homeyra Ghaffari, an Iranian marriage and family therapist, prior to coming to the U.S., Razmal was already afflicted with PTSD and was re-traumatized by the shooting in the U.S.

Refugee care in US

Since 2000, over 600,000 refugees have settled throughout the U.S. and the number is still increasing. So how can the authorities make sure that the people and their families do not suffer from sense of hopelessness and abandonment? Dr. Koga suggests screening them at the county refugee clinic, maintaining their records, and having regular follow ups to check if they have clinical PTSD will help the refugees to get on with their lives in a better manner. However, no such system is in place as yet.

As per Dr. Caroline Giroux, medical director of Adult Psychiatric Support Services, U.S. war veterans get good care for PTSD at VA hospitals. However, Afghan refugees do not qualify for these benefits as the list of refugee resettlement services of the State Department does not include any provision for mental health services.

Recovery roadmap

People come to America thinking it to be a dreamland but their dreams get shattered when they try to find their way around. They feel isolated and have no clear direction. Lack of support systems adds to their emotional trauma. The children of such families find it even harder to adapt to foreign culture and are more vulnerable to poor mental health.

If you know someone who is suffering from any kind of mental illness such as anxiety or depression, it is recommended to seek immediate medical help. The California Mental Health Helpline specialists can help you find the best mental health treatment centers in California. You can call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-559-3923 or chat online with our experts to know about the various mental health facilities in California.

6 tips for a swift recovery from mental illness

6 tips for a swift recovery from mental illness

Mental illness is a disease that robs away the true identity of people by impacting their cognitive abilities. When afflicted by mental illness, it becomes impossible even for the bravest to continue life like before due to the severe damages to his or her emotional well-being.

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), one in four adults — approximately 57.7 million Americans — has a mental disorder in a year. In fact, one in 17 American adults has a serious mental disorder, such as bipolar disorder, major depression, etc.,  and one in 10 American children lives with a serious emotional disorder.

Due to such widespread prevalence, it is necessary to learn the ways to identify the distinguishing symptoms and provide appropriate care to ensure early recovery. Overall, recovering from mental illness depends on how one deals with it. Although support from family, friends and community is considered vital, the chances of recovery mainly depend on the involvement of the patient in treatment.

Here are a few tips that one can follow to ensure a faster recovery:

1. Loving oneself: To be one’s own best friend requires courage, willingness and perseverance. One must get real about the illness. It is essential to take the medicines regularly, get enough sleep, and treat both the body and mind well. One can do these things only by loving himself or herself. So, loving oneself is the most important tip.

2. Knowing the enemies: To recover from mental illness, it is essential to know about one’s condition, as well as associated patterns and behaviors. By identifying the reasons and patterns, and acting on them as soon as they arise, the chances of an accident or damage diminishes.

3. Avoiding delusionary thoughts: Mental illness often causes episodes of negative thinking in people going through this condition. Knowing that the thoughts might be just delusions is a great way to manage one’s condition. By refusing to bow before the negative thoughts, one can easily win the battle against mental illness.

4. Learning to be patient: As humans are not machines, shaping and creating a good life is all about how one changes oneself with time. One must take time and try changing his or her life slowly. It is important to realize the fact that our personalities can change over time. Keeping a track of these changes is important. At the end of the day, one must try developing a long-term view of success.

5. Being practical: One must be aware about his or her limits to avoid controlling people or objects. One can certainly control his or her own reactions by not fixing responsibilities on others and being his or her own boss. It is good to be practical and face the world as it is, rather than painting an unreal picture in one’s own mind.

6. Not being embarrassed: Mental illness is a disease and not a matter of shame. As in the case of other diseases, it can happen to anyone and at any stage of life. As in other diseases, one should not feel embarrassed about being mentally ill. None opts for mental illness, rather develops the disease due to biological and other reasons. Though having it may be a tough phase of life, it is not shameful.

Life is beautiful, live each moment

While being mentally ill can be excruciatingly painful in the beginning, it can get better with treatment. One can easily regain the sense of optimism to appreciate the beauty of life by availing the right treatment. For this, information related to good treatment is essential to recover effectively.

If you or your loved one has mental illness, connect with the California Mental Health Helpline immediately. Call us at our 24/7 helpline number 855-559-3923 or chat online to know more about mental health facilities in California and mental health treatment in California.

Exploring link between mental illness and body dysmorphic disorder

Exploring link between mental illness and body dysmorphic disorder

Body dysmorphic disorder (BDD) is a distinct mental disorder in which a person is obsessed with physical defects, which may or may not exist. People with BDD are unable to stop thinking about the perceived flaws in one’s appearance. Such a person constantly broods over a physical deformity that is either too minor or not observable by others.

Precisely, people are generally obsessed with the three most important body parts, namely nose, skin and hair. The obsession of checking back on one of these body parts is so consuming that it greatly affects a person’s ability to perform day-to-day activities. People with BDD constantly strive to improve their physical appearance, frequently consulting dermatologists or surgeons, and even opting for a plastic surgery to improve their features.

About one percent of the U.S. population has BDD, said a 2014 report published in the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA). Thus, it is important to identify the warning signs of BDD and come out of the undesirable feelings, which can ultimately lead to anxiety.

Possible causes of BDD

Although the exact etiology behind BDD is unknown to the researchers, there may be a variety of genetic and environmental causes that may lead to negative perception about oneself. Here are some of the proposed causes of BDD:

  • The size and functioning of a brain portion, which is responsible for processing information related to body image, may give rise to BDD.
  • People with BDD already have a co-occurring mental illness, such as major depression or anxiety.
  • BDD can stem from childhood trauma or emotional conflicts while growing up.
  • People who suffer from low self-esteem may also struggle with BDD.
  • People who were constantly belittled by parents, siblings or peers regarding their physical appearance, may go on to develop BDD in the future.

Complications associated with BDD

People with BDD develop acute complex due to their perceived physical abnormality, which can result in isolation and reclusive behavior. This can have a serious impact on a person’s school, college or professional life, and even on his or her close relationships.

The desire to appear flawless and perfect can be so strong in these individuals that it can elicit suicidal tendencies in them, and can also lead to humongous financial crisis, since these individuals are constantly seeking medical advice and turning to surgery to rectify their so-called morphological anomalies. Moreover, chronic BDD can result in serious depression or anxiety.

Treating BDD

Often, people with BDD live in a denial and fail to acknowledge their obsessive behavior when confronted. However, upon self-realization or mediation, they might accept that they do have a problem and therefore, need help. BDD management involves a combination of medication, psychotherapy, family therapy and other customized services.

Moreover, loved ones can be vigilant enough to identify obsessive symptoms in an individual and help him or her inculcate a positive outlook toward his or her physical appearance. Parents and teachers must be mindful of never discriminating between children based on their physical appearances because this can lead to serious mental illnesses and body shaming.

Road to recovery

While support and encouragement from family and friends are inevitable, one should not undermine the role of professional assistance when it comes to mental disorders. Self-therapy sessions may also be recommended for reviewing skills and inculcating more acceptance of the body.

If you know someone who is suffering from BDD, or any other mental health condition, get in touch with the California Mental Health Helpline. Our mental health experts will guide you to the best mental health facilities in California. You may call at our 24/7 helpline number 855-559-3923 or chat online to know about the best mental health treatment centers in California.