Educating the Public about Mental Health

Mental health issues have long been misunderstood by the general public.  Unless you have a friend or relative with a mental health or substance abuse issue, you probably have no way to understand what the experience is like.

Many people believe that those suffering from mental illness are usually violent.  This is certainly not true.  In fact, a person with mental illness is much more likely to be the victim of violence than a perpetrator. There are many types of mental illness or disorders, and they are common. They include depression, anxiety, impulse control, personality disorders, adjustment disorders and psychotic disorders.

Someone suffering from a mental illness cannot just “snap out of it”.  If you have a blockage in an artery, you can’t just will it away; qualified help is needed.  In this regard, mental illness is the same.  Professional help might include being treated by a clinician and/or psychiatrist.  Peer support can also be extremely helpful.

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a diagnosis that has recently become more understood by the public.  This usually happens following a tragic event or series of events.  And war veterans are not the only ones that suffer from this disorder. Anyone who experiences a traumatic event can be at risk.  Seeking help for someone suffering from PTSD should be encouraged.

To further understand mental health issues, you may want to read more about mental health statistics or mental health myths and facts, provided by the Mental Health Association of Rockland County.

Would you like to know how people with mental illness can lead fully satisfying lives and not be defined by their illness? If so, consider registering for a free, one-hour tour of MHA Rockland’s mission.

Mental Health: When Do You Need Help?

Sometimes it’s difficult to know just when to seek help with a mental health issue.  If you’re sad, is it depression or just a bad day?  If you keep going back to check if you locked the door, is it OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) or are you just forgetful?  Can you go from being happy one minute and then sad the next?  Do you have a bipolar disorder or just a mood swing?  Knowing when you need help can be confusing.

Depression is a condition that causes sadness for more than two consecutive weeks and disrupts your daily life.  If you find it hard to be motivated to get out of bed; if you cry all the time; if you just don’t care about anything, you may be suffering from depression. However, only a doctor can diagnose this illness and get you started on a treatment plan to get you back to enjoying life.

OCD is an illness where you cannot help but repeat a behavior over and over again. A doctor can diagnose and prescribe a treatment program to help manage the disorder. In fact, any time you have a behavior that is consuming your life so you can’t function normally, you should seek the help of a professional in the mental health field.

It is not considered a weakness to suffer from these disorders. And you are not alone. If you are unsure where to start, the Mental Health Association (MHA) of Rockland County can assist in connecting you to the right resource.

At MHA Rockland, we help people living with mental illness and/or addiction to embrace life and redefine themselves.  We also welcome and support families, friends, employers, and colleagues who care about those struggling with these issues. Since opening our doors in 1951, we have touched the lives of more than 50,000 Rockland County residents.

Please visit www.mharockland.org/resources/where-can-i-go-for-help/. There are resources available to help you reframe your illness and define yourself not by your challenges, but by your strengths and passions.