Unfortunately, stigma is real, and it's dangerous. It is visible in public, and it comes full circle affecting patients and professionals alike. Stigma keeps mental illness in the dark and misunderstood, and often prevents sufferers from seeking the help they need.
Mental Health Advocate
My psychosis story is a huge part of my life. I have experienced hallucinations for as long as I can remember. As a teenager and young adult, finding explanations for what I was seeing and hearing became my quest.
Seeing a psychiatrist for the first time can be scary. But everyone around me knows that I'm very open about my experience receiving mental health treatment, so I talk about it. I work as an advocate for recovery. Many friends and family have asked me for insight when it comes to asking for help. I am always happy to provide encouragement and support, even if you're seeing a psychiatrist for the first time.
I love being a mental health worker in Toledo, but I see our city named on all sorts of lists: "most stressed-out cities," "high violent crime rates," and even "least-livable cities."
My mental illness is part of my identity because of its huge impact on my life. When I was first diagnosed with schizoaffective disorder, I thought everything in my life could go back to the way it was before my symptoms got out of hand. I didn't know my life would take a sharp turn in a different direction.
Knowing how to give mental health first aid for suicide prevention is important for everyone, but we often don't know how to do it. After graduating from a community college in 2014, I accepted a position as a peer support specialist at a local mental health agency. Prior to this job, I worked at a group home, and the training was very similar -- first aid, CPR, and nonviolent crisis intervention. However, my new position also required Mental Health First Aid, a formal eight-hour course on how to respond to someone in crisis. The Mental Health First Aid intervention can be crucial in suicide prevention and getting someone the appropriate help they need.
It's important to consider whether hospitals should be allowed to release patients to the streets. I was recently in the hospital with an 18-year-old man with bipolar disorder. He was so disruptive in his manic state that the hospital discharged him even though he had no place to go. It's not the first time I've seen a hospital discharge a patient to the streets (Mental Illness and Homelessness). It made me wonder if hospitals should be allowed to release patients to the streets.
It's time to reform the mental healthcare system. It's been time for years. While the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations made great strides, all that progress could be lost under the new administration (Mental Health Care [In A Perfect World]). Already, Congress voted to reinstate pre-existing conditions (which prior to the Affordable Care Act many insurance agencies used to refuse to cover an individual with mental illness or refuse to cover mental healthcare). Congress also voted to prevent Medicare from negotiating with drug companies to lower prices. And legislation that would have lowered drug prices was shot down--you may have seen the meme naming which politician voted against it and how much money they've received from pharmaceutical companies. President-elect Donald Trump needs to take action and reform the mental healthcare system.
Do you know how to handle a treatment professional on a power trip? Sometimes the field of mental health draws the wrong people, especially when treatment philosophy is the social control model. I once overheard a nurse say to a patient "You do what we tell you, when we tell you." Another psychiatrist told a patient who made a sarcastic comment about wearing diapers "If that's what you want I can make it happen." The same psychiatrist told me "I can go on the word of a social worker if I want." When a treatment professional is on a power trip, it is important to know how to handle them (What Mental Health Professionals Don’t Know about Clients).