Today is World Mental Health Day. It is a day that started in 1992 by the World Federation for Mental Health as an awareness program to bring attention to the effects of mental illness worldwide. The World Federation for Mental Health has members in 150+ countries. In honor of the day, I am going hit y’all with some experiences, facts and resources pertaining to the mental illnesses we deal with in our family.
For those of you who haven’t read my website, please allow me to briefly introduce our family and our respective mental health issues. We have the gamut of some of the most common out there. My daughter, Paix, has been diagnosed with Bi-polar Disorder with Psychotic Features as well as ADHD (Attention Deficit and Hyperactivity Disorder). My boys, who are twins, both have varied degrees of Autism – Aidan has Asperger Syndrome (high-functioning autism) and Ryland is on the severe side of the scale as he is non-verbal. My husband, Eric, has military PTSD as well as ADHD. I, myself, have been diagnosed with Major Depressive Disorder.
The theme for this year’s Mental Health Day is “Young people and mental health in a changing world.” Since the kids are still considered ‘young people,’ I think it is important to start with them. I’ve shared with you a little about Paix and her struggles with Bi-polar Disorder (Bi-polar Disorder – Paix’s personal roller coaster). We are still striving to get her a healthcare plan we can afford that works for her. In the meantime, she is doing her best to keep positive. In this day of instant gratification especially in her age group, the task is daunting for her. She is easily frustrated because she hasn’t been “fixed” yet. Aidan, on the other hand, has had better luck dealing with his mental health issue of Asperger Syndrome. Of course, we have been able to groom him as he grew to expect and overcome whatever roadblocks he may encounter. He has excelled in high school and now college. One reason for such a difference in their experience is that Aidan was blessed enough to be diagnosed so early in life while Paix has only been diagnosed in the past few years. Ryland has been a little more difficult. He has only recently been diagnosed with Autism although he has been symptomatic since practically birth. Because of his severity and other physical symptoms, doctors kept trying to find other diagnoses for him. Since his Autism diagnosis, however, he has received many different therapies and is making great progress toward a more normal life. He will never be able to live on his own, but he will have a quality of life far better than that without these therapies.
From all that we’ve experienced with the kids as well as Eric and myself, I can say that the world of Mental Health support still has a long way to go. The stigma of mental health issues is still a very real problem. The medical side of support is also lacking in an ease of service. In most of our cases, reaching out for help has been a fight in itself. Getting medical help for mental health should not be that difficult! It isn’t just medical help that we have to fight for. In the schools, I have had to push consistently for the services that Ryland deserves. People with mental disorders rarely have the strength to reach out for help on their own – whether it is because of denial or their symptoms are just too overwhelming. This is where support from family and friends can be vital toward recovery or at least a better quality of life. In a recent quiz I took online through the Positive Psychology Program website, I learned that most family and friends do nothing when confronted with the mental illness warnings of a loved one. (The link will be added at the bottom of this post if you’d like to take the quiz yourself.) This is why awareness and education are so very important!
Below you will find different website links pertaining to each of our mental illnesses. I wish I could cover all illnesses, but time and your attention, I’m sure, is limited. So here we go…
- Bi-polar Disorder: There is really only one site I want to share here. BpHope.com has become our personal one-stop-shop for all things bi-polar. From signs and symptoms to personal blog accounts of those who live with the disorder, everything you could ever want to know about bi-polar is here.
- Autism: Another one-stop link here also. AutismSpeaks.org will give you all the information you need from what to look for to what to do if you are newly diagnosed to news articles pertaining to autism.
- Depression: This site by the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) gives a nice little rundown of depression. The following links also contain good articles and information on how to deal with loved ones who may be depressed.
- Depression – What is it really? Can it be treated? – PsychCentral.com
- 4 Ways to Support Someone with Depression – PsychCentral.com
- 10 Things You Should Say to a Depressed Loved One – PsychCentral.com
- PTSD: The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) has this to say about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Please keep in mind that not all PTSD is military PTSD. There are plenty of people out there who struggle with PTSD that have no military connection at all.
- 16 Things to Remember if Your Loved Ones Suffer from PTSD – Lifehack.org
- Signs and Symptoms of PTSD – activebeat.com
At the end of this post, I will add several more sites with information about World Mental Health Day and mental illness in general. Please take a moment to scan each page at least. As I said before, awareness and education are essential to helping yourself or anyone you may know who deals with mental health issues. Stop the stigma! We are regular people with regular lives that simply need a little more understanding – not major accommodations. We just want to feel as though we can be “a little weird” without negative judgement. Please – take a minute to try to understand where your neighbor, family member or friend is coming from by reading what you can here in this post or somewhere else. However or wherever – just please do it! Educate yourself and then help educate someone else. You just may save a life.
- 11 Mental Health Disorders and The Signs They are Present – SunriseHouse.com
- World Mental Health Day 2018 – World Health Organization
- Adolescent mental health – World Health Organization
- 28 Mental Health Activities, Worksheets & Books for Adults & Students – The quiz I referred to earlier is on this site. It is the Mental Health Awareness quiz located under the section titled, “5 Mental Health Worksheets & Awareness Activities (PDF)” – PositivePsychologyProgram.com
- Teen Depression and Anxiety: Why the Kids Are Not Alright – Written in 2016 but still very much relevant to today’s conversation – Time.com