Mental Health Support Overlooked
I started to attend a no-cost support class this past week sponsored by NAMI, National Alliance on Mental Illness, called “Family to Family” at my local library. This class is very needed as families who have loved ones dealing with various mental challenges including depression, anxiety, bipolar disorder, psychosis, schizophrenia, etc., desperately need genuine support. Two years ago, my 26-year-old son was diagnosed with severe depression, then six months later, a different psychiatrist changed the diagnosis to bipolar disorder with psychosis. More recently he was diagnosed with severe depression with psychosis. His illness seems to be complicated and difficult to diagnose.
The majority of people desire to help those with cancer. Why is mental health support overlooked?
It was really nice to gather at this NAMI meeting with people who understand what it is like to live with someone who has mental health challenges. I have noticed people know what to say and do when someone has cancer. Both meals and a listening ear are eagerly offered. On the other hand, why is mental health support overlooked? Those dealing with mental health challenges are usually ignored, shunned, or even shamed. I think people act this way because they lack knowledge about mental health, sometimes because of innocent ignorance and other times because of deliberate choices to be judgmental rather than to listen and learn.
Video about the reality of exposing mental health challenges.
As shown in the above video, exposing mental health challenges often result in a negative outcome; therefore, many of those with mental health challenges hide their mental health disorders striving to get along in society.
Possible behavior changes of one with mental health challenges.
All those at the meeting shared the shock of watching a loved one move from healthy to mentally ill. The onset of mental health challenges of all the loved ones spoken about in the class ranged from the mid-teens to the early twenties. Those attending the NAMI meeting shared various behavior changes they noticed about their loved one.
- More nervous
- Increased criticalness, anger, and even abusiveness
- Impolite or inappropriate verbal observations
- Irrational thinking; inability to reason
- Believe they are someone else (usually a famous person or someone they admire)
- More emotional; cries more, more anxiety
- Very fearful
- Inflexible; Does not respond favorably to change
- Isolate themselves
- Cannot focus or concentrate
- Neglects personal hygiene
- Devastated by peer disapproval
- Loss of relationships
- Asexual or hypersexual
This list is by no means all-inclusive. I was surprised there were many similar symptoms between all the loved ones’ behaviors of those attending the NAMI meeting. It really helped me to feel I am not alone on this journey and made me feel more positive about the question, Why is mental health support overlooked? NAMI is one source offering a place to gather to give support and share information about mental illnesses.
No cure for mental illness
I was also surprised when the NAMI teachers taught the concept, there is no cure for mental illness, and that the process of living with a mentally challenged person is ongoing and cyclical, beginning over again each time our loved one has a relapse. Wow! All three psychiatrists our son saw told me that he could get well. According to the NAMI course curriculum, “getting well” means you can be stabilized with medications and counseling, but mental illnesses can never be healed.
I think statistical numbers show that mental illness is incurable so I understand why NAMI curriculum includes teaching this concept. However, this causes me some turmoil. Some would say I am in denial, but my instincts tell me, we as a society lack knowledge, both medical and faith healing intelligence.
I feel that I must continue to hope for a full healing of my son while using all available resources. Prior to seeking medical help for my son, he was healed of a few multiple personalities through the power of prayer and words. One woman in the NAMI class mentioned that people had told her she needed to pray more and go to church more often. These accusations are false and promote guilt and shame rather than help. God used the power of words to create the earth, it seems if we knew more about how to use words with faith, we would become witnesses of complete healings. I don’t believe it is has anything to do with praying more or attending church, it is about gaining the correct knowledge.
I say various healing prayers each day (not all of them at once) for my son as prompted by the spirit with the hope he will be healed. If I don’t currently have enough faith or know the words to use for him to heal, it is my hope, I will be given all I need to help my son completely heal in the future days/months/years ahead.
Photo by Cristian Newman