Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Childhood Depression Awareness Day

Been a bit under the weather today (slight bug -- not quite at the taking the laptop into the bathroom stage at least), so wasn't planning to update today.

But there's waaaaay too much good stuff out there.

Most of us think of childhood as a carefree, mellow time -- but for many kids, it's not. According to the National Mental Health Association, depression may affect one in 33 children, and one in eight teens.

Today is Childhood Depression Awareness Day -- the NMHA has some great fact sheets on children and depression, and how adults can help.

I'm not going to get into a discussion of medications for children here -- there's a lot of controversy out there over whether we're over-medicating our young people, and whether they might be better served with other non-chemical methods of treatment. But we need to recognize that there's a problem out there, and left untreated, we might lose our future before we even find it.

Monday, May 08, 2006

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

I wasn't aware of this when I started this blog -- but it's coming in handy; a lot more mental health related news items:



EMPLOYERS MADE AWARE OF MENTAL HEALTH ISSUES

When Dianne Dorlester was having a bad day, she found it hard to concentrate on even simple tasks at work. But she hesitated to say anything to co-workers or her boss because she knew of the stigma associated with mental illness.

Specifically, Dorlester was suffering from depression, but she thought that some people simply would believe she needed to "snap out of it."

"While depression is extremely common, most people are afraid to say anything if they suffer from it," Dorlester says. "There's a real lack of understanding by others, who just think you need to get yourself together."

Dorlester now receives treatment for her depression, and knows that when things get really bad, she can take time off work. Her work situation is helped by the fact that she now is director of consumer advocacy for the National Mental Health Association.

"I think you have to learn to be an advocate for yourself," she says. "Once I spoke out, I found tremendous support from others."

[...snip...]

Part of NMHA's workplace efforts include teaching workers and bosses the signs of depression, which include: a persistent sad, anxious or "empty" mood; changes in sleep patterns; reduced appetite and weight loss or increased appetite and weight gain; loss of pleasure and interest in once-enjoyable activities; restlessness or irritability; fatigue or loss of energy; feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless; and thoughts of suicide and death.

The NMHA also wants workers to be aware that if chronic stress on the job leads to persistent problems such as feeling constantly overwhelmed, being overly emotional or puts a strain on relationships, then they may need help.

[...snip...]



I applaud the efforts of the NMHA in raising awareness of depression and mental health issues in the workplace...but in reality, there's still such a stigma that I don't know if we can ever feel safe discussing it. That's especially the case in this economy, where people always have to watch their backs because they never know when their job is going to be "outsourced", or they're not going to be the "right fit" for the organization. In future posts I hope to do some research into ADA and mental health, and give an outline of people's rights so that we can at least feel like we have a fighting chance.

Saturday, May 06, 2006

Increasing knowledge

The more we talk about it, the more chances there are to educate people -- and greater education can reduce the fear and the stigma:



Man with mental health problems to bring his message to students
By MOLLY McCARTHY
Star-Gazette
May 6, 2006


Ross Szabo was diagnosed as bipolar with anger-control problems and psychotic features when he was just 16 years old.

Now 28, Szabo hopes to put a positive spin on a serious diagnosis by traveling across the country and sharing his experience with others as director of youth outreach for the National Mental Health Awareness Campaign.

Szabo will address community members at Elmira College on Tuesday and students at four area high schools on Tuesday and Wednesday.

Szabo's visit comes during National Mental Health Awareness Month and at a time when community members have expressed concern about the recent loss of several young people to suicide.

Pat Breux, community advocacy and prevention coordinator for Chemung County Children's Integrated Services, hopes that people will take Szabo's message to heart.

“I hope that people see mental health in a more positive light. Teens don't traditionally access mental health care,” Breux said.

“You have to take care of your mental health as well as your physical health.”

Szabo, who lives in Northern California, has spoken to more than 400,000 people across the country over the last five years about mental health issues, he said in a telephone interview Friday.

He addresses the stereotypes associated with mental illnesses, as well as the warning signs for mental illnesses and places where people may go for help.

“The main message we promote is that we can talk about mental health (problems) with others,” he said. “It is treatable.”

His visit is sponsored by the Chemung County Department of Mental Hygiene's Subcommittee for Mental Health and the Suicide Prevention Task Force.

A bit of background

The date on the first post was April 29...however it was only written today; April 29 was the day I first came up with the idea for this blog, after a post on another site detailed a husband's struggle with dealing with his wife's depression and mental illness. In reading the comments, it was clear to me that there are many people out there struggling, both those who have the illness and those close to them who must fight for treatments and care.

Mental illness has touched me closely, on all sides of my family. Myself, I still struggle at times -- mine seems to be more of a situational depression, exacerbated by life events, and I've had a lot of those to deal with lately. I'm still evaluating a course of action, whether it involves drug therapy or just simply talking things out with a neutral party. But because of family history, I'm still interested in the topic and what's going on in the field...both here in the United States and in other parts of the world. By putting this information out there, maybe it'll help someone else.

Okay, that's it for now...

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Welcome

Welcome.

This site will hopefully be a place of information...a place of sharing...a place of comfort.

In greater numbers, people are being touched by depression and other forms of mental illness. I can't say for certainty that the numbers are growing, or if it's just that people are both more aware of it and/or are willing to talk about it. Yet there is still a stigma to the subject -- it's not a topic for light cocktail-hour conversation. Too many people still have the attitude that mental illness is a personality defect, not a "real" illness...all those folks need to do is snap out of it, stop focusing on themselves. And yes, for some people finding a project or reaching out to others can alleviate mild depressions...but that's not the case in all instances. For many people, more serious measures are required.

I'll be posting news items (with links) -- eventually, as this blog gets underway, I'd like to invite others to contribute their findings as well. I'll try to update it several days a week (I'll be on vacation in June, but I'll attempt to do some work then -- I'll have my laptop with me.)

So, friends, let us begin our journey...