Starting Conversations about Mental Health

 

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May marks Mental Health Month, a time dedicated to raising awareness and reducing stigma. To start our month-long conversation about mental health, we started asking some questions:

Who is affected by mental health disorders?

Millions of people in the United States alone deal with mental health disorders. Yet less than half receive help. Chances are you know someone with a mental illness or someone who is affected by a person struggling with a mental illness.

According to recent studies, adults between the ages of 18 to 25 make up the highest percentage of people struggling with mental illness, but compared to other age groups, they also report the lowest rates of seeking treatment.

Why don’t more people seek treatment for mental health?

One of the main hurdles preventing people from seeking necessary treatment is the stigma surrounding mental health. Many people feel their mental health is not as important as their physical health or feel ashamed or embarrassed to admit they have a mental problem. As a result, some ignore their mental health concerns while others try to treat their symptoms by themselves.

What are some signs of a mental health disorder?

The signs of each mental health disorder are unique to that disorder, but here are a few to look out for:

  • Extreme changes in mood and behavior
  • Changes in work or school performance
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Prolonged feelings of anger or sadness
  • Withdrawal from friends and family
  • Struggles with carrying out day-to-day tasks

What are some examples of mental health disorders?

Depression and anxiety are the two most prevalent mental health disorders in the United States; however, many Americans also live with obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, and post-traumatic stress disorders, among others. The severity of mental health disorders also varies by individual.

Co-Occurring Substance Use Disorders

Nearly 80 percent of people with mental health disorders have substance use disorders. In an effort to cope with the symptoms from their mental health disorder, many people turn to drugs and alcohol. The most common substance people turn to for help is alcohol. However, alcohol and many other drugs can exacerbate symptoms.

How can we reduce stigma?

In the past few years, there has been a change in the conversation around mental health. Mental illnesses, such as bipolar disorder, have garnered more attention due to more celebrities, such as Mariah Carey, sharing their battles. If we continue asking questions and normalizing conversations about mental illness, then we can continue investing in and improving treatment for mental health.

Alcohol Abuse and Mental Health Issues Are a Common Dual Diagnosis

In recognition of National Mental Health Awareness Month, proclaimed by President Obama in 2013, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers aim to help you better understand mental health issues, how they can relate to alcohol abuse, and the treatment options available.

Author: Jim Scarpace, MS, LCPC,, Executive Director, Gateway Aurora

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Expert Insight:
Jim Scarpace Explains Alcohol Abuse and Mental Health Issues

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA), 80 percent of clients with addiction issues have a co-occurring Axis 1 mental health issue. These can include depression, mood disorder, psychosis and attention deficit disorder, among others. In my experience the number of people with a dual diagnosis may be even higher.

Alcohol abuse and many mental health issues go hand in hand because both are tied to similar centers of the brain. Depression and anxiety, for example, deplete certain of the brain’s neurotransmitters. Alcohol temporarily energizes that system, decreasing those symptoms for a person.

The effects of using alcohol to self-medicate are fleeting, leaving a person feeling substantially worse than prior to using. Still, many use this “band aid” approach because it helps them obtain some manner of immediate relief –medications for mental health issues that are prescribed by a medical professional can take three to six weeks to work and finding the right medications can be hit or miss. When a person drinks to make themselves feel better, they create a cycle that repeats, so both the alcohol abuse and mental health issue worsen.

Caught in the spiral, it is almost impossible to stop the cycle without help and support….Read Full Article or Watch Video >

Integrated Treatment for Co-Occurring Substance Abuse And Mental Health Issues

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Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment
Carbondale, IL

For men and teens with dual-diagnosis or co-occurring disorders, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers provide the kind of experience and knowledge needed to help them get life back on track. Our Carbondale center has expertise in integrated treatment, which means our clinical professionals treat both issues—addiction and mental health—at the same time, in the same program, by the same clinical team. Research supports that integrated treatment for co-occurring disorders is the most effective approach— more so than concurrent or sequential treatment models—and decreases one’s chances for relapse.

In addition to understanding the impact of mental illness and addiction issues on them and their loved ones, men and teens with co-occurring disorders will learn
how to:

  • Manage their condition and unique circumstances with a healthy lifestyle and prescribed medications.
  • Regulate their emotions using techniques like mindfulness.
  • Nurture gratifying relationships by improving communication and coping skills.

What is a Co-Occurring Disorder?
Often times people abuse alcohol or drugs in an attempt to escape their distressing thoughts and painful feelings created by an underlying mental health concern. In fact, it’s more common than not for people with a substance abuse problem to also have a mental health issue, such as depression, bipolar disorder or anxiety. When someone has both issues it is referred to as a co-occurring disorder.

For lasting recovery, it’s extremely important for people with co-occurring disorders to take the necessary measures to manage both concerns. That’s because untreated mental health problems increase the likelihood for substance relapse.

SPECIALIZED DRUG TREATMENT FOR MEN

The Men’s Residential Co-Occurring Treatment Program caters to the unique challenges confronting men who struggle with co-occurring disorders. With increased staffing ratios, our clinical team seamlessly addresses the intricacies involved with co-occurring disorders, such as medication management,
behavior modification therapy and post-treatment recovery planning.

Grounded in Gateway’s empowering treatment philosophy, men in this program get the responsiveness they need in order to thoroughly understand substance abuse as well as their mental health diagnoses. While treatment is personalized based on individual needs, men in drug treatment experience enhanced self-awareness and improved coping/social skills through classroom work, individual counseling and group therapy. Activities in group may include tasks like recreating a negative experience with a positive outcome and/or practicing difficult conversations in a safe environment. When the time is right, men can invite their loved ones to family counseling sessions where problems may be addressed through honest yet respectful dialogue moderated by solution-seeking counselors.

ENHANCED CARE FOR TEENS STRUGGLING WITH MENTAL HEALTH PROBLEMS

Gateway’s Carbondale center has the specialized expertise to instill in teens the tools and knowledge needed to manage their addiction and mental health concerns on an on-going basis. In fact, both our Male and our Female Adolescent Residential Programs at Carbondale have been independently rated as Dual-Diagnosis Capable (DDC) to Dual-Diagnosis Enhanced (DDE). This esteemed designation underscores the expertise of Carbondale’s clinical team and the organization’s dedication to evolving treatment of alcohol and drug abuse.

For more information about the Co-Occurring Treatment program for Men and Teens at Gateway Carbondale, call 877-505-HOPE (4673).

 

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