Trending: How the Stigma of Mental Health is Changing with Pop Culture

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Now more than ever, TV series and movies have been showing characters coping with mental illness while a growing list of celebrities have been speaking out about their own struggles with mental health disorders, helping to continue the national conversation about mental health.

Though mental health has long been considered a taboo topic, men, in particular, have had difficulties speaking about their emotions due to long-standing societal norms. Men are much less likely to seek treatment for mental health concerns compared to women. Recently, however, this attitude has shifted as more male celebrities and athletes have started to speak out about their battles with mental illness.

Cleveland Cavaliers star Kevin Love wrote an article this past March about his experiences with anxiety, including a panic attack mid-game last year, and urged people to understand the reality and prevalence of mental illness.

Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, a former athlete and now a popular actor, revealed his past battles with depression during his teen and early adult years. He encouraged men, in particular, to speak to someone and ask for help rather than bottling up their emotions.

Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has also been open about his struggle with depression and how it almost destroyed his career. Phelps credits therapy for helping him through his depression and, like Love, encourages anyone struggling to visit a therapist.

A common theme throughout these stories is asking for help. Seeing well-known and admired figures reach out for help influences others to seek help for themselves. When major figures speak about their personal experiences with controversial issues like mental illness, the conversation surrounding those issues usually becomes more normalized. Asking for help and seeking treatment for mental illness are both instrumental in getting better.

At Gateway, a team of therapists and counselors work with patients to help them understand and treat the underlying causes of their substance use, not just their addiction. If you or a loved one is considering Gateway as a treatment option, click here to learn more.

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.

CEU Webinar to Increase Understanding of the Relationship between Trauma and Addiction

In honor of Mental Health Awareness Month in May, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers will offer a free continuing education (CEU) webinar for healthcare professionals.

The webinar, “Dual Recovery fromTutor with class of students Trauma and Addiction,” will give participants the opportunity to earn one CEU and learn how to identify signs of trauma-infused personalities and how and when to intervene.

The Webinar presenter is Dr. John Fusco, Psy.D., M.Div., a Licensed Clinical Psychologist at Gateway Treatment Centers. Dr. Fusco trains and supervises psychology students to provide diagnostic testing, biofeedback and individual, group and family psychotherapy in an inpatient addictions program for adolescents and adults with mental health related issues.

“Past and current traumas have a ripple effect over decades in the lives of individuals,” Fusco said. “These traumas account for much if not most of a person’s difficulties in living, anxiety, depression as well as inefficient and ineffective coping strategies, including  the use of substances of addiction.”

The webinar will be offered on two occasions: Wednesday, May 18 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. and Tuesday, May 24 from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. Participants can receive one CEU IAODAPCA, NAADAC, Illinois: LCPC, LPC, LCSW, LSW, Nursing, Psychologist.

Registration in advance is required at RecoverGateway.org/training and space is limited.

“The trauma infused personality is a syndrome of troubling thoughts, feelings and behaviors which go down to the marrow of a person’s psychological bones. It impacts almost everything about a person’s relationships, view of self and view of the world,” Fusco said.

Other areas to be discussed include coping mechanisms, stages of recovery and appropriate interventions for each stage.

To learn more about this training, visit  RecoverGateway.org/training.

Mental health and alcohol abuse: Is there a connection?

During the month of May, Gateway Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers, Mental Health America and countless other organizations across the country are bringing awareness to mental health. Mental Health Awareness Month aims to fight the stigma associated with mental health issues as well as provide support to those who may be struggling.

While we support mental health awareness year round, this May, GatewayiStock_000059997060_Medium Alcohol & Drug Treatment Centers would like to highlight the strong correlation between mental health issues and alcohol abuse.

According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA), 80 percent of individuals with addiction issues have a co-occurring mental health issue. These can include depression, mood disorder, ADD, among others.  “In our experience the number of people with a dual diagnosis may be even higher,” says Jim Scarpace, Executive Director, Gateway Aurora.

Alcohol abuse and mental health issues go hand in hand because both are tied to similar centers of the brain. Alcohol temporarily energizes the center of the brain responsible for depression and anxiety, 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. However, when a person drinks to make them self 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. To learn more visit RecoverGateway.org/MentalHealth

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