Frequently Asked Questions
Here are some frequently asked question(faq). Please select the tab to open for the answers. Please feel free to visit our contact page to get in touch with us if you need more information or answers.
Mental health means different things to different people. But I like the definition provided by mentalhealth.gov (US Department of Health and Human Services): “Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood.”
First, let’s say what we mean by stigma related to mental health issues. It’s a complicated term, but it includes negative beliefs, attitudes and behaviors that translate into bias, prejudice and discrimination toward people with mental health concerns. Yes, stigma definitely gets in the way of people seeking appropriate mental health care, as several large-scale surveys have clearly shown.
In some ways, ending stigma may be as difficult as ending poverty, hunger, or war, since it’s so well-entrenched. I think one of the biggest barriers is that stigma isn’t really even on the radar for most people as even being a problem. They are totally unaware that stigma toward people with mental health issues even exists.
It all starts with raising awareness and education. Getting the word out about stigma and its negative effects on people is the key. Getting personal accounts from consumers of mental health services about the effects of stigma is critical to bring a face and a voice to the problem.
Many people try to “self-diagnose” by googling their symptoms, or once diagnosed, google their diagnoses. Do you think this is harmful behavior?
The Internet is full of both good and bad information. The overwhelming majority of people search for health information online, so that trend isn’t going away. It’s important to help people find reputable, well-researched health sites online so the information they find is reliable. But you still need to have a formal assessment and diagnosis by a health care professional to make sure you receive the correct diagnosis and appropriate treatment options.
Your mental illness is a disease just like diabetes or high blood pressure. It doesn’t mean you’re crazy or broken or hopeless. You didn’t bring this on yourself and it’s not contagious. There are very effective treatments including counseling and medications, and you can still have a really good life and achieve many of your personal goals. There’s also a lot of support out there to help you along the way. But you will have to do your part by learning more about your illness, how to manage your symptoms and take some time to learn and practice helpful coping skills.
What advice would you give to caregivers, family and friends of people living with a mental illness?
Be there for your friend or loved one with a mental illness. Learn more about their condition so you will understand what they’re going through. Above all else, let them know you still love them and care about them and that you’ll do your best to help them.
What advice would you give to the significant other/spouse of a person living with a mental illness?
When you live with someone with a mental illness, it’s sometimes stressful or tiring. In addition to what I said above, it’s important for significant others to also take care of themselves. You can’t help others if you are physically or emotionally exhausted. Connect with support groups where you can talk to and learn from other families going through the same thing.
There are many smartphone “apps” for mediation, mindfulness, mood tracking etc. Can these be effective tools?
I just heard a webinar on this topic. Many people are using mental health apps, but the jury is still out on how effective most of them are, because the necessary research hasn’t been done yet to show if they really work. In the meantime, apps may be a useful tool just like self-help books or websites, but remember they don’t replace working with a health care professional.
You hear this term a lot, but it’s really so, so important to have balance in all areas of our life, whether it’s work, home, fitness, spirituality, hobbies, relationships, or health care. This balance is tricky to achieve, but if we’re intentional and “planful” about it, our chances to improve the balance is more likely to go up.
Have realistic expectations. Problems or struggles aren’t solved overnight. Change is slow and often challenging. Celebrate the small victories along the way. Surround yourself with the important things in life that bring you comfort and happiness: friends and family, pets, enjoyable work and activities, humor, faith, physical activity, good nutrition, adequate rest and sleep, and a positive attitude.
What advice would you give to a person who is struggling with low self-esteem or with a lack of self-confidence? Do you have any resources you would recommend?
To gain confidence in any endeavor, look for the easy wins first. In other words, try to accomplish a simple step toward a larger goal first.For example, if your goal is to learn to play the guitar, first say you will learn to play one chord. Even making small progress can be very rewarding and can give you momentum to keep working toward your ultimate goal. On a related note, be forgiving to yourself when you aren’t making as much progress as you would like.