Mental Illness in America

We’ve come a long way as far as cultural perception and stigma surrounding mental illness are concerned. As far back as ancient Egypt, Greece, and Rome, mental illness was viewed as divine punishment or unholy possession, and this perception continued on through the Middle Ages. In America, by the time the 18th century rolled around the perceptions had changed but the stigma had not. Although supernatural factors were no longer believed to be the common cause of mental illnesses, the lack of understanding and preconceived ideas about mental illnesses perpetuated the desire for the confinement of these individuals.

The first major move in the treatment of mental illness in America came from Dorothea Dix, an American teacher and author turned activist who sought to expose and change the horrific conditions of the mental institutions that existed throughout the nation. In the 1800s, the stipulations for institutionalization were vast and arbitrary. On top of the horrific terms on which people could be committed, the conditions in these places were shockingly terrible. One example of this occurred at Auburn Prison in 1821where the majority of 80 male patients in solitary confinement either broke down mentally or committed suicide. Dorothea saw the injustices these people faced — in her words, being kept “in cages, closets, cellars, stalls, pens! Chained, naked, beaten with rods, and lashed into obedience!” —and pledged to help them the best she could.

Over a 40-year period, Dorothea was directly responsible for the United States government’s funding of 32 state psychiatric hospitals across the country. While her work did wonders for the advancement of people who are mentally ill, it also lead to mass institutionalization where any people seen as public nuisances or were viewed as dangerous were committed to these institutions.

The early 1900s offered some strides as well as some fallbacks. The use of electroshock therapy became widespread in the treatment of mental illness, often without the use of anesthesia. Patients were also subjected to frontal lobotomies and hydrotherapy where patients were submerged in or blasted with water as means of treatment. However, in the 1950s, new medications that could help stabilize unstable patients mixed with funding cuts to large, scandal-ridden state hospitals lead to deinstitutionalization which dramatically reduced the number of patients being held at these centers.

Stay tuned for Part 2 in the series of Mental Illness in America.

How Common are Mental Health Problems?

Mental health problems in the U.S. are more common than you realize; every year over 42 million people in the U.S. suffer from some kind of mental illness such as bipolar disorder, depression or schizophrenia. Other types of mental illness are anxiety disorders, mood disorders, psychotic disorders, eating disorders and personality disorders.

Additional mental health problems include stress response syndromes. Stress response syndromes happen when a person develops emotional or behavioral symptoms when faced with a stressful event or situation. Stress events that cause stress responses are a major illness, a natural disaster like a tornado, death of a loved one, divorce or marriage, or a major move overseas. Those who suffer from these dissociative disorders suffer with severe disturbances or changes in memory or identity.

Keep in mind; there are many things which can cause mental illness such as inherited traits. It probably is no surprise that mental illness is more common in those who have blood relatives who have a mental illness, and genes linking certain conditions are being described frequently. Another factor is exposure to environmental stressors before birth such as alcohol or drugs.  In utero exposure or circumstances can bring about epigenetic changes which will shape one’s life for better or for worse.  Imbalances in neurochemistry or brain chemistry are often biochemical reason or a cause of mental illness.

It’s no surprise, I’m sure especially to the younger generation which carries much school debt that stressful life situations include financial problems and can be an additive factor to one suffering from mental illness.  A childhood with abuse or neglect, and a limited social network can set the stage for mental illness.

There are several effective strategies that can be taken that reduce and in some cases reverse mental illness.  One of these pillars is psychotherapy.  Psychotherapy is when mental illness is treated by a trained mental health professional through counseling discussions. Psychotherapy delves into a person’s feelings, thoughts and behaviors to begin heal or improve a person’s well-being. Medication is also prescribed for some mental illness conditions. Case management is another way to treat mental illness and coordinates services for a person with the help of a case manager which can be likened to a “project manager”.  Hospitalization may be necessary for certain patients given circumstances.  Group therapy through support groups, or peer support also may be beneficial in numerous cases.

Other treatments that you can do for yourself, include treating yourself with respect and kindness, not being overly critical of yourself, making time for hobbies or other relaxation strategies.  Even small things like finding time to read a book or do a crossword puzzle. It can not be emphasized enough how important it is to eat nutritious food, exercise, get enough sleep, and to be surrounded by positive or nurturing people; those who are family-oriented and those who support you with your way of life.  Giving back by volunteering to help others, being mindful and learning how to deal with stress through journal writing or simply looking for the humor in life. Taking a moment to be grateful or just going outside for awhile and appreciating what you see; all are activities that can help treat and prevent certain mental health problems.

To conclude, mental health problems in the U.S. are more common than you realize; however, there are many effective treatment strategies which can mitigate mental illness or ideally prevent.

Finding Care in Medical Deserts: How Dallas, TX Struggles to Offer Adequate Help

The quality of healthcare in Dallas, Texas, has been portrayed as a gulf for certain sections of the population, like racial and ethnic minority groups with respect to the quality of practical care services rendered, and hands-on care that can be expected. In a groundbreaking report by the Institute of Medicine Crossing the quality chasm: A New Health System for the 21st Century the institute threw a gauntlet at all healthcare organizations to induce encompassing six prominent goals: safety, timeliness, effectiveness, efficiency, equity, and patient-centeredness. The essence of the proposal was to ensure equal administration of high quality care to all races and ethnicities, irrespective of any discretely private motive a patient might have for seeking medical attention.

Over time, studies of inequalities in admittance, usage, and consequences of health care in Dallas has looked for and continue to critically scrutinize situations that raise questions about moral, ethical, and economic concerns. These often translate to gross injustice that must be addressed if the recommendations of the Institute of Medicine can come to fruition. Based on significant variations in care according to age, gender, race/ethnicity, and socioeconomic status, aberrations have been noted in the Dallas system that decries expectations of “best care” for all and sundry. An important aspect to eliminating health care injustices, appropriately directed at tackling equity issues, by highlighting specific objectives targeted at eliminating identified injustices that seek to arrive at a culturally astute health care system, must establish a communally advantageous relationship between healthcare providers and the community. Essential mechanisms for arriving at such a relationship must comprise a strengthening of the patient, primary care provider relationships that mitigate kinks within the healthcare system and enhance patient accessibility to care. This will also assist the development of relationships with pertinent local community leaders/lay health advisors, advocates, and organizations.

In a study conducted by Dallas News at the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center and Parkland Memorial Hospital, two iconic medical care providers of Dallas metropolis. The paper discovered at Parkland, decades of elusive entanglements that resulted in serious, and endless harm to an average of two patients per day; according to the hospital’s own admission statement. Records and testimonials from both hospitals, following referral to Federal inquiries, revealed instances of malpractices among loosely supervised residents, as well as, Medicare billing fraud supportive of the Dallas News findings. The paper has posted its archived findings, along with other investigative writings at its blog “DMN Investigates”. Which is accessible at www.dallasnews.com/medinvestigation. The findings are truly informative, exposing a whole lot of shortcomings, particularly, as applies to the Dallas Medical Care system. Procurement of the true information that went into the compilation of the reports proved very challenging as the hospitals refused to share the data on patient outcomes. However, the News channel resolved to ingenious reporting strategies backed by the implementation of the “open record law” and the like, to procure the data for the compilation of the studies.

The reporting uncovered several malpractices with the Medical Care industry and drew the attention of the Department of Healthcare and Human Services’ Office of the Inspector General. The investigative story exposed that generally, the Medical Care industry do not like to have open discussions, despite the notable grandness of their practice on human toll, grounded on their intense commitment to preserving what is described as “the privilege of self-regulation”, a concentrated defense against the exposition of shortcomings within the industry. Continuous studies by the newspaper, show that although no one takes delight in needless harm to patients, everything depends on the provision of an indiscriminate patient-centered care. Which will require in part, abandoning a reliance on cheap labor provided by residents, believed to offer new doctors the opportunity to learn from their mistakes. Measures to add resident supervision is being emphasized. A replacement of several key officials within the medical system is being implemented. Despite great achievements made because of studies of elusive behavior and malpractices, there is so much at stake with several valuable lives to protect. There is, therefore, still plenty of room for improvement within the Dallas Medical Care system. There exists some evidence that community health workers who play multiple roles in the healthcare system, and act as links between patients and providers, as well as, contributing to the management of patient aftercare can impact the quality of care and help reduce the cost of healthcare. Promotion of sustainable healthcare, disease prevention together with a quality healthcare is only attainable through a delicate balance of “compeers” that eradicates injustices in the healthcare system.

Opioid Use in the United States

The use of opioids is widespread and common in many first-world countries and is only globally second to cancer medicines in the rate of usage. Hundreds of millions of pain prescriptions are written each year, for various reasons, and the market for opioids is around $24 billion, an astronomical amount. While you would think that this number would be distributed throughout the world, it’s unfortunately mostly concentrated in the United States. This number works out to around 80 percent of opioids being used in the United States.

Lack of limitations

One of the reasons that the United States leads with the amount of opioids prescribed and used is likely the past lack of limitations on the drug. Previously, people who used opioids for pain relief were easily able to get multiple prescriptions from different doctors or have prescriptions renewed before they should be in an effort to take more medications. Another difference between the United States and other countries in opioid prescription is medical culture.  American doctors were much more willing to prescribe the pills for people suffering from acute and chronic pain. In other countries, opioids are only prescribed in extreme trauma cases, like childbirth, severe burns, and end-of-life care. Studying in Europe it was rather rare to see patients ask or receive the various potent opioids inappropriately.  Conversely, when I started my training nearly ten years ago the culture was to liberally give out opioids at the slightest whimper.  Since U.S. doctors were more willing to prescribe opioids, less serious medical conditions were and sometimes are treated with opioids.  Only now is the pendulum swinging the other way and there have been new regulations limiting opioid prescribing.  

Amount of prescriptions

According to the American Society of Addiction Medicine (ASAM), a number of opioids prescribed has quadrupled, with close to 300 million prescriptions written in 2012, “which is enough to provide every American adult with a bottle of opioid pills”. Not every American adult has a bottle of opioids, which is even more concerning because it means that others have lots of different opioids they’re constantly taking. While it may be still fairly easy to acquire a prescription from a doctor, many people also receive their opioids from family members or friends who have their own prescription.

High risk of addiction

Opioids whether legal or illegal can be extremely addicting, which is why it’s so concerning at the rate they’re being used in the United States.  In this document, ASAM breaks down a lot of the numbers associated with opioid use and addiction. People are willing to share pain medication, especially when they receive it for less serious medical conditions and then end up having pills or prescriptions left over that they can give to loved ones suffering from chronic pain, or to sell. Unfortunately, opioids are also a gateway to heroin usage. Many people initially start taking opioids and then work their way up to heroin, because they’ve become addicted to their prescription pills and need to get that high. It’s important to limit, or at least carefully monitor, the amount of opioids being consumed in the United States.

Dr. Gregory Burzynski Tips on How to Stay Mentally Healthy

 

Enjoying mental health means having a sense of well-being, being able to function during everyday life and feeling confident to rise to a challenge when the opportunity arises.

Just like your physical health, there are actions you can take to increase your mental health. Boost your wellbeing and stay mentally healthy by following a few of these simple steps outlined below.

Dr. Gregory Burzynski mental health

Connect with others

Develop and maintain strong relationships with people around you who will support and enrich your life. The quality of our personal relationships has a great effect on our wellbeing. Putting time and effort into building strong relationships can bring great rewards.

Take time to enjoy

Set aside time for activities, hobbies and projects you enjoy. Let yourself be spontaneous and creative when the urge takes you.

Participate and share interests

Join a club or group of people who share your interests. Being part of a group of people with a common interest provides a sense of belonging and is good for your mental health.

Contribute to your community

Volunteer your time for a cause or issue that you care about. Help out a neighbor, work in a community garden or do something nice for a friend. There are many great ways to contribute that can help you feel good about yourself and your place in the world. An effort to improve the lives of others is sure to improve your life too.

Take care of yourself

Being active and eating well helps maintain a healthy body. Physical and mental health are closely linked; it’s easier to feel good about life if your body feels good. Having a physical and mental balance radiates health.

Exercise can help raise serotonin levels. It helps you feel physically better and more in touch with your body. Combine physical activity with a balanced diet to nourish your body and mind and keep you feeling good, inside and out. Try yoga, a local fitness class, or spinning. Start slowly as going from zero to 100 can be counter-productive.

Meditation is another important factor in mental health. Daily practice can train the mind to relax and relieve stress.

 

Creative Treatments for Anxiety Patients

To be clear, every now and then everyone experiences anxiety and stress; that is normal. Examples of anxiety are worries or fears we have about facing an examination or an interview with a potential employer. These emotions are normal; however, when anxiety interferes with your sleep or work, then it becomes a problem. To state anxiety more clearly, anxiety happens when a reaction of ours is out of proportion with what might be normally expected in a situation.

Besides accepted and well-used ways to treat anxiety, there are other more creative ways that can help such as with Yoga or acupuncture. Yoga works for some because it combines breathing techniques, meditation and stretching; all of which can help you relax and lessen your feelings of anxiety. Acupuncture has long been used to help with depression and other health concerns. Acupuncture also treats anxiety. Many think that acupuncture works by stimulating natural painkilling chemicals in the brain. In addition, it is also helpful in reducing or eliminating anxiety.

There are also nutritional supplements that lessen anxiety such as B-12, Chamomile in tea and the Passionflower supplement. Most importantly, creative arts therapies are an effective way to treat anxiety. Creative arts therapies can be given individually or in a group therapy setting. For example, music therapy for children lets children use musical play to express and regulate emotions, listen to relaxation music to lessen their stress and allow them to communicate their feelings to others.

Another creative way to treat anxiety is with dance/movement therapy. With dance/movement therapy, those suffering from anxiety can develop a deeper awareness of themselves, their emotions and how to manage their body and mind responses to situations that are anxiety provoking. For example, a dance movement therapy session will sometimes bring in role-play often throughout the activities.

Then, there is art therapy. Art therapy works for some because it provides opportunities in self-expression, improved self-regulation and development of coping strategies. Most importantly, art therapy enhances deeper communication into anxiety producing situations by encouraging creativity and then verbally describing how it feels to the therapist.

Other ways to lower anxiety are to exercise, avoid smoking and alcohol, eat a balanced diet, drink more water, get plenty of sleep and massage your muscles.

To conclude, everyone experiences anxiety now and then; however, when it becomes chronic, seek out ways to calm the anxiety, such as those listed above and find relief from anxiety!

References: https://www.cnnh.org/addressing-anxiety-in-creative-arts-therapies/

Understanding Mind Mastery for Complete Mental Health

Today’s society focuses so much on success and material possessions that we often lose sight of our initial goals and aspirations. As a medical professional, I am used to working long hours, rarely taking breaks and pushing myself to extremes.

I’m the first to know the stresses that a busy work life can have on your mental health and overall well-being. This is why I would like to take some time and share with you the importance of re-calibrating your mind and balancing out your life for the better.

What is Mind Mastery?

Mind Mastery is a concept based on tools set in place to help you gain control of your mental state and to achieve personal well-being. This form of elevation stems from our brain and the power that it possesses throughout day-to-day activities. Ferris Jabr of Scientific American talks about the importance of the brain when trying to achieve mind mastery and the importance of slowing down when working in a high paced work environment.

For clarification, mind mastery is not about intelligence or “getting smarter”. It is more about using your brain in a way that brings you peace and tranquility. Those who practice mind mastery learn how to stay both physically and mentally relaxed under pressure while taking on the forces of the world.

An Etymological Map of the Brain

An Etymological Map of the Brain

 

What Can Mind Mastery Do For You?

Whether you are a top executive or serial entrepreneur, mind mastery has many things to offer you. Tania Kotsos author of The Adventure of I talks about the advantages of achieving mind mastery, specifically how to become aware of your “real self”. This idea allows you to re-claim the immeasurable power of your mind, under the direction of your will, which then enables you to say ‘I THINK therefore I AM therefore I WILL’.

In a hectic work environment, this skill is important to obtain because you are the controller of your own thoughts, feelings, and consciousness. We’ve all had moments where we wanted to blow up at work, but the purpose of mind mastery is utilizing the abilities of your mind to get through the day.

By utilizing your mind power at higher degrees of awareness, you wake up from the auto-piloted mode that is behind what appears to be the randomness of your life. In turn, you get to direct your life in ways you’ve never thought was possible.

Philosophy of Yoga

Philosophy of Yoga

Mind Mastery Techniques

Understanding the importance of mind mastery can make or break your success as a business professional. Learning ways to properly align your mind at the end of each work week will relieve stress, promote productivity, and get you back in touch with your passions. Try some of these simple techniques that’ll have you ready to start the work week.

(the following techniques will help you come up with new ideas and charge your mind with natural energy boosters)

  • Frequent meditation
  • Visualizing your goals
  • Yoga
  • 20-minute breaks of physical movement or productive meditation which increase creativity which fosters new ideas
  • Physical Movement
  • Good posture and body language, specifically power posing
  • Going outside for fresh air, and taking deep breaths, specifically 4-8 breathing techniques