Improving Mental Health Awareness

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Therapist Korinne Bouwhuis tells us how we can help improve Mental Health awareness. For more information from her, go here.

  • 1 in 4 people will experience mental illness.
  • Modern stress is changing our course of development. What used to be stress for survival consisted of intense but short-lived bursts of stress to keep us safe. In our world today, stress has become a chronic, nonstop condition we must actively learn to turn off or we will suffer in many ways as a result of it.
  • We must end the stigma associated with mental illness.
  • As in any health condition, “an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” and early detection and intervention are the hallmarks of successful outcomes. The stigma associated with mental illness contributes to hesitancy to seek interventions that could improve quality of life and the prognosis of the illness in the long run.
  • The brain is ever-changing. The greater period of time a person spends with an untreated mental illness, the more they develop a propensity for that illness. The default mode toward illness strengthens and weakens the body’s system to default toward health in the brain without appropriate treatment.
  • Similarly, if we could end the shame associated with mental illness, we might also end the need for those experiencing these disorders to have a goal of “getting off my medication.” Going off of a needed medication increases the likelihood of the condition worsening.
  • “Brain Disorder” is a more accurate conceptualization of mental illness.
  • Referring to mental illness as “diseases of the mind” or behavioral disorders limit progress with acceptance of what is really happening behind these illnesses.
  • All disease is “crazy.” Mental illness is not any more “crazy” than a haywire cell mutating to take over the body as in cancer, or a body’s immune system attacking itself, as in autoimmune disorders. All disease is a form of “crazy in the body.” It just so happens that diseases of the brain are the ailments that, as a society, we seem to have the most trouble giving sympathy to.
  • The brain circuitry of connections and activations is a visibly different network in brain images of OCD, PTSD, Depression, etc. These are real physiological struggles and changes with outward manifestations.
  • Protection & Prevention
  • Use head protection appropriate for activities you participate in. Traumatic brain injury can lead to a variety of brain disorders and can include processing as well as personality changes that can be permanent.
  • Avoid drugs and alcohol as these substances tend to exacerbate any biological tendency toward brain disorders you may already have even if you are unaware of the predisposition.
  • Responsiveness of the Brain
  • Where we once believed the brain to be fully developed by age 21, with advances in imaging science and medicine, we are now finding the age of full maturity to be many years later. In fact, full brain development may be an entirely abstract concept as many neuroscientists point out that, in fact, the brain is continuously changing in response to our experiences and environment.
  • The bad news of this is that we are constantly at risk for development of brain disorders, and all of us must exercise good health and stress management to help prevent them.
  • The good news of our ever evolving brains is that treatment and intervention can make a difference not just in our day to day functioning, but also in the map of how our brains connect and function for health and wellness.