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Showing posts from October, 2010

Quick Tips for the Newly Diagnosed

Recently, I spoke to someone who was newly diagnosed with schizophrenia. Although they did not know what to ask me, I suggested some things for them to do...

1) Find a healthcare professional in the mental health field.

It is best to find a psychiatrist, a doctor who prescribes medication, and also a therapist. A therapist is beneficial because they provide resources and support in addition to therapy. If someone does not have health insurance look into the county mental health centers for services or referrals.

2) Apply for disability benefits.

Because mental health can be so severe to the extent that a person cannot work I strongly suggest that person apply for disability benefits. However, many times people are denied benefits the first time around therefore a person should get support from an agency that provides that service. Lastly, the benefits may take a few months so do not expect a fast turn around.

3) Find a support group.

Many people do not understand mental illness. Participati…

Book Review: Crazy Like Us

The followingbook review was submitted by Eric Fergerson.

Crazy Like Us (The Globalization of the American Psyche) is insightful and thought-provoking. It looks at the influence of Western medicine on the diagnosis and treatment of mental illness around the world. The author Ethan Watters examines this process by chronicling the rise of Anorexia in Hong Kong, Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder in Sri Lanka, Schizophrenia in Zanzibar and Depression in Japan.

Mr. Watters travels the globe to meet with researchers involved in studying these illnesses in their indigenous cultures. He looks at the socio-cultural, historical, etiological and epidemiology of these illnesses. He uses first person accounts along with personal and doctor interviews to develop his thesis. He does not conclude that Western medicine is simply either inferior or superior to indigenous belief systems in regards to ways of healing and recovery. In fact, he states "I have tried to avoid making the cl…

EMM Website Update

The Embracing My Mind, Inc. (EMM) website was updated, please visit the site to see changes, click here.

The mission of EMM is to provide peer support, advocacy, and education to low income and homeless individuals living with serious mental health concerns.

The group provides recovery support groups and other programs to consumers and people affected by mental health. All programs are offered in the Atlanta metropolitan area FREE of charge. However, most programs are closed meetings, not open to the public.

If you would like your organization to provide EMM programs please contact Ashley Smith, Executive Director, by email: or phone: 1-888-839-3191.

Thank you for your observation. To learn more about schizophrenia visit EMM, NAMI, Schizophrenia Society of Nova Scotia (SSNS, Canada).

5 Tips for Finding the Right Therapist for You

The following entry was submitted by Kitty Holman:

For those who suffer from mental illnesses like schizophrenia, medication can be effective in alleviating the most serious symptoms, but lifestyle management and substantive therapy go further in treating the illness long-term. Since therapy can play a key role in achieving and maintaining stability, it's very important that you be selective in choosing a therapist. While every licensed therapist does have professional credentials, the styles and personalities of each different therapist are more suited to some patients than others. Here are a few tips for finding a therapist that meets your specific needs.

1. Get recommendations from friends or family.

To get a better idea of what a therapist will be like before you meet him or her, ask your friends, acquaintances, or family for recommendations. Word-of-mouth is often the best way to begin an initial search for a therapist because you'll know exactly how the potential therapist …

Denial in the Family Member--A Different Perspective

Since my diagnosis of paranoid schizophrenia in 2007 I have participated in several support groups and trainings to be a facilitator. Therefore, I have heard many of my peers discuss different concerns from side effects of medications to lack of support, and many other important matters.

Even though what I am about to discuss may NOT apply to you as a family member or consumer (a person living with mental health concerns) it occurs quite frequently, and thus is the reason to bring it to one's attention...I am talking about denial. Denial in the sense that it is refusal to believe or accept a person's diagnosis of mental illness. Denial comes in many different forms for both the consumer and the family member.
In fact, denial is a manifestation of stigma. In short, stigma is criticism of a person on the grounds of their affiliation with a group (that being mental illness) based on lack of understanding or stereotypes. For example, common misconceptions about schizophrenia is tha…

Schizophrenia Basics

Every so often I like to reiterate my understanding of schizophrenia to ensure that my readers understand the basic information about the illness...

In my experience and personal research on schizophrenia it is a complex brain disorder that affects thoughts, judgment, and sense of reality. Now, I will share with you some of my experiences with the illness.

Before I had knowledge of my mental health condition I experienced diverse symptoms of schizophrenia including the following: A belief that I had special abilities to read other people's minds, extreme paranoia in that I believed that other people were trying to harm me by poisoning my food (even family members!). The fear of others trying to kill me, by serving tainted food, encouraged me not to eat- anything. This led me to lose a lot of weight, at one point I weighed under hundred pounds, which is really bad for my height of 5"5- if you can imagine.

In addition to that, I heard multiple mean-spirited, characterized voices t…

Promoting Wellness with Support Groups

In group today, I reiterated my background in receiving mental health treatment at the center where I receive care...I have come a long way! I re-introduced myself because we had a guest, an intern studying social work.

I remember just two years ago I was struggling with isolation and not interacting with many people outside of my family. In general, isolation is a concern for people living with a mental illness because it is a common symptom. For me, I was comfortable being alone in the confinement of my home with the Internet and my online scrabble games and music. However, I desired more social activity besides family so I forced myself to get out of my comfort zone and to participate in all of the group sessions the center had to offer.

And now I am functioning at an even higher level than before, and I am thankful for the treatment and therapy I have received from the mental health care staff, family and peer support. I strongly recommend group therapy to others who want to enhanc…

Medication Adherence and Violence Management in Schizophrenic Patients

The following article was written by Alexis Bonari:

Medication Adherence and Violence Management in Schizophrenic Patients

Violence is not a widespread problem among people who have been diagnosed with schizophrenia, but when it does accompany schizophrenia (about 16% of the time), it can become a significant issue. When violent schizophrenic cases arise, it can be difficult for doctors to prescribe a specific course of action because little is known about the efficacy of violence management medication in schizophrenic patients. To address this problem, Dr. Jeffrey Swanson and a team of researchers studied the effects of four different antipsychotic medications on a cohort of schizophrenic patients over a period of six months. In their research, they hoped to find out how medicated patients’ violent tendencies changed as compared to patients who refused to adhere to doctors’ medication recommendations.

Reducing Schizophrenic Violence: Predictors and Solutions

Swanson and his team found th…

Support in College and Current NAMI Projects

Recently, I brought my health concern to the Office of Disability at my college and it worked in my favor- I received the support that I needed and I did not feel belittled, misunderstood, or stupid. There were counselors that took my health concerns seriously and wanted to help me succeed. They offered additional tutoring, classroom accommodations, and a separate testing area, which I did utilize.

I am not sure if all colleges have a disability office, however, it is worth looking into for additional support. For those that are interested, there is usually a process such as getting a letter from your doctor. The letter has a lot information about the individual with the mental illness, including diagnosis, special accommodations, etc. Therefore, if you would like to receive more support from your college look into the guidelines of the disability center.

Finally, college is going okay for me. I am still adjusting to school and participating in groups. In fact, I performed my first NAM…