Four Keys to Mental Health Recovery

Mental illnesses can be crippling and demoralizing. One can find endless advice on maintaining one’s mental health and on recognizing a mental illness, but today I would like to distill the critical factors for mental health recovery into four succinct points. The four most critical factors in mental health recovery are: housing, employment, stabilization of medication and symptom interference, and the development of a social network.

Housing is one of the most basic human needs, regardless of whether one has a mental illness or is considered entirely healthy. When one reviews the statistics, the rate of homeless individuals who suffer from an untreated mental illness is positively alarming. What is even worse is if these individuals cannot afford basic shelter, there is little hope that they are receiving proper medications, meaning a continual downward spiral is about to take place. Obtaining stable housing is likely the most important factor for mental healthcare consumers on the road to recovery.

Now it is time to explore what practitioners and consumers alike can do to obtain housing. For mental health practitioners, one must focus upon finding affordable or government subsidized housing for the mental healthcare consumer, ideally in a situation which removes them from their immediate environment (as it is prone to lead to relapses or continued substance abuses, etc.). Most major cities have government subsidized low-income apartment complexes that you can look into for such consumers. For the mental healthcare receiver, one must recognize that housing is critical to almost every function in life and seeking out housing in a shelter is far better than winding up on the streets. Also, an address will be required to find employment and to receive social security insurance payments if the qualifications for such payments are met, thus making housing crucial to mental health recovery.

Once one finds housing, employment is essential on the road to empowerment and self-sustainability. One point is critical however: do not take on too much too fast. It is OK to re-enter the workforce slowly. Take a part time position, adjust to that, and if you feel you are ready after a month or two, take on a full-time position. This is also a great time to go back to school if you have been looking into that. Anything with a technical skill will put you in much better standing so lean towards that if you can.

For mental healthcare practitioners interested in enrolling their consumers in higher education as part of their treatment plans, a great place to guide them is into computer courses dealing with Microsoft Access, Microsoft SQL, C++, Java, C#, or Python programming. Such jobs are in huge demand, have good salaries, and can even be done remotely from home in many situations.

With employment comes concern of money management. If an individual with a mental illness cannot responsible manage their money, a family member or treatment center fund should be given control of the individual’s funding. Now this is a very touchy subject so if a mental health consumer is in fact relinquishing control of funding to insure no purchase of illegal substances occurs, one must insure the controlling program is reputable, in good standing, and competently managed.

Medication and symptom stabilization is the third of the four keys to mental health recovery. The proper ratio of medications can take time and does alter one’s chemical and hormonal balances, thus can be a rather painful process, but it is worth the battle. So many breakdowns are due to mental health consumers going off their medications or improper medication balances, which is a travesty considering the avoidability of said occurrences. Take the time to find the right combination, this will allow for stabilization of symptom interference levels, which will then contribute to one’s ability to maintain adequate employment therein ability to afford appropriate housing and independence.

The fourth and final key to mental health recovery is building a strong, proactive social network. Isolation and alienation are very common among those with a mental illness who have experienced a severe psychotic break. One must seek out a supportive network, be it consisting of family, friends, or other individuals on the road to recovery from their own mental illness. The American Clubhouse model for mental healthcare facilities is great for finding an active social network. While some consumers complain that such groups solely sit around and talk, over time this talking will turn into productive, employment oriented endeavors. One must, however, remove themselves from any social network that could contribute to a relapse of the original mental condition.

Exercise, Physical Activity and Mental Health

Exercise and physical activity play a crucial role in both maintaining one’s mental health condition and in recovering from a mental illness. Breaking research indicates that exercise actually produces a chemical that stimulates the growth of brain cells, thus allowing for recovery from sever substance abuse disorders. Furthermore, physical activity and mental health recovery coincide in fostering a social network and encouraging self-reflection, both of which are crucial on the path to mental health recovery.

The human mind evolved in an environment which required it to travel over twelve miles daily. And no, that drive to work in the morning does not count…but that would make things easier, no? This evolution was due to survival instincts when humans migrated from the jungles into the flatlands. Humans also developed an adrenaline reaction which both encouraged movement and triggered immediate learning reactions; as Doctor Carl Clark from the Mental Health Center of Denver once stated, when early man saw that saber-tooth tiger charging out of the brambles, the neurons must have been firing pretty fast to teach them to stay away from the bushes next time…that is assuming their get away was fast enough to allow for a next time!

This adrenaline rush encouraging learning has become neutralized by the flow of activities in modern western societies, wherein the normal individual is seemingly on a constant, albeit generally unnoticed, adrenaline rush. Consequently, stress levels have continuously been on the rise, consequently decreasing the rate at which an individual learns when in a compromising situation, thus decreasing mental wellness levels.

Physical activity is a huge aid to mental health in the fact that exercise allows for a stress outlet, thus decreasing day-to-day stress, while creating functional adrenaline for the mind. In reality, physical activity is important for mental health due to its role in creating Brain Derived Neurotropic Factor (BDNF), which is a key factor in the creation of brain cells. The myth of the old days is past; you know the one, where once your brain cells are gone they are gone. Well such is not the case, physical activity and exercise can increase BDNF levels and allow the re-growth of brain cells, consequently making physical activity immensely important for mental illness recovery.

Exercise and mental health further coincide in regards to the alarming statistic that people with mental illnesses, on average, die 20 years sooner than mentally healthy individuals. While there are many factors that go into this involved in substance abuse risk factors, two considerations that one would be remiss to ignore is the fact that those suffering from mental illnesses have a tendency to stagnate and become physically inactive. This has resulted in a large percentage of mental health consumers being considered overweight, which can ultimately result in adult onset diabetes. Diabetes is very dangerous in sedentary individuals who, in a depressant state, care little about taking care of themselves, for such a medical ailment can result in numerous health related issues, some of which can be very serious.

Physical activity and mental illness recovery are highly correlated. In some of the most successful recovery-based treatment facilities one will find strong proponents of mental health consumers engaging in physical activity. These activities also subsidize the development and formation of a support network populated by individuals interested in similar hobbies. Furthermore, exercise can often be a form of active meditation, and as practitioners of Dialectic Behavioral Treatment (DBT) can profess, meditation, including meditation absent any religious connotations (whether it be active or seated), drives self-reflection which is crucial to mental health recovery; for more information on the importance of self-reflection, you can access my article on Spirituality and Hope in Mental Health.

Stay physically active, exercise and mental wellness are highly correlated. Exercise is one of the best ways to prevent the development of serious mental illnesses, and is also one of the most effective treatment plans. Stay active, stay healthy, stay happy.

Mental Health – What’s That?

Mental Health is about finding a balance between dealing with the difficulties in life and using the opportunities life presents for further development. Mental power is primary in helping create good things in our life, and is the vehicle that helps us work toward our hopes, dreams and aspirations. Mental health is far more than the absence of mental illness and has to do with many aspects of our lives including. The mental health issues may mean an increased risk of alcohol abuse, smoking and poor diet and physical fitness.

Anxiety, stress and depression can make coping difficult for seniors who are often facing the physical, emotional and economic changes associated with aging. For instance, everyone I know that deals with hypertension, diabetes, or asthma cope maladaptive to stress; they have anxiety issues yet don’t get referred to psych. Most people with an anxiety disorder will try to avoid exposure to whatever triggers their anxiety.

In anxiety disorders, people tend to get anxious when they are faced with a particular situation. So, for example, as a mental health nurse you could be helping to care for and support a mother with severe post-natal depression young man facing the complexities of a mental illness such as schizophrenia someone experiencing anxiety and panic attacks which prevent them from functioning normally. Mental Power Signs the Symptoms in younger children. Depression and anxiety are the most common health conditions.

Depression is a real condition and isn’t just “life. Depression, the fastest-growing cause of long-term disability in Canada, is the most common among this type of disorder, which includes bipolar disorder (also known as manic depression), dysthymia, and seasonal affective disorder. The research team has also found that stress at work is associated with a 50 per cent excess risk of coronary heart disease, and there is consistent evidence that jobs with high demands, low control, and effort-reward imbalance are risk factors for mental and physical health problems (major depression, anxiety disorders, and substance use disorders).

With mental health problems affecting one in four people in this region, and now among the main reasons for absence from work, no-one can afford to be blas̩ about their own mental health Рor that of their friends, family or colleagues. The Mental Power Foundation uses research and practical projects to help people survive, recover from and prevent mental health problems. Mental health problems are painful Рemotionally, physically, spiritually and socially.

Stress, depression and panic attacks are common conditions and they can all be successfully treated. Stress plays an important role in mental health. People just don’t taking account of the fact it’s just as life threatening and just as distressing as these major other illnesses. Such people often set themselves up for added stress by the rigid expectations that they hold. Some therapists suggest that by using positive self-talk and trying to restructure the WAY we look at events can offset the physical and mental effects of dealing with negative or stressful events in life.

Symptoms of Mental Illness Persistent sad, anxious or “empty” mood Agitation, irritability, restlessness, moodiness Withdrawal from community, social situations or formerly enjoyed activities Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, helplessness or burden Feelings of hopelessness and negativity Physical complaints that are hard to explain and resistant to treatment such as digestive disorders, headaches, heart palpitations and chronic pain Denial of obvious problems Increasing inability to cope with daily challenges, activities or small problems Overuse of alcohol, medications and/or drugs There are many types of mental illnesses.

African Americans in this study did not show a significant relationship between depressive symptoms and high-effort coping strategies, while Caribbean Blacks and white Americans experienced increasing symptoms of depression linked to increasingly high-effort coping, in relationship to other beliefs and values. Anxiety panic attack symptoms are impacting the quality of life of millions of people worldwide. The type, intensity, and duration of symptoms vary from person to person, but all mental illnesses are treatable.

Mental health is the key to overall physical health. Mental health is a human rights issue. But mental health is far more than merely the absence of mental illness. Mental health problems can’t always be seen, but the symptoms can be recognized.

Workplace Mental Health – A Series – An Overview Of The Issue (This Is Important!)

The mind and the body are inseparable. And you do want to engage the whole employee in your worksite wellness program, right?

Most worksite wellness programs today are not really wellness programs at all – they are employee health status management programs. Why do I say this? Most worksite wellness programs focus solely on employee physical health, to the exclusion of all the other dimensions of wellness.

As conceived by the modern wellness field’s founders, (Robert Allen, Donald Ardell, Halbert Dunn, Bill Hettler and John Travis), wellness is a multi-dimensional concept. The published wellness model of the National Wellness Institute includes the following dimensions: physical, social, emotional, intellectual, occupational and spiritual.

Emotional well-being is associated with numerous benefits to health, family, work, and economic status. Positive emotions and view of life are associated with decreased risk for disease, illness, and injury; better immune functioning; better coping and quicker recovery; and increased longevity. In addition, mental health and mental illness may influence physical health and biologic functioning. Positive mental health is associated with better endocrine function (i.e., lower levels of cortisol, epinephrine, and norepinephrine) and better immune response (i.e., higher antibody production and greater resistance to illness). It has also been shown to be associated with longevity.

Researchers are continuing to learn more and more about the mind – body connection. It has been clearly shown that emotions play a huge role in our physical health. There is also a reciprocal relationship between many chronic diseases and mental health. Self-efficacy, goal-setting, and problem-solving enable self-management behaviors, and these components are dependent on emotional health. On the other hand, self-management behaviors that enhance health, such as physical activity and stress reduction, can improve mental health status and quality of life. In many ways, it makes no sense to address physical health without addressing emotional health at the same time.

The absence of mental illness does not mean the presence of mental health. Growing research supports the view that these are independent, but related dimensions. Mental wellbeing are characterized by the presence of positive affect (e.g., optimism, cheerfulness and interest), absence of negative affect, and satisfaction with life. On the other hand, mental illness is characterized by alterations in thinking, mood, or behavior associated with distress or impaired functioning.

Why Address Mental Wellbeing in the Workplace?

The health of the mind and body cannot be separated. What effects one influences the other. Therefore, a healthy mind supports and contributes to a healthy body and vice versa.

Mental illness costs employers money and mental health can impact productivity and employee performance. Just like physical health, mental health can be viewed as being a continuum. At one end there is mental health and mental illness is located at the opposite end.

Mental health generally refers to the successful performance of mental function, resulting in productive activities, fulfilling relationships, and the ability to adapt to change and adversity. These domains are commonly referred to as wellbeing.

Mental illness includes diseases with classic psychiatric diagnoses, such as depression, bipolar disorder, and schizophrenia. Mental health and mental illness can be influenced by multiple determinants, including genetics and biology and their interactions with social and environmental factors.

Employers approach employee health through a multi-strategy framework. A multi-strategy framework can be applied to an employer approach to mental health as well. A comprehensive approach includes: promotion, prevention, intervention, and follow-up. It is important to recognize that mental health promotion needs to be equal in importance to the prevention and treatment of mental illness.