How To Affect Change

How to Affect Change

Warning, this post contains material that may be triggering to others; reader discretion is advised. The options expressed In this article; How To Affect Change are those of the writer.

Empathy, it’s a term that is tossed around often in conversation. But what does it mean? Well, simply put, its the ability to understand and share the feelings of another. While in college, the need to be empathic was drilled into our heads. When you are a counsellor, being able to sense other’s emotions is essential. This is how we affect change in the lives of the ill.

Once you learn how to empathize with others, a whole new world opens up. This new world is amazing because it can help to minimize any judgments you may have towards, not only those who sit across from you seeking your help; it can help you to look at all people’s in a more equal light. Ultimately, it bolstered my belief that everyone has value.

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Similarly, my counselling education taught me so much about helping those with mental illness. Having a mental health condition is serious and should be treated as such, always!

I am grateful for having learned to take mental health as seriously as any other medical condition. Not only has it made me a better helper but it’s also helped me to be kinder to myself; understanding the core principles that make mental illness tick allows me to see that John the person and John’s PTSD Or John’s depression are two different things.

Ways to be kinder to yourself when you’re mentally ill

Sadly, Not everyone is able to sperate themselves from their illness. There are many factors that make one feel like their disorder is part of their identity. They include:

  • The symptoms themselves. Many mental disorders produce irritability, for example, this can cause conflict with others, making one feel like a bad person.
  • Stigma. Not everyone understands or cares to quite frankly; Having an encounter with sigma can re-enforce one’s symptoms, making them want to retreat from the world and making then feel less than they are.

Of course, there are many other things that can impact people who are ill. But the one I want to focus on is the resistance from the physical health side of things. I am speaking of some doctors, nurses and other professionals charged with the care of sick people. Now, it has to be said, that most health care professionals are awesome! What I am talking about here is the enormous burden on them; its no easy task and the majority of the ones I have encountered are kind, compassionate and do what they can.

How To Affect Change

However, I have the impression that many health care professionals have two separate views on illness; the physical disease model is of the utmost priority whilst mental health treatment is considered a low priority, if its on the radar at all. This is likely due to the amount of physical health training they have compared to mental health training.

The health care crisis

Moreover, the notion that a mental health emergency is somehow not as worthy indicates to me, a lack of understanding. When someone walks into an ER and bravely tells a doctor or nurse that they want to kill themselves, that should be seen in the same light as someone in the ER who has coded from a heart attack. Both can be life or death.

Those who come in a mental health crisis can and indeed, should be treated accordingly. They require a different set of skills; those of active listening, a calm voice and you guessed it, empathy. Additionally, suicide intervention training and protocols must be followed.

How to talk to someone in a mental health emergancy.

In other words, if a person presents with suicidal ideation, they should be kept for observation. And, if they tell you they have a plan, this should not only be taken seriously; it’s imperative that its seen as an emergency. Find them a bed until they can access the mental health services they need.

We need to do better, mental illness is a growing epidemic(1) and our ER’s like that of any medical emergency are our first line of defence. Of course, it would be irresponsible to rest the entire blame on the medical and mental health establishments, after all, their respective fields have been butchered by government cuts. To Lean more, how we can bolster the system, click the link below. Please, take care of yourself, hang in there and most importantly, keep fighting. Let’s learn how we can affect change.

Making the Case for Investing
in Mental Health in Canada

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Contact: The Road To Mental Wellness

Our Mental Illness Is Real

Our mental illness is real

Our Mental Illness is real, Here I lay out my argument.

It’s no secret that one of the biggest battles for people with mental illness is the stigma; A notion that seems to come with the territory. Some seem to feel that death by suicide is a choice; whist I’ve heard others say, what we’ve likely all heard before, “someone always has it worse”. How many times have I heard a sentence that starts with “you just gotta”. I want to make the case that Our mental illness is real.

When talking to the folks who use these, “I know how to solve it” one liners. Its fascinating to me just how generic these suggestions are. What I find disheartening though, is that they presume to know the level of havoc psychiatric disorders have on a person. I wish there was some sort of mental illness pain scale that could show the level of pain that beat’s around in one’s head.

I have to say that I truly believe that many are well meaning; loved ones who have little skill to help and even less understanding of the ill. While on the other side of that coin, there are those who don’t care to get it and, honestly, they aren’t worth trying to convince. At least not on the individual level. The best thing we can do is combat the inaccuracies together.

With that said, how does one simply brush it off? When many mental health conditions come standard with a feeling that no body likes me; how do you ignore that sigma? When you feel like everyone is angry with you, how does one let that go? I’m willing to wager that many don’t.

assumptions are born out of factual inaccuracies. In other words, we fill in the gaps when we lack knowledge or experience.

As much as we may try to articulate the severity of our pain, those who don’t know likely never will. Unless, of course, they become ill themselves..

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Personally, I’d like to put to rest that “if you can’t see it then it’s not happening assumption”. Nothing could further from the truth. There are a few roadblocks that re-enforce this assertion. One of the biggest being the myth, that there is no evidence that you can see mental illness.

What I think makes us blind to the symptoms, is that the majority of us aren’t that good at understanding human behaviour. I feel like we see it as a secondary function of humanity, when in reality, it’s one of the most fundamentally important. We do what we do for a reason.

Experienced or trained observers are much better at understanding what makes us tick. We, the ill can tell and so can a mental health professional. To the untrained eye, however, they have little to go on but the assumption that we are well. As we know, assumptions are born out of factual inaccuracies. In other words, we fill in the gaps when we lack knowledge or experience.

So, mental health conditions do exist, its an undeniable fact. The symptoms radiate from an organ known as the brain and its symptoms are many. Take PTSD for example; one symptom of this disorder is a heightened startle response. So, if you notice a loved one jumping out of their chair over every sudden noise, that’s a symptom; an observable symptom.

PTSD and the Brain

The brain, not unlike the heart after a heart attack has damage and very real consequences as a result of that damage. Proving that our mental illness is real.

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Our mental illness is real – Neuroimaging in Posttraumatic Stress Disorder and Other Stress-related Disorders
J. Douglas Bremner, M.D.

This brain scan, it shows the effects of PTSD on the brain. More specifically, it shows what happens to the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain behind your forehead that makes you, you. It is responsible for managing impulsive behaviour, future planning and executive function among other things. For a comprehensive read go here

Please, do your best to not feel shame or like you are being judged

A simple way of understanding the images here is, the brighter the colour in the image, the more brain activity; less colour is an indication of lower activity. As you can see, the prefrontal cortex, located at the top of the images, shows less activity in images 7 and 8. A notable difference between images 5 and 6. Visual proof that PTSD’s symptoms have a source. This is true of many other psychiatric disorders.

Treatment options for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

So, there you have it, prove that our mental illness is a real, legitimate health condition. The brain, not unlike the heart after a heart attack has damage and very real consequences as a result of that damage. Essentially, both organs have functional issues that cause them to underperform and produce symptoms that can be seen. Remember the PTSD and its startle response from earlier? Its a symptom as a result of real changes to the organ we can the brain.

Please, do your best to not feel shame or like you are being judged, you’re illness is real. I hope I did a good job demonstrating that today. Not only for those suffering but also for those who aren’t. The odds of you knowing someone with a mental illness are high. If its a loved one, they need to see that you have taken the time to learn about their illness. Education leads to understanding and understanding what makes those you lovesick can produce the empathy and support they need from you.

How to support someone with a mental Illness

So, did I make my case? Leave your comment or give it a like. Thank you.

You can contact me here at, The Road To Mental Wellness Facebook page.

If you want to help me make my book a reality, please go to my GOFundeMe, thank you.

When Stigma Arises

Whem stigma arises

Anyone with a mental health condition can tell you that the symptoms aren’t only real, they are sometimes level ten intense. Disagree if you must, just keep in mind that the sick would gladly trade heads with you in a heartbeat.

For those who are lucky enough to have walked through life being able to take on the world and navigate its tough spots, I commend you for being well enough to do so. From my point of view, that’s what makes the difference between those with mental illness and those without, the “normal” people are well enough to deal with the wider world and the stress it produces.
Stigma arises when those who have a healthy mind fail to understand that people with psychiatric disorders aren’t faking it or exaggerating their condition. Of course, not every well-minded individual takes the, “if I can’t see it, then its not happening approach.” There are lots of healthy people working hard in the mental health field to make a real difference in our lives, I thank you for joining the battle.
With that said, some of the healthy brained among us have a difficult time comprehending why someone can be on disability for depression or why another would be accommodated in their workplace for PTSD.
From where I stand, I feel like this perpetuates the stigma because people tend to base their assumptions on what they are observing. For example, if a person with, let’s say, borderline personality disorder is being accommodated in their place of work, those who have never experienced the disabling effects of such a disorder may begin to view the BDP sufferer as someone who is being favoured. Which of course, simply isn’t true.

Manging work and mental illness

What I find amusing about this assumption is they can’t physically see the evidence that there is preferential treatment going on, but they choose to believe that their narrative is factually accurate, yet the unseen but very real mental health condition is somehow not made up or exaggerated.

Mental illness

While it escapes me why some people choose to believe their own conclusions without asking themselves it what they are seeing is accurate, it is, nonetheless, something that people with mental illness have to contend with.

Only you know how you feel inside so despite what those around you may think, you have a right to live and work and have every opportunity to venture as far as you can down your own road to mental wellness.

if you are suffering from PTSD or another mental illness, please reach out. I thank you for your service and you are still worthy and mean something. I believe in you!

If you are struggling please go here: Crisis Services Canada

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You may also enjoy: Spontaneous Mental Combustion

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