Sunday, November 30, 2008

Mental Health Courts: Separate Justice System

Patients of mental health require special attention and treatments and on normal circumstances, the prison cell will not give the proper, not even the sufficient treatment. It has been observed that those people who are suffering from certain mental disorders become worse while they are in correctional facilities. They get intimidated by the other inmates, they get abused even and the worst part is, they do not get the right treatment for their disorders. There is simply no possible way for them to get treated inside such facilities. Therefore, their psychological disorders become aggravated.

In the past recent years, it has been observed that offenders with mental illnesses are fastly falling into the jurisdiction of criminal justice system. Added to this are the shocking percentages of people with mental illnesses that are mixed into normal groups of people in correctional facilities. This is due to the lack of mental health facilities or their feeling of intimidation and reluctance to avail the services of such facilities which make them unable to connect to the community support systems that they are entitled to. In the end, people with mental disorders find themselves committing both minor and severe crimes, thus incarceration without receiving the services they require. This brought on the need for a judicial system that would specifically advance the services needed by criminal offenders with mental disorders.

Because of the need to improve the criminal justice system in the country, government officials, policy makers, the Council of State Governments and mental health professionals convened to come up with a solution that will answer the specific needs of criminal offenders with psychological disorders.

Mental health courts are the links between mental health and criminal law. This body combined the specialties of almost all types of people working in both fields to come up with favorable programs that work for the advantage mentally ill offenders. These courts commission court personnel such as judges, prosecutors and attorneys who have expertise and sufficient knowledge on mental health. Up to date, there are about 27 courts around the United States that are promoting treatment methods that are supported by the courts in exchange for incarceration.

These courts are adhering to therapeutic methods for people with mental health needs and they work on two approaches. One is to help prevent the rate of mental illnesses from rising to lessen the frequency of criminal offenses in support of public protection and two, distinguish that the need for criminal sanctions is highly unnecessary when it is proven that the cause of the criminal act is a psychological disorder.

With these approaches in mind, there are two goals enveloping this type of courts, namely: a) to lessen the exacerbation of criminal behaviors due to mental health illnesses magnified by insufficient number of services extended to people who need them and b) to find the alternative solution to imprisonment that would restrain the recurrence of the criminal act while providing treatment options for the offenders.

These courts believe that their services could augment the provisions of mental health facilities and may also extend the services of the criminal justice system. This way, such courts are able to give the alternative solutions that help lessen the number of offenses of individuals who are not mentally well.

It cannot be denied though that this program is still at its infancy period- having too little resource and having systems that are still developing. In fact, it was noted on the research conducted by the Bazelon Center Review that each court system has no specific model to which these courts could follow their structures. Also, they are allowed to create their own systems, rules and procedures that will work for the best interests of the facilities.

However, it cannot be discounted that mental health courts are playing the crucial role of separating offenders with mental health needs from normal people to whom criminal justice system applies well.
…

Monday, October 20, 2008

World Mental Health Day 2008

Celebrated during the 10th of October, mental health day is an international educational campaign which aims to extend knowledge on mental health to unaware people. For the first time in 1992, it was observed by the World Federation for Mental Health as an annual activity.

Each celebration of this global event holds a theme that aims to focus the concerns of the World Federation for Mental Health on specific problems.

Mental Health Alliance | Community Mental Health | Mental Health Directory | Mental Health Programs | Mental Health Careers | Mental Health Specialist | Recovery Mental Health | 

For this year's theme, the organizers chose to make mental health issues a global priority, after all mental health is an international concern. It is known for a fact that not only Americans, Canadians or other highly industrialized citizens experience the problems caused by mental health. Mental disorders do not choose their victims. They occur in all cultures, in all ages and on both sexes.

The sad thing though is that there is too little attention being given in helping people with mental health. We, Americans, are lucky because our government, our health authorities and many other organizations are tying up to mobilize the causes for assisting people with mental health. However, even our current efforts are not enough. In many countries though, in fact in almost all countries in the world, mental health is being given too little concern. This is aggravated by lack of funds, by lack of facilities and by lack of nearly all the resources required to advance the causes associated with mental health.

For this year, the World Federation for Mental Health made it a point to seek everyone's concern in battling mental health. This is done through strengthening services and the participation of the citizens.

Also, WMHDAY 2008 will highlight the present needs of people with mental health and the developments of present methodologies, treatment options and management of mental health. Advocacy is the key and this year's aim is to integrate the sense of advocacy to all people so that change could be feasible. WMHDAY 2008 also advocates that solving mental health issues could also be facilitated by feeding the right information to all kinds of people by providing reliable resources.

Its time for the world to listen. Through this year's team, we could eliminate the stigma and discrimination people with mental disorders feel. Through right public information, people who don’t suffer with such disorders would understand their suffering counterparts and could help them improve their lives. And through the supply of right information for the unaware public, they could share their lives to those people with mental health disorders.

Enough for the clucking of tongues after a miserable event happened caused by, say, a mentally ill individual. Enough with the daily pains people with mental disorders experience because the public does not have sufficient knowledge on the nature of their disorders. Enough with the unjust treatment to these distressed individuals. They need help, not discrimination. Support not stigma.

We always hear it in the news. A father killed his family and killed himself after. A teenage killed his peers and turned the gun against him and killed himself afterwards. A mother killed her children and got sent to a mental institution. Why do we always have to wait for something to happen before we take action?

Why don’t we listen to the painful sufferings of the mentally ill individuals now and provide them the proper services they need and deserve? World Mental Health Day 2008 sponsors subtly the belief that the world would be a better place if only we can understand and help people with psychological disorders.
…

Sunday, September 21, 2008

What Effects Does Nutrition Have On Mental Health

It has been an enduring belief that nutrition plays a significant role in the state of mental health of an individual. But is this true or not?

Recent as well as previous researches have proven that nutrition (or the lack of it) does have effects on how a person's brain functions, his moods and his behaviors.

Say for example, a person who has skipped a meal is observably weak, out of focus and irritable. This case worsens when extended to a certain period of time when the person becomes severely moody and indifferent to the demands of his environment thus showing decreased speed in reaction time.

These behaviors occur due to the lack of nutrition supply to the brain. The brain requires high energy and nutrient supply. It comprises, in fact, 20% to 30% of all the energy consumption of the body during rest periods. Thus, any change in diet or nutrition level of the body directly reflects in the mental functioning.

Chronic energy deprivation, such as the case of malnourished people, results to the eventual shutting down of the body by decreasing its activities and redirecting all its energy sources towards the systems that require higher energy supply. This results to altered levels of activities, changes in hormonal levels, lessened immune system efficiency and transport of nutrients and oxygen to certain body parts, all of which could directly or indirectly influence mental health. People with extremely low nutrition are more likely to become sad, depressed and emotional as compared with those who have adequate nutrition.

Newborn babies and fetuses are also susceptible to brain damage if they are subjected to lack of necessary nutrition. The type and degree of damage is dependent on the severity of malnutrition. Also, malnutrition among babies has proven to produce low level of intelligence, cognitive defects as well as functional abnormalities.

Protein, carbohydrates, lipids and vitamins all have individual effects on the brain. Lack of supply of these necessary nutrients result to alterations in the activities of the neurotransmitters, a chemical component in the brain that transmit one nerve impulse from one nerve cell to another. Malfunctioning of the transmitters could influence a person's mood, thinking and even sleep patterns. Additionally, deficient levels of nutrition may result to nerve cell damage that could disrupt cognitive and mental functions.

Neurotransmitters are partly made of amino acids, the building block of protein. Trytophan for example, makes up the neurotransmitter serotonin. If the required amino acid is lacking, the functions of the neurotransmitter could not be executed affecting the normal functioning of the brain. In case of deficient protein consumption and failure to supply the necessary amino acid to make serotonin, the body would experience low mood and perhaps, aggression. On the other hand, diseases that could cause the build up of certain amino acids could lead to brain damage thus affecting the mental health of an individual.

Mood regulation could also be associated with the sufficient intake of dietary fats. Some studies have yielded inconclusive results on the correlation between serotonin level and intake of omega-3 fatty acids, a certain type of fat found only in white fish to stress and symptoms of bipolar disorder (a mood disorder having the representations of both mania and depression).

Directly or indirectly, nutrition has an effect on mental health. Changes in the nutritional intake of a person could lead to alterations in the mental health and vice versa.
…

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Budding Disorders: Mental Health of Children

We would like to think that we have built our environments in such a way that they minimize the factors that could result to psychological and behavioral disturbances among individuals. Thus, optimizing our mental health. But statistics tell us that the majority of our population's mental health is largely subjected to negative environments.

Complications brought about by negative environment

For many children, symptoms of psychological disorders are linked to the negative stressors in the environment. In the United States alone, one in every five children suffers severe physical abuse and one in every group of five lives below the poverty line. Additionally, psychosocial structures in cities where there is poor housing expose children to violence that could detriment their mental health. (You can imagine how many children in other countries which have far lower economic status and far fewer programs for child protection are subjected to negative stressors.)

Both of the above stressors are considered as traumatic experiences to children that could resurface as psychological disorders during adulthood.

A negative or a positive environment during childhood explains why there are adults who are more likely than not to develop psychological disorders and there are those who are not affected by these at all.

For example, children who repeatedly experienced sexual trauma or sexual abuse are most likely to develop dissociative disorders such as multiple personality disorder. The rate of victimization within intimate relationships only reinforces the dissociative response. Also, repetitive exposure to violence or to the activities of a dysfunctional environment could also contribute to the development of severe dissociative disorders. These mental illnesses root from the child's effort to deny the violence, abuse, or trauma they experience as coping mechanism so as to protect his mental wellness. However, failure to completely get over these experiences would result to the impairment of his psychological wellness and even his social and emotional well-being.

Parental deprivations

Some researchers assumed that the large difference in number of psychological disorders being treated these days as compared to prevalence in the past century is largely contributed by dysfunctional family structures and parental deprivations. Indifference and neglect by familial figures, maternal-social deprivations, isolation and separation from parents are viewed as the root causes of psychological disorders such as depressions, mental retardation, psychomotor impairments and the manifestations of autistic-like behaviors among children.

Pathogenic Parent-Child Relationship

The traumatic interpersonal relationship between a parent or a parent-figure and a child is viewed as a negative environment for the child's growth and development. This relationship only means that their relationship is structured in the manner that it damages a child's psychological well-being. These give stress to certain beliefs that are psychologically unfavorable to the child such as irrational beliefs on self-blame, irrational explanations on traumatic experiences, maladaptive behaviors, unconscious guilt, shame and doubt about oneself. These beliefs are very powerful and could lead the child to over generalize negative incidents.

Children experience all sorts of negative environments including war and violence, daily stress, economic problems and accelerating negative effects of technological changes. But among these, the most aggravated is the disabling relationship he has with his immediate environment- his parents, his family and his direct interaction to his society. Above everything else, there is a need to modify these negative environments in order to develop children with better mental health and in the future, adults who can readily adapt to the stressors from their environments.
…

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Mental Health Statistics: How Common Mental Disorders Are

At any time of the year, there is one person in every group of five people who has a diagnosable mental disorder. This means that 1/5 of all families in the United States have family members who are experiencing developing or aggravated symptoms of mental impairment. This translates to approximately 20% of the American society.

Mental health or the lack of it is experienced by all types of people in America- from children to elderly, from Native Americans to Hispanics, from physically healthy individuals to those who have chronic diseases.

General statistics

a. Nearly 9% of the American general population suffers from all forms of phobias.
b. 5% have major depression
c. Nearly 4 million individuals suffer from Obsessive Compulsive Disorder
d. 2 million Americans have Schizophrenia
e. MAnother 2 million have Bipolar Disorders
f. MNearly 2.5 million have Panic Disorders

Statistics on the Prevalence of Mental Disorders in Children
• It is estimated that around 7 to 12 million children have symptoms of psychological disorders.
a. ADHD or Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder – 5% to 10% of the children population is diagnosable with ADHD. It is the most prevalent clinical disorder among children. Half of all children with this psychiatric disorder do not receive diagnosis.
b. Manic Depression – 30% of all children aged 6 to 12 ld who have manic depression are likely to develop Bipolar Disorder, a type of disorder that has symptoms of mania or a sense of "high" on activity plus periods of depression.
c. Conduct Disorder – 10% of all American children have conduct disorder.
d. Depression – In every group of 33 children there is one who has symptoms of clinical depression
e. Learning Disorders – Almost 20% of all American children have learning disability. Half of them have diagnosable ADHD.
f. Suicide – Suicide is the fifth leading cause of death among children.

Statistics on the Prevalence of Mental Disorders in Young People
a. General Data - Nearly 75% of all young people who suffer from mental disorders do not get the help they need. Like in the general population, 1 in every 5 adolescent have a diagnosable psychological disorder which include minor depression, drug-dependence, Attention Deficit Disorder, Anorexia Bulimia, Hypochondriasis, Gender Identity Disorders and Eating Disorders, and more aggravated disorders.

b. Anorexia Nervosa – This disorder is more common among females than males affecting an average of 150 individuals in any given time. Thus, 1% of all female young people population is affected by anorexia nervosa and 10% of all affected individuals die due to suicide, cardiac arrest and starvation.

c. Bulimia Nervosa – One to three out of 100 people show signs and symptoms of bulimia nervosa.

d. Anxiety Disorder – 10% of the young adult population have anxiety disorders.

e. Depression – One in every eighth individuals have clinical depression. One in every five young people have emotional problems and 30% of all adolescents who were diagnosed for emotional problems are depressed.

f. Juvenile Delinquency – More than 150, 000 American teenagers are under the criminal justice system. The majority of them have more than two mental disorders. 57% of all juvenile delinquents have reported of prior hospitalization associated with their mental problems.

g. Schizophrenia - In every 1000 adolescents, there are three people who are suffering from Schizophrenia.

h. Serious Emotional Disturbances – 10% of all young adults have severe disturbances in their emotional states.

i. Suicide – For ages 15 to 24, this is the leading cause of death. There are at least 500, 000 individuals who take their own lives yearly.

Statistics on the Prevalence of Mental Disorders in Adults
a. Depression – Depression is the leading psychiatric disorder among elderly affecting 5% of the entire elderly population.
b. 6.5 million Adult people have severe mental disorders.
c. In every group of 100,000 people, there are at least 240 of them suffering from a type of mental illness
d. 6000 adult Americans commit suicide each year
e. Approximately 1 million old Americans suffer from organic mental disorders
f. An estimated 15% of the adult population experience dementia
g. 1 million adult Americans have severe Alzheimer's disease

…

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Overview of Mental Health Counseling

Mental health counseling or clinical counseling is a practice in psychology that helps relieve psychological disorders or distress by promoting personal development. It also practices psychotherapy, consultation, forensic investigation specifically forensic testimony, formulation, implementation and evaluation of plans and programs for treatment of psychological dysfunction and research. Because of the nature of this field, it is usually monitored as a mental health profession.

Mental health counseling has its roots from the later part of 19th century. And as the field of psychology grew, branches began to develop, among them is counseling psychology and clinical counseling- both are useful in mental health assessment and counseling.

While closely associated with clinical psychology, there are still marked differences between the two practices.

For one, counseling psychology is used by psychotherapist and counselors to help patients with milder psychopathological concerns. On the other hand, clinical counseling deals with more severe and advance forms of psychological disorders such as schizophrenia and psychosomatic disorders. Examples of disorders that could be treated by counseling psychology are the stress-related disorders. In essence, these are just minor mental health illness that requires very little (if there is any) medical interventions.

This method tries to address minor psychological concerns and make use of counseling techniques. This is possible since patients subjected under this method are still in control of their mind. For example, people who are distressed due to problematic circumstances could seek the professionals who could render counseling psychology.

Counseling psychology focuses more on the personal problems of the person that hamper his mental health. It helps him resolve problems by using non-directive methods, therefore a counseling psychologist would only open options that will help resolve the problem without being suggestive or authoritative. Also, counseling psychology is more focused on rational thinking instead of unconscious functioning.

Second difference is that counseling psychology adheres to humanistic or person-centered approach. Third, it has a different view on the developmental problems associated with mental disorders.

On the other hand, clinical psychology deals more on severe psychological disorders such as clinical manic depression like unipolar and bipolar disorders, sexual dysfunctions such as exhibitionism, fetishism and sadism, phobias, traumas and substance-abuse or dependency.

Because of a more comprehensive and intensive nature of this field, clinical counseling makes use of psychological assessment tools that further confirm the symptoms of disorders among people with disrupted mental health. Mental health assessment is a medium for evaluating symptoms that a person presents. This gives insights to mental health professionals that will guide them in the preparation, administration and evaluation of treatment methods that are apt to the mental health needs of a patient. The process of assessment requires the use of interviews, physical examinations and clinical observations. Also, assessment tools such as intelligence, symptoms questionnaires, personality and neuropsychological tests are widely used. All these contribute significantly to the diagnostic impressions that will be formulated after all data are collected and studied.

Despite of these differences, counseling psychology and clinical counseling are proven to be very effective as mental health counseling methods. Both advocates the use of talk treatment that could either help resolve the problem for the mental health patient or open up indications that may be pointed out as causes of the development of the disorder. In effect, both types of counseling make mental health therapy and recovery feasible.
…

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Alternative Mental Health Care Solutions

A patient of psychological disorder would usually get his treatments through medication and services of a mental health institution or facilities. However, advocates of Complementary and Alternative Medicine believe that there are less intensive, more holistic approaches that could be rendered to these patients in conjunction to their medical treatments. While they do not have approved therapeutic claim and there are no conclusive proofs that these alternatives really work they have been practiced for years and have yielded significant positive results in their own fields. Here are the suggested alternative solutions to mental health care:

Slowing down

Daily stressors contribute to the development of several mental health disorders. In fact, stress itself is considered as a threat to mental health. It disrupts sleep, thinking and rest and it usually affects the way we function everyday. Thus it is suggested to adopt several methods that will help lessen and manage the negative stressors we are exposed to everyday.

Biofeedback – This method is normally used in treating mental health disorders such as phobias, panic and anxiety. This works by controlling the involuntary muscle functioning such as skin temperature and heart rate and by controlling muscle tension.

Massage therapy – This method advances the belief the tapping, rubbing, and brushing the skin and muscle groups could relieve pent up emotions and internal tension. People suffering from severe cases of stress and post-traumatic disorders are usually advised to take get massage therapy regularly.

Visualization – Another method to lessen tension and stress is to redirect the perception and the individual techniques on visualization. This works by entering into a deep state of relaxation where the person could create relaxing and "friendly" images that will contribute to his well-being and lessen the occurrence of unwanted thoughts that are detrimental to one's mental health.

Traditional alternative approaches

Ayurdeva – Imported from Indian Traditional Medicine, Ayurdeva is a holistic approach to caring your mental health. This seeks balance on the body energies rather than on the symptoms that affect the body. This system of traditional treatments includes yoga, a widely practiced alternative solution in the Western world these days. Yoga makes use of postures, exercises, stretches and meditation to achieve the balance of body energies.

Native American approaches – Cleansing rituals and chants are part of the Indian Health Services Programs that are focused on treating people suffering from depression, stress-related disorders and anxiety disorders.

Acupuncture – Used in treating many other ailments in the body, acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medical approach that could also be used as treatment to mental disorders. This makes use of needles with various sizes that are inserted to different pressure points in the body to be able to control its flow of energy.

Diet and Nutrition

According to studies, diet and nutrition affects the manner by which our brains work. If it is deprived with certain nutrients, the brain may fail to function the way it should be.

Vitamin and nutrient intake – According to some studies, there are specific vitamins that our brain needs in order to produce other chemicals that are crucial in maintaining our moods. Also, some vitamins are important in preventing the development of neurological and degenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease. Thus, proper intake of these vitamins and minerals plus supplementation of essential nutrients are highly recommended to maintain mental health.

Mental health care does not only need to include medical treatments, support of other approaches is also needed to maximize the possibility of patient recovery.
…