Friday, May 3, 2013

Accepting Mental Health as an Illness

By Nurse Diane 
I was just reading a story about Amanda Bynes, a young actress in Hollywood.  She played in a few movies that I have seen, What a Girl Wants, and the remake of Hairspray.  In the past few days she has shaved her head, posted topless pictures of herself on social media sites, and wondering around with the appearance of being intoxicated or on drugs.  There was a report on Twitter asking for the police to come and help her, from herself.  However, she has not committed any crimes or performed illegal acts, she is clearly in need of some professional help.
Her actions mimic another celebrity melt down of Brittany Spears.  She was in definite need of psychiatric help when she began making headlines weekly with her absurd behavior.  The media did not help her, instead published story after story gaining wealth and fame over her actions.  Many young and older stars can be seen having public meltdowns.

Society views about Mental Health issues have changed in the past 100 years.   If a family member noticed acting peculiar, they would be shipped off to an asylum and locked away in the dungeon.  Many were locked away in their homes, chained to beds or posts.
While I was in nursing school, we had a semester of Psychiatric Nursing.  This course was offered during the summer, and required staying at a mental health facility for four weeks.  The hospital, one of the oldest in the state, was opened in 1848 and many of the first patients were being treated for tuberculosis.  There was a separate facility that housed the criminally insane, and that area was still being used at the time I was there.  The conditions were terrible, and it was hard to imagine anyone being treated for mental disorders in a place like that.
Views about Mental health have changed considerably since those days.  Society has become aware of various mental disorders and the availability of treatment.   May is Mental Health Awareness Month.  There are many organizations that provide free service and help at low cost.  If you or someone you know has a mental health problem, please seek help and encourage others to get the assistance they need to be able to live life better.  For more information about mental health, or where to get help, visit this site:

National Children's Mental Health Awareness Week May 5 – 11, 2013
Theme - Out of the Shadows: Exposing Stigma
With the spotlight shining on the critical need for mental health care reform in our country, we must also educate the nation about children's mental health and promote comprehensive, grass-root efforts to eradicate scrutiny, discrimination and repercussions that deter our children, youth and families in need of care from seeking consistent help. (Source: National Federation of Families For Children’s Mental Health)

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