Monthly Archives: December 2015

Misconceptions of Schizophrenia

A recent article focused on Separation of Church and State because a governor in the US does not believe in mental illness.

Van Gogh

Van Gogh

In that article, I spoke of the mentally ill who become violent through no fault of their own.

However, in my passion for writing about the interventions that are needed across America, I neglected to point out that not everyone who is mentally ill becomes violent.

I was shocked to realize that I had contributed to the misconceptions and stigmas associated with mental illness, and for that, I am deeply ashamed and am committed to be more mindful while writing content in the future.

Michael Hedrick’s article on “5 Things You Should Know About People With Schizophrenia revealed how important it is to make sure people understand the many nuances of a mental illness, or a physical illness.

While it is true that some people can become violent or threaten violence, it is certainly not the case for all people coping with schizophrenia. I know people with schizophrenia that are coping well with their illness.

I’ve also known of precarious situations, such as when a friend pulled a gun on a person she loved because the patient thought the loved one was spying on them for the government. This particular situation did not end in violence or harm. The problem was that the patient was not on medication because she had not been properly diagnosed, even though she exhibited symptoms.

Doctors cannot read minds. It is up to the family and the patient to properly inform a physician so that proper referrals and a diagnosis can be made. Another problem in receiving proper treatment is that often the patient will not allow anyone to accompany them to the doctor, therefore the doctor has no information other than what the patient gives him or her.

But – there are also people like Michael.

Read Michael’s story at Psychology Today. In it, he successfully dispels some misconceptions of Schizophrenia.

 

 

Separation of Church and Psychology

Separation of church and psychology may seem like a strange topic, but considering recent developments in the state of Texas, it is a topic that must be addressed.

The governor of Texas, Governor Greg Abbott, has decided to let the church dictate his views on mental health. The particular church using its influence in this way is Scientology.

Remember the Tom Cruise and Brooke Shields Debacle?

As many may already know, Scientology does not believe mental illness exists. This particular tenet of their faith became well known when Tom Cruise criticized Brooke Shields in 2005, for saying she had suffered from postpartum depression and had taken medication for her illness. Tom Cruise insulted her and caused quite a stir.

You can read about that argument at Today.com.

10 Years Later… cropped-helping-hand512.png

Meanwhile, fast forward to 2015, and dare to believe that we have a governor in the United States of America, who does not believe in mental illness or mental health treatments because a religious group has deemed it to be so.

This is all the proof one needs that religion should never be allowed to debate with science. It is ridiculous.

The particular bill that was vetoed in Florida would have allowed mental health intervention for those whom were deemed dangerous to themselves or to others, a much needed intervention that is needed all over this country.

I sense that many will disagree with this need, so please allow me to present a tiny piece of my argument for mental health intervention.

 

Could an intervention have helped in Arizona?

Gabby Giffords, then the congresswoman from Arizona, was shot in 2011 by a young man who needed an intervention. Instructors at the local college reported having arguments with him, people who had contact with him said he spoken of strange things and said he heard voices in his head. You can read about these findings at CBS News.

Our hands are tied.

You may or may not be aware that you cannot have someone like this arrested or committed until they commit an act warranting such action. This is a travesty of justice not only for potential victims of the mentally ill, but for the mentally ill themselves, who are also victims. People do not choose to be mentally ill. 

Are Interventions Safe?

I agree that it is scary to think that someone could potentially report you as being mentally ill and then have the state government send a big white van to carry you away in a white straight-jacket.

This fear exists based on how things were done many decades ago. It would not have to be such a harrowing experience today, unless the person being committed was physically unmanageable – an assessment that should only be made by a licensed psychologist that is sent to pick up the potentially violent patient.

There are many safeguards that could be put in place today. A person’s medical records could be pulled, including a list of medications prescribed as well as taken (not all prescriptions get filled). The individual could also be run through the police database to see what, if any, violations and arrests might appear.

Here’s the bottom line – I would rather take the chance on an intervention. If the reports are accurate and the person in question is mentally ill, who knows how many lives may be saved by the intervention.

If the person is determined to be in good mental health, and a hoax was perpetrated against them, then the “hoaxter” should be arrested and prosecuted.

I find it more frightful to imagine an innocent person being shot down while in a movie theater, at a political rally, while shopping in a mall or while sitting in a classroom.

 

How do we stop churches from interfering with the safety of the public?

Under no conditions anywhere in this land of the free, should a church be allowed to have such an influence over a governor or any members of legislature or government at any level.

Any person advocating a denial of verifiable, evidence based science at the legislative level is putting their constituents at risk of violence perpetrated by a person needing medical attention and should be dismissed from their public service position immediately. 

The mental health issue revolving around Governor Abbott of Texas is alarming, but that is not the only strange position he has taken on important issues. Read more about this and Greg Abbot at the Greenville Gazette.

 

 

Shelter for Students – Joe’s Place

My last post was about a shelter for students in a school district in Missouri. Today I discovered another one in Missouri, Joe’s Place. In fact, this was the inspiration for the Hope House.

These students are improving their grades, improving their attendance rates and some of them are going on to college after high school graduation.

This is a program that should be implemented all over this country.

If we truly care about our children, especially those that are living in poverty and unstable environments, and those that have been living in foster care, then we need to show them that we care by providing these shelter homes where they are able to thrive.

When family structures fail, we should be willing to come in and save the day.

That’s the America I want the world to see.

That’s the America I want children to experience.

That’s the community of America I want to see among people across this nation.

Let’s give everyone an equal opportunity regardless of how they ended up in their current situation. Poverty is not a choice. Poverty takes years to overcome and it can rarely be overcome without the help of our citizens that are able and willing to help. It costs so little to make this happen.

 

Joe’s Place is one of the only public school district programs in the country to provide a home for students who are either homeless or struggling in their current living situation. This year, a school district less than 20 miles away in Jennings, Missouri, started a similar version of Joe’s Place — but for girls. The Jennings School District Hope House opened around Thanksgiving.

 

The homes provide house parents who oversee everything and provide a disciplined schedule and stable routine. Many of these teens have not experienced this before.

One of them, who is now in college, returns to visit.

“I wouldn’t say it was a culture shock, but it was something in that area. There was dinner every night, there was a disciplined schedule — which was something I never had,” said Pinnell. “Eventually, I got really comfortable there and started calling it home not too far into the semester. It doesn’t take too long for someone to fall in love with Joe’s.”

Let’s spread the word and make a real difference in the lives of our young people!

 

Read the full article at HuffPost Politics.

 

Providing Shelter for Students

Many people feel that public schools should not be involved in helping students medically, whether that be physical or mental health. However, my argument to this statement is that if no one else is helping them, then who better to determine what help they need than the people who see them daily and know more about them than possibly their own parents do in some cases.

Teachers and other school staff have a bird’s eye view of these students 5 out of 7 days, 9 months a year or more.

I am happy to report that I am not the only one who feels this way.

A school district in Missouri has taken on the challenge and responsibility of helping children and their families, thanks to Superintendent Tiffany Anderson.

She is having excellent results.

 

“Schools can do so much to really impact poverty,” Anderson said. “Some people think if you do all this other stuff, it takes away from focusing on instruction, when really it ensures that you can take kids further academically.”

The district also opened Hope House, a shelter providing students a stable living environment. Many of thee students would be homeless; some of them are former foster kids; all of them are doing better now, thanks to Hope House.

Here is an excerpt from the article:

“One-quarter of Jennings’ residents are living below the federal poverty line,according to 2014 Census Bureau data. The median household income is $28,429. Just 13 percent of those age 25 and older have a bachelor’s degree, half of the state average.

Yet: In 2015, 92 percent of high school students graduated on time, and 78 percent of those graduates had enrolled in the military or post-secondary training within six months of graduation, according to state data. Gov. Jay Nixon (D) invited Anderson and a student to his state of the state address this year, praising Jennings for its “big leaps forward.”

 

Read the full story at The Washington Post.  

 

Gestalt Empty Chair Therapy

The Empty Chair

The Empty Chair

Gestalt Therapy

AKA the Empty Chair Therapy

Gestalt Therapy utilizes an empty chair to give a client a safe way to express previously unspoken feelings and emotions.

Developed by Fritz Perlz. Laura Perlz. Miriam and Erving Polster.

Stress is on placed on awareness and integration of the functioning of body and mind. The intention is to expand a person’s awareness of the present moment.

Gestalt therapy has developed over time and is currently supportive, accepting, empathetic, respectful, and challenging. It is an holistic approach to the personality in the present moment.

• During therapy, the client is encouraged to bring out hidden feelings.
• Much use is made of the ‘open chair’ technique.
• This is when the client sits opposite an empty chair and then mentally places into that chair someone significant, who has caused him or her pain or trouble.
• The client then tells the ‘person’ in the empty chair what they have been unable to express before.
• Sometimes the client is encouraged to swap chairs and to answer his own claims or accusations from the other person’s perspective.
• This technique can give rise to emotional scenes, and the previously buried emotions need to be handled carefully.

Dismiss that which insults your soul

Walt Whitman

This is what you should do…

This is what you shall do: Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to everyone that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown, or to any man or number of men—go freely with powerful uneducated persons, and with the young, and with the mothers of families—

re-examine all you have been told in school or church or in any book, and dismiss whatever insults your own soul;

and your very flesh shall be a great poem, and have the richest fluency, not only in its words, but in the silent lines of its lips and face, and between the lashes of your eyes, and in every motion and joint of your body.”

–from Preface to “Leaves of Grass” (1855)

This quote from Walt Whitman is the best advice for living that I’ve ever read. It is also a great inspiration to know the he, just like me and many of you, took issue with some of the erroneous constructs we were taught in church. They truly insulted my soul with their villainous deeds in the names of God. Once I dismissed that which insulted my soul, life became so much sweeter. It was as if a huge burden was lifted from my shoulders.

The truth shall set you free.