Jumpstart Your Mental Health Awareness

Find help now with this helpful guide on how to start your mental health awareness journey.

 

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Good healthcare has become a privilege reserved for the more affluent population. Even if the government attempts to step in and bridge the gap, you’ll still find that those with less money receive lower than average care. That is not even to mention your access to mental health resources.


It can be discouraging to those living without the means to secure proper healthcare. It feels like a hopeless situation for so many Americans, but especially those living below the poverty line. The median household income has been decreasing over the years. According to recent census records, the rate of poverty has increased from 10.5 percent in 2019 to the current rate of 11.4 percent. You can read more about the economic implications here.


With this kind of data floating around, it’s easy to feel hopeless when struggling with mental health disorders, such as schizophrenia or PTSD. Many with these diagnoses struggle with substance abuse and even suicide. The rate of suicide in America is on the rise. For many, it’s because they aren’t being provided the proper mental health care that their diagnoses require.


Proper mental health care can prevent suicides and should be made a priority in this country. But if you are experiencing a mental health crisis, you can’t wait around for legislation. You need the proper resources now. For a better understanding of the disorders that you might be dealing with, and find the resources that can guide you onto a healthier path, read on.


Diagnoses and Their Impact

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There are barriers to care at every turn, especially for those with complicated diagnoses like schizophrenia or PTSD. If this applies to you, you might already realize the obstacles in the way of receiving care for these mental health issues.

Two of the diagnoses at the highest risk for suicide are PTSD and schizophrenia. Left untreated, these disorders can take a toll on a person and make them feel hopeless. There is hope, though. Treatment has come a long way. With the right resources and sense of self-advocacy, you can conquer these demons and still live a good life.


Schizophrenia

Schizophrenia is a long-term mental disorder characterized by a breakdown between thought, emotion, and behavior. This leads to faulty perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, and a withdrawal from reality. Some hallmarks of the disorder are hallucinations, both visual and auditory, and delusional thinking. You can learn more about the condition here.


This disconnect from reality can be particularly dangerous. If you’re coping with that diagnosis right now, you understand the obstacles you are facing—both in your personal life and in the realm of healthcare. Limited mental health resources and insurance plans that don’t cover mental health are an issue that might impact you significantly.


Many schizophrenics only receive care when they show up at an ER in an episode. They are watched, treated, and then typically released with no further help. This gap in day-to-day treatment is detrimental and needs to be addressed. You can’t live your life from one crisis to the next. That is no way to exist.


What needs to be addressed is the management of the disorder. This might look like medication, talk therapy, or even a social worker. It is the type of disorder you throw everything at, including the kitchen sink. Managing crisis to crisis is not going to get you where you need to be. It’s just slapping band-aids on a gunshot wound.


PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, more commonly known as PTSD, is a disorder that occurs after the experience of some sort of trauma. This trauma can look like experience in war, rape, or witnessing a violent act. Sufferers of PTSD often experience flashbacks and nightmares about the event, hypervigilance, avoidance of triggers, and intrusive thoughts. The disorder causes you to constantly live as if the event was recurring. You can learn more about the condition here.


For many living with PTSD, help can be hard to come by. It is a complex disorder that requires a complex approach to treatment. That’s not something you can get at the free clinic down the road. It can take extensive talk therapy, EMDR, and possibly even medication to manage. It can feel lonely, going through this, when you feel like you’ve been abandoned by the healthcare system.


The long-term impact of living with this disorder is devastating. Many who deal with it turn to substance abuse and watch their relationships crumble. Even more, struggle to remain in a job or live a stable life. It’s a tumultuous disorder that needs to be addressed and managed properly in order for you to move forward living the best life possible.


Self Advocating for Your Care

First thing’s first. You want to make sure that you have received a proper diagnosis for your disorder. This can be tricky, as psychiatrists often cost a pretty penny and low-income insurance isn’t always the greatest. You can find low-cost options by calling your state health department and requesting a referral.


It’s always best that you have the right doctor to be an ally during this time. It should be someone who will guide you through the process of dealing with this condition. With the right doctor in your corner, you can start to tackle the mental health issues you’ve been coping with. You can find some helpful resources if you’re looking to seek out professional help. It’s an excellent place to start.


Now, once you’ve got your diagnosis, and someone that can walk you through the process, it is time to set some boundaries. Ask questions! Ask them to explain to you the reasoning behind their diagnosis and discuss what it will mean for your life. If they prescribe a medication, ask about potential side effects and what exactly it will be doing for your disorder. Stay informed. It is the best way to make sure you’re making the right choices.


It’s important that you maintain some self-awareness of your disorder. Document everything that you can. Didn’t sleep again last night because of nightmares? Document it. Avoided that street because you had a flashback? Document it. Be aware of your personal mental health journey and what you might be needing to focus on.


This can be hard when life feels like complete chaos, but as often as you can, make sure you are checking in with yourself. This will be important information that you can relay to your doctor. It will help them decide if you are on the right track. You know yourself best, so communicate openly with your doctor about what you have been experiencing. There are even helpful apps to help you keep track.


It Starts With You

As an adult, you are responsible for maintaining your health. Though it can be difficult when you are living below the average income, it is not impossible. There are resources available at your local health department, on this website, and online to guide you toward the resources you need. Your mental health journey has to start with you, but it doesn’t end there.


You are not alone. Millions of Americans are struggling with mental health issues and wondering how they’re going to make it through this. There are support groups online you can join to feel less alone. Seek advice from others who have walked this path before.


Take what you’ve learned and go be an advocate for your mental health. After all, who makes a better advocate than the person who knows what’s going on in their mind and body? Keep tabs on your health, seek out the resources available to you, and keep asking questions.


You’ve got this!


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FAQ


Where can I find helpful resources for mental health management in my state?


Visit https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/find-help for guidance on where to find the right doctor and resources for you.


What if I don’t feel like the medication is the right option for me?


That is something you can discuss with your mental health practitioner. There are a variety of therapies that don’t involve medication but make sure you are open to all possibilities.


What if I think a loved one might be suffering from mental illness?


Reach out to them and let them know you are concerned. You can tell them that you are always available to talk and that they might benefit from professional help. Have resources ready for them as they might feel overwhelmed initially.


What if I am having thoughts of suicide?


When you are thinking of harming yourself or others, call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline at (800)-273-8255, or visit an ER—you need to see to your safety immediately.


 

We are not medical professionals and this article is only intended for informational purposes. Always consult a healthcare practitioner for mental health advice.

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