Mental illness often goes undiagnosed and untreated. When this happens the fallout for the individual, family, friends, and neighbors can cause a ripple effect of confusion and misunderstandings.
Someone with mental illness experiences excessive daily stressors and also may notice increased levels of anxiety and depression symptoms.
High levels of stress left untreated and chronic in nature can also lead to depression and anxiety.
You have probably heard of the old saying which follows the premise that humanity is like a “boiling frog” because when the water is heated up slowly, they don’t notice the temperature rising.
Most people are exhausted trying to work two to three jobs, long commutes with traffic, and just trying to support the family. Feelings of being overwhelmed can cause lack of sleep or interrupted sleep, poor diet, and no time to exercise or meditate. Over time these things can contribute to increased depression and anxiety.
Homelessness is another concern for the overall health and wellbeing of children and families.
According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration anywhere from 20 to 25% of the homeless population in the United States suffers from some form of mental illness.
“Homelessness deprives individuals of basic needs, exposing them to risky, unpredictable environments. In short, homelessness is more than the absence of physical shelter; it is a stress-filled, dehumanizing, dangerous circumstance in which individuals are at high risk of being witness to or victims of a wide range of violent events” (Fitzgerald, K.M. et al. 1999).
Substance abuse may also trigger a mental illness, i.e., mood disorder.
Substance abuse also occurs when an individual begins to use drugs and alcohol for self-medicating or numbing painful emotions. The coexistence of both a mental health and a substance use disorder is referred to as co-occurring disorders.
The 2014 National Survey on Drug Use and Health (NSDUH) reports approximately 7.9 million adults had co-occurring disorders in 2014.
For adults who were surveyed experienced substance use disorders and any mental illness was highest among adults ages 26 to 49 (42.7%). These rates were also the highest among those ages 18 to 25 (35.3%) in 2014. Approximately 7.9 million adults had co-occurring disorders in 2014.
When we consider the health of our communities and the impact that untreated mental health issues can cause we must be proactive.
We can no longer separate collective institutions like government, medicine, education, and business. These systems have been doing business with a “silo” effect and not taking into consideration that we are all working with the same individual, client, patient.
The systems of care all have one thing in common, a desire to show positive outcomes and improve the lives of adults, children, and families.
With gained awareness comes much responsibility as we live in a season of rapidly changing social structures, broken families, demands for access to quality healthcare, and a sense of security.
The question is, do we know how to connect the dots to provide compassion and a true culture of health?
Whole person health can occur with the integration of healthcare and community-based organizations working together to close the gap of services which serve the complex and high-risk patient population (McFeature, B. & Herron-McFeature, C., 2017).
We can take personal responsibility by considering the environment that we are living or work in and ask ourselves, do my home and job offer some peace and balance?
When a person is diagnosed with depression and anxiety, it doesn’t take much distress to trigger worsening symptoms. Although the stigma of mental illness has not disappeared completely, there are many more resources and in most cases people who are more understanding.
- If you notice that you are feeling more depressed, it could be a result of additional stressors. Do a self-analysis on how you are feeling emotionally, mentally, physically, and spiritually. Consider the people in your life that encourage you and spend time with them.
- If you are in an abusive or toxic relationship consider talking with a therapist who can help your sort through what needs to change.
- If you lack affordable and safe housing, there are social services that can assist with housing options.
- If you or someone you love is abusing alcohol and drugs, there are many treatment options available, such as; individual and group therapy, equine therapy, art therapy, music therapy, and medications that assist substance abuse, just to name a few.
Here are some simple natural ways to reduce stress, which can help to manage depression and anxiety:
- Change you daily routine
- Take a walk
- Do something creative or find a hobby that you enjoy
- Practice mindfulness and gratitude
- Practice good sleep hygiene
- Plan a nutritional diet and supplements
- Drink lots of water
If you find that you lack interest in life overall and feel hopeless it is always best to seek professional help. You can begin with your primary care physician and referrals can be made to various specialty providers from there.
We all desire to have a life of joy and emotional balance, however, we may find we have internalized anger or fear, and may not be aware of this internalization until we explode.
Emotional balance can occur when we can connect to the present moment, which prevents our minds from wandering to what “should have been” to “what is going to happen when…?”
Anger, worry, fear, hate, and sadness are all alive and well in the society we live in today.
As we seek to calm ourselves through a focus on compassion for self and others, the other negative emotions/feelings and fear will melt away. The light at the end of the tunnel is a gained awareness of the importance of resilience.
Resilience is gained through overcoming life challenges and shared as a victory and testimony, which, in turn, encourages someone else who may feel they can’t go on.
If you are seeking for help with your mental illness, we want to help you. We have a program at New Roads Behavioral Health that is proven to give you results. To learn more about the program and start your recovery journey, click here.
If interested, please give us a call today and schedule your consultation. Together we can beat mental disease. (888) 358-8998
Cinthia McFeature, PhD
Fitzpatrick KM, LaGory ME, Ritchey FJ. Dangerous places: Exposure to violence and its mental health consequences for the homeless. Am J Orthopsychiatry 1999; 69: 438-47.
McFeature, B. & Herron-McFeature, C. (2017). Integrated health – Heartpath practitioner assessment and interventions for the trauma-exposed patient.