Equip Blog


blog articles RSS


All children will occasionally misbehave. It is part of their job-description! They are learning:

·        • what is appropriate

·       •  assertiveness

·         •sharing and turn-taking

·        • how to get along with others

·        • ways to get what they want and need

·       •  how to get attention

·        • how to handle their emotions and drives

…and all that learning takes time, and they make lots of mistakes on the way. Those mistakes sometimes strike us as ‘naughtiness’ but it is far more helpful to think of it in terms of immaturity.  Good parenting techniques help a lot but sometimes parents have to deal with something more than just immature impulse control. One of the most frequent reasons parents need the services of a child psychologist is ‘Conduct Disorder’.  Children with a conduct disorder don’t just have an occasional slip up in their behaviour, they actually seem completely unable to grasp or follow the rules at home, school or in society.

Conduct disorders, as opposed to ‘normal’ behavioural issues are:

·         •Long lasting

·         •Disruptive to family or school life

·        • Impacts others negatively

Their behaviour is often violent and destructive, and often they have very little empathy for those they hurt. There is no simple answer to why children get like this – brain damage, genes, a disturbed childhood… any and all of these might be the cause. There are various types of conduct disorders so getting a good diagnosis from a specialist helps immensely, for three main reasons

1.      1. You can start the proper therapy. Both drugs and psychotherapy can have good results

2.      2. Schools and agencies can roll out the extra support that both the child and parents are going to need

3.       3.Dealing with conduct disorder as a medical issue instead of just treating them as a ‘naughty kid’ gives you so much more compassion and energy to  persevere. Treating it this way seems to reduce the impact and distress of their behaviour.

‘Bad’ parenting doesn’t cause a conduct disorder but good parenting can certainly help reduce its effects.  A child will be safer from the drugs, dangerous sexual behaviour and self-harm. Good close parenting can also help insulate a child from the one thing that can really cause the disturbing behaviour to skyrocket, and that is falling in with other kids who are already ‘trouble’. So, along with whatever else the specialist might prescribe, give a child with conduct disorder lots and lots of consistency, nurture, good supervision, clear boundaries, love and wise discipline. It all helps nudge the troubled child in the right direction and really reduces symptoms and disturbing behaviour. 

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Disclaimer

These blogs are offered with the sincere hope that they will be beneficial to people with mental health challenges, their families and the wider public. However, a big lesson from the history of science is that anyone can be wrong! Therefore, this disclaimer: though written in good faith, the authors and publishers cannot guarantee the accuracy of this content, or its applicability to a particular situation.  Any decisions or course of action taken as a consequence of this content must be entirely the reader’s responsibility.  In no way should this content be used as a basis to contradict or ignore the advice of a medical or mental health professional. 

Wednesday, April 10, 2019
/documents/Pillow Fight.jpg

In 1943, General Patton visited hospitals in war-time Sicily and saw soldiers suffering from a common form of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder that was sometimes called ‘Shell Shock’ or ‘Battle Fatigue’.  The general slapped the patients. “I’m not going to have cowards in my army!”  Like many people at the time, he thought mental illness was due to a ‘lack of moral fibre’ and that it was a character flaw. In World War I, such men were sometimes shot as deserters. Thank goodness our culture is starting to show the same sort of compassion to people with mental health problems as it does to people with physical health problems. It is far from perfect, but a lot less people today would consider mental illness to be a moral failure. It is a medical issue and so mocking and condemnation is certainly not appropriate.

But men, themselves, still cling to some ideas that are well past their sell-by date. The most dangerous misbelief is that any emotional weakness is embarrassing and must be concealed. “Harden up! Pull yourself together!” They still believe the old myth that somehow their depression or anxiety is a sign of unmanly failure. As a result, men are much slower to seek help for their mental issues, often suffering far more and for far longer than they need to, because they are ashamed. Men are far more likely to withdraw, or self-medicate with alcohol or drugs (often making things far worse), and men are much more likely to take their own lives. Some men literally die rather than seek help for something that can usually be helped.

Some other aspects of male culture that work against good mental health are:

·         Men measure their self-worth in terms of achievement so they often work too hard, failing to rest and relax

·      • Men drink more alcohol. Mental and physical health both decline as alcohol intake increases

·      •Men can be more isolated. A circle of ‘mates’ is great, but it is much more valuable to have a few deeply trusted close friends.

·      •They have a fear and mistrust of doctors.

·      •Men are private: they seldom talk to each other about any health issues, let alone mental health.

What can we do to help the men in our lives? Here are some tips:

·       •Share stories about mental health, especially good stories of recovery.

·       •  Let’s watch our attitudes and language. If someone hears a hint of mocking or derision when we talk about others with mental health problems, it could make      them even more determined to conceal their own struggles.

·       •  Celebrate and support the campaigns that urge men to seek help.

·       •Ask in a caring way how our friends are doing, and then don’t retreat if they share some pain.

·        •Be supportive of our mates if we know they have been going through a tough time.

·        • Make it easy as possible for people to make the changes and to get the help they need to recover.

·        •Watch each other: are signs of poor mental health becoming evident even though they are trying to conceal it? Gently but firmly nudge men towards the help        that is available. (And this applies to getting help for ourselves as well!)

Some time ago I was helping with the clean-up after hurricane flooding in Australia. Amidst the destruction and mess, it was truly heart-warming to hear muddy, exhausted men checking on each other. “Are you alright, mate?” I heard men were sharing with each other in a very unguarded way about their loss, stress, sadness and sleep problems. And I heard them being grateful that someone asked. I thought, “This is new, and this is healthy. They will get through this with their mates.”   Times are changing for men. They are getting better. 

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Disclaimer

These blogs are offered with the sincere hope that they will be beneficial to people with mental health challenges, their families and the wider public. However, a big lesson from the history of science is that anyone can be wrong! Therefore, this disclaimer: though written in good faith, the authors and publishers cannot guarantee the accuracy of this content, or its applicability to a particular situation.  Any decisions or course of action taken as a consequence of this content must be entirely the reader’s responsibility.  In no way should this content be used as a basis to contradict or ignore the advice of a medical or mental health professional. 


Thursday, April 04, 2019
/documents/HI-Five.jpg
Postpartum Depression, Postnatal Depression,

“A baby! How wonderful! How lucky to be the parent of a little bundle of joy!”

“True… I suppose… but why do I feel so awful?”

Most mothers experience a mood dip in the first few days after having a baby. The exhaustion, the drama and a new cocktail of hormones in her body all conspire together to make many mums feel sad and worried.  Fortunately, it usually lifts within two weeks. If it lasts longer than that, or if it commences later than a fortnight after birth, she may be dealing with something more than just the normal ‘Baby Blues’.  For about one woman in ten, Postpartum (or Postnatal) Depression crushes the pleasure out of what should be a wonderful stage of life.  Sadness or anxiety move in and seem in no rush to move out. Sometimes PPD makes the mother feel empty, hopeless and exhausted; at other times she feels filled with anger and frustration.  Sleep and the ability to make decisions can become very disturbed. It sometimes impacts the way she cares for her baby and, very often, she neglects herself as well. Just to make things even worse, one study showed that 50% of the partners of women with PPD get depressed as well!  Male Postpartum Depression is real and surprisingly common.

How severe the PPD is, and how long it lasts, vary a lot. It could last for months, it might last a year.

Here are some things that help:

Get a good diagnosis.  Prescribed medication may provide a lot of relief. A doctor will also be particularly keen to rule out the rarer, but more serious, Postpartum Psychosis, or some other mental or emotional problem. 

Breast Feeding. Along with all the benefits for the baby, breast feeding seems to ease PPD.

Counselling. Cognitive Behavioural Therapy (CBT) is known to help many people with PPD, and other counselling strategies may help as well.

Support. Every parent with a baby benefits from support, especially if the parent is struggling with depression.  Practical assistance plus social interaction is wonderfully therapeutic.

Googling the topic brings up lots of information, resources and contacts. A good number to keep handy is Plunketline, 0800 933 922.

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Disclaimer

These blogs are offered with the sincere hope that they will be beneficial to people with mental health challenges, their families and the wider public. However, a big lesson from the history of science is that anyone can be wrong! Therefore, this disclaimer: though written in good faith, the authors and publishers cannot guarantee the accuracy of this content, or its applicability to a particular situation.  Any decisions or course of action taken as a consequence of this content must be entirely the reader’s responsibility.  In no way should this content be used as a basis to contradict or ignore the advice of a medical or mental health professional. 


Wednesday, March 27, 2019
/images/man holding a child.jpg
early diagnose, early signs

You probably have some understanding of autism. Delayed language, odd social behaviour and getting fixated on topics or objects are symptoms most people would think of as typical but there is a whole range of conditions. Some forms are so mild that person can live a full life with very few problems but, for others, autism is a serious disability.

It’s a big topic, but here are just a few points.

·        • There is no autism epidemic. Children on the autistic spectrum do seem to be everywhere, but no: autism is diagnosed more often nowadays because a wider range of conditions are now included under that label, and parents, teachers and doctors are much more aware and vigilant about autism. (I know two men in their sixties who have recently been diagnosed with autism; as children they were considered ‘just odd’ but, today, their condition would have been diagnosed much earlier).

·         •The assertion that vaccination causes autism has been thoroughly debunked.  If you want to learn about this persistent bit of misinformation, see https://sciencebasedmedicine.org/reference/vaccines-and-autism/ .

·         Early diagnosis really helps. Some parents wonder if they should bother, as autism cannot be cured. However, there are therapies and even drugs that can really help, especially if the diagnosis is made early. More than that, parents and teachers can handle a child’s challenges more readily when they understand what they are dealing with.

·        • Autistic children usually show signs even when babies. If you are worried your child is unresponsive, not acquiring language and not reacting to people in the usual way, then do get them checked by your doctor. If you or your partner are on the autistic spectrum, or you have other autistic children, then the odds will be higher that your child will be on the spectrum.  For good information on autism, including signs and symptoms, check out www.mentalhealth.org.nz/get-help/a-z/resource/8/autism-spectrum-disorders

·         Are you on the spectrum yourself? Many people have problems communicating or learning or getting on socially who do not have autism. But many adults are on the autistic spectrum and they benefit from getting a diagnosis. Though your doctor is a good person to start with, someone with expertise in autism can assess you more reliably, especially if you are female. (Women seem to have different symptoms).  

·         •Autism and mental health. The challenges of autism can be stressful, and so it is not surprising that some people with autism also have anxiety, depression or other mental and emotional difficulties.  That is tough, but good support, therapy and maybe medication can really help get people back to better mental health.

·         Autism is considered a disability. Funding can be available to help with the challenges. Check out the  Needs Assessment and Service Coordination provider (NASC).

____________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Disclaimer

These blogs are offered with the sincere hope that they will be beneficial to people with mental health challenges, their families and the wider public. However, a big lesson from the history of science is that anyone can be wrong! Therefore, this disclaimer: though written in good faith, the authors and publishers cannot guarantee the accuracy of this content, or its applicability to a particular situation.  Any decisions or course of action taken as a consequence of this content must be entirely the reader’s responsibility.  In no way should this content be used as a basis to contradict or ignore the advice of a medical or mental health professional.

 

Thursday, March 21, 2019
/documents/Autism awareness month 2018.jpg

A simple question: Is mental illness inherited? And the simple answer is, yes, it can be.  And that’s where the simplicity stops. It is a very complex issue, and it leads on to one of the most agonizing dilemmas a person can face: “Should I be a parent?”

Let’s look at a few of the complicating issues.

1.       1. The causes of mental illness are not fully understood, but some problems are known to be caused by injury, illness, infections, trauma and stress.

2.       2. It’s also clear that some mental health problems run in families. What is inherited is often a ‘susceptibility’: mental illness won’t show up until it is          triggered by some trauma or stress. Without the trauma, maybe they would be symptom-free for life.

3.          3.It’s all a matter of odds. If we do have an inheritable mental health problem, we increase the odds that our kids will also have them but nothing is certain.        Mentally unwell parents can have perfectly healthy children, and neurotypical (i.e. ‘normal’) parents can have children with mental health problems. It is                a lottery,but your genes do shift the odds.

This is a huge topic, especially if you are wondering whether or not to have a family. A short piece like this can’t hope to do any more than just raise the flag: “Think about it. Get advice.” Your doctor, psychiatrist or a genetic counsellor (yes, there are people who specialise in this) can help you sort through the issues.

And what if we already have children? Here’s the good news: people with mental illness can and do raise perfectly healthy, whole children.  It might be harder, we might need a bit more support, but be optimistic. Also, our insights gained from our own mental health journey can help us be more intentional about our child’s ‘mental hygiene’:  caring for the emotional and psychological well-being in such a way as to give them the best chance of a happy, healthy mental health.
An extra load we may find we are carrying is the vigilance: every flare of temper or odd bit of behaviour will probably trigger at least a small bit of anxiety, “Is this the start of some mental issue?” And, of course, it might be. Sigh, expect the best but, as things get clearer, get some advice.  Early diagnosis and treatment can make a huge difference to how the road ahead is going to go for us and our child. 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Disclaimer

These blogs are offered with the sincere hope that they will be beneficial to people with mental health challenges, their families and the wider public. However, a big lesson from the history of science is that anyone can be wrong! Therefore, this disclaimer: though written in good faith, the authors and publishers cannot guarantee the accuracy of this content, or its applicability to a particular situation.  Any decisions or course of action taken as a consequence of this content must be entirely the reader’s responsibility.  In no way should this content be used as a basis to contradict or ignore the advice of a medical or mental health professional.

 


Wednesday, March 13, 2019
/documents/Kids and adult standing in front of sunlight.jpg
Identify the early warning signs for Mental Health related issues

It’s a drag: episodes of poor mental health have a tendency to recur from time to time.  The only good side of this is that we can learn to recognise the early warning signs, which has lots of benefits.  No one is delighted to feel themselves sliding into another ‘dark patch’, but at least we know what it is. “Why am I feeling and acting like this? Of course! This happened the last time I was unwell!” Part of the distress of poor mental health is anxiety from wondering what is happening to us; if we recognize the early symptoms, that myster at least, is solved. We know what we are dealing with. 

Earlier treatment usually means we can reduce the severity and duration of an episode. With prompt attention to early warning signs we can sometimes ‘head it off at the pass’, and halt the slide into a full-blown bout of poor mental health. Maybe reducing stress, increasing social support, and paying attention to sleep and other routines will be enough to get our life back on to an even keel.

If you or a loved one has mental health issues, it is a brilliant idea to have a strategy already worked out and ready to go at the first signs of a relapse.  Support workers are usually very keen to help you work one out. If we bring family, friends and employers in on our plans ahead of time then they will be prepared to play their part if needed. Childcare, extra support, a safe environment and the help we need to best recover can all be primed and ready. It makes it much easier for the helpers, and it will be much less stressful for us at a time when we definitely don’t need extra stress.

Early warning signs differ from person to person but a few typical ones are:

 •Trying to think, or solving problems, feels confusing and hard work
 •Suspicious, nervous and ‘twitchy’ about people
 •Poor personal hygiene and grooming
 •Isolation from others
 •Work performance takes a dive
 •Feeling depressed
 •Emotions that are ‘over the top’ … or no emotions at all.
 •Sleeping and eating change a lot; maybe too much, maybe too little
 •Memory problems
 •Unusual behaviour
 •Moods that change dramatically
 •Strangely sensitive to smells, sights, sounds or touch
 •Apathy
 •A feeling of being disconnected from the world
 •Ideas and beliefs about oneself or the world that just don’t line up with what others think is real

This list is just for your interest – your own early warning signs might be completely different. Do make a list of your own early warning signs, and take the time to make a plan to activate if those signs happen. At the very least, have a clear idea of whom to call if that ‘unwelcome visitor’ of poor mental health turns up at your place again. 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Disclaimer

These blogs are offered with the sincere hope that they will be beneficial to people with mental health challenges, their families and the wider public. However, a big lesson from the history of science is that anyone can be wrong! Therefore, this disclaimer: though written in good faith, the authors and publishers cannot guarantee the accuracy of this content, or its applicability to a particular situation.  Any decisions or course of action taken as a consequence of this content must be entirely the reader’s responsibility.  In no way should this content be used as a basis to contradict or ignore the advice of a medical or mental health professional. 

Wednesday, March 06, 2019
/documents/You are going to be fine.jpg

Stress can be awful. It can wear down our health, exhaust us, fray our nerves and, sometimes, tip us into a bout of really bad mental health. But not all stress is bad for us. Work can certainly be stressful but often we actually enjoy the challenge of work and projects, the buzz of working in a team, the sense of progress and, of course, making money. It can be wonderful for our self-esteem and sense of well-being. Sometimes we collapse into bed at the end of busy patch and go, “I’m tired out but it’s a GOOD tiredness.”  Given the choice, most people prefer to work.

Here are a few tips to help you handle the stress of working life.

How much OTHER stress is there in my life? Stress adds up and it takes time to get over. If you have had a recent loss in your family, some big bills arrived yesterday and you got a traffic ticket on the way to work this morning, then you might find that something as minor as running out of staples pushes you to tears.  You might not be thinking of those other things but they have worn down your resilience and so that little problem with the stapler seems huge. If you feel stressed, you are stressed… but it might not be work itself that is the problem.

Different people handle stress differently. Some people seem to love stress! The fact that your workmate can work long hours without a break doesn’t mean that you should. Learning what your body and emotions are telling you about how much you can handle is an excellent mental health skill. If you have, or have had, anxiety or depression or some other mental or physical health issue, that may make you less able to handle stress (at least at the moment – your resilience can rebuild).

You can work harder and produce less.  It is obvious that if we work harder, we produce more… but only up to a point. If we push ourselves too hard, the stress makes us less efficient. People who don’t take breaks or holidays have been proven to be less productive. If you want to be a good worker and employee, aim to work efficiently, and that doesn’t mean knocking yourself out.

Get enough sleep.   Nearly everyone could do with more and better sleep! Our whole society staggers on with too little sleep. “I can’t sleep because I worry about work!” Hmmm… then that lack of sleep is going to make you even more vulnerable to stress – it’s a vicious circle.   Sleep is so important in helping us handle stress that we should make conquering our sleep problems a real project. Three tips: have a fixed bed time, don’t eat a lot before turning in and resist looking at your phone. Fourth tip – Google, “Getting enough sleep,” but don’t stay up too late reading all the advice!

Prioritize and organize.  You probably do a lot of clever things for your boss… now it’s time to do some clever things for yourself! One of the best defences against stress is a pencil and paper. Make lists. Plan your day, including planning when you are going to take breaks. Take the big scary things on your to do list and break them down into smaller and smaller steps.  “Yard by yard is very hard but inch by inch is a cinch.”  And get everywhere early! Running late, or running to be on time, runs you down. So much better to have a few minutes to spare to take some breaths, stare out the window, and feel the stress sliding off you. 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Disclaimer

These blogs are offered with the sincere hope that they will be beneficial to people with mental health challenges, their families and the wider public. However, a big lesson from the history of science is that anyone can be wrong! Therefore, this disclaimer: though written in good faith, the authors and publishers cannot guarantee the accuracy of this content, or its applicability to a particular situation.  Any decisions or course of action taken as a consequence of this content must be entirely the reader’s responsibility.  In no way should this content be used as a basis to contradict or ignore the advice of a medical or mental health professional. 

Tuesday, February 26, 2019
/documents/3 ppl working on a desk with laptops.jpg
tips for keeping Children safe from abuse, protecting children

All kids deserve a happy, safe, carefree childhood, free from any abuse that will haunt their memories on into their adult lives. With the knowledge that child abuse is a factor in later emotional and psychological problems, keeping our children safe from abuse is a top priority.

Here are some tips.

  •           • Be cautious about who is allowed access to your children. Statistically, family members and partners of the parent are more likely to harm children than strangers.

  Take care with choosing baby-sitters. Better to pay someone with training and references than to take risks with someone even slightly ‘dodgy’ or a sitter who is too young with immature impulse control.

  Stay sober and drug-free around your children so you can be alert to protect them, and keep your children away from people who are drunk or stoned.

  • Be alert for any signs that your child might have been abused: physical signs, age-inappropriate behaviour and knowledge, and emotional distress.

  • Set firm boundaries around the behaviour of other people around your children: pornography, bad language, lewd behaviour etc.

  • Establish regular opportunities where the child can debrief and talk to you about anything.

  • Take seriously anything a child might say about an adult doing something to them.


It is horrible to think our children are being abused, but it can also be horrible to think that the abuser is a family member or someone we love. That freezes some parents into inaction and the abuse continues. A real cause of life-long pain for some victims is that they did seek help but they weren’t believed or protected. Our priority has to be our child’s safety. Their life-long mental health and happiness may be at stake.  Get advice from your doctor or mental health professional to help you do the right thing.  Bring on board a trusted friend to support you. Yes: there may be terrible pain as a result of what you  have to do – family trouble, relationship break-ups and legal consequences – but realise this:

  • You did not cause this trouble, the abuser did.

  • Your loyalty to your children has to be greater than even your loyalty to your partner or family.

  • The consequences of not acting will be worse than any trouble your actions stir up.

These are hard things. Let two things be your guide: love, and doing the right thing.  Those two compass needles usually point the same way and, when they do, you can be pretty confident that your actions will result in the best outcomes. 

If you suspect your child has been abused, do get them some help. Again, your doctor can advise you. Gentle, sensitive counselling can greatly reduce the harm that abuse causes.

Finally, don’t let this blog make you depressed or sour! The world is full of lovely, safe men and women who are on side with you and your children. Yes, we need to be vigilant and wise, but your children will be far better off with interactions with other good adults.

Disclaimer

These blogs are offered with the sincere hope that they will be beneficial to people with mental health challenges, their families and the wider public. However, a big lesson from the history of science is that anyone can be wrong! Therefore, this disclaimer: though written in good faith, the authors and publishers cannot guarantee the accuracy of this content, or its applicability to a particular situation.  Any decisions or course of action taken as a consequence of this content must be entirely the reader’s responsibility.  In no way should this content be used as a basis to contradict or ignore the advice of a medical or mental health professional.

Wednesday, January 30, 2019
/documents/boy hugging a woman.jpg

We can help our children grow up to enjoy good mental health. Yes, there is a genetic component to mental health and so if we, ourselves, have had mental health challenges, then our children may be at more risk of developing problems as well. However, there are things we can do that will improve their resilience and greatly improve their chances of happy emotional and mental well-being.

In the early years, a huge issue is attachment, which is when a child feels ‘plugged in’ to a reliable, caring, affectionate adult. Another important thing is that they are shielded from adult anger and violence. A safe, peaceful, loving home is the foundation for a life-time of well-being. Parenting courses are ideal for adding to our skill base to help this to happen.

Later on, a child’s good mental health is fertilised by

·         Friendships with peers

·         Trusting interaction with other adults

·         Fun

·         A sense of connection with family and a wider community

·         Opportunities to learn and express themselves

·         Good rest

·         Protection from, and processing of, stress and trauma.

We don’t like to think of our child’s world having stress and trauma but it is there, and one of the most stressful things that can happen is bullying. It has been linked to depression and anxiety in young people. It’s a big topic, one worth researching more fully if it is an issue, but here are few points.

·         Victims agree with the bully. They believe the put-downs and insults. Gently reassure your child and rescue their self-esteem.

·         Alternative groups help your child recover. A youth or sport group away from the school or wherever the bullying takes place is a wonderful tonic, to help a child experience themselves as something other than a ‘victim’.

·         Debrief. Provide a safe quiet space where your child can talk. Wind down the advice and wind up the listening. Nothing helps a child process their stress better than a non-judgemental adult with a sympathetic ear.

·         Enlist the school. Schools are not perfect but much better now at handling bullying.

·         Upskill your child. Child-appropriate assertiveness involves things like being able to say ‘no’, to walk away from conflict and to deflect other’s unwanted attention with humour.

 

Avoiding stress and managing it better are key skills in moving towards better emotional and mental health.  Those skills work amazingly well for us and, if we can pass them on, they can also be incredibly useful for our children as well. 

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

Disclaimer

These blogs are offered with the sincere hope that they will be beneficial to people with mental health challenges, their families and the wider public. However, a big lesson from the history of science is that anyone can be wrong! Therefore, this disclaimer: though written in good faith, the authors and publishers cannot guarantee the accuracy of this content, or its applicability to a particular situation.  Any decisions or course of action taken as a consequence of this content must be entirely the reader’s responsibility.  In no way should this content be used as a basis to contradict or ignore the advice of a medical or mental health professional. 

Monday, January 21, 2019
/documents/Children Mental Health and Bullying Blog image_New.jpg

 If you ever want to scare yourself, look up on the internet how mental health issues were treated in the past. Often the treatments were bizarre, verging on cruel. Frequently the only “therapy” was confinement. All over New Zealand, and most other countries, you can still see the remnants of huge rambling mental hospitals that used to be full but are now abandoned or used for other purposes. The main reason they are now empty is that modern drugs mean that far more people are able to have their symptoms treated while still living at home and in the community.

As you know, it is still a drag having mental health problems.   The good news is that most psychological and psychotic issues can now be helped with good therapies; the bad news is that the drugs are not perfect, and the process of diagnosis and prescribing the right medication is still far from perfect as well. We are all different and a drug that really helps one person might not do anything for another except give them side effects. It can be upsetting and make us wonder if we might not be better off without any treatment at all. However, we have to at least admit that things are so much better than they used to be. When medication gets tweaked and fine-tuned to suit us, our life is usually so much better than when we are trying to cope with untreated symptoms. Hang in there – that ‘tweaking and tuning’ can take a while. Here are a few tips and insights to help you get there.

1.       1.Become an expert on yourself. Diary your experiences, noting anything about your mood or behaviour that might be a bit different. Look up some of the possible side-effects that can occur with your medication and make a note if any of them occur. Discuss your findings with your doctor – your diary can be very useful.

2.       2.You might become the expert on yourself, but your doctor is still the expert on the drugs. Resist the temptation to alter your dose or try some non-prescribed drugs without talking to a medical professional.

3.       3. Don’t be afraid of annoying your doctor by asking lots of questions and requesting changes if things are not working well.  Your doctor understands the ‘tweaking and tuning’ process, and will not be insulted if you say a medication doesn’t work as well as hoped. (Sometimes, though, drugs do take a while to work well: your doctor might be quite right to ask you to be patient and persevere a bit longer).

4.       4. Treatment with drugs is only part of getting your mental health back. Counselling, life-style changes and social support can all have brilliant benefits.

5.      5. Many of the more common side effects – such as constipation, weight gain and insomnia – can be treated to make the anti-psychotic drugs more tolerable. Many side-effects also decrease as your body gets used to the drug.

6.      6. Keep an eye on your overall health – antipsychotic drugs are ‘relatively’ safe but, for some people, they can affect their cholesterol and heart and cause other problems. If in any doubt, at least call your doctor’s nurse.

__________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

 Di   Disclaimer

These blogs are offered with the sincere hope that they will be beneficial to people with mental health challenges, their families and the wider public. However, a big lesson from the history of science is that anyone can be wrong! Therefore, this disclaimer: though written in good faith, the authors and publishers cannot guarantee the accuracy of this content, or its applicability to a particular situation.  Any decisions or course of action taken as a consequence of this content must be entirely the reader’s responsibility.  In no way should this content be used as a basis to contradict or ignore the advice of a medical or mental health professional. 

Tuesday, January 15, 2019
/documents/rawpixel-550991-unsplash.jpg
RSSRSS