Mental Health and African-Americans

Mental health related issues in America has long been an area in healthcare that has often been overlooked.

Various mental health areas such as depression, social phobias, and bipolar disorder are just a few illnesses affect over 42 million Americans. Their power-hold on the afflicted in a virtual death-grip. These illnesses have the ability to make the victims’ lives unmanageable.

Between the numerous challenges a person faces through work, family, friends, and basic living can be stressful enough. We, as people, are pulled in different directions. What’s worse, all these existential responsibilities can take an individual away from the chance to take care of themselves.

“Mood disorders are physical illnesses that effect the brain. There exact cause is not known, but it is known that an imbalance in the brain plays a role,” said an official with the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance.

The Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA), based in Chicago, IL, believes there are benefits with looking to receive treatment through psychotherapy. “Psychotherapy (talk therapy) can be very helpful for this,” says Dr. Charles Mayweather, a social worker in Washington, D.C. People may need extra help coping with unhealthy relationships or harmful lifestyles choices that contribute to your illness.

Just as an aspirin can reduce a fever without curing infection that causes it, psychotherapeutic medications act by controlling symptoms. Psychotherapeutic medications do not cure mental illnesses, but in many cases, they can help a person function despite some continuing mental pain and difficulty coping with problems.

Something like anxiety is a normal reaction to life-changing events. Everyone gets stressed-out or anxious, but most people are able to bounce back. But anxiety that is so frequent, intense, and uncontrollable that it hinders daily routines – that may be a sign of anxiety disorder.

For example, drugs like chlorpromazine can turn it off the “voices” heard by some people with psychosis and help them see reality more clearly. And antidepressants can lift dark, heavy moods of depression. The degree of response – ranging from a little relief of symptoms to complete relief – depends on a variety of factours related to the individual and the disorder being treated.

According to Anxiety Disorders Association of America (ADAA), a Washington based mental health organisation, anxiety affects millions of men and women. Almost 7 percent of all registered college students in America report symptoms. Surprisingly, women are twice as to be diagnosed than men.

“Anxiety disorders” is a broad term. It encompasses six psychiatric (as in real or medical) disorders. Although the symptoms of each anxiety disorder vary in different people. They all provoke fear or worry that interferes with normal life. General Anxiety Disorder (GAD), Social Anxiety Disorder (SAD), Panic Disorder, Specific Phobias, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are all disorders that fall into this broad category.

Anxiety disorders are real, serious, and most importantly…treatable.

In treating disorders the treatment may involve therapy or medication or a combination of both. With time and patience, up to 90 percent of the people who obtain proper care from a health professional will recover and go on to live full and productive lives.

An untreated anxiety disorder may lead to far more serious consequences such as developing deeper depression issues or falling deeper into substance abuse. And in extreme cases, suicide can be the result. Early treatment can help prevent these problems.

The best piece of advice is to be tested early on, before potential illnesses could be worse.

Organisations similar to Screening for Mental Health, Inc. (SMH) have provided colleges and universities with valuable educational materials and screening tools for the past 17 years. Douglas G. Jacobs, M.D., Associate Clinical Professor of Psychiatry at Harvard Medical School and President and CEO of SMH says, “I fight the good fight on giving our youth a chance at good mental health services, just as I did with helping to spearhead National Depression Screening Day.”

“Our organisation (SMH) is a non-profit that provides screenings for depression, bipolar disorder, anxiety, post traumatic stress disorder, suicide intervention, alcohol problems and eating disorders. These programs are designed for community and mental health sites, employers, health care organizations, colleges/universities and high schools.”