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There is much debate about this and as yet there is no scientific conclusion. However, we do know that if a person has mental illness in their family then the likelihood of another family member contracting the mental illness is increased. There are ways that a person can decrease their chances of getting the mental illness. Some of the things that can be done are:
- Avoid all illegal drugs including marijuana, speed, cocaine, ice, ecstasy etc. It is believed that a person carrying mental illness within their genetics at a greatly increased risk of getting mental illness if parting in drugs. A drug-induced psychosis may also take place.
- Avoid too much stress over a prolonged period.
- Take regular exercise.
- Make sure your diet contains all vital minerals, vitamins, proteins, etc.
- Do not drink very much alcohol and never binge drink.
- Take great care of your physical health before, during and after viruses.
- Avoid situations that may place you at risk of receiving a heavy blow to the head including during childhood and adolescents.
Yes. By law mental illness is considered to be a disability, therefore antidiscrimination legislation relates to Mental Illness. As an employer, teacher, service etc you need to be aware that if you do not treat a person with mental illness equitably there are laws to support these people’s needs. People with mental illness must be treated with respect and given every opportunity to advance in work, studies etc
Employees may be eligible to some subsidies when employing some people with a mental illness.Many people with mental illness do not consider it to be a disability and may even consider it to be an asset as Fay Jackson does.
Unfortunately the answer is yes. People who are caring for someone who has a mental illness may be tired, fearful, irritable and lacking in concentration if they are experiencing lack of sleep and stress due to their loved one vacuuming the house in the middle of the night with all the house lights on and the stereo on full blast (some symptoms of mania). People who know that they can be honest with their work colleagues and teachers about what is happening in their life will be much better off. Workplace adjustments may need to be made for a short while during the acute stage of the illness.
Of course there is the terrifying issue that some people face of their loved one being suicidal, self harming or may have in fact taken their own lives. This person needs support, understanding, compassion and to know that they should not be embarrassed or ashamed of what is happening to them and their loved one. Mental illness is a physical illness which is a chemical imbalance of the brain. The stigmatizing language used around mental illness is particularly harmful at this stage. If a person dies from mental illness, please do not use the terminology of “he/she committed suicide”. People commit crimes and commit sins. Suicide is neither of these. When a person dies from mental illness they are dying from an illness as physical as cancer. People do not “commit cancer” when they die from their illness. There are many other forms of stigmatizing language which people need to eradicate from their vocabulary.
Always remember that a Carer may be a young child, a teenager, a neighbours a colleague, or anyone else who is placed in this position.
Definitely! As mentioned above prevention is always better than response and cure so if the supports are in place for the entire school, TAFE or Uni population, ensuring students know that they will not be ostracized or stigmatized in anyway when seeking help, problems are much less likely to occur. These people may need extra support in times leading up to exams or having major works marked. The biggest problem experienced by many students with mental illness is that they are often perfectionists and may need to be encouraged that “good enough is in fact good enough”. People with obsessive compulsive disorder, bipolar and other illnesses often want things to be perfect. Vision in Mind recommends that your staff and students consider doing the Mental Health First Aid Course. You could in fact make this a part of your curriculum e.g. as a part of you PDHPE program or your interdisciplinary projects in Uni. Your staff will benefit greatly from this and will feel much more peaceful about their abilities to help all students and other staff members.
Again the answer is “of course”. In fact I have found, working with hundreds of people with mental health issues, that the greater difficulty with them is that they are too honest. There may be a problem with a person who is experiencing mania being overly generous and making fantastic plans which are a little ahead of the business plan your company may have, however if you and your employees are aware of the signs of mania and support your valuable employee or manager during this time you can safe guard and prevent problems occurring. You should also make the most of these manic phases because the person with mania will come up with incredibly creative and visionary ideas for your business or service.
If a person is experiencing psychosis and says some really strange things, this is not because they are dishonest, it is indeed because they believe everything they hear see and feel to be real although it may not be at the time. Again, if the person who has mental illness is supported they are much more likely to be accepting of their condition and recognize the early signs of their illness and seek timely help. There is no need for the person to take time off work provided things are under control. If you and your workplace, school, etc are aware of the warning signs you too can help the person to get help quickly. Workplace agreements that are drawn up with compassion, acceptance and support are a great deterrent from people becoming unwell or difficulties arising from this. Prevention is always better than cure.
Of course they can, provided that they are not currently taking tranquilizing type medication. If this is needed for a short while it may be better to give them different duties for those few days, but this is no different to a person who has a sore back and are given lighter duties until their back heals. There are other things you can do about Mental Health to ensure that your WHS standards are high and your premiums are lowered. And yes, most people with mental illness do have good driving records.
Absolutely!!!!! And this may very well be an understatement. Many people who have mental illness are extremely intelligent and creative. Many studies are currently underway into why it is that so many geniuses, artists, scientists, mathematicians etc have mental illness. The other thing to remember is that people who are given employment and are supported in their health feel that they have something to prove. I have seen figures which suggest that people who are employed and are supported in their mental health actually have fewer days off work than people who do not have mental illness.
Studies show that people with bipolar disorder are particularly creative, gregarious, are lateral thinkers, problem solvers and great “people people”.
Many managers and company directors have mental health issues yet they are just the people that give companies the leading edge.
It is also important that mental illness is represented across all intellectual groups, all races, sexes, ages, religions etc.
Usually, this is not the best long term option for the workplace or the person experiencing mental health concerns. The study was undertaken by Beyondblue (see Links page) points out that very often the best thing for a speedy recovery and to ensure that you do not lose a valuable employee is to keep the person at work and in their usual social environment. If a person is forced to take time off work, against their will, they may feel that it is too embarrassing to return to work when they are well enough to do so. If the person is able to stay at work, perhaps with some adjustments, then this is the better option. Some people do their best work when they are experiencing an episode of mental illness, e.g. most creative, most visionary, and most confident when experiencing mania.
As you can see when you view the page called Fay Jackson – Profile, our CEO has had a great deal of experience in working in mental health in acute wards and in the community. She has received many awards for her work including the prestigious ARHRF Medal for Meritorious Service to Community. Fay also has Bipolar Disorder.
Fay managers her condition in a variety of ways and has learned to control it and turn what was considered to be a disability into an asset. “Mental illness can be seen as not a disability, but a different ability when accepted and used to the best of a person’s full potential. With a realistic estimate being that 1:3 people by the year 2020 will have a mental health issue to contend with it must now be considered NORMAL to have a mental illness. The current figure of 1:5 people having a mental illness shows how common it is. If 1:5 people have blonde hair and that is considered normal; If 1:5 people have blue eyes and that is considered normal, then 1:5 people having a mental health issue is normal. It is just a different kind of normal. We are all different otherwise the world would be filled with clones and lacking in culture and wonder. What is normal? What does a normal gum tree look like?”
Fay is proud to be the complete person she is, in control of her life and career and has been recognized across our nation as the face of Mental Health by many people (she has been used in two TV add campaigns by the ARHRF). She is also a Carer and Fay’s wonderful brother Peter Jackson who was the children’s programming officer for the ABC television and wrote and directed such programs as Blinky Bill, Ship To Shore, ‘Round the Twist, who unfortunately died 7 years ago, also had bipolar disorder.
Fay has an amazing knack of engaging individuals, groups and communities. People feel safe with Fay and know that they will have the expertise and opinions of a person who has experienced mental health as a manager within a large mental health service, as a performance and public participation manager, an advocate and from a very personal perspective. Fay is able to guide people to full acceptance and understanding of their own mental health issues and those of their staff, colleagues, students, community and their Carers and families. After knowing Fay, people’s attitudes to themselves and life change. Give yourself, your company and community the leading edge and ask Vision in Mind to recognize your needs and to help you.
The term Mental Illness covers a gamut of illnesses including such things as:
- Post-Natal Depression
- Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder
- Bipolar Disorder (once called Manic Depression)
- Anxiety Disorders
- ADD, ADHD etc
- Personality Disorder
- Eating Disorders
- Many others
These illnesses are chemical imbalances of the brain. Just as people with diabetes have a chemical imbalance in their body and need to take insulin to manage their illness. People with mental health issues need a variety of medications, psychotherapy, exercise, a good diet, no drug use, little alcohol and coffee, a lot of water, etc to keep them well. Mental illness is a physical illness that manifests itself psychologically. It is nothing to be ashamed of just as people are not ashamed of having diabetes or asthma. Our community must stop the stigma surrounding mental illness to ensure that people with concerns about their mental health get help quickly. If people are helped early, very often an acute illness can be avoided and complete recovery may take place.