Firstly, I would like to start by thanking the many families who participated in Personal Stories Week this year. So many asked to participate that I had to push some stories to August 2015. Your stories of bravery, triumph, struggle, pain, denial, hope, loss of hope, and perpetual challenges have not only inspired us, but perhaps has made us more grateful for the beautiful aspects of life that so many tend to take for granted.
Are you the parent of or know someone who is the parent of an adult child with schizophrenia or Schizoaffective disorder? How did you respond to that diagnosis? What if your son or daughter was a stellar student with gifted abilities and one day lost her hope for a bright future because of a chronic mental health condition? The stress and strain that you would feel might almost take all the life in your soul. In fact, it might cause you to question why. I’m sure Sharon (seen on the right) has been through this process many times in her life.
Have you ever been to a mental health agency where everything appeared to be disorganized, unethical, and perhaps even illegal? Did a loved one receive mediocre mental health services, inadequate services, or no help at all? If so, you are not alone.
Are you the parent of a child, adolescent, or adult child with severe mental illness? How do you feel right now? Tired? Lonely? Discouraged? Or even stronger? Some parents say that they are struggling every single day of their lives with the reality that their child, teen, or adult child is suffering from both their own illness and stigma. Other parents say they are not as discouraged as they were before they found out what their child actually struggled with. No matter how you have chosen to view your situation, I’m sure you can relate to Melanie Jimenez.
Are you a mother or father of a son with a mental health or behavioral disorder? How did you cope with the reality that your son would probably need your help and support for the rest of his life? For many parents, accepting an illness can feel like one of the worst things you’ll ever have to do. Many mothers have spoken to me about their struggle to not only accept but also to live with their child’s illness. It isn’t easy. It’s almost unimaginable.
It’s that time of year again when I collaborate with a group of readers, writers, parents, twitter followers, friends, and colleagues to discuss, during 1 entire week, their experiences with mental illness. Their experiences could be personal or professional and focus on challenges, miracles, systemic difficulties, financial strain, failures of the system, and many more issues that parents, families, friends, caregivers, and professionals have experienced. Come join us.
Change. It’s a simple word but it can mean so many things to the person experiencing the change. I’ve had many changes in my personal life, changes that were both good and bad. Some change is on time and other changes come at the wrong time. Still, other changes are the result of your desire to change something, while other changes are not.
Have you ever heard of the terms “burnout,” “compassion fatigue,” or “secondary traumatic stress?” If not, you’ll soon find out what these terms mean in this article. Each week we discuss issues specific to parents, families, caregivers, and individuals who are living with or helping someone with a mental health condition. But this week, we’ll talk a bit about the mental health professional and the challenges many helpers face. This is important for you to know because burnout, compassion fatigue, or secondary traumatic stress can interfere with the level of care you or your loved one receives.
As a mental health professional I often find myself confused, frustrated, and overwhelmed by the mental health needs of our youth today. Even with a few years of education and career experience under my belt, I still feel lost for words when a parent describes the grueling process of seeking services for her child. I find myself inwardly say a prayer in hopes that she will find her way. If I have the opportunity to be close enough to reach that person, I will. I almost “flood” a parent with resources and direction. My ultimate goal has been to offer the direction I see so many families without. I have been close enough to families to see the frustration and pain inherent in not knowing where to turn, feeling alone, and maybe even cursed.
What comes to mind when you think of the words “safety plan” or “behavioral contract?” The word “contract” can sound a bit intimidating and “safety plan” could almost sound immature. But both are essential and basically mean the same thing. Either way, they are useful for individuals battling severe, untreated, or resistant (unable to be easily treated) mental health conditions. But they are most useful for children and adolescents.