Meet Roger Waak, MA with NAMI for the 2nd part of his interview. He explains what mental health is and how to manage it in times of stress from the point of view of the largest grassroots organization for mental health in the U.S.
Roger has been a NAMI volunteer since 2014. He teaches a free 10-week course for families, partners, and friends of individuals living with mental illness called family-to-family. He is a retired technology director with a master’s degree in history.
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National Alliance on Mental Illness: https://www.nami.org
NAMI is an education program with a specific belief system. What are their 6 principles?
1. One principle is to trust your own instincts, "You are the expert."
2. Another principle is "You don't need to know everything."
3. "You can't know what no one has told you."
4. "Mental health conditions are no one's fault."
5. "Mental health conditions share universal characteristics."
6. "Mental health conditions are biological." It is extremely important that we understand the biology of mental illness. Scientists are learning a lot about neurotransmitters and there are now ways to test your levels.
How do neurotransmitters effect mental health?
* Dopamine – focus, joy
* GABA – inhibitory, calm, nature’s valium
* Norepinephrine – excitatory, adrenaline
* Serotonin – sleep cycle
Anxiety disorders are the most common mental health concern in the United States. What are some contributions to this?
* An estimated 40 million adults in the U.S., or 18%, have an anxiety disorder.
* Scientists believe that many factors combine to cause anxiety disorders.
* Genetics - Research shows that anxiety disorders run in families. This can be a factor.
* Stress - A stressful or traumatic situation such as abuse, death of a loved one, or prolonged illness.
* The most effective treatment usually involves a combination of: Psychotherapy and Medication
Why is it important to get a complete physical when experiencing symptoms?
* It will take time to get a complete diagnosis.
* Finding the right medication takes time. It’s the law of the land.
* Taking medication often times is the way the diagnosis is made.
What are 5 common mental health myths?
1.Mental health issues are not common.The truth is 1 in 5 people are impacted by mental health issues every single day. It's a lot more common than we realize. The reason we don't realize how common it is is because we don't talk about it enough.
2. Mental health issues are caused by character flaws or personality weakness. The truth is that mental health is a physical health issue. The World Health Organization says there is not health without mental health. These are brain health issues that impact lots of people, and treatment does work and recovery is possible.
3. Kids don't get mental illness. The truth is that mental health issues are as common among children as they are adults. The numbers are the same, 1 in 5. In fact, lifetime mental health issues show their signs by age 14.
4. People don't get better. The truth is that mental health treatment does work and recovery is possible. The success rates are very similar to physical health issues. The right treatment, access to medication, therapy, a great support system, people can and do get better.
5. Mental health issues are not life threatening. In fact, about 90% of suicides in our community are caused by either untreated, under-treated, or undiagnosed mental health issues.