In two days of training, people are learning to recognize conditions like bipolar disorder and schizophrenia in strangers, and what to do about it.
“Globally…depression is the second-leading cause of disability.”
"The most depressed country [in the world] is Afghanistan, where more than one in five people suffer from the disorder. The least depressed is Japan."
There’s no end to MedicationMeditation, an unwinnable computer game about treating depression and anxiety.
A few months ago, Laura U., a typical 16-year-old at an international school in Paris, sat at her computer wishing she looked just like the emaciated women on her Tumblr dashboard. She pined to be mysterious, haunted, fascinating, like the other people her age that she saw in black and white photos with scars along their wrists, from taking razor blades to their skin. She convinced herself that the melancholic quotes she was reading—“Can I just disappear?” or “People who die by suicide don’t want to end their lives, they want to end their pain”—applied to her.
Among Tumblr’s 140+ million blogs, social communities form around specific topics: music, fashion, photography, and also kinds of disorders. Months ago Laura was part of one such community, scrolling through hundreds of photographs on Tumblr that evoke negative emotions through art and call it depression. Black and white photographs of mystical emaciated women who stare off into the distance put psychological torment and beauty on the same page, and quotes like “So it’s okay for you to hurt me, but I can’t hurt myself?” and “I want to die a lovely death,” try to justify self-harm. All this is at the tip of anyone’s fingertips: anyone can search tags like “self-harm,” “depression,” or “sadness,” and find thousands of blogs with a similarly distorted vision of what it means to be depressed.
Read more. [Image: Nikko Russano/Flickr]
The recent Capitol Hill shooting of an unarmed woman by police officers, and the uncertainty surrounding her mental state at the time she drove her car into a White House barricade, is a stark reminder of the uncomfortable interplay between mental illness and law enforcement in times of crisis.
Without the appropriate amount of mental health training for police, experts say, rash stigmatization and misinterpretation of the intentions of the mentally ill can cause vital errors and ultimately make the difference between life and death.
The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) strives to increase awareness and understanding of the mentally ill through its partnership with the University of Memphis Crisis Intervention Training Program, but within the law enforcement population, much is still to be done.
Read more. [Image: Evan Vucci/AP]
Women who reported more stressors experienced more distress over the course of their lives and higher rates of dementia.
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How was he allowed to buy a gun?
It’s the question people are asking after learning that Aaron Alexis, the shooter in the Washington Navy Yard massacre Monday, had been involved in at least two prior shooting incidents and as recently as August sought the assistance of police in Rhode Island because he was hearing voices.
The answer is simple: He walked into the Sharpshooters gun range and store in Newington, Virginia, submitted his name to the FBI’s National Instant Criminal Background Check System, on which 174,623,643 background checks have been run since 1998, and came up clean. His gun incidents never led to criminal convictions. He was not a resident of Virginia and did not show up in any state databases. Whatever mental issues he had, they did not rise to the level of an involuntary commitment or a legal judgment that he was “mentally defective.” When he sought medical care for insomnia in recent weeks, he denied being depressed or thinking of hurting himself or others.
As gun rights advocates have been quick to point out, nothing in Congress’s failed spring effort to extend background checks would have stopped Alexis’s ability to purchase the weapon he used to launch the slaughter of 12 innocent people starting their workday at a military installation.
This is the great problem at the heart of efforts to turn improved mental health reporting into our primary form of gun control.
Read more. [Image: Mike Theiler/Reuters]
I’ve had to explain to countless friends and relatives lately that you can’t force someone to take medications or see a doctor. Federal and state laws protect the right to remain untreated, unless and until a person becomes a threat to him- or herself, or to another person.
These are the rules of the game my sister plays.
She’s not a celebrity, but her most recent spiral into darkness has been public all the same. Over the past few months her delusions and paranoia have been chronicled in a way that, just a few years ago, only her closest friends and relatives might have seen.
Read more. [Image: eflon/flickr]
Last winter, I was declined by five health insurance companies. I am 26, do my preventative screenings like clockwork, and have no physical health problems. As my boss told me when I started working at a small start-up a few months ago that has no group health plan: “You’re young and healthy, I assume you’ll have no problems finding a new plan.” I smiled and weakly said, “of course.”
Five applications and four declines later, I anxiously awaited my last and final letter. The verdict came: Declined. Reason: Bipolar II/ADHD.
So there is my secret: Like millions of other Americans, I have a mental illness.
Read more. [Image: Fillmore Photography/Flickr]
Despite the high stakes involved in making a psychiatric diagnosis, identifying patients’ specific forms of suffering can be extremely challenging. Dr. Christine Montross, a staff psychiatrist at Butler Hospital in Providence, RI, discusses the challenges of working with the mentally ill in her new book, Falling Into the Fire: A Psychiatrist’s Encounters with the Mind in Crisis. In this personal account of her residency and early years of practice, Montross acknowledges the difficulties involved in understanding and treating a few complicated cases.
Read more. [Image: hurleygurley/flickr]