Welcome to the blog for Free Your Mind mental health anti-stigma campaign

This is the blog for the Free Your Mind campaign which aims to battle stigma towards mental illness through the use of music, art, film, and culture.
The blog consists of informative and, hopefully, entertaining articles/posts.
Enjoy! :-)

Saturday, 23 October 2010

Patients Need Quicker Access to Therapy

There is no doubt that therapy is essential in treating mental illnesses, but one in five people with mental health disorders do not get the therapy they need from doctors. The mental health charity Mind says that those waiting less than three months from assessment to treatment were almost five times more likely to report that it helped them get back to work than those waiting between one and two years.

I was assessed with Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) in 2005, with still no kind of therapy or "talking treatments"; I am on the waiting list, but I'm finding the wait highly frustrating! And, what is even more frustrating is that I am by no means the only one.

With all the recent government spending cutbacks the mental health sector is heavily feeling the strain, and this is sure to make therapies even more scarce. Doctors will be forced to prescribe even more medication than the are already doing so. Quality of treatment will suffer.

Access for patients to therapy is very slow, available therapies will be even harder to get hold of, and patients will continue to be pawned off with drugs, leaving their mental health to suffer as a consequence. What can we do?

Wednesday, 20 October 2010

Understanding Eating Disorders

Eating disorders such as bulimia and anorexia are common and are very serious mental illnesses; being dangerously underweight can be fatal. Eating disorders are common in both adults as well as teenagers. These type of mental health problems also occur in men and are becoming increasingly common.

Anorexia is termed by doctors as 'anorexia nervosa', and bulimia as 'bulimia nervosa'. Other eating disorders include Binge Eating Disorder (BED) - this is like bulimia but without the sufferer attempting to get rid of the food/weight (aka. 'purge') - and Compulsive Overeating. The difference between Binge Eating Disorder is that BED is constant, whereas Compulsive Overeating comes and goes in cycles.

The psychological signs of anorexic disorder include:

  • a distorted perception of your body shape or your body shape or weight
  • an intense fear of gaining weight
  • an obsessive interest in what others are eating
  • becoming aware of an 'inner voice' that challenges your views on eating and exercise
  • changes in your personality, as well as mood swings
  • denial of the existence of a problem
The behavioural signs of anorexic disorder include:
  • rigid or obsessive behaviour towards eating; such as cutting your food into tiny pieces and pushing your food around the plate
  • vomiting and/or taking laxatives
  • wearing big, baggy clothes
  • restlessness and hyperactivity
The psychological signs of bulimic disorder include:
  • uncontrollable urges to eat vast amounts of food
  • a distorted perception of your body weight and shape
  • an obsession with your food, or feeling 'out of control' around food
  • emotional behaviour and mood swings
  • isolation - feelings of helplessness and loneliness
  • anxiety and depression; low self-esteem, guilt and shame
The behavioural signs of bulimic disorder include:
  • food disappearing unexpectedly or being secretly hoarded
  • periods of fasting
  • binge eating and vomiting
  • disappearing to the toilet after meals in order to vomit food you've eaten
  • excessive use of laxatives, diuretics or enemas
  • excessive exercise
  • shoplifting for food; abnormal amounts of a money spent on food
  • secrecy and reluctant to socialise
The lists above are not definitive, and those with an eating disorder may not experience all of these symptoms.

Although each eating disorder results in different eating behaviours, each occurs when sufferers cannot separate their emotions from cannot separate their emotions from their eating habits. The self-esteem in those with these kinds of mental illnesses is thought to be low. Individuals with low self-esteem will often give off a beaten appearance; for example, walking with their head down. Those suffering from an eating disorder think that they are ugly. Genetics are also thought to ply a part in causing eating disorders.

Eating disorders are more common than you might think, and they are very mental illnesses; which is why understanding them is important. The two most well known eating disorders are anorexia nervosa and bulimia nervosa, but there are others! And, like any mental illness, an eating disorder can affect anyone, not just young women.

Another campaign I am fond of is 'All Walks' which aims to challenge the fashion industry's view of the body beautiful, find out more here.

I hope this information was useful, and if you have anything thing to add, please do! 
Take care.
Nicola of FYM

Thursday, 14 October 2010

The Story of Titch-Films: Katie's Sectioning

This is just a quick post linking to one of my other blogs, which is film and television centred. The post is about a screenwriting project I am working on which is centred around mental illness. Feel free to let me know what you think!
Take care.
Nicola E. of FYM.

The Story of Titch-Films: My Life of Moving Images: Working Title: Katie's Sectioning: "I am currently working on a screenwriting project with the working title of 'Katie's Sectioning' The plot is centered around the female lead..."

Wednesday, 13 October 2010

What Causes Mental Illness?

Psychiatric disorders can be caused by a number of factors; and although the term mental illness can be misleading by implying that all mental health problems are solely caused by medical or biological factors, this is not the case. In fact, most mental illnesses are caused by a mixture of biological and social/psychological factors.

Biological causes can include how our individual genetic make-up (genes) might put us at more or less risk than others of developing a mental illness. For example, some people may be biologically vulnerable to experiencing depression, and may do so during stressful periods. It has also been found that those who have suffered severe head injuries can also experience changes to their personality, and in some cases may even begin to experience schizophrenia and other symptoms of psychosis.

Biological causes include the misuse of substances and their effects, such as hallucinations.

Social and environmental causes are those factors around us, such as; where we live, who we have around us and can rely on, where we work, and how and where we can relax. Stress in these areas can put a lot of pressure on our mental well-being.

Psychological factors influence your mental and emotional state, especially if, like me, you are coping with traumatic and abusive past and/or current experiences.

Like most, my mental illness results from a complex interaction of different factors. My mental health is influenced by genetics as well as past and current experiences.

It is important to understand what causes mental health problems because this information can give people the tools to reduce the risk of a mental illness becoming too severe.

Monday, 11 October 2010

Psychiatric Wards 101: What it's Really Like Being Sectioned

When many people think of psychiatric wards they think of steel doors and padded rooms, when in reality the truth tells a different story. To enter a psychiatric hospital, a mentally ill person can go in voluntary, or, more often than not, they can be sectioned. I myself have been sectioned on four separate occasions in the past four years. However, you only want to be detained in a psychiatric hospital as a last resort.

When someone with a mental illness is sectioned, they are placed under a Section, which states the terms of their stay on the hospital ward. However, one can be taken off a Section, or have it prolonged by the ward psychiatrist during their time in hospital.

For you to be sectioned three people must agree that you need to be detained in a psychiatric hospital; there are, however, exceptions made in emergency situations. These three people would usually consist of: an Approved Mental Health Professional (AMHP) or nearest relative, a doctor who has received special training and a registered medical practitioner.

A person can be detained for up to 28 days under a Section 2. An admission to hospital under this section is normally used when the patient has not been assessed in hospital before or when they have not been assessed in hospital for a considerable period of time.

An admission to a psychiatric hospital under a Section 3 can last for up to 6 months, but it is common for one to be discharged before this point. You can be detained under Section 3 if you are well known to the psychiatric services and there is little need for assessment.

My own experiences of psychiatric hospitals and their wards have been both negative and positive. (Note: there were no straight-jackets.) Every patient has their own room, there are communal areas, and most things are based on routine. You see the ward Doctor and have a meeting with them (known as "ward round") on the same day once-a-week, and meal times are also at the same time every day.

There are always staff on the wards at all times; some of whom, unfortunately, hold their own prejudices towards the patients and their mental illness.

Hospital wards often provide activities and therapies for the patients; including art therapy, occupational therapies and, even, massages.

Entering hospital for the first time can be frightening and very upsetting, but you do get used to things and you will usually find you adapt quickly.

The terms by which one can be sectioned under the mental health act are very confusing. But, as a patient, you wont usually have worry too much about it, unless you want to appeal. Being detained on a psychiatric ward can be scary, but you do get used to the routine.

I would love to hear your own experiences with psychiatric hospitals and wards.