Introduction to Psychology
Griggs Chapter 10: Psychological Disorders & Treatment
The term alone can elicit an endless array of attitudes. It can be a decisive issue at every level of society; even within a single family. Even simply eluded to, a Mental Illness label can bring to light many opinions; and when voiced, many of them are quite detrimental. The blot on the landscape, marked by the public in general of those with some form of mental illness will likely never be erased.
As if being labeled with a mental illness wasn’t enough, add to that the immense debate over treatment. Treatment for mental illnesses can include psychotherapy, and medication. Often both are used together to subdue the symptoms associated with the mental illness.
With as many combinations of possible treatment as there might be, none will be of any good if a person refuses to seek help due to the stigma associated with mental illness.
Often, mental health services are not only under-utilized, they are not available at all. In places such as the United States, many insurance companies simply do not cover mental illness or it’s a benefit that is extremely expensive. In many developing countries, there is simply no service available.
A study compiled by the World Health Organization found that in 2005, most low and middle-income countries have one child psychologist for every one to four million people. Even when care is available, it often doesn’t get to those who need it due to the high expense of the medications involved in treatment.
With mental illness affecting a person’s mood, thinking, feelings, and the ability to relate to others, personality disorders (PD) take up a great portion of the list when naming off the illnesses. The successful resolution of a mental illness; and personality disorders in general, is challenged by the fact that they consist of such a wide array of symptoms and causes.
Again, the bigger issue at hand is how to treat these mental illnesses; while another is the fact those who need treatment, if they accept it at all, often quit. And once again, a major reason is the stigma of the illness. Reason for such stigma varies from culture to culture. World Health Organization (WHO), show that stigma was closely associated with anxiety and mood disorders.
While there is perhaps an almost-endless avenue of different treatments, many psychologists agree that even though it may be difficult to treat mental illnesses, and personality disorders in particular, they agree that it’s not impossible.
Opinion & Christian Response:
It is reported that thirty percent of those who need mental health services have at least one personality disorder. As someone having suffered from both major depression and general anxiety disorder, I have somewhat of an advantage from which to offer observations.
I have been out of psychotherapy for quite a few years; for the major depression. I still struggle today with general anxiety and other personality disorders. My wife of thirty plus years, was one of those people who perpetuated the stigma associated with mental health illnesses. At that time, she did not play a significant role in my treatment.
Today her attitude towards these illnesses is quite different. She and I are both currently playing whatever role we can for our twelve-year-old granddaughter who recently was discovered considering suicide, (who lives out-of-state, but is actually here in town visiting).
Some reasons why people avoid treatment for mental illnesses include embarrassment, shame, fear of losing friends, of being judged by others; not to mention possibilities of job loss or at least loss of a position.
At one point in my own treatment, my psychologist suggested that it might be good for me to take a break and check myself into a hospital for mental health care. My wife gave me an earful when I mentioned it to her. And this is where the stigmatization of a mental illness comes into play.
Looking back on the situation now, I can say that my wife’s reaction was driven, without pause, by the stigma that hung over people labeled with mental illness. She didn’t want that for me or for her as a result of association.
While I have never been one to care what people think, I did agree with her. I never checked myself into the hospital. I spent some more time in therapy and even continued my prescribed medications.
I am likely making my wife out to sound far from supportive, but it all came from the fact that I married a very independent and strong woman who is the mother of our five children. Moving forward, I learned how to dig my way out of major depression. The general anxiety disorder, although still present after all these years, is nowhere near what it used to be.
It is unfortunate, even today, that so many people fear being labeled with a mental illness. While I do not go out of my way to discuss my own experience, I have no problem relating to others some of what I went through and the treatment I was in. With each year, it becomes easier to talk about; as I continue getting older and care even less what people think of me.
Today, people are still very much afraid to seek treatment for a mental illness. Though it may be easing, mental illness is still covered under a cloud of stigma. More than ever, people today fear losing their jobs or positions.
As a Christian Minister, and having the personal experience of living through my own mental health care crises, I know I could have gotten through it much quicker and possibly much less painfully had I asked for God’s help.
Since losing my job in 2008 due to a company merger, I have been conducting a very serious study of the bible. It began simply with having the time to take up an old interest I had; archaeology. With the help of a sister-in-law, it turned into a love for bible archaeology. And finally, turned to the study of the Bible itself.
I must say that after eight years of serious bible study and now in my second year with Christian Leaders Institute, I can see how God can help people like me, and those suffering much worse. I believe that mental health care could be so much more effective, if presented, and supported by the faith community in conjunction with professional mental health care.
I can tell you that most of the problems I have suffered, I endured because of my refusal to make time for God in my life. My life is far from perfect, but it has certainly been a joy since I let God back into my life.
My work now is to share my experiences with others and how much of my life would have been so much better had I not ignored God. God, can provide anyone who calls on Him, with a treatment for any illness; including mental illness. It simply takes one to seek it.
Over many years, I have observed how faith and the ministry interacts in the medical field in general, such as in hospitals. Any plan to treat a mental illness should include God, Christ and the ministry. It would be so much more effective. God wants to be in everyone’s life. God wants to help those suffering from mental illnesses, like anyone else. God’s word, when given serious study, can help.
Mental Health Care, much like education; is a field that could be better served if it were provided by the ministry, its community, and its believers. Too much emphasis today is placed on the first-response of medication. While I believe medication can play a role in a person’s recovery, it should never be the first-response. Had I been given a bible instead of a bottle of pills, I myself would have been much better off.
Dingfelder, S. (2004) http://www.apa.org/monitor/mar04/treatment.aspx
N/A credit http://www.uniteforsight,org/mental-health/module5
N/A credit http://www.dualdiagnosis.org/mental-health-and-addiction/medications
Hi there Clayton. I agree – the church could be so much more supportive and useful in ministering to those mentally ill. I really don’t understand why it isn’t spoken on more in sermons or church Bible studies in general – mental health is just as important as your body’s health. As for the medications, I do believe medication is a first response for good reason: personally, without it, I would be sick. Very sick. God’s word is instrumental in healing and empowered me in times of doubt, but like any disease, it’s necessary to use the graces of science and medicine to assist in the healing of the person’s organ that’s suffering. I have had major success because of the medication, that God has used in healing my mind and my emotions. I don’t doubt if it weren’t for Him I would be dead or at least suffering with finding the best dosage of medication. Perhaps my situation is unique? But I don’t doubt God used the medication as an answer to my and my family’s prayers. Thanks for bravely sharing your testimony. The world needs more brave men like you to not fear and be bold for Jesus, like Paul said in 2 Corinthians 12:9 “Each time he said, ‘My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.’ So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me.”