Mental Health Awareness Month:
Define mental health and learn where to find help.
Reasons to seek professional support
Relationship difficulties (Interpersonal)
Grief and loss (loved one, relationship, etc.)
Bouts of sadness, feeling overwhelmed, and/or irritable
Adjusting to life transitions (college, career, break-ups, relocation, etc.)
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“The counseling world needs a little more color. Help us populate and grow Counselors of Color.”
Schizophrenia is characterized as a severe mental health disorder in which people interpret reality abnormally. Schizophrenia may result in some combination of hallucinations, delusions, and extremely disordered thinking and behavior that impairs daily functioning, and can be disabling. Schizophrenia is a cyclical disease characterized by multiple psychotic relapses. Unfortunately, schizophrenia is a chronic condition, requiring lifelong treatment.
Clinical Features of Schizophrenia Include:
- Hallucinations (auditory, visual, tactile, olfactory, gustatory)
- Grossly disorganized or catatonic behavior
- Flat or blunted affect
- Difficulty speaking or even an inability to speak (alogia)
- Inability to experience pleasure (anhedonia)
- Lack of desire to form relationships (asociality)
- Lack of motivation (avolition)
- Inappropriate social responses to normal social cues
- Lack of interest in most aspects of life
- Inappropriate bodily movement
- Work Interpersonal relations, difficulty engaging and responding to others
- Self-care (maintenance of appropriate ADL’s)
- Episodic memory
- Executive function
- Working memory
Mental health decompensation or relapse can be extremely difficult for the sufferer as well as the people that love them. Although, a return of mental health symptoms can appear “out of the blue”, most relapses have warning signs, signaling symptom re-emergence. Friends and loved ones that recognize the signs and symptoms of schizophrenia can help to prevent relapse. Loved ones that are aware of the risk factors associated with mental health decompensation can greatly reduce the likelihood of relapse. Preventing a relapse is important as it can create problems and interferences with work, school, and relationships. In most cases, you can treat a relapse and get the disease back under control. However, each relapse makes the disease harder to treat. That’s why it’s important to recognize and prevent a relapse whenever you can.
Risk Factors Associated with Relapse Include:
- Failure to adhere to medication regimen, discontinuance, or change in medication
- Increase in physical or emotional stress
- Abuse of alcohol or drugs
Prodromal (or early stage) signs, which often precede a psychotic episode by 2 or more days, include sudden onset of:
- Interruptions in sleeping or eating patterns
- Restlessness or irritability
- Memory or cognition issues
Risk Factors Associated with Disengagement from Mental Health Services Include:
- Lack of established outpatient clinician
- Lack of prior outpatient mental health care
- Short inpatient stay
- Involuntary patient admission/hospitalization
- Discharge against medical advice
- Substance/alcohol abuse
- Lack of involvement in treatment decisions
- Transportation difficulties
Adherence Barriers to Overcome
- Lack of or poor insight
- Cultural and religious beliefs
- Language skills
- Lack of social and familial support
- Cognitive limitations or deficits
- Poor or inconsistent medication adherence
- Side effects–actual or fears
- Complex medication regimen
- Lack of perceived benefits
- Poor therapeutic alliance
Treatment of mental illness and decompensation should include a collaborative approach between mental health professionals, hospital staff, the patient, family members, and the community aftercare agencies. Persons struggling with schizophrenia benefit from a solid support system and consistency. By involving all pertinent people and health care providers the likelihood of decompensation and symptom re-emergence can be avoided or greatly reduced.
Persons struggling with schizophrenia possess unique challenges that need to be addressed by the treatment teams that work with them. By utilizing a collaborative approach to treatment stabilization of symptoms is more likely to occur, allowing those with schizophrenia to remain actively engaged with their community and access to appropriate services.
Below is a recent email reply (edited) for a new member that forced me to become clear regarding my passion and motivation for Counselors of Color.
Throughout our American history, there have been countless white people that have been willing to give a helping hand. They have gone out on the limb for minorities, people of color, and immigrants. It’s far too easy to overlook or minimize their contributions. It’s too simplistic and easy to adopt a polarized view of people and categorize people. We must develop cultural awareness as all people are not the same. People are people. As a person of color, it would be easy for me to be resentful and close myself off to people that do not look like me. I have since learned that I must be willing to see the heart and motivation of others that genuinely want to help. They efforts to assist in many forms to those of us that come from underprivileged communities.
I recently spoke with someone that helped me reaffirmed my goals and dream for Counselors of Color. It was a powerful moment for me. At the end of our dialogue, I said to myself, “He gets it.” Below is a snippet of our exchange. I changed his name to protect his confidentiality.
John Doe: Dr. Dave, I certainly would like to join Counselors of Color, but I am Caucasian and wouldn’t want to mislead anyone by doing so. However, I would certainly want to welcome people of color into my practice – especially in times like these. I believe these are times when we need to focus on building community and unity. (more…)
Men At Work
I look around at the conferences I attend and see that men are underrepresented in the mental health profession. According to payscale.com, men make up about 23 percent of the mental health field. It’s even less if you specifically look at marriage and family therapists at 15% and social workers at 19%. Women traditionally dominate both of those professions. The highest rate of men is among psychologists at 33% and psychiatrists at 59%. Additionally, according to the American Psychology Association in 2013, minorities only made up 13 percent of the field combined. So, let’s do the math. That means minority men make up less than 3% of the mental health profession.
So my questions begin, how important is it to have men of color (Latinos, Asians, African Americans, Arabs, etc.) represented within the mental health profession? What are the implications and should we be concerned? And finally, how do we recruit and encourage more men of color to join the mental health field? I’m curious regarding your thoughts, suggestion, and solutions.
We humans, love l to find connections and look for it everywhere. The moment we discover the person we’re talking to is from our same state, we keep drilling down. “What city, what neighborhood, what school, what street do live on?” As the conversation continue, we look for the people we know in common. We even explore if we’re related. This process also plays out visually with race and color. Even though it’s unreliable, race and color are the visual cues that serve as a shortcut to comfort. It acts as a visual security blanket.
Much like my military experience, some are too anxious to leave the comfort of the base and explore the rich diversity of the surrounding community. Others embraced the rich culture, learned the language and married Germans. Some were angry about being stationed in Germany and hated everything about Germany. On the other extreme, some Soldiers were ashamed of their American roots and did everything they could to avoid being seen as American.
Counselors and Therapists
Most of us counselors and therapists are very comfortable and embrace different cultures. Our education and training have expanded our worldview. However, most of our clients do not come to us with this high level of self-awareness, education, and comfort. Overcoming the anxiety to get help is hard enough for anyone. For many of our clients, it may be their first time seeking help from a stranger. Like Soldiers overseas, clients are looking to connect. Some clients need the security blanket of seeing someone that looks like them. When the therapist or counselor looks like them, it’s one less hurdle to overcome. It’s almost instant rapport. Right or wrong, some clients will never leave the “barracks” and embrace other cultures and communities. For others, it will not matter as they will thrive and flourish.
Even though race may not be a source of anxiety for us as counselors and therapists, it may be for the clients we work with. As helping professionals, I believe it’s our job to meet our clients where they are rather than expecting them to arrive with our comfort level and worldviews. Even the Soldiers that refused to leave the base were entitled to good mental health care. So how does the community you serve know you are open to serve them?
Welcome to Counselors of Color. Admittedly, we are a niche counseling directory. Our goal is to match clients with their preferred therapists and counselors.
The search services are always free for clients.
For counselors and therapists, our goal is to help you market and expand your facility to serve your communities better. Showcase your facilities with Counselors of Color.
Counselors of Color is now free for providers!
Counselors of Color will not shy away from race or ethnicity. For many of us, it is our world. Therefore, we aim to highlight and promote those differences; not from a place of inferiority or supremacy. However, from a place of self-acceptance. Counselors often ask their clients to “become comfortable living in their own skin.” Counselors of Color will extend that metaphor and ask you to do the same as counselors and therapists.
List your facility and your Staff with us by signing up HERE.