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Monday, August 22, 2011

ROSEMARY GARSIDE

COPING WITH A MENTAL ILLNESS


     Just as with everything else, how people deal with their afflictions depends very much on the individual in
question, and coping with a mental illness is no exception.

      There is a stigma attached to mental illness and some people find it hard to put the pieces together after an illness, especially if that means making a change to one's lifestyle.  Some people find it so hard that they endeavour to get themselves admitted back into hospital.  This particularly is the case with longer term patients who have relied on the hospital for many years.

     Efforts have been, and are still being made, to help people cope with life in the community and to try and provide coping mechanisms to enable people to stop returning to hospital.

     Support and peer groups are in operation, Friendship Centres (where people can drop in for a chat, and a cup of coffee) have been organized.  Volunteers have been involved and people have begun to retrain patients to gain skills for participating in meaningful activities and real work situation, suitable to their capabilities both in the hospital and the community, this is difficult with shortgage of staff and shortage of money.

     To be involved in something meaningful is very important to the person who has been mentally ill and if he or she is successfully occupied one way or another, this can be a great help in the coping process.

     However, very often the 'mental patient' is very sensitive to his/her status in the world and unless the client feels accepted and appreciated, he or she might feel used or taken advantage of, which will deter them coming to terms with their illness and realizing their potential.

     The long term psychiatric patients have have a harder time.  The hospital for many years has been their home, their livelihood and their family.  They particularly need to feel a sense of belonging and a part to play which would be appreciated by others.They also do not relate well initially to new faces and new situations, and can easily become withdrawn and refuse to participate, as a means of coping, with their feelings of inadequacy and lack of confidence.

     Others afflicted with mental illness cope with the help of: church, understanding family members and friends.  (Involvement in everyday life gives people with a mental illness the confidence to cope.)  Suggestions of activities to become involved in,  the odd ideas of their own, then the support and encouragement of people.  They become involved with and interested in life and its meaning.  All these help to put things in perspective, and help people with mental illness to come to terms with it.

     Good medical attention is essential.  Trust must be built up between essential people in contact with the affected person and who deal with the client's treatment.  The person suffering from a mental illness can then have confidence in that trust.

     Not always, however, do people suffering from a mental illness manage to overcome their problems and in some cases they resort to drinking, taking drugs or in some other way try to escape their feelings.  Coping with a mental illness like many other things is not easy.

     However, to some extent, people would be helped if accepted and looked at realistically by others in the community.  People suffering from a mental illness are basically just people and often will respond well if treated with warmth and understanding.

PUBLISHED BY P.T. PUBLISHING






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