The Stigma of Mental Heath (17/10/21)

Mental health–related stigma is a catch-all term that includes social (public) stigma, self-stigma (perceived), professional stigma, and cultural stigma.

Social stigma refers to the negative attitudes toward a person experiencing mental health illness. This is usually rooted in the misperception that people with a mental illness have a weak character. This can lead to discrimination, avoidance, and rejection and is usually the type of stigma discussed most often.

Self-stigma is the internalisation of social stigma, in that the person with the mental illness feels shame about his or her symptoms.

Professional stigma assumes that health professionals transfer and reinforce stigmatisation of their clients, while cultural stigma comprises the various ways that individual cultures interpret mental illness (Cerully et al., 2018; Hack et al., 2020; Holder et al., 2019).

There is a link between the level of stigma one believes they face and the attitude that their disorders should be kept secret. Secrecy becomes harmful in terms of hopelessness and social isolation, which is associated with suicidal ideation. The solution is simple, and that is to stop the stigma. As individuals we need to develop a better understanding of mental health issues and start to dispel the myths surrounding people that have a mental health challenge. As we would not think less of a person with a physical health issue, so we should not think less of those with a mental health issue.

Support is on hand.

Know the Signs Of Male Depression

Mental health disorders are a widespread problem. However, only one quarter to one third of people with a diagnosable problem will seek help. This issue is particularly prevalent in men, who seek help at about half the rate as women. Compounding this, statistics show that women are twice as likely as men to be diagnosed with depression, but men are four times more likely to die from suicide. This suggests that many men may also have mental health issues that go largely undiagnosed. Furthermore, there are also indications there exists an unconscious gender bias in diagnostic judgment between men and women with the same diagnostic test score for depression.

One factor that also cannot be ignored is the differences in how men and women manifest symptoms of depression. It has been shown that various factors, such as socialization, may lead to men exhibiting depression through “male-typical depressive symptoms”. These can include aggression, irritability, violence, substance abuse, risky behavior, or somatic complaints—none of which are included in the current Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) diagnosis criteria for Major Depressive Disorder. Furthermore, there are no standardized instruments addressing these male-typical symptoms, which further contribute to the under-diagnosis of depression in men. However, it is not just the men themselves who suffer. As male-typical depressive symptoms are often externalized, others within the individual’s social circle, such as children and spouses, will also suffer.

So, know the signs of Male-Typical Depressive Symptoms:

  • Aggression
  • Irritability
  • Violence
  • Substance Abuse
  • Risky Behaviour
  • Somatic complaints (pain, dizziness, digestive problems etc)

Don’t wait till your “standing of the ledge” to take action. Talk to your GP or seek help from a counsellor or other mental health professional.

For information on counselling, please email me on robmarano@cuecounsellingwa.com.au or click here.

Information for this article was obtained from:

Jarrod B. Call, BS1 and Kevin Shafer, PhD1: “Gendered Manifestations of Depression and Help Seeking Among Men”; American Journal of Men’s Health 2018, Vol. 12(1) 41–51

Posted 10/08/21

Man feeling stress

The Science of Stress

We have all heard about it, we have probably all experienced it at some point in our lives. But what is it, and why does it occur. In this post I will try to explain the purpose of stress and its consequences in modern day life.

Stress is a naturally occurring biological process that is triggered when there is a perceived threat to our survival. It is an evolutionary process that is designed to help keep us alive and consists of a complex cascade of hormonal, biochemical and behavioral processes. Presently, this may sound contrary to what we know about stress today and its roll in adverse negative physical and mental health. So, how did a process that once facilitated improved survival, become the cause of a host of diseases? To answer that, we must go back to the abovementioned cascade of biological events.

When the cascade is triggered, the hormones and biochemicals released facilitate a number of processes. It causes hyper-arousal and vigilance, to make us more wary and alert to possible threats, which is useful if we are under predation. It also stimulates reproduction, feeding and growth, as well as increased respiration, oxygenation, metabolism, water retention and detoxification. Again, these are all useful processes for survival if food or water becomes limited for a time and we need to preserve our physical status.

However, in a modern society, these sorts of stressors are no longer the main issue. Our main stressors today are in the form of financial pressure, family issues, work related stress etc, none of which can be considered a true threat to our life. However, the body cannot differentiate between those perceived threats and true threats to our life. Consequently, the same cascade is triggered. In addition, the modern day threats are generally constant, causing the stress response to remain permanently “on”. It is this “chronic stress response” that is the cause of our ill-health. Consider if you will, the stress response that makes us hyper-vigilant, if turned on permanently it can lead to anxiety, insomnia, social withdrawal and depression. Increased feeding will lead to obesity, and increased metabolic processes, that once helped improved wound healing and tissue integrity, will now lead to pain and fatigue syndromes. These are just a few examples.

Therefore, it would seem quite clear that stress reduction, combined with diet an exercise, is an important part of maintaining a healthy life. The question now becomes, “How do I reduce my stress levels”. This I will make the subject of my next post. Stay tuned.

If you would like to know more or make a counseling appointment, please click here.

Stress Relief

I will try to break this down into two sections, the “Short-Term” and the “Long-Term”. The benefits of short term stress relief is that it is typically fast acting, can be done anywhere, requires no special skills and is free. Long terms stress relief will lead to a more permanent solution, but will require a level of routine and commitment to maintain. However, the benefits can be enormous.

Short-Term

  • tsTake controlled deep breaths – Increases your oxygen flow and calms the mind
  • Take a quick walk to release any nervous energy
  • Hug a loved one – releases oxytocin
  • Count backwards from 10 – refocuses the mind

Long Term

  • Exercise – The choice is yours but exercise will have many health benefits
  • Meditate – It’s a way to reconnect mind and body
  • Have a health balance diet – Like exercise; it will have many health benefits.
  • Sleep – Adequate sleep is extremely important for good mental health
  • Leisure Activities – go out an do what you enjoy, perhaps with a friend
  • Reduce the things that cause stress – not always possible (unfortunately)
  • Support Network – Friends and family can always help and if necessary, seek the help of a professional.

If you would like to know more or make a counseling appointment, please click here.

Posted 29/07/21

RETIREMENT / REDUNDANCY – Retirement, especially involuntary retirement, bears the risk that some retirees will suffer from the loss of daily routines, physical and/or mental activity, a sense of identity and purpose, and social interactions. This can often lead to a deterioration of both mental and physical health due to the lack of all or part of these beneficial aspects of work. Counselling can be a valuable part of a strategy to help retiree’s find new purpose leading to a more fulfilling and enjoyable life of retirement. For more detailed research regarding the impact of retirement on health, CLICK HERE.

SEPARATION Going through a separation or divorce can be very difficult. It can turn your world upside down and make it hard to get through the work day and stay productive.

It’s normal to feel sad, angry, exhausted, frustrated and confused, and these feelings can be intense. You also may feel anxious about the future. Even if the marriage was unhealthy, venturing into the unknown can be frightening.

Sharing your feelings with friends and family can help you get through this period. Or, you could consider joining a support group where you can talk to others in similar situations. Isolating yourself can raise your stress levels, reduce your concentration, and get in the way of your work, relationships and overall health. Don’t be afraid to get outside help if you need it.

To more about coping with separation, CLICK HERE.