Tag Archives: treatment

“Mental Health Recovery and Self-Sabotage” by Natalie Jeanne Champagne

7 Mar
I appreciate Natalie’s friendly, open tone in discussing this subject. Too many people, myself included, tend to write about mental illness from a place of frustration and pain. While this is completely understandable given the amount of suffering we’ve experienced, a vital part of recovery, wellness, and self-care is overcoming the negativity and cognitive distortions continually engendered by our illness. I don’t think we should pretend everything’s fine when it’s not–that’s dangerous because we deny our symptoms instead of addressing them before things spin out of control. But speaking from my own experience, I have a much easier time managing my illness when I focus on hope and constructiveness.
Originally posted on Healthy Place


Mental Health Recovery and Self-Sabotage!

Recovering from the diagnosis of mental illness is hard enough but we often–conscious or not–sabotage our own mental health recovery. This blog will attempt to explain why we may do this and, well, how we can focus on recovery without making it any more difficult!

What is Self-Sabotage?

Briefly, let’s refer to the dictionary, yes the dictionary. I think it’s important to have a general sense of complicated terms before we connect them to mental illness.

According to the above resource, sabotage, and more specifically self-sabotage, is connected to the following words:

  • To damage
  • To undermine
  • To derail

I am assuming you get the drift here. It’s complicated, but I am going to try and simplify it because it’s important. We do, often when first diagnosed, take actions that make recovery more difficult.

Three Examples Connecting Self-Sabotage to Mental Health Recovery

First, I want to point out that the above words intended to help us define self-sabotage seem a little bit negative–they are a bit negative. But we need a basis and so try to put a positive spin on them. That’s my goal.

Examples of self-sabotage and mental health recovery:

Refusal to take medication. We can connect this to the word “damage.” This damages our recovery. Taking medication is difficult–more so when first diagnosed–and most of us are not used to putting medications in our bodies. It feels foreign! We may refuse treatment for this reason. But most of us need to take medication in order to recover. That said, part of the process when recovering from mental illness is coming to a place of acceptance and accepting the reality that medication is important, well, that’s a huge step forward!

Not Educating Ourselves on Our Illness! Let’s connect this to the above word to “undermine.” I have said it many times–and I don’t believe it is talked about enough–we need to educate ourselves on our illness. Education is an ally we cannot afford to dismiss. To refrain from educating ourselves is, yes, undermining our recovery. It’s not as complicated as it might seem: Talk to your mental health care team, ask for resources and, most importantly, ask questions! If you can educate yourself you can educate those around you.

Not Taking Self-Care Seriously! I immediately connect this to the word “derail.” Taking self-care seriously is really important and, yes, ties into educating ourselves. But we need to practice self-care–not just read about it! Words are great, but are not of much use unless we put them into action.

OK. Moving on. . .

Five Ideas to Embrace Recovery and Beat Self-Sabotage!

I want to make this easy, well, give it my best shot. . .

  • Make a list (and be honest with yourself!) of ways in which you might self-sabotage your recovery;
  • Use this list to determine how you can stop negative behavior and the corresponding actions.
  • Stay positive! We all self-sabotage, it’s part of being human and makes us real, but remember that recovering from mental illness requires us to be honest with ourselves–and our mental health team–in order to recover. Admittedly, it’s hard to stay positive, but just try. Sometimes, that’s all we can do.
  • Try to remember that the more positive actions you can take (self-care for example) speed up the recovery process.
  • Work on accepting mental illness. This is, I believe, the hardest part of being diagnosed with a mental illness. But once we can work toward acceptance, self-sabotage will lessen.

Hopefully, this was not exceedingly boring as that was certainly not my intent. It’s a messy topic—but learning to recognize it and work to push it out of our lives–makes us stronger. We all need a little more strength!

“What Can the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) Do to Improve America’s Mental Health System?” by Michael Cahill

1 Jul

Reblogged from Bipolar Burble:

Since the 2008-2009 financial crisis, America has put funding for mental health treatment on the back burner. Consequently, mental health services and facilities nationwide have suffered.

In the wake of tragedies like Aurora and Sandy Hook, the government is now determined to address the issue of mental health policy in the United States, which will be no easy task.

What will surely go a long way towards helping those suffering from a mental illness will be getting them access to treatment and making that treatment affordable. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, the high cost of mental health care is the number one culprit for people not getting treatment. Even those with health insurance often have significant limitations on their access to mental health services.

The Affordable Care Act (ACA), sometimes more commonly referred to as Obamacare, has great potential to improve access to mental health treatment and make it affordable. Here are five ways it can do it:

1. Minimum requirements will include mental health coverage.

Starting in 2014, all health insurance plans are required to cover medical services in ten “essential health benefits” categories as mandated by the ACA. This includes treatment for mental health, behavioral disorders, drug addiction, and alcohol abuse.

No doubt this is a big improvement over previous years when nearly 20 percent of people who bought health insurance on their own did not have mental health coverage. A further third had no coverage for substance abuse treatment, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.

2. Patient rights will be protected.

Insurers can no longer discriminate based on a customer’s medical history. That means you cannot be denied coverage or charged extra because of any pre-existing condition.

The new law also gets rid of lifetime and annual caps on spending for your health benefits. This is great news for people who suffer from mental health disorders who would normally rack up thousands of dollars in bills every year from their treatment.

3. Health insurance exchanges will make it easier to purchase health insurance.

The creation of health insurance exchanges is also a mandated measure under the ACA. These exchanges are the new marketplaces where health insurance companies will present their plans to potential customers. Each state will have its own exchange with enrolment starting later this year on Oct. 1, 2013 for coverage rolling out on Jan. 1, 2014.

Those who suffer from mental health illness will have an easier time comparing plans and purchasing the one that suits them. Four different levels of plans with varying degrees of coverage will be available in the exchanges. All of them will include mental health benefits.

Low income Individuals and families can also find out at the exchanges if they qualify for government subsidies through the exchanges. Those who earn between 133 and 400 percent of the federal poverty line will not spend more than 9.5 percent of their income on health insurance. The 9.5 percent is also a sliding number, so those earning less will pay less for coverage.

4. Medicaid coverage will be expanded.

A study conducted by the National Alliance for Mental Illness, found that the planned Medicaid expansion that’s part of the ACA will extend coverage to more than 2.7 million uninsured Americans with mental health disorders.

Those who are qualified will receive a 100 percent subsidy for the first three years and at least a 90 percent subsidy for the next seven years. Those who earn up to 133 percent of the federal poverty line will be included in the expansion.

Unfortunately, the Medicaid expansion will not be available everywhere. Fourteen states have rejected the expansion while twenty states and the District of Columbia have signed up to implement it.

5. Quality and availability of service will be improved.

The Affordable Care Act also includes measures that will help to improve the quality and delivery of healthcare services.

Treating mental illness is an expensive and complex endeavour, and response to treatment varies among patients. Mental health practitioners often see patients going in and out of treatment.

Monitoring and re-evaluating the delivery of care is important to improve mental health coverage. Affordable Care Act has mandated the creation of the National Strategy for Quality Improvement which aims to improve healthcare delivery across the country. It will prioritize high-cost chronic diseases such as mental illness.

The Care Act will also establish the Centers for Excellence in Depression. Its goal is to develop coordinated and integrated care, encourage positive health behaviors and outcomes, and promote interdisciplinary training of mental health professionals.


SAMHSA Mental Health Treatment Facility Locator

23 Jun

Use this handy-dandy website to find behavioral health services in your area. You can adjust the distance from your location and search by street address or zip code. Neat.

Keep in mind that this site does not locate educational or peer support resources. It’s great for finding counseling and medication management services, but if you’re looking for classes or support groups, your best bet is to contact NAMI or a like-minded advocacy group such as the Depression Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA).


“What Works for PTSD” by Alexandra Carmichael

3 Apr


From the blog 23andMe:

“Some of the most popular treatments for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder are not necessarily the most effective, according to a new study by CureTogether, a free resource owned by 23andMe that allows people to share information about their health and treatments.

People in the study said they found some treatments without drugs — including art therapy and exercise — were the most effective. Conversely some popular treatments such as the use of antidepressants, were among the least effective, according to the study.

PTSD is an anxiety disorder that is often associated with combat veterans, but the disorder can occur in anyone who has experienced or seen a traumatic event. Finding the right treatment can be particularly difficult, so CureTogether asked people suffering from PTSD to rate the effectiveness of different treatments.

CureTogether’s study compiled responses from 531 people with PTSD, who rated the effectiveness of 31 different treatments.

Among the most helpful treatments were Cognitive Behavior Therapy, avoiding places and noises that trigger symptoms, art therapy, and exercise. Also highly effective for those in the study were having a daily routine and participating in support groups. Also on the list was the use of a clear shower curtain, which addresses the fear some have of hidden threats. In contrast people in the study said anti-depressants and Exposure Therapy were not as effective.”




psycheducation.com–FANTASTIC web resource for bipolar disorder

14 Mar


A progressive psychiatrist at the Cascadia clinic recommended this site to me, and it is marvelous. For all you DSM haters out there, you’ll be pleased to know that a psychiatrist at Harvard developed another diagnostic instrument called the Bipolarity Index. This views affective disorders on a spectrum and uses a self-guided point system to help identify your place on it–a huge improvement over the checklists, black-or-white thinking, and doctor-patient power differential espoused by the DSM.

It’s easy to hate on psychiatry. Every single person I know with mental health issues has at least one horror story about a psychiatrist who messed them up even more through misdiagnosis, over-medicating them, or both. We bipolar folks may have a more antagonistic relationship to psychiatry than others because we are so often misdiagnosed; A survey taken by The Guardian in 2012 found that the average length of time between the onset of bipolar disorder and accurate diagnosis is thirteen years. (It was sixteen for me, and another year after that before a doctor recognized my PTSD.)


However, I am convinced that the author of psycheducation.org, a Doctor Jim Phelps, is one of the good guys. I may be biased because I like his down-to-earth writing style, but beyond that this is an extremely helpful and comprehensive resource. The site is chock full of info about new and emerging research in illness and treatment. It includes tips for non-pharmaceutical treatment methods (hello Omega-3’s!) and Dr. Phelps isn’t shy about sharing his own critiques of mainstream psychiatry. I highly recommend it.

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