Why The Destigmatization Of Mental Illness Is Critical

Illness or injury of any kind is difficult to confront or experience in life.

Mental Illness is a profoundly misunderstood dimension of human experience and we’re desperately in need of greater understanding. Treatment options are exceedingly outdated, yet new research is starting to reveal that our brains may be far more capable of healing, regeneration and adaptation, than previously imagined.

With the death of Robin Williams (one of the worlds most beloved and appreciated comedians) the human race was reminded of the following: truly genius and extraordinary people can struggle with mental illness, mental illness is invisible, and it’s a phenomena which even the most unexpected people can become subjected to.

The human brain is the organ which allows cognition, perception, communication, personal interaction, and sensory experience. The unique experience of ourself, our brain and our life is entirely subjective, so for example, someone who has never experienced Autism, Schizophrenia, Traumatic Brain Injury, PTSD, developmental trauma or suicidal depression, has little context to fully understand and interpret what life is like for an individual who lives facing those challenges.

When someone breaks their leg, punctures a kidney, or otherwise becomes unwell with a medical issue or “dis-ease”, we typically don’t project judgement or fear towards them and we usually work our hardest to help them achieve wellness. We have been lead astray, because that’s what mental illness is: a medical, neurobiological & brain wellness issue, not some kind of bizarre personal problem. When an individuals brain becomes dysregulated, injured, impaired, or is otherwise in need of health and healing, this is regarded as Mental Illness.

Mentally ill has become (and is used as) a label, loaded with judgement, and sometimes prejudice. Which is why many times those challenged with mental illness isolate themselves, are hesitant to seek help, live with a deep sense of shame about themselves as an individual, and in an increasingly tragic amount of accounts: end their own lives.

The treatment of mental illness is currently at an inadequate stage of development and modern psychiatry has achieved minor advancement over the last 60 years. Mental illness is used a blanket term to describe, neurobiological disorders, neurological disorders, psychological disorders, traumatic brain injury, and the aftermath of other types of mental/emotional trauma. It is not even close to being one specific or generic human experience, so as our understanding of the brain increases, using “mentally ill” as a blanket term will need to be left behind.

Wellness of the brain is not black and white (mentally ill or mentally well), it is a continuum. For example, someone diagnosed with PTSD receives this diagnosis because the cumulative extreme stress they have undergone has inhibited their brains ability to function, recover and reach homeostasis. Everyone has difficulty paying attention and comprehending information from time to time, but someone diagnosed with ADD/ADHD receives this diagnosis because their attention deficits are so severe that they prevent the individual from being able to handle their daily life. Often, doctors do not teach their patients the specifics of how to increase their functional brain capacity or teach them about Neuroplasticity (the brains ability to change, adapt, heal and create new pathways).

Doctors typically prescribe patients psychiatric drugs which affect neurobiological function. Very seldom do they talk about brain nutrition or activities (such as yoga and physical fitness) that can be very regenerative and strengthening to the brain. Psychiatric drugs can and have helped many people, but they generally include intense and occasionally extreme side effects (such as severe headache, delirium, difficulty thinking, suicidal thought, suicidal ideation, and psychosis). When you’re addressing an organ as sensitive and complex as the brain, this just seems primitive. We need to evolve.

There are many approaches challenging the current paradigm of mental health care. One of these approaches is being lead by a neuropsychiatrist named Dr. Daniel Amen.

Dr. Amen is an esteemed psychiatrist, a pioneer in (SPECT) assisted brain trauma and psychiatric treatment. His approach is pushing the envelope in diagnosis and treatment protocols for brain based disorders, neurobiological disorders, and brain trauma. This process of treatment and diagnosis is profoundly out of the ordinary, and it has received much criticism and disapproval from many of his peers in the field of psychiatry. Because his treatment involves SPECT scan diagnosis, it’s quite controversial.

Many of his peers do not agree that SPECT scans should be used to assist in diagnosis of brain trauma and mental disorders, but he would beg to differ. He affirms that through SPECT imaging technology and the study of nearly 100,000 SPECT scans, he and his colleagues have discovered measurable indications that can help identify, classify, and treat the numerous types of dysregulation, disorder, injury, and trauma which the human brain is unfortunately susceptible to. It’s always up to an individual to do the work, but a process such as this could give clear indication, direction, understanding and specific treatment outlines which will enhance prognosis, recovery and regeneration.

A truly comprehensive diagnostic approach seems like the obvious next step in understanding, treating, and healing the human brain. Once a problem or dysregulation has been discovered within the brain itself, treatment can be narrowed down and made effective. Recovery, healing, adaptation, and neuroplasticity can become a natural process through which health and wellness are obtained, secured and made sustainable.

People struggling with brain trauma and neurobiological dysregulation should not automatically accept trial, error, and experimentation with powerful psychoactive drugs as the immediate form of treatment.

If you tear the ACL ligament in your knee, receiving an MRI for diagnosis is standard protocol.

When we’re talking about Imaging assisted diagnosis for the most important and critical organ in the entire body, this¬†advancement seems like a no-brainer.

Cited Resources:

Bring Change 2 Mind:

http://bringchange2mind.org/

Citizens Commission On Human Rights Psychiatric Drug Side Effect Guide:

http://www.cchr.org/sites/default/files/The_Side_Effects_of_Common_Psychiatric_Drugs.pdf

Amen Clinics Method & The Problem With Our Current Mental Health Paradigm Explained Simply:

Ted Talk On Mental Illness:

Understanding Mental Illness as Brain Dysregulation:

Ted Talk On A Mans Experience Overcoming Schizophrenia:

Author: Joshua Hanna

2 Comments

  1. This is an excellent post. Thank you Joshua. Much love, Ariel

  2. Wendy

    Thank you for writing this. Thank you so much.

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