May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. This year’s theme is Life with a Mental Illness and calls on the one in four adults in the United States suffering from a major mental illness to share what living with mental illness feels like for them.
There is a very good chance that you or someone you know well has an illness like major depression, schizophrenia, or bipolar disorder. This May, resolve to speak up about what you’ve been through or encourage your friends and family members with a mental illness to share their experiences.
Mental Health America (MHA) is inviting people with mental illness to share what life is like for them by tagging their social media posts with #mentalillnessfeelslike (you can also submit anonymously). MHA will collect and display posts on a special page on their website.
Posts can be written word, photos or videos and will go a long way toward educating others and dispelling myths about mental illness. Join the movement (or encourage your loved ones to do so)… you’re likely to feel good about it.
April is Stress Awareness Month. As someone with a mental illness, I was interested in finding out if my peers and I were likely to be affected differently by stress than those without a mental illness. Some of what I learned was quite unexpected!
It is a widely-accepted fact that chronic stress negatively affects one’s physical and mental health. In response to daily strains that come from everyday responsibilities, as well as larger stressors such as the loss of a job or a loved one, your body automatically increases blood pressure, heart rate, respiration, metabolism, and blood flow to your muscles. This is intended to help your body react quickly and effectively to a high-pressure situation.
In addition to increasing your risk of illnesses such as heart disease and high blood pressure, most of the medical community agrees that frequent reactions to stress without countering the effects can cause emotional and behavioral problems. The major stress hormone is cortisol and is released by the adrenal glands. Chronic stress causes these glands to release too much on a daily basis. This can affect the brain negatively which, in certain individuals, can cause depression and other mental illnesses.
Recent research has shown that chronic stress can cause shrinkage of the hippocampus. This can lead to problems with memory and emotional regulation. Fortunately, the hippocampus can recover: it can regenerate upon recovery from mental illness. This is why we believe here at Shore House in a holistic approach to wellness. We not only believe in the restorative properties of work, but also in full healing of body, mind and spirit.
Scott L. Schofield & Sherone Rogers
On Tuesday, March 15th, both interns took a trip to New York City to explore the first successful Clubhouse ever. Personally, I was very excited and had a lot to inquire about. Since Shore House is the only Clubhouse that I am very familiar with, it was eye-opening to notice the similarities and differences between each Clubhouse but still underlying the use of the same Clubhouse Model of Psychosocial Rehabilitation approach.
One of the first things that amazed me about Fountain House was the building itself. From the outside, it looked rather small, but upon entering there is a decent amount of space. In all, there were about 6 or 7 floors which included several units. Three of my favorite units were the culinary, wellness, and horticulture unit. In the culinary unit, they offer cooking classes, where once they make the food, they are able to take it home with them. I feel that this is beneficial to members because cooking could be used as a coping mechanism and once the classes are over they have something to show for it, which could make them feel better about what they created.
The wellness unit was amazing as well. Since I am also interested in physical health in conjunction with mental health, I found this unit to be very useful. I admired that they have trainers on-site to help members use the machines or assist them with working out. This demonstrates the partnership that is used in the Clubhouse model, rather than members struggling own their own. In addition, they offer yoga classes. Since yoga can help individuals increase concentration and reduce stress, I believe that this assists members even more during their recovery and maintains a health-conscious culture at the organization.
The horticulture unit was a surprise to me because it not only captured a different interest of the members but they have their own greenhouse! They grow their own vegetables and use them in the culinary unit or for lunches for the members. By being able to grow their own vegetables, they are being cost-efficient and it gives those who are interested in gardening a chance to work in a unit that they love.
Our time at Fountain House was an incredible and unforgettable experience. Everything, from the design of their multi-floor facility to the multitude of jobs managed and accomplished by members who actively cooperated with one another, was a series of inspiring and often-serendipitous sights. The member that guided us through the facility was very informative, welcoming, and an attentive speaker. As we toured the facility, we were introduced to:
- Ashley and Tyshawn
Blog posts are written by Shore House members and staff.