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Is Mental Health Stigma still prevalent? Check out this article!

11 Apr

The results of this study showed that while more people are understanding that there may be neurobiological causes of mental disorders, we’re still a long way off from removing the prejudice and discrimination that accompanies a mental disorder diagnosis: However, the results show that although believing in neurobiological causes for these disorders increased support for professional treatment, it did nothing to alleviate stigma. The results show that, in fact, the effect increased community rejection of the person described in the vignettes.  Pescosolido said the study provides real data for the first time on whether the “landscape” is changing for people with mental illness. The negative results support recent talk by influential institutions, including the Carter Center, about how a new approach is needed for the fight against stigma.

By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 25 Sep 2010
Published on All rights reserved.

When I think about Stigma as it relates to mental illness, I am reminded of Stigma as a general problem and concern for many, in all facets of life. In my opinion, Stigma, as it relates to mental illness is a form of discrimination that is automatically placed on an individual due to their specific mental illness.  There are a variety of misconceptions and prejudgments about those who cope with mental illness on a daily basis. These misconceptions could possibly imply that one who suffers from a mental illness is not capable of  contributing to society as much as someone who doesn’t have a mental illness, when in fact, persons with mental illness can make just as much of a positive impact on society.  With mental illness, it is very easy for society to make judgments, but often times, stigma is prevalent specifically with mental illness due to lack of knowledge and awareness.  The topic itself is often taboo in certain respects and it almost suggests that if you have a mental illness, you are not able to hold a job, raise a child, go to school, etc. This is false.  Many individuals with mental illness are actively involved in treatment and participating in programs and community resources that will aid them in getting the best care possible. Reducing stigma requires more community education and for advocates to willingly challenge unfair treatment and discriminatory stereotypes.

So, in essence, Is Mental Health Stigma still prevalent? Yes! And something should be done! It begins with you!

Some Helpful Resources

Fight Stigma: Become A StigmaBuster!

Mental Health America,



Mental Health Center Sports Fantastic New Play Therapy Room

1 Nov

We just had to share the good news from Erric Hetzer — director of our Aberdeen Mental Health Clinic:

The Harford County OMHC is pleased to announce that the renovations to our play therapy room are complete.  The new space has been completely redesigned to optimize the therapeutic environment for the child and his or her therapist.


These include:

  • Light blue painted walls for a warm and soothing environment with one wall painted with chalk board paint so that each child may customize their environment as he/she sees fit.
  • A new doll house, kitchen play set, dress up clothes, puppets and a puppet studio/play house, a rice tray, art supplies, and a wet-erase bop bag.  All intended to give the child the opportunity to express their thoughts, and feelings.
  • New child-sized table and chairs, chest, and storage bins, and cabinets to keep everything organized but still easily accessible to the child at his/her eye level.

This new space has been in use for about a month and has received very positive responses from staff, patients, and visitors alike.  With that, we continue to look forward to the opportunity to improve our ability to serve our patients and their families.

New Computer Lab Tutorals

8 Oct

Residential and PRP client Michael has started work as our Aberdeen PRP computer lab assistant.  Every Tuesday and Thursday at Goal Time he will be helping out other clients.  Tuesdays are mental health day — clients can utilize the Optimism, MoodGYM, and Ecouch online programs as well as look-up medication- and diagnosis-related information.  Thursdays help is available for all manner of other assistance from email to FaceBook to typing tutor programs.

I think this regular assistance will help a lot of people learn to better utilize computer resources.

— Michael

Optimism Mood Charting Application Donation

24 Aug


The Aberdeen PRP would like to thank James Bishop with Optimism Apps for generously donating several licenses to Key Point for use of their online Optimism software.  We are beginning to approach a group of pre-selected clients about the exciting uses this software can be put to.  Other departments around Key Point are evaluating if they will be able to offer a few accounts to clients most likely to benefit.

To quote from their website:

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“Optimism applications are mood charts to help with managing mental health. They are used as self-help or self-improvement tools, for depression and bipolar disorder, and other illnesses. The core purpose of the apps is to help you discover what causes your mood swings, to find the warning signs of a decline in health, and learn strategies, often specific to you, that help you to remain well.  The Optimism apps help you to be proactive. A continual feedback loop, in the form of charts and reports, improves your understanding of your mental health and the things that are helping or hindering you.”

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Clients enter a daily record of their mood, symptoms, and triggers.  They also track quality and amount of sleep, medication compliance, exercise, and a host of “stay well strategies” (walk, call a friend, etc.).  Space is provided for notes, customization, and development of an online wellness plan.  Reports and graphs may then be generated to show what works and what does not.  One client may find that 3 days of exercise tends to improve mood.  Another may find that regular water, meals, and meds does the trick.

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The company is working on developing ways for clinicians to monitor the entries made by their clients, including automating the emailing of charts and reports (e.g. before appointments), and the receipt of alerts according to individual-specific data entry rules (e.g. specific words in the notes area, drop in mood, lack of sleep).   These enhancements would further help mental health professionals to stay on top of how their clients are faring.

Several huge benefits of this software immediately come to my mind:

  • Taking personal responsibility for health progress.
  • Fostering the sense that there are things one can do for one’s self — not just rely passively on the mental health system.
  • General awareness building of symptoms and wellness through daily tracking and reminders.

I’m curious to see who takes to this system best.  I’m betting on several of our

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 younger, more computer literate clients.  I also predict this software will appeal to clients who control anxiety through doing tasks and organizing.  I think our more science- and engineering-minded clients will appreciate the greater precision this tool brings to wellness.

— Michael

Book Review: The Angry Book

28 May

By Liz Tutino

The Angry Book is a psychoanalytical view of the emotion anger.  The author describes anger as a basic human emotion similar to hunger or thirst.  When anger is not appropriately expressed and is distorted it can cause many serious consequences such as poor mental health, poor physical health, and damage to relationships.

How we repond to anger is learned at a very early age because children learn how to deal with anger by receiving and recording what goes on around them, by repetition, and by imitation.  If anger is not expressed in healthy ways individuals learn to block the anger.  the author discusses three blocks to feeling and showing anger.  The first block to expressing anger is the “don’t make waves” syndrome.  This mistaken belief states that if I don’t show anger then you won’t show anger either.  “Since being universally loved is seen as the only way to be safe in the world, anger — especially anger that causes retaliation by the other fellow — is of course seen as a terrible threat” (Rubin, 13).  the result of this belief is that an individual always plays the “nice guy” at a terrible cost to himself.  The second block to anger is the emotional isolationist.  This person believes that they cannot show anger because if they did that would show they actually care and if they care they might get hurt.  A third block is the need for control.  People who have this belief feel that angry feelings or a show of angry feelings are evidence of loss of control.

If an individual has any of the mistaken beliefs that they cannot show anger they they have to distort or repress the natural flow of the emotion.  This results in creating a kind of reservoir of repressed emotions that lead to emotional problems.  The author calls this “perverting” the anger.  By using defense mechanisms anger can be twisted or perverted in the following ways:

  • Put down — an automatic response that is conditioned so you won’t feel anger
  • Putting it off — if you delay the anger long enough it will go away
  • Putting it on — removing the anger from the actual event or person and putting it on something safer
  • Diluting it — intellectual rationalization that the anger is not that important
  • Freezing it — removing and deadening the feeling of anger and all other emotions as well

Perverting anger makes it destructive to our mental health and creates a slush fund of distorted emotion that is looking for a way out.

The third section of the book talks in great detail about all the different ways we twist anger and distort how it is expressed.  Some examples of this include: anxiety, depression, guilt, overeating, sleep and no sleep, compulsions and phobias, denial, self-sabotage, obsessive rumination, and physical health concerns.

The fourth section of the book concentrates on why it is important to know and accept angry feelings.  Acknowledging the angry feelings will help change the twisted ways anger is expressed and leads to better health and relationships.

The fifth section of the book lists 103 questions that can be used in therapy to help a client discover what they are angry about and to open up so they can healthily extend both loving and angry feelings.

High Five Fridays

12 Apr

We’ve started an experimental 15 minute check-in on Fridays called “High Five Fridays” to recognize and motivate clients working hard on their rehabilitation goals.

Clients are invited to tell success stories from the past week about goals they have achieved or worked hard on.  Staff also nominate one client each from their caseloads for recognition.  Clients receive applause and small tokens of appreciation for their hard work — usually accomplished during Goal Time.

We also expect stories to be shared about alternatives and activities clients can join in on and ideas they migh twish to try.

Last week all clients were thanked for their flexibility and willingness to work on personal goals and keep folders logging their activities during Goal Time.

I’m curious to see how this works.

— Michael

Refresh of Emotional Management Class

12 Apr

I have been teaching some catch-up skills sessions during Goal Time so new clients can join our Emotional Management class.  The class teaches ways of handling the emotional volitility from issues like Borderline Personality, frequent anger outbursts, and anxiety.

The skills taught include how to complete the Borderline Evaluation of Severity Over Time (BEST) for tracking symptoms week-to-week.  Also taught are tracking tools for which emotional management skills were utilized during the prior week.

So far I’ve got about 6 additional clients participating.

— Michael