Mental Illness is a major issue in today’s society. Every time we look at the news when it relates to random or rampage shootings, more often than not, the underlying cause stems from the mental illness of the perpetrator who committed the crime. In other instances, mental illness can be found in an array of circumstances that dictated a person’s choice, whether it led to crimes, self-destruction, killings, suicide or being killed; simply because in each case, they weren’t totally in their right minds. In fact, mental illness is so rampant that doctors have been prescribing medicines at astronomical levels in an attempt to control or calm people’s minds and emotions. The sad thing is that, as bad as mental illness is in our society right now, some people don’t like to talk about it or even admit there is a problem. And by sweeping it under the rug, unfortunately, there are people who are not getting diagnosed correctly or treated effectively; which in turn, is leading to more crimes, suicides, depression, homelessness, drug use, incarceration, people being killed, and mental outbursts that are disrupting people, families, communities and society.
In keeping that in mind, it is time we face the music. Face the fact that mental illness is at an all time high and we must address it; the parents, the doctors, the teachers, the police, and anybody else who comes in contact must be able to recognize the signs of people who are suffering. I heard Coach Stormy Wellington, a very profound empowerment coach, say a couple of weeks ago, “We have to unlearn to relearn, and then commit.” When I think about that statement, I applied it to mental illness, and a thought crossed my mind. What if the doctors, lawyers, police officers, courts, and parents who encounter mental illness were to unlearn what they were taught or think they know; and then relearned a completely different way of dealing with sufferers with the help of mental professionals (psychiatrist, psychologist, medical doctors, psychopharmocolist), then maybe the state of mental illness could be better handled in all areas of life and society. Just imagine how some situations could be avoided if there was more empathy for people who suffer with mental illness. The more that’s understood, the more chances for better treatment. In all, there are 13 conditions that can affect people, which include: ADHD, Anxiety Disorders, Autism, Bipolar Disorder, Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD), Depression, Disassociative Disorders, Early Psychosis and Psychosis, Eating Disorders, Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder, Posttramatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Schizoaffective Disorder, Schizophrenia. Information for each one of the previous disorders mentioned can be found at https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Mental-Health-Conditions.
But I’m not a mental expert, I’m just giving my two cents. Let me get out of the way, and let Ruby Mabry educate and give you insight into the world of mental illness.
Article below written and submitted by Ruby Mabry
Ruby Mabry is the Chief Executive Officer of New Life Manor Inc. I and II, which are facilities for the intellectually and developmentally disabled. She is an International Best Selling Author, and Founder of Live on Purpose Movement Group, where she inspires women to live on purpose, collaborate and empower one another. The group meets in the community quarterly for outings, networking, and for giving back to the community.
Ruby is also a board member for the Greater Haitian American Chamber of Commerce – Orlando. In addition, she does PR/Marketing, and is co-founder of the ZoeFinity Haitian American Apparel Line.
Her passion is to uplift, empower and inspire women from all backgrounds to live their lives on purpose, and to be a positive and inspirational force behind them. Ruby’s mantra is: dream, become, inspire.
3WV: Tell us about yourself. Who is Ruby Mabry?
I am a first generation Haitian American born in Brooklyn, New York. I am the third of four children to Haitian parents, Claude and Marie Bissainthe. My parents would always give back to the community, and was such a vital part of the Haitian community. They raised all their kids to be servant leaders in the community. They were amazing role models, which is shown by the lives and works of my siblings and me.
3WV: What is mental illness?
Ruby: Mental illness refers to our cognitive, behavioral, and emotional well-being. It is all about how we think, feel, and behave. Mental health can affect our daily lives, relationships, and even physical health.
3WV: Is there a difference in how it affects women vs. men? How?
Ruby: Mental health conditions impact both men and women, they can affect each gender differently. In some men, depression may present itself in the form of anger, irritation, or aggression instead of sadness. These men are often overlooked, leaving problems to potentially worsen. Men consistently have higher rates of alcohol and substance use than women.
For MEN, According to the American Psychological Association*
9% of American men have daily feelings of depression or anxiety
1 in 4 men have spoken to a mental health professional
30.6% of men will experience a period of depression during their lifetime
“Research has shown that women tend to experience depression and are diagnosed more often than men. Men often direct their inner turmoil outward, women tend to place the blame on themselves, causing feelings of sadness and worthlessness.” (Mindwise Innovations)
Depression is found most commonly in women aged 25-44**
Women are 2 times more likely to have an anxiety disorder than men***
Up to 1 in 7 women experience postpartum depression****
“Recognizing the signs and symptoms of depression, and other mood and anxiety disorders in men and women, as well as acknowledging their differences is critical. Although, women experience depression more often, men die from suicide at a rate that is 3.5 times greater than women. Identifying depression is the first step towards healing.” (Mindwise Innovations)
3WV: Why should people listen to you?
Ruby: I’m the perfect person to listen to and talk about it because I am dealing with four different types of disorders: depression, social anxiety, body dysmorphic disorder, and anorexia. Who better to listen to than someone who is actually experiencing it. It took me 36 years to seek the help I needed. I don’t want anyone to go through what I went through. Talking about mental health shows everyone they are not alone. We are conditioned to believe, especially as black people, we are strong, and not to show our weakness. In speaking out, it shows how courageous and strong we truly are.
3WV: What are the causes of mental illness?
Ruby: The exact cause of most mental illnesses is not known, through research, many of these conditions are caused by a combination of biological, psychological, and environmental factors.
3WV: What are the signs and symptoms of mental illness?
Ruby: In my case, with Body Dysmorphic Disorder, the signs and symptoms are:
- Frequent weighing of yourself
- Skin picking
- Working out obsessively
- Frequently looking at mirrors sometimes 20 times or more a day or avoiding them entirely
In one instance, I bought 6 dresses for a birthday party last October and did not like how it looked on my body. I bought a 7th and still was not happy, but wore it to the party anyway.
With Anorexia, the signs and symptoms are:
- Food as a form of punishment, not eating, restricting
- Diet pills
- Calorie counting
- Extreme weight loss
- Thin appearance
- Abnormal blood counts
With Social Anxiety, the signs and symptoms are:
- Fear of social situations
- Fear of being judged
- Stomach ache
- Panic attacks
With Depression, the signs and symptoms are:
- Appetite changes, or weight gain or loss
- Trouble going to sleep or staying asleep, or sleeping too much
- Fatigue or lack of energy
- Feeling restless, irritable, or withdrawn
- Feeling worthless, hopeless, discouraged, or guilty
- Trouble concentrating, remembering things, doing daily tasks, or making decisions
- Thoughts about hurting or killing yourself
3WV: Are there different kinds of treatments available? If so, what are the options?
Ruby: Yes, there is cognitive behavioral therapy, which is a form of psychotherapy that emphasizes the importance of thinking in relation to how we feel and act. Also, there are inpatient treatment centers, medications, and support groups, to name a few. I am currently receiving cognitive behavior therapy because I choose to opt out of taking medications.
3WV: If you think someone is suffering, and they are attempting to hurt themselves or others, how should you handle it?
Ruby: Listen and talk to them while remaining calm, and encourage them. Ask them how you can help. Offer suggestions on seeking help and volunteer to take them there. If they are feeling afraid and alone, be their support system. Let them know they are not alone.
3WV: Can you give some steps to deal with people suffering with mental illness?
Ruby: Seek help in the form of a counselor, family, friend, pastor, etc. Contact your physician for a visit and referral to get therapy. They can also google search mental health help to find more avenues. Online is a great source of information to anyone suffering with mental illness. I know that was my first step to realizing I had body dysmorphic disorder.
3WV: Would you advise connecting with a support group?
Ruby: Absolutely, the NAMI organization (National Alliance on Mental Illness) has a great support group. Their toll free number is 800-950-NAMI(6264). Check online for your local area to see what forms of free counseling are provided. Also, ask therapists if they are aware of any support groups in your area.
3WV: How would someone get in contact with you, if they wanted to reach you?