mental illness

Between Racial Lines

“Racial health disparities are not new but most of us don’t really know the specifics, possibly because there is relatively little discussion of this both in the media and among health care providers. The data in race-conscious societies are bleak. Not only in the United States, but also in Australia, Brazil, New Zealand, South Africa, and the U.K., non-dominant racial groups have significantly worse health outcomes than the dominant racial group.”

Healthcare professionals and mental healthcare workers always try to avoid looking at race when helping clients. In my experience it is almost impossible to talk to a client about biopsychosocial factors and mental/physical illnesses without also discussing identity, economics and genealogy. How can we help heal a client without looking at the whole person??? With African-Americans for example, their identity at some point will most often countenance part of a shared and very common black experience on some level. Ask yourself, “what motivates a caregiver to avoid this?” Check out this recent conference.

Categories: Black Men, mental illness, research | Leave a comment

Racism can feel life-threatening…

“One major factor in understanding PTSD in ethnoracial minorities is the impact of racism on emotional and psychological well-being. Racism continues to be a daily part of American culture, and racial barriers have an overwhelming impact on the oppressed. Much research has been conducted on the social, economic, and political effects of racism, but little research recognizes the psychological effects of racism on people of color (Carter, 2007).Chou, Asnaani, and Hofmann (2012) found that perceived racial discrimination was associated with increased mental disorders in African Americans, Hispanic Americans, and Asian Americans, suggesting that racism may in itself be a traumatic experience.”

This is a very thought-provoking piece on dealing with racism as a mental health professional.

Categories: Black Men, mental illness, research, stress | Leave a comment

Criminality & Mental Illness in Gangs

If you have ever wondered…please read the whole article and ask questions!

New research shows that young men in the UK who are members of gangs suffer from “unprecedented” levels of psychiatric illness, placing a heavy burden on mental health services.

1. 85.8 percent had an antisocial personality disorder
2. Two-thirds were alcohol dependent
3. 25.1 percent screened positive for psychosis
4. More than half (57.4 percent) were drug dependent
5. Around a third (34.2 percent) had attempted suicide
6. More than half (58.9 percent) had an anxiety disorder

Read more here.

“No research has previously investigated whether gang violence is related to psychiatric illness, other than substance misuse, or if it places a burden on mental health services,” said Professor Jeremy Coid, Ph.D., Director of Forensic Psychiatry Research Unit at Queen Mary, and lead author of the paper. Here we have shown unprecedented levels among this group, identifying a complex public health problem at the intersection of violence, substance misuse, and mental health problems among young men.”

Categories: Black Men, children, mental illness, research, teens | 2 Comments

Choice or Disease?

“To call addiction a disease requires some explanation. Taking that first drink or smoking marijuana for the first time is clearly a choice. Developing an addiction (and hence “catching” this disease) is thus linked with choices or behaviors. Teasing apart the choice from the disease seems a little tricky at first glance.” Read more here.

Categories: addiction, mental illness, research | Leave a comment

Less Grid, more sanity!

My wife and I often speak to each other as well as family members and friends about reducing significant levels of stress by decreasing our access to the meaningless,  countless demands and strains placed on us by society. We like the term “homesteading“. Our own teachers speak endlessly about leaving the mundane, stressful, distractions behind. They also teach about and lead lives of austerity and asceticism, spending more and more time away from the hustle and bustle of large cities and urban lifestyles.

What does living in urban areas mean for African-Americans today and what shock & awe might develop as a result of going off the grid? How might they, or anyone in the modern U.S. benefit from less Kim Kardashian, less Andersen Cooper, less smog, less Internet, less chatter, complaining, posturing and bickering on social media, less TV and on and on and on…

Think about it this way. Seeing Kim in her glamour either challenges our moral fortitude or maybe our sexual aptitude. Either way, it’s a biopsychosocial stressor. Andersen Cooper does the same, well for some anyway, and also impresses on our mind that every news topic he discusses must be the most important topic of our day. Here we have another biopsychosocial stressor. The smog presents an obvious biopsychsocial stressor. Try telling anyone with any respiratory problem that smog isn’t an issue. And lastly, for now, the Internet stands to challenge everything we hold dear, from our own self-image to the use of and lack of personal time. Can you say biopsychosocial stressor? At every turn it seems we’re being drowned by the sea of society and shackled by industrialized modernity.

Though the majority of African-Americans still live below the Mason-Dixon line, they have chosen to cluster in urban areas with the hope of attaining all things grand. But is that really what’s happening?

Check out the findings from a study conducted at the Central Institute of Mental Health, University of Heidelberg/Medical Faculty Mannheim, 68159 Mannheim, Germany:

“There are higher concentrations of psychiatric illnesses in the city than in the country.  There is increased risk for anxiety disorders, mood disorders, and schizophrenia.  Of course, there are lots of possible reasons for this. There is a greater socioeconomic divide in cities, and people of low socio-economic class have a higher risk for psychiatric disease.  There is also better access to health care in cities, and someone who might pass as just “very odd” in the country is more likely to get diagnosed in the city.  Finally, it is often easier to function in a city with a severe mental illness, with some better access to shelter, care, and emergency medicine. But there is also some evidence that living in a city can “bring on” mental disorders.  While many mental disorders are thought to have a genetic component to some degree, the addition of stress may be able to bring out an underlying mental illness.  And of course, cities are stressful. Specifically, cities produce social stress, the stress of living around and being seen (or feeling you’re being seen) by lots of people, constantly.”

There are also heavy correlations between residence and stress. Daily hassles impact our levels of stress and urban areas bring about higher levels of it. Depression has also been found to be higher in urban areas in contradistinction to rural environments.

In a series of functional magnetic resonance experiments researchers showed that city living was associated with greater stress responses in the amygdala, an area of the brain involved with emotional regulation and mood. There is more and more evidence supporting a strong shift away from urban living and desensitization. In fact, there is so much evidence today in 2013 that I need not bother posting anymore! A quick Google search is enough to feed your need but if you insist, take a look at the vast majority of psychological and medical journals on this topic and ask yourself, “Why are all the black people trying to live together? ala “Why Are All the Black Kids Sitting Together in the Cafeteria?” The same logic applies to our choice to live in urban areas and it’s keeping/making us sick.



Categories: mental illness, Uncategorized | Leave a comment

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