Humans have been working to unravel the mysteries of the mind for thousands of years, yet it wasn’t until the 20th century that we came to use the term “mental health.”
Over the last 100 years, our regard toward mental illness has gone from fear to understanding, athough we still have far to go when it comes to battling the stigma and providing proper treatment.
At the forefront of the efforts to destigmatize mental health disorders is Mental Health America. This non-profit organization, founded in 1909, is a leader in mental health support, recovery, and advocacy.
Through programming, community engagement, education, and outreach, Mental Health America works to spread awareness about early identification, intervention, and recovery for those at risk.
This May is the 70th anniversary of Mental Health Awareness Month. This month long awareness campaign was created by Mental Health America in 1949.
Every year during the month of May, millions of people are reached with important messages about mental health thanks to the participation of organizations across the country.
Through media, local events, and screenings, more and more people are beginning to understand the importance of early diagnosis, effective intervention, and proper treatment before mental illness reaches Stage 4.
The Four Stages of Mental Health Disorders
When it comes to treating mental health disorders, much like physical illnesses, prevention is key.
Oftentimes, there are warning signs that a person is at risk for a serious mental health disorder, and if the proper steps are taken to receive effective treatment early on, it’s possible to prevent the progression of the disease.
In order to reverse or stop the progression of a mental health disorder, it’s vital to recognize the symptoms of the four stages of mental health disorders.
Stage 1: Mild Symptoms and Warning Signs
In the first stage of a mental health condition, a person is still able to maintain their ability to function at work and at home, but usually begin to show symptoms.
Family members, friends, and peers may start to notice unusual shifts in behavior and lifestyle during this early onset stage of ensuing mental health issues.
Many times, these symptoms are so slight, they are not taken seriously and are perceived as a minor coincidence.
Stage 2: Symptoms Increase and Interfere with Life Activities
It is during Stage 2 that symptoms become more apparent.
Previous symptoms may become more intense, or new symptoms may begin to appear. This makes it increasingly more difficult for a person to maintain normality in their work or home life.
Stage 3: Symptoms Worsen and Create Serious Disruption in Life Activities
In Stage 3, a person may feel as though they have lost control of their life.
Symptoms may occur in relapsing and recurring episodes that increase in severity and/or take place simultaneously.
Sometimes during this stage, fear or anxiety about the health issues can complicate matters.
Stage 4: Symptoms are Persistent and Have Jeopardized One’s Life
The most extreme, prolonged, and persistent symptoms are categorized as Stage 4.
By this stage, a person often has developed other mental health conditions. This puts them at risk for crisis such as unemployment, homelessness, hospitalization, or incarceration.
Untreated Stage 4 mental illnesses can result in premature death.
The Importance of Dual Diagnosis
When left untreated, mental health disorders and addiction commonly co-occur. In fact, according to DualDiagnosis.com, of the 17.5 million Americans age 18+ who had a mental health disorder in the past year, 4 million also struggled with a co-occurring drug or alcohol dependency.
These statistics prove the necessity for Dual Diagnosis treatment methods, which simultaneously treat mental health and substance use disorders.
For some living with a Dual Diagnosis, addiction develops after the onset of a mental health disorder. For others, addiction may seemingly occur first, but is usually triggered by an underlying and undiagnosed mental health disorder.
It’s very common for those suffering from a mental health disorder to use substances to self-medicate. Drugs and alcohol can temporarily alleviate the symptoms of mental health issues by increasing dopamine production and stimulating the pleasure center in the brain.
However, over time, more drugs and/or alcohol will be required to achieve the same effect, leading to dependence and a worsening of mental health.
Through the prolonged use of substances, some people may experience mental distress. It’s not uncommon for drug and alcohol abuse to stimulate mental health issues such as:
- Anxiety disorders
- Mood disorders
While the cause for this is still widely unknown, research indicates mental health disorders that are triggered by substance use could be a result of genetic predisposition, chemical disruption in the brain, or past trauma.
No matter which disorder occurred first, mental health and substance use disorders must be treated simultaneously. Treating one without the other is insufficient and ineffective.
The Alo House Method
At Alo House Recovery Centers®, we have created the highest quality dual diagnosis rehab program possible by blending the most successful aspects of mental health care and substance use disorder treatment.
Our treatment team of Licensed Doctorate and Masters Level Clinicians are uniquely qualified to treat co-occurring mental health and addiction issues.
To provide the most effective treatment, and full recovery, our Compassionate Care Model® includes:
- Expert parallel treatment of mental health and substance use disorders provided by our Doctorate and Master’s level team of professionals who are proven leaders and pioneers in Behavioral Health and Dual Diagnosis treatment
- Specialized care and acknowledgement of treatment protocols integrating the importance of psychotherapeutic medications, such as antidepressant, anti-anxiety and other psychotherapeutic medications related to the treatment of co-occurring disorders
- A supportive approach to therapy that reinforces self-esteem and builds self-confidence instead of confrontational styles with negative and aggressive statements
- An inclusive treatment strategy that brings family, partners, spouses and other significant relationships, to form an integral part of our treatment approach
Learn more about Alo Recovery’s Treatment Program.
Get Involved for Mental Health Awareness Month
By spreading awareness about prevention and early diagnosis, we have the power to help those at risk for serious mental health disorders and substance use disorders. Everyone can do their part and get involved in Mental Health Awareness Month!
Look for local events near you and join the conversation on social media by using the hashtags #4Mind4Body and #MHAM2019.
Share relevant articles or your own story about mental health with others.
By openly discussing the topic of mental health, we can reduce the shame surrounding mental health disorders and combat the stigma many people fear.
For more resources, ways to get involved, events near you, and information about Mental Health Awareness Month, visit the National Alliance on Mental Illness.