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Column: Help available for people with mental health problems

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What is mental health? How do you know if you have mental health issues?

Mental health is a state of harmony in the way you relate to others, the way you make decisions and the way you grow through life to be a productive citizen in society.

Mental illness is a state in which you are either temporarily or permanently unable to:


Relate well to others.

Make responsible decisions for yourself or others for whom you’re responsible.

Perceive things around you to be other than what they actually are, and is impaired from growing as a responsible, productive citizen in our society.

Depending on the severity of mental illness, one or all these areas may be affected.

Do you know someone with mental health issues? Mental illness may be manifested by feelings of depression, anxiety, dependency, eating disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, dementia from medical causes and many other conditions outlined in reference books of the American Psychiatric Association.

Some conditions are permanent and cannot be changed. Others are temporary and may change as one’s life conditions change. However, some may persist and become more debilitating.

Many are known to result from chemical imbalance. Most mental illness is quite treatable and makes it possible to live a more normal life.

Most importantly, mental illness that impairs your daily life’s relationships needs medical attention. Sometimes medication may be needed. Mental illness is a disorder just as physical illness and needs to have the same concern shown.

Those who have mental health issues do not discuss them as readily as perhaps knee replacement, cancer, diabetes or heart disease. Mental health problems have a stigma attached and to admit to mental health problems is looked upon as an embarrassment. Why do we think it’s OK to have a broken arm or leg but not a broken brain? Those who have mental health issues need compassion, acceptance and assistance.

We need to listen to them. To make it possible for those with mental illness to live productive lives means that your neighbor, you, your family member, church member, co-worker, friend, should be proactive on mental health issues. Many will benefit.

Here are some ways to help balance your needs, goals, relationships and emotions:

Talk it out. Share your feelings when you’re faced with a problem or having a bad day.

Learn to take one thing at a time.

Get your mind off your troubles. Read, play or listen to music or take a walk. Make time for some fun and pleasure. Give yourself a break. After all, no one is perfect.

Learn to manage your anger and retreat from a difficult situation before you lose control. If necessary, get help and make an appointment with your doctor or a mental health professional.

Exercise is a great way to aid good mental heath.

Read some books or seek out information to learn more about you own mental health. Your local mental health provider can supply you with information or the Mental Health Association or members of the National Alliance for Mental Illness (NAMI).

There is a local support group who can listen or provide you with information. The group meets 7 to 8:30 p.m. the last Tuesday of each month in the Decatur County Memorial Hospital OB/GYN Conference Room, on the second floor.

You also are invited to support group meetings from 7 to 8:30 p.m. on the first Tuesday of each month at the First Christian Church, Fifth and Franklin streets in Columbus.

Don’t let yourself drown in your misery. Please seek help and return to good mental health.

Linda Ricke is president of the South Central Indiana chapter of the National Alliance for Mental Illness.

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