Archive | February, 2011

The Lighthouse, Overcoming Mental Health Disorders

Mental health disorders are the leading cause of homelessness. The Lighthouse houses an overwhelming number of clients battling with mental health disorders.  The Lighthouse works closely with mental health nurses and psychiatrists in the community who have patient’s in our care. We provide a med management program for all clients and log the medications and doses. Medications assist in stabilizing the client and creating good chemical balances, however they do not remove the issues that may have led to the mental health breakdown. Studies overwhelmingly show that environment and psychological trauma plays a major role in the mental health of an individual.

Some well-known factors that lead to mental health disorders:
    • Severe psychological trauma suffered as a child, such as emotional, physical, or sexual abuse
    •  An important early loss, such as the loss of a parent
    • Neglect
    • Poor ability to relate to others
    • Death or divorce
    • A dysfunctional family life
    • Living in poverty
    • Feelings of inadequacy, low self-esteem, anxiety, anger, or loneliness
    • Changing jobs or schools
    • Social or cultural expectations (For example, a society that associates beauty with thinness can be a factor in the development of eating disorders.)
    • Substance abuse by the person or the person’s parents

In order to cure or control the mental issues one must take into consideration behaviour modification or Cognitive Therapy.

What is Cognitive Therapy?
It is a therapy developed around solving problematic and reoccurring mental health disorders by looking at the past environment of the patient and changing that environment both physically and emotionally and teaching the patient to think differently about their situation, past and present. It requires providing the patient with the tools in order to achieve this and the support to do so.
Cognitive therapy is a method that identifies and helps a person to correct misconceptions in what he or she is thinking that would cause negative or painful feelings. These delusional thoughts also influence the person behaviours, and result in faulty or inadequate choices or reactions. In treating a person who is experiencing psychological difficulties, it is essential to understand their thought processes by looking at the factors that caused this type of thinking and then to begin to change the way they think and speak about these issues.  When changes are made in thinking (automatic thoughts, assumptions and core beliefs), changes in emotions and behaviour soon follow. In addition to this behavioural techniques and strategies are explored as needed to ensure a more successful outcome (i.e., anger management, relaxation training, and assertiveness training). It has taken time for mental health issues to develop but change can be fairly rapid depending on the volunteer acceptance from the patient. And the process is lasting.

The Lighthouse has created “The Wellness Plan” this plan is client driven as this ensures the success of the client. Our support workers look at our client’s history and from there determines appropriate supports for the client to overcome some of the resulting issues of previous trauma and other negative environmental factors. Referrals are made and the client begins programming. The Support workers also assist the client in setting and achieving realistic goals and assist with the thought process in planning out the steps to achieve them. As one goal is achieved after another our client becomes more hopeful and positive, they begin to see that they are capable of having some control in their environment and thinking begins to change. The mentality goes from a defeated thinking to a succeeding thinking. Self-esteem is developed. The client is now ready to take back control of their future.