Mental Health Disorders

Navigating the changing winds of “mental health disorders”

Memory and Mental Health Disorders Common    

As a caregiver, you are likely to encounter challenges dealing with memory or mental health disorders at some point in your caregiving journey, in addition to providing physical care.

Mental Health Disorders Rising

Each year:

  • One in 24 people has a serious mental illness.
  • One in 12 people has a diagnosed substance abuse disorder.
  • One in 10 people have Alzheimer’s dementia.
  • One in five experiences some form of mental illness in the United States.
People with Mental Health Disorders frequently have hallucinations or delusions haunting them.
People with Mental Health Disorders frequently have hallucinations or delusions haunting them.
Brain Requires Training

Just as physical tasks and duties require preparation and training for you to manage your daily routine as effectively and efficiently as possible, the same is true for memory and behavior issues related to mental health.

Brain Not Working Correctly

When the brain stops working correctly, mental illness or memory problems occur. Just like a person with diabetes needs an insulin injection when the pancreas stops working correctly, Alzheimer’s develops when the brain starts to lose grey matter.

 Memory and Mental Illness Impact Thinking

Memory and mental illness conditions impact the way people think, behave, and interact with others and encompass numerous disorders varying in severity and frequency of episodes. Many people who suffer from them may not look ill or as if anything is wrong, while others appear confused, agitated, or withdrawn.

Suffer in Silence

Many suffer in silence, never knowing “what is wrong with them.” Some are ashamed to admit what they have. Caregivers struggle to provide support, sometimes seen as a savior and other times as the enemy by needing their help—maybe within minutes of each other. Knowing what to say and do is often difficult. Understanding the mental health condition often helps in choosing the best response to situations that develop. Often your normal instincts are not the right choice when dealing with mental health.

  Tools to Cope with Behaviors

My focus for the mental health and memory pages is to provide you with the tools needed to cope with behavioral situations. In general, when dealing with mental illness, it’s essential to always stay in the moment if you are with someone who is getting agitated or whose behavior seems risky in some way. Listen carefully to what they say and how they say it.  The message is not always in words.  Sometimes it’s in what’s not said or in the behaviors (movements) used to express themselves or the repetition. Take nothing for granted and keep an open mind to what it might mean if you were in that person’s shoes.  Don’t think like yourself; think like them.  Meet the person where they are at that moment in time and be there with them, so you understand what they are trying to express. Once you can understand, then you can connect with them and hopefully make progress.

What Are Mental health Disorders?

Mental Health Problems Misunderstood by Public

The public often misunderstands the nature of mental illness due to the lack of information shared on the subject by the psychiatric community.  An individual with psychological “problems” lived on society’s fringe for decades and continues to do so today.  They are an invisible group except to the caregivers who attempt to monitor their movements and guide them in self-care and learning new behaviors.

Need to Know More Before We Can Help Effectively

The first step in helping those with mental health problems to become more independent is to make ourselves more knowledgeable about their conditions and what we can realistically expect them to do.  Once we know their limits, we can help them develop within their potential, and there will be less frustration for everyone.

Therefore, let’s review the significant Mental Health Disorders and learn the basics about them.

How Do You Know if Someone is Struggling with a Mental Health Problem?

What Contributes to Our Well-Being?

Many factors contribute to our mental health wellbeing.

  • Biological factors such as our genes and brain chemistry,
  • Our family history of mental health problems that influence both our development and culture, and
  • Life experiences, such as trauma and abuse.

How someone responds to a mental health condition is impacted by each of these. Someone influenced by all three might have a more significant impact than someone else who may only have one factor.  But, then again, what if that one factor (for example, trauma) was extreme? Couldn’t it have as much impact on someone as all three factors for someone else?  Therefore, making a judgment call regarding someone’s background and where they “should” be in recovery is a mistake. We need to meet and accept them where they are at that moment.

If someone you know shows one or more of the following symptoms, encourage them to talk to someone about what they are experiencing.
  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little.
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters.
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless.
  • Smoking, drinking or using drugs more than usual.
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared.
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories, you can’t get out of your head.
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school.

Resources:   National Mental Health Association,

Mental health disorders bring with them feelings of loss of control, inability to manage life, hopelessness.
Mental health disorders bring with them feelings of loss of control, inability to manage life, hopelessness.

Mental Health Disorders Affect Thoughts and Feelings

Mental health conditions affect a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, or behavior. Just like medical diagnosis, there are specific mental health disorders too.   Often severe stressful events or trauma lead to eating or personality disorders as a means of coping. Some conditions are short-term and happen only occasionally, while others are chronic and long-term disorders altering a person’s daily functioning.

   Mental Health and Mental Illness Not the Same

Mental health and mental illness are not the same things. Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being and affects how we think, feel, and act.  It helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make healthy choices. People use the terms interchangeably, but a person can experience poor mental health without being diagnosed with a mental illness. Likewise, a person with a mental illness can have periods of good mental health.

Mental Illness Carries Stigma

Mental illness still carries a stigma that prevents treatment and discussion. It’s a serious problem in the United States and underfunded for treatment options. Most people do not realize that more than 50% of US citizens receive some type of mental illness diagnosis in their lifetime, with 25% experiencing an episode every year. Twenty-five percent of children experience a debilitating mental illness at some point in their life. Currently, in America, 1:25 people live with a serious mental illness such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression (

Caregivers Provide Mental Health Support

Often individuals with severe mental illness need family support. Family caregivers may rescue them from self-harm, provide them physical care, coax them into treatment, bail them out of jail, encourage them to make it on their own.  The struggles for mental health caregivers are as real and exhausting as it is for physical health caregivers.  Therefore, the following pages related to specific mental health conditions provide factual details about mental health conditions to help recognize them and clarify options.

Woman with bipolar mental health disorder feels like she is two people inside-both happy and sad unsure which feeling is appropriate for the situation.
Woman with bipolar mental health disorder feels like she is two people inside-both happy and sad unsure which feeling is appropriate for the situation.