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Author: Justin Mckibben
If there are any other nerds out there like me, you may have come across an abstract animated series called Psycho-pass that rose in popularity a few years back in 2012. The show’s name fits firmly into the primary premise of the show, an authoritarian future dystopia, where omnipresent public sensors ceaselessly scan the mental states of every passing citizen. In the TV show, collected data on both present mentality and aggregated personality data is used to gauge the probability of an individual committing a crime, the rating referred to as that citizen’s Psycho-Pass. Law enforcement and public security utilizes technology tracking mental health of citizens in order to premeditate possible threats. The characters chase criminals who the system deems emotionally or psychologically at risk, and the show adds a few good twists of suspense and philosophical paradox.
Needless to say, I am a big fan of the series.
So of course, seeing a headline explaining a new research project that could make this kind of system a reality, it stirs up some curiosity. This abstract concept of machines reading the psychological profiles of everyday people as a security measure has jumped right out of the world of scifi-fantasy and could soon be another innovation that changes our world.
Could a mental health security system for the future of public safety?
How the Mental Health Security System Works
According to a new piece of research, published in the International Journal of Advanced Intelligence Paradigms, a mental health security system is being developed that gives an analyses of the user’s brainwaves.
Most modern security systems require a PIN or password. Other biometric-based systems require a fingerprint or scans of an iris or retina. We have already seen this kind of stuff in the movies; voice-activated locks, palm-print thermal safes and other cool high-tech gadgets. Now, Violeta Tulceanu of the University of Iasi is adding a truly unique aspect to security; the emotion detector.
Upon reading the brainwaves the system is designed to automatically determine whether the user is in a fit mental state. After the test is complete the system will grant access to resources, but only if deemed appropriate.
Violeta Tulceanu states:
“The true engine of motivation is our capacity to perceive pleasure and fear pain, and thus, reward and punishment,”
“Our ability to react to dangerous situations is directly related to our capacity to relate to our environment, and our sense of self-preservation.”
In the new approach, Tulceanu trains the system to recognize a user’s “emotional fingerprint” using the patterns of electrical brainwaves. The system measures the brainwaves they generate in the presence of specific, evocative stimuli. The system has to have a baseline mental signature to cross-reference. Each emotional response is matched to a given pattern and these are then associated with particular configurations of the mental health security system. So someone mentally stable will set the standard for their future readings.
Once the profile is complete it can allow or preclude access to given resources. So the next time someone tries to get access, the system simply measures the current electrical brain activity and if the result of processing the credentials matches the “emotional fingerprint” access is granted or refused accordingly.
This is amazing because it not just recognizes brainwaves to allow authorized access, but it also determines whether or not someone’s current mental health should keep them from having access.
Why a Mental Health Security System Could Matter
Based on the core concept, this could all matter a great deal to public safety. If someone is in a well-balanced emotional state, when faced with external factors they probably react according to:
- Group expectations
- Cultural background
- Social norms
- Personal inclinations
However, humans are emotional. We feel. Some of us more intensely, but all of us included. So our decisions can be subject to:
- Our wants/desires
We can even be influenced by psychoactive chemicals that might make particular resources inappropriate or hazardous. Perhaps a safe with a gun locked inside should only be accessible by someone of a stable mental and emotional state.
With this kind of mental health security system there could be another step to control:
- Entry to a building
- Access to computer resources
- Even the withdrawal of money from ATMs
The research actually indicates this mental health security system could also have applications in:
- Electronic learning
What Could the Mental Health Security System Change?
Many may not notice at first, but this is a huge deal and if it gained momentum it could change a lot about our world. Thinking about it, anyone can suffer from depression, stress, or anxiety, as well as substance abuse. Some of us may not even be aware of our own issues with mental health until something devastating has happened. We all have the capacity to make detrimental decisions, and sometimes we also have the capacity to do so while accessing sensitive resources.
Let us look at just a few ways this could be a really big deal.
In the interest of public safety, we could consider access to an airport or a school. With the history of shootings and other attacks on citizens being perpetrated by people deemed to be in the grips of mental illness, could this new technology have the capacity to save lives by blocking off those who it perceives to be a threat?
Tulceanu suggests this mental health security system could ensure the safety and security of individuals and those around them that might be at risk if access is granted to particular resources.
The mental health security system might be able to assess whether a person is acting responsibly and of their own accord. So if someone is being forced to access something, the security system could measure this emotional response as well and act further on the behalf of someone who could be being robbed or held hostage.
Is a Mental Health Security System Morally Just?
Here comes the philosophical debate. When looking at the possibilities of this technology, we also have to ask ourselves the same questions that crop up in the scifi stories; is this moral? Specifically, if it became a government tool, does it violate privacy or civil rights? Really ask yourself- is this a brighter, safer future? Or could it be misused for subliminal, psychological oppression?
Seriously, this is a tough call. It does sound like it could save a lot of lives. But some would ask- who has the right to say whether or not I’m mentally or emotionally stable enough to get my own money from the bank? Or to get on a plane? Who decides when you are too emotionally or mentally compromised to go to work? What if years from now you aren’t allowed to live in a certain neighborhood because of your place on the brainwave scale?
Would this kind of restriction on people based on an analyses of mental health be reinforcing the stigmas attached to mental health? If so, would people be discriminated against for mental health issues? In the TV show I referenced earlier, people with moderately risky mental health ratings were lawfully mandated to therapy; would that become part of the normal practice if a more comprehensive mental health security system was put into place?
These days, modern research techniques show that far from being indefinable, emotion is completely neurological. Emotion lives at the core of all learning mechanisms. This makes it possible to treat emotion more objectively. All this new research is extremely fascinating. Without being too sure which way to lean, I simply wonder what the world would think of a mental health security system.
The importance of mental health care and substance abuse treatment is paramount. As technology grows so does our understanding of how complex and critical these issues are. There is help for those who are struggling with dual diagnosis, and holistic healing is an empowering way to make a transformation that could change everything.
CALL NOW 1-800-951-6135
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Author: Shernide Delva
Depression is a serious medical condition, and the decision to take antidepressants is a personal choice. The stigma behind mental illness often prevents those struggling with mental illness to seek help for their condition. Many people feel they can tackle their depression on their own, without the use of medication. While this may be true for some, for others, medication is a very real option.
If you are unsure whether or not you need medication for your depression, it may be a good idea for you to ask yourself a few questions before going on them. Also, you may want to explore options that do not require medication like seeing a therapist, changing sleeping and exercising habits, socializing and joining groups. All of these options should be a part of your long-term plan to fight depression.
Still, for some people, even after doing all of these things, their depression symptoms seem to linger. It is important to consider and understand what you need to feel better. Here are eight questions you should ask yourself before going on medication:
- Could my depression be the result of a medical condition?
It is important to consult with your doctor so you rule out the possibility that your depression could be due to pre-existing medical conditions. Many health conditions can contribute to feelings of depression. Thyroid conditions and heart disease are some examples of conditions that result in depressive symptoms. Also, get a blood test done to monitor your vitamin levels. Deficiencies in iron, magnesium and B vitamins can make you feel sluggish and down.
- Could my depression be a side effect of another medication?
Depression can be the side effect of prescription medications. If you recently added a new prescription around the time you felt depressed, make sure to talk to a doctor to see if there is a possibility you are affected by your medications.
- Have you suffered a recent loss?
It is normal to feel intense emotions following a death, divorce, relocation, or retirement. Therefore, if you have become depressed following events like this, it is only natural. Learning coping methods through cognitive behavior therapy should be the first step when dealing with situational depression.
“It’s important to remember that antidepressants treat symptoms and not root causes,” says Ramani Durvasula, Ph.D., a licensed clinical psychologist, and author of You Are WHY You Eat.
Ask yourself how long you have been depressed. Depression lasting less than six months may not require medication if treated with therapy and other methods.
- Am I exercising enough?
Exercise boosts serotonin levels in our body which improves our overall mood and energy level. As hard as it is sometimes, it is important to move around. Aerobic exercise can be effective in preventing and treating depression. Aerobic exercise releases feel-good brain chemicals like neurotransmitters and endorphins. Lack of exercise can worsen depression. Try changing your exercise routine to see if you notice a decrease in your symptoms.
- Are you eating a healthy, well-balanced diet?
A sugar-heavy diet can severely affect blood sugar levels which lead to feelings of low energy and depression. Also, issues in the gastrointestinal tract can lead to mood problems, including depression. Complex carbs have been found to boost levels of serotonin in your Try boosting levels of omega-3 fatty acids, as well as vitamin B12. Increasing your intake of nutritionally balanced meals can be the right step to reducing your symptoms.
- Am I socializing on a regular basis?
As tempting as it may be to isolate yourself, being alone does not help with dealing with depression. Try to connect with friends and family. Join a local group in your community. Try joining a support group for depression like the Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance. They have support groups throughout the country to help those in need.
- Have you tried changing your behaviors?
The best way to treat depression is to fight against it. When you feel like staying in bed all day, those are the times you need to get busy. When you feel the least social, that is a crucial time to call a friend. Some other positive ways to combat depression is to engage in mindfulness practices such as meditation or yoga. Talk to a therapist to come up with a plan to change your behavior. Take baby steps and try not to do too much at once.
- Are you drinking too much?
Abuse of alcohol has been proven to make depression symptoms worse in various clinical studies. Alcohol can interfere with sleep, and further worsen problems of anxiety and depression. Alcohol also makes people prone to anger, aggression and violence. The occasional drink may be okay for some, but for others drinking is not worth the risk.
If you find you have addressed all of these issues and still struggle with depression, you may want to consider seriously talking to a professional about taking medication. This is especially true if you find depression inhibiting your daily functions.
Taking antidepressants is a very personal decision. It is up to you to decide, and you should not feel shame if you decide to go that route. Many people take medication, and it has helped them tremendously. If you are struggling to handle it all, give us a call. We can help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
(This content is being used for illustrative purposes only; any person depicted in the content is a model)
Author: Justin Mckibben
Since back in 1949, Mental Health America and other affiliate organizations all over America have led the charge in a collective observance of National Mental Health Month in May by actively reaching out to millions of people in the country to raise awareness, spread information and acknowledge those living with mental health disorders. Using media, local events and mental health screenings these movements take action throughout the month of May to spread the word about mental health as an issue everyone should care about.
As we highlight some of the activities and outreach programs happening this year, we want to challenge everyone to get involved.
All together the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) has put together a catalog of options to use as part of a social media toolkit to help raise awareness for #MentalHealthMonth. Included in their toolkit is a variety of hashtags, including the others listed below that correlate with the activities they encourage advocates to get involved with, including:
The official theme for 2016 National Mental Health Month is Life with a Mental Illness calls upon individuals to share what life with a mental illness feels like for them in words, pictures and videos. One way to connect with the movement is to:
- Post on social media with #mentalillnessfeelslike
- Submit stories or content to MHA anonymously
All posts will be collected and displayed at mentalhealthamerica.net/feelslike.
The idea is to let millions of people everywhere speak their own truth about their experience and perspective. It gives people an opportunity to share their struggles and triumphs, while also raising awareness as to the signs of mental illness to others who may not yet know what they are struggling with.
Another way NAMI has helped with pushing for National Mental Health Month is their PSA pledge. In their call to action, they have said it is now time “for all of us to step up and change the conversation.” Found in the PSAs on their website are a few celebrity videos taking the pledge, including:
- Mayim Bialik, PhD- American Actress/Neuroscientist
- Torrey DeVitto- American Actress/Musician/Former Fashion Model
- Clark Gregg- American Actor/Screenwriter/Director
In these videos, the celebrities speak on the stigmatized terms commonly attached to mental illness that are harmful to the people fighting to overcome these conditions, and challenge the viewer to take the pledge to be #stigmafree with instructions on making video pledges for social media.
Petition to Congress
In the wake of years of school and workplace shootings to private family tragedies, more and more people are pushing to take action in effectively recognizing and treatment mental illness in America. Despite the fact that nearly 60 million Americans live with mental illness, there has yet to be a comprehensive mental health bill passed through the United States Congress in 40 years!
NAMI has also helped push a petition demanding the passage of a comprehensive mental health bill this year, with legislation that is intended to:
- Improve access to mental health services
- Improve reimbursement for mental health services
- Improve integration of mental health and physical health
- Increase funding for mental health research
- Provide vital early identification and intervention
On the NAMI website the petition is signed every few minutes, adding to tens of thousands of supporters pushing for the government to take innovative action in helping support those struggling with mental illness.
Everyone Makes a Difference
In a nation where 1 in every 5 Americans will be impacted by a mental health condition in their lifetime, there needs to me awareness and support. We are all impacted in one way or another; be it a family member or loved one. According to reports collected by NAMI:
- Approximately 1 in 25 adults in the U.S. experiences serious mental illness in a given year
- Approximately 1 in 5 youth between 13-18 years old experiences a severe mental disorder at some point
- 1% of adults in U.S. live with schizophrenia
- 6% of adults in U.S. live with bipolar disorder
- 9% of adults in U.S. have at least one major depressive episode in the past year
- 1% adults in U.S. experience anxiety disorder (including PTSD/OCD)
- More than 90% of children who die by suicide have a mental health condition
The fight for better mental health treatment should be especially important to the addict. Out of the 20.2 million adults in America who have experienced a substance abuse disorder, 50.5% had a co-occurring mental illness.
For someone like me who has survived depression, drug addiction and suicide, something like mental health awareness treatment is critical. I know from experience that far too many people will go undiagnosed and untreated, and far too many will lose their fight before they find help.
Bringing education and understanding to shed light on the realities of mental illness and mental health treatment is something we should make a priority, not just one month at a time… but all the time.
Palm Partners understands the importance of mental health treatment when it comes to substance abuse, and dual diagnosis treatment is designed to acknowledge the overlapping nature of these disorders and create the right recovery plan to overcome the disease of addiction and confront issues with mental health. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135. We want to help, you are not alone.
Author: Justin Mckibben
It’s a crazy world out there, but that doesn’t mean we have to make it worse by labeling the people in it crazy. Whether people are willing to admit it or not, there is great power in our words, and with that great power we should all take on a degree of responsibility for how we use them- especially with one another. Stigma insights subversion when it comes to healthier communication and a more unified society, so we all have to look at our words and the bad habits we have formed around throwing them at mental health and those who struggle with mental health disorders.
Passive stigma is part of the problem, because even though most would probably not actively vilify people suffering from mental illness there are many ways we have incorporated passive stigma into our everyday conversations to the point it is almost second nature.
Here are 4 things about mental health we should all respect.
- Addiction and Obsession Are Not Jokes
Addiction is a very real thing. Obsessive-compulsive behaviors are also complex conditions. Both of these disorders affect an incalculable population of people every day, and in some cases substance abuse or obsessive-compulsive behavior can leave a distressing impact on not just the people suffering, but on their loved ones and their communities as a whole.
People will say they are “addicted to Game of Thrones on Netflix” or they are “obsessed with Crossfit,” but are they?
While people use these kinds of comments to convey a deep passion for something, it can do a disservice to those who actually struggle with addiction or obsessive-compulsive disorder by misleading people and belittling the severity of these issues. As a result, some people won’t take real addictions or obsessions as serious because the terms have been so normalized to them.
- Eating Disorder Stereotypes Hurt People
Eating disorders in the United States are not uncommon. Some statistics state that an estimated 20 million women suffer from an eating disorder, while men with eating disorders (the silent epidemic) has reached around 10 million. These are disorders that are truly heartbreaking and often terrifying and demoralizing, and our culture has created false conceptions about eating disorders that are oversimplified and stigmatized.
Gender plays a big role in this too. Thin women are frequently accused unjustifiably for having an eating disorder, but their male counterparts are given a pass in the form of people assuming they care about fitness. The worst part- the majority of people with eating disorder issues are at or above a healthy weight, so this kind of stigma only promotes misinformation.
- Medication Is Part Mental Health
Has anyone ever asked you if you were “off your meds” or suggested that they need some medication to cope with a tough situation? None of this is very helpful to those in the mental health who actually do need medication.
Prescription medication can be essential for some people to maintain balance concerning their mental health, along with a comprehensive plan of physical and emotional treatment. When we mock medications as an important tool for mental health it has two distinctively harmful implications.
The first- that you use these medications recreationally, which also makes light of substance abuse and addiction
Second- that medication is the only answer to mental health issues, undermining other indispensable treatment methods.
- There is NOTHING Wrong with Getting Help
This one is especially important. Our society seems to have made a point in the past of making jokes about who “needs help” or “needs therapy,” using it as an insult instead of a resource for living a happier and healthier life.
The American Psychological Association created study done over a decade ago in 2004 that determined nearly half of all American households have someone who seeks mental health treatment in any given year. Yet despite the innumerable studies showing professional therapy has been highly effective in treating emotional conditions and mental health disorders people still stigmatize it and say it like a slur.
Stigmatizing talk about therapy and treatment for mental health disorders suggests the only people who need it are weak, sick, ill-equipped or narcissistic and a fear of being labeled as such could drive away countless people who could benefit from the treatment.
Far too many people suffer in silence, and some even perish as a result of untreated illnesses and/or risk behaviors associated with their mental health. We need to stop putting labels on mental health disorders and the common concepts that make it possible to treat them. As I said before, our words are incredibly influential and we have to use them with empathy and kindness for the people they could impact.
Words can always be weapons, sometimes more cutting than any arsenal, but they can also be the love and lifeblood behind the decision to take mental health more seriously. When we talk to one another let us respect the realities of mental illness and mental health recovery. Support the people around you who need help. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135
Author: Shernide Delva
Depression can occur at any time, but sometimes we choose to ignore it. Some of us would much rather fall apart on the inside, rather than admit to needing help. While you may look tough and confident on the outside, on the inside, you could be fighting an internal struggle. Even more interesting is the fact that many of us are so good at hiding our depression; we do not even realize we are really depressed. Does this sound like you?
If it does, you are not alone. You can feel secure knowing that 350 million people are affected by depression worldwide, according to the World Health Organization (WHO). That’s really sad but oddly comforting?
Regardless, there are too many people in the world who are depressed who are not getting help simply because they feel embarrassed or ashamed. Perhaps people have made you feel weak or guilty about feeling that way. We live in a world that promotes having a tough exterior over admitting to vulnerabilities. Now is the time to change those perceptions.
Knowing the signs of concealed depression is the best way to find out if you need help. Many people, myself included, try to hide their depression and tell themselves they are over dramatic and weak. However, that is not a healthy way of coping. This list will help you understand whether or not you have a deeper issue that needs addressing. Look out for the following seven signs both in yourself, and the people you care about.
HERE ARE 7 SIGNS OF CONCEALED DEPRESSION:
You have lost interest in everything you were once passionate about.
Many people who suffer from depression find that activities that meant the world to them at one point mean absolutely nothing to them now. For example, if you once enjoyed playing music, you may find the idea of playing an instrument exhausting and emotionally draining. If you once were super fit and into sports, you may find the idea of going outside a bore. There is a Regina Spektor song called Dulce et Decorum est Pro Patria Mori which has the lyrics:
It’s hard, it’s hard
To live, to live
It’s hard, it’s harder
Than it’s ever been before
Things that used to comfort me
Don’t comfort me anymore
Essentially those lyrics describe what the feeling is like. You feel as though activities and things that once gave you pleasure no longer comfort you anymore. If this feeling does not go away, you could be depressed. People who are depressed try to engage in things they once enjoyed in the past, however, they no longer find those activities pleasurable. If you feel this way, now is the time to get help.
You’re super low energy. Everything is draining.
One of the biggest indicators of depression is a lack of energy. Feeling depressed is very exhausting to the mind and body. In addition, your feelings of depression may affect your sleep patterns making you feel MORE tired. Feelings of hopelessness and despair plague the mind and result in exhaustion. One way to combat this is through eating a healthy diet and drinking plenty of water. Try exercising, socializing and getting fresh air even when you don’t want to. Try not to over-schedule your day as that can also be overwhelming. Take it one day at a time.
You’ve seen changes in your weight and eating habits.
Are you gaining or losing weight uncontrollably? This is a common symptom of depression. Concealed depression can result in overeating or a loss of interest in food. You may not even notice at first, but a sudden change in weight can be a major warning sign of depression. Watch out for this sign especially if you have a history of depression in your family. Weight change can be unhealthy so try not to eat (or skip meals) based on your emotions. Instead, seek help.
Insomnia or Hypersomnia: You can’t sleep or you sleep too much.
Patients who suffer from insomnia have triple the chance of developing depression. It is possible that your feelings of depression are a result of lack of sleep. Talk to a professional about tools you can use to improve your sleeping habits. While a few nights of restlessness is nothing to be alarmed about, not being able to sleep over a long period could point to more severe circumstances. If you notice this happening often, it is time to reach out for help. On the other side of the spectrum, if you find yourself oversleeping or craving sleep, you may be trying to escape your problems instead of face them. Seek help instead of ignoring the problem.
Abusing Substances to “deal.”
People often use substances to escape their mind and emotions for a short period. However, it can be easy to become addicted to substances if they provide an easy solution. Over time, this behavior can become addictive. Many addicts who abuse substances avoid admitting to their depression and instead state they are using drugs for other reasons such as to “relax” or “let loose.” If you find yourself in this situation, you are not alone. Do not feel ashamed about coming out with having a problem.
You never admit when you are feeling depressed.
People who hide their depression are experts at covering up their true feelings. Often, they feel it is a hassle to bother others about their problems. They usually feel embarrassed about feeling bad in the first place, which makes the problem worse. If you find yourself wanting to push through your depression rather than face it, take a step back. Many people who have concealed depression never reach out until it is almost too late. Do not wait to get to that point, get help now while you still can. Covering up your feelings is not worth it.
You prefer to be alone than with people.
I am naturally an introvert so find I love spending time alone, however when it becomes excessive, it is something to think about. If you find yourself not wanting to do ANYTHING around people, you may be hiding an internal issue. People with depression tend to want to isolate themselves from others. They turn down social events in order to spend time alone in their room. If this sounds like you, you may be concealing your depression and need to reach out for help. Being around people can be a good thing if you learn how to cope.
Overall, depression is a serious problem that needs to be addressed. If you are experiencing any of the signs above, please get help. Do not let your depression result in you participating in unhealthy behaviors to cope. Seek help from a professional and find ways to move forward. If you or someone you love is struggling with substance abuse or addiction, please call toll-free 1-800-951-6135