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About Mental Illness - Hope & Help

Hope and Help

Bipolar disorder is a persistent and life-long condition, but it can be treated and managed over time.

With the right treatment-- and with the support of physicians, caregivers, family and friends -- many people improve and lead successful and gratifying lives.

Medications are often neccessary for improvements in the reintegration process, especially when a dedicated and informed group of people are available to help both the person with bipolar disorder and their family.

Reaching out. Looking in.
Reintegration doesn't happen without help. The help may come from a caregiver, a sibling or even an employer. Often, the help comes in the form of psychotherapy as well as social and vocational training-all of which are helpful in providing support, education, and guidance to people with mental illnesses and their families.

When combined with consistent and appropriate drug therapies, these types of therapies and training can be very effective.

Individual Psychotherapy
Individual psychotherapy involves regularly scheduled sessions between the patient and a mental health professional such as a psychiatrist, psychologist, psychiatric social worker, or psychiatric nurse. The goal of this treatment is to help people with serious mental illness understand their experiences, thoughts, and feelings. By sharing experiences with a trained, knowledgeable, and understanding person people with mental illnesses may gradually understand more about themselves and their problems.

Psychoeducation involves teaching people about their illness, how to treat it, and how to recognize signs of relapse so that they can get necessary treatment before their illness worsens or occurs again. Family psychoeducation includes teaching coping strategies and problem-solving skills to families (and friends) of people with mental illnesses to help them deal more effectively with their ill relative. Family psychoeducation reduces distress, confusion, and anxieties within the family, which may help the person, recover.

Social skills training
This training, which can be provided in group, family or individual sessions, is a structured and educational approach to learning social relationship and independent living skills. By using behavioral learning techniques, such as coaching, modeling and positive reinforcement, skills trainers have been successful in overcoming the cognitive deficits that interfere with rehabilitation. Research studies show that social skills training improves social adjustment and equips patients with means of coping with stressors, thereby reducing relapse rates by up to 50 percent.

Self-help and Support Groups
Self-help and support groups for people and families dealing with mental illnesses are becoming increasingly common. Although not led by a professional therapist, these groups may be therapeutic because members give each other ongoing support.

Members of support groups share frustrations and successes, referrals to qualified specialists and community resources, and information about what works best when trying to recover. They also share friendship and hope for themselves, their loved ones, and others in the group.


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