Brette Tell, Angela Tuckerman, and Jane Engleman from Mental Health organization Painted Brain and spoke to various mental health consumers on issues regarding acquiring mental health services. As mental health consumers, we all know how challenging it can be sometimes to ask for help. Even after seeking help and nearby resources and using nearby resources, some problems can arise such as power differences amongst therapists and clients, receiving the wrong medication, or being improperly diagnosed. Sometimes asking for help can be the hardest thing, especially when that help isn’t properly given. At Enki, a mental health facility in East Los Angeles, Brette lead a very thoughtful ice-breaker activity where everyone got up and introduced themselves to each other. Afterwards, she briefly discussed her own story while giving some helpful tips for navigating the present day mental health system. Then Jane got up, shared a very powerful and moving poem about her own personal struggles while cheering along a new-found friend. Finally, Angela closed the Speaking Engagement with an announcement for Women’s Day as well as help lead a Q and A, giving the consumers an opportunity to ask personal questions to Painted Brain members. Flyers were passed, email addresses were gathered, and food was served. Overall, it could be considered a very productive, powerful, and successful event.
By Angela Tuckerman
I find this quote deeply disturbing yet also extremely enlightening with a painful sting of truth. We see this issue across all oppressed and stigmatized people including people of color and people with disabilities. Women make up half of the population yet we continue to subject women to extreme acts of violence, daily micro aggressions and continue to expect women to embody unrealistic roles and beauty ideals. These sources of oppression lead 50 percent of the population to experience individual and community trauma. Trauma breaks us down as individuals and as a society. It affects everyone involved including the oppressors. How can we expect to live in a fruitful and virtuous society if we do not treat all people with dignity and respect? It’s hard to persecute an entire society poisoned at its core, but the evidence is all around us. What can we do about? Organizations and movements such as Planned Parenthood, He for She Foundation, and For All Women Kind is banding together to overcome women adversity. Painted Brain is joining this force by creating our Women’s Day space. We will continue to contribute to this cause in the hope of making the world a freer and harmonious place.
How often do we smile when we want to cry? How many times do we say, “I’m fine” when we are not? We all wear a mask throughout our day. Perhaps it’s a professional, tough guy or a pretty mask. Maybe it’s the car we drive, the zip code we live in or the career we have chosen. It’s not necessarily a negative thing to wear a mask. Protecting what’s going on inside can be a healthy coping skill. If we are struggling with a personal issue at home, it may often best to leave it at home than to bring it to work.
The willingness to take off the mask is where there is opportunity for personal growth. Embracing our uniqueness and praising the individuality of others can lead to a more authentic experience of ourselves and those around us. We all have moments of feeling insecure or ashamed of our true selves. Why are we so afraid to show our authenticity? Some of us feel the need to continue to wear our mask despite the fact it may be hurting us in some way. Trying to maintain a façade of well-being or of wealth can be detrimental as we are ignoring our fiscal or mental health.
If you are feeling creative, you can make a mask and decorate it. You can identify the different aspects of your mask on the outside and identify what is happening for you internally on the inside of your mask. This exercise can help you better articulate who you are to others and gain insight about yourself.
The mask project at Painted Brain is geared towards the destigmatization of mental illness. We hope to achieve this by putting a face to mental illness. Contributors at Painted Brain are making masks and then taking them off and talking about what it’s like to live with mental illness. Some contributors have made videos when they are speaking out about their particular experiences and we hope that members from the public who are unable to come to Painted Brain community center will create their own masks and submit videos as well.
Expression through art is what Painted Brain is all about. We do not have art therapy but rather various art groups where we encourage people to participate at their own comfort level. This creates a relaxed environment for people to express themselves and be who they are. Additionally, there is the opportunity to expand your creative network, learn new artistic skills, collaborate on projects together, gain inspiration and make new friends.
Mental health awareness is comprised of many things, including educating ourselves and the public about what it’s like to live with mental illness. In an effort to fit in, people with mental illness often wear a mask in order to present as “normal.” The willingness of those who live with mental illness to speak out about it is a powerful way to break the stigma. People living with mental health issues can participate in the unmasking and education of those around them by being vulnerable and willing to show their face; the face of mental illness.
Mask making encourages you to explore the persona you show or conceal from the world. It’s a great exercise which can bring to consciousness how we see ourselves or how we would like to me seen. Individuals can decorate both the inside and outside of the mask according to what they show the world on the outside and how they see themselves on the inside. This does not necessarily need to be done in a therapeutic environment in order to be beneficial. Speaking with someone who lives with mental illness, helps dispel the misunderstandings that many have about the illness while helping those with mental illness feel less ashamed of their condition. We all have family, friends and coworkers who are living with mental illness. As long as people feel the need to hide their mental illness, the stigma will persist. Often being diagnosed with a mental illness can cause people to feel alone. The more we speak out about mental illness, the more faces we can put to mental illness, the more we can all heal.
The findings of this new study are hopeful for persons suffering from schizophrenia, or at least that is what this article aims for you to believe. To give background, antipsychotic medications come with a myriad of side effects, and can create issues for those who rely on them. In certain circumstances, due to side effects of medications those suffering from schizophrenia are forced to come off the meds, which assist them in functioning and due to medical complications. This new study finds that a team base treatment approach can help those suffering from first episode psychosis. However , the theme of the article appears to be more hopeful than when actually reading the study.
The study had limited success in showing that talk therapy can be useful, but with a very specific population of those with mental health issues, notably those with schizophrenia. Even within this diagnosis, only those suffering their first break have shown improvement through this method. More research is necessary to determine whether of not this study and its methods will be available to a larger portion of the mental health population. While this study has limitations, and this treatment approach won’t be readily available, it has future potential to help others.