What is Mental Health?
It's hard to be physically healthy without also being mentally healthy. Having good mental health is not the same as living without distress or conflict. Rather, it's the ability to think rationally and logically and to be able to cope with the changes, stresses, upsets and losses that occur in all our lives from time to time. Dealing with these bumps in life's road generally leads to emotional growth and greater stability.
Mental Health Problems vs. Mental Illness
According to a recent study conducted by the National Institute of Mental Health, almost half of all Americans have experienced a mental disorder at some point in their lives and almost 30% suffer from one in any given year.
Laurie Flynn, the Executive Director of the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill, notes, “On any given day almost everyone has a mental health problem - whether it's from the stress of modern life, grief or getting along with others. But these are not mental illness.”
Mental illness, on the other hand, disables a person. Mental illness makes it hard to live a normal life. It is a serious medical condition requiring help which can include medication, hospitalization, therapy or a combination of these.
Making A Diagnosis
Mental health problems, as well as the more serious forms of mental illness, may also mask as physical problems such the inability to sleep, stomach aches, depression and/or substance abuse just to name a few of the possible symptoms. Anyone who feels mentally unwell for more than a few days should be evaluated by a physician. Help is available right here in central Vermont.
Sources of Care
The following services are provided by Central Vermont Medical Center and its partners:
- Washington County Mental Health Services (WCMHS) Inc. provides comprehensive, community-based services to adults with serious and persistent mental illness; developmental disabilities, mental retardation and autism; children with severe emotional disturbances and their families; children and adults with acute behavioral problems and a wide range of other challenging behaviors. Please also consult their resources page for additional information about services
- Family Psychiatry, a CVMC Medical Group Practices, offers psychiatric evaluations and therapy for children, adolescents and adults.
- CVMC's Inpatient Psychiatry Department operates a 15-bed unit for patients with acute, short-term, psychiatric assessment, treatment and support.
- The Health Center in Plainfield has several psychologists and social workers on staff.
- WRAP - Wellness Recovery Action Plan is a free program to help you get support, tips, and advice from people who are also working toward emotional well-being. It is a self-designed prevention and wellness process that anyone can use to get well, stay well, and make life the way you want it to be.
- NAMI Vermont Family Support Group meetings, held every 4th Monday at Central Vermont Medical Center, are free, 90-minute support groups where family and friends of individuals with a mental illness can talk frankly about their challenges and help one another through their learned wisdom and coping strategies.
For more information about mental health services provided in Vermont, please also consult the following resources:
- Washington County Mental Health Services resource page
- NAMI Vermont (a statewide volunteer organization comprised of family members, friends, and individuals living with a mental illness)
- Central Vermont Council on Aging (provides information on mental health services available for seniors, including their Senior HelpLine at 1-800-642-5119)
There are many sites on the internet dealing with mental health issues, including the following:
Alcoholics Anonymous: www.aa.org
Alzheimers's Association of VT & NH: www.alzvtnh.org
American Psychological Association Help Center: http://helping.apa.org/
American Psychiatric Association: www.psychiatry.org
Asperger's Association of New England: www.aane.org
Attention Deficit Disorder Association: www.add.org
Children & Adults with Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder: www.chadd.org
Cocaine Anonymous: www.ca.org
Federation of Families for Children's Mental Health: www.ffcmh.org
Freedom from Fear: www.freedomfromfear.org
Intoximiters Drink Wheel: www.intox.com
Narcotics Anonymous: www.na.org
National Alliance on Mental Health: www.nami.org
National Center For PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), www.ptsd.va.gov
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse & Alcoholism: www.niaaa.nih.gov
National Institute on Drug Abuse: www.drugabuse.gov
National Institute of Mental Health: www.nimh.nih.gov
National Mental Health Association: www.nmha.org