(click on any of the questions underlined below to display an answer/response in the bottom window)

What are some common signs and symptoms of mental illness?
What is schizophrenia?
What types of schizophrenia are there?
What are hallucinations and delusions?
What are some common treatments used with mental illness?
What is Mental Health?
Why are people so uncomfortable or afraid of people with mental illness?
What is Mental Illness?
Why do individuals relapse?
What can I do if someone refuses to go for professional help and is at risk of suicide?
What are the signs that someone may be thinking of committing suicide?

  How does mental illness affect the family?
What may lead up to someone refusing to take their medication or stopping their medication?

What is Self-Esteem?
How do I improve my self-esteem?
What are common side effects of Antidepressant and Antipsychotic medication?
What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?
What is Anxiety Disorder?
What is Bi-Polar Disorder?

What is Depression?
What Can I Do To Manage Stress?
What are some of the most common myths of mental illness?
What is Self-Talk?

If you are experiencing personal problems and would like to receive feedback from a counselor,
or have questions that are not in the list below, please contact us.   
Please note that all inquiries and responses are confidential.

1.  What are some common signs and symptoms of mental illness?

Symptoms include but are not limited to … suspiciousness, social withdrawal, disturbed perceptions, grandiose ideas, eating, sleeping and/or hygiene habits deteriorating, hearing voices/seeing things, decreased emotional reactivity, problems concentrating, problems at school/work trouble understanding what has been read or heard, having a genetic predisposition to mental illness (i.e.- parental/family member that has been diagnosed).

It is important to note that if symptoms persist for longer than two weeks, to seek professional consultation.

2.  What is schizophrenia?

Schizophrenia is a neurological disorder that affects the normal thinking patterns, the perception of reality, and the ability to express or read emotions (among other effects). The absolute cause of the illness is unknown; genetics, environmental factors, brain developmental patterns, and possibly even early viral infections may have roles to play in the development of schizophrenia. The disease most often strikes one person in every one hundred people, and most often strikes between the ages of 16 – 25.

3.  What types of schizophrenia are there?

Catatonic: excitement consists of driven, excessive, but purposeless movement. At the other extreme catatonic patients appear stuporous with rigidly held postures usually remaining mute and unresponsive.

Disorganized: disorganized speech and behaviors. Patients exhibiting this effect may be flat or inappropriate some times.(sometimes even silly.)

Paranoid: delusions and auditory hallucinations are predominant in patients with this type of schizophrenia while their cognitive functioning remains relatively intact.

Un differentiated: patients who fail to meet the criteria for the other types but clearly suffer from this mental disorder fall here.

4.  What are hallucinations and delusions?

Delusions are fixed beliefs that are based in a false perception of reality (i.e.- thinking ones self to be God).
Hallucinations are the same as delusions only dealing with the following: auditory, visual, tactile, olfactory, the person may truly believe that what is happening is real. However people around them may notice nothing (i.e.- hearing voices).

5.  What are some common treatments used with mental illness?

Although there are various treatments used, ranging from invasive to less invasive; counseling from a psychiatrist, community counselor, or a support group, and antipsychotic medications such as Clozaril, Zyprexa, Risperdal and Seroquel are the most common. In severe cases of Depression, Electric Convulsive Therapy (ECT) may be used as an alternative treatment, in conjunction with cognitive therapy and behavior management.
A combination of the above treatments are effective in preventing relapse by up to 98% if received shortly after the first psychotic episode.

6.  What is Mental Health?

Mental Health is a state of being. It refers to how one is able to cope with the demands and stress of day-to-day living. We all have times when we feel depressed, get unreasonable, angry or overly excited; we may even have periods when we think that everything and everybody is out to get us and that we cannot cope. These are normal reactions to particular situations, but if one has good mental health, one is able to assess the circumstances and move on.

7.  Why are people so uncomfortable or afraid of people with mental illness?

When someone appears to be different, there is often a stigma attached to him or her. The stigma is often because of a lack of understanding of their differences. These stigmas are often the greatest barrier that an individual with a mental illness faces. Mental illness usually only becomes visible when an individual is in crisis.

Mental illness has been distorted through the media. Many individuals are portrayed as aggressive, dangerous and unpredictable. 70% of the characters seen on television are violent. Popular movies attach stereotypes to mental illness – mentally ill killers, news coverage of tragedies caused by mentally ill individuals, and the casual use of terms such as “psycho” and “crazy”.

Constant rejection and exclusion often results from these negative stereotypes. This increases isolation and loneliness. An individual may also be fearful of rejection from society. This may result in the unwillingness to seek help.

The only way to get rid of the stigmas attached to mental illness is to be aware of the facts. There is no particular way to develop a mental illness. No matter how an individual develops a mental illness, there is often some form of treatment that will help them get better, and lead a productive life.

8.  What is Mental Illness?

Mental illness includes a broad range of psychological or behavioral symptoms that reduce an individuals capacity to cope with daily life; a person may lose contact with himself, his emotions may be uncontrolled, behavior might be inappropriate, or a person might lose the ability to communicate effectively with other people. There is no particular way to develop a mental illness, for some people it develops due to a chemical imbalance in the brain, other causes may relate to the amount of stress in their lives, the patterns of communication they develop within their families, poverty and poor housing, the number of close friends and family they have to support them through difficulty and the degree to which each of them views their self-esteem. While it is difficult to determine, no one 'develops' a mental illness. Research and education has enabled many people to get better and live productive lives.

9.  Why do individuals relapse?

Relapse refers to the return or worsening of symptoms of psychiatric disorder during a current episode of treatment. Or, it refers to a new episode of illness following a period of time – months to many years, in which the individual did well and did not have any symptoms of their illness. This is sometimes called recurrence.

Psychiatric relapse results from one or more of the following factors:

  • Poor compliance with treatment plan – not taking medications as planned, missing therapy or counseling sessions, and not following through with the recovery activities needed to get better.
  • Lifestyle factors that interfere with recovery such as too much free time, lack of structure, involvement with drugs or alcohol, or excessive stress.
  • Involvement in unhealthy relationships or serious relationships, conflicts and stresses.
  • Personal vulnerability – some people have a more serious form of psychiatric illness than others, and simply having the illness raises the consumer’s relapse vulnerability.
  • Role overload – taking on too much responsibility too soon and becoming overloaded with stress.

Many psychiatric conditions are chronic and lifelong relapse is fairly common. The key to reducing the likelihood of a relapse is early recognition of mild symptoms that usually precede a significant worsening of symptoms.

10.  What can I do if someone refuses to go for professional help and is at risk of suicide?

According to Section 24.1 of the Saskatchewan Mental Health Services Act, if you have sufficient belief that someone has the potential to harm themselves or others, then you can lay information under oath before a magistrate of the court, to enable this person to receive the assistance they require.

After careful consideration of the information, the judge can issue a warrant to apprehend the person, giving the police the authority to do so. The person can then be brought to a Psychiatrist for an assessment. If the Psychiatrist has reasonable belief to do so, the person can be hospitalized for the necessary amount of time.

11.  What are the signs that someone may be thinking of committing suicide?

There are many signs that indicate a person may be reaching out for help and include various feelings, thoughts, actions and physical changes.

Feelings may include desperation, anger, guilt, worthlessness and loneliness. Overall, the person may exhibit a hopeless and helpless demeanor. The individual may be verbalizing thoughts such as, “All of my problems will end soon”, “I wish I were dead”, “No one can do anything to help me now”, etc.

Behaviors such as giving away possessions, withdrawing from family, school and work, abuse of alcohol or drugs, impulsivity or self-mutilation may also be observed. A person’s physical appearance may begin to decline along with their interest in daily living skills and hobbies. The person may be losing weight, not sleeping, or displaying a decrease in their libido.

12.  How does mental illness affect the family?

Often society may blame the family for having caused the illness by being a poor functioning family. As a result, the family may begin to isolate themselves from old friends due to feelings of guilt and shame. Families may also have to live with long-term financial and caregiver responsibilities, due to the cyclical nature of their loved one’s illness and the dependency caused from deterioration of skills required to be independent. Family members may also take on the protective role for their loved one and enable them to stay dependent. Overall, the family may experience a wide range of feelings, including resentment, fear, anxiety, depression, frustration, denial, numbness, etc.

13.  What may lead up to someone refusing to take their medication or stopping their medication?

Unfortunately, a person may lack the insight into their illness and believe that they do not need it or he or she is not ill. At times, side effects of certain medications are unpleasant and range from dry-mouth to sexual difficulties. Medication regimes may also be complicated at times and the individual may be confused and forget to take their medications.
In many cases, medication is discontinued because the person is feeling better and believes that they no longer require such treatment.

14.  What is Self-Esteem?

Your self-esteem is the way you feel about yourself. It is your evaluation of how able and worthy of respect you are. If you are self-confident and expect others to respect you as a person, you are said to have high self-esteem.
Self-esteem is also a learned feeling formed in subtle ways during childhood, and affects the way you behave for the rest of your life. It is as though all the praise and put-downs you’ve ever experienced are recorded and played back whenever you are faced with similar situations. For example, if you were told that you were useless when it comes to fixing things, you might not even want to try now. On the other hand, if you were praised for your artistic/musical abilities, you might be the next Van Gough or Bach.

15.  How do I improve my self-esteem?

Improving your self-esteem is hard work but it is possible. There are many techniques that have been successful in increasing your self esteem. First of all, begin with exploring particular beliefs that may lower your esteem. What messages did you get from relatives, teachers, friends when you were a child? Were you told you were stubborn, messy, or worthless? If so, take an honest, adult look at those messages. Perhaps a more accurate description would be that you were persistent, creative or inexperienced. Decide which messages you will continue to accept and which were unfair. Next, stop comparing yourself to others. Focus on what you want to do and how well you are progressing towards that goal. Last but not least, give yourself credit where credit is due. Write down everything you’ve done that has made you feel good about yourself. Don’t dismiss your accomplishments.

16.  What are common side effects of Antidepressant and Antipsychotic medication?

Side effects include, but are not limited to:

  • feeling drowsy, weakness and fatigue
  • blurred vision
  • difficulty urinating
  • constipation
  • increased heart rate
  • memory impairment
  • dry mouth/thirst tremors
  • shuffling walk
  • weight gain/loss
  • diarrhea

If you experience any of these symptoms, please discuss them with your doctor.

17.  What is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?

PTSD is an anxiety reaction to a real or life threatening traumatic event. It can occur in anyone in the wake of severe trauma outside the normal range of human experience (i.e.- war, natural disasters, car or plane crashes, rape, assault, or other violent crimes against self or others). These traumas would produce intense fear, terror and feelings of helplessness in anyone and are more intense when the trauma is personal.

Symptoms include repetitive, distressing thoughts about the event, nightmares, flashbacks, and/or avoidance of the thoughts or feelings associated with the trauma. Phobias may also develop and activities associated with the trauma may also be avoided.

18.  What is Anxiety Disorder?

Anxiety Disorder is characterized by persistent anxiety and worry, experienced for over a period greater than six months. Anxiety is usually accompanied by feelings of depression, panic attacks, phobias, or obsessions. Anxiety is often sustained by basic fears such as fear of losing control, not being able to cope, failure, rejection or abandonment, death and disease. Symptoms include body tension, lack of concentration, shakiness, insomnia, irritability, restlessness and chronic fatigue and become aggravated by situations that heighten your perception of danger or threat.

19.  What is Bi-Polar Disorder?

Bipolar disorder causes dramatic mood swings—from overly "high" and/or irritable to sad and hopeless, and then back again, often with periods of normal mood in between. Sometimes the mood switches are dramatic and rapid, but most often they are gradual. Severe changes in energy and behavior go along with these changes in mood. The periods of highs and lows are called episodes of mania and depression.

Signs and symptoms of mania (or a manic episode) include:

  • Excessively "high," overly good, euphoric mood
  • Increased energy, activity and restlessness
  • Extreme irritability
  • Racing thoughts and talking very fast, jumping from one idea to another
  • Distractibility, can't concentrate well
  • Little sleep needed
  • Unrealistic beliefs in one's abilities and powers
  • Poor judgment
  • Spending sprees
  • A lasting period of behavior that is different from usual
  • Increased sexual drive
  • Abuse of drugs, particularly cocaine, alcohol, and sleeping medications
  • Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior
  • Denial that anything is wrong

Signs and symptoms of depression (or a depressive episode) include:

  • Lasting sad, anxious, or empty mood
  • Feelings of hopelessness or pessimism
  • Feelings of guilt, worthlessness, or helplessness
  • Loss of interest or pleasure in activities once enjoyed, including sex
  • Decreased energy, a feeling of fatigue or of being "slowed down"
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, making decisions
  • Sleeping too much, or can't sleep
  • Change in appetite and/or unintended weight loss or gain
  • Chronic pain or other persistent bodily symptoms that are not caused by physical illness or injury
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, or suicide attempts

20.  What is Depression?

A depressive disorder is an illness that involves the body, mood, and thoughts. It affects the way a person eats and sleeps, the way one feels about oneself, and the way one thinks about things. A depressive disorder is not the same as a passing blue mood. It is not a sign of personal weakness or a condition that can be willed or wished away. People with a depressive illness cannot merely "pull themselves together" and get better. Without treatment, symptoms can last for weeks, months, or years. Appropriate treatment, however, can help most people who suffer from depression.

21.  What Can I Do To Manage Stress?

Here are some things that you can do to start lowering and managing your stress:

  1. Start a daily checklist of things to accomplish. By writing down tasks, you get them out of your head, can more clearly and objectively see what your real responsibilities are and can then take appropriate action. It also helps to prioritize these tasks in order of importance, ranking them on a scale of 1 to 10. When you reach the end of the day, you can visually see the important tasks that you have accomplished, which will help unwind both your body and mind.
  2. Develop a sense of humor. Laughter will balance and offset negative changes in the body chemistry brought on by stress. Laughter can also put stressful events in their proper perspective.
  3. Give and accept compliments. Words of praise and encouragement help us and those around us to feel good about the work we do and who we are as individuals. Positive statements of acknowledgement for our special contributions and efforts are one of the most powerful ways to shape and even change behavior.
  4. Avoid over-commitment. Look at everything you have on your plate. Do these activities represent what you really want for yourself, or are they the result of trying to please others or look important? Ask yourself honestly "Am I getting out of life what I really want?" People who have balance in their life have time to give to others and to themselves. Do you feel "guilty" when you say no? Remember, if you don't take control of your life, someone else will.
  5. Learn to identify situations that are beyond your control. Do not spend excessive amounts of time and energy worrying about those things you have no control over. Accept situations for what they are and then direct your attention to something else over which you do have control. Realistically evaluate your need to control others or to take responsibility for life situations that you have no control over.

22.  What are some of the most common myths of mental illness?

Myth #1:
People with mental illness are violent.
Fact: Only a small percentage of people with mental illness are violent.

Myth #2: People with mental illness have a lower than normal IQ.
Fact: Most people with mental illness are of average intelligence, some have a lower than normal IQ, some higher than normal.

Myth #3: Mental illness is very rare and unusual.
Fact: Mental illness is neither new nor uncommon, being found all over the world.

Myth #4: People with mental illness who are psychotic are psychopaths.
Fact: When a person has a psychosis, he perceives reality in a distorted way. A psychopath commits antisocial acts mainly for emotional or material gain, and generally lacks a conscience.

Myth #5: Mental illness can be cured.
Fact: These illnesses cannot be cured, but can, for the most part, be controlled. People with a severe mental illness can expect to have problems to some degree, for life.

Myth #6: Having schizophrenia means having a 'split personality'.
Fact: A 'split personality' or multiple personality disorder, is a very different condition from schizophrenia.

Myth #7: Mental illness is contagious.
Fact: Mental illness is not contagious.

Myth #8: People with mental illness are bad or evil.
Fact: People with mental illness are not bad or evil. They have done nothing to cause the disease. However, many people are ashamed to have mental illness in their families.

Myth #9: People with mental illness are morally weak.
Fact: People with mental illness cannot stop their illness by trying harder, just as someone with a hearing disorder cannot hear by listening harder.

23.  What is Self-Talk?

Self-talk is the quiet, and in some cases not so quiet, conversations that you have with yourself prior to, during, and after particular tasks. Self-statements like "way to go," "you can do it,” or "you're an idiot" are examples of self-talk during performances. What you tell yourself directly effects how you feel and perform. Positive self-talk enhances your confidence and improves your ability to perform well. Negative self-talk often leads to feelings like doubt, fear, or anxiety, limiting your ability to perform up to your true potential. By improving your self-talk, you can stay more focused, motivate yourself to perform better, and experience greater success.

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