Guest Author Lois Hoitenga Roelofs

The ladies at WOW have done it again!!    They are touring with another remarkable woman, and today we have the pleasure of her company, as she visits and tells us about her book.    So lets give a warm welcome to Ms. Lois Hoitenga Roelofs.


Lois longed to fly the friendly skies but in 1968 minister’s daughters did not become stewardesses. They chose practical careers like teaching or nursing. For the entire first year of nursing school, Lois made weekly calls home to beg her parents to let her come home. Then her instructors decided she had a “bad attitude”. Despite her lukewarm feelings about a nursing career Lois set out to prove those cranky old instructors wrong.
Lois’s attitude, as well as her feelings about nursing, changed radically during her over 30 year career. She retired in the year 2000 as professor emerita from Trinity Christian College with Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctoral degrees in nursing. But even that wasn’t enough classroom time for Lois. She recently completed three years of the University of Chicago Basic Program of Liberal Education for Adults. She now spends her days writing and being a happy grandma.
You can visit the author at her website here.

Changing Minds about Mental Illness 

When I was a young mom, forty-two years ago, I left my husband and two young kids for an overnight to find myself, only to find myself hospitalized two days later on a psychiatric unit diagnosed with anxiety.

After realizing I was missing the adult stimulation of my prior nursing career, I went back to school for advanced degrees in nursing. Later, for nearly fifteen years, I taught mental health nursing to senior nursing students. I spent hundreds of hours on inpatient psychiatric units mingling with the patients.

When I’d meet patients that knew me, they would, without fail, say, “You won’t tell anyone you saw me here, will you?” Of course not. I understood. I had told only a few people myself of my hospitalization.

So I know about the mind-set surrounding mental illness. The hush-hush. The stigma. And it’s always been a mission of mine to help reduce that stigma.

What about you? Have you or a loved one ever been diagnosed with a mental illness? How did you feel? What did you do? Whom did you turn to? How did or does the stigma of mental illness affect your life?

When we do not know that mental illnesses are brain disorders similar to physical illnesses being disorders, for example, of the heart, liver, or pancreas, it’s what we don’t know that leads to our “fear of the unknown.” And it’s that “fear of the unknown” that leads to the hush-hush, the stigma surrounding mental illness.

So how can we begin to take steps to change minds in our society about mental illness? Let’s take an example: your friend tells you her college-age daughter, Mackenzie, has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. What can you do?

1. Listen. Do not judge. Your friend needs support.

2. Offer to walk along with your friend into this new world. Maintain her confidentiality. Do not gossip about her or her daughter with others. Attend “open” support groups with her.

3. Adopt the same attitude that you have toward physical illness. If the clinic physician at Mackenzie’s college diagnosed her with strep throat, would you advise against antibiotics?

4. Make it your mission to learn about schizophrenia. An easy place to start is the National Alliance on Mental Illness ( NAMI’s site presents information covering all mental illnesses, explaining their physical (structural and functional brain changes) as well as other causes.

5. Educate yourself on public policy issues. Observe what’s lacking for your friend. Is it access to care, availability of care, insurance coverage? Write your congressman. Make a difference.

Is there something you already do to educate others about mental illness? If so, thank you! And know that people living with mental illness and their families and friends, will appreciate that you are educating yourself, being their support, and advocating on their behalf.


Lois Roelofs describes herself as a rebellious minister’s daughter, a reluctant nurse, a restless mom, and a perpetual student who eventually became a fun-loving teacher of mental health nursing. During her forty-year nursing career, she cared for patients and taught nursing students in primarily mental health and medical-surgical settings. As a caregiver, she learned the value of caring for herself and did so by changing jobs to suit her interests, going back to school more than once to feed her crave for learning, and seeking professional help when personal and family crises invaded her life.
You will be amused, saddened, and inspired as you read this intimate and introspective memoir. Plus you will learn the importance of faith, family, and friendship—whatever your profession—and come away with a new appreciation of caring for yourself as well as caring for others.
You can see my review here.
Just Thought You Should Know:
 Caring Lessons would be the ideal gift for a nurse celebrating a flurry of nursing holidays in May:
· National RN Day (May 6)
· Florence Nightingale’s Birthday (Mary 12)
· National Nurses Week (May 6 to May 12)
· Nursing Month (May)
· Nursing School Graduations (May)
Mental Health nursing and personal mental health issues are also a sub-plot of this memoir and May is Mental Health Month.



I received a copy of this book, at no charge to me,
in exchange for my honest review.
No items that I receive
are ever sold…they are kept by me,
or given to family and/or friends.

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