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.
ABOUT LOIS HOITENGA ROELOFS
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 (www.nami.org). 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.
THANKS TO THE AUTHOR, LOIS HOITENGA ROELOFS
I HAVE ONE (1) COPY OF HER MEMOIR TO GIVE AWAY.
CLICK HERE TO BRING YOU TO
THE GIVEAWAY ENTRY PAGE.