E – #AtoZChallenge on Mental Health

Welcome to the #AtoZChallenge on mental health, letter E. This is one of the harder letters. However, I still was able to come up with several words for discussion.

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders, which include anorexia, bulimia, binge eating disorder and unspecified eating disorders, are among hte deadliest mental illnesses. This is not just because of the physical effects eating disorders have on their sufferers, but also because people with eating disorders are particularly likely to be suicidal. For clarity’s sake: you can’t tell whether someone has an eating disorder by looking at them, because people of any size can have eating disorders. The core of eating disorders is also often not about what or how much one eats, but about one’s thoughts regarding oneself and one’s eating habits.

Emotions

Emotions are an essential part of human experience. They are often affected by mental illness. An emotion is different from a mood, in that emotions last for a short while whereas moods describe one’s overall affective state over a longer period of time.

Equality

Disabled people, including mentally ill people (yes, mental illness is a disability!), make up the largest minority in the United States and probably elsewhere too. The fight for equality for people with mental illness was started in the 1970s with the antipsychiatry mvement. However, you don’t have to believe that mental illness is a social construct to want equality for mentally ill people nowadays.

Experience

I was inspired to share about experience when someone commented on
another post in the challenge that few mental health professionals have been on the other side of the desk. In the Netherlands, many mental health agencies employ “experience workers”, which are people with a (history of) mental illness who have had additional training in using their experience in the support of other people with a mental illness. Most assertive commnity treatment teams, which are intensive outpatient treatment teams for people with severe mental illness, employ such experience workers. The education of experience workers used to be mostly informal, but now there is even a full college track in social work with mental health experience.

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