News/Blog

Mental Health Month: Get To Know Us (Part I)

 May is Mental Health Month. In honor of this most important time, we'd love for you to get to know us at Stepping Stones of Rockford! Let's start with our clients. 

We currently have 164 clients in the program. 

An overview of client gender, diagnoses, age and race are illustrated here.To sum it up:

*There are twice as many males as females in the program;
*Most of our clients are diagnosed with Schizophrenia/Schizoaffective disorder or Bipolar-related disorders;
*The average age of our clients is 44 years old; and,
*82% of of current clients are white, while 18% are black or other race.

What is Schizophrenia? Persons with Schizophrenia experience a combination of hallucinations, delusions, and disordered thinking. The symptoms of Schizophrenia often interfere with daily functioning. Most people know of the "positive symptoms" such as hearing voices, disorganized speech, having false beliefs (not based in reality). Less recognized are the negative symptoms such as social isolation, flat affect (does not demonstrate facial expressions congruent to the situation), decreased ability to experience pleasure and lack of motivation. At this time, it appears a combination of genetics, brain chemistry and environment contribute to the symptoms and resulting diagnosis of Schizophrenia. It is a long-term, serious mental illness which almost always require medication intervention. 

Challenge that stigma about Schizophrenia! Schizophrenia is NOT "split personality. The diagnosis does not mean a person with Schizophrenia will end up homeless, unemployed, uneducated or institutionalized. Persons with Schizophrenia are not more likely to be violent than the general population. 

What is Schizoaffective Disorder? Persons diagnosed with Schizoaffective Disorder meet the criteria for Schizophrenia, with the additional components of mood disorders such as Depression, Mania or Bipolar Type. The easiest way to understand the diagnosis is to think Schizophrenia + mood disorder.

What is Bipolar Disorder? Bipolar Disorder involves major, noticeable "swings" n a person's mood, energy and thought processes. Persons diagnosed with Bipolar Disorder experience high (mania) and low (depressive) moods. This is much "more" than the "typical" ups-and-downs experienced by people without Bipolar Disorder. After all, just about everyone has good and bad, happy and sad, great and not-so-great days. This is not Bipolar Disorder--it's real life! Many of our clients who have Bipolar Disorder experience symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia and distorted thinking. We'll share more information on Depression and Mania in future posts. Stay tuned!

The persons we serve are just that: people! They are not their diagnosis. They are not weak, uneducated or "scary." They are people who just happen to have a serious mental illness. They have potential to live in the community, secure employment and be in relationships. Let's bust stigma about these mental illnesses!

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