Volunteers from City Harvest’s Dialect Church spent two Saturdays studying the facts about mental health in order to serve the community better.
These were some key facts taught to the volunteers of City Harvest Dialect Church in a four-part seminar on mental health held over two Saturdays.
The seminar was conducted to equip the Dialect Church volunteers with a better understanding of some common mental illnesses. Edwin Tey, a lecturer from Nanyang Polytechnic, and Audrey Wong, an advanced practice nurse, were the speakers at the conference.
The objective was to help participants recognize the symptoms of various mental illnesses, and at the same time give them an idea on the different treatments.
RECOGNISING MENTAL ILLNESSES
Depression is more than just feeling sad. A person with depression is often overwhelmed with feelings of hopelessness, helplessness and pessimism. They lose interest and concentration on daily activities and often feel fatigue.
Dementia, an illness more common among elderly adults, is defined as a decline in mental ability, which is severe enough to interfere with daily lives. The warning signs include memory loss that affects daily life activities, difficulty completing familiar tasks, confusion with time and place, trouble understanding visual images and spatial relationships, withdrawal from work or social activities, and a change in mood and personality.
There is no known treatment for dementia patients. However, support and care from family and friends can help patients to cope and live a meaningful life.
Another common mental disorder is Obsessive Compulsive Disorder. A person with OCD has recurrent and persistent thought that produces fear or worry. They would attempt to reduce the associated anxiety by repetitive behaviors such as washing their hands over and over again, checking to see if their door is locked again and again. They may also have an aversion to particular numbers and other nervous rituals.
Treatment for OCD comes in the form of medication (antidepressants and short-term tranquilizers), psychological therapy and social assistance.
Schizophrenia patients are often mistakenly perceived as dangerous and violent. While violent behavior may be one manifestation of schizophrenia, not all patients exhibit this symptom.
Schizophrenia is a chemical imbalance in the brain caused by genetic defect, stress or drugs. Symptoms of schizophrenia can be detected in appearance, behavior, thinking, speech and emotions of the patient. Schizophrenia can be managed by medication (antipsychotics and short-term tranquilizers), but family support and education, social support and vocational training play a larger role in helping the patient recover.
As relapse for this illness is common, friends and families should look out for warning signs in the patients like warped thoughts about strangers plotting against them or talking about them, feelings of being watched; they may also hear voices or see things that do not exist, or exhibit aggression and avoidance of contact with people.
After this dense but enriching seminar, the volunteers from the Dialect Church had a good basic grasp of the topic, and left better equipped to serve in the elderly ministry.