Mental Health affects more than just the individual

Published 7:30 pm Saturday, March 2, 2019

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By Holly Westbrook


The stigma surrounding mental health is often a deterrent for people looking for help. Yovahnis Roque, who has been charged with capital murder in the death of his 2-year-old daughter, has now intensified this negative feedback and thoughts on mental illness in general.

“Many people with serious mental illness are challenged double,” the University of Chicago Center for Psychiatric Rehabilitation said in their research. “…they struggle with the symptoms and disabilities that result from the disease. On the other hand, they are challenged by the stereotypes and prejudice that result from misconceptions about mental illness.

“As a result of both, people with mental illness are robbed of the opportunities that define a quality life: good jobs, safe housing, satisfactory health care, and affiliation with a diverse group of people.”

Having the public negatively looking at your illness, and, possibly, in your mind at yourself, there is potential for a person who needs help to not reach out and ask for it. The Spindletop Center serves Hardin, Chambers, Jefferson and Orange Counties has a crisis helpline at 1-800-937-8097.

“(The) first thing to do is if someone is in present danger within 24 hours with suicidal thoughts, a plan or has an intent of suicide, immediately call 911,” Rita Drake, an LPCS Clinical Supervisor at Intake for the Spindletop Center, said.

If it is not an immediate threat within 24 hours and the person is having thoughts of “I think I want to harm myself” go to the nearest emergency room.

“There are three hospitals that we serve – Baptist Beaumont, The Medical Center of Southeast Texas and Saint Elizabeth,” Drake said. “We will also go to other ER’s to assess someone if there is a need. People have to be medically cleared to see if they have illegal drugs in their system as well as having thoughts of harming oneself. There are other factors as well.”

Medicine for mental health, physical health conditions, long-term medical issues – such as cancer, and even urinary tract infections are investigated through blood and urinary tests during the ER evaluations before the person can be placed in crisis care.

“It is important to note that not all people that are depressed are suicidal and not all people who are suicidal are depressed,” Drake said.

Mental illnesses are common in the United States according to the National Institute of Mental Health. Nearly one in five U.S. adults lives with a mental illness. That was 44.7 million in 2016. Mental illnesses include many different conditions that vary in degree of severity, ranging from mild to moderate to severe.

The term psychosis, or psycho, has been tossed around with the word mental. These words have made mental illness stigma even deeper in society.

According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, a person experiencing psychosis may or may not tell someone what’s happening.

“They may try to ignore what they see and hear, but it scares them,” the department said. “Parents, family and friends become confused and scared too.”

The family and friends may think the person is using drugs or just “acting out” to get attention, or perhaps totally withdrawing from everything.

“Sudden psychosis may not be (from) a mental illness,” Drake said. “It may be caused because a person has gone without eating or sleeping. A lot of people after (Hurricane) Harvey experienced (psychosis) due to (these two) things and the amount of stress they were under.

“Having behavior, feelings, emotions, and confusion to which you don’t know where it is coming from (these are signs) that you need to get help. (It can feel as if) one day you can go to work – then the next you can’t.”

She said a person will have fears, thoughts of death and feelings that they had previously never had before. “These are signs Family and friends can see” and may be signs of a medical issue either physically or mentally and both need to be addressed.

“Family and friends can be so important. With Harvey, everyone was traumatized. I think it was amazing how the community came together to help each other,” she said.

Spindletop has an Orange Outpatient Clinic and can be reached at 409-883-7074. The office only does intake on Wednesday’s via tela-med, a Skype-like form of intake through the Beaumont office, and can take up to three weeks to get an appointment.

For appointment sooner, they can call the Intake number at 409-839-1063 to schedule one with the Beaumont office sooner or with the Orange branch.

If you are in a crisis and do not wish to contact any of these local helplines, call 1-800-273-TALK (8255) and you will reach a national contact for the Suicide Prevention Lifeline.


The American Foundation for Suicide Prevention offers the following helpful guide:

What to Watch For if You Feel Someone is at Risk:

If a person talks about:

  • Being a burden to others
  • Feeling trapped
  • Experiencing unbearable pain
  • Having no reason to live
  • Killing themselves

Specific behaviors to look out for include:

  • Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  • Looking for a way to kill themselves, such as searching online for materials or means
  • Acting recklessly
  • Withdrawing from activities
  • Isolating from family and friends
  • Sleeping too much or too little
  • Visiting or calling people to say goodbye
  • Giving away prized possessions
  • Aggression

People who are considering suicide often display one or more of the following moods:

  • Depression
  • Loss of interest
  • Rage
  • Irritability
  • Humiliation
  • Anxiety

Prevention: 5 Action Steps for Helping Someone in Emotional Pain:

Ask: “Are you thinking about killing yourself?” It’s not an easy question but studies show that asking at-risk individuals  if they are suicidal does not increase suicides or suicidal thoughts.

Keep them safe: Reducing a suicidal person’s access to highly lethal items or places is an important part of suicide prevention. While this is not always easy, asking if the at-risk person has a plan and removing or disabling the lethal means  can make a difference.

Be there: Listen carefully and learn what the individual is thinking and feeling. Findings suggest acknowledging and talking about suicide may in fact reduce rather than increase  suicidal thoughts.

Help them connect: Save the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline’s number in your phone so it’s there when you need it: 1-800-8255 (TALK). You can also help make a connection with a trusted individual like a family member, friend, spiritual advisor, or mental health professional. If you are outside of the U.S., please visit the International Association for Suicide Prevention for a database of international resources.

Stay Connected: Staying in touch after a crisis or after being discharged from care can make a difference. Studies have shown the number of suicide deaths goes down when someone follows up with the at-risk person.