We live in an interesting world where it is considered culturally acceptable to seek help for an injury to a leg, arm, or a dietary issue, but seeking help for a mental health problem has a stigma attached to it from years of misinformation. One of the main goals of Operation RSF is to help combat this stigma through education, discussion, and relationships in order to open doors, hearts, and minds towards mental health. When people who are suffering are unwilling to reach out for fear of ridicule or exile, a change needs to be made. That change can start with you and those around you.
On this page, you will find a simple question and response format which discusses mental health in-depth as well as communication techniques. We will be discussing the history of mental health disorders, to include depression, anxiety, post-traumatic stress disorder, symptoms, ways to start discussions, and summaries of recent studies relating to mental health and the physiological changes that occur in the brain and body.
It is our hope that you use this information to personally grow as well as reach out to help your community grow in support of those in need. When we are able to be present, with open ears, while remaining accepting and non-judgmental, we can learn a lot and help a lot. Thank you for your willingness to take even a moment of your day to read, and hopefully, share the information that you find here.
- "PTSD is just made up, isn't it all in their mind?"
Life would be a lot less complicated if it was just a made-up experience, but trauma DOES cause physical changes in the brain structure as well as how the brain functions. Traumatic experiences have been shown to impact the areas of the brain associated with the stress response which includes the amygdala, hippocampus, and prefrontal cortex and those changes can be LASTING. These experiences have also been shown to cause changes to cortisol and norepinephrine responses to stress, volume changes in the anterior cingulate and hippocampus, and changes to neurohormonal systems. (Souce) (Source) (Source)
By understanding that traumatic experiences literally leave an imprint on the mind (the physiological changes), it brings more credibility to the diagnoses and the experiences that individuals are having. Much like a broken bone is a physiological change that changes the way the body can function, so is PTSD a physiological change to the brain which changes the way it functions. This is a great place to start discussions, what they are experiences is not just in their head, it is real and there is no shame in that.
- "If you are going to act like that then come find me when you are better..."
Do not push them away due to the changes in their mood or personality. Some of these changes are most likely as frustrating to them and difficult to navigate. Understanding that they might want to be alone is important but always leaving the door open to discussion is even more important. Instead of pushing them away and telling them to come back when they feel better, offer an ear anytime they need it.
"I don't feel like going out today."
"I hear you, if you need an ear or want to vent, I am here anytime. Just shoot me a message and we can hang out later if you want."