The Mental Illness Awareness Week blog, sharing stories of recovery, personal experiences, and mental health/mental illness news.


Mental illness runs strong in my family.

2010 Face of Mental Illness, David, share his thoughts about mental illness and his family.

Mental illness runs strong in my family. Many of my family members past and present have experienced all or some of schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety. I find it quite interesting that many family members are reluctant to get help--such as psychosocial-rehabilitation counseling and medication additions and/or adjustments--but my family was quite adamant about getting me help, starting with hospitalization, then outpatient psychiatric treatment, and finally one day a week counselling at CMHA Winnipeg Region within the Rehabilitation and Recovery program with a highly skilled, hard working, dedicated, and empathetic community mental health care worker.

Now I am the family member who has schizophrenia, depression, and anxiety under control with sufficient appropriate medication, and effective stress management, organization, and time management skills. I am in the position of helping my family members not simply cope but to advocate for them to get the mental health care help that they need. It is hard though since--for reasons unexplained that I cannot yet figure out--they are reluctant to follow the path of recovery that I took even though they know it works. As such, it is quite frustrating for me to be somewhat powerless when trying to help my family, especially since one family member is experiencing what I experienced to such a degree that it is like déjà vu for me. It is like I am re-living the acute mental illness again with him rather than the chronic stage of mental illness effective management that I was at before he needed a calming communication outlet that I provide. My family helped me, now I must help them.

I think it is important for families to realize the challenges of helping or caring for family members with mental illnesses and in fact, watch out for "transference" since it is stressful for family members in this position of care for an individual with a mental illness. This is a reason why we need to strongly address barriers to mental health care system access. During Mental Illness Awareness Week, I will be participating within a two day forum entitled "Which Doors Lead to Where: How to Enhance Access to Mental Health Service: Barriers, Facilitators, and Opportunities for Canadians' Mental Health. It is important to consider community mental health care services such as the related mental illness support groups (4 Fort Street, Winnipeg, Manitoba, has a multitude of mental health organizations and mental health peer support groups which can be very helpful as I found when talking during patient to patient group therapy while living at the three psychiatric wards that I was committed to by family). Additionally, there are other resources for the mentally ill family member and the other family members at CMHA Winnipeg Region which includes workshops such as Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR), Mental Health First Aid, and Live Life to the Ultimate.

David Albert Newman, CGA, CIA, ACCA (UK), B. Comm. (Hons.) with Distinction
"Anything is possible if we let our mind wander away from standardization towards creativity."
φ = π – 2^2/φ^2 + e