mental health

What is mental illness? Definitions and resources for mental illness

A mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. Just as diabetes is a disorder of the pancreas, mental illnesses are medical conditions that often result in a diminished capacity for coping with the ordinary demands of life.

Serious mental illnesses include major depression, schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder (OCD), panic disorder, posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and borderline personality disorder. The good news about mental illness is that recovery is possible.

Community discussions break down walls of stigma of mental illness in youths

Tamara Kenny and her son Eli take a daily walk at Francis Park to check in with each other and talk about their days before heading home for dinner. Eli, who lives with autism and bipolar disorder, uses the time with his mom to communicate how he’s feeling.

Taking a walk in Francis Park is how Eli Engel decompresses after school.

He talks with his mom, Tamara, about how his day went and how he's feeling. Checking in on his mental well-being is an important part of their routine.

The 17-year-old has an outgoing, fun personality. He likes writing rap lyrics under the pseudonym "Bulldog." His favorite subject is math, and he's a strict vegetarian, citing a need to protect all creation — even little ladybugs.

But the last several years have been tough on Eli, who has bipolar disorder.

Journey to wellness: Personal stories of struggles help those with mental illness

In the winter of 2001-02 Mike Eisenbath was enjoying his work as a sportswriter for the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, traveling with and covering St. Louis Cardinals baseball games. Family life, with four teen and preteen children and a loving wife, was a joy.

Sometimes, though, he couldn't get out of bed. Other times he just barely made it to a recliner, then couldn't get out the rest of the day. He'd call his mom and ask her to pick up his children.

A doctor diagnosed him with clinical depression and prescribed a mild dose of a common anti-depressant. But his condition worsened.

Strong faith helps families cope with mental illness

Juanita Bishop talked with Michael Mason Oct. 9 at the shelter in the basement of Sts. Peter and Paul Church in the Soulard neighborhood. Mason told her he is writing a book on freedom called “Who are You?” Bishop helps lead Immaculate Heart of Mary Parish’s mission where they feed homeless men twice per month at the shelter.

Juanita Bishop didn't know where to turn.

Her son, Tony, a junior in high school, always was a student with a report card full of As and Bs, loved sports and enjoyed his job. All of a sudden, he had Ds and Fs. His employer at a restaurant called to tell her they no longer wanted him to come to work because he had failed to show up as scheduled.

"Everything kind of fell apart," Bishop said. She tried talking with him, but made no headway.

Next, he gave away all of his bedroom furniture to another teen -- waterbed, dresser, stereo equipment, everything.

Editorial | Numbness and wrenched hearts

Numbness was one of the initial reactions to the Dec. 14 shooting tragedy at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., that took the lives of 20 children and six adults.

Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York, president of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, hit on a key point when he spoke out against the culture of violence infecting our country. All of us, he noted, are called to work for peace in our homes, in our streets and our world, now more than ever.

He also noted that the shattering of a peaceful preparation for Christmas "wrenches the hearts of all people."

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