Mental Illness

Mental illnesses are disorders of brain function. They have many causes and result from complex interactions between a person’s genes and their environment. Having a mental illness is not a choice or moral failing. Mental illnesses occur at similar rates around the world, in every culture and in all socio-economic groups. The statistics are staggering, 1 in 5 young people suffer from a mental illness, that’s 20 percent of our population but yet only about 4 percent of the total health care budget is spent on our mental health.

The impact is more than in statistics and factoids, it’s in feelings and emotions.

It’s in our families, with our friends and in our communities. Having a mental disorder should not be any different than experiencing a physical illness. And it doesn’t have to be; you can help make a difference.

Mental Health Practitioner
Mental Health Practitioner Christel Maritz +27 72 242 5857

A mental illness makes the things you do in life hard, like: work, school and socializing with other people. If you think you (or someone you know) might have a mental disorder, it is best to consult a professional as soon as possible. Early identification and effective intervention is the key to successfully treating the disorder and preventing future disability. As a health care professional we can connect the symptoms and experiences the patient is having with recognized diagnostic criteria  help formulate a diagnosis.

As a parent, there are few things more difficult than seeing your loved once suffer and not being able to fix it.

Watching your loved once deal with depression in particular can leave you feeling helpless and frustrated. But while mental illness might not be something you can make go away, there are things you can do to be supportive and help them get through it.

As a health care professional, I Christel Maritz  – as a Psychologist – can connect the symptoms and experiences you are having and with recognized diagnostic criteria help formulate a diagnosis. If you feel Overwhelm you can contact me and together we can embark on finding your solutions. Don’t let a mental illness be the end of your world.


Mental Health Benefits of Writing

Writing has mental health benefits and can do wonders for your health. Beyond keeping your creative juices flowing—regular writing can give you a safe, cathartic release valve for the stresses of your daily life.  Not only does regular writing make you feel good, it helps you re-live the events you experienced in a safe environment where you can process them without fear or stress. In fact, there’s so much data about the mental and emotional benefits of journaling that as counselors, social workers, and therapists often encourage their patients to do it. This study from the journal Advances in Psychiatric Treatment is a great experiment, and a solid summary of current research on the topic.

Mental Health Tip Christel Maritz Psychologist
Writing has many mental health benefits!

In the piece, the researchers noted that 15–20 minutes on 3–5 occasions was enough to help the study participants deal with traumatic, stressful, or otherwise emotional events.

It’s been specifically effective in people with severe illnesses, like cancer, for example. In fact, the practice is so well regarded, there’s a Center for Journal Therapy dedicated to the mental health benefits of regular journaling, both in therapeutic and personal settings. It’s not just what you write about though. How you write plays a role as well. This University of Iowa study showed that journaling about stressful events helped participants deal with the events they experienced. The key, however, was to focus on what you were thinking and feeling as opposed to your emotions alone. In short, you get the best benefits of journaling when you’re telling your personal story, not just writing about your feelings on their own. It’s a great example of how telling your own personal story can make a huge difference in your well being.

The University of Texas at Austin psychologist andContinue Reading

BWRT – Rehearsal, Repetition and Practice

The old adage of “practice makes perfect” has a connection to a new therapy which is called Brain Working Recursive Therapy®.

When we try to learn something new we practice it over and over again until it becomes second-nature to us. An example of this can be learning to drive a car. When we first attempt to use the gas pedal, brake, clutch to change gear, steering wheel, indicators and mirrors it can all seem too much.

However through gradual rehearsal and repetition of what we need to master (eg. clutch control for a hill start) and many more lessons of practice, we get more competent at driving. Our body responds more appropriately to events (stimuli) around us as we drive the car. Our confidence grows and our successes inspire us. The end result is a new network of neural pathways that enable us to be competent drivers.

BWRT® uses the same idea of learning a new way of reacting and behaving via repetition, rehearsal and reflection on successes. In doing so the brain provides a new neural pathway network. The only difference is that rather than acquiring a new behaviour such as driving, it is about changing an undesired behaviour in favour of a better behaviour.




When is a feeling a mental health problem?

When we experience mental health problems, our day-to-day lives and our relationships with those around us can suffer.

We all have bad days and times when things are not going right for us. That is just part of life and nothing to get worried about.Christel Maritz Psychologist

However, there are times when those bad days turn into bad weeks and we can begin to feel stuck.

mental health problemS?

It can be considered a ‘mental health problem’ when our feelings, thoughts, beliefs or behaviour negatively affect our day-to-day lives and activities and we cannot seem to, or don’t know how to, move past those feelings, thoughts, beliefs or behaviour.

Mental health problems can range from temporary feelings of stress or depression to longer term feelings of deep depression, despair or anxiety. In more extreme cases, it can seem like someone is losing touch with reality, at least in the eyes of other people.

There are a number of different ways of understanding mental health problems.

Some people believe that a medical understanding of mental health problems is the most valid approach. Others believe that a social understanding, taking account of life circumstances, should come first.

Causes of mental health problems

Mental health problems can affect absolutely any of us. While it’s not always know what causes a mental health problem, there are number of factors associated with the onset of a mental health problem.

Some of these factors include:

Stressful life events – stressful experiences like grief or loss, experiencing violence or a traumatic accident may trigger mental health problems.

Family environment – if people grow up in a family where they never felt loved or cared for or have been abused, this can affect mental health. Sometimes parents themselves felt unloved or had problems growing up and therefore may not know how to show love or care to their own children.

Drug abuse and alcohol – there is a relationship between drug and alcohol abuse and mental health problems, it’s not always clear which comes first though.

Family history – many mental health problems are related to family history whether based on genetics (nature) or experience (nurture) – meaning if a family member has a mental health problem, others in the family may be at higher risk of experiencing one as well.

Signs to look out for:

  •  Increased stress
  • Anxiety or unexplained fear
  • Withdrawal from friends, family or social activities
  • Changes in sleeping or eating patterns
  • Feelings of worthlessness or hopelessness.

It is normal for our attitudes, mood and behaviours to change from time-to-time.MH

But, if you notice any of the above signs in yourself or someone you know that last for a couple of weeks or longer, it is important to act on those concerns.

Reaching out

Acting on concerns about a mental health problem will usually mean reaching out for some extra support. That support can come from many different places.

It can mean speaking to a trusted friend or a family member or it could also mean accessing support service in the community or speaking with a GP.

The source of support will depend on the nature of the problem and personal circumstances. Whatever support is used a starting point, the earlier you get support, the better.

Different types of mental health problem

There are hundreds of different ‘labels’ put on mental health problems. While some people don’t like the idea of putting a label on mental health problems, others find it reassuring and helpful to be able to describe what they are feeling or experiencing.

Some common terms used in describing mental health problems include:

Anxiety – which can be described as an uncomfortable and sometimes irrational feeling of fear or dread usually brought on by specific situations or circumstances e.g. social situations.

Depression – the word ‘depression’ is sometimes used to describe everyday feelings of sadness. Depression is also a clinical term used by doctors and other health professionals to describe an ongoing experience of low mood and other symptoms such as poor appetite, disturbed sleep, waking early and a lack of interest in everyday activities and hobbies.

Eating disorders – are complicated and severe disturbances in eating behaviours which can involve eating too little and an unhealthy obsession with wanting to be thin. They can also involve binge-eating, sometimes with strong feelings of guilt and the need to get rid of the food.

Bipolar – in clinical settings ‘bipolar disorder’ replaced the term ‘manic depression’. It is usually associated with fairly extreme ups and downs that are sometimes described as ‘mood episodes’.

Schizophrenia – schizophrenia describes a mental health problem involving disturbances in a person’s thoughts, perceptions, emotions and behaviour. It can involve hallucinations and the appearance of being out of touch with reality.

Hearing voices – there are other ways of understanding or describing mental health problems and some people who might be given a diagnosis of schizophrenia because they have hallucinations or hear voices others don’t hear, prefer to identify as ‘voice hearers’.

Getting support for a mental health problem

Whatever the issue, whether it has been going on for a short while or for longer, whether it only impacts your life a little or a lot, get some support.

Speak with a friend, a family member or someone else you trust. Support can also mean ‘self-help’ which might simply involve doing things that make you feel better.

Getting past a mental health problem, or learning to cope with the experience of having an ongoing mental health problem, is a journey. However small the first step is, it doesn’t matter, just take it, begin your journey.

Step-by-step, mental health problems can be tackled. The earlier we start tackling them, the better.

If you feel overwhelmed please contact me and together we can work towards inner healing.Christel Maritz Psychologist Somerset West

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