Open Pages: May is National Mental Health Awareness Month

APA Books Open Pages is an ongoing series in which we share interesting tidbits from upcoming books. Find the full list by browsing the Open Pages tag.

Thank you, President Obama, for proclaiming May 2016 as National Mental Health Awareness Month.

mental health awareness

Check out President Obama’s comments on Mental Health Awareness Month by clicking the ribbon above!

“I learned in graduate school that schizophrenia is the kiss of death. In the 1980s, most professionals accepted Emil Kraepelin’s (1987) description of the illness as a progressive downhill course where people ultimately end up in state hospital wards, unable to care for themselves. Grim prognoses for individuals with schizophrenia and other mental illnesses cast a wide pall; treatment was largely custodial, focusing on symptom management.  Poor outcomes were thought to reflect the person’s inability to understand illness and interventions; hence, adherence to treatment became a first principle.  My job was to help patients by hook or by crook take their medications and protect them from the unreasonable goals that would lead to relapse.  “Unreasonable” goals typically included those that led to work or independent living.

I learned from people who had these illnesses that most of what we believed to be true was wrong. Kraepelin’s assertions made more than 100 years ago were replaced by long-term follow-up research that showed that most people with even the most serious of mental illnesses recover.  Beyond the research, however, were lessons learned from people who had been challenged by significant illness and restrictive treatments but still achieved goals they set for themselves.”

From “Person-Centered Care for Mental Illness: The Evolution of Adherence and Self-Determination,” edited by Patrick W. Corrigan (pp. 3–4).