As soon as someone is perceived as ‘different’, there lies an opportunity for unscrupulous individuals to take advantage of that person. Maybe it makes them feel superior. Maybe it gives them a natural ‘high’ by showing off to their peers or maybe these instigators just have evil intentions. Whatever the reason, this phenomenon has been around for countless centuries, only to be brought into the mainstream via the Internet and social networking – and maybe that is a good thing.
But how can cyberbullying be controlled and how can preventing it be enforced?
Sending disturbing emails and texts are part of the problem and are hard to monitor or control; however, preventative procedures can help towards diminishing the amount of bullying that perpetuates the Internet.
Free speech should not be controlled within the social media environment; however, that doesn’t mean to say that it should not be monitored and proper action taken against those individuals whose posts are interrupted as threatening, intimidating or abusive.
Facebook and the other social media should take some responsibility towards keeping a ‘clean’ environment among their members. They all provide policies against bullying and other forms of abuse, but they can’t enforce these policies alone and they depend on others to report these cases of abuse to them. Quite frankly, this procedure has all but failed, as we continue to hear about people (mostly young people) who take their lives due to some malicious posts that were written against them.
That being the case, more has to be done. Starting with the schools, they must take cyberbullying seriously and provide preventative measures to decrease and/or terminate this abuse during school hours AND after school hours as well (when most of the cyberbullying takes place), if it is determined that the abusers are enrolled in the school.
Sometimes, cyberbullying can arise outside of school jurisdiction, as the aggressors might not even be a student; therefore, there needs to be community action as well.
Overall, some suggestions for controlling cyberbullying are listed below:
The abusers should be reported to the social media establishment with a request to remove their account(s), but not before copies or screenshots are taken of the abusive posts (for later use if necessary).
Schools should provide special classes each semester, using ‘scared straight’ tactics about the dangers of bullying others. Including in this class would be a description of the consequences that could result, depending upon the seriousness of the abuse (suspension, arrest and even the possibility of being sued by the victim’s parents). Case histories would be presented.
Establish a support group in the school that would consist of teachers and students where victims of bullying can go to for help.
Establish a community support group that would consist of counselors, therapists, law enforcement officers and school officials (preferably those that are part of the school support group) to discuss the victim’s concerns and the possibility of action taken against the aggressors.
Parents should be vigilant to cyberbullying and taught what to look out for among their children, whether that be that their child is the abuser or victim. They should also be advised about the local laws that could potentially hold them responsible if it is determined that their son/daughter is cyberbullying another teenager.
As far as maintaining anonymity on the Internet is concerned, most social media networks do not allow a user to remain anonymous. Using anonymous email and in cases where it is allowed and cases where websites are anonymously created, that would be difficult to stop; however, a cyberbully can’t run and hide in the cloud forever. Considering today’s software technology and machine language algorithms, it would only be a matter of time before the abuser is discovered and brought to justice.
Everyone has the right to explore the world, visit public places, use public transportation and be an active community member. But while some disabilities are apparent to people, autism does not show up on the surface.
Strangers assume that for autistic people dealing with this world is no different than that for a typical child. Except that it mostly isn’t and when they are held to the same standards as a normal person, it leads to stressful situations for the autistic child.
If you speak with the parents of an autistic child, they’ll surely tell you at least one incident of a passer-by who told them to handle their misbehaving youngster or gave them a strange look. Most people assume that the child is naughty and doesn’t think that disability could be the reason behind their unnatural behavior.
What Problems are Mostly Faced?
Public places present many challenges for children with this disability. Autism creates extra difficulties which makes coping extremely hard as they do not understand appropriate social behavior and what’s normal for them looks strange to others. People don’t appreciate the difference.
Sensory sensitiveness often promotes behaviors that are shocking for outsiders. Children with autism lick or sniff their parents out of love and innocence and the parents are aware of it, but if a stranger is liked or sniffed in the same manner, they are likely to left startled and react in an unfriendly manner.
Eating issues often create trouble in public gatherings. There are several taboos related to food and for children with autism, it can be difficult to observe them all. For instance, taking food from someone else’s plate is considered bad manners but a child with autism would not be able to understand that.
Often people with ASD are not able to manage their voices. It is common for autistic people to speak too loud, sound hostile or angry even when it is not the case. This makes people think that a person is being aggressive or rude deliberately when he or she is only trying to communicate in the best way possible.
We deal with family friends in a different manner than how we interact with strangers. But for children with ASD, it is hard to understand this difference. Some children with autism will hug complete strangers to demonstrate their friendliness, but the strangers are not pleased when such things happen as they find it offending.
Children with ASD often suffer from high anxiety. In a busy or new place, they may quickly lose control and exhibit behaviors that people consider challenging. For parents, managing such behaviors in public can be very difficult.
Parents of a child with ASD realize that even when they do their best, people who do not understand autism will judge them and blame them for their child’s condition. What’s good parenting for children with autism is very different than what is considered good parenting for a normal child: they have different so needs are met differently, too.
Should You Explain?
There have been some serious debates about whether or not you should tell people about your child’s autism disorder and explain that it is the reason for their actions. If you tell them, it would neutralize the wrong assumption about you being bad at parenting. If your child is experiencing a meltdown, people will back off to let you handle it instead of giving you unwanted advice.
On the other hand, you may think that the condition of your child is nobody else’s business and you should not have to provide everyone a medical record. You may not even be in any mood to get involved with others as you’re already worried about your child’s condition.
It all comes down to what you decide. You may think differently on certain occasions and whatever decision you make, just remember the wellbeing of your child should always be your focus, so go ahead with what best supports your child.
Any Resources that Can Help?
Special cards are printed by the “National Autistic Society” which can be used in case of emergencies to make people aware of your child’s condition.
Unfortunately, for you to manage your own feelings there isn’t much official helping material available. It can be really challenging to manage a child with ASD, but you should never give up as your child needs your love and support to survive in this harsh world.
An excerpt from a patient who suffers from mental illness:
“Why write a blog about mental illness. Is it an illness? Is it a disease of the mind? Is it an abnormality? Am I normal? Why put myself out there when it will only invite unwanted criticism and name calling. Being known as someone who has depression and anxiety carries a tremendous personal burden, a steep price of added suffering and torment – one extra hill to climb out of. So again you ask, why am I doing this? Because mental illness is just that. It is an illness. Most people need to understand that. And the more people who are aware are able to help. We need a community to band together and stop the shame of depression. Stop the teen suicides. If my story can help in anyway shed light on this illness then I am willing to battle the scars of criticism.
Prejudice, stigmas and bigotry take the path of least resistance – they are free of the chains of clear thought, consideration of the differences of others and plain fact. They are free to spread and indiscriminately injure and wound. They are escaped prisoners that need rounding up. They are the bullies that need to be grabbed by the ear and told. Whether they listen or understand or change their nasty ways remains a mystery to me. I mean, if you’re stuck in a revolving door of fear and ignorance long enough eventually you have to jump out, shake off the dizziness and reorient yourself — perhaps desperate optimism or naive hopefulness on my part. I’m sensitive yet thick when I need to be.
Being brave, open and vulnerable. I am able to with a quiet courage to leave my house every day and endure the mean spirited off handed comments from bored and ignorant. So many, including myself live in fear that our dark secret will somehow get out. That someday someone will catch us taking our medication. That the jabs and ribbing will one day become more than we can stand. Courage, bravery and raw endurance occurs daily in utter silence. You are not alone!”
We are all aware of the dangers to society when a person whose mental health issues goes undetected, sometimes resulting in tragic and disastrous results. Although there are thousands of people and organizations working to determine what causes people to react this way, there was no indication of this behavior, it is an ongoing and tedious process. And so far, no substantial or specific reason has been confirmed.
Although violence rests in the category of extreme mental illness, most people whose mental health has been affected one way or another usually suffer from stress, depression and/or addiction to drugs.
In this article, we will not dwell on the specific illnesses that exist, nor will focus on the politics related to mental health issues; indeed, this subject alone fills entire websites. Instead, we will concentrate on the underlying factors regarding mental illnesses and simply bring them to light here.
Stressful Environment and Mental Health Disorder
One conclusion regarding mental health issues is that there is a direct connection to today’s contemporary world and the the stresses that are associated with it. Just about every one of us have been subjected to some type of stress during our live time, but it is how we deal with itand how we proceed that determines what will happen next.
For many, these anxiety-prone situations can lead to frustration, anger, depression and/or melancholia. When we face such situations, it can cause a deterioration in our daily performance and functioning, as well as the possibility of developing more serious mental health issues.
What is mental health?
According to The World Health Organization (WHO), good physical health starts with good mental health. It is the most basic element for our holistic well being.
Good mental health provides us with the ability to cope effectively with the stressors of our lives. When we are healthy, we are able to use our full potential, perform productively and contribute effectively to our community.
Statistics reveal that over 450 million people worldwide are negatively affected in their cognitive well-being at one time or another and one in six adults and one in ten children suffer from serious mental health issues.
Causes of poor mental health
There are a wide range of factors that can cause mental health deterioration: genetic factors, prolonged stress, physical illness and traumatic events. Political and social environments also play a role in influencing our mental health.
Suicide is not uncommon among American teenagers, especially girls. Many families have to cope with teens that resort to overdosing on prescription or even over the counter drugs. But what caused them to overdose in the first place? According to a multitude of case histories, young girls can resort to attempting to ‘kill themselves’ because they broke up or simply had a argument with their boyfriend. Whether it is just to achieve attention, get back at the boyfriend or something else, most of these young teens survive. As they mature, this precarious mental state subsides and they go on to live normal lives like it never happened.
In one case history, a 15 year old girl grabbed Tylenol and overdosed on them. She wasn’t able to feel her hands or feet and the boyfriend called her parents. She was immediately taken to the hospital. Doctors determined that she will need to sleep it off, but if she happened to take just a little more, she could have had more serious complications, including a damaged liver. Fortunately, she came out of it alright, but a prerequisite from being released from the hospital was to see the hospital psychiatrist. There, she was ‘set straight’ regarding how close she was to running her internal organs, as well as being admitted to a psychiatric ward. The girl is now in college. So in this particular case, a sudden scare into reality was all that was needed.
Other teens are not that lucky. Some are subjected to a more serious mental stain and perceive their issues as ‘not worth living’. Bullying, simply because they are different in some way, can become a motivation towards suicide and unfortunately, in these cases, some do not make it through.
Depression and anxiety are the most common health disorders that you might face if you are not able to cope with stress that may be affecting your emotional well being.
One of the major reasons that mental health has become a concern is lack of awareness, inability to have effective coping mechanisms and the stigma attached in some societies to get help and go to a professional mental health counselor. Not looking for the assistance that you may need out of fear for being isolated, bullied or not being able to get jobs.
According to the Mental Health Foundation, there are two major categories of mental disorders: neurosis and psychosis. Few indicators of poor mental health are feeling lethargic, withdrawing from society; drop in your productivity and performance, feeling like crying all the time and weight gain or loss.
Benefits of maintaining mental health
Living with mental health disorders affects your relationship, studies, parenting skills and work. It is important in order for you own well being and others that you take the support of mental health counselors.
Your emotional well being improves your quality of life and gives you peace of mind and the ability to live life to the fullest while coping with stressful factors effectively.
Well balanced mental health will help you to cope with stress and be able to maintain healthy relationships, make sound life decisions, use your potential to the maximum level and maintain both your mental and physical health.
Those of you who maintain your mental health and take support of counselors have to spend less money on their health. Poor mental health causes many physical ailments that increase your frequency of visiting doctors and taking medication. Similarly when you have poor mental health you will take more medications and therapy sessions. Both will increase the cost of medical bills but after you receive proper mental health counseling or therapy you will be more mentally fit and will not have the need to visit the doctor or take medication. This reduces the cost of your medical bills.
Good mental health prevents poor physical healing and dangerous habits such as smoking or unhealthy eating behavior.
Many research studies have provided evidence that those for those of you who took proper mental health care and support of a counselor the number of medical visits decreased.
Good mental health increases your energy level and provides you with the effective coping mechanisms for stressful environment. It helps you deal with difficult situation and improves your performance and efficiency at work by utilizing your potential to the maximum level.
About mental health counseling
A mental health counselor helps you deal with your emotions, provide tools to cope with your stress in healthy way and deal with mental health disorders or trauma that you may have faced. Mental health counselors work in various avenues such as school, office and hospitals.
These counselors use various approaches for providing mental health support. Such as cognitive analytical therapy, dialectical behavioral therapy, crisis treatment, group or life changing counseling and substance abuse counseling.
Importance of counseling
Mental health counselors help you deal with your emotions, daily life stressors and experiences. It helps you set goals, design action plan for those goals and gain further insight.
They are highly trained professionals that help you live a more happy and productive life. The school counselor help you deal with your academic and other school related concerns and daily life stressors related to your school and studies.
The career counselor’s help you improve your productivity and deal with work related stressors or career related identity crisis. They help you find the best career path for you and deal with other employment related concerns.
Mental health counselors play the most significant role by treating those of you who may be suffering from mental health disorders such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder and post traumatic stress disorder.
A Mental health counselor helps you become productive and efficient and by helping you gain a healthy mental well being they help you become an effective member of your society.
Avoiding treatment through mental health professional can cause considerable negative social and economic impact to you and your society.
Mental hygiene and counseling
We may take care of our physical health but ignore the importance of staying mentally fit. Dealing with daily life stressors and unexpected extraordinary difficult situation can take a toll on you. By going to a counselor you can vent out your feeling and emotions, gain better insight and be able to cope with your difficult experiences in effective and healthy manner. Thus, keeping your mind and body healthy and becoming an effective member of your society.
Bulimia nervosa is an eating disorder that forces people towards binge eating by trapping them in a world where food is the only source of happiness. The word Bulimia Nervosa was coined in 1979 by British psychiatrist Gerald Russell. Being originally a Greek word, it translates to ‘ravenous hunger’.
Bulimia generally has two stages, one being where the person consumes large amounts of food and the second is called purging. Purging causes the person to instantly induce vomiting. However, vomiting is not the only form of purging. It also encompasses self-induced excretion through laxatives.
Bulimia generally begins with a binge eating disorder which later turns into a life-threatening disease. A person could consume thousands of calories in one day and then stimulate vomiting to lose the extra weight.
Self-induced vomiting is a way for bulimic patients to flush out food from their body as a measure to stop weight gain. Similar to anorexia, it is a mental condition of self-doubt where the person critically judges his/her physical appearance to an extreme. Even a pound of weight gain frenzies them. The main difference between anorexia and bulimia is that anorexia conveys a sense of self-starvation involving weight loss of 15 percent or more of a person’s body weight, whereas bulimia nervosa patients are usually at their normal weight or above.
What Causes Bulimia Nervosa?
Bulimia is a severe psychological disorder that leads in resorting to food as an alternative to avoiding problems.
Bulimia is a common condition in both men and women, especially in teens in which the disorder leads to severe emotional and mental distortions. At times, a person having bulimia symptoms traps themselves in a world of shame and silence, where all their thoughts circle around food.
People with bulimia put unnecessary emphasis on their body type and weight for self-assessment. This leads to a person having a low self-esteem and sense of self-worth as they define their existence solely by their looks.
Bulimia Nervosa can also be generated from a history of abuse and trauma. Such people are constantly suffering from severe depression and are prone to developing eating disorders as a way of forgetting their experiences.
Symptoms to Look Out For
Since people with bulimia don’t always realize the disorder as a problem by themselves, it is important to keep a lookout for the most common symptoms found in bulimic patients. Bulimia symptoms can be categorized into physical and behavioral categories.
People suffering from bulimia display several worrying physical traits that must be immediately looked into. Such as:
The most common physical change is sudden weight gain. If a person seems to appear bloated, it could be a sign of weight gain from excessive eating.
Look for any cut marks on their hands as vomiting is usually induced by scraping fingers against the teeth.
Excessive vomiting causes blood vessels inside the mouth to burst. This leaves small red marks on the face.
Bulimia patients also suffer from severe dehydration which also results in dizziness and fainting.
The excessive excretion of food can make people appear highly fatigued and tired. It also disrupts their sleeping patterns.
People going through a binge and purge disorder not only exhibit several of the above physical symptoms but there are also a few behavioral changes that should be observed in a potential bulimic person.
People with bulimia often eat secretly; therefore, a bizarre number of food wrappers and waste should be taken notice of.
Spending an unreasonable time in the washroom can also be a sign of binge eating and bulimia.
Longer breaks between eating and fasting
Displaying an erratic behavior. Such people generally go through several mood swings, with anxiety being a sign of having not eaten for a long time.
Lack of control over eating during a binging episode
People with bulimia are also seen exercising a lot if not self-inducing vomit. They exercise in order to subsidize the extra pounds gained.
Excessive concern about one’s body weight and figure even during routine conversations.
People suffering from bulimia get entangled in severe health problems such as heart and kidney issues, bone thinning and infertility. At its most advanced stage, Bulimia Nervosa can lead to cardiac arrest and even death. Therefore, looking for signs of bulimia in those around you is necessary for providing them with the proper aid before the addiction becomes worse.
Eating disorder patients may want to consider in enrolling in a rehabilitation center where they are given appropriate treatment promoting a healthier lifestyle and stronger self esteem.
Tourette syndrome is referenced as a neurological disorder and is characterized by repetitive involuntary movements. These recurring movements are known as tics, which can cause both sudden vocal or physical actions. This illness derives its name from French Neurologist Dr. Georges Gilles de la Tourette, who was the first to identify the condition in an elderly aristocrat. Even today, Tourette syndrome is wrongly suggested to be a behavioral deformity or a sign of nervousness. The syndrome largely affects the nervous growth of a person and often starts to develop between the ages 2 to 21 years and continues throughout life.
It is reported that around 200,000 Americans are suffering from the most chronic form of the Tourette syndrome, while there are hundreds of other cases of moderate and mild cases of vocal and motor tics. Similarly, some people who experienced worst symptoms during early teenage years claimed to have witnessed an improvement in their condition later at an older age.
The Tourette syndrome can be discovered during early childhood by observing significant and noticeable behaviors in the child. Tics are generally like hiccups. They are unplanned and are out of an individual’s control. But hiccups can be stopped by many of the tested and tried tricks like drinking water. However, Tourette tics can’t be controlled under any circumstance. They are experienced as an increasing tension in ones’ body known as a premonitory urge. That makes it irresistible for the person to perform a particular action. Once the tic is released, the tension decreases which relaxes one’s body and brain cells.
Tourette tics can be divided into two types namely, vocal and physical and they usually occur in a combination.
Motors tics are described as sudden and repetitive movements. These actions involve performing a certain action in order to satisfy rising muscle tension. Motor tics are also the first type of tics to be discovered and a person must exhibit two or three such involuntary actions every day for a year to be diagnosed as a Tourette patient. Motor tics can be divided into two types that are simple tics and complex tics.
Simple tics include actions such as facial contortion, shoulder shrugging, neck stretching and head jerking. These actions can occur independently or in a combination with each other. The more serious tics appear more prominently such as twisting, bending, touching and smelling objects. Although these twitches are physically harmless to the person, there are certainly more severe tics such as jaw clenching and biting. These actions occur as an outburst of a suppressed frustration and are self-injurious.
It is generally observed that vocal tics develop after the person has experienced motor tics. Vocal or phone tics causes people to produce sounds they don’t intend to. These vocal tics can be further classified into simple and complex levels based on their frequency and severity. Simple vocal tics largely include hooting, constantly clearing your throat, coughing, shouting and tongue clicking. While more complex tics can be traced during speech. Around 10-15% of all complex vocal tics are termed as Coprolalia, which causes a person to involuntarily speak obscene or improper words or phrases. Other such symptoms can be repeating someone’s words or anything just heard.
Causes and Diagnosis
Tourette syndrome is described as a genetic disorder but it is not contagious. This means that families with Tourette history are most likely to pass on the condition to future generations. Being a majorly neurological condition with not many developments made in the field, the exact cause of the syndrome is yet to be discovered.
According to a few research studies, Tourette syndrome is a result of imbalances in the brain chemicals namely norepinephrine dopamine, serotonin. These chemicals, collectively known as neurotransmitters, aid the nerves in communicating inside the brain by carrying signals from one cell to another. Another part of the brain called the basal ganglia, which is responsible for various body movements, also plays a role in generating tics.
With there being no specific test for Tourette syndrome, a doctor or neurologist would usually assess the family history along with medical records. A doctor would also observe the individual’s symptoms and in some cases conduct medical tests such as brain scans and blood tests.
Although Tourette syndrome can be a lifelong disorder limiting one’s control over movement, the syndrome in itself is not life-threatening. People suffering from the condition are able to live a normal life, working, studying and enjoying their time like everyone else.
According to a recent study from the University of Sydney, the gradual increment of muscle-strengthening activities can lead to better cognitive functionality. This analysis is based on a trial that includes the Study of Mental and Resistance Training (SMART) done on patients aged between 55-58 years old with mild cognitive impairment (MCI). People with MCI are more vulnerable to develop dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
MCL is a strong indication that the individuals will suffer from Alzheimer’s disease in the near future and nearly 80% of the elderly people suffering from MCI develop Alzheimer’s in the course of six years.
Significance of the Study
Results of the study are very significant considering increased cases of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease among the aging demographics. According to the annual report of Alzheimer’s Disease International, 47 million people are suffering from dementia worldwide and this number will be increased threefold by the mid of the century. Predicted figures for the US suggests that there will be 13.8 million citizens affected with Alzheimer’s by 2050.
It is also worth mentioning that the healthcare cost for patients with dementia is very high, making it imperative to find other preventive measures to increase the quality of a patient’s life. Therefore, finding a relation between increased physical activity and improved cognitive function will certainly help in alleviating the intense effects of these debilitating diseases.
This study examined 100 senior adults with MCI. Patients with MCI face slight cognitive difficulties that are not detrimental enough to hinder daily routines. These patients were divided into four sub-groups and assigned with four type of activities:
Cognitive and both of the placebo activities did not result in cognitive improvement. However, the study concludes that there is a direct relationship between improved muscle strength and improved cognitive functions. Some previous studies have also shown a proportional link between increased physical activity and muscle strength. But this research assisted by SMART trial has provided useful details about the exercises that can help in improving brain function. The trial lasted for six months in which the participants attended weightlifting sessions twice a week. With maintaining their peak strength at 80%, the weights used in the exercise were regularly increased, as their muscles got stronger with time.
According to the doctor leading the research team, including resistance exercise in the schedule of elderly can result in a healthier aging population. However, it can only be effective if it is done on regular basis and integrated as a part of a lifestyle.
Exercise Assists Physiological Process Necessary to Avoid Cognitive Impairment
Even before the SMART trial research, studies have proven that physical exercise can help in improving brain function by assisting different physiological processes. Exercise helps in improving cardiovascular health and glucose regulation in the body and both in their optimal form are necessary to avoid the risk of cognitive diseases. Exercise can also help in even improving the brain functions such as selective attention, multitasking and planning.
Exercise can Increase the Size of Certain Brain Areas
Hippocampus is that area of the brain associated with the processing and retention of memories and especially long-term memories. With aging, it starts to shrink in size leading to cognitive impairment. Aerobic exercises have a proven role in increasing the size of the anterior part of the hippocampus. The fractional increment in the size can improve the spatial memory of an individual.
What’s Next in the Research Line?
According to the researchers of a SMART trial study, it is still unclear that whether resistance exercises are directly influencing and decelerating the deteriorating effects of old age, or whether they are commanding some bodily functions that are helping the cognition improvement. New researchers will try to find the exact relation of increased muscle strength with cognitive activity. They will also study the effects of muscle strength on size and activity of certain brain areas.
All the researchers and studies that we have discussed in this article share the same conclusion that healthy lifestyle with increased physical activity can reward aging people with a vigorous and active mindless prone to old age cognitive diseases.