Mental Health, GO!

Our newest venture is beginning! We have begun preliminary research for our newest exhibit: Mental Health. This is an exciting time, for all of us involved in the project; and for me, personally because mental health is an area of clinical interest.  My fellow students, Katie (Angelica) and Elizabeth (Zunie) are investigating depression and I am researching addiction. Before we ventured out on our own to our respective topics, we went to visit a Mental Health exhibit already being displayed on HealthInfo Island in Second Life. The exhibit there was created by DrFran Babcock (RL: Fran Babiss) and highlights famous people who have a mental health diagnosis such as depression, bipolar disorder or schizophrenia. Our team spent a while visiting this exhibit; it provoked interesting conversation about the secrecy surrounding these celebrities diagnoses. We discussed at length about how there is still a stigma surrounding mental health diagnoses that often proves detrimental to people’s well-being because they wait too long to seek help. Hopefully this exhibit and the new one at the OT Center at Jefferson will help to bring Mental Health back into the forefront of people’s minds, in terms of Occupational Therapy and beyond.

Needless to say, there is so much information available on both topics.  So far in my research on addiction, I am noticing that over the past five years there has been a lot of focus on brain chemistry, genetics, veterans, and pain as they all relate to addiction in various ways.  I haven’t delved too deep into the research yet as we are just trying to get a general idea of what is happening in the field so we can make our exhibit as relevant as possible. It will be challenging for us will be to whittle down to the most important issues and connect the implications for both depression and addiction in terms of health and participation in life since there is so much information available.

One of the goals of Occupational Therapy is to treat the whole person and drug/alcohol addiction affects many different facets of an individual’s life. I find this connection exciting because as OTs, we will be able to assist people struggling with addiction in many different ways that take into account each person’s individual situation.  Please stay tuned for our updates as we continue our research!