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Curing Schizophrenia One Great Idea at a Time

This project is a requirement of the GOA Abnormal Psychology Course. Using the process of design thinking, a challenge in the world of mental health was identified, interviews and research were undertaken, and a solution prototype was developed. Below you will find information about the identified area of concern and my proposed solution. Please feel free to provide feedback on this prototype, using questions such as “How might we…”, “What if….?”, “I wonder….”, “I like…”, and “I wish.” Keep the comments positive, please. 

BACKGROUND:

Schizophrenia is a lifelong chronic mental illness that causes individuals suffering from the illness to interpret reality in an abnormal manner. This involves a breakdown in the relation between thought, emotion, and behavior, leading to defective perception, inappropriate actions and feelings, withdrawal from reality and personal relationships into fantasy and delusion, and a sense of mental fragmentation. Because schizophrenia cannot be cured, it takes time and effort to reduce the symptoms in patients, along with lots of money. Because of this, Schizophrenia can cause problems in family relationships, social dynamics and everyday activities, such as brushing your teeth, taking your dog for a walk, or going to work/school, etc. Because of this, many Schizophrenics will lose their job or drop out of school leaving them without money and unable to treat their mental illness.
My goal is to join forces with associations, such as Skyland Trail to create a new therapy group in Atlanta for people who cannot afford treatment and can visit to help relieve their symptoms. Although we will not be able to supply medication, we can supply music and art therapies and other types of therapy, such as counseling.

My goal is to join forces with associations, such as Skyland Trail to create a new therapy group in Atlanta for people who cannot afford treatment and can visit to help relieve their symptoms. Although we will not be able to supply medication, we can supply music and art therapies and other types of therapy, such as counseling.
My goal is to join forces with associations, such as Skyland Trail to create a new therapy group in Atlanta for people who cannot afford treatment and can visit to help relieve their symptoms. Although we will not be able to supply medication, we can supply music and art therapies and other types of therapy, such as counseling.

Infographic taken from: http://www.schizlife.com/SchizophreniaInfographic.png

To help gain a better understanding of the illness, I have provided an informational video below:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4y2Wab43sQ

THE CHALLENGE:

We all know that saying something is easier than doing something, and in this case, that’s very accurate. My goal is to provide alternative treatment for patients who cannot afford medication, such as music and art therapy, counseling, etc. I myself am not allowed to help counsel a patient because I am only 17 years old, so I have decided to partner up with therapists who can legally provide cognitive therapy. I have also decided to interview Dr. Betsy Guard. Dr. Guard is a psychiatrist at the Atlanta Area Family Psychiatry Clinic, where she works with many patients that have mental disorders, including schizophrenia:, I wanted to get her perspective on the idea of a student-led art and music therapy group, along with a cognitive therapist:

Q: How do you decide which form of treatment is best for your clients and what treatment, in your opinion, is the most effective?
A: I think the very first is finding the right medication. So, you’re really talking about finding a neurologist / psychiatrist who has a great background for treating Schizophrenics and finding the right medication for their body. Each medication reacts to every person differently so it can take a while sometimes to find the right medication. But all around, medication is definitely the best treatment, in my opinion.

Q: Do the patients you work with suffer more from positive, negative, or cognitive symptoms?
A: The ones that are most commonly dealt with are the positive symptoms, they are much more challenging to treat and harder to work with, so medication really helps. It does not cure them because Schizophrenia cannot be officially cured, but medicine can significantly reduce symptoms.

Q: Do your patients suffering with Schizophrenia usually come in themselves are does a friend or family convince them to go?
A: Well, I think that whether it’s a prodromal long onset or whether it’s immediate, if it’s been a long onset for several years and repeating and the person is becoming more seclusive and becoming less social, they are probably more likely to be brought by a family member friend. If there is a huge break or something leading up to a huge break, they might actually come in themselves complaining they have depression or anxiety and it may not be that, it could be a much larger illness like schizophrenia. Generally, I would say it is usually others who convince the patient to go in.

Q: What is your opinion on a student-led art and music therapy group?

A: I believe that could potentially work, but you yourself could not provide therapy for a patient because you would need a license. I think this could be a great idea, I love where your head is at.

THE SOLUTION:

To see if this would work in a smaller environment, I used my school as an example. I wanted to see if students who were feeling depressed, anxious, etc would use art and music as therapy. So, I decided to help out in my school’s wellness week. All throughout the week, the school had different rooms for different types of therapies. The students could go whenever they had a free period or break. Within these rooms, there contained a mindfulness coloring table,   , and even a therapy dog room! The students ultimately loved all of the rooms, especially the dog. If therapy provided comfort for a school of 1,800 students, imagine what it could for an entire community.

Pictured below is a piece from one of the booths we had during Wellness Day. In this booth, we told everyone to write on a slip of paper one thing they did to ease worries when they were stressed. After writing on the piece of paper, we made a chain out of the slips and hung it around the walls of our school. Here is one of the pictures:

 

WHAT’S NEXT?

I am going to talk with our school’s mental health specialist, Dr. Moore to see if we can continuously incorporate more wellness days throughout the school year. I am also planning on starting this group. To do that, I will need people to help lead the art and music therapy group sessions. I am going to see if I can get other students involved. I will ask students from the orchestra and band to help out and students from the art department to also help.

Now, this is where YOU can get involved.

If you would like to donate to donate to support our cause, you can donate on the NAMI website. Every year, NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, hosts walks around the country to help fundraise for all mental illnesses. They have been expected to raise about $15 million dollars for mental health services provided for families, support, education, research and advocacy of illnesses, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, and anxiety disorders. They also appreciate donations. Please, if you can, donate to our cause to provide healthcare to patients in need who are unable to pay for it themselves.

Link:

https://ifundraise.nami.org/index.cfm?fuseaction=donate.event&eventID=503&referrer=WEBDG&utm_source=HomepageButton&utm_medium=website&utm_campaign=DonationTracking

Questions for the audience:

  • Do you have any other ideas for therapies I can incorporate into the project?
  • Do you think music/art therapy and cognitive therapy will impact a patient’s life? How so?
  • How are you going to get involved?

SOURCES CITED:

Bengsten, Michael, M.D. “Catatonic Schizophrenia | Psych Central.” Psych Central. Psych Central, 17 July 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. <http://psychcentral.com/lib/catatonic-schizophrenia/>.

Mayo Clinic Staff Print. “Schizophrenia.” Overview – Schizophrenia – Mayo Clinic. Mayo Clinic, 11 Oct. 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. <http://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/schizophrenia/home/ovc-20253194>.

“2016 NAMIWalks Events-Donate or Register.” NAMI Georgia. NAMI, n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. <http://namiga.org/namiwalks-2016/nami-walk-events-2016/>.

Schizophrenia – Full Documentary on How Schizophrenia Effects Individuals and Relationships. Youtube. Google, 21 June 2015. Web. 20 Nov. 2016. <https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AnoUKWXTcBU>.

“Schizophrenia.” Mental Health America. MHA, 2016. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. <http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/conditions/schizophrenia>.

“Schizophrenia.” National Institutes of Health. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. <https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/publications/schizophrenia-booklet-12-2015/index.shtml>.

“Schizophrenia Treatment.” Schizophrenia Treatment. N.p., 2010. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. <http://schizophrenia.com/sztreat.html#>.

“What Is Schizoaffective Disorder? Causes, Symptoms, Diagnosis, and Treatment.” WebMD. WebMD, n.d. Web. 29 Nov. 2016. <http://www.webmd.com/schizophrenia/guide/mental-health-schizoaffective-disorder>.

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