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Mental Health Services, what to do if these services are not helping you. Help for carers as well.

Updated: Feb 6, 2023

Non-urgent footnote:

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This article is aimed at people and their families struggling with mental health issues. We are looking at illnesses that result in intense emotions and acting out. Some examples are BPD, PTSD, C-PTSD, OCD and more. Anyone who finds their thoughts spiralling out of control may benefit from this article.

Mental illnesses are not just in your head. They are actual neurobiological event in the brain. Example, an unbalanced limbic system may cause malfunctions in the emotional mind, a malfunction in the prefrontal cortex may cause malfunctions in the reasoning mind (OCD is an example) and schizophrenic related disorders have been associated with the cingulate gyrus.
Mental illness is in your head, as much as any physical illness is in your body!

The problem with serious illnesses:

An important thing to realise is that some illnesses can make the person close themselves off, or the patient's illness can be very demanding, or sometimes both. Because of this, some people who have mental illness remain in the mental health system with almost no progress. Treatment is necessary, but so is the motivation behind the patient to do the treatment. This is where the mental health system may fail due to the demand to motivate patients to comply. You are in your head for 24 hours 7 days a week, therapy for an hour or two a week and then no work outside the therapy room; you may find little or no progress.

DBT (Dialectic Behaviour Therapy)

This therapy which Dr Marsha Linehan and others pioneered, helps to control and treat intense emotions. I am not a qualified therapist or psychologist. However, I have over 11 years of experience with severe mental illnesses that were not improving. I took things into my hands and studied treatments and illnesses to help someone I knew. The most significant progress I saw in those 11 years was that 1 year I took it into my hands.

DBT works on the principle that we will follow whatever the strongest force in our mind (awareness) is. If the opposing force is stronger or weaker, it will influence the mind (awareness) accordingly. We will define the mind here as your state of awareness. There are 3 states of mind: Reasonable mind, Emotional mind and Wise Mind.

The emotional mind is like a hurricane. It is intense, and overwhelming and can pull you in quickly. One of the things we will learn in DBT is how to surf this hurricane instead of drowning. Identifying the emotional mind is not so difficult; your desires are strong and urgent. Problems in the emotional mind (e.g. when you are constantly stuck in the emotional mind) is associated with an imbalance in the limbic system. Mindfulness (something I will teach in other posts) can be practical in rebalancing this system. Below is a checklist on how to identify the emotional mind.

A reasonable Mind is that monotone sequential mind which is focused on the task at hand. It is like a cloudless day, which you overlook because you're busy focusing on a task at hand. This mind is associated with the prefrontal cortex (the front part of your brain). Below is a checklist to identify a reasonable mind.

A wise mind is like a sky with a few clouds in it. There are emotions present, and we're aware of that. We can get our emotions to communicate with our reasons and thoughts, and it is a very gentle, quiet and soothing mindset. This Wise mind is what we try to achieve in DBT therapy.

There are 4 parts to DBT; the first one is core mindfulness, which is the longest and most challenging part of DBT. The other 3 parts are distress tolerance, emotional regulation and interpersonal skills. I will teach you how to apply all these skills, beginning with core mindfulness.

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