Talking mental health with Andre Allen-Casey
Marriage & The FamilyMonday, June 14, 2021
Shelly Ann HARRIS
IN recent months there have been several reprehensible stories of violence in families — domestic violence, intimate partner violence, emotional, verbal and physical abuse and, sadly, some acts of violence have resulted in the murder of children. This week, we search for answers by examining the impact of mental health on violent behaviour.
We asked noted counselling psychologist Andre Allen-Casey about some of the signs that a person's mental well-being is compromised. He explained that stressful and traumatic events can trigger mental illness in a person with a vulnerability to develop a mental disorder. He indicated that if you want to determine if your mental well-being is compromised, you must look at how well you are managing stress and if you have emotional, physical or behavioural stress overload.
“You need to look at the cognitive signs of stress — cognitive signs may be memory problems, inability to concentrate, poor judgement, constant worry. The emotional symptoms would include agitation, short temper, inability to relax, feeling overwhelmed, sense of loneliness, low energy. Physical problems can be like impotence, low levels of libido, inability to experience orgasm, digestive problems, gas, diarrhoea, irritable bowel syndrome, chest pain, backaches, awareness of heartbeat, high blood pressure, tingling and numbness in the hands or feet, menstrual disturbances and hormonal imbalance,” the experienced counsellor at Family Life Ministries listed.
Allen-Casey also pointed to behavioural problems triggered by stress overload such as “separating yourself from others, sleeping too much, procrastinating responsibilities, taking drugs to relax, nervous habits like pacing, biting nails, poor performance and accident proneness.”
Of course, all these symptoms will have a direct impact on family life.
“Parenting can be impacted because you have poor judgement. Your work can be impacted which affects how efficiently and effectively you provide for your family. Your social life is going to be impacted because people don't want to be around you because of your constant mood swings,” Allen-Casey outlined, adding that, “as a result of all of these things we can develop mental health disorders; the stress overload can matriculate into a mental disorder.”
Mental disorders include conditions such as bipolar disorder, schizophrenia, anxiety disorders and antisocial personality disorder, among others. Characterised by a lack of conscience, antisocial personality disorder can affect not only families but also the entire society.
“So, people who have this disorder are prone to criminal behaviour. They believe victims are weak and deserve to be taken advantage of. They tend to lie and steal, they are careless with money, they take action without thinking about consequences. They are oftentimes aggressive, and they are more concerned about their needs than the needs of others,” Allen-Casey articulated.
We, therefore, asked the counsellor if the recent spate of men killing their partners and loved ones is a mental health issue. Allen-Casey stated that “the killing of partners and loved ones can be associated with mental health issues, but unless an assessment is made, we can't definitively state that it is so.”
Notwithstanding, he noted that “a person who is schizophrenic can be prone to doing something like that. A person who has borderline personality disorder can do that, and a person who is depressed. Remember that depression speaks to confused thinking, prolonged sadness or irritability. Depression speaks to extreme highs and lows, excessive fears, worries and anxieties, seeing things that are not there, hallucinating (which is also akin to schizophrenia), growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities, suicidal thoughts. So, if you see that your partner possess some of these things then we are saying you need to do something about it to protect yourself,” he warned.
Allen-Casey is advising people to report violent behaviour to the respective authorities and crisis centres. People can also reach out to Family Life Ministries for counselling support.
Shelly-Ann Harris is author of God's Woman and The Goodies on Her Tray. She is also founder of Family and Faith Magazine , blogger, women's advocate and a media, communication, change management expert.
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