Mental health diagnoses are on the rise.
As more people are opening up about these issues in public, some of the stigmas that surround the topic seem to be lifting. Somehow, access to care hasn’t caught up. A recent NYU study found that services for many people suffering from mental health disorders are dwindling, making it difficult to find professional help. Despite strong demand and growing awareness about the importance of mental health, the decline in treatment options is felt across the country. For those with more than one diagnosis, receiving proper care may be even more difficult.
Alta Loma in Georgetown, Texas, is a transformational services center that seeks to give men suffering from mental health disorders and addiction a place where they can find stability and begin to heal. We provide primary mental health care for psychiatric concerns and co-occurring substance use disorders, helping men who may not have been successful in more traditional extended-care facilities. Our goal is to offer the kind of comprehensive care that our residents need to achieve psychological stability and elicit hope for a positive change.
Understanding Mental Health Disorders
Mental health concerns and psychiatric disorders are chronic, long-term conditions that affect numerous aspects of an individual’s life, including thoughts, feelings, moods, behavioral patterns and relationships with others. Many people with mental illness find it difficult to cope with the responsibilities, demands and stresses of daily life. This is especially true if mental health issues are left untreated.
Unfortunately, this is all too common. Despite their prevalence, mental health disorders are frequently misdiagnosed or not properly addressed. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, one in every five adults (46 million) in the U.S. experiences mental illness, but only 41 percent receives treatment. Of these individuals, about 10 million have a co-occurring substance use disorder as well. Known as a dual diagnosis, less than 50 percent of those with substance use and mental health disorders receive treatment for either. Although we understand psychiatric issues more than ever due to advances in psychology, medicine and technology, there are still barriers that prevent many from receiving the treatment they need. Social stigmas, lack of access to care, inadequate insurance coverage and misinformation can make it difficult for many to seek help.
Alta Loma in Georgetown, Texas, is dedicated to changing that. As a transformational services facility, our mission is to help men struggling with mood and thought disorders find the life-changing help they need. We provide an environment where men facing mental health challenges can heal mind, body and soul, so they can take steps towards long-term recovery and independent living. We treat a variety of mental health disorders, including:
- Bipolar disorder (1 and 2) — Previously known as manic depression, bipolar disorder is a mental illness associated with extreme mood swings that alternate between powerful highs and intense lows. Bipolar disorder type 1 is characterized by two distinct phases — a manic phase and a depressive phase. During the manic phase, individuals experience symptoms like euphoria, restlessness, insomnia, boundless energy and scattered thinking, often followed by the lows of the depressive phase. Bipolar disorder type 2 follows a similar pattern, but with less severe manic episodes known as hypomania. No matter which type of bipolar disorder is diagnosed, the symptoms can be debilitating, disruptive and even dangerous, often leading to reckless behavior and hospitalization.
- Schizophrenia — Schizophrenia is a serious mental health disorder that interferes with an individual’s thoughts, behaviors and emotions, impacting the way that reality is perceived. Symptoms are highly disruptive to normal functioning and may include distorted thoughts or perceptions, delusions, hallucinations, paranoia and inappropriate behavior. Although the symptoms will vary from person to person, those with schizophrenia often find it hard to concentrate on work or school, relate to others or practice good self-care, and may withdraw from friends and family. Schizophrenia is a chronic condition, but can be managed with a combination of medication, psychotherapy and recovery support for improved functioning and quality of life.
- Schizoaffective disorder — Schizoaffective disorder combines the symptoms of schizophrenia with those of mood disorders. During an episode, individuals experience mania or depression alongside schizophrenic symptoms such as hallucinations, distorted thinking and delusions, and may be diagnosed with either depressive type or bipolar type schizoaffective disorder. Like both schizophrenia and bipolar disorder, schizoaffective disorder is a serious mental illness but can be managed with the right care and a comprehensive treatment plan.
- Depression — Depression is a mental health condition that affects more than 264 million people worldwide. As a mood disorder, those with depression often feel sad, lost and hopeless, along with a lack of interest in normal activities and trouble concentrating, sleeping or eating properly. Although most of us feel this way sometimes, depression is more than just feeling down — it’s a chronic condition that can disrupt daily life and interfere with work, school and personal relationships. Without proper treatment, depressive episodes can get worse over time and become a risk factor for substance abuse, self-harm or thoughts of suicide.
- Anxiety — Anxiety disorders are a mental health condition characterized by heightened feelings of panic, worry and fear severe enough to interfere with daily life. Depending on the type of anxiety disorder, an individual may experience panic attacks, irrational fears, intrusive thoughts, debilitating shyness or a sense of impending doom that make it difficult to get through the day. These symptoms are different from the anxiety normally felt during times of stress and can arise suddenly in response to everyday situations. Anxiety disorders often co-occur with other mental health problems like depression, but a comprehensive treatment plan that addresses the full scope of an individual’s emotional and mental health needs can help make symptoms more manageable for an improved quality of life.
- Avoidant personality disorder — Avoidant personality disorder is a mental illness in which individuals exhibit a consistent pattern of social aversion, inhibition and extreme shyness. Those with avoidant personality disorder often experience a crippling fear of rejection or ridicule and tend to avoid social contact with others, which can greatly interfere with their personal and professional lives. Deep-seated feelings of inadequacy and a low self-esteem are often at the root of this disorder, but proven psychotherapies can help change harmful thought processes and make it easier to cope with social situations.
- Borderline personality disorder — Borderline personality disorder (BPD) is a mental illness that creates unstable moods and leads to a number of emotional, behavioral and relationship problems. Those with BPD have a distorted self-image that changes often and experience erratic mood swings, feelings of worthlessness, an intense fear of abandonment and volatile relationships, making it difficult to function normally or establish a meaningful connection with others. Problems with impulse control, self-harm and substance abuse are common in this disorder, making proper treatment crucial for a successful recovery.
At Alta Loma, we understand that mental illness is a serious, chronic condition that negatively affects all aspects of an individual’s life when ignored or not appropriately treated. Throughout a resident’s stay at Alta Loma, they will have their psychiatric needs regularly assessed by licensed mental health providers and, if appropriate, meet with clinicians who specialize in addiction medicine. We know that a long-term treatment plan that addresses the full scope of a person’s mental, emotional and behavioral health by integrating psychiatric and substance use modalities can help them better understand their mental health challenges and learn better ways to manage their symptoms, as well as the stresses of everyday life.
We treat a variety of mental health disorders, including:
Coordinated Treatment for Co-Occurring Disorders
Mental health and substance use disorders are closely linked. Research shows that almost half of all residents seeking treatment for substance use also have a diagnosable co-occurring psychiatric disorder. When these residents enter treatment for addiction, however, their mental health concerns aren’t always addressed. This significantly lowers their chances of success. Without proper treatment, bipolar disorder, depression and other psychiatric concerns can spiral and lead to situations that may be life-threatening. This is especially true in the case of dual diagnosis residents, who often use drugs or alcohol as a form of self-medication. When individuals use illicit substances to ease the distress caused by mental health concerns, it creates a dangerous cycle that leads to increased drug or alcohol use and worsening symptoms. If dual diagnosis residents begin recovery at a facility that ignores mental health, sobriety is difficult to sustain because psychiatric symptoms will still persist once discharged.
At Alta Loma, we recognize that to give our residents a better outcome, mental health and substance use disorders must be treated concurrently. Only 18 percent of treatment programs for addiction are equipped to handle mental illness, and even fewer psychiatric facilities treat addiction. Our goal is to change this and bridge the gap that has formed between mental health and substance abuse treatment. We offer integrative treatment from a collaborative group of health care providers that addresses two or more interwoven, connected disorders in a structured environment to help our residents discover a sense of balance and cohesiveness. Our continuum of care supports and guides residents as they move toward stability and integrate back into society. The levels of care we offer include:
- Initial stabilization coordination
- Primary care program
- Extended care
- Supportive living environment
At Alta Loma, we help residents dig deep into their mental health and substance use disorders and develop coping techniques for symptoms and triggers. Residents also learn life skills, medication management and healthy habits to prepare for continued success after treatment. Our goal is to help our residents manage their mental health and empower them to achieve the balanced, healthy life they deserve.