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Mental Health Services in Iowa: Web Extra #2

posted on March 3, 2010 at 11:57 AM

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Michael Ackerman talks about his mental illness: What happens when he stops taking his medication and his take on the general public's misconception of what a mental illness is.

Michael Ackerman, fort Dodge: I had a past history of going off of medication because I believed I didn't need it and that's a common problem with a lot of the -- with a lot of the clients is that they go off their meds.  They think they don't need it and I did that and then they -- they started coming every day to help me make sure I took my meds.

Now, I take them on my own.  I'm pretty well convinced that I do need to be on these meds for the rest of my life because it seems like I don't run into any problems as long as I stay on meds.  I'm pretty normal and Steve will -- it's when I go off of them-- after a few months I start to have trouble.

Q:  What would you be doing if the action program wasn't around?

A:  Well, if the action program wasn’t around I -- I would struggle to make it I think because they really help me.  Like I said she's as much of a -- my case manager is as much of a friend as she is a social worker.  So, I -- I would really struggle to make it because when -- when people struggle with mental health issues sometimes their friends even their family will abandon them and it really becomes an issue when you're isolated and you're alone, you're wanting to isolate and other people are wanting to stay away from you on top of that.  So, you really don't have anybody to turn to and the action program helps me with -- with having a relationship, a friendship, and day-to-day living skills and coping.

Q:  What don't you think people don't understand about other people that deal with mental health issues?

A: Well, I think the biggest thing that they don't understand is that it's -- it's -- it's not something that a person can pull themselves up from the boot straps and recover from on their own by -- by their intestinal fortitude.  It's-- it's not something a person makes a choice to have and it doesn't mean that you're a weak person if you have a mental illness.  It's more of chemical imbalance in your brain and we don't judge people when they have imbalances in their brain when they have Alzheimer’s, you know, and they're elderly.  So, I think it should be the same with people mental illness.

Tags: drugs health Iowa mental health