The Role of Mental Health Education
It took me over two decades to be correctly diagnosed and effectively treated for bipolar disorder. Forty years ago, there was much less awareness, and the associated stigma often prolonged someone getting help.
Nowadays, many people go to Google as a source of information, which is also not optimal. While there are some credentialed sites available, people need a more in-depth education than what Google can provide—especially as mental health conditions are often extremely complex. Additionally, misdiagnosis is extremely common. A 2018 study found that nearly 77%
of its sample group of people with bipolar disorder had initially received an incorrect diagnosis.
I was originally diagnosed with depression. This can be a dangerous misdiagnosis. I initially accepted it, but found my high-energy periods were becoming even more frenetic. Eventually I stopped taking my anti-depressants until I could see another mental health professional. After three sessions with this doctor, we were able to zero in on the correct diagnosis of bipolar disorder. It took another couple of months to find the correct dosage levels for the prescription drugs, but then my life began to change dramatically.
After my lengthy journey toward a correct diagnosis and treatment, my wife and I saw the need to educate individuals, parents, friends and co-workers on various mental health conditions. So we established The Colbeth Clinic, a treatment clinic part of the Institute of Juvenile Research at the University of Illinois at Chicago College of Medicine, to raise mental health awareness and provide early diagnosis and effective treatments for inner city children.
Unfortunately, the shortage of mental health professionals at the clinic would not allow for them to provide a full education to in-person patients. This encouraged us to create our latest venture: MedCircle, a video streaming platform and in-depth education series focused on providing affordable access to the expertise of great doctors.
The early feedback has been great, and people often refer to MedCircle as a great “companion to treatment.” We have reason to believe that this type of education can help a person with a mental health condition or caregiver improve their treatment.
Most people do not even know what questions to ask a mental health professional before they begin treatment. They may not know how to describe their symptoms. They may not know or understand all the treatment options. My hope is to help provide that information so people can get the help they need.
I am one of the lucky ones. I was able to get the treatment I needed to live a fulfilling life. Once I was effectively educated and treated, I was able create two significant high-tech companies. However, this third one, MedCircle, is even more rewarding since we are focused on helping people around the globe—helping those who are still struggling in silence.
Doug and his wife Margaret are co-founders of MedCircle and longtime philanthropists in the field of mental health. In 2002, they established the Colbeth Clinic in Chicago to provide mental health treatment services for primarily inner-city children. Doug has been a successful serial entrepreneur in the high-technology space. His two ventures (Spyglass and Kinaxis) became publicly traded companies with multi-billion-dollar enterprise valuations. The success of these two companies has enabled the Colbeth Family to become significant supporters of various mental health and veteran organizations.
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