OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI was having a conversation with my mother and she said something that resonated with me:

“some people just don’t look like they need help. It’s sad because many of these same people do.”

She is right! Many things prevent society from recognizing emotional and mental health needs. Would you think a business man in a powerful corporation could be suffering from delusions? Would you think a beautiful teen girl is being abused? Would you even think a sweet elderly woman next door quietly thinks you can read her thoughts? For many people, accepting the reality that those who appear “together” may not be so together after all is difficult. We need to become sensitive to potential need(s).

What characteristics might prevent you from recognizing the desperate need of others? The list below might facilitate your understanding:

  1. Attractiveness: Attractiveness blinds the majority of society to see only good attributes (talent, charm, personality, education, career) and we often have trouble imagining that this same person may also be depressed, experience panic attacks, or even suffer from hallucinations.
  2. Intelligence: Intelligence is the seat of our logic and ability to arrive at logical conclusions about things in life. For the majority of society, intelligence can make or break you. Unfortunately, it negatively affects a lot of people because their suffering is often overlooked simply because they are intelligent and capable of high performance.
  3. Articulation & personality: People with great speaking skills and personality who attract large numbers of people are often overlooked. Why would anything be wrong with the person who can entertain and charm a room without effort?Hidden
  4. Internalized illness: I consider illnesses such as depression and anxiety “internalized disorders” because they are hidden. People who are good at putting up a front to get through work or interact momentarily, are often overlooked.
  5. Prestige & money: Money and prestige automatically qualifies many people as self-sufficient and strong. The reality is that people with prestige also have struggles. In fact, highly recognized people have admitted to suffering from various illnesses.http://www.sxc.hu/profile/graphiteBP
  6. Educational attainment: Education automatically qualifies an individual as powerful. Our society is designed to cater to the “educated.” This often blinds us to their suffering or mental health problems.
  7. Religiosity: People affiliated with strict orthodox churches often suffer from mood disorders (depression, etc.) and other illnesses but refuse to admit this for fear of not appearing “Christian.” As a Believer, I realize that this mindset imprisons those seeking freedom! This erroneous assumption of what qualifies an individual as “Christian” has resulted in negative consequences.
  8. Illness that affects home-life: Hoarding is a real problem that can be hidden very easily.


This listing of characteristics does not mean that every person like the above is “hiding” something or has any of these problems. But keep in mind that an attractive, charming, educated, articulate, self-sufficient, and perhaps even relligious person could truly need your care and concern.


All the best


Photo Credit #1: D.J.jones

Photo Credit #2: (name hidden)

Photo Credit #3: Michael R



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    Last reviewed: 5 Apr 2013

APA Reference
Hill, T. (2013). Identifying People In Need: Can You Spot Mental Distress?. Psych Central. Retrieved on December 22, 2014, from http://blogs.psychcentral.com/caregivers/2013/04/identifying-people-in-need-can-you-spot-mental-distress/


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