This post is part of the “Don’t Avert Your Eyes” series here at Celebrity Psychings. Learn more about how Joaquin Phoenix prompted this weeklong series, and don’t forget to stop back by – it’s running until Friday, March 27!
Remember when I told you about my therapist friend who says she always pays attention to what her clients’ family members and friends say about them? There’s a reason for that: These people – these family members and friends and sometimes even coworkers – spends way more time with clients than therapists spend with clients; therefore, it’s usually pretty easy for these people to notice when someone close to them starts exhibiting signs of potential mental health problems.
It’s easier for these people to see how the person acts when the person is in his or her normal environment and not being scrutinized by a professional, and sometimes they even notice the signs before the person in question notices them.
But what exactly are the “signs of potential mental health problems”?
Changes in appetite, behavior, appearance, sleeping routines – most of us know these common warning signs or symptoms of mental health problems, and regurgitating what so many mental health websites already provide would be pointless and probably pretty insulting to your Googling skills; however, providing you with more specific resources might just come in handy given that Googling “mental illness symptoms” brings up around 13,400,000 results.
Warning Signs Throughout the Ages: In addition to a wealth of information about how to cope when what “happens to someone else” actually happens to one of your own, Mental Health America’s Factsheet: Mental Illness and the Family: Recognizing Warning Signs and How to Cope provides lists of mental illness warning signs for young children, older children and adolescents, and adults.
Warning Signs for Specific Illnesses: With Symptoms and Treatments of Mental Disorders, PsychCentral’s John M. Grohol, Psy.D. presents lists of symptoms to look for based not only on age, but also on each specific mental health issue. (This one’s definitely bookmark worthy.)
Warning Signs On the Go: Okay, these warning signs aren’t exactly on the go, but because they come in a book, you can carry them with you while you are. Dr. James Whitney Hicks’s 50 Signs of Mental Illness: A Guide to Understanding Mental Health is written using easy-to-understand terms and each chapter is dedicated to a particular symptom; you simply visit the chapter of the symptom you’re noticing and read up on it’s possible causes. Plus, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), when you buy this book “a portion of your purchase will benefit people with mental illness.”
Keep in mind that just because a person might seem like s/he’s displaying symptoms of mental illness doesn’t necessarily mean the person has a mental illness. Situations like the death of a loved one, job loss, and overall bad news can cause a person to act in such a way that might suggest mental illness; the same can be said for exciting situations.
You can generally tell the difference, though, by familiarizing yourself with these symptoms, as well as paying attention to how long the changed behavior lasts and how it affects the person’s day-to-day life.
Tomorrow we’ll take a look at what to say to someone you suspect might be dealing with a mental illness. In the meantime, has there been a time when someone you know has displayed symptoms of mental health problems? How did you handle it?