What are some signs of mental illness?


In adults:

  • Confused thinking
  • Prolonged depression, sadness or irritability (2 weeks or more)
  • Feelings of extreme highs and lows
  • Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
  • Social withdrawal
  • Disinterest in activities that were previously sources of enjoyment
  • Inappropriate reactions to stimulus (i.e. laughing at a funeral, indifference to crucial situations)
  • Sudden shifts in personality
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits (too much or too little)
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Delusions or hallucinations
  • Growing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Denial of obvious problems
  • Numerous unexplained physical ailments
  • Deterioration or abandonment of normal hygiene
  • Substance use or abuse outside the individual’s normal patterns

In older children and pre-adolescents:

Substance abuse

Inability to cope with problems and daily activities

Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits

Excessive complaints of physical ailments

Defiance of authority, truancy, theft, and/or vandalism

Intense fear of weight gain

Decline in academic or athletic performance

Disinterest or refusal to participate in activities they previously enjoyed

Inability to cry or excessive crying

Prolonged negative mood, often accompanied by poor appetite or thoughts of death

Frequent outbursts of anger


Where do I go for help?


If you feel you may be suffering from a mental illness, I urge you in the strongest terms to seek the advice of an experienced mental health professional - a psychologist or psychiatrist.
Psychiatrist vs. Psychologists

Psychiatrists are medical doctors who specialize in mental illness. They have M.D. degrees and are licensed to prescribe medicine. Psychologists hold graduate degrees and practice "talk therapy".

How can I help my loved one if they are mentally ill?


The first thing you can help with is getting educated.  Education is key. Find out what your loved one has been diagnosed with or what symptoms of mental illness they feel they are suffering from.  If your loved one allows you go to appointments, go to them with him/her. Don't stigmatize, because there is already a heavy stigma on mental illness out there. Get books, read blogs, try to put yourself in their shoes. Ask questions, about treatment (therapy, such as cognitive behavioral) and medications.

Don't be afraid to ask questions!


 Mental health facilities provide services to help you or your loved one cope with the difficulties of mental illness. Facilities offer three types of help:

  • inpatient 
  • outpatient 
  • residential

To find the right mental health facility for your needs, first determine which program you want. Inpatient programs are contained within a hospital and require a multi-day stay. Outpatient services do not involve an overnight stay, but they can require multiple visits over an extended period of time. Finally, residential programs are extended overnight options that are located outside of a hospital, unlike the inpatient option.
Once you have determined the proper services you require, consider the location to find a facility that is accessible for your friends and family. Any additional preferences, such as dietary concerns or accommodations needs, should also be addressed before making a final decision. To ensure you will feel comfortable, do not make this decision until you have visited the facility.
For local resources, refer to Mental Health America to find locations and service close to you.