A good portion of the world’s population suffers from various mental health issues. In fact, it’s estimated that one in five adults experience some form of mental illness.
This said it’s not surprising to find that this important issue can hit very close to home as one’s own close friends and family members may be secretly dealing with depression or anxiety.
The First Step Towards Change
Mental health is a serious issue that needs to be addressed both on the individual and societal levels. The first step to making a change is to be able to recognize mental illnesses.
This could be difficult though as people tend to hide their true feelings from others. Still, assistant professor of psychological science Stephen Schueller says that signs could be spotted in the form of massive shifts in an individual’s motivation, behavior, and interests.
For example, one may notice that a friend or a sibling has suddenly stopped doing things they usually enjoy or have become withdrawn from their regular social life.
This is corroborated by One Mind president Brandon Staglin, who was diagnosed with schizophrenia. As Staglin shared, his first episode happened when he was 18 years old began spending time alone after losing interest in his hobbies at the time.
Starting a Conversation
After recognizing similar telltale signs in family members and close friends, the next step is to talk with them. This may be easier said than done though.
But crisis counselor Ashley Womble affirms that the best way to talk to someone about the state of their mental health is to directly ask them if they’re okay. Suffering is already hard enough, Womble said, opening a conversation might make things easier for the sufferers.
Again, this advice is echoed in the experiences of Staglin, who thanks his father’s frank yet caring approach in helping him during his first schizophrenic episode. Meanwhile, Schueller reminds people about the importance of reaching out to struggling loved ones in a safe environment. He also mentioned choosing the right place and time to start the conversation effectively.
Helping People in Getting Help
Once the topic has been opened, the next step is to help them get the proper professional help they need to manage and overcome their illness. This is something that people who suffer from a mental illness may not be able to do by themselves.
Staglin and Schueller both recommend Mental Health America and PsyberGuide as fantastic resources for people who need more information about mental health issues. Mental Health America particularly has some helpful screeners that can help people determine whether or not they’re dealing with a possible mental health issue.