Everyone feels depressed, anxious, angry and sad sometimes. So it’s not always easy to determine if somebody is in need of mental health care, as many people with such disorders feel like that’s their “normal” state, and don’t recognize that they need help. Sometimes people realize something feels “off,” but don’t want to seek help for fear of being labeled as “crazy.”
Adults who need mental health care will show symptoms such as:
- Confused thinking
- Prolonged depression (sadness or irritability)
- Feelings of extreme highs and lows
- Excessive fears, worries and anxieties
- Social withdrawal
- Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
- 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
- Substance abuse
How can you tell that a child or teenager needs mental health care?
In younger children, watch for:
- Changes in school performance
- Poor grades despite strong efforts
- Excessive worry or anxiety (i.e. refusing to go to bed or school)
- Persistent nightmares
- Persistent disobedience or aggression
- Frequent temper tantrums
Teens will display symptoms such as:
- 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
- Prolonged negative mood, often accompanied by poor appetite or thoughts of death
- Frequent outbursts of anger
How do you decide where to go for help?
A primary care physician or pediatrician can help direct you to the best source of care.
There are a number of mental health hotlines that can assist you in finding care, including 800-273-TALK, the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline; and 800-345-9049, the CARES (Crisis and Referral Entry Services) 24-hour crisis line to talk to a mental health professional if your child is a risk to themselves or others, having a mental health crisis, or if you would like a referral to services for children, youth, and families.
You can also call Linden Oaks Help Line 24/7 at 630-305-5027.
How can you convince someone you love they would benefit from mental health care?
It’s important to note that the stigma of mental illness is a frequent barrier to seeking help. Mental health is as important as physical health and should be treated the same as needing care for a physical condition such as a heart attack or cancer.
Sometimes having a heart-to-heart with your loved one where you point out troubling behavioral changes and explain why you’re concerned is enough. It may take more than one conversation to convince someone that mental health care is helpful and could improve their life.
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