Common Mental Health Issues
People struggling with suicidal ideation (thoughts) don’t usually kill themselves out of the blue. Instead, they often mentally prepare themselves for the moment, often keeping it secret. However, there are some signs to look for:
Stressful life events may push someone over the edge. They may have experienced prolonged stress at home, school, or work. They may also have access to a means of committing suicide (drugs or weapons).
Not everybody gets addicted to gambling. But if you think you know someone who has gotten hooked, look for these signs:
If someone you know is becoming dependent on alcohol or drugs, you’ll see several signs:
A few symptoms of dependence on alcohol or substances:
Someone suffering from an eating disorder (anorexia nervosa or bulimia nervosa) will avoid food for interpersonal, psychological, physiological, and/or cultural reasons.
Written expression disorder:
Some of these learning disabilities can also be classified as or under Dyscalculia or Dyslexia. Learning disorders may be inherited or the child may have experienced troubles before birth, during birth, or in early infancy. Five percent of children enrolled in U.S. schools (K-12) have been diagnosed with some kind of learning disorder.
Depression is one of the best-known mental illness, but its symptoms aren’t always well understood:
Anxiety and Stress Disorders
Too much stress or anxiety in a situation can indicate a problem.
While life hands out stress in the form of tough tests, financial burdens, tight deadlines, or caring for an ill loved one, it’s when the stress and anxiety overwhelm the person that it becomes a disorder. Recognizing that the person has crossed the line into a mental disorder is important but it may be difficult to do. While a person deals with stress, it can also contribute to the symptoms of anxiety.
Post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) develops after a traumatic event, such as being threatened with serious danger. These events cause intense helplessness, horror, and fear.
“Complicated grief” is an intense, persistent grief coinciding with dysfunctional behavior and maladaptive thoughts. The person has trouble adapting to their loss.
Schizophrenia is defined a breakdown in the connections between thought, emotion, and behavior. Here are some behaviors associated with this illness.
“Positive” symptoms (additional behaviors):
“Negative” symptoms (emotions, withdrawal, difficulty functioning):
Those experiencing bipolar disorder often go through extreme emotional “highs” and “lows”.
Bipolar disorder (manic)
Major depressive episode:
Autism displays with two core symptoms:
These symptoms develop early in childhood, often going unrecognized. They can interfere with daily living and will persist through life.
Children can have difficulty with the following issues:
Restricted, repetitive behaviors can include:
When someone realizes that their loved one is showing worrisome signs of mental illness, they may not know where they can turn. They may also feel confused about how to support them.
Before lining up support services, the person should show their own love and support, and find out if their loved one is already getting help. If not, they should let them know help is available. If the question of mental health comes up, they can respond to their loved one, listen to their ideas, and offer to help them with daily tasks. It’s also vital to include them in family gatherings.
They should treat those who have mental health issues with dignity and compassion. They should also educate others, so they know what mental illness is and what it isn’t.
Finding support may be a challenge. If their loved one is suicidal, they can call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (1-800-273-8255). If the situation isn’t an emergency, they can schedule an appointment with the loved one’s primary healthcare provider or pediatrician. Find a services locator online for behavioral health providers. There are several, with resources for specific types of mental health issues.
These practices can address anger management for those who are struggling to moderate their expressions of anger. Counselors may also work with clients who struggle with anxiety, depression, and addiction to substances or alcohol.
Marriage & Family Therapy:
Private practice clinicians works with couples, individuals, and families throughout the lifespan. Specialties include anxiety, substance use/abuse, depression, child and family play therapy, and family therapy. Most practices rely on theoretical approaches.
Teenage Support Group:
The title is self-explanatory. A counselor will work with teens who are addressing school issues, anxiety, or depression.
These establishments can offer comprehensive, integrated medical, psychological, and recreational services to students, employees, or community members.
At times, hospitalization or in-patient facility care may be necessary. Facility care or hospitalization should be used when the person is a threat to themselves or others, or they are in active psychosis. Hospitalization in a psych ward also allows psychiatrists, psychologists, and other mental health professionals to create a discharge plan, any needed treatment plan, and sufficient support services for the person so they remain stable.
A residential facility is voluntary. Mental health personnel work with residents to help them to address their issues. Once the person is able to see family, they can explore any family relationships that may be causing problems.
Judge Baker Children’s Center:
This organization is a Harvard Medical School-affiliated organization where children receive mental health services that help them increase their ability to function more normally in society. The Children’s Center is the oldest mental health organization in New England.
Mental Health America (MHA):
This organization is based in the community, helping to address the needs of the mentally ill and promoting better mental health. MHA believes that mental health is only one part of overall wellness. It treats mental health conditions before they become severe enough to cause individual suffering.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH):
This organization is one of 27 health institutes making up the National Institutes of Health. NIMH is focused on mental health research based on the understanding, treatment, and prevention of mental illness.
American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (AFSP):
This non-profit organization strives to save lives and offer hope to those who have been touched by suicide. With chapters in every state, its main strategies focus on education for mental health professionals and the public, and funding scientific research.
Mental Health Hotline:
People with mental illnesses call out to mental crisis hotlines as they struggle with issues ranging from anxiety, PTSD, depression, bipolar disorder, and eating disorders. Whether the person has resources in their community or not, a hotline can help them to reach badly needed support in the midst of a crisis.
Lines for Life:
Available 24/7, this hotline offers anonymous and confidential support and assistance. Staff and volunteers provide assistance and compassionate support in-the-moment. They also refer callers to resources that can help them find the help they need.
Washington Recovery Help Line:
This hotline aids people who are struggling with substance abuse issues. It also offers crisis interventions and referrals to needed services for people within Washington State. Staff and volunteers offer emotional support 24/7. They also recommend local treatment resources to address substance abuse, mental health issues, and gambling issues.
The Veterans Administration Mental Health “Get Help” Line:
This help line offers confidential help to U.S. military veterans who are experiencing challenging mental health issues. Along with the Get Help line, the Veterans Crisis Line is available for vets who are in the midst of a crisis.
Hospitals that treat patients with physical illnesses are being overwhelmed by people in the middle of a mental health crisis. If, for instance, they are in the middle of a panic attack, they may understandably think they are having a medical crisis, so they go to the emergency room.
The practice is called “psychiatric boarding”, which means that a mental health patient stays in the emergency room because of the lack of an appropriate mental health facility nearby. Mental health patients don’t always have sufficient resources to turn to in the midst of a mental health crisis.
Some communities do have psychiatric emergency rooms. They provide walk-in/emergent services to people with mental illness. They may provide crisis phone services 24/7, as well as evaluations of a patient’s current condition.
These emergency rooms are able to provide mental health referrals, crisis intervention, psychiatric evaluations, treatment recommendations, and screenings for inpatient psychiatric hospitalization.
Who Treats Mental Illness?
The medical professional with the most specialized knowledge to care for the mentally ill is the psychiatrist. They are MDs and may hold a Master of Public Health (MPH) degree with concentrations in a mental health discipline.
These doctors work closely with mental health patients, helping to deliver the services they so badly need. A psychiatrist focuses on their patient’s mind and emotions. They are able to prescribe medications while, in most states, psychologists cannot prescribe medications. Psychiatrists treat more serious mental illnesses (schizophrenia or major depression).
Psychologists are also mental health professionals. While they don’t hold an MD, they do possess the knowledge needed to help their clients. Like psychiatrists, psychologists provide psychotherapy (“talk” therapy). They also introduce clients to coping methods. Psychologists focus more on behaviors and thinking since they usually are not able to prescribe medications.
Someone with a Master of Social Work who has completed a concentration in mental health also has the knowledge to work with clients as psychiatric social workers or behavioral health clinicians. In their coursework, master’s social work students focus on advanced theory and research in mental health, trauma, and substance abuse. They also approach mental health assessments from a framework that takes bigotry and cultural bias into considerations as they develop diagnoses. Their treatment approach comes from a psychotherapy theoretical perspective (strengths/empowerment and solutions focused).
Counselors and therapists also help people with mental illnesses. This is a good starting point for children who are showing signs of suffering from a mental illness. These professionals begin treatments, identify clients who need mental health interventions, and provide referrals to other professionals.
Family counselors work with all family members who recognize a problem exists. One family member might be suffering from mental illness, but the whole family feels its effects. They coordinate care and help them get through a crisis.
Finding a Care Provider
People of any age may worry that they are experiencing mental health symptoms. If this happens, they may wonder about resources that may be able to help them. For children who have experienced a stressful event, symptoms of PTSD may show up. Asking for a referral from the pediatrician can lead to finding the right mental health professional.
Teens or young adults can talk to an adult they trust and explain what they are experiencing. The adult or a friend may have already noticed changes in the teen/young adult, wanting to refer them to a mental health professional.
If someone is worrying relentlessly about something, they may be developing an anxiety disorder. These can also present as panic attacks, which may cause the person to think they are seriously physically ill. Talking to their doctor may result in receiving a referral for mental health services.
Those Providing Prescriptions
Therapists help guide clients through stressful events, helping them get to a place where they feel less overwhelmed. If the person has already been diagnosed with a mental health condition, they should see a psychiatrist or psychologist.
Psychologists offer ADHD evaluations, couples counseling, alcohol self-assessments, individual counseling, trauma support, and stress coping skills. In some states, they can also prescribe medications to help clients who are working on being able to function in various settings.
As an MD, a psychiatrist has full prescribing privileges for clients who must rely on psychotropic medications. They can assist patients by adjusting their medications or dosages as their needs change over time.
Nurses with advanced education and training can provide psychotherapy services to mental health clients. They may also perform hypnotherapy with the required training. The client’s family may participate in therapeutic services with nurse psychotherapists.