By Emily O’Neil ’21
CV has made knowing the signs of someone struggling with mental health a priority this school year. The “Know the Five Signs” campaign highlights the changes in attitude and personality that can indicate an issue. Noticing when someone is not acting in the usual manner, seems agitated or withdrawn, stops caring for him/herself and shows signs of being hopeless, can make all the difference.
Conversations about mental health can seem awkward and feel like oversharing, but these conversations need to happen. There needs to be more opportunities to learn about mental health and how to help those struggling with it.
Mental health includes emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how people think, feel, and act, as well as determining how to handle stress, relate to others, and make choices. Mental health concerns range from common problems like depression and anxiety to less-recognized problems like schizophrenia and bipolar disorder.
According to Fortune.com, 1 in 25 (10 million) adults in America experience a serious mental illness, and 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness. However, less than half of adults with a mental health condition receive help. Additionally, less than half of children ages 8-15 receive mental health services, 36.9% of people suffering from anxiety receive treatment, and less than 20% of Americans with moderate depressive symptoms sought help from a professional.
“Research shows that mental illnesses are common in the United States, affecting tens of millions of people each year,” The National Institute of Mental Health explains. “Estimates suggest that only half of people struggling with mental illnesses receive treatment. The percentage of young adults aged 18-25 years with any mental illness who received mental health treatment (35.1%) was lower than adults with any mental illness aged 26-49 years (43.1%) and aged 50 and older (46.8%).”
The majority of people struggling with mental health issues are hesitant to speak up about it.
If you see someone struggling, reach out and try to help them. Asking someone how they are doing can be a scary undertaking, but if you are worried about someone, letting them know you care can make a huge difference. Being there for someone provides more support and makes them feel less alone when opening and talk about how they feel.
Having more conversations about mental health will allow people to be able to learn more about these topics and realize that someone in their life may be struggling. It will give them the tools to reach out to others and make a difference.
A tip for starting a conversation is to begin one when there is an open window of time to have an in-depth discussion, making sure neither one of you must cut the conversation short. You should set aside at least 30 minutes to an hour, according to Mental Health America.
If someone starts to talk to you about their mental health, it is important to listen to them and let them finish their sentences to show that you understand, are listening, and care about what they have to say.
Just being there for friends or family who you see are struggling can make all the difference. It can make them realize that it is okay to talk about how they are feeling, and that they will not be dismissed or judged.
The hardest part for most people suffering from severe mental health problems is admitting that they do indeed have a problem and need help.
Once someone reaches out to you and talks to you about their mental health, it is your job to figure out if they have told anyone else about their concerns and if they are getting help. Many people suffering from mental illnesses will not want to tell their parents or loved ones about what is going on, and they are often hesitant to go see a professional. As a concerned friend or family member, realize that it is pertinent that you make sure they receive further assistance.
In a serious situation, make sure to let an adult know right away if you are concerned that someone you know is harming themselves in any way or is going to harm themselves. This is not being a bad friend or “snitching.” In time, they will come to thank you for your help.
Learning how to talk to someone with mental health issues and getting them help can improve their lives tremendously. Having more conversations about mental illness will allow students, teachers, adults, and coworkers to be able to realize when someone they know is struggling and to get them help.
If those with mental health issues open-up, and we have more conversations about mental illnesses, those who are suffering will realize that they can get help, that they are not outcasts, and that others are going through the same struggles that are affecting them.