May is Mental Health Awareness Month…
Taking care of our mental health is essential to our overall health, well-being and success. However, it’s often not a common topic of discussion. Many factors can affect the state of someone’s emotional wellbeing, such as stress, work-life balance habits, personal life situations, family conflicts, physical health and more. It’s important to tend to mental health at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. The best way to accurately diagnose a mental illness or disorder is by meeting with a professional (such as a psychologist) for a mental health screening.
Mental Health Screenings
What is a mental health screening and how are they used?
A mental health screening is an assessment using different psychological tests to evaluate a person’s emotional and psychological health. According to MedlinePlus, some of the most common disorders include:
- Depression and mood disorder
- Anxiety disorders
- Eating disorders
- Attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
- Substance abuse and addictive disorders
Early Warning Signs
Do you know the early warning signs to look out for? Symptoms, feelings, and behaviors vary depending on the specific illness. Common signs may include:
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling excessively sad or low
- Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Changes in sex drive
- Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
- Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or anosognosia)
- Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
Know The Signs: “At the beginning, I did not know what was happening to me. My stable and secure life had suddenly changed: I lost my job of five years; I broke up with my boyfriend of six years who I was living with. Looking back, given my isolated and vulnerable mental state, I should have been more careful and more aware of my mental health. Here are some of the lessons I learned from my experience…”
Accepting My Schizophrenia Diagnosis: “My first episode of psychosis happened when I was 24 years old. I had just finished college and was making my way to New York to begin my new engineering job. Slowly my paranoia and fear that people were out to get me overtook me and in a panic, I drove to an airport and rushed to the nearest security officer. From there I was put in an ambulance and taken to a hospital where I received my diagnosis of schizophrenia.”
There Is A Light At The End Of The Tunnel: “There is no quick fix solution for this. There are medical professionals who are specifically trained to help you. After having sought help, I can’t even begin to tell you how wonderful it is to wake up every morning wanting to just dance all the time and hug everybody in sight. So, friends, be nice. Everyone is fighting a battle we know nothing about. Also, just as a side note to students, workers, everyone to be honest, set aside petty jealousies and trivial personalities and just care for each other. Life’s way too short!”
Why We Need To Keep The Mental Health Conversation Open
Here are a few facts about how mental illness affects people in the U.S. that our country cannot ignore…
- Approximately 46.6 million adults in the United States face the reality of managing a mental illness every day.
- Work is good for mental health but a negative working environment can lead to physical and mental health problems.
- Harassment and bullying at work are commonly reported problems, and can have a substantial adverse impact on mental health.
- Half of all lifetime mental health conditions begin by age 14 and 75% by age 24, but early intervention programs can help.
- Up to 90% of those who die by suicide have an underlying mental illness as revealed by psychological autopsy. 46% of those who die by suicide have a diagnosed mental illness.
- Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. With effective care, suicidal thoughts are treatable, and suicide is preventable.
Getting The Help You Need
The good news, you are NOT alone! Please do not keep your struggles to yourself. There are so many people who would love to support you in getting the guidance you need, for example: opening up to a trusted friend, family member or coworker; seeing a guidance counselor at school; making an appointment with a social worker, therapist, or psychologist.
Regular counseling sessions may be necessary, or daily use of medication depending on the diagnosis. The goal is to help individuals live their most healthy and fulfilling life possible.
At Lakeshore Psychotherapy Group, we offer psychological screening & assessments in the areas of cognitive functioning, learning disorders, memory impairment, and issues with social-emotional functioning. Our screening assessments also focus on depression and anxiety disorders.
We feel that psychotherapy should be accessible to everyone and we’re doing our part in making this happen…