MENTAL ILLNESS

Know the Warning Signs

Trying to tell the difference between what expected behaviors are and what might be the signs of mental illness isn’t always easy. There’s no easy test that can let someone know if there is a mental illness or if actions and thoughts might be typical behaviors of a person or the result of a physical illness.

Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following:

  • 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
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • 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
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • Intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance

Mental health conditions can also begin to develop in young children. Because they’re still learning how to identify and talk about thoughts and emotions, their most obvious symptoms are behavioral. Symptoms in children may include the following:

  • Changes in school performance
  • Excessive worry or anxiety, for instance, fighting to avoid bed or school
  • Hyperactive behavior
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Frequent disobedience or aggression
  • Frequent temper tantrums

Source: https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Know-the-Warning-Signs

Where to Get Help

Catholic Charities of Ashtabula
4200 Park Ave.  3rd Floor
Ashtabula, OH 44004
Phone: (440) 992-2121
Website: https://www.ccdoy.org/locations/catholic-charities-of-ashtabula-county/

Community Counseling Center
2801 C Court
Ashtabula, OH 44004
Phone: (440) 998-4210 or (800) 998-4210
Website: http://www.cccohio.com/

Signature Health
4726 Main Avenue
Ashtabula, OH 44004
Phone: (440) 992-8552
Website: https://www.signaturehealthinc.org/

ADDITIONAL HELP RESOURCES

Active Minds – Website:  https://www.activeminds.org/
Empowers students to change the perception about mental health on college campuses.

Best Practices in Schizophrenia Treatment (BeST) Center – Website: https://www.neomed.edu/bestcenter/
Promote recovery and improve the lives of as many people with schizophrenia as possible by accelerating the adoption of evidence-based and promising practices.

BringChange2Mind.org – Website: https://bringchange2mind.org/
Working to end the stigma and discrimination of mental illness.

Ohio Mental Health & Addiction Services – Website: https://mha.ohio.gov/
The mission of the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services (OhioMHAS) is to provide statewide leadership of a high-quality mental health and addiction prevention, treatment, and recovery system that is effective and valued by all Ohioans.

Mental Health America – Website: http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/
A community-based network dedicated to helping all Americans achieve wellness by living mentally healthier lives.

Mental Health.gov – Website: https://www.mentalhealth.gov/
Learn about mental health as a piece of overall wellness and the early warning signs of mental health problems.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) – Website: https://www.nami.org/
NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness.

National Institute of Mental Health – Website: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/index.shtml
Transforming the understanding and treatment of mental illnesses.

MENTAL HEALTH FIRST AID USA

Mental Health First Aid is a public education program that introduces participants to risk factors and warning signs of mental health problems, builds understanding of their impact and overviews appropriate supports. This 8-hour course uses role-playing and simulations to demonstrate how to offer initial help in a mental health crisis and connect people to the appropriate professional, peer, social and self-help care. The program also teaches common risk factors and warning signs of specific illnesses like anxiety, depression, substance use, bipolar disorder, eating disorders and schizophrenia.
Mental Health First Aid is included on the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration’s National Registry of Evidence-based Programs and Practices (NREPP).

COURSE DETAILS

Mental Health First Aid teaches participants a five-step action plan, ALGEE, to support someone developing signs and symptoms of a mental illness or experiencing an emotional crisis:

  • Assess for risk of suicide or harm
  • Listen nonjudgmentally
  • Give reassurance and information
  • Encourage appropriate professional help
  • Encourage self-help and other support strategies

Like CPR, Mental Health First Aid prepares participants to interact with a person in crisis and connect the person with help. First Aiders do not diagnose or provide any counseling or therapy. Instead, the program offers concrete tools and answers key questions like, “What do I do?” and, “Where can someone find help?” Certified Mental Health First Aid instructors provide a list of community healthcare providers and national resources, support groups and online tools for mental health and addictions treatment and support. All trainees receive a program manual to complement the course material.

PROGRAM GROWTH

Mental Health First Aid was introduced in the U.S. in 2008 and, to date, more than 1 million people from all 50 states,the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico have taken the course. The course is offered to a variety of audiences, including hospital staff, employers and business leaders, faith communities and law enforcement. Approximately 400 people are trained each day, with that number expected to increase.

In 2012, Youth Mental Health First Aid was introduced to prepare trainees to help youth ages 12-18 that may be developing or experiencing a mental health challenge. Specialized versions of Mental Health First Aid including the Veterans, Public Safety, Higher Education, Rural and Older Adults modules and a Spanish version of the Youth and Adult curriculum are also available.

Mental Health First Aid was included in the President’s plan to reduce gun violence and increase access to mental health services. In 2014, Congress appropriated $15 million to SAMHSA to train teachers and school personnel in Youth Mental Health first Aid; in 2015 an additional $15 million was appropriated to support other community organizations serving youth. The Mental Health First Aid Act of 2015 (S. 711/H.R. 1877) has broad bi-partisan support and would authorize $20 million annually for training the American public. Fifteen states have made Mental Health First Aid a priority by appropriating state funds, including Texas that has allocated $5 million.

For more information or questions about Mental Health First Aid, please go to info@MentalHealthFirstAid.org. To find a course or contact an instructor in your area, visit https://www.mentalhealthfirstaid.org/.