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Mental Health Awareness

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Know the signs and symptoms of mental illness

Mental health is defined as “a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to the community.”

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), however, mental illness is a medical condition that disrupts a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others and daily functioning. There are a variety of mental illness conditions, including schizophrenia; anxiety disorder; major depression; bipolar disorder, eating disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).

It is estimated that one in five American adults and 13-20 percent of children will experience a diagnosable mental health disorder in any given year.

The symptoms typically affect behavior, thoughts and emotions. And while symptoms can vary depending on the illness, a person’s specific circumstances and environmental factors, here are some common signs and symptoms of mental illness:

In adults:

  • Feelings of hopelessness or helplessness
  • Reduced ability to concentrate
  • Excessive fears or worries; feelings of guilt
  • Extreme mood changes
  • Withdrawal from family, friends and society
  • Change in sleeping habits (sleeping more often)
  • Gaining or losing weight; change in eating habits
  • Sex drive changes
  • Decrease in personal hygiene habits
  • Paranoid behavior
  • Excessive use of alcohol or drugs
  • Extreme anger, hostility or violence
  • Acting recklessly or engaging in risky activities
  • Feeling there is no reason for living or no sense of purpose
    in life; suicidal thoughts or talk

In adolescents/young adults:

  • Frequent outbursts of anger or frustration
  • Changes in sleeping/eating habits
  • Substance abuse
  • Inability to deal with daily activities/problem
  • Complaints of physical ailments
  • Thoughts or talk of death/suicide
  • Defiance of authority, truancy
  • Theft or vandalism

In young children (pre-adolescents):

  • Increased/frequent temper tantrums
  • Poor grades
  • Reoccurring nightmares
  • Increased disobedience/aggression
  • Hyperactivity or lethargy
  • Excessive worry, anxiety


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