Mental Illness

Mental Illness

At some point in everyone’s life, they will likely be touched by mental health challenges in one way or another. Here you will learn more about the differences in mental health, mental illness, & the warning signs & symptoms of a potential mental health challenge. Explore below to learn ways to protect your mental health, how to talk openly & honestly with others, & where to get support if needed.

Reduce the Stigma

The Other Side of Mental Health Stigma

Written by Dahyana P. Schlosser, PMHNP-BC

What is Stigma?

Stigma has consistently been a significant barrier for individuals and communities when facing challenges related to mental health. It’s the reason why people hesitate to talk about their challenges and an obstacle when it comes to getting help. The effects of stigma permeate across all areas of society and the far reaching implications can be felt both at the systemic level, as well as at every level of care. Ultimately, most will grapple with mental health stigma in some way, shape, or form. If you ever want to recognize it, you’ll find that it poses as the elephant in the room. The one everyone steadfastly ignores. Nevertheless, it is still able to drive conversations and key decisions as people try to skirt around it. The bottom line is that stigma creates more work for everyone. It’s taxing on society, and families often get the worst of it.

The Children are our Future

While the increased statistics of mental health challenges in our youth are staggering, sobering, and concerning, It’s important to point out another trend that has been observed. While the incident of youth mental illness is on the rise, the level of stigma associated with these types of challenges is decreasing in this population as well.

The Bright Side

In today’s world this should serve as no surprise. Each day we are met with stories in the news of youth who are leading the way on many fronts, whether it be gun control, climate change, or mental health stigma. Youth are talking about it among their friends, in chat rooms, via text message, and on social media. Everyday they are taking action and asking for reform or change. Most of all, they are doing and saying things that are getting the attention of the adults around them as they ask for help in their own unique ways.

Eliminate Stigma. Change the World.

The innovations that lie on the other side of stigma are worth the work to eliminate it. They are so profound that the future of our youth and by extension, our world, will forever be changed for the better. Just on the other side of stigma, there is flexibility, problem solving, collaboration, empathy, community, and a culture of acceptance. Many of us are shining in the light of empathy and paving the way for others through innovations that will change the way we look at, approach, and experience mental health for generations to come.

Three Ways to Help Eliminate Stigma
  1. Listen empathically – Our fast-paced and whirlwind culture (#teamnosleep) can have us looking for shortcuts to make things a little easier on our minds and bodies. We tend to go on autopilot every now and again, especially when communicating with others. However, when we listen to others empathically, it opens the door for authenticity, and more importantly, we let people know that we are a safe space to talk about anything and everything.
  2. Be a safe space through self-care – don’t let self-care only be a hashtag. Actually, do it.
  3. Normalize mental health – every chance you get.

When we accept emotional health challenges as a normal part of the human experience, we will free ourselves from the shackles of stigma and propel ourselves towards innovation that will save lives and make this world a better place.

Warning Signs

Warning Signs of Mental Illness

Written by Violaine Guéritault, Ph.D.

Mental illness is not the same as feeling sad, unhappy or stressed. It refers to a state that causes intense distress and that affects a person’s ability to function over a long period of time. Mental illness does not show up overnight. There are warning signs that you should be aware of because they can be a sign that either you or someone you care about may be developing a mental illness.

Warning Signs of Mental Illness
  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or down
  • Extreme mood swings, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria alternating with periods of feeling down and depressed
  • Change in sleep patterns, frequent complaints of feeling tired, feeling restless
  • Experiencing many or frequent physical symptoms, ie: headaches, fatigue, stomach aches, etc
  • Yelling and fighting with family and friends
  • Withdrawal and avoiding friends and social activities
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Strong feelings of anger or irritability
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Excessive smoking, drinking, or using drugs
  • Thinking of harming yourself or someone else
  • Having persistent thoughts or memories that can’t get out of your head
  • Excessive thoughts about weight gain, food consumption, or body image/ self-esteem tied to appearance

If you think you or someone you know are experiencing a mental health challenge, the first thing you need to know is that you are NOT alone, even if it feels like you are. You can easily have access to the support and the help you need and deserve. Reaching out for help requires courage because of the stigma that unfortunately still surrounds mental illness. But you should never feel ashamed or embarrassed of asking for help. If anything, you should be proud of yourself for doing so because it means that you have the courage to take that first step in getting better and making a change in your life. Look at asking for mental health care the same way you’d look at seeing a doctor for a physical health problem. Find more tools for finding support here.

Be an Ally: Suicide

Be an Ally: Suicide

Written by The Nan Project

What should I do if I think a friend is considering suicide?

To help your friend or relative, talk to them and encourage them to open up.

  • Never ignore or dismiss comments about suicide. Always report them to a trusted adult. This could be your caregiver, teacher, school’s guidance counselor, school nurse, coach, or even your doctor. Don’t be afraid to reach out.
  • Recognize the symptoms of suicide ideation and depression.
  • Calmly ask them if they want to or intend to harm themselves. Seek immediate professional help if they do.
  • Listen carefully with empathy and support, and acknowledge/validate the pain or sadness they are suffering.
  • Discourage isolation and invite your loved one out for walks, outings, and other activities. Keep trying even if he or she declines, but don’t push them to take on too much too soon.
  • Remind them how much you care for them and that they are not alone.
  • Don’t give up hope on them, treatment is available and it may take time to find the right fit.
  • Never keep secrets about self-harm or suicide ideation.

Share a Resource

Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1‑800‑273‑TALK (8255)
Webchat on www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat

Crisis Text Line: Reach out by texting ANY word to 741741
https://www.crisistextline.org/

National Alliance on Mental Health: Call or Chat 1 (800) 950-6264
https://www.nami.org/help

For the Samaritans: Call or Text (877)870-4673
https://samaritanshope.org

SAMHSA: Suicide Safe Mobile App
https://www.samhsa.gov/

 

Resources

A list of BLOOM's trusted resources to find more information and support… VIEW ALL

Trusted Organizations
National Suicide Prevention Hotline

We can all help prevent suicide. The Lifeline provides 24/7, free and confidential support for people in distress.

Teen Tribe // Support Group

Teen Tribe provides peer-to-peer support groups for teens faced with mental health challenges and/or difficult family dynamics.

The Nan Project

Promotes mental health awareness and suicide prevention programs for young people, using a peer-to-peer model.

Books, Apps & Podcasts
Insight Timer

Offers 100,000 free guided meditations for as long as you want without ever paying a cent.

Shine App

An inclusive self-care app that inspires users to look after their mental health with the help of meditation, gratitude exercises and journaling.

Happify

Happify's science-based activities and games can help you overcome negative thoughts, stress, and life's challenges.

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