Skip to main content

MCC Daily Tribune

May Mental Health Awareness Month

Mental Health Awareness Month is a celebration of people and of changing attitudes. In order to enjoy life to the fullest we need to first take care of ourselves, both mentally and physically. Times have started changing and more and more people are changing their outlook on mental illness. However, we still have a long way to go in combating the stigma surrounding mental health.

It is not always easy to understand and recognize the signs of a mental illness. There is not a simple, medical test that can provide an accurate diagnosis, and these conditions are often invisible. However, knowing warning signs can help someone identify when they are struggling, and when to speak with a mental health professional.

According to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents 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”)
  • Overuse 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
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance

There is no simple “one size fits all” approach when it comes to treatment for a mental illness. Treatments are individualized and may vary by diagnosis, as well as, by the person. Some options may include medication, counseling (therapy), social support, and psychoeducation. It is also important to know your own preferences and goals and to practice self-advocacy. Reach out to your health insurance provider, primary care doctor, or state/county mental health authority to find out more about resources in your area. For local Rochester area resources: Monroe County Crisis Services. Please don’t be afraid to reach out for help if you or someone you know needs support.

Morgan Kennell
Counseling Center & Disability Services