Do you or a loved one need mental health treatment? The term “mental health” refers to how people think, feel, and act. “Mental health is a state of well-being in which individuals realize their own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively, and are able to make a contribution to their community,” according to the World Health Organization. If you’re failing to enjoy good mental health or know someone who is, it may be time to seek treatment.
People with mental health disorders can lead happy and productive lives. Professional mental health services can make that possible. If you have good mental health, you feel like you’re making a difference and have a sense of purpose. You can cope better with life’s ups and downs and experience well-being, feel good, and function well in the world. First, you must identify whether you or your loved one needs mental health treatment.
Statistics Related to Mental Health Disorders
In the United States, 1 in 5 adults experience mental health problems each year, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. Furthermore, many people suffer from more than one mental health disorder at a given time, known as comorbidity or co-occurring disorders.
About 9.5% of American adults ages 18 and older suffer from a depressive illness each year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health Disorders, part of the National Institutes of Health. And most people who die by suicide have a diagnosable mental disorder.
Types of Mental Health Disorders
People can experience a variety of mental health issues that may require treatment. Mental health concerns become mental health disorders when the symptoms impact a person’s ability to function and relate to others.
Common mental health disorders include:
- Mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder)
- Anxiety disorders
- Personality disorders
- Psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia)
- Eating disorders
- Trauma-related disorders (such as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder)
- Substance use disorders
Symptoms of mental health issues vary in frequency and severity. Consider the effect the symptoms have on your – or your loved one’s – ability to function in daily activities.
Serious mental health challenges can harm personal relationships, self-care, or performance at work or school.
Mild mental health issues are less disruptive, but often treatment is helpful.
Mental health concerns don’t have to be serious for people to reach out for professional help and support. Anyone who wants help can seek it.
Symptoms that Indicate the Need for Mental Health Treatment
The primary way to tell if someone needs mental health treatment is if they seem to feel disconnected, according to Richard Pelfrey, the director of Program Development and Implementation for Integrative Life Network.
“It’s a disconnection from life obligations, ourselves, other people, and the natural world around us.”
The disconnection may look different depending on the person, Richard said. It could include isolation, decreased ability or willingness to complete self-care activities, numbing or escaping through external substances and processes, or the loss of interest or ability to fulfill responsibilities.
One of the most commonly reported signs of depression isn’t sadness at all – it’s apathy. Apathy is a feeling of overwhelming indifference to yourself, your life, and those around you, even toward people and things that previously excited you. It’s a lack of motivation to get out of bed in the morning and an inability to figure out why you cared about something.
Signs of mental health issues include:
- Excessive Anxiety. Uncontrollable or excessive anxiety may result in physical symptoms like restlessness, fatigue, muscle tension, or interrupted sleep.
- Reliving Traumatic Experiences. People may replay traumatic images or find that certain experiences, situations, places, or objects throw them back to a traumatic experience.
- Drastic Sleep or Appetite Changes. Weight or appetite changes and changes in sleep patterns, such as not being able to sleep or sleeping too much, are all symptoms of disconnection.
- Uncharacteristic Behavior. Any unusual behavior such as excessive anger, irritability, or overusing substances can indicate needing mental health treatment.
- Expressing Thoughts of Self-Harm or Suicide. If you or a loved one is struggling with suicidal thoughts, or engaging in self-harm or suicidal behaviors, seek help immediately.
How to Encourage Someone to Seek Mental Health Treatment
Often people find themselves dealing with a friend or loved one who shows some signs they may need mental health treatment. Richard said it’s critical not to assume that a loved one needs something they aren’t asking for.
He said, when approaching someone about seeking mental health treatment, you should never order or force someone to get help.
“Language that is invitational versus compelling can soften a refusal. For example, ‘I love you and I think that you would benefit from seeking help,’ rather than, ‘You need help, accept it or else.’”
Richard also stated that accepting a person’s refusal leaves the invitation open.
“The invitation is there for the suffering person to turn to when their need becomes greater than their fear of exploring their issue.”
Richard noted that a different approach is called for if someone shows suicidal thoughts or behaviors.
“Of course, there are scenarios when resistance to help may result in grave harm or even death. In these situations, a person may benefit from an ultimatum which compels them to get treatment.”
When encouraging treatment:
- Set a time and space to discuss it without distractions
- Be prepared for resistance
- Don’t be judgmental
- Educate yourself about mental illness so you can speak in an informed manner
- Offer help in finding treatment
- Set boundaries for yourself. Limiting your interaction with the person is OK if they refuse help.
Seeking Mental Health Treatment
Mental health is important, and seeking mental health treatment should never be frightening or complicated. If you or someone you love show signs of mental health issues, it’s essential to seek help. Contact Integrative Life Center to find out what treatment options are available and which are best for you or your loved one. Better mental health is possible. Don’t put it off.