You’re worried about a friend or co-worker who seems to be acting more and more withdrawn, or not like themselves. You want to say something, but you’re not sure what, if anything, would be appropriate. What do you do when someone you care about may have a mental health issue?
Mental health is like our physical health, in that it is something we all deal with, but some of us don’t think of it that way, or even think about it much at all.
Problems with friends or family, work or school as well as normal everyday stress can make a person overly-sensitive, irritable, lazy, withdrawn or rebellious. These feelings are normal and will usually pass, but if they don’t go away they can be the symptoms of a mental health problem.
The following signs might indicate a mental health problem:
- Withdrawal from friends, family, school, work, sports or other things that are usually enjoyable
- A major change in mood or inappropriate responses to certain situations
- Disturbed sleep – either not getting enough or sleeping too much
- Disturbed eating patterns – either eating less than normal or over-eating
- Pre-occupation and obsession about a particular issue
- Lack of care for personal appearance or personal responsibilities
- A drop in performance at work or school or in hobbies
- Doing things that don’t make sense to others or hearing or seeing things that nobody else can hear or see
What to Do
If you think that someone you know might be having problems, look out for the signs and symptoms listed and talk to them about it. Most people will turn to a friend for support during tough times, so being there for your friends can really help.
Remember, it is important to look after your own mental health too, so don’t take on more than you feel comfortable with. Talk to someone about your concerns. You are not responsible for everyone else, but you can offer support. It can be a huge worry if someone tells you that they have thoughts of suicide. Sometimes they don’t want you to tell anyone else, but you must explain to them that you can’t keep this to yourself and that you can help them get the support they need. If someone confides in you, it means they are reaching out for help. If they didn’t want help, they wouldn’t have told you.