The mental illness crisis develops gradually, and its signs are usually unnoticeable.
Many people feel ashamed about their mental health-related struggles, and they try hard to hide them, even from those closest to them. The mental illness issues are rising during the COVID-19 pandemic as it’s easier for people to hide their feelings, especially when the mode of contact is texts or video calls.
Signs that someone may be dealing with a mental health crisis
Here are some signs that someone may be experiencing a mental health crisis:
1. Withdrawal – It is the most common sign of mental illness struggles. People dealing with mental issues tend to withdraw themselves from normal activities. Types of withdrawal include:
- Staying in their room
- Not being in touch with their friends
- Not answering texts/ phone calls
- Avoiding mealtime
These types of withdrawals reflect the low energy, motivation, and engagement of a person dealing with mental illness struggles. They usually lose their interest in day-to-day activities.
2. Alcohol or other substance abuse – Increase in consumption of alcohol or other drugs, especially Marijuana, can be a sign of an underlying mental health issue. Look for changes in a person, such as:
- Starting to drink most nights of the week
- Drinking to the point of slurred speech
- Using substances alone, like smoking marijuana solo in their room
Depressed people often use alcohol and other substances to deal with their pain or blunt feelings. This problematic patterns of substance use can lead to or reflect a tendency toward addiction.
3. Lack of self-care – When a person is dealing with major life difficulties, basic self-care is often one of the first things to go. They might stop bathing regularly, stop taking care of their teeth, may also wear the same dirty clothes every day, and look more disheveled than ever.
You might notice a change in their food eating choices, such as depending on fast food or sugary snacks. They might stop exercising and you can also observe unusual change in their sleeping patterns. A healthy diet and exercise are necessary for good well-being, and ignoring them can worsen their situation.
4. Hopelessness – A person struggling with mental illness may also express a lack of hope that things will get better. You can often hear them saying:
- “I don’t see things ever improving.”
- “I feel like giving up.”
- “It’s pointless—things are never going to get better.”
- And of course, “I feel so hopeless.”
- “Why I,m doing this—it’s never going to work out.”
While none of these statements in itself indicates a crisis, they’re worth paying attention to. Hopelessness is a universal experience for those who attempt suicide. If someone you love is reflecting these thoughts, look out for them and let them know you love them.
Tips to help them
So these are the things you can do for the people who need your help:
1. Let them know you’re with them – First of all, consult with someone who also knows the person very well. Tell the person that you’ve observed these changes, and you care for them and love them. They can always come to you to anything.
2. Mind your anxiety – When we’re worried about someone, we might bring negative energy into our conversations. We might get mad if the person seems evasive, making them even less likely to share openly. It’s natural to get mad, but remember anxiety will not help them. So it’s better to keep a control on your anxiety about the whole situation to help them more effectively.
3. Discuss how you can help them – There are several ways to help a person dealing with mental health difficulties, such as:
- Offer a listening ear as often as they like
- Help them with a self-direction plan if they aren’t ready to take professional help
- Brainstorm other options that might help them, like Alcoholics Anonymous meetings, meditation, and yoga, etc.
- Research psychotherapists or other professionals who could be helpful
- Accompany them to appointments if they want
The last and foremost thing just be with them whenever they need you.
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