It can be difficult to see when a friend or family member is suffering from mental health issues, particularly because many people try to hide it or don’t feel like they can speak openly. A mental health crisis can also develop slowly and gradually meaning it’s more difficult to notice the changes. Luckily there are some common indicators that you will be able to spot if they are experiencing a mental health problem, and there are ways that you can help and support them.
Keep reading for advice on how to spot signs of a mental illness…
- Withdrawal from their typical activities
Those who are suffering with their mental health tend to remove themselves from their day to day activities. For example, has your loved one been keeping to themselves more than usual? Perhaps they’ve been refined to their room, haven’t been answering your phone calls or texts. Have they been avoiding social interaction or their usual commitments? These tend to signal low energy and a lack of motivation which are common symptoms of depression and anxiety.
If you notice this in a loved one, send a message asking to meet up, or even pop round for a cup of tea.
- Substance abuse
It’s normal to have a glass or two of wine with dinner, or enjoy some drinks with friends at the weekend. However, many people who are experiencing a mental health issue try to self medicate with alcohol and/or drugs. Is your loved one drinking more often and in greater volume? Are they drinking heavily/ using substances on their own? Substance abuse is a cause for concern as it can be extremely harmful, and even fatal. Talk to your loved one and encourage them to seek medical or professional advice.
- Change in eating habits
A dramatic change in eating habits can often be an indicator of a mental health issue. Are they eating a lot more than normal? Or are they skipping meals? Try to sensitively talk to them about how they are feeling, and whether everything is okay. Let them know that you are there for them to talk to if they wish to.
- Lack of self care
Those suffering with mental health issues often neglect the most basic of self care. You might notice that they have stopped showering, brushing their teeth, they might wear the same dirty clothes day after day. Also look out for a sudden stop of exercise and healthy eating. As we have discussed in many of our previous blog posts, exercise and a nutritional diet are essential to our mental wellbeing, so a neglect of these things can worsen someone’s condition. Why not cook them something healthy or try and set up a gym date? It’s important to let them know you’re there for them.
- Recent major stresses and / or life transition
Whilst this isn’t a sign of a mental health issue, they can often lead to them. If your loved one has recently experienced something major, such as redundancy, divorce, relationship breakdown, it’s best to keep an eye on them and offer them that extra support.
- Struggling to keep on top of things
Is your loved one struggling with their usual responsibilities? Maybe they forgot to attend a meeting at work, have missed deadlines or even their dirty dishes are piling up. Check in with them and see if everything is okay.
- Expressing hopelessness
Those suffering with their mental health often feel hopeless, and it can be noticeable too. Listen out for statements to the effect of giving up, not seeing the point in things, not seeing things ever improving. It’s important to pay attention if your loved one is displaying feelings of hopelessness, as it can potentially in some small cases lead to an attempt to end their life.
Everyone is different, and those experiencing mental health issues can be showcasing different signs and changes in their behaviour. If you notice a change in your loved one, don’t be afraid to reach out to them and offer them your support.
What is a social anxiety disorder? Find out everything you need to know HERE