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Be on the lookout for behaviors
January 26, 2018

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Anyone can experience a mental health problem. Unfamiliar of what mental health means? "Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel, and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, and make choices (mentalhealth.gov)."

Are you aware if you or someone you know is experiencing a mental health problem? The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services have put together a list of early warning signs. Experiencing one or more of the behaviors listed below can be an early sign that there could be a problem.

Eating or sleeping too much or too little

Pulling away from people and usual activities

Having low or no energy

Feeling numb or like nothing matters

Having unexplained aches and pains

Feeling helpless or hopeless

Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual

Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared

Yelling or fighting with family and friends

Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships

Having persistent thoughts and memories you can't get out of your head

Hearing voices or believing things that are not true

Thinking of harming yourself or others

Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school

You can help a friend or family member recognize the signs and connect them to professional help. Talking about the problem gives you the opportunity to give information, support, and guidance. The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services explains that you can show support by:

Finding out if the person is getting the care that he or she needs and wants-if not, connect him or her to help

Expressing your concern and support

Reminding your friend or family member that help is available and that mental health problems can be treated

Asking questions, listening to ideas, and being responsive when the topic of mental health problems come up

Reassuring your friend or family member that you care about him or her

Offering to help your friend or family member with everyday tasks

Including your friend or family member in your plans-continue to invite him or her without being overbearing, even if your friend or family member resists your invitations

Educating other people so they understand the facts about mental health problems and do not discriminate

Treating people with mental health problems with respect, compassion, and empathy

If you need help starting the conversation about mental health with a friend or family member you can try some of these questions making sure you are actively listening for their response.

I've been worried about you. Can we talk about what you are experiencing? If not, who are you comfortable talking to?

What can I do to help you to talk about issues with your parents or someone else who is responsible and cares about you?

What else can I help you with?

I am someone who cares and wants to listen. What do you want me to know about how you are feeling?

Who or what has helped you deal with similar issues in the past?

Sometimes talking to someone who has dealt with a similar experience helps. Do you know of others who have experienced these types of problems who you can talk with?

It seems like you are going through a difficult time. How can I help you to find help?

How can I help you find more information about mental health problems?

I'm concerned about your safety. Have you thought about harming yourself or others?

If you need to connect them with help you can offer them the number to our Local Mental Health Crisis Hotline (740) 373-8240. They are open Monday to Friday from 8 A.M. to 4 P.M. If it's after hours you can have them call the National Suicide Prevention Hotline 1-800-273-TALK (8255).

As a person who has dealt with anxiety I encourage you to ask questions, seek help and to no longer whisper about mental health. Friends and family make all the difference to a person's recovery.

www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health/index.html#early

www.mentalhealth.gov/talk/friends-family-members/index.html

Amanda Bohlen is the new family and consumer science educator for The Ohio State University Extension in Washington County. She received her bachelor's in family and consumer science education from Ohio University and her master's in curriculum and instruction from Ohio Valley University. For the last seven years she has been in the classroom teaching high school students' financial education, child development, nutrition and culinary skills.

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