Recently, I noticed that Michelle Obama wrote for the Huffington Post, where she advocated for a change in the conversation about mental health. She points out that over 40 million Americans suffer from some sort of mental health challenge at some point in their lives. I’m not exactly sure where this number comes from*, but I do know that we all go through rough patches from time to time and could use some help. I also agree with Michelle Obama that the stigma around mental health issues often prevents people from getting help.
How do you know if someone needs help? There are five signs to pay attention to:
1) There is a change in their personality
2) They may seem moody, agitated, easily angered, or anxious
3) They may isolate themselves or withdrawal from others
4) They may stop taking care of themselves or do risky things
5) They may seem overwhelmed or hopeless
What can you do if you notice someone who shows these signs? Michelle Obama advocates following the advice of The Campaign to Change Direction which lists resources for offering help. Another great resource in Philadelphia is the Department of Behavioral Health.
But perhaps the most helpful thing you can do is to listen, show compassion, and try not to judge – because judging is what perpetuates the stigma around mental heath. I agree with Michelle Obama. Let’s change the conversation. #ChangeMentalHealth
Michelle Obama’s article: Changing the Conversation around Mental Health
*Note: Report from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMSA) reports that in 2013, over 9 million Americans reported having serious thoughts of suicide within the last year. See this report, on page 10.