Mental Illness Awareness Week (MIAW) is marked from October 6-12, 2019.
The week is dedicated to raise awareness that mental illness can be treated with due action.
Common Signs of Mental Illness
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
- Sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Deviation in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Low sex drive
- Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
- Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (” lack of insight” or anosognosia)
- Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
- An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance
Mental health conditions can also begin to develop in young children. Because they’re still learning how to identify and talk about thoughts and emotions. Symptoms in children may include the following:
- Changes in school performance
- Excessive worry or anxiety, for instance fighting to avoid bed or school
- Hyperactive behavior
- Disobedience or aggression
- Temper tantrums
Accept Your Feelings
Accept that these feelings are normal and common among families going through similar situations. Find out all you can about your loved one’s condition by reading and talking with mental health professionals. Share what you have learned with others.
Handling Unusual Behavior
The outward signs of a mental illness are often behavioral. A person may be extremely quiet or withdrawn. Conversely, they may burst into tears, have great anxiety or have outbursts of anger.
Some individuals with a mental illness can exhibit anti-social behaviors. When in public, these behaviors can be disruptive and difficult to accept.
The individual’s behavior may be as dismaying to them as it is to you. Ask questions, listen with an open mind and be there to support them.
Establishing A Support Network
Seek support from friends and family members. If you feel you cannot discuss your situation with friends or other family members, find a self-help or support group.
Therapy can be beneficial for both the individual with mental illness and other family members. A mental health professional can suggest ways to cope and better understand your loved one’s illness.
Taking Time Out
Person with the mental illness often becomes the focus of family life. When this happens, other members of the family may feel ignored or resentful. Some may find it difficult to pursue their own interests.
Schedule time away to prevent becoming frustrated or angry. If you schedule time for yourself it will help you to keep things in perspective and you may have more patience and compassion for coping or helping your loved one. Being physically and emotionally healthy helps you to help others.
It is important to remember that there is hope for recovery and that with treatment many people with mental illness return to a productive and fulfilling life.