Mental Health Awareness

Knowing the signs and how to be there for those in need


Johanna Ortiz, Reporter

Mental health is a huge part of our everyday lives. It affects our emotional, psychological, behavioral, and social well-being. Many of those around us are mentally and emotionally drained. The importance of raising awareness for mental health isn’t talked about enough. Recognizing the signs makes a huge difference but really being there and reaching out to your loved ones is the first step to helping them. Many people don’t take mental health as serious as physical health and that should change because it is just as important if not more important. Mental health should be talked about without a negative or bad stigma.

When people think of someone suffering from mental health, they think of someone who is sad all the time. . According to an online website, there are many signs to look for such as: Someone who’s grades drop or who is slacking. I mean the most common signs to know that someone is going through a hard time is when they aren’t themselves. Acting out and lashing out towards others are huge signs that someone can be going through a hard time. As well as self-isolation or loss of interest. These are the most common and active signs when someone is emotionally hurting. The inability to do usual things or the severe mood swings can all be an explanation of how they are feeling.

However, those aren’t the only signs.  A team of family addiction specialists, Lin and Aaron Sternlicht, state that people who aren’t in the best mental state can also be the very own people who you think have everything well put together. Someone who is suffering from mental health can also be, someone who is friendly and outgoing all the time, an extrovert. These specialists also add that we must “be mindful that symptoms that individuals typically identify with certain mental health issues such as depression or anxiety may be displayed much differently for an extroverted individual”. They say that an extroverted person, while they may seem normal they can be outgoing and friendly because they need to fill in a void or are struggling emotionally.

Knowing the signs of someone in need is important, it is something we should all be taught, something that everyone should know. But even when knowing the signs, it is still easy to miss them. Not all of us like to dwell on tough, hard, and sad things. We don’t go randomly assuming or thinking our friends are in need. We like to think as if everything is okay. Maybe at times things are but sometimes they aren’t.  There are various reasons for our mental health to decline and many situations that can worsen or even better how we feel. We all react differently and cope to things differently. Joyce Marter, a licensed psychotherapist, believes that we all deal with different stressors differently due to familiarity or because of who we are.

So what do you do if you are going through a mental health crisis or someone you know is. First step is to take care of yourself. Dr. Diana Samuel says, “Taking care of your physical body can really make a huge difference in how you respond emotionally.” If you are worried for a friend, relative, or any other person who may need help, simply be there for them. It is important to know that being there for someone doesn’t mean trying to fix them or fix their problem. Dr. Caroline Wright, senior director of healthcare innovation at the American Psychological Association, says “One of the traps we tend to get stuck in is trying to fix someone’s problem or trying to fix them, It’s really much more helpful to just listen, so they feel like they have someone to talk to.” She suggested that listening to them, making them feel validated and not judged can help really help the person. That it is important to have empathy and self-compassion for the sake of our mental health and the mental health of others.

So if you see someone acting out or slacking, don’t confront them; instead, sit down and ask if everything is okay. Chances are, shaming them or highlighting what they are doing wrong will only worsen their negative feelings of inferiority and self-hatred. Natalie Neer Hart, the facilitator for the Peace Room at North High and leader of many student support groups, says that a person in need will most likely go to someone they trust the most. That can be a friend or even a teacher, a coach.

She cautions that if a friend comes to you, remember to “know your own capacity, refer to an adult or the teen life line when the issue is bigger than you.”

In the end, check up on your friends and see how they are really doing. And if you are the person in need, although it can be scary, reach out to someone, It’s hard but courageous and the right thing to do. And if you are the person someone has reached out to, be there for them at the best of your ability and know your limits.

Mental Health is important and it is time we start treating it that way.