What’s Mental Health? 14 Early Warning Signs

“Mental health is often missing from public health debates even though it’s critical to wellbeing.” – Diane Abbott. 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. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. The COVID-19 crisis and the associated loss of jobs have had a negative effect on the mental health of millions of people. Jay Harold put together this post, “What’s Mental Health? 14 Early Warning Signs,” to provide useful information about mental health.

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Over the course of your life, if you experience mental health problems, your thinking, mood, and behavior could be affected. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or abuse
  • Family history of mental health problems

Mental health problems are common but help is available. People with mental health problems can get better and many recover completely.

Early Warning Signs

Not sure if you or someone you know is living with mental health problems? Experiencing one or more of the following feelings or behaviors can be an early warning sign of a problem:

  1. Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  2. Pulling away from people and usual activities
  3. Having low or no energy
  4. Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  5. Having unexplained aches and pains
  6. Feeling helpless or hopeless
  7. Smoking, drinking or using drugs more than usual
  8. Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  9. Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  10. Experiencing severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  11. Having persistent thoughts and memories you can’t get out of your head
  12. Hearing voices or believing things that are not trueWhat's Mental Health? 14 Early Warning Signs
  13. Thinking of harming yourself or others
  14. Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of your kids or getting to work or school

Learn more about specific mental health problems and where to find help.

Mental Health and Wellness

Positive mental health allows people to:

  • Realize their full potential
  • Cope with the stresses of life
  • Work productively
  • Make meaningful contributions to their communities

Ways to maintain positive mental health include:

  • Getting professional help if you need it
  • Connecting with others
  • Staying positive
  • Getting physically active
  • Helping others
  • Getting enough sleep
  • Developing coping skills

Learn More About Mental Health

Last Updated: 05/28/2020
What's Mental Health? 14 Early Warning Signs

Mental Health Myths and Facts

Can you tell the difference between a mental health myth and fact? Learn the truth about the most common mental health myths.

Mental Health Problems Affect Everyone

Myth: Mental health problems don’t affect me.

Fact: Mental health problems are very common. In 2014, about:

  • One in five American adults experienced a mental health issue
  • 1 in 10 young people experienced a period of major depression
  • One in 25 Americans lived with a serious mental illness, such as schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, or major depression

Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. It accounts for the loss of more than 41,000 American lives each year, more than double the number of lives lost to homicide. Learn more about mental health problems.


Myth: Children don’t experience mental health problems.

Fact: Even very young children may show early warning signs of mental health concerns. These mental health problems are often clinically diagnosable and can be a product of the interaction of biological, psychological, and social factors.

Half of all mental health disorders show first signs before a person turns 14 years old, and three-quarters of mental health disorders begin before age 24.

Unfortunately, less than 20% of children and adolescents with diagnosable mental health problems receive the treatment they need. Early mental health support can help a child before problems interfere with other developmental needs.

What's Mental Health? 14 Early Warning Signs


Myth: People with mental health problems are violent and unpredictable.

Fact: The vast majority of people with mental health problems are no more likely to be violent than anyone else. Most people with mental illness are not violent and only 3%–5% of violent acts can be attributed to individuals living with a serious mental illness. In fact, people with severe mental illnesses are over 10 times more likely to be victims of violent crime than the general population. You probably know someone with a mental health problem and don’t even realize it, because many people with mental health problems are highly active and productive members of our communities.


Myth: People with mental health needs, even those who are managing their mental illness, cannot tolerate the stress of holding down a job.

Fact: People with mental health problems are just as productive as other employees. Employers who hire people with mental health problems report good attendance and punctuality as well as motivation, good work, and job tenure on par with or greater than other employees.

When employees with mental health problems receive effective treatment, it can result in:

  • Lower total medical costs
  • Increased productivity
  • Lower absenteeism
  • Decreased disability costs

Myth: Personality weakness or character flaws cause mental health problems. People with mental health problems can snap out of it if they try hard enough.

Fact: Mental health problems have nothing to do with being lazy or weak and many people need help to get better. Many factors contribute to mental health problems, including:

  • Biological factors, such as genes, physical illness, injury, or brain chemistry
  • Life experiences, such as trauma or a history of abuse
  • Family history of mental health problemsWhat's Mental Health? 14 Early Warning Signs

Helping Individuals with Mental Health Problems

Myth: There is no hope for people with mental health problems. Once a friend or family member develops mental health problems, he or she will never recover.

Fact: Studies show that people with mental health problems get better and many recover completely. Recovery refers to the process in which people can live, work, learn, and participate fully in their communities. There are more treatments, services, and community support systems than ever before, and they work.

What’s Mental Health? 14 Early Warning Signs. Please learn!

Jay Harold hopes you enjoyed this post, “What’s Mental Health? 14 Early Warning Signs.” Please share it and read more about Jay Harold here.  Please take this advice from  Muhammad Ali and give back to others. “Service to others is the rent you pay for your room here on earth.”

Bibliography

  1. https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health
  2. https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/mental-health-myths-facts

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