Mental health. It's the way your thoughts, feelings, and behaviors affect your life. Good mental health leads to positive self-image and in turn, satisfying relationships with friends and others. Having good mental health helps you make good decisions and deal with life's challenges at home, work, or school.
It is not uncommon for teenagers to develop problems with their mental health. National statistics indicate that one in every five teens has some type of mental health problem in any given year. The problems range from mild to severe. Sadly, suicide is the third leading cause of death among teens.
Unfortunately, most young people with mental health problems don't get any treatment for them. Research shows that effective treatments are available that can help members of all racial, ethnic, and cultural groups.
If you broke your leg or came down with pneumonia, you wouldn't let it go untreated. Often however, young people ignore mental health problems thinking they will "snap out of it," or that they are something to be ashamed of. That kind of thinking prevents people from getting the help they need. Sometimes getting help is a matter of changing your mind.
Changes in feelings such as fear and anger are a normal part of life. In fact, learning about your own mood changes, like what triggers them and when, is important to knowing who you are.
There are many situations, such as a divorce in the family or strained relationships with friends, that can cause emotional stress. Difficult situations may make you feel sad or "blue" for a while. That's different than having a mental health problem like depression. For example, young people suffering from depression often feel an overwhelming sense of helplessness and hopelessness for long periods. This depression may lead to suicidal feelings.
Certain experiences, thoughts, and feelings signal the presence of a variety of mental health problems or the need for help. The following signs are important to recognize:
- finding little or no pleasure in life
- feeling worthless or extremely guilty
- crying a lot for no particular reason
- withdrawing from other people
- experiencing severe anxiety, panic, or fear
- having big mood swings
- experiencing a change in eating or sleeping patterns
- having very low energy
- losing interest in hobbies and pleasurable activities
- having too much energy, having trouble concentrating or following through on plans
- feeling easily irritated or angry
- experiencing racing thoughts or agitation
- hearing voices or seeing images that other people do not experience
- believing that others are plotting against you
- wanting to harm yourself or someone else.
It's not necessarily easy to spot these signs, or to figure out what they mean. Qualified mental health professionals are skilled in making an accurate diagnosis.
As a general rule: the longer the signs last, the more serious they are; and the more they interfere with daily life, the greater the chance that professional treatment is needed.
Sometimes people don't get the help they need because they don't know where to turn. When you're not feeling well, it can be a struggle to take the necessary steps to help yourself get better.
When dealing with mental health or emotional problems, it's important not to go at it alone. Healing is a combination of helping yourself and letting others help you. Comfort and support, information and advice, and professional treatment are all forms of help.
Think of all the people you can turn to for support. These are people who are concerned about you and can help comfort you, who will listen to you and encourage you, and who can help arrange for treatment. In other words, find the caring people in your life who can help you.
These people might include:
- • friends
- • parents and other family members
- • someone who seems "like a parent" to you
- • other adults whose advice you would value -- perhaps a favorite teacher or coach, a member of your church or other place of worship, or a good friend's parent.
Research shows that males are more reluctant to look for help and receive it than females are. While some people may have difficulty reaching out to others they trust, taking this first step in getting help is important for everyone to do.
Provided by American psychological Association
For more information on seeking assistance or obtaining referrals, please contact your City of Miami EAP office at (305) 416-2129 (for internal consultation), or CIGNA at 1-800-554-6931(for outside referrals).