May is Mental Health Month: Would You Know When You’ve Gone Too Far?

Mental Health We must acknowledge that there are still various communities with cultural stigma and bias towards mental health. The negative beliefs make it difficult for those who are suffering to receive the necessary support needed. Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable. However, people experience symptoms of mental illnesses differently—and due to some cultural bias and or lack of support people often engage in potentially dangerous or risky behaviors to avoid or cover up symptoms of a potential mental health problem.

When people—especially young people—struggle with mental health concerns, they develop habits and behaviors that increase the risk of or exacerbate mental illnesses and these behaviors could be signs of mental health problems themselves.  Risky behaviors such as compulsive sex, recreational drug use, obsessive internet use, excessive spending, or disordered exercise patterns can all be behaviors that can disrupt someone’s mental health and potentially lead them down a path towards crisis.

This May is Mental Health Month and Family First Psychotherapy Services, LLC (FFPS) is raising awareness of Risky Business (#riskybusiness). The campaign, sponsored by Mental Health America, is meant to educate and inform individuals dealing with a mental health concern understand that some behaviors and habits can be detrimental to recovery—or even mask a deeper issue—but that seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of.

Individuals must fight through cultural miseducation and stigmas to advocate for the healing of those struggling with mental wellness in the community. Awareness and education is the start!

Family First wants everyone to know that mental illnesses are real, that recovery is always the goal, and that even if you or someone you love are engaging in risky behavior, there is help. It is important to understand early symptoms of mental illness and know when certain behaviors are potentially signs of something more. We need to speak up early and educate people about risky behavior and its connection to mental illness—and do so in a compassionate, judgement-free way.

Take the interactive quiz at www.mentalhealthamerica.net/whatstoofar and tell Mental Health America when you think behaviors or habits go from being acceptable to unhealthy.

When we engage in prevention and early identification, we can help reduce the burden of mental illness by identifying symptoms and warning signs early—and provide effective treatment Before Stage 4.

What is Before Stage 4? Mental Health America suggest that we should think of mental health as we think of our physical health. When we think about cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, we don’t wait years to treat them. We start way before Stage 4 of the healing process. We begin with prevention. When people are in the first stage of those diseases, and have a persistent cough, high blood pressure, or high blood sugar, we try immediately to reverse these symptoms.

We should begin with prevention as well when people have serious mental illnesses. When individuals first begin to experience symptoms such as loss of sleep, feeling tired for no reason, feeling low, feeling anxious, or hearing voices, we should act.

These early symptoms might not ever become serious. Like a cough, they often go away on their own, and are nothing to fear. But when they do not go away, it typically takes time to get a correct diagnosis and proper treatment. Health is lost by ignoring symptoms. Even when we don’t intervene right away, and serious mental illnesses get worse and disrupt people’s lives, we can act effectively. We can offer people choices and support to help them recover.

So, let’s talk about what is and is not risky business. Let’s understand where it’s important to draw the line, so that we can address mental illness B4Stage4, and help those on the road to recovery.

For more information, visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may or contact us at FFPS to support you or your family member.

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Nicole Daniels

Nicole Daniels is a Licensed Clinical Marriage and Family Therapist (LCMFT), Substance Abuse Professional (SAP), AAMFT Approved Supervisor, and a Diplomat of American Association of Clinical Sexology from the American Board of Sexology. She received her Master’s degree in Counseling Psychology from Radford University and has served in the mental health field as a skilled therapist for more than 15 years.
Nicole Daniels
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