Sadly, nearly one in every five adults suffers from a diagnosable mental health condition according to SAMHSA. Traditionally, the Red Cross provides timely emotional support to people affected by disasters or emergencies and members of the military community. And we’re now proud to join with Give an Hour in The Campaign to Change Direction to share information.
The campaign focuses on helping people to recognize and understand the five typical signs that may indicate that someone is experiencing emotional distress. By becoming familiar with these signs, we can all play a role in identifying people who need extra help.
“People pass through our lives every hour of every day,” says Diane Manwill, LPC LMFT LCPC-S,
Red Cross senior associate for mental health, “the majority of whom we’d never recognize as experiencing emotional pain or needing help. They are our family, our friends, our neighbors, our coworkers, our spouses, our parents, and our children. We all want to help, but the first step is knowing what to look for so we can bring care and comfort to those suffering from emotional distress.”
Below are the five signs that may indicate that someone is experiencing emotional distress:
1. Their Personality Changes
You may notice sudden or gradual changes in the way that someone typically behaves. He or she may behave in ways that don’t seem to fit the person’s values, or the person may just seem different.
2. They seem uncharacteristically angry, anxious, agitated, or moody.
You may notice the person has more frequent problems controlling his or her temper and seems irritable or unable to calm down. People in more extreme situations of this kind may be unable to sleep or may explode in anger at a minor problem.
3. They withdraw or isolate themselves from other people.
Someone who used to be socially engaged may pull away from family and friends and stop taking part in activities he or she used to enjoy. In more severe cases the person may start failing to make it to work or school. Not to be confused with the behavior of someone who is more introverted, this sign is marked by a change in someone’s typical sociability, as when someone pulls away from the social support he or she typically has.
4. They stop taking care of themselves and may engage in risky behavior.
You may notice a change in the person’s level of personal care or an act of poor judgment on his or her part. For instance, someone may let his or her personal hygiene deteriorate, or the person may start abusing alcohol or illicit substances or engaging in other self-destructive behavior that may alienate loved ones.
5. They seem overcome with hopelessness and overwhelmed by their circumstances.
Have you noticed someone who used to be optimistic and now can’t find anything to be hopeful about? That person may be suffering from extreme or prolonged grief, or feelings of worthlessness or guilt. People in this situation may say that the world would be better off without them suggesting suicidal thinking.
If you recognize these signs in someone you care about, reach out to them and offer assistance. It could be a rocky conversation to start and it may take a time. To learn more about the five signs and the campaign go to www.changedirection.org.