When you know what mental illness looks like and feels like, you’ll be able to learn how to identify it in yourself or your friends and family. Knowing what to look for will help you seek help early – whether that help is for you or for someone else.
What signs might help you identify mental illness in yourself or others?
1. You worry about taking a test, but once it’s over, you feel better.
This isn’t a sign. It’s common to worry about something in the future.
2. A friend tells you that you’re acting differently or that you aren’t yourself.
This may not be a sign of mental illness, but it is worth talking to a trusted adult about how you feel.
3. You can’t stop thinking about something even when you try to distract yourself.
This could be a sign. If you have recurring thoughts that are a pattern and don’t go away, you should talk to a trusted adult.
4. A friend overreacts to something others think is not a big deal.
This could be a sign of anxiety or trauma. If it continues, talk to a trusted adult.
5. You have changes to your normal sleep patterns (sleeping more or less than usual) that aren’t explainable.
This could be a sign of depression. If it continues, talk to a trusted adult.
6. A friend is feeling sad all the time and nothing seems to interest them anymore.
This could be a sign of depression.
You should try to talk with them about how they’re feeling and encourage them to speak with a trusted adult.
7. Someone you know passed away months ago and you still feel so sad that you can’t concentrate or don’t want to participate in anything you usually like to do.
This is a sign. Grief is a natural response to the death of someone you love, but when it becomes overwhelming you need to seek help.
8. A friend is obsessed with things being perfect all the time.
It’s ok to want things to be neat and tidy. But if someone is fearful of their own or their family’s health and wellbeing if they don’t keep things tidy you should encourage them to talk to someone about it.
9. You have constant feelings of sadness, or your moods change in more extreme ways than usual.
Extreme moods and mood swings could be a sign of a mood disorder, like Bi-Polar. If it continues, talk to a trusted adult.
10. A friend tells you things would be better if they weren’t around.
This is a concerning sign. If someone has said this to you, ask them “Do you mean you want to end your life?” If they say yes, stay with them and get help immediately from a trusted adult or call Lifeline on 13 11 14.
11. Your exercise or eating habits change dramatically as a result of the way you think about how you look.
This could be a sign of an eating disorder. If it continues to the point that it’s taking up a lot of your thoughts, talk to a trusted adult.
12. Your friend tells you they hear, see or smell things that other people don’t seem to experience.
Hallucinations could be a sign of a Schizophrenia. Encourage them to tell a trusted adult.