2 Identifying mental illness

Right now there is a lot happening in our world.

Click on the boxes below to find out what questions you should ask in each situation.

How to ask more questions about feeling sad or angry

Sadness and anger are normal human emotions.

But there can be a problem if these feelings last too long, are too intense, or get in the way of your daily life. It’s all a question of degree.

It’s time to ask yourself:

how sad or angry are you feeling?

Do you feel:

Unhappy, moody, irritable?

  • Empty and numb?
  • Worried or tense?
  • Bad, worthless or guilty?
  • Sad all the time?

How sad or angry are your thoughts?

  • Are your thoughts self-critical and self-blaming?
  • Do you have thoughts of death or suicide?
  • Are you having difficulty concentrating and making decisions, even little ones?

Have you changed the way you behave?

  • Have you lost interest in activities you usually enjoy?
  • Has your appetite changed?
    Do you not feel hungry at all, or have you started eating for comfort instead of hunger?
  • Has your sleep changed?
    Are you having trouble sleeping at night, or have you started sleeping well into the day?
  • Do you feel tired, and lacking in energy and motivation?

How long have you been feeling sad?

If days are tipping into weeks then you need to get help. Getting help early reduces the risk of developing an illness like depression.

Need help – for yourself, or your family or a friend

How to ask more questions about feeling worried or afraid.

Fear is a normal human emotion.

But when it lasts too long, becomes too intense, and gets in the way of your daily life, it’s a problem. It’s all a question of degree.

How much fear are you feeling?

Physical feelings or fear can include a faster heart rate, faster breathing, tense muscles, sweating, shaking, nausea, and ‘butterflies in the tummy’. When it gets really bad, you can feel overwhelmed by panic.

How fearful are your thoughts?

Are you way too worried?

  • Are you having trouble concentrating?
  • Do you have unwanted thoughts over and over again?
  • Do you have flashbacks to an unwanted memory?

Is fear taking over the way you behave?

Do you find it hard to relax?

  • Are you having problems with friends or family or at school?
  • Are you avoiding situations that make you feel worried or afraid?
  • Are you sleeping badly?
  • Are you way too shy?
  • Are you socially isolated and/or withdrawn?

Is fear getting in the way of your daily life?

If you can no longer go about your day as you normally would then it’s time to get help. Getting help early reduces the risk of developing an illness or anxiety.

Need help – for yourself, or your family or a friend?

How to ask more questions about negative self-esteem and body image

Positive self-esteem and body image are basic to our mental health.

If you have negative body image and low self-esteem and you respond by trying to ‘fix’ your body, things can get out of control.

How’s your self-esteem?

Do you feel bad about yourself?

  • Are you feeling worthless and not good enough?
  • Are you worried about what others think about you, especially your looks?
  • Do you feel tired or down?
  • Are you irritable and withdrawing from friends and family?
  • Are you having difficulty concentrating?

How’s your body image?

Are you consumed by negative thoughts about how you look?

  • Are you consumed by negative self-talk?
  • Do you want to look like somebody else you think is ‘perfect’?
  • Do you have an intense fear of getting fat or losing control around food?

Are you trying to ‘fix’ your body?

Are you trying to change the way you look by dieting or exercise?

Your diet and exercise need to be healthy. When they become extreme and get out of control then it’s time to get help. Getting help early reduces the risk of developing an eating disorder.

How to ask more questions about unhelpful coping strategies

Sometimes life is hard. When things get this way, we all need to find ways to cope.

Sometimes the ways we cope might not be helpful. They can be band-aid solutions, covering up what’s causing us to get unwell in the first place. Or they can have a negative effect on our health and wellbeing. And some can be dangerous, or every life-threatening.

What do you do when life becomes hard?

Do you avoid friends and family or your normal activities?

  • Do you push your friends away?
  • Do you exercise excessively?
  • Do you overeat or not eat enough?
  • Are you having thoughts about harming yourself?
  • Have you self-harmed?
  • Do you repeatedly put yourself in dangerous situations?

Are there better ways to cope?


If the way you’re coping is costing you your physical health, mental health or your relationships, then it’s time to get some help. Life will get better when you start dealing with the problem instead of covering it up.

Not getting help could lead to serious health problems – both mental and physical – and the sooner you get help the better.

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