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When Is It Time to Seek Support for Your Mental Health?

Everyone faces challenges sometimes. Your mental health can vary greatly based on what’s happening in your life.

Life events can affect your mental health and wellness in different ways. Whether you are experiencing a major life event, or a less obvious stressor you may experience sadness, anxiety, or feel off-balance. Recognizing these feelings or stressful events can help you know when to reach out for support.

How do I know when to seek help?

You might think the hard times you’ve been having are just part of life. And you may be right. However, when a few bad days seem like they come more often than not, and last for more than two weeks, this can be more serious. If your usual coping methods aren’t helping, it’s time to seek additional support.

Some of the most common signs that you may need support or professional help include:

• Feeling sad or hopeless
• Feeling consistently anxious, worried, or overwhelmed
• Being unable to concentrate on work or school
• Having wide changes in moods
• Withdrawing from friends and activities
• Difficulty coping with daily problems or stress
• Consuming more alcohol or drugs than usual or more often
• Becoming easily irritable
• Undergoing changes in eating or sleeping patterns
• Thinking people are out to get you

When one or more of these conditions keeps you from functioning well or affects your quality of life, getting support can help you get back on track and feel better.

What should I do?

Build your long-term wellness by taking care of yourself through healthy habits every day. Check in with yourself regularly to get a read on how you’re feeling. If you notice that you’re a bit stressed or feeling low, boost your mental health with some self-care tools.

If you’re having any of the warning signs or symptoms listed above, or if you feel like your usual coping methods aren’t helping, reach out for support. This might include talking with someone you trust like a friend or family member, joining a peer support group, or making an appointment with a mental health or medical professional. Find out about the different types of support that are available.


What is a mental health crisis?

What if your feelings of stress, anxiety, or depression keep coming back, or never go away at all? What if you feel like you can’t cope with what’s going on in your life? If your thoughts or emotions feel out of control, you may be heading toward a mental health crisis.

Reach out to someone you trust and get assistance as soon as you are able. You may choose to meet with a mental health professional, your religious or cultural leader, or another trusted
source of support.

If you can’t get an appointment quickly, consider options like online therapy or speaking with someone at a mental health warmline or a crisis hotline.

If you are having thoughts of suicide, don’t wait to get help. Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-TALK (8255) or visit www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/chat to use the Lifeline Chat. Trained counselors are available 24/7 to offer support.

Remember that you are not alone and help is available. See more about the warning signs of suicide and how to take action to stay safe.


What if I’m worried about someone else?

Just as mental health may look different for each person, the signs of a mental health crisis can vary widely.

If you notice that someone you know is acting differently than usual in their behavior or personality, this is a good clue to check in with them about how they are feeling. You might see a pattern of them not taking care of themselves as they normally do. For example, they may skip work or school, sleep all day, or avoid personal care activities like bathing or eating.

Ask how you can best support them. You can even help them explore options for other types of assistance. Get ideas on how to start the conversation with them.

Take action right away if someone puts themselves or others at risk of harm. If they are suicidal, get help by contacting the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline listed above, or call 911 in a life-threatening situation. Counselors at the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline can offer support to someone in crisis, and are also available to help you in supporting someone else.

When you regularly check in on your own mental health and that of the people you care about, you can take action to address problems early on before they become more serious. Learn more on the Take Action for Mental Health website.