When to seek mental health help

Periods of sadness, anger, stress and conflict are part of life so trying to tell the difference between what expected behaviors are and what might be the signs of a mental illness isn’t always easy.  One in five American adults suffer from some sort of mental health illness.
Symptoms can include:

  • Intense periods of anger or grief   
  • Feeling excessively sad or fearful  
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • Multiple unexplained and recurrent physical ailments such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”
  • Feel disconnected from previously beloved activities
  • Changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Getting bad feedback at work
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs

To learn more about symptoms that are specific to a particular mental illness, visit the “Mental Health and Behavior” section on MedlinePlus.

Sudden changes in thoughts, behaviors and symptoms that have impaired or significantly changed your ability to function indicate a mental health problem that therapy can address.


You and your therapist will form a team, that will work to decrease your stress, increase your coping skills, find limiting beliefs and work towards increasing life satisfaction. Your team will follow an approach that works best for you, your personality and life.
This might include:

  • Concrete practical approaches tailored to each individual.
  • Strength based approach-what’s right and using your strengths to feel good and change.
  • Changing limiting beliefs-the way you see and experience the world.
  • Resolving transitional stress so you can feel better and sleep soundly again.
  • Assertiveness training-making good choices to be in wellness and good health.
  • Improving communication skills for conflict resolution and collaboration helping you get want you need.
  • Maintaining accountability and a portfolio of skills of what you need to succeed.
  • Building your self-esteem and self-confidence.

Using these, your therapist will help you move from “maybe” or “I don’t know” to “Yes, I can.”