Skip to main content

Verified by Psychology Today

5 Warning Signs of Mental Health Risk

When should you or a loved one seek counseling?

The American Psychological Association, with help from First Lady Michelle Obama, has launched a campaign to encourage troubled Americans to seek care for mental health problems. In addition, this initiative seeks to end the stigma associated with mental health issues.

To this end, the campaign urges people to watch for five key signs that someone is suffering and may need help. They are:

1. A Change in Personality. If someone is acting like a very different person, or not acting or feeling like themselves, this is a warning sign.

2. Uncharacteristic Anxiety, Anger, or Moodiness. Severe changes in emotion are a cause for alarm, especially if they are persistent.

3. Social Withdrawal and Isolation. If an individual is “closing off” socially, canceling social engagements, or spending too much time alone, this is a serious warning sign of emotional or mental health issues.

4. Lack of Self-Care or Risky Behaviors. Persons with mental health issues often lose concern over their own health and well-being, engaging in risky behaviors like drinking and drug use. In addition, a lack of hygiene, or lack of concern with appearance, may be indicative of a mental health issue.

5. A Sense of Hopelessness or Feeling Overwhelmed. Mental health difficulties often cause people to give up—to feel like life is just too hard or that they will never feel “normal” again.

These warning signs, particularly when they occur together, are indicators that it is time to take action, for yourself or for others. Realize that you are not alone. Many Americans suffer from mental health issues at one time or another. Seek help from a licensed, professional counselor, or contact a physician or your local mental health association.

Follow me on Twitter.

More from Psychology Today

More from Ronald E. Riggio Ph.D.

More from Psychology Today