A Sign of Health is Knowing When to Seek Help

Behavioral Health Services
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By Jackie Block, LMFT, LCSW, St. Agnes Hospital

 “A sign of health is knowing when to seek help.” It’s true you know when things are not going well, those who recognize a problem and seek solutions are much better off than those who chose to avoid and deny whatever the problem is. It can be a juggling act for many these days and it doesn’t matter if you are a child, teen or adult, you most likely will be touched either directly or indirectly by some problem that in the moment  may seem insurmountable but, more often than not, solutions arise and life gets better. It is also true for those who suffer from depression, anxiety and other mental health issues… that while in the thick of it, all hope seems lost but with those first steps towards help, life begins to get better.

In the state of Wisconsin suicide is the second leading cause of death for those between the ages of 15 and 24, and the eighth leading cause of death overall. Knowing the signs, asking the questions and referring for help is the first step in preventing a deadly permanent solution to a most likely temporary problem.

Whether you see it in yourself, or hear it and see it in someone you know, the following are symptoms of depression: irritable or sad mood; loss of interest or pleasure in things once enjoyed; weight gain or weight loss; little sleep or too much sleep; difficulty concentrating; difficulty making decisions; easily frustrated; increase in anger and blaming of others; withdrawing from friends and family; poor hygiene; inappropriate guilt; missing school or work; decrease in job or school performance; complaints of body aches and pains; thoughts of death or suicide.

Sometimes there are situations that a person perceives to be so devastating that suicide is considered. They can be the result of being bullied; something that has caused great embarrassment; a rejection from someone; great disappointment; change in economic status; birth of a child; change in employment; divorce, a break up with a significant other or the death of a loved one. It can also come from a perceived loss of freedom or a diagnosis of a terminal illness. It can be things that may not bother you but it may bother the one it is happening to so don’t take lightly that child’s failed grade or break up with that girlfriend or boyfriend if they change for the worse with the event.

If you notice changes in that loved one, friend, parishioner, student or co-worker, it is time to offer hope in the form of asking questions. You can start by letting the person know you have observed a difference in them or that you are aware of their current struggle. You can ask them how bad things are. You don’t have to solve the problem. You just have to listen. I know you are afraid to ask directly, but you have to ask them if they have thought about wanting to kill themselves. Ask them how close they have come to wanting to end their life. Ask them how they would feel about not dying – listen.

Here is the hope part. You have helped by listening. You will help more by referring them for additional help. You will make sure they make the phone call to that mental health professional in the phone book, their family physician for a referral or the school counselor. If they are resistant you can call the police. If you fear they will commit suicide and they are willing to seek help you can bring the person to a hospital for assessment and possible inpatient treatment.

Agnesian HealthCare provides both inpatient and outpatient mental health and addiction services.

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