Mental health includes social and emotional well-being, which affects how we think, feel and act. Mental illness, on the other hand, is a health condition that changes a person’s thinking, feelings or behavior and causes that person distress and difficulty in functioning.
- Signs of mental illness include:
- Marked personality change
- Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
- Bizarre or grandiose ideas
- Excessive anxieties
- Prolonged depression and apathy
- Marked changes in eating or sleeping patterns
- Thinking or talking about suicide or harming oneself
- Extreme mood swings — high or low
- Abuse of drugs or alcohol
- Excessive anger, hostility or violent behavior
Mental illness is a prevalent health condition that is treatable, even when chronic. There are many ways to treat mental illness, including talk therapy and medication. Some providers who render care for mental health are:
- Psychiatrist, a medical doctor who specializes in diagnosing and treating mental illnesses;
- Psychiatric Nurse Practitioner, a health care professional who can prescribe psychotropic medications;
- Psychologist, a specialist who studies the mind and emotions and their relationship to behavior;
- Social Worker, a trained professional who helps individuals and families alleviate mental and social distress; and
- Mental Health Counselor, a professional who is trained to provide counseling and guidance.
Mental well-being, whether it’s feeling good about yourself, feeling less overwhelmed by emotions or accepting life’s disappointments, is possible with support from a clinical professional.
Remember, no matter what is going on in your life or the life of a loved one, mental illness can be treated and mental health should always be cultivated. If you are in need of additional support, reach out to the union’s Member Assistance Program for short-term counseling and referrals for long-term counseling.