Mental Health – For Young Adults

| June 11, 2013

What is Mental “Illness”?

A mental illness is a condition that causes changes in a person’s thinking, mood, and behavior.

“Mental health” and “mental illness” can be pictured as two points on a continuum with a range of conditions in between. When these conditions are more serious, they are referred to as mental illnesses and include anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia,  and other issues which may require treatment and support. They are also widely misunderstood. People with mental health issues are often stigmatized by others who think it’s an uncommon condition. The truth is, these challenges can happen to anybody regardless of age, culture, race, ethnicity, economic status, or location.

Mental health issues affect a person’s physical, mental, and emotional wellbeing. They are not caused by poor decisions or bad habits, and they are treatable. There are many different types of treatments such as medication, rehabilitation, psychotherapy, group therapy, self-help, or a combination of these.  The type of treatment that works best is dependent on the person.


Anxiety is like stress, and gives you unpleasant feelings of nervousness or dread.  Everyone experiences some type of anxiety at one point in their life. However, sometimes a person’s anxiety gets in the way of being able to function normally. This type of anxiety can be caused by physical and brain mechanisms that aren’t working properly, resulting in significant suffering or problems with everyday activities. In order to better help people, doctors have developed specific methods for distinguishing between “normal” day-to-day anxiety and anxiety disorders, which can be helped with treatment.

Types of anxiety disorders include: specific phobia, separation anxiety disorder, social anxiety disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder, generalized anxiety disorder, panic disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder.


Depression is a deep sadness where a person may have a loss of pleasure, be tired all the time, have mood swings, and experience a change in appetite. Everyone feels depressed at times but there is difference between being sad and having clinical depression. Clinical depression occurs for a longer period of time, has a greater depth of despondency, and shows more symptoms of being depressed. It is important to get help if someone you know might be depressed because severe depression can lead to suicide. Here are some common signs that someone may be dealing with depression:

  • Depressed or irritable mood most of the day
  • Losing interest or pleasure in almost all activities such as playing sports, being with friends, and having fun
  • Significant weight loss or gain, or change in appetite
  • Sleeping too much or difficulty sleeping
  • Abnormally increased or abnormally slowed body movements, thoughts, or speech
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feelings of guilt or hopelessness without cause
  • Difficulty making decisions or concentrating
  • Extreme sadness or crying
  • Thinking about death or suicide, or attempting suicide
  • “Acting out” with anger or aggression, drinking or doing drugs, or having problems at school

Eating Disorders

Eating disorders are when a person’s eating habits are harmful to their bodies and health. There are two main types of eating disorders: anorexia, where a person refuses to eat, and bulimia, where a person consumes an excessive amount of calories and then purges through vomiting. Two types of body image disorders that are associated with eating disorders include compulsive exercise, where a person exercises excessively in order to get their idea of a “perfect figure”, and body dysmorphia, where a person’s beliefs about their body do not match their actual appearance.

For more information on eating disorders check out the National Eating Disorders Association at

How to Help Someone with a Mental Health Issue

The best way to help is to accept the person and offer them your reassurance, companionship, and emotional strength. Follow these tips:

  1. Express your concern and sympathy.
  2. Ask for more details about how he or she is managing. Really listen to the answers and continue the conversation. Make sure your friend understands that you honestly care.
  3. Ask what you can do to help. Whether it is keeping them company or helping run errands.
  4. Reassure your friend that you still care about him or her and be sure to include him or her in your everyday plans.
  5. Remind your friend that mental illness is treatable. Help your friend find the help he or she needs.
  6. If your friend needs immediate help for a mental illness call 911 or take them to a local mental health clinic or hospital.
  7. Encourage your friend to seek medical attention.

Category: Mental Health, Young Adults - Mental Health

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