When we think about cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, we don’t wait years to treat them. We start before Stage 4 — we begin with prevention. When people are in the first stage of those diseases, and are beginning to show signs of symptoms like a persistent cough, high blood pressure, or high blood sugar, we try immediately to reverse these symptoms. We don’t ignore them. In fact, we develop a plan of action to reverse and sometimes stop the progression of the disease. Shouldn’t we do the same for individuals who are dealing with potentially serious mental illness?
When you or someone close to you starts to experience the early warning signs of mental illness, knowing what the risk factors and symptoms are will help catch them early. Often times, family and friends are the first to step in to support a person through these early stages. Experiencing symptoms such as loss of sleep, feeling tired for no reason, feeling low, feeling anxious, or hearing voices, shouldn’t be ignored or brushed aside in the hopes that they go away.
If you recognize these symptoms, reach out for help. If you’re feeling overwhelmed or don’t know where to start, contact Heart of Florida United Way’s 2-1-1 Crisis Helpline by simply dialing 2-1-1. Staffed by trained multilingual operators 24/7, 2-1-1 is your connection to mental health services, crisis and suicide counseling and many other resources.
Like other diseases, we need to address these symptoms early, identify the underlying disease, and plan an appropriate course of action on a path towards overall health. Mental health conditions should be addressed long before they reach the most critical points in the disease process—before Stage 4. Many people do not seek treatment in the early stages of mental illnesses because they don’t recognize the symptoms. Up to 84% of the time between the first signs of mental illness and first treatment is spent failing to recognize the symptoms.
May is Mental Health Month — an opportunity to discuss mental health issues, bring awareness to those in need, and focus on prevention — a key tenant of United Way’s philosophy.
Mental health America has chosen “B4Stage4” as this year’s theme—mental health concerns are no different than any other illness. It’s important to recognize mental health issues during the early stages, rather than waiting for the critical “stage 4”.
To find out more about Mental Health Month visit www.MentalHealthAmerica.net.
If you are facing a mental health crisis situation or know someone in need of help, call 2-1-1, United Way’s free information and referral helpline.. For more information, visit the 2-1-1 page on the Heart of Florida United Way website.