Community issues: Knowing the signs of mental illness | TahoeDailyTribune.com

Community issues: Knowing the signs of mental illness

Kristin Hunt
Tahoe Turning Point

One out of five people have a mental illness according to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, meaning that there are just more than 4,277 people within South Lake Tahoe who have a mental illness based on the July 2011 census. So what signs do we look for in adolescents and young adults who we may suspect the possibility of mental illnesses? The counseling group at Tahoe Turning Point suggests taking depression seriously, keeping note of shifting behaviors like eating and sleeping patterns, apathetic dispositions and the inability to calm oneself down after an appropriate allotment of time has been granted after arguments or ill-tempered situations. Teenage hood is crazy by definition of the phase, henceforth moods lasting weeks on end or sudden lack of interest in enjoyable activities such as sports are important factors to note as a concerned parent or relative.

Although it is unknown the degree to which emotional and psychiatric illness affected the killer of the Connecticut shooting this past year, it is known that an imbalance was prevalent. The lack of diagnosis does leave to question whether or not this devastation would have occurred if he had received the proper attention to signs displayed earlier in his life. The New Freedom Commission on Mental Health states that early detection and intervention may minimize the long-term disability of mental disorders. Obviously only a minute percentage of those with mental illnesses act out in such radical ways, yet what is also evident is the stigma that exists around mental illnesses, stunting early identification and proper treatment which in turn squanders opportunities to lead productive, full and happy lives.

Prevention occurs when early interception happens. The U.S. Surgeon General states that children are most able to succeed in school and throughout life effectively when treatment is provided at the onset of symptoms. Simple individual therapy may be all that is necessary in order to effectively treat certain disorders, allowing for venting and corrective process realignment whereas other types of treatment may be helpful and necessary such as medications.

Local service providers include individual therapy offered at Tahoe Turning Point, family support group through the National Alliance on Mental Illness on Tuesday evenings and public assistance is also available through the El Dorado Mental Health Division. If there is anybody you know that may need additional support and resources, take that step to reach out, prevent and intercept.


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