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How To Tell If Someone Is Struggling With Mental Health

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We all have our share of bad days. Sometimes, we forget to follow through; sometimes we get frustrated with a friend or a colleague; sometimes we just can’t even focus on whatever we're supposed to be doing. It happens to the best of us.

There are other times, however, when our behaviour can be indicative of something other than merely having a crummy day. When someone you know seems to be a little bit more than off their game, so to speak, they may be dealing with bigger problems.

Not to say that you or anyone else can or should be diagnosing behaviour (leave that up to a professional). Rather, if you are concerned, it could be a good opportunity to show them a little extra compassion.

After all, on any given week, hundreds of thousands of Canadians will struggle with a mental health problem – and, right now, so many more of us are feeling the stress and strain of what’s happening in the world. Mental health is an issue that should be discussed more often.

So, in the spirit of a greater awareness of mental health, here are some signs that someone you know may be dealing with a mental health concern.

A Sadness Prevails
Perhaps they've made mention that they’re always feeling less-than-great, or are constantly using negative language to describe themselves. Or maybe you’ve noticed that they’re acting weighed down by sadness – even at happy events such as social functions.

They’re Tired. A lot.
Often, a key symptom of depression can manifest in a lack of energy. If you notice that they seem constantly fatigued, and they have no enthusiasm for activities or much of anything, this can signify an issue.

They may also complain often of experiencing sleepless nights full of tossing and turning or, conversely, of sleeping away their evenings and weekends.

Their Fuse Is Short
Is a temper becoming all-too-common with them? People suffering from depression are often quick to react in anger, even at things that others would deem reasonably insignificant.

If others have also noticed an increase in how often they appear irritable, there may be larger underlying causes aside from minor day-to-day annoyances.

Their Concentration… Just Seems to…
Are they often having trouble following along with a conversation you’re trying to have with them? Have they complained that they can't focus on a task? A lack of concentration typically occurs when we have been stressed out for extended periods of time – a symptom that may be associated with depression.

They Feel Hopeless
Often, people suffering from depression feel as though things will never get better, and concurrently, they will never feel better. If they describe themselves in such absolute terms – feeling hopeless, empty, worthless, etc. – and they are acting disconnected from people and situations, they may be exhibiting symptoms related to depression.

So what do you do if you're concerned?
First and foremost, it’s important to take a gentle stance. Think about pulling them aside to a quiet place where it’s just two of you (even if that’s just ‘virtually’ right now), and letting them know what you’ve noticed about them lately. Just say you’re checking in to make sure they’re doing okay.

It’s also definitely important to let them know you’re there if they want to talk, or maybe grab a coffee if you’re in the same space – a video chat coffee if you’re not. Depending on how bad things are, you could also recommend that they speak to a registered mental health professional.

Certainly, anyone can have a bad day or two, but if you’re sensing a distressing pattern in someone's behaviour, there is help available for them. BEACON might be one option to explore, but there are many. But it’s important that they get the support they need, especially during challenging times like these.

Mental health is an issue that should be discussed more often.

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