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Identifying some of the warning signs of a mental health issue

Mental health issues are often perceived as a silent killer, which in all fairness they are. Suicide is the second leading cause in deaths for young people aged 15-29.


In 2018, across UK and the Republic of Ireland there were 6,859 confirmed suicides according to the Samaritans. That equates to nearly one person committing suicide every hour. As shocking as this statistic is, we as people have the ability to reduce this number by identifying the warning signs and breaking the stigma around mental health.

A major problem with trying to spot warning signs of mental health issues are the wide variety of symptoms and issues. Due to the sheer amount of different mental health issues, there’s often the thought that it’s impossible to identify a single one. However, across all the different mental health issues there are some clear determining symptoms that identify that a person is dealing with a mental health issue which can be the first step in getting that person help.

The main way in determining if you believe someone has a mental health issue is identifying changes in their emotions, thoughts and behaviours. The most common symptoms include:

  • Confusion in terms of an individual’s thought process, this may mean that you have to repeat the task or question to them before they understand it.

  • Reduced ability to concentrate. This is more obvious in the fact that in an office or school environment you are able to look at the individual’s past productivity and are able to see they aren’t as productive.

  • Withdrawal from social circles. This is clear to see in small office groups as a manager or a member of the group, as the individual may not be turning up or may not be participating as they usually do.

  • Problems with excessive drinking or even drug use. If you are noticing when you go for a drink with a friend that they are drinking much more than you or the rest of the group, this may be a sign that they are struggling. This is because alcohol and drug use is often a thing people use as a crutch during a period of mental illness or stress in order to try and get their mind off of their problems.

  • Constant tiredness is another key symptom – constant fatigue is very ordinary in the most common mental illnesses such as depression or anxiety.

There are also some physical symptoms of someone who may be going through a mental health issue. These include:

  • Stomach pain, back pain, headaches, or other unexplained aches and pains. These are harder to pin as a mental health issue as a person may have just a headache or a stomach ache or a different condition that isn’t related to their mental health.

  • Self-harm. This is an incredibly serious symptom of someone going through a mental health issue and in turn if you do come across someone which is self-harming, get them help right away.

When it comes to the symptoms of mental health, there will usually be a combination of these symptoms and also some symptoms that have not been listed here depending on the mental health issue. If you do believe someone is going through a mental health issue, reach out to them and try to help them.


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