Your Loved One is Struggling with Mental Health … Now What?

by | May 23, 2023

Original article by Ivy S. Patt, PhD on

“She is always in her room.”

“He has been declining to join us on outings.”

“They always seem down and have a negative response to everything…..”

When you notice behavior and mood changes in loved ones, it can be hard to identify if it’s just a phase, or if they could use some extra support with their emotional well-being. It can be even more difficult for the person suffering from emotional turmoil to identify their own need for care, and they may rely on supportive friends and family to help them realize they would benefit from therapy and/or medication. There are a few signs to look for that can help you identify their need for mental health care and some helpful ways to facilitate connecting them to professional treatment.

Symptoms to look for

The words “stressed,” “depressed,” “anxious,” and “traumatic” are terms thrown around carelessly in our culture.

It is often challenging to assess distress – is it just a bad day/rough week, or is a higher level of support needed? So, what do you look for to know when it’s time to bring up the topic of professional help?

A change in typical patterns is an important factor to consider. Is this a social person who is declining opportunities to be with people? Is your loved one someone who always made it to work and has been taking a lot of days off? Do you notice that the friend or relative reports feeling exhausted and not sleeping when they typically sleep just fine? Consistent deviations in typical routines and behaviors could be a sign that your loved one is struggling with their mental wellness.

Functioning is the ability to complete basic daily tasks. If your loved one is having difficulty with managing their personal hygiene, the care and maintenance of their living space, or maintaining a regular diet, it may be a sign that they are struggling with their mental health. As you assess whether there has been a change in behavior and if their functioning is impaired, you may also want to assess the length of the disruption.

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