May is National Mental Health Awareness Month, and people across the nation are working to reduce stigma around mental health. Many people suffering from mental illness don’t talk about it and avoid seeking treatment because they are concerned about judgment from family, friends, and their community. Take the opportunity this month to fight the stigma by talking openly about mental health, educating yourself and others, and show compassion for those who experience mental illness.

It can be hard to recognize mental illness because unlike a physical illness, you cannot see the symptoms. Mental illnesses don’t all look the same. People with depression may behave differently from those with anxiety and bipolar disorder. However, you don’t have to know exactly what’s wrong to recognize and offer support when someone needs help.

Some signs that someone is struggling can include:

  • Lack of interest in activities that they were once passionate about
  • Weight loss or gain
  • Restlessness
  • Irritability
  • Lack of energy

Those suffering from depression and other mental illnesses often feel isolated. If you notice symptoms in family, friends, or coworkers, one of the most helpful things you can do is listen. Listen with empathy and an open mind – don’t try to fill in the gaps with your own thoughts or words. Don’t assume you can solve the problem, and understand that mental illness cannot be fixed overnight. Instead: offer support point out available resources.

Your Employee Assistance Program is Here to Support You

Our counselors are available 24/7 for support. If you feel that you or someone you know may be struggling with a mental health disorder, contact the EAP at 877 – 252 – 8550 to be connected to counselors or for a free depression screening.

Sources: National Institute of Mental Health. HelpGuide. The Health Tip of the Week is for educational purposes only.  For additional information, consult your physician. Please feel free to copy and distribute this health resource.