2017-05-18 / Healthy Living

Would you know when you’ve gone too far?

SPECIAL TO FLORIDA WEEKLY
Charlotte Behavioral Health Care

Mental health is essential to everyone’s overall health and well-being, and mental illnesses are common and treatable. But people experience symptoms of mental illnesses differently — and some engage in potentially dangerous or risky behaviors to avoid or cover up symptoms of a potential mental health problem.

Sometimes people (especially young people) struggling with mental health concerns develop habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illnesses — or could be signs of mental health problems themselves.

Activities such as compulsive sex, recreational drug use, obsessive internet use, excessive spending or disordered exercise patterns can all be behaviors that can disrupt someone’s mental health and potentially lead them down a path toward crisis.

May is Mental Health Month, and Charlotte Behavioral Health Care is raising awareness of “Risky Business.” The campaign is meant to educate and inform individuals dealing with a mental health concern understand that some behaviors and habits can be detrimental to recovery — or even mask a deeper issue — but that seeking help is nothing to be ashamed of.

Take the interactive quiz at www.mentalhealthamerica.net/whatstoofar and tell us when you think behaviors or habits go from being acceptable to unhealthy.

CBHC wants everyone to know that mental illnesses are real, that recovery is always the goal, and that even if you or someone you love is engaging in risky behavior, there is help. It is important to understand early symptoms of mental illness and know when certain behaviors are potentially signs of something more.

We need to speak up early and educate people about risky behavior and its connection to mental illness — and do so in a compassionate, judgement-free way.

When we engage in prevention and early identification, we can help reduce the burden of mental illness by identifying symptoms and warning signs early— and provide effective treatment “B4Stage4.”

B4Stage4 is a philosophy advocated by MHA to promote early detection of mental illness. According to the organization’s website: “When we think about cancer, heart disease, or diabetes, we don’t wait years to treat them. We start way before Stage 4. We begin with prevention. And when people are in the first stage of those diseases, and have a persistent cough, high blood pressure, or high blood sugar, we try immediately to reverse these symptoms. This is what we should be doing when people have serious mental illnesses, too. When they first begin to experience symptoms such as loss of sleep, feeling tired for no reason, feeling low, feeling anxious, or hearing voices, we should act.

“These early symptoms might not ever become serious. Like a cough, they often go away on their own, and are nothing to fear. But when they do not go away, it typically takes ten years from the time they first appear until someone gets a correct diagnosis and proper treatment.”

So, let’s talk about what is and is not risky business. Let’s understand where it’s important to draw the line, so we can address mental illness B4Stage4 and help others on the road to recovery. For more information, visit www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may. ¦

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