Many professionals deal with anxiety, mood disorders, depression, or a host of other mental health challenges. The difference between these hard-charging executives and lower-income citizens is that these executives often do not seek help. In fact, many of them suffer in silence as they wonder when the storm will pass and they can return to normal. The storm often doesn't pass but rather become the perfect storm as situations and unfavorable circumstances collide.
This creates a chilling effect for the leader and those within his organization. What makes dealing with a mental health challenge so darn difficult is that the person afflicted may be unaware that something is mentally going awry. Recently, First Lady Michelle Obama stated that for all of us our mental well-being is just as important as our physical health. This was very courageous of her to support mental wellness, considering it is still considered taboo and often ignored out of shame and ridicule.
Based on a movement to change how mental health is viewed, there are five signs that people should look for in themselves or others. According to the Campaign to Change Direction, when any of the five signs are present you should listen to what the person is saying, offer to help them to get help and be compassionate.
If you notice these signs in yourself or someone else, seek assistance. You may want to speak to family members to encourage the person to seek help. The point is to do something which involves having a crucial conversation and sharing with the other person what you have noticed and how you are concerned. The most difficult part is the conversation because people can and often do become defensive about having a mental health issue. But truth sprinkled with a little compassion and courage can take you a long way when you recognize the signs. Here are the five signs that you may notice:
1. Personality Change
You may say to yourself that I don't recognize her anymore. What has become a part of someone's values or identity doesn't seem to fit any longer and they do and say things that are contraire to their personality. A personality change brought on due to a crisis can even be a warning sign that help is needed.
What may be a minor incident can be met with an explosive behavior that is fueled by anger, rage and hostility. Certain mood disorders can have agitation as a tell-tale sign. What can be a level headed person becomes someone who can blow her top over things that ordinarily wouldn't faze her. Their anger can be shown by cursing, slamming doors, menacing facial expressions and so forth.
A person experiencing some form of mental health challenge will begin to pull away from social interactions and prefer to be alone. Not to be confused with the preference of an introvert because the pulling back is something that is abnormal or at a minimum unusual for the person. You may find that person isolating and retreating to their office or anywhere to be alone during the work day. This is unusual and should be discussed.
4. Poor Self-Care
This is where you will see reckless behavior accompanied with a change in how one maintains her image or personal hygiene. It's not uncommon for someone to self-medicate and drink excessively as she attempts to manage what is going on her mind to no avail. It is reported that people with serious mental illness die 25 years sooner than the general population. This can be attributed to poor self-care.
You may start to hear self-loathing, hurt, pain and doom and gloom from a person experiencing mental health challenges. In fact, this is where you will hear suicidal ideation that takes the form of statements such as "I'm worth more dead than alive, things would be better off without me, or life isn't worth living." These are just a few comments that can give you a peek into their mind. These and similar comments should be taken seriously and discussed with a mental health professional.