Our Blog

Mental Health Awareness Month

Wednesday, May 15th, 2024

by Melanie VanderPol-Bailey, MSW, CSW-PIP


May is Mental Health Awareness month, and it seems fitting to share some of the symptoms and common signs that someone may be struggling with their mental health.  We want to encourage you to take care of yourself and have the courage to reach out to someone you think may be struggling.  Many resources are available, but it can be difficult to ask for help.

It can be common for the individual who is struggling with mental illness to have the awareness that they are not well.  It can be tempting to say that someone is “in denial”, however someone with acute mental illness may not be thinking clearly enough to consciously choose denial.  They simply may not have the ability for insight or awareness.  The formal term for this medical condition is called anosognosia, from the Greek meaning “to not know a disease”.     This challenge can further isolate someone who is suffering. 

Signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following:

  • Excessive worrying or fear
  • Feeling excessively sad or low
  • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
  • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
  • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
  • Avoiding friends and social activities
  • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
  • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
  • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
  • Changes in sex drive
  • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don't exist in objective reality)
  • Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality 
  • Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
  • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
  • Thinking about suicide
  • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
  • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available.  Call or text 988 to reach the 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline.  At River Counseling we meet you where you are at, offering hope. You may schedule an appointment with the Platte office or with one of the therapists from our other locations, Sioux Falls Psychological Services or Stronghold Counseling in Sioux Falls or Yankton. To schedule an appointment please call 605-274-2716.