Prince Harry’s recent revelation that after many years suffering, he sought help for the grief of his mother’s death has left many of us wondering how we would spot others in emotional stress. After all, most people saw the Prince as a tough, capable soldier who let his hair down when off duty – what’s so wrong with that, many would ask.
Yet he reports that his brother, Prince William, recognised that all was not well and urged Prince Harry to get help.
Do You Know Someone Who May Be Struggling?
Maybe you, too, have a family member or friend whose mental health worries you. Yet perhaps your lack of expertise leads you to doubt whether you can speak out. And let’s face it, with life’s ups and downs, it is normal that sometimes we feel on top of the world and at others feel pretty low in response to big life events.
How To Spot If Someone Isn’t Coping
So how do you tell if someone’s behaviour has gone beyond normal ups and downs?
Well, a mental health disorder is often characterised by unexplained changes.
These can include:
Changes in Behaviour:
Maybe the person becomes very withdrawn, or conversely starts to avoid being alone. Maybe they turns to alcohol or drugs to blot out emotion. They may display other obsessive behaviours such as obsessive hand-washing or checking.
Changes in Thinking:
The person may find themselves having delusions, such as that people are watching them all the time, or have grandiose thoughts of their own importance, or have fixed beliefs about things despite evidence to the contrary. They may have suicidal thoughts or believe that they are no longer worthy, or good enough.
Changes in Feelings:
The person may have long periods of feelings very low or become unreasonably angry or euphoric. Their moods may swing from one extreme to another. People who are depressed can become very quiet and withdrawn. To the observer, they may seem quite peaceful, yet their minds are far from quiet and they ruminate on whatever is disturbing them.
Other signs to look out for are:
- Problems with concentration, memory or logical thinking
- Reduction in everyday functioning – inability to do everyday tasks they once took for granted.
- Sleep disturbance. People with mental health issues are likely to have disturbed sleep. Even if they sleep for long periods, the sleep is unlikely to leave them feeling rested and refreshed.
- Increased use of drugs and alcohol.
Keep in mind though, that many of these signs and symptoms can be caused by physical illness, so don’t jump to conclusions. However, do try to gently speak to the person; they may be longing for the chance to open up about their problems. Or they may not be ready to do so yet.
You can find further guidance on what to do if you are worried about the mental health of someone you know here