Mental health checkup

By Perry Russom

March 29, 2013 Updated Mar 29, 2013 at 6:31 PM EDT

Binghamton, NY (WBNG Binghamton) One in four people are suffering with a mental illness, but acknowledging that a loved one is suffering may be hard to do.

"There isn't anyone, I believe, who goes throughout life without either knowing someone or unfortunately, feeling it for themselves" said Kate Murray of Mental Health America of the Southern Tier.

Even though more people know about mental illnesses, Dawn Kirk of the Mental Health Association said there is still a societal stigma on the disorder...

"It's important for everybody," said Kirk. "Whether you're in a profession or a mom and dad, we (need to) know how to address people who are in crisis from a mental health condition."

Signs of mental distress:
1) Change in behavior
2) Not taking care of themselves
3) Fluctuations with emotions

Reasons why someone may have an illness:
1) Chemical imbalance
2) Seasonal defective
3) Too much stress
4) Not sleeping enough
5) Living through a traumatic event

"We see needs," said Barbara Fisher of United Way 2-1-1. "After the flood and after the disaster at the American Civic Association, we certainly knew it was very obvious to the community that there were mental health needs."

At bigger institutions like Binghamton University, they can't rely on just faculty and staff to notice disorders in their students.

They have a program called "Green Dot." It's a program where peers keep an eye on each other while looking for signs of depression.

If you feel your stress level too high, some ways to loosen the tension are to meditate, start a healthy diet and exercise.

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline (24-hour) 1-800-273-TALK

The Mental Health First Aid Action Plan (ALGEE):
1) Assess for risk of suicide or harm
2) Listen non-judgementally
3) Give reassurance and information
4) Encourage appropriate professional help
5) Encourage self-help & other support strategies

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