Education & Awareness Programs

Access to education, prevention and early intervention programs and supports are available in our local communities through community-based organizations and County Mental Health Departments.  Below you will find information to access these services and supports, as well as information on knowing the signs of someone who may be in need of assistance.

The following websites offer educational information regarding mental health conditions, treatment and directories for local resources:

What are Warning Signs of a Person in Mental Health Distress?
Often there are warning signs of someone in crisis or experiencing high level of distress. When possible, it is important to identify friends, family, and others who are severely distressed, suicidal (at risk of hurting oneself) or homicidal (at risk of hurting others) and refer him or her to a mental health or medical provider for assistance.  There are many warning signs of psychological distress, and individuals may be at any point on a distress continuum that ranges from early warning stressors to suicidal or homicidal plans.  Multiple warning signs and/or extreme behaviors suggest an immediate crisis and may require emergency intervention. 

Warning Signs of Suicide or Imminent Danger to Self

  • Feelings of hopelessness, helplessness or worthlessness
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Significant appetite loss or gain
  • Decreased interest or pleasure in previously enjoyable activities
  • Repeated themes of death in conversations or course work
  • Significant loss (death of loved one, relationship break up, loss of status or prestige or physical impairment)
  • Excessive alcohol or other drug abuse
  • Previous suicide attempt
  • Articulates a wish to die
  • Articulates a plan for suicide (with what means, when, where)
  • Access to means for suicide (pills, knife/razor, weapon)

Signs of Imminent Psychotic or Homicidal Behaviors

  • Marked inability to communicate clearly (abnormally garbled speech)
  • Loss of reality (seeing or hearing things that are not present)
  • Beliefs at great odds with or no base in reality
  • Highly disruptive behaviors (hostile, aggressive, violent)
  • Fascination with death or violence
  • Suicidal thoughts or plans and/or means for suicide 
  • Threats or acts of violence or plan and/or means to harm self or others

General Signs of Distress

  • Disheveled appearance or poor hygiene
  • Dramatic or sudden weight loss or gain
  • Insomnia or excessive sleeping
  • Fatigue, lack of energy or motivation
  • Sadness or tearfulness
  • Irritability, agitation or mood swings
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Highly distracted or confused
  • Impaired speech (incoherent, slurred, rapid, improper use of words)
  • Disjointed thoughts
  • Withdrawn or isolating behavior
  • Bizarre behavior
  • Inappropriate expression of anger
  • Exaggerated or dramatic behaviors
  • Apparent substance abuse (alcohol, cannabis, slurred speech, blood shot eyes)
  • Increase in risk-taking behavior
  • Talk of harm to self or others
  • Inability to function

How do I Make a Referral or Encourage the Person to Seek Help?
If you have concerns about how to approach someone about seeking help, the following guidelines may be helpful:

  • Be mindful of your role and appropriate boundaries when helping a person
  • Ask to speak with the individual privately in a non-threatening environment
  • Express care and concern about them and describe what you are observing in a non-judgmental manner
  • Focus on the specific behaviors that you are observing; don’t try and diagnose or make interpretations
  • Encourage the person’s cooperation in seeking and receiving help; don’t demand or use force
  • Make suggestions for appropriate resources such as support groups or counseling
  • Offer to assist with contacting the resource but encourage the person to make the call
  • When necessary, someone may accompany the person to a helper or provider
  • When escorting someone to receive services, it is important to provide clear and specific information about the situation to the helper or provider