By South Cove Manor
South Cove Manor Nursing and Rehabilitation Center had a breakfast seminar June 29 at Boston Chinese Evangelical Church. Sara Tan, president of Enhance Asian Community On Health, spoke about mental health challenges facing youth.
Mental health first aid is a way to support a young person facing mental, psychiatric and psychological challenges, until the appropriate help is found. Emotional health issues are common and most frequently emerge in their teenage hours. The earlier someone gets help, the more likely they can make a positive change. Unfortunately, many Asians and Asian Americans feel mental health is shameful or a sign of weakness, refusing to get professional help.
Mental illness or disorders are diagnosable. They can affect one’s thinking, emotions and behavior. This can interfere with someone’s ability to work, attend school, daily life and interpersonal relationships. Some examples of emotional distress include depression, anxiety, substance abuse, severe mental illness and a food disorder.
Signs and symptoms
More than half of all individuals diagnosed with mental illness exhibit symptoms by age 14.
Some cardiovascular symptoms of mental health problems include chest pain, accelerated heartbeat and flushing. Respiratory symptoms include rapid breathing and shortness of breath. The nervous system may experience dizziness, headache, sweating, stinging or numbness. The digestive system may also be affected, with symptoms of mouth dryness, stomach pain, nausea or upset stomach. The musculoskeletal system may see effects such as muscle soreness, shaking or weakness.
Mental problems may be seen in emotions and behavior. Some emotional expressions include depressed mood, mood swings, unrealistic or excessive worry, extreme guilt, inappropriate anger, lack of self-discipline, lack of emotional response, feelings of helplessness or despair, sensitivity to criticism or low self-esteem.
Behavioral symptoms include crying, withdrawing from others, inability to manage responsibilities, lack of motivation, being secretive, abuse of drugs or alcohol, change in energy level, avoidance or fear.
Other symptoms include self-criticism, pessimism, inability to make decisions, difficulty focusing thoughts, racing thoughts, paranoia, delusions, lack of self-awareness, and thoughts of death and suicide.
There are several risk factors for mental health problems. Previous trauma, abuse or anxiety are among then. Other factors include learned behavior, a chemical imbalance, substance abuse, seasonal changes, previous or existing mental conditions, on-going stress, side effects of medications, chronic pain and brain injury.
There are several ways to lessen mental health risk factors. They include a healthy life, good self-esteem, strong problem-solving skills, avoiding alcohol and tobacco, family support, supervised activities, strong social support, economic security and community relationships.
There are many forms of treatment and therapy for someone experiencing mental health problems. Rarely are medications the only way to treat problems, as counseling is often recommended.
For youth in your life, please listen without judgment. The feelings they experience are strong, even if you do not share their views or agree. Family members should be aware of their body language and facial expressions, choosing to be there for their young people.
If help is needed, call 911, school staff or social services.
This post is also available in: Chinese