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Mental Health Awareness: Stages Of Mental Health Conditions

Mental Health America, the same organization that sponsors Mental Health Awareness Month, works to change people’s attitudes towards mental health. And one of their newest campaigns is aimed at encouraging people to get help in the early stages. Why?

Think about how we classify other serious illnesses, like cancer or diabetes. We don’t wait until they are at their most severe stage before we start treatment; we know that the sooner the person is treated, the better. As soon as we see symptoms, we try to fight back and treat to stop the spread of the disease. With their campaign called B4Stage4, MHA encourages people to do the same for individuals who are dealing with potentially serious mental illness.

The statistics are thought-provoking:

  • 1 in 5 American adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year.
  • 50 percent of Americans will meet the criteria for a diagnosable mental health condition sometime in their life, and half of those people will develop conditions by the age of 14.

In other words, mental health conditions are common. And, most importantly, they are treatable. Early identification and intervention can go a long way in helping with that treatment. With that in mind, MHA offers a number of screening tools that can help you figure out whether you or someone you love is suffering from warning signs of a mental illness.

MHA has also identified four stages of mental health conditions; at a very basic level, they say:

  • Stage 1 is when a person begins to show symptoms of a mental health condition, but can still function at home, work or school—yet there is a sense that something is “not right.”
  • Stage 2 is when it usually becomes obvious that something is wrong. Symptoms may become stronger or more noticeable and last longer. Work, school or family obligations become more difficult to perform.
  • Stage 3 is when symptoms bring on serious disruptions in life activities and roles. A person will feel like they’re losing control of their life and the ability to fill their roles at home, work or school.
  • Stage 4 is when extreme, prolonged and persistent symptoms and impairment may result in the development of other health conditions and has the potential to turn into a crisis event.

To find out more about the stages, visit MHA’s page at www.mentalhealthamerica.net/may. And remember, there is a wide variety of treatment options for mental illnesses ranging from talk therapy to medication to peer support in Western New York.

If you suspect that you or someone you love may be suffering from a mental health disorder, please call us at (716) 831-1800.