Mental Health

  • Mental health involves the presence of positive characteristics such as: being able to cope with life's challenges, staying in control of emotions and behaviors, managing stress, building strong, healthy relationships, and recovering from setbacks.

    While effort is required to build and maintain physical health, the same is true for mental and emotional health. Improving emotional health can be rewarding as it can benefit all aspects of life, including boosting mood, building resilience, and adding to the overall enjoyment of life.

    Helpful Information:

    U.S. Department of Health & Human Services
    Mental Health America
    American Academy of Family Physicians
    American Psychological Association
    How to Talk to Your Child About Their Mental Health
    NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) Support Groups and Education
    Resources for Parents & Caregivers, from The Kids Mental Health Foundation

    What is Mental Illness?
    A mental health concern becomes a mental illness when ongoing signs and symptoms cause frequent stress and affect your ability to function. A mental illness can make you miserable and can cause problems in your daily life, such as at school or work or in relationships. (source: Mayo Clinic)

    According to NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), trying to tell the difference between what expected behaviors are and what might be the signs of a mental illness isn't always easy. There's no easy test that can let someone know if there is mental illness or if actions and thoughts might be typical behaviors of a person or the result of a physical illness.

    Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following:

    • Excessive worrying or fear
    • Feeling excessively sad or low
    • Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
    • Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
    • Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
    • Avoiding friends and social activities
    • Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
    • Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
    • Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
    • Changes in sex drive
    • Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don't exist in objective reality)
    • Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or anosognosia)
    • Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
    • Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
    • Thinking about suicide
    • Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
    • An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance (mostly in adolescents)

    Mental health conditions can also begin to develop in young children. Because they’re still learning how to identify and talk about thoughts and emotions, their most obvious symptoms are behavioral. Symptoms in children may include the following:

    • Changes in school performance
    • Excessive worry or anxiety, for instance, fighting to avoid bed or school
    • Hyperactive behavior
    • Frequent nightmares
    • Frequent disobedience or aggression
    • Frequent temper tantrums

    Psychiatric Intake Response Center (PIRC)--Located in the Emergency Depart. of Children's of Alabama
    (205) 638-PIRC (7472)
    PIRC is designed to assist patients, their loved ones and/or caregivers, and community providers in finding the appropriate level of mental health care. These services are provided via telephone or in person by licensed mental health clinicians trained to assess a child or teen’s mental, emotional, and behavioral needs and recommend the best treatment options.  

    If you or someone you are concerned about is in immediate danger, CALL 911