Lifestyle Plus Center Blog

Worth-reading blog posts about living life healthily in terms of managing life as an individual or a parent. Included here are tips about positive parenting.

How to Identify Mental Illness

Mary Johnson - Monday, April 11, 2016




The sad truth is that Mental illness in today’s society is becoming more and more prevalent.  Lack of knowledge and understanding the different types and degrees of severity adds to the problem. 

Case Study:  “Susan is a 19 year old girl who at the age of 12 became very unstable and started to display erratic behavior.  Her mother, Helen, was beside herself not knowing what to do or where to turn. Like most parents Helen pushed things under the table, believing that Susan was just going through a phase.  However by the time Susan was 15 she started to become violent and self-harm.  Police became involved and so did the Authorities and the family went through a very tough time.  After evaluation Susan was diagnosed as suffering Mental Illness.”


The question beckoning to be asked is: “What caused Susan’s erratic behavior and could her mother have done anything to prevent Susan’s behavior from escalating to the point of to self-harming?”

Unfortunately, there is no straight forward answer to these questions.  However what we can take away from this case study, is that knowledge is everything and the best we can do is to equip ourselves with as much knowledge about Mental Illness as we can, so that in the event that one of our friends or loved ones, or ourselves for that matter display symptoms we are better equipped to identify them and seek the necessary help.

So let’s define in broad terms:


  • What is mental illness?
  • What causes mental illness?
  • Myths –v- Facts
  • Symptoms of Mental illness
  • Strategies you can use to help someone going through a Mental Health Crisis“


A mental illness is a health problem that significantly affects how a person thinks, behaves and interacts with other people. It is diagnosed according to standardized criteria.  It is reported that one in five Australians will suffer from a mental illness in any given year.

Whilst a mental health problem affects how a person thinks, feels and behaves it is to a lesser extent than a mental illness.

There are different types and degrees of severity of mental illness.  Some of the major types are:


      • Anxiety
  • depression
  • Schizophrenia                                                             
  • Bipolar mood disorder
  • Personal disorders
  • Eating disorders


These illnesses may also be referred to as a mental disorder, mental impairment or psychiatric disability.




Mental illness results from complex interactions between the mind, body and environment.  Factors which can contribute to mental illness are:


Long-term and acute stress
  • Biological factors such as genetics, chemistry and hormones
  • Use of alcohol, drugs and other substances.
  • Cognitive patterns such as constant negative thoughts and low self-esteem,
  • Social factors such as isolation, financial problems, family breakdown or violence.




  • Many believe that Mental illness affects a few people and is caused by a personal weakness.  The Fact is that Mental illness is common, it doesn’t discriminate and it affects people of all ages, educational and income levels and culture. 
  • Furthermore fact is that it can be caused by genetic, biological, social and environmental factors. It is important to recognize that when a person suffering mental illness seeks and accepts help it is a sign of strength.


  • It is believed that people with mental illness can never recover.  The fact is that with the right type of help and support, most people do recover and lead healthy, productive and satisfying lives.


  • Some believe that people with a mental illness can cure themselves by pulling themselves out of it.  The fact is that just like mental illness not being caused by personal weakness it cannot be cured by personal strength.


  • People with a mental illness are violent.  Fact is that people with a mental illness are more no more violent or dangerous than the rest of the community.  In fact people with a mental illness are more likely to harm themselves


Each type of mental illness has a different set of symptoms. For example, extreme dieting may be a sign that someone has an eating disorder. Hearing voices could be a sign of psychosis. An ongoing feeling of hopelessness after childbirth could be a sign of postnatal depression.


Drastic changes in a person’s thoughts, moods or behavior can be a sign that they have a mental illness. Changes can be sudden or come on gradually over a long period. A person who usually copes well with life may start to have trouble functioning at work or in normal activities due to a mental illness.

Here are some examples of the symptoms of mental illness:


  • Anxiety: excess worry or fears
  • Depression: persistent sad or low mood
  • Unusual or illogical thoughts
  • Unreasonable anger or irritability
  • Poor concentration
  • Hearing voices which no one else can perceive
  • Increased or decreased sleep
  • Low or increased appetite
  • Lack of motivation
  • Withdrawing from people
  • Drug use


The symptoms of mental illness can come and go throughout a person’s life.

Now that we have broadly defined what mental illness is, what causes it, the symptoms and some of the myths and facts around it, the question begging to be asked is what can be done to minimize the factors that cause mental illness? 

The simple answer is that these factors can be minimized by a strong and supportive community environment.


How to help someone going through a mental health crisis


During a mental health crisis a person may be:


  • Feeling suicidal
  • Having anxiety attacks
  • In an acute stress reaction
  • Out of touch with reality in a distressing psychotic state
General strategies you can use to help


  • Introduce yourself and explain why you are present.
  • Remain courteous and non-threatening, but be honest and direct.
  • Listen to the person in a non-judgmental way.
  • Avoid confrontation at all costs – be prepared to "agree to differ" with the person's perspective.
  • Clarify and address what the person sees as the major issues first (not what you, the helper, see as the major concerns).
  • Do not attempt to manhandle the person, except to prevent serious assault or suicide attempts.
  • Encourage / assist person to receive professional mental health help.
  • Finally, if the incident was traumatic for you, or you feel anxious or distressed, discuss these issues with a friend or a professional service.

About Lifestyle Plus Centre

Mary together with a team of Highly Qualified Professionals specialize in a wide range of positive disciplines, including, Counseling, Clinical Hypnotherapy, Stress Management, Fitness, Health and Well-being, Life Coaching, Peak Performance Coaching, Yoga, Remedial Massage, Advanced Neuro Learning for children and even Business Leadership.

Life Style Plus Centre's Vision is to create a community where, without prejudice. we provide people with information creating an immense awareness to the resources, and wide range of positive disciplines available to them, which will support and enable them to successfully live life to their full potential