At GameChanger, we believe prevention and early intervention are keys to curbing the opioid crisis.
Considering youths and teens struggling with mental health illnesses are twice as likely to develop addiction, prevention often starts with reaching out for professional help (1). But how can you tell if you need it— and where do you find it?
Let’s discuss six signs you could benefit from talk therapy and where to start with seeking mental health services.
6 signs you could benefit from talk therapy
You feel alone.
Feelings of loneliness are common symptoms of a struggling mental state. Oftentimes, you can be surrounded by friends and family and still feel alone.
It’s also common to have this feeling if you’re going through a hard time and no one around you seems to understand. Connecting with a therapist can help you feel validated in your struggles and find ways to navigate through them.
You feel hopeless.
Hopelessness is a hallmark symptom of serious mental health disorders such as depression.
Those who experience hopelessness may have a poor outlook on the future and believe life will never get better. Feelings of hopelessness may occur on their own or be accompanied by pessimism, “emptiness” or numbness, sadness, and/or irritability (2).
If you have feelings of hopelessness, whether they come and go or are constantly present, seek professional help immediately.
You’re having trouble sleeping.
If your worries have you tossing and turning at night, a qualified counselor or therapist can help you manage thoughts keeping you awake.
“Insomnia” is when you have trouble falling or staying asleep. While insomnia may seem limited to mental health, it can have drastic effects on physical health and quality of life. If you’re consistently not getting the sleep you need, it may feel harder to pay attention in school, perform a sport, stay active, make smart decisions, or maintain close relationships. Insomnia is a common symptom of mental health disorders such as anxiety, depression, and more.
If you experience frequent insomnia, consider seeking professional help.
You can’t focus.
Everyone has trouble focusing from time to time. However, if poor focus has become your normal, it may be time to reach out for help.
How do you know if you’re having trouble focusing? If these situations are familiar to you, there may be an underlying mental health problem driving them:
- You find yourself daydreaming in class, while driving, or during sports practice.
- You can’t follow along with conversations because your mind drifts.
- You have trouble staying “on task” when doing homework, chores, or other activities.
There are a number of reasons your focus is off— a qualified professional can help determine why and how to cope with it.
Your stress is causing physical changes.
Stress is a normal part of life. But if stress is inevitable, how do you know if it’s something more?
According to experts, there’s a fine line between typical stress and a mental health disorder such as anxiety. A key indicator that stress is becoming too much to handle—or becoming full blown anxiety—are physical changes in your body. Both stress and anxiety can cause (3):
- Panic attacks or shortness of breath
- Heart palpitations
- Trouble sleeping
- Muscle aches or fatigue
- High blood pressure
- Sudden weight loss or gain
- Changes in your menstrual cycle
- Diarrhea or constipation
- Dizziness or fainting
If you experience any of these symptoms for more than a few days, contact a mental health professional for help. This is especially true if the symptoms don’t subside once the stressor (an upcoming test or breakup, for example) is gone.
You want to change but don’t know how.
If you’re feeling “stuck,” seek help. Perhaps you’re noticing negative patterns in your relationships or need help processing negative emotions. This is all very common and a licensed therapist can help talk you through ways to cope.
How to get help.
Not sure where to turn for professional help?
- If you feel comfortable, ask a parent, caregiver, or trusted adult to connect you with a psychologist in your area.
- Reach out to and make an appointment with your school counselor.
- If you need immediate support, call the free, 24/7 available Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHA) hotline at 1-800-662-HELP (4357).
- Browse other, free mental health hotlines and resources here.
1. Mental Illness and Addiction: Facts and Statistics. CAMH. Accessed from: https://www.camh.ca/en/driving-change/the-crisis-is-real/mental-health-statistics
2. Depression. National Institutes of Mental Health. Sept. 2022. Accessed from: https://www.nimh.nih.gov/health/topics/depression
3. Signs and symptoms of stress. Mind. March 2022. Accessed from: https://www.mind.org.uk/information-support/types-of-mental-health-problems/stress/signs-and-symptoms-of-stress/