Mental Health – the Signs and Diagnosis

Mental illness is one of America’s best kept secrets. If you go to a large city those who are affected by it can often be found among the homeless. One in five families in the United States has a family member who is afflicted with some form of the disease, still it is one of the quietest illnesses in the nation. Every year in the month of May the National Mental Health Association, along with cities all across the US, attempt to bring this illness out of the closest and into the light so that people will not only be forced to acknowledge its existence as a problem but also be spurred to seek out a cure.

Mental health is of importance to everyone. Whether it means minding every day stress levels or dealing with mental disorders, mental health means defining the problem and managing your mental health. Most people don’t pay attention to their mental health as much as their physical health even though it is just as important. What most do not realize is that mental illness is as common as cancer and heart disease combined. Here in Grays Harbor County it is of special concern because, according to local counselor Dr. Tracy Ridout, Grays Harbor County boasts one of the highest suicide rates in the nation.

“We have an extremely high incidence of depression in Grays Harbor County,” Ridout said. “I think there are many factors that contribute to this, including economic concerns as well as the weather and stability of the family. There are also bio-chemical factors as well.”

Ridout also has a theory about our society as a whole and its impatience with itself.

“We as a society don’t know when to take a break,’ Ridout said. “We need to be taking a look at our lifestyles and slowing down some.”

Ridout isn’t the only local counselor who feels this way. August Grieg says that she also feels that depression is on an all time high in Grays Harbor.

“Depression is probably one of the biggest mental health concerns in Grays Harbor County,” Grieg said. “It is important to get help if you feel like this is an issue for you. Many people try to handle it themselves and never seeks help; this can be dangerous.”

There are some warning signs in adults that tend to signal a mental health problem. Some are:
confused thinking
prolonged depression
social withdrawal
suicidal thoughts
strong feelings of anger

And there are many more. According to both Ridout and Grieg, the bottom line is to seek help with someone you feel you can trust.

“I attempt to make those who come in to see me feel comfortable so they feel a trust,” Grieg said. “It is important that a client feel a trust bond in order to let out some of what they are feeling.”

Ridout agrees and says that he feels that all most people need is someone who will listen.

“My job is to listen and hear what a client is telling me,” Ridout said. “I especially worry about the children and whether or not they are feeling pushed. I have a daughter of my own and I often wonder if she is pushing herself too hard.”

Ridout says that we as a society have to work at changing the way we handle things.

“We have to slow down and handle things differently,” Ridout said.

If you think you may be experiencing some problems or even mental illness, seek help. For more information locally call the Evergreen Center in Hoquiam at 532-8629.

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