When is Mental Health a Concern? How would someone know when to seek Help?

One of the most confusing states of a human being is determining the quality of their mental health and quantifying the level of severity that demands special care. This is one that applies to every person.

As one professor used to say (not sure now much truth is in this) that every one is a little “mad” but the degrees of madness differ in each person. Which begs the question, how do we know that our level of mental health deterioration now requires special attention?!

WHO defines mental health as “the state of well being in which the individual realizes his/her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life and can work productively and fruitfully to make a contribution to the community”. Mental health can therefore be described according to:

  • How one feels about himself/herself and others
  • How one responds to the day to day demands of life
  • How one thinks, feels and acts in the face of daily life problems
  • How one handles stress, relates with others and makes choices that make the individual enjoy normal life.

By the above definition, mental health is the foundation for wellbeing and effective functioning for individuals and communities. It is not about disease but it is closely linked with virtually all global public health priorities and should be a concern for all of us, rather than only for those who suffer from a mental disorder.

These definitions sound only too ideological considering how life normally fairs amidst extreme stress and confusion or mild headaches one faces a day. When should some one seek help?

Thanks in advance for the contributions!

Moderator Asked on September 2, 2018 in Mental Health.
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5 Answer(s)
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Thank you Moderator for the question. You question is both interesting and very complicated. I agree that qualifying somebody with a mental health disease is very subjective to anyone’s judgment. But to be “officially” qualified with suffering from a Mental Health disease, a patient has to be diagnosed by a Certified/Accredited Professional/Doctor specialized in the field who can potentially make the diagnosis.

To answer your question, I think (like your former Professor) that everybody is suffering from mental health problem, with different level of suffering for each one of us. Like addiction, each of us has the trigger for mental health problems and symptoms might appear one day or the other. The big majority of people can function “normally” with their mental health issue(s). I mean keep a job and interact with people in society. It is a concern when the disease is so strong that it is affecting the day to day functioning of the person, the disease is affecting the person’s propensity to have a “normal” life in society. I think it is the moment the person needs to seek help.

For example I have a lot of depression cases in my family. Most of them  are mild and contained and other are so strong that they bring suicide (like my grand mother and some cousins). My grand mother and cousins mental health issues with depression were so strong that we seek help for them and they was quickly diagnosed with dementia by Doctors. Treatment and meds are little or no impact on their mental state and their only escape was suicide.

I hope it helps. Best


Super User Answered on September 3, 2018.
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I find this question interesting as well, but also very important. The class of people who can afford it carry out regular checkups to establish their health status on a set interval such as monthly. But these are the fewest people considering how expensive it can be to most middle and low income earners to have such checkups. As mentioned by @Olivier, I too have had family members who have suffered from mental illnesses of different kinds, and in most cases, it turned out to be too late for treatment by the time the illness, especially tumors were discovered (Lost my aunt and a brother’s wife to tumors). In most cases, such illnesses began as mere “normal” headaches, and as resilient as we normally want to be, they would simply mask the pain with a few pain killer tablets. (I normally do this myself) so I can’t blame them. I think most of us do this, we rarely seek medical help just because of a headache. This continued until they were completely down, their day to day functioning dropped, till when they couldn’t walk. By the time we got them to a real Hospital, it was too late.

Upon this question, I will just add another, especially for a professional doctor who can advise best, which signs or symptoms should one look out for, that may indicate a possible serious forthcoming mental illness, by which some one should seek medical help (or should we always see a doctor whenever we face headaches of any kind)? The point is to not learn about the mental disorder, or illness when its too late.

Seems a hard question, but a little guidance will go a long way to help us and our families get around the rampant mental challenges our community is facing. Thanks so much for the question – Moderator,

Kind regards,

Regular User Answered on September 3, 2018.
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Thank you so much for sharing! @Olivier, you mention that one should seek help when their mental health status is affecting their propensity to have a normal life in the society, and I agree fully.  Combining this with @OkidaCharles question, (while some people consider “a bad day” or “a bad week” – something normal) and that they will be down because of anxiety or depression and for a usually busy person, “this is said to be normal”, and after a little vacation, sabbatical or a few days rest, they would get back up soon; after all “a little rest heals all maladies”.

I wanted however to stress that mental health is a very delicate part of any person, and should not be taken for granted. I believe that seeking medical support for any kind of mental disorientation despite how huge or little the effect to normal life the problem may present is worth the costs and the process for the checkup.

Thank you again everyone for the contributions. Hopefully someone will find this helpful.


Moderator Answered on September 4, 2018.
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Great comments Guys. Very helpful. Thank you.

Super User Answered on September 4, 2018.
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And thank you too!!

Regular User Answered on September 4, 2018.
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