Popular wisdom has is that the teens and early 20s are the best years of one’s lives when, unburdened by professional or personal responsibilities, one can live to the fullest. Those years are perhaps the most important ones of our lives, setting as they do the foundation on which we build our careers. It naturally follows that we need to be aware of the challenges that life will throw our way in those crucial, formative years.

Perhaps the biggest roadblock that young men and women encounter in those years comes from within: mental illness. Admittedly, it is a problem that cuts across barriers of age, economic status and ethnicity in the US. After all, nearly one fifth of the adult population of this country suffers from some form of mental illness each year. Nonetheless, the future of any country, especially one like the US, which is undergoing a socio-economic transformation, resides in its youth. Therefore, the prevalence of mental illness among the youth is a matter of deep concern for American society.

While the general discourse centres around treatment of mental illness, it is equally important to have in place mechanisms to nip the monster in the bud. Here are a few useful tips that can equip you in the battle against the demons in your mind.

Develop awareness: For a problem that is so rampant, there is surprisingly little awareness about the hazards posed by mental illness. We all have a role in combating the menace, not just for ourselves, but also for the people close to us. Any one of us could fall victim to it. Therefore we owe it to ourselves to be aware of the nature of the problem and how we can overcome it as well as help others do so. There is no shortage of articles on the subject by experts, which are freely accessible online.

Recognise the signs: The biggest danger with a psychological illness is that it gradually creeps up and overwhelms you even before you realise it. However, like most diseases, it leaves certain tell tale signs which, if recognised on time, can lead to early cure or even prevention. Here are a few symptoms that could indicate mental illness:

  • Constant feeling of being low or sad
  • Excessive anger or uncharacteristically violent behaviour
  • Sudden change in appetite
  • Aversion to socialising
  • Reduced powers of concentration
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Unusually low energy levels, fatigue
  • Difficulty in falling asleep

Get professional support: Considerable progress has been made as far as research into mental illness is concerned. There are well trained and experienced individuals and even organisations like Naya Clinics, who render professional help to victims of mental illness. Besides, there are NPOs and helplines out there for those in need. If you are suffering from the above symptoms, you surely want to get in touch with one of them. The worst thing which could happen is that you may turn out to be perfectly fine. Surely, that’s a pleasant headache to have.