My Loved One Is Struggling With Their Mental Health, Now What?

By: Arnold Williams, M.D. Chair of Medical Staff for RJWBarnabas Behavioral Health Center

Arnold Williams, M.D. Chair of Medical Staff for RJWBarnabas Behavioral Health Center in Toms River

While we may be well versed regarding the signs and symptoms of mental illness, such as depression and anxiety, but when is it time to reach out for professional help?

If you or your loved ones’ mental illness is impeding their everyday life, and in a way that it is diminishing their quality of life, it may be time to contact a mental health professional.

Some common mental health occurrences that may mean it’s time to reach out for professional help include but are not limited to:

  1. Shutting off oneself from the outside world
  2. Finding it hard to get out of bed
  3. Finding it difficult to sleep, or sleeping in excess
  4. Experiencing a decrease in appetite, or eating in excess
  5. Thoughts of dying or suicide

Why are these important to point out? Let’s start by going through the realistic impacts of each, one by one.

  1. If you notice that you or your loved one is totally isolating from friends or family, or staying disengaged from the current reality of life, the symptoms are only going to worsen. It’s better to be proactive when this type of behavior begins occurring to prevent any further difficulties in treatment and resiliency.
  2. If you are having trouble getting out of bed, what are the chances that you are piling stress on top of stress? If you’re still working, maybe you are late all the time, or even missing days of work. If there is grocery shopping, chores, and errands to be done, you are now compounding the issue of lethargy with the feeling of “falling behind”.
  3. Sleep is such a necessary component of mental wellness. Without sleep, we lose the ability to focus, we feel groggy, even “outside oneself”. Individuals struggling with anxiety may find it difficult to fall asleep due to constant worry and heightened fear of the unknown each day brings. On the contrary, those struggling with depression may experience Hypersomnia, or, sleeping in excess. Without proper sleep hygiene, it will be difficult for an individual to have emotional motivation and physical energy to get back in their daily routine.
  4. Sometimes anxiety and depression diminish an individual’s appetite. This poses many problems. For starters, when someone does not have the proper nutrition and sustenance to get through the day, much like proper sleep hygiene, they are not going to have the energy to participate in the day. Good nutrition is just as crucial as sleep. On the contrary, some may begin “stress eating” or eating in excess due to anxiety or depression. This may make someone feel sluggish, lack motivation, and end up adding feelings of guilt and shame worsening the person’s condition.
  5. If you or a loved one are having thoughts of suicide or dying, dial 9-1-1 immediately. Being in a hospital with mental health professionals is the safest place for someone struggling with suicidality. Staff will assess, treat, and set you up with an aftercare plan to help you manage your thoughts and symptoms. Sometimes further treatment is recommended depending on each individual’s situation.

With that being said, what comes next? There are numerous ways to approach mental health treatment, and sometimes it takes trying more than one:

  • Individual Counseling
  • Outpatient Program (Counseling with medication management, not as intensive)
  • Intensive Outpatient Program (multiple days a week, group and individual therapy with medication management)
  • Inpatient Treatment (Voluntary or Involuntary if a danger to self/others)
  • Long-Term Care

RWJBarnabas Health Behavioral Health Network has an extensive Mental Health service line for you and your loved one’s needs. Call our 24/7 Access Line at 1-800-300-0628. To read more about their mental health services, please visit www.rwjbh.org/behavioralhealth.

RWJBarnabas Health Behavioral Health Center, located in Toms River, NJ, has both inpatient and outpatient mental health services for adults. Our Intensive Outpatient Program (IOP) and Outpatient Program (OP) called Stepping Stones, is currently running on a virtual and telephonic platform. To access any of our programs and services, please call 1-800-300-0628. Call Jessica Alpert, Community Outreach Coordinator, RWJBarnabas Behavioral Health Center at 732-228-2629 for additional information. For updates, follow us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/RWJBarnabasBehavioralHealth.

Additional Mental Health Resources:


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