Council on Aging Answers 2017 - 41

COUNCIL ON AGING - SOUTHERN CALIFORNIA

Symptoms That Require Immediate Attention
n Thoughts or plans of killing or hurting one's self or
another person
n Hearing voices or seeing things that no one else can
hear or see
n Unexplainable changes in thinking, speech, or
writing
n Being overly suspicious or fearful
n Serious drop in school or work performance
n Sudden personality changes that are bizarre or out of
character
Where Can I Go For Help?
Where you go for help will depend on who has
the problem (an adult or child) and the nature of the
problem and/or symptoms. Often, the best place to start
is your local Mental Health Association. Check your
Yellow Pages for a listing or visit Mental Health America
at www.MentalHealthAmerica.net.
Other Suggested Resources
Your local health department's Mental Health
Division. These services are state funded and are
obligated to first serve individuals who meet "priority

population criteria" as defined by the state Mental
Health Department. There may be waiting lists and
not all individuals may be eligible for services. In some
jurisdictions local funding is provided for additional
services.
n Other mental health organizations
n Family physician
n Clergyperson
n Family services agencies, such as Catholic Charities,
Family Services, or Jewish Social Services
n Educational consultants or school counselors
n Marriage and family counselors
n Child guidance counselors
n Psychiatric hospitals accredited by the Joint
Commission on Accreditation of Health Care
Organizations
n Hotlines, crisis centers, and emergency rooms (call
411 for Directory Assistance)

HEALTHCARE

knowing what the risk factors and symptoms are will
help to catch them early.
Having a combination of symptoms (not just one
symptom) indicates that someone might be showing
signs of a mental health condition. Be aware of these
symptoms when they last longer than a few weeks:
n Problems with concentration, memory, or ability to
think clearly
n Changes in eating such as loss of appetite or
overeating
n Not being able to complete school or work tasks
n Feeling overly worried
n Feeling sad, empty, hopeless, or worthless
n Sensitivity to sounds, sight, smell, or touch
n Irritability and restlessness
n Feeling like your brain is playing tricks on you.
Hearing knocking or scratching sounds, or names
being called, seeing things that other people do not
see like shadows, changes in light and figures.
n Loss of interest in activities that are normally
enjoyable, withdrawal from others, or disconnection
n Changes in energy level and sleep patterns. Often
someone will sleep during the day and be up at night.

Which Mental Health
Professional Is Right For Me?
There are many types of mental health professionals.
Finding the right one for you may require some
research. Often it is a good idea to first describe the
symptoms and/or problems to your family physician or
clergy. He or she can suggest the type of mental health
professional you should call.
Spend a few minutes talking with him or her on
the phone, ask about their approach to working with
patients, their philosophy, whether or not they have
a specialty or concentration (some psychologists for
instance specialize in family counseling, or child
counseling, while others specialize in divorce or coping
with the loss of a loved one.) If you feel comfortable
talking to the counselor or doctor, the next step is to
make an appointment.
Like other health conditions, we need to address the
symptoms early, identify the underlying illness, and
plan an appropriate course of action on a path towards
overall health. With proper care and treatment many
individuals learn to cope or recover from a mental
illness or emotional disorder.
If you or someone you know is in crisis, call 1-800273-TALK (8255), go to your local Emergency Room or
call 911 for immediate assistance.
Excerpted from Mental Health America, B4BStage4/
My Medicare Matters-National Council on Aging

Council On Aging - Southern California | 714-479-0107 | www.coasc.org	 Answers Guide 2017

41


http://www.MentalHealthAmerica.net http://www.coasc.org

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Council on Aging Answers 2017

Contents
Council on Aging Answers 2017 - Intro
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