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Mental Health Awareness


Part of being human is experiencing a spectrum of emotions: happy to hurt, love to loathing, peace to panic. However, sometimes our low moments start to feel more intense, and we need help beyond just a good night’s rest or a day off. This is when it’s time to examine our mental health, which involves examining how we’re coping with stress, working productively, and contributing to our community. The Women’s Commission participated in May's Mental Health Awareness month with a social media campaign outlining the signs of different mental health disorders and pointing toward resources.

Mental health disorders can include anxiety disorders, obsessive-compulsive disorder, depression, bipolar disorder, eating disorders, personality disorders, post-traumatic stress disorder, and psychotic disorders including schizophrenia. Common warning signs of a mental health disorder can include (but are not limited to) the following:

  • Feeling sad or withdrawn for more than two weeks
  • Severe mood swings that cause problems in relationships
  • Intense worries or fears that get in the way of daily activities
  • Sudden overwhelming fear for no reason
  • Not eating, or using laxatives or throwing up to lose weight
  • Significant weight loss or weight gain
  • Severe out-of-control risk taking behavior
  • Smoking, drinking, or using drugs more than usual
  • Drastic changes in behavior, personality, or sleeping habits
  • Extreme problems concentrating or staying still
  • Pulling away from people and usual activities
  • Having low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or like nothing matters
  • Having unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Feeling unusually confused, forgetful, on edge, angry, upset, worried, or scared
  • Having persistent thoughts and memories you can't get out of your head
  • Hearing voices or believing things that are not true
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others, or making plans to do so
  • Inability to perform daily tasks like taking care of children or getting to work or school

Mental health disorders sometimes just happen without outside influences, and sometimes they’re triggered by certain experiences. A few examples include:

  • Loss of a loved one
  • Divorce or separation
  • Any major transition—new home, new school, etc.
  • Traumatic life experiences, like living through a natural disaster
  • childhood abuse, trauma, or neglect
  • social isolation or loneliness
  • experiencing discrimination and stigma, including racism
  • social disadvantage, poverty or debt
  • severe or long-term stress
  • having a long-term physical health condition
  • unemployment or job loss
  • homelessness or poor housing
  • being a long-term caregiver for someone
  • drug and alcohol misuse
  • domestic violence, bullying or other abuse
  • significant trauma such as military combat or being the victim of a violent crime
  • physical causes such as a head injury or a neurological condition like epilepsy

It might feel scary to open up about mental health struggles but talking to someone is an essential first step. They should be a person who honors confidentiality, is respectful, and doesn’t judge. Sometimes it takes a few tries to find the right person, but don’t give up. In addition, mental health organizations such as the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) offer free peer groups with others who have similar experiences. Click here to watch a video about how NAMI peer groups helped Jumoke Kolawole as she struggled with anxiety and depression as a new refugee in the U.S.

Above all, it’s important to seek professional help and stay involved in treatment decisions. To read about resources available for those without insurance, visit GoodRX. NAMI also has a helpline at 800-950-NAMI or in a crisis text "NAMI" to 741741.


There is help and peace for everyone struggling with mental health disorders.



For immediate help

A Mindful State

Talk about Mental Health

National Institute of Mental Health

Washington State Health Care Authority


Find Your Local NAMI

National Suicide Prevention Line at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

Find Health Insurance: Washington Health Plan Finder