Unfortunately in the African American, African, Asian, Hispanic cultures & religious community, mental illness and emotional health is frowned upon. Behavioral symptoms that are out of the ordinary are often ignored and taken as weaknesses or a passing phase.
The brain is a major working organ of the body. Just like the heart or lungs, it too can become diseased. When people are expressing behavior/feelings/emotions that are not normal; not based in reality or rationality; or may be harmful to themselves or others, these are times that we not only react spiritually but we must also attend to their physical needs by finding proper medical treatment as soon as possible.
There is no problem or negative stigma in seeking help from a licensed mental health professional. I myself have dealt with severe depression since the age of 11 and have had to acknowledge that I needed help. Yes I have faith in God! I believe that healing comes from the Most High but as long as I am in this body made of flesh, I also know that I am also vulnerable to disease and illness.
You don't know what will trigger it either, for me it was my father's death. It might be a soldier coming home experiencing the effects of war. It may be the suburban mom overwhelmed by life. You don't know when, but you should be aware of the signs.
"What are the Signs and Symptoms to Be Concerned About?"
If several of the following are occurring, a serious condition may be developing.
*Recent social withdrawal and loss of interest in others.
*An unusual drop in functioning, especially at school or work, such as quitting sports, failing in school, or difficulty performing familiar tasks.
*Problems with concentration, memory, or logical thought and speech that are hard to explain.
*Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells or touch; avoidance of over-stimulating situations.
*Loss of initiative or desire to participate in any activity; apathy.
*A vague feeling of being disconnected from oneself or one’s surroundings; a sense of unreality.
*Unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal powers to understand meanings or influence events; illogical or “magical” thinking typical of childhood in an adult.
*Fear or suspiciousness of others or a strong nervous feeling.
*Uncharacteristic, peculiar behavior.
*Dramatic sleep and appetite changes or deterioration in personal hygiene.
*Rapid or dramatic shifts in feelings or “mood swings.”
"One or two of these symptoms can’t predict a mental illness. But a person experiencing several together that are causing serious problems in his or her ability to study, work, or relate to others should be seen by a mental health professional. Guidance counselors, teachers or classmates are often the first to notice symptoms."
So I ask everyone to be more aware, more sensitive, and more proactive toward our brothers & sisters who are dealing with mental issues. Let's become better equipped in our families, communities, schools, churches, and culture at identifying those who may need our support. Let's work together in love and with a unified spirit so we can prevent further tragedy and heartbreak.