How to Take Care of Your Mental Health

Understand signs that your mental well-being needs attention and TLC


You know the symptoms of a cold: watery eyes, runny nose, feeling achy and run down. When we feel like we’re coming down with something, we reach out to our doctor and share our concerns.


But when it comes to our mental health, we often ignore signs and symptoms that something isn’t quite right. “In order to first care for our mental health, we need to know the warning signs – and that looks different for all of us,” says behavioral health education specialist Ashley Felker, with the department of psychiatry at Lehigh Valley Hospital–Muhlenberg.


Signs and symptoms

Mental illnesses are experienced by millions of people and can occur at any point over a lifetime. In fact, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) says that one in five adults in the U.S. has a mental illness, ranging from anxiety disorders and post-traumatic stress disorder to depression and bipolar disorder, among others.


NAMI shares some signs to watch for in yourself or others:

  • Withdrawing from friends and family
  • Loss of interest in usual activities
  • Changes in sleep and energy
  • Excessive worry and stress
  • Extreme risk-taking behavior
  • Overwhelming sense of fear


Kids and teens also can experience mental illness, with signs like extreme temper, acting out, drop in grades, disobedience and more.


What you can do

If you experience one or more of these symptoms, please know that mental health conditions can be treated and help you feel engaged in life again. “Just because you cannot see it, doesn’t mean it’s not there. Mental health conditions are treatable,” Felker says.


The first step is to make an appointment with your primary care provider right away. After speaking with your doctor, he or she may suggest counseling, medication therapy or other therapeutic treatments. “Your primary care provider can assist you in starting with the right level of care that helps you improve your mental health and overall well-being,” Felker says.


Behavioral Health Resources

Learn about behavioral health resources offered by Lehigh Valley Health Network.