Mental Health Awareness Month… Risk Factors

We are in the midst of Mental Health Awareness Month!!

Mental health is a reflection of a person’s psychological state, mindset and emotions. It affects how he/she thinks, feels, and acts. Subsequently, it influences interactions with the environment, reactions to stress, and relationships with others.

May has been mental health month since 1949 in the US. Mental Health Awareness Month aims to educate and raise understanding on the subjects of mental illness, and mental health and wellness.

Mental Health Awareness Month has a different theme every year. The theme for 2017 is Risky Business since it is essential to be aware of habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illnesses, or that signal the existence of mental health problems.


There are many factors that can pose a threat to a person’s mental heath. Here are a few of them:


Significant changes in a person’s previous behavioral patterns or ways of being may indicate dysfunctional internal issues.

Mood Fluctuations

I am not talking about being temperamental since being moody is the norm for many. Mood fluctuations indicate a risk when they are a new presentation for the person. The current mood now is different than their normal temperament. Maybe recently the person has become moody, irritable, angry, sad, or even overly elated.

Alterations of Behavior / Habits

  • Diet: Marked increases or decreases in food consumption or appetite.
  • Sleep: Sleeping too much or not enough throughout the night.
  • Social life: Becoming highly sociable or isolating.
  • Energy levels: Becoming overly hyper or lethargic.
  • Hobbies: Avoiding activities previously enjoyed or engaging franticly in new projects and activities.

Physical Changes

  • Weight: Gaining or losing weight, or constantly fluctuating in weight.
  • Appearance: Neglecting appearance or hygiene, or becoming extremely concern with one’s appearance.


Engaging in activities (gambling, shopping, porn, sex, internet use, video games, exercise, cutting, etc.) or consuming substances (drugs, alcohol, food, cigarettes, prescription drug misuse) in a way that shows impaired control, and causes significant clinical and functional impairment.


  • Engaging in the behavior or consuming the substance in longer / larger amounts than intended.
  • Craving or spending a lot of time thinking about the behavior / substance, or how to engage in it or obtain it.
  • Desire to cut down or quit but feeling unable to do so.
  • Increased tolerance: requiring increased amounts of the substance or activity to achieve a desired effect.
  • Withdrawal: negative feelings, disruptive thoughts, or manifesting abnormal physical symptoms following the discontinuation of a substance or activity (sweating, vomiting, anxiety, insomnia, muscle pain, etc.)
  • Continued use despite persistent or recurrent social or interpersonal problems caused or made worse by the substance or behavior.
  • Stopping or reducing important social, occupational, or recreational activities due to engaging in the addictive behavior.
  • Recurrent use of the substance or engagement in the activity despite resulting in psychological difficulties, health problems, disabilities, and/or failure to meet major responsibilities (work, school, or home related).

Those are some of the most common risk factors associated with a disturbed mental health or even with the presentation of mental illness. If you see any of these changes in your loved ones or friends, reach out to them.

When needed, seek out help.

  • If the situation is dire, call 911 and try to get the help right away.
  • If the person in suicidal, Call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1800–273-TALK (8255).
  • If you need to locate mental health services in your area, contact SAMHSA Treatment Referral Helpline.Or call 1877–726–4727

To a Fitter Healthier You,


The Fitness Wellness Mentor

Author of “28 Days to a New Life: A Holistic Approach” Fitness & Wellness Mentor, Blogger, MA Forensic Psychology, Fitness & Nutrition Certification

Author of “28 Days to a New Life: A Holistic Approach” Fitness & Wellness Mentor, Blogger, MA Forensic Psychology, Fitness & Nutrition Certification