May is Mental Health Awareness Month.
Trying to tell the difference between what expected behaviors are and what might be the signs of a mental illness isn’t always easy. There’s no easy test that can let someone know if there is mental illness or if actions and thoughts might be typical behaviors of a person or the result of a physical illness.Each illness has its own symptoms, but common signs of mental illness in adults and adolescents can include the following:
- Excessive worrying or fear
- Feeling excessively sad or low
- Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning
- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria
- Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger
- Avoiding friends and social activities
- Difficulties understanding or relating to other people
- Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy
- Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite
- Changes in sex drive
- Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality)
- Inability to perceive changes in one’s own feelings, behavior or personality (”lack of insight” or anosognosia)
- Abuse of substances like alcohol or drugs
- Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”)
- Thinking about suicide
- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress
- An intense fear of weight gain or concern with appearance (mostly in adolescents)
Mental health conditions can also begin to develop in young children. Because they’re still learning how to identify and talk about thoughts and emotions, their most obvious symptoms are behavioral. Symptoms in children may include the following:
- Changes in school performance
- Excessive worry or anxiety, for instance fighting to avoid bed or school
- Hyperactive behavior
- Frequent nightmares
- Frequent disobedience or aggression
- Frequent temper tantrums
Where to Get Help
Don’t be afraid to reach out if you or someone you know needs help. Learning all you can about mental health is an important first step.
Reach out to your health insurance, primary care doctor or state/country mental health authority for more resources.
Contact the NAMI HelpLine to find out what services and supports are available in your community.
If you or someone you know needs helps now, you should immediately call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911.
– See more at: https://www.nami.org/Learn-More/Know-the-Warning-Signs#sthash.rvwjGCIf.dpuf
Nicolas Suarez, a St. Lucie Public Schools high school student and Students Working Against Tobacco (SWAT) youth advocate, was named the South Region Youth Advocate of the Year by the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. This is one of the highest awards among the country’s top youth advocates working against tobacco.
Nicolas was honored in Washington, D.C. on May 10 along with three U.S. regional winners, a group winner, and a national winner. More than 400 public health, political, civic and business leaders attended the 21st annual Youth Advocates of the Year Awards Gala to recognize these young leaders.
The Youth Advocates of the Year Awards honor outstanding young people who are among today’s most effective leaders in tobacco control. These youth have fought hard to protect their generation from the dangers of tobacco by promoting tobacco prevention legislation, exposing tobacco marketing to kids, and keeping their peers from using tobacco.
“Nicolas is an outstanding leader in Florida’s SWAT movement, and he is very deserving of this national recognition for his dedication to youth tobacco prevention,” said Tobacco Free Florida Bureau Chief Kellie O’Dare. “His leadership is helping make the next generation tobacco free.”
The smoking rate for high school students in Florida reached an historic low at 5.2 percent in 2016, cut nearly in half from 10 percent in 2012. Since Tobacco Free Florida launched in 2007, the state’s high school smoking rate has decreased by 64.1 percent.
Nicolas, 17, a senior at Lincoln Park Academy, became a tobacco control advocate after watching his mother struggle with smoking-related health problems. His joining Florida SWAT inspired his mother to quit smoking. He is a member of the statewide Youth Advocacy Board, which works with the Tobacco Free Florida program to set the direction and goals of SWAT and the youth prevention component of the state’s tobacco control efforts.
He developed interactive and informative events that highlight the toll of tobacco and the industry’s harmful marketing tactics that target youth. He also advocated in Port St. Lucie for policies to reduce tobacco use. He worked with the local government to grant proclamations to raise visibility for the Great American Smokeout.
As part of the award, Nicolas will receive an educational scholarship and grant to continue his prevention efforts. He will also serve as an ambassador for the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids. Nicolas, who is graduating high school on May 25, will attend Boston University this fall.
About the Florida Department of Health
The department, nationally accredited by the Public Health Accreditation Board, works to protect, promote and improve the health of all people in Florida through integrated state, county and community efforts. Follow us on Twitter at @HealthyFla and on Facebook. For more information about the Florida Department of Health please visit www.FloridaHealth.gov.
About Tobacco Free Florida
The department’s Tobacco Free Florida campaign is a statewide cessation and prevention campaign funded by Florida’s tobacco settlement fund. Since the program began in 2007, more than 159,000 Floridians have successfully quit using one of Tobacco Free Florida’s free tools and services. There are now approximately 451,000 fewer adult smokers in Florida than there was 10 years ago, and the state has saved $17.7 billion in health care costs. To learn more about Tobacco Free Florida’s Quit Your Way services, visit www.tobaccofreeflorida.com or follow the campaign on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TobaccoFreeFlorida or on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tobaccofreefla.
The Florida Department of Education released the Grade 3 ELA Scores, and the percent of Grade 3 students in St. Lucie Public Schools (SLPS) continues to rise with scores increasing another three percent this year.
Eighteen SLPS had a higher percentage of students with satisfactory scores over last year’s results. Allapattah Flats K-8, Floresta Elementary, Lawnwood Elementary, Mariposa Elementary, and Palm Pointe Research School at Tradition realized double-digit gains, and almost half of the schools exceeded the State average with students scoring in the satisfactory range.
“The gauge is moving in the right direction for early literacy, and we recognize the significant impact it has on our students’ overall success in school, college, and the world of work. St. Lucie Public Schools’ dedicated teachers and administrators are committed to the continued improvement of proficiency rates for all students, and we will maintain this as a priority area for progress,” said Superintendent E. Wayne Gent.
Floresta Elementary had the greatest gain in the District over last year with a 15 percent gain in satisfactory range scores. Other schools with large increases in the area included Lawnwood Elementary and Palm Pointe Research School at Tradition with 13 percent increases; Allapattah Flats K-8 and Mariposa with 12 percent increases; and St. Lucie Elementary, Windmill Point Elementary, and Mosaic Digital Academy with eight percent increases. Following these schools, St. Lucie West K-8 increased by seven percentage points, and five schools increased by six percentage points. These include Bayshore Elementary, Westgate K-8, CA Moore Elementary, Fairlawn Elementary, and Manatee K-8. Fort Pierce Magnet School of the Arts and Rivers Edge Elementary each increased by five percentage points. Samuel S. Gaines Academy and Savanna Ridge Elementary also showed increases with a three and two percent gain respectively.