Millions of people in the United States are affected by mental illness each year.

The COVID-19 pandemic has had a significant impact on the mental health of people of all ages. One in five adults experience mental illness each year. One in six youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year. Now, more than ever, it is critical to reduce the stigma around mental health struggles that often prevents individuals from seeking help.

Each mental illness is different, but common warning signs include:

- Confusion or problems concentrating and learning

- Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs”

- Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress

- Avoiding friends and social activities

- Changes in sleeping or eating habits

Youth can also develop mental health issues and can show behavioral symptoms, such as:

- Changes in school performance

- Excessive worry or anxiety

- Hyperactive behavior

- Frequent nightmares

- Frequent disobedience or aggression

Many face stressful situations that are overwhelming and cause strong emotions in adults and children. Here are some good coping skills to help one become more resilient:

- Take breaks from watching, reading, or listening to news stories, including those on social media.

- Practice relaxation exercises, prayer or meditation.

- Take vacations away from home and work.

- Get enough quality sleep and regular exercise.

It is important to remember that even the most resilient person can face a difficult time and to know when to ask for professional help. Don’t be afraid to reach out if you or someone you know needs help. Learning more about resources, support and treatment is an important first step. Contact your health insurance provider about your coverage, and your primary care doctor or local mental health providers about resources and treatment options.


“Coping with Stress.” Center for Disease Control, 22 July 2021,

“Know the Warning Signs | NAMI: National Alliance on Mental Illness.” National Alliance on Mental Illness, 2021,

Erin Yenser is a Public Health Strategist for the Rock County Public Health Department. If you would like to ask a health-related question to be answered in a future column, email with Healthful Hint in the subject. The Rock County Public Health Department reserves the right not to answer any questions deemed unsuitable. For more information, follow us on social media @rockcountyPHD.

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