Like diabetes or high blood pressure, mental illness should be treated like any other disease. Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge wants you to look beyond the illness to the person underneath. You may know someone experiencing problems.

Warning signs are:

Rest Issues

Too much sleep or trouble sleeping


Trouble focusing or having racing thoughts

Irregular Eating

Changes in appetite may signal problems


Isolating yourself from others


Losing interest in things you once enjoyed


Irritability or having a short temper

What You Can Do

If you know someone with these symptoms, how can you help? Carolinas HealthCare System Blue Ridge and the Burke County Health Department are offering Mental Health First Aid classes that teach you how to identify, understand and respond to signs of mental illnesses and substance abuse disorders. Call the Help Hotline at 1-888-235-4673


Mental Health Facts you can use to help others.

What is Mental Illness?

NAMI defines mental illness as ‘a condition that affects a person’s thinking, feeling, or mood. Such conditions may affect someone’s ability to relate to others and function each day.’ (

Why does someone become mentally ill?

It’s not always clear why someone develops a mental illness. Generally, it is found that there is a combination of genetic, environmental, and stress-related factors that could prompt mental illness to develop.

Is there a cure?

There is not a cure for mental illness. However, there are many effective types of treatment which help manage and reduce symptoms. To be most effective, an individual with mental illness must contin-ue treatment even when symptoms are in remission. Sometimes a once effective treatment loses its effectiveness and adjustments to the treatment plan must be made. This is where regular contact with mental health professionals and support from family is very important.

Treatment Options

There are many effective treatment options for mental illness. These may include medication man-agement, regular psychotherapy, family therapy, group therapy, self-help communities, and psycho-education. Most of the time treatment can be effective when the individual is in their community. If symptoms are severe, hospitalization may be required to ensure safety while beginning treatment.

How can I help?

Be attentive to potential warning signs of mental illness and always take warning signs seriously. Con-tact a mental health hotline to obtain local resources or seek out a qualified behavioral health provid-er for consultation. This may include a psychiatrist, clinical social worker, licensed counselor, or clinical psychologist. Even consult your family doctor who may have guidance or recommendations. If your loved one is in an emergency, do not hesitate to contact 911 or take them to the local Emergency Department for immediate evaluation.

Does someone with mental illness have control over their behavior?

The level of control an individual with mental illness has over their behavior depends on the type and severity of illness. Some mental illnesses are hallmarked by a severe disconnect from reality to include beliefs and thoughts which may be frightening or bizarre. This could result in behavior that is with-out their control and understanding. Other individuals have mental illness which may influence their behavior though learning to recognize and regain control of their actions is a reasonable expectation of recovery.

Information about types of mental illnesses?

Detailed but easy to read information can be found through the National Alliance of Mental Illness at You can also find resources and numbers to seek help if you or a loved one need mental health intervention.

Warning Signs

Each mental illness has specific symptoms and determining if a person is experiencing symptoms can be difficult. Warning signs will be a change in behavior or mood that is not typical or expected of the person considering cultural and environmental factors. Such changes could include agitation, with-drawal, change in energy, change in appetite or sleep, having beliefs not based in reality, excessive-ness sadness or worry, and/or taking unnecessary risks.

How common is mental illness?

Approximately 1 in 5 American adults experience mental illness in a given year. Approximately 1 in 25 American adults experience a severe mental illness which interferes with a major area of life function-ing. Approximately 1 in 5 youth experience a severe mental illness at some point in adolescent devel-opment. (