A major early warning sign that suggests that a person is dealing with a mental illness or psychological disorder is an inability to perform daily tasks. A study published by the National Center for Biotechnology Information (NCBI) notes that inability to cope with problems and perform the ordinary day-to-day tasks of life should be taken as a sign that a person might need to get professional help. It is very likely that something is wrong — especially if a person is having problems performing activities that they previously did without much trouble.
Some Day-to-Day Signs that Suggest Mental Health Issues
If you are a concerned friend or family member, you may be wondering what type of day-to-day activities should be assessed in order to determine if someone needs professional help. It is generally a good idea to start by reviewing the basic activities of daily living or ADLs. As described by the AARP, activities of daily living are essentially day-to-day self care activities. Some of the most common examples include:
- Getting dressed;
- Bathing and grooming;
- Preparing food and eating meals;
- Basic housework/home care;
- Managing personal relationships;
- Maintaining a safe environment in the home; and
- Performing necessary tasks of life, including going to work/school and attending to other obligations.
Inability to Perform Activities of Daily Living May Not Be a Mental Health Issue
For elderly people, ADLs are often assessed in a physical context. As an example, you may be concerned that your elderly parent does not have the physical capacity to drive to the store and cook dinner. Perhaps you are concerned that they are too frail or that their mobility is too limited to safely perform those activities. In this type of scenario, assisted living care might be needed.
Though, performance of day-to-day activities is not always a physical issue at all. Quite the contrary, there is often a mental health component. For example, dementia could prevent a person from actually understanding what they have and have not completed. Alternatively, depression or anxiety could turn getting dressed into a downright herculean task.
In these circumstances, professional intervention may be needed to help the person who is dealing with a mental health problem. In some cases, treatment options, including medication and therapy, may even lead to a relatively rapid improvement. In other cases, assisted living care may be needed to help the patient live the highest possible quality of life.
Always Approach the Issue With the Utmost Level of Care and Sensitivity
When dealing with mental health issues, it is imperative that you address your loved one with the highest level of care and sensitivity to their feelings and their needs. Unfortunately, in our society, mental illness still carries tremendous stigma. When the subject of mental health is brought up, it is easy for people to feel attacked. They may put up a defensive wall.
Make sure you are sensitive to your loved one’s situation. That is not to say that you should avoid following up on the signs or symptoms of a mental health issue — it is crucial that you take action. You just want to be sure to do so in a manner that is most likely to make your loved one feel supported and to actually get them the help that they need and deserve.