Nearly 1 in 5 American adults will have a diagnosable mental health condition in any given year, according to the National Institute of Mental Health. In Arizona, it is estimated that nearly 42,000 people are seriously mentally ill.

What’s even more concerning is how mental health is increasingly affecting our youth. About 11 percent of adolescents have a depressive disorder by the age of 18, according to the National Comorbidity Survey-Adolescent Supplement. Many are surprised to learn that girls are more likely than boys to experience depression, and the risk for depression increases as a child gets older. According to the World Health Organization, major depressive disorder it the leading cause of disability among Americans age 15 to 44.

“Given the large number of people impacted by mental illness, it’s more important than ever for people to become educated and aware of mental illness warning signs along with the tools for coping and treatment,” said Peter ‘Chip’ Coffey, MAPC, LPC, NCC, Director of Therapy Services at St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center. “When people begin to first experience symptoms of loss of sleep, feeling tired for no reason, feeling low, anxious or hearing strange voices inside their heads, these symptoms should not go ignored in hopes they will just fade away. Like any other disease, we need to address these symptoms early, identify the underlying disease and plan an appropriate course of action on a path to overall health.”

In conjunction with Mental Health Month in May, experts like Coffey from St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center in Phoenix are available to speak about the signs of mental illness, including how to seek help and treatment for a loved one in crisis and the tools for coping.

According to Coffey, here are 10 warning signs of mental illness:

1.        Marked personality change
2.        Inability to cope with problems and daily activities
3.        Strange or grandiose ideas
4.        Excessive anxieties
5.        Prolonged depression and apathy
6.        Marked changes in eating or sleeping patterns
7.        Extreme highs and lows
8.        Abuse of alcohol or drugs
9.        Excessive anger, hostility, or violent behavior
10. Most importantly, a person who is thinking or talking about suicide or homicide should seek help immediately

To learn more about mental health along with the tools for coping and treatment, join Peter ‘Chip’ Coffey, MAPC, LPC, NCC, Director of Therapy Services at St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center, at a special seminar called “Mindfulness – How to Live in the Moment,” this Friday, May 15 from Noon to 1 p.m. at the Burton Barr Central Library, 1221 N. Central Ave., Phoenix. To register for this free event, call, 1-877-351-WELL (9355).

A person with one or more of the warning signs should be evaluated by a psychiatrist or physician as soon as possible. St. Luke’s Behavioral Health Center, for example, offers free behavioral health evaluations. Call 602-251-8535 in Phoenix, or use the toll-free number, 1-800-821-4193, to schedule an assessment.