Mental Health Awareness

According to Mental Health America, 50 million US adults suffer from some form of mental illness. That’s 19.86% of the adult population that struggles in some way with a mental health condition, of which, more than half do not receive any sort of treatment. With nearly 1 in 5 American adults having a diagnosable mental health condition, the need for mental health awareness grows with every passing day.

With most physical, chronic illnesses, like Cancer, Asthma, Heart Disease, or Crohn’s Disease, treatment begins immediately to address the symptoms and provide greater longevity to those suffering. When someone begins to experience the beginning stages of a disease and exhibit symptoms like shortness of breath, a tightening chest, or stomach pain, care is taken to quickly treat those symptoms so that they do not turn into something greater.

The same mentality should be taken when addressing mental health conditions. As soon as someone begins to exhibit symptoms such as, feeling depressed, feeling sluggish all the time, feeling anxious, losing sleep, or thinking of committing suicide, it is imperative to provide that same intervention as one would when being treated for something physical. Initially, early symptoms may be fleeting, and possibly may even go away on their own. However, when the symptoms do not disappear, ignoring them without the right treatment can cause them to manifest into something much more devastating, that not only affects the individual, but those around them, too.

Our goal at Alexandria-Washington #22 is to provide insights into various mental health conditions so that those struggling can identify how they are feeling, and seek the proper treatment available. As a fraternal organization, we are charged with looking after one another as much as we can, and as far as our abilities may permit. We aim to assist those in need, and want to offer information that may prove beneficial to those looking for assistance, to provide that support that will help those in living full and rewarding lives.

Mental Health Conditions (As Written by Mental Health America):


Most people experience feelings of anxiety before an important event such as a big exam, business presentation or first date. Anxiety disorders, however, are illnesses that cause people to feel frightened, distressed and uneasy for no apparent reason. Left untreated, these disorders can dramatically reduce productivity and significantly diminish an individual’s quality of life.

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental illnesses in America; over 21% of adults (42.5 million) are affected by these debilitating illnesses each year.

Characteristics/Symptoms Include:

  • Feeling restless
  • Feeling tired
  • Difficulty concentrating or losing their train of thought
  • Irritability
  • Muscle pain, tightness, or soreness
  • Difficulty sleeping – both falling asleep or staying asleep or being rested


988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Anxiety and Depression Association of America

Freedom From Fear

National Institute of Mental Health

Bipolar Disorder

Bipolar disorder is a mental health disorder characterized by extreme highs and lows in mood and energy. While everyone experiences ups and downs, the severe shifts that happen in bipolar disorder can have a serious impact on a person’s life. More than 3.3 million American adults (1.7%) suffer from bipolar disorder in a given year. An estimated 4.4% of U.S. adults experience bipolar disorder at some time in their lives.

Bipolar disorder can be extremely distressing and disruptive for those who have this disease, their spouses, family members, friends, and employers. Although there is no known cure, bipolar disorder is treatable, and recovery is possible. Individuals with bipolar disorder can and do have successful relationships and meaningful jobs. The combination of medication, therapy, healthy lifestyle, and support helps the vast majority of people return to productive, fulfilling lives.


  • Excessive energy, activity, restlessness, racing thoughts and rapid talking (also called “pressured speech”).
  • Extreme “high” or euphoric feelings—a person may feel “on top of the world” and even bad news or tragic events, can’t change this.
  • Being easily irritated or distracted.
  • Decreased need for sleep—an individual may go days with little or no sleep without feeling tired.
  • Unrealistic beliefs in one’s ability and powers—a person may experience feelings of exaggerated self-confidence or unwarranted optimism. This can lead to over ambitious work plans and the belief that nothing can stop him or her from accomplishing any task.
  • Uncharacteristically poor judgment—a person may make poor decisions which may lead to unrealistic involvement in activities, meetings and deadlines, reckless driving, spending sprees, and/or foolish business ventures.
  • Unusual sex drive or abuse of drugs (particularly cocaine, alcohol or sleeping medications).
  • Provocative, intrusive, or aggressive behavior—a person may become enraged or paranoid if his or her grand ideas are stopped, or extreme social plans are refused.
  • Signs of psychosis


  • Persistent sad, anxious or empty mood.
  • Changes in sleep such as, getting too much or too little, or waking in the middle-of-the-night or unusually early in the morning
  • Reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appet
  • ite accompanied by weight gain.
  • Irritability or restlessness
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering or making decisions. These may often impact a person’s ability to fulfill work, school or other life obligations.
  • Fatigue or loss of energy.
  • Persistent physical symptoms that don’t respond to treatment, such as chronic pain or digestive issues (like upset stomach or diarrhea).
  • Feeling guilty, hopeless or worthless.
  • Thoughts of death or suicide, including suicide attempts.


988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

Ryan Licht Sang Bipolar Foundation

Juvenile Bipolar Research Foundation

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)

Borderline Personality Disorder:

Borderline Personality Disorder (BPD) is a disorder of emotion regulation affecting up to 5% of the population. Up until a few decades ago, those diagnosed with the disorder were thought to be untreatable. Despite this shift, individuals living with BPD continue to face surplus stigma. However, evidence-based treatments, have helped changed the narrative for people with the disorder to one of recovery and hope.

BPD can affect anyone, but it is often diagnosed in adolescents and young adults. Up to 40% of teens who are hospitalized in mental health treatment facilities have the disorder, making early intervention very important. Ten percent of patients with BPD complete suicide. Females appear to be at greater risk of developing BPD than males.


Many symptoms of Borderline Personality disorder are similar to those found in other disorders, such as anxiety disorder, schizophrenia, and other personality disorders like:

  • histrionic personality self-dramatizing, self-indulgent, demanding, excitable, vain
  • narcissistic personality intolerant of criticism, self-important, lacking in empathy, envious, constantly demanding special favors
  • antisocial personality callous, reckless, impulsive, irritable, deceitful, and emotionally shallow.

The symptoms of Borderline Personality Disorder can be summarized as instability in mood, thinking, behavior, personal relationships, and self-image.

For a diagnosis, individuals must meet at least five out of the nine criteria according to the DSM-V

  • Perceived or real fears of abandonment
  • Intense mood swings, brief periods of severe depression or anxiety
  • Impulsivity
  • Unstable intense relationships
  • Self-injurious and suicidal behaviors
  • Chronic feelings of emptiness
  • Inappropriate, intense anger and rage
  • Unstable sense of self
  • Dissociation and feelings of detachment


Center for Mental Health Services
National Mental Health Information Center
PO Box 42557
Washington, DC 20015
Phone: (800) 789-2647
TTD Number: (866) 889-2647
Fax Number: (240)747-5470

Treatment and Research for Personality Disorder (TARA)
23 Green Street
New York, NY 10013
Phone Number: (212) 966-6514
Toll-Free Hotline: (888) 4-TARA-APD
Website URL:


Major depression is one of the most common mental illnesses, affecting more than 8% (21 million) of American adults each year. 15% of youth (3.7 million) ages 12-17 are affected by major depression.

Depression causes people to lose pleasure in daily life, can complicate other medical conditions, and can even be serious enough to lead to suicide. While most individuals with depression have a full remission of the disorder with effective treatment, only about a third (35%) of those suffering from severe depression seek treatment from a mental health professional. People often resist treatment because they believe depression isn’t serious, that they can treat it themselves, or that it is a personal weakness rather than a serious medical condition.


  • Persistent sad, anxious, or “empty” mood
  • Sleeping too much or too little; middle of the night or early morning waking
  • Weight fluctuations; reduced appetite and weight loss, or increased appetite and weight gain
  • Loss of pleasure and interest in activities once enjoyed, including sex
  • Restlessness, irritability
  • Persistent physical symptoms that do not respond to treatment (such as chronic pain or digestive disorders)
  • Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
  • Fatigue or loss of energy
  • Feeling guilty, hopeless, or worthless
  • Thoughts of suicide or death


988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline

International Foundation for Research and Education on Depression

Depression and Bipolar Support Alliance (DBSA)

American Psychiatric Association

Anxiety and Depression Association of America
(240) 485-1001

Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder:

People with obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD) suffer intensely from recurrent unwanted thoughts (obsessions) or rituals (compulsions), which they feel they cannot control. Rituals, such as handwashing, counting, checking or cleaning, are often performed in hope of preventing obsessive thoughts or making them go away. Performing these rituals, however, provides only temporary relief, and not performing them increases anxiety. Left untreated, obsessions and the need to perform rituals can take over a person’s life. OCD is often a chronic, relapsing illness.


Obsessions are thoughts, images or impulses that occur repeatedly. The person does not want to have these ideas, finds them disturbing and intrusive and, usually, recognizes that they really don’t make sense. Obsessions are accompanied by uncomfortable feelings, such as fear, disgust or doubt. Common obsessions include contamination fears, imagining having harmed self or others, imagining losing control of aggressive urges, intrusive sexual thoughts or urges, excessive religious or moral doubt, or a need to tell, ask or confess.

People with OCD typically try to make their obsessions go away by performing compulsions. Compulsions are acts the person repeatedly performs, often according to certain “rules.” These rituals are performed to obtain relief from the discomfort caused by the obsessions. Examples of compulsions are washing, repeating, checking, touching, counting, ordering/arranging, hoarding or saving, and praying.

In some instances, a person may suffer from only obsessions or only compulsions.

OCD symptoms cause distress, take up a lot of time (more than an hour a day), or significantly interfere with the person’s work, social life or relationships.

Most individuals with OCD recognize that their obsessions are not just excessive worries about real problems and that the compulsions they perform are excessive or unreasonable. The extent to which a person with OCD realizes that his or her beliefs and actions are unreasonable is called his or her “insight.”


Psych Central OCD Screening Quiz

Obsessive-Compulsive Foundation

Anxiety and Depression Association of America
8730 Georgia Ave # 600
Silver Spring
MD 20910
(240) 485-1001

Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder:

If you have gone through a traumatic experience, it is normal to feel lots of emotions, such as distress, fear, helplessness, guilt, shame or anger. You may start to feel better after days or weeks, but sometimes, these feelings don’t go away. If the symptoms last for more than a month, you may have post-traumatic stress disorder or PTSD.

“Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is an anxiety disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of a traumatic event. A traumatic event is a life-threatening event such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or physical or sexual assault in adult or childhood.”

PTSD is a real problem and can happen at any age. If you have PTSD, you are not alone. It affects over 12 million American adults (3.7% of the adult population) in any given year.


1. Reexperiencing the trauma in ways that make you feel distressed.

  • Repeatedly thinking about the trauma. You may find that thoughts about the trauma come to mind even when you don’t want them to.
  • Nightmares about the memories
  • Flashbacks about the trauma

2. Avoidance

    • Avoiding reminders of the trauma. You may not want to talk about the event or be around people or places that remind you of the event.

3. Changes in thoughts and mood

      • Memory problem
      • Negative thought about the world and yourself
      • Feeling blame about the trauma
      • Depression, isolation, sadness
      • Isolation
      • Difficulty relating or interacting with others

4. Feeling reactive

      • Irritable, angry,
      • Constantly alert or on guard
      • Jumpy or easily startled
      • Difficulty sleeping.
      • Difficulty concentrating

PTSD is a problem when it gets in the way of living the life you want to live. It can affect work, school, and relationships.

Problems in daily living: having problems functioning in your job, at school, or in social

These are other symptoms of PTSD:

      • Physical symptoms: chronic pain, headaches, stomach pain, diarrhea, tightness or burning in the chest, muscle cramps or low back pain.
      • Substance abuse: using drugs or alcohol to cope with the emotional pain.
      • Relationship problems: having problems with intimacy, or feeling detached from your family and friends.
      • Depression: persistent sad, anxious or empty mood; loss of interest in once-enjoyed activities; feelings of guilt and shame; or hopelessness about the future. Other symptoms of depression may also develop.
      • Suicidal thoughts: thoughts about taking one’s own life. If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat You can also reach Crisis Text Line by texting MHA to 741741.


Mighty Oaks Foundation

Military One Source

National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

PTSD United

Suicide Prevention Action Network and

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)


Psychosis is a general term to describe a set of symptoms of mental illnesses that result in strange or bizarre thinking, perceptions (sight, sound), behaviors, and emotions. Psychosis is a brain-based condition that is made better or worse by environmental factors – like drug use and stress.

One frequently cited statistic is that 1% of the population is diagnosed with Schizophrenia in their lifetime, but actually 3.5% of the population experiences psychosis. Hearing voices and seeing things that aren’t there are more common than we think. While these experiences can be scary and confusing, it is possible to recover and getting better, especially when we tackle issues early


  • Hearing or seeing something that isn’t there
  • A constant feeling of being watched
  • Disorganized or bizarre speech or writing
  • Inappropriate or unusual behavior
  • Strange body movements or positioning
  • Feeling indifferent or numb about important situations
  • Deterioration of academic or work performance
  • A change in personal hygiene and appearance
  • A change in personality
  • Increasing withdrawal from social situations
  • Irrational, angry or fearful response to loved ones
  • Inability to sleep or concentrate
  • Extreme preoccupation or fears that seem bizarre


Early Assessment & Support Alliance (EASA)
EASA offers a National Early Psychosis Directory that lists early psychosis programs nationwide.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI)
The NAMI Helpline web page can connect you with the NAMI office in your state and help you find programs close to home. In addition, you can talk with someone at the helpline at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) Monday – Friday 10 am – 6 pm ET or through email at

Prodrome and Early Psychosis Program Network (PEPPNET)
PEPPNET supports a national network of programs providing services to people who are at risk for or experiencing early psychosis. PEPPNET’s Early Intervention for Psychosis Directory has additional information.

National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Information Helpline: This information and referral service can be reached at 1-800-950-NAMI (6264), Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.- 6 p.m., EST or by email at

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: A 24-hour, toll-free, confidential suicide prevention hotline available to anyone in suicidal crisis or emotional distress is available at 1-800-273-TALK (8255)

SAMHSA’s 24-hour Referral Helpline: For substance abuse and mental health services, call 1-800-662-HELP (4357)


Schizophrenia is a serious disorder that affects how a person thinks, feels, and acts. Someone with schizophrenia may have difficulty distinguishing between what is real and what is imaginary; be unresponsive or withdrawn; and have difficulty expressing normal emotions in social situations.

Contrary to public perception, schizophrenia is not the same as having a split personality or multiple personalities. The vast majority of people with schizophrenia are not violent and do not pose a danger to others. Schizophrenia is not caused by childhood experiences, poor parenting, or lack of willpower, nor are the symptoms identical for each person.


Positive symptoms are disturbances that are “added” to the person’s personality.

  • Delusions – or false ideas—individuals may believe that someone is spying on them, or that they are someone famous (or a religious figure).
  • Hallucinations – seeing, feeling, tasting, hearing, or smelling something that doesn’t really exist. The most common experience is hearing imaginary voices that give commands or comments to the individual.
  • Disordered thinking and speech – moving from one topic to another in a nonsensical fashion. Individuals may also make up their own words or sounds, rhyme in a way that doesn’t make sense, or repeat words and ideas.
  • Disorganized behavior – this can range from having problems with routine behaviors, like hygiene or choosing appropriate clothing for the weather, unprovoked outbursts, or impulsive and uninhibited actions. A person may also have movements that seem anxious, agitated, tense or constant without any apparent reason.

Negative symptoms are capabilities that are “lost” from the person’s personality.

  • Social withdrawal
  • Extreme apathy (lack of interest or enthusiasm)
  • Lack of drive or initiative
  • Emotional flatness


National Suicide Prevention Lifeline
1-800-273-TALK (8255)

National Schizophrenia Foundation

National Institute of Mental Health
1-866-615-6464 (e-mail)

Schizophrenia & Psychosis Action Alliance


A suicide attempt is a clear indication that someone is struggling and needs immediate help. The majority of suicides worldwide are related to mental health disorders; depression, substance use, and psychosis are the biggest risk factors.

Warning Signs:

  • Verbal statements such as, “you’d be better off without me” or “maybe I won’t be around.”
  • Expressions of hopelessness and helplessness
  • Previous suicide attempts
  • Daring or risk-taking behavior
  • Personality changes
  • Depression
  • Giving away valued and important possessions
  • Lack of interest in future plans

Remember: 8 out of 10 people who are considering suicide give some sign of their intentions. Talking about suicide is not a typical response to stress. All talk of suicide should be taken seriously and be addressed immediately.

If You Think Someone Is Considering Suicide

  • Trust your instincts that the person may be in trouble.
  • Talk with the person about your concerns. Communication needs to include listening to the person.
  • Ask direct questions without being judgmental. Determine if the person has a specific plan to carry out the suicide. The more detailed the plan, the greater the risk.
  • Get professional help, even if the person resists.
  • Do not leave the person alone.
  • Do not swear to secrecy.
  • Do not act shocked or judgmental.
  • Do not counsel the person yourself.


  • 988 Suicide and Crisis Lifeline: 988
  • The TrevorLifeline for LGBTQIA+ Youth : 1-866-488-7386⠀
  • Crisis Text Line : Text ‘MHA’ to 741741
  • Disaster Distress Helpline: Call 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 to connect with a trained crisis counselor.
  • Veterans Crisis Line: Dial 988 and Press 1
  • Warmlines (For those who aren’t in crisis, but still want to talk to someone):
  • Dial 211 : 211 provides callers with information about and referrals to social services for every day needs and in times of crisis. Learn more:
  • Find MHA in your area:
  • SAMHSA Treatment Locator:


988 Suicide & Crisis Line
Phone: 988
Website URL:

American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry
3615 Wisconsin Ave., N.W.
Washington, D.C. 20016-3007
Phone Number: (202) 966-7300
Fax: (202) 966-2891
Email Address:
Website URL:

American Association of Suicidology
Phone Number: (202) 237-2280
Website URL:

American Foundation for Suicide Prevention
Phone Number: 888-333-AFSP (2377)
Website URL: