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Signs of Needing Help


Everyone needs help sometimes. It may be time to ask for help if you’ve had two or more weeks with changes to your thoughts, moods, or body that make it hard to manage work, school, home, or relationships.

Everyone’s situation is different, but here are some common signs that you might need help with mental health, drugs, or alcohol.

If you or someone you know is struggling or in crisis, help is available. Call or text 988 or chat You’ll be able to speak with a trained crisis counselor any time of day or night


  • Very worried, afraid, sad, or down
  • Much more angry or irritated than normal
  • Big mood changes, including highs and lows
  • Tired or low energy
  • Like you can’t manage everything you need to do in a day


  • About suicide (Call or text 988 to talk with a trained counselor any time day or night.)
  • That are mixed up
  • Trouble focusing or remembering things
  • All about one thing (like how you look, drinking, that something bad will happen to you, or any other idea you can’t get out of your head)
  • That things aren’t real
  • Focusing only on getting and using alcohol or drugs

Body changes

  • Times you felt sick and didn’t know why (for example, headaches, stomachaches, and aches and pains that keep coming back)
  • Changes in how you sleep
  • Changes in your eating (for example, you’ve been very hungry—or not hungry at all)
  • Needing to use drugs or alcohol more and more often to keep from getting sick

Behavior changes

  • Not taking care of yourself, like not showering, cleaning your living space, or skipping doctor’s visits
  • Having consequences from your behavior because of changes to your mental health or using drugs or alcohol (like having issues at work, losing friendships, or forgetting your commitments)
  • Becoming involved with the legal system because of changes to your mental health or using drugs or alcohol

Connecting with people

  • Having trouble understanding or relating to the people in your life
  • Avoiding friends and family—and social activities
  • Changing friends often in a short time

Signs of needing help in children

If you’re concerned about a young child, here are some signs to look for:

  • Changes in how they’re doing in school
  • Too much worrying or anxiety
  • Being unusually fearful and clingy
  • Frequent nightmares
  • Acting hyperactive
  • Often not following directions from adults - or getting aggressive
  • Frequent temper tantrums
  • Needing a great deal of comfort

It's okay to need help. Your loved ones want to support you.

Learn about specific mental health conditions. Additionally, Mental Health America offers online screenings that can help you decide if it’s time to get help, including tests for drug and alcohol misuse, depression, anxiety, postpartum depression, and children’s mental health.

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“I’m not OK all the time… I don’t pretend that I’m OK when I’m not.”

Last Updated
Last Updated: 04/24/2023
Last Updated