Experts: Watch for warning signs of mental illness - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Experts: Watch for warning signs of mental illness

WATERLOO (KWWL) - 1 in 6 adults suffers from a brain-related mental illnesses including depression, bi-polar disorder, and others.  Many times there's a stigma attached to mental illness.  But experts say if left untreated it can have severe consequences for those needing treatment and their family members.

Black Hawk-Grundy Mental Health Center in Waterloo gets about 1800 calls a year from people seeking help.  Mental health professionals say that first step is a critical one.

"There's just a wealth of resources. The main thing is people must be willing to accept the fact that something is going wrong that's interfering with their ability to function in life," said executive director Tom Eachus.

"It's so helpful to hear it from another family what they're going through. By hearing a consumer what they had to go through. What's really encouraging is to see family and the person coming in together and they're all on the same page," said Black Hawk County NAMI president Judy Meyers.

NAMI works with about 500 people in the Cedar Valley each year.

"There are so many barriers and stigma is a big one that the person may have or family may have and there's the denial of no, it can't be this. I'll pull myself out of this feeling hopeless and down, so you've got that barrier first," said Meyers.

"Depression is a very treatable illness with success rates. I don't say cure, I say success rates, controlling symptoms and allowing people to functino at 80 percent with a combination of talk therapy and medications," said Eachus.

So what should you look for?  The first sign is usually visible to friends and family.  It could be a drastic change in mood or personality.  Basically it's anything that is not typical behavior for that person.  Experts say that's when it's a good time to call a mental health professional or your family doctor.

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Online Reporter:  Bob Waters

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