Mental Illness - Know The Warning Signs (Part 2) - 47 ABC - Delmarva's Choice

Mental Illness - Know The Warning Signs (Part 2)

WMDT 47 NEWS - In Part 1 of WMDT's Special Report on Mental Illness, we heard from mental health experts and the Wicomico County Sheriff about the need to be more open about the topic of Mental Health.

But now that the dialogue has begun, experts say now is the time to discuss the "red flags" which we can no longer ignore.

"What he needed was services," Dr. Kathryn Seifert, a clinical psychologist and expert on violent behavior in children, is referring to 20 year-old Adam Lanza, the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooter.

"He was home-schooled," explains Dr. Seifert, "because he couldn't get along with kids at school. And being home-schooled, what that does is he has no way of building up his skills to get along with other people... absolutely the exact wrong thing to do."

Health experts admit only a small percentage of people suffering from some form of Mental Illness actually resort to violence. Which is why law enforcement and health care professionals agree, we can't ignore the warning signs when we see them

"You look for somebody who's having difficulty dealing with life, work, school." Dr. Seifert says to look for typical signs of anxiety or depression, "If they're having difficulty doing what everybody finds fairly easy to do, day after day, then it's time to look into it."

Experts say those signs indicate someone needs help, not necessarily that they might resort to violence. But the overriding concern is what might happen, in the long run, if those symptoms go untreated.

Dr. Seifert has written a number of books on how children become violent, and now she's focused on writing about the psychology behind the mass shootings. What the shooters tend to have in common, she says, is a detachment from reality and humanity.

"Let's look at Columbine." explains Seifert. "They were identified as doing petty crimes...trench coat mafia. But nobody identified them as having a mental health problem. But looking back on the information, mental health professionals look at that and say one was severely mentally ill, and one was a psychopath."

Health experts outline these "Signs & Symptoms" which should raise red flags:

  • Someone who withdraws from social interaction or isolates themselves
  • If an individual starts talking about harming themselves or others
  • If your child or family member does questionable internet searches

"And just allowing yourself to be aware of the differences, or the changes in individuals," says Heather Brown with the Wicomico County Health Department, "is one of the most important things."

"We want people, we encourage people, to notify us beforehand," Wicomico County Sheriff, Mike Lewis tells WMDT, "so we have that information readily available." Lewis says calling law enforcement about your concerns will not get people in trouble unnecessarily; and giving officers a heads up about a potential threat, helps not only law enforcement, but the surrounding community in times of crisis. Lewis tells WMDT calls or tips made to 911 can be kept confidential.

If you notice any of these signs or symptoms, experts say you should not hesitate to seek help for you or your loved ones.

But for many, stepping in to get a loved one, a friend, or a co-worker help might seem uncomfortable, or that you're overstepping your bounds.

In Part 3 of this Special Report we'll tell you what health experts recommend you do, and when law enforcement should get involved.

Mental Illness & Guns - Making Changes (Part 6)

WMDT 47 NEWS - Wicomico County Sheriff, Mike Lewis, admits he and his deputies handle mental illness cases quite often.

Mental Illness - Safety In Colleges & Universities (Part 5)

WMDT 47 NEWS - Local colleges and universities are closely following the debate over gun control and mental health.

Mental Illness And Schools (Part 4)

WMDT 47 NEWS - February 14th marks two months since the school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut. And now, there are a number of proposals on the table, both locally and nationally, on how to prevent this type of mass violence.

Mental Illness - How & When To Seek Help (Part 3)

WMDT 47 NEWS - Mental Illness can be a very sensitive subject. And trying to get a loved one, a friend, or a co-worker help might be an uncomfortable situation.

Mental Illness - Moving Past The Stigma (Part 1)

WMDT 47 NEWS - The recent mass shootings across our nation spurred a national debate over gun control. But many Americans, law enforcement officials, and mental health professionals are calling for attention to another issue at the heart of the recent violence...Mental Illness.

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