One in four Tennesseans will be affected by mental illness this year; however, nearly two thirds of those with a diagnosable disorder do not get the treatment and support that would help them recover. In fact, most people suffer unnecessarily from multiple episodes of mental illness, for 10-12 years from start of their symptoms until diagnosis and start of treatment.

Do not let this treatment delay happen to you or someone you care about!

“A simple screening for Depression helped my daughter realize she was suffering from depression and probably had been depressed for a long time. She did the right thing, got help, and now I have my daughter back!”

“I took the sleep disorders screening. The results motivated me to see a specialist and get the help I needed. I have not felt this energized for a long time.”

What Families Should Know

When a loved one is experiencing a mental health crisis, it can be frightening for all the parties involved. The main concept to remember is SAFETY FIRST; if a person becomes a threat to themselves or someone else, an intervention needs to be made immediately. The safest place to take a person is the emergency room, as necessary medication can be administered to assist with the problem. If a person does not want to go voluntarily to treatment, the police can escort that person to the ER and assist with safety concerns.


Different illnesses exhibit a variety of behaviors and symptoms. However, a family member usually has a good idea of how this person reacts to things. Some symptoms that should always be taken seriously are:

  • Suicidal or homicidal threats
  • Auditory or visual hallucinations
  • An increase/start of using substances
  • Bizarre behavior, such as becoming violent for no reason
  • Vocalizing means or a plan in which to commit suicide/homicide
  • Confusion, acting as if the person does not know where/who they are

Symptom Duration

Most people go through “phases” of being in bad mood, having an anger outburst, or even feeling hopeless. If a person says something like, “I just can’t snap out of this” or you notice that they are putting themselves in a high risk situation(s) for more than 2 weeks, it is wise to see a professional for a thorough evaluation to determine if they may need some short-term treatment or an inpatient hospitalization.

Symptom Severity

Depending on the illness, different symptoms will present themselves on a scale. As stated above, anytime that a person makes a threat to harm themselves or another person, seek help immediately. If you notice that your family member has had a “personality change”, in which they are exhibiting entirely different behavior than they normally do, it never hurts to ask as a concerned person. If symptoms are rapidly getting worse, involve more friends or family to assist you with getting the person to a safe place.

When to Act

If a loved one is putting themselves in danger, such as walking into traffic, wandering off without telling anyone where they are going, or using an excessive amount of a substance, contact neighbors or other friends to help. If the person disappears, call the police and report what has happened. They can escort the person to the appropriate facility for evaluation/treatment.

Screenings can help!

Why I support the MHAET...
Did you know...
50% of all people with mental illness had their symptoms start by age 14; 75% by age 24.