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Drastic behavior changes may be a cry for help

Kristina Tripkovic

Imagine for a moment walking into work tomorrow carrying your pet turtle, wearing roller skates, or refusing to communicate with others in any way except in song. Now imagine that no one said anything about these changes and went on about their day as if nothing were unusual. How might you feel?

More than likely, you would be surprised. And as you pondered how your co-workers could possibly not be a little curious what prompted these choices, you might be left to believe simply that no one cares.

Sadly, this is exactly how many people in Wichita every year are left to feel about their own family. You may not know anyone who makes these specific types of changes from one day to the next, but sudden and drastic behavioral changes are a hallmark of the distinction between a mental health issue and a mental illness, and they can often be a cry for help…or at least provide an opportunity to offer it.

Behavioral changes which are met with silence and indifference reinforce to the person exhibiting those changes that they are alone in their struggle, and that isolation is the primary enemy of good mental health. Sudden weight gain or loss, wild swings between extroverted and introverted tendencies, drastic departures from traditional views on finances, obvious changes in hygiene habits, may all be outward manifestations of mental or emotional issues that merit discussion. And when we remain silent, the person struggling may have no choice but to believe that they do not matter, sometimes with dire results.

If you witness such changes in someone you love, it costs you nothing to ask. And you may have everything to gain.

Eric Litwiller has served the south central Kansas community through his work at Mental Health Association since September of 2017. As Director of Development and Communications, he is charged with seeking the private investment required to raise awareness of the scope of mental health concerns throughout the region in an effort to eliminate the unfair stigma associated with mental illness.