Helpline (951) 686-HELP

Mental Wellbeing

Recognizing Symptoms

Our mental health changes throughout our lives — that’s to be expected. But when mental health challenges don’t go away and interfere with daily life (like work and relationships), it’s time to get additional support.

The good news is, mental health challenges and disorders (like depression, anxiety, schizophrenia, bipolar, and others) are highly treatable. In fact, 70–90% of people who got treatment and support said their symptoms were reduced and their quality of life improved.

Wondering what treatment and recovery look like? Check out our Q&A.

And remember, struggling with mental health is NOT the result of weakness or personal failing.

Take a look at the symptoms. Symptoms show up differently in different people, but this is a good starting point. It’s also important to note that only a mental health professional or medical doctor can provide a diagnosis.

Read Up, Listen Up, Speak Up and Follow Up. If you or someone you know is experiencing one or more of the symptoms in the table for more than two weeks, consider getting more information and help. Recovery is possible.

In adults:
  • Confused thinking
  • Long-lasting sadness or irritability
  • Extreme highs and lows in mood
  • Excessive fear, worry, or anxiety
  • Social withdrawal
  • Dramatic changes in eating or sleeping habits
  • Strong feelings of anger
  • Delusions or hallucinations (seeing or hearing things that others do not)
  • Increasing inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Thoughts of suicide
  • Denial of obvious problems
  • Many unexplained physical problems
  • Misuse of drugs and/or alcohol
In older children and pre-teens:
  • Abuse of drugs and/or alcohol
  • Inability to cope with daily problems and activities
  • Changes in sleeping and/or eating habits
  • Excessive complaints of physical problems
  • Defying authority, skipping school, stealing or damaging property
  • Intense fear of gaining weight
  • Long-lasting negative mood, often along with poor appetite and thoughts of death
  • Frequent outbursts of anger
In younger children:
  • Changes in school performance
  • Poor grades despite strong efforts
  • Excessive worry or anxiety
  • Hyperactivity
  • Persistent nightmares
  • Persistent disobedience and/or aggressive behavior
  • Frequent temper tantrums

Treatment and Recovery

There’s no one-size-fits-all treatment for mental illness. But thanks to the many options available, help is within reach and recovery is possible. To learn more, read our answers to a few commonly asked questions.

What are the steps for getting help?

Whether you are experiencing a mental health challenge yourself or want to help someone you care about, the first step is reaching out and connecting with support. Speak Up and get on the road to recovery.

You can begin by encouraging the person who is facing the mental health challenge to consult someone they already know and trust — like a primary care physician or spiritual counselor. They can help your friend or family member find someone qualified to work on these issues and get them started on the road to recovery.

Remember, help is available and accessible. Call the Helpline to be connected to mental health services in Riverside County at (951) 686-HELP (4357). The phone lines are answered by trained professionals available 24/7; the call is free and confidential. If you are experiencing a suicidal or mental health crisis, call the Suicide & Crisis Lifeline at (800) 273-8255 or dial 988. You can also check out our list of resources for more information and support.

Do people recover from mental illness? What treatments are used?

Each mental illness diagnosis requires different forms of treatment. Options vary depending on the type of symptoms being experienced, as well as the individual’s history, cultural background, treatment preferences and other factors. With appropriate treatment and support, people with mental health concerns report a 70–90% improvement in symptoms and quality of life. Check out these real stories of recovery from fellow Riverside County residents.

What about medication?

While not always necessary, a number of medications are available to treat conditions such as bipolar disorder, depression, panic disorder and schizophrenia. After evaluating the individual, a medical doctor can discuss available drug options or combinations that may help alleviate symptoms.

What other kinds of treatment are there?

Individual, group or family counseling and therapy and skills training can be effective either alone or in conjunction with medication. Sometimes, creative holistic therapies involving music, art, horticulture or drama can be helpful. Recent studies have also demonstrated that specific types of regular physical activity can also significantly help certain conditions (such as depression and anxiety). The best way to find out what works best is to meet with someone you trust, like a family doctor, and get a referral to a mental health practitioner who can explain the options and offer advice about what might be effective for the particular circumstances.

What about support groups or peer support?

Support groups provide opportunities to learn health-enhancing techniques and build a supportive network of others who are also experiencing the same mental health challenges. Creating individualized plans for maintaining wellness and dealing with crises before they arise can also be helpful. Plans can be created individually, with the help of a peer, other mental health provider or in a group setting. Peers (other people who have lived through a similar experience) are a big part of the healing process in support groups and may also work in other mental health treatment settings as a guide and supporter.

What about people who have a mental health problem and are also using alcohol or other substances?

Programs are available for the treatment of mental illness and substance use issues in tandem (sometimes called co-occurring.) Co-occurring disorders can often become a cyclical problem with one influencing the other. Specific programs are designed to help break the cycle and aid in recovery.

How do I know which mental health practitioner is the right one for me?

Before making an appointment, spend a few minutes on the phone with a mental health professional or counseling service to determine whether the fit seems right. For example, some counselors specialize in working with children, while others focus on adults dealing with depression. Some can prescribe medications and others cannot. With a little research, you can find the right individual or combination of professionals for yourself, your family member or friend. As a starting point, visit the resource page for an overview of local resources.


Wellness goes beyond routine visits to your doctor, staying fit and maintaining a healthy diet. It refers to overall wellbeing, including a balance among physical, mental, emotional, intellectual, occupational, behavioral and spiritual health that gives us the ability to feel good about ourselves and enjoy our lives.

Each aspect of wellness can affect your overall quality of life. To help improve your health in each area, check out Mental Health America’s 10 useful tips for living a full, enjoyable life, which we’ve adapted here.

Pursuing overall wellness can help people cope with mental health challenges and is a vital part in the road to recovery.

Speak Up. Ask for help and get on the path to true wellness.

1. Connect with others.

Spend more time with family members and friends, and develop new relationships by taking classes, doing volunteer work or joining a club that interests you.

2. Stay positive.

Learn to avoid negative thought patterns and focus on feeling grateful for the positive things in your life.

3. Be physically active.

Strive for 30 minutes of daily moderate aerobic activity, and squeeze in additional exercise by doing strength and balance exercises, playing with your children (if you have them) or taking the stairs instead of the elevator.

4. Help others.

In addition to looking for volunteer opportunities, do little things like smiling at a stranger or holding the elevator for a coworker.

5. Get enough sleep.

Being tired and having low energy affects every aspect of your life.

6. Create joy and satisfaction.

Read funny books, do something you enjoyed as a child or treat yourself to a massage.

7. Eat well.

Choose a diet high in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and lean proteins, while minimizing saturated fats, salt and added sugars.

8. Take care of your spirit.

Join a religious or spiritual institution, pray regularly if you’re a believer, or learn to meditate. Look for the good in yourself and others.

9. Deal better with hard times.

When you have an upsetting experience, try writing about it to organize your thoughts. When faced with a problem, make a list of possible solutions and consider the merits of each.

10. Get professional help if you need it.

Visit our resource section to explore helpful resources in your community.

Mental Health Matters!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Throughout the month of May, people from Riverside and across California will come together to spread awareness about the importance of mental health. Every year millions of Americans face living with a mental illness. In fact, half of us will experience a mental health challenge over the course of our lives. But with treatment and support, a full and satisfying life in recovery is possible. Join us in expressing your support this May, and all year long, by bringing awareness to the importance of mental health.

Lime green has emerged as California’s color for mental health awareness. Wearing the lime green ribbon is a great way to start the conversation with friends, family classmates and coworkers about mental health. Wear lime green to show your support.

Link Up and find support here, or call the Helpline at (951) 686-HELP (4357) to be connected to mental health services.