Twenty-year-old Adam Lanza, who has been described as mentally ill, killed 20 children and six adults at Newtown, Conn., elementary school on Dec. 14, after shooting his mother to death at their home. He committed suicide as first responders arrived at the school.
Lang, an author, counselor and adjunct professor at Montclair State University in New Jersey, says one way to help individually is to educate ourselves on the signs of mental illness and the resources available to help those affected.
She offers these 14 signs that teens or young adults might possibly have a mental illness or problem:
-- Feelings of worthlessness.
-- Anxious and feelings of intense worry or sadness.
-- Extreme fear and/or unexplained fear.
-- Changes in school – grades/behavior.
-- Loss of interest in normal activities/hobbies/leisure activities – social isolation.
-- Lack of interest in family, friends, etc.
-- Changes in sleep patterns or eating habits (too much or too little).
-- Increased mood swings, anger, irritability and/or impulsiveness.
-- Loss of focus and concentration.
-- Talking about suicide.
-- Obsessive dieting or extreme exercising.
-- Destroys property and breaks the law.
-- Uses alcohol or drugs.
-- Hears voices.
If you suspect a mental illness/problem in a teen or young adult:
-- Have someone close to that person (friend or family member) approach them and let them know they are concerned about them. Be nonjudgmental, calm, caring and empathic.
-- Let them know there is help available.
-- Give them resources of local agencies/therapists who can help (or as a parent of a teen, look up resources yourself to get help).
-- Let them know mental illness is treatable.
For more information, visit www.dlcounseling.com.