Know the Signs Campaign to Change Direction for Mental Health



Approximately 5 million or 18.2 percent of Americans ages 18 and older—about one in five adults— has a mental health condition in a given year. (SAMHSA, 2014) The United States has increasingly recognized the prevalence of mental health challenges, the need to eliminate stigma, and the benefits of mental health treatment. Indeed, First Lady Michelle Obama recently endorsed a national campaign called Know the 5 Signs, through the Campaign to Change Direction  .  This campaign was co-organized by the volunteer organization, Give an Hour and many other organizations and groups.  To learn more about the Campaign, please read below, consider making a non-monentary pledge to promote the campaign, and visit

The 5 signs are not the only indicators of emotional health challenges but are signals that someone is likely having some challenges. Please read more about the signs in the attachment and spread the word about them to people you know.

Experiencing any number of the 5 signs could also be a signal that someone could benefit from counseling. PACS provides short-term and free individual, relationship, and group counseling as well as emergency services to UNH undergraduate and graduate students. We also provide consultations to someone concerned about a student and information about how to contact local providers for people not eligible for PACS services.  To learn more, visit other parts of our website or give us a call at 603-862-2090 (TTY, 711). Our number works 24/7 for students experiencing a mental health crisis. We also support the use of the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-TALK (TTY, 800-799-4889). 

Five Signs of Suffering


Nearly one in every five people, or 42.5 million American adults, has a diagnosable mental health condition.1 Half of all lifetime cases of mental disorders begin by age 14.2


Often our friends, neighbors, co-workers, and even family members are suffering emotionally and don’t recognize the symptoms or won’t ask for help.


Here are five signs that may mean someone is in emotional pain and might need help:

Their personality changes.

You may notice sudden or gradual changes in the way that someone typically behaves. They  may behave in ways that don't seem to fit the person's values, or the person may just seem different.

They seem uncharacteristically angry, anxious, agitated, or moody.

You may notice the person has more frequent problems controlling their temper and seems irritable or unable to calm down. People in more extreme situations of this kind may be unable to sleep or may explode in anger at a minor problem.

They withdraw or isolate themselves from other people.

Someone who used to be socially engaged may pull away from family and friends and stop taking part in activities they used to enjoy. In more severe cases the person may start failing to make it to work or school. Not to be confused with the behavior of someone who is more introverted, this sign is marked by a change in someone's typical sociability, as when someone pulls away from the social support they typically have.

They stop taking care of themselves and may engage in risky behavior.

You may notice a change in the person's level of personal care or an act of poor judgment on their part. For instance, someone may let their personal hygiene deteriorate, or the person may start abusing alcohol or illicit substances or engaging in other self-destructive behavior that may alienate loved ones.

They seem overcome with hopelessness and overwhelmed by their circumstances.

Have you noticed someone who used to be optimistic and now can’t find anything to be hopeful about? That person may be suffering from extreme or prolonged grief, or feelings of worthlessness or guilt. People in this situation may say that the world would be better off without them, suggesting suicidal thinking.



You connect, you reach out, you inspire hope, and you offer help. Show compassion and caring and a willingness to find a solution when the person may not have the will or drive to help themselves.  There are many resources in our communities.   

It may take more than one offer, and you may need to reach out to others who share your concern about the person who is suffering. If everyone is more open and honest about mental health, we can prevent pain and suffering, and those in need will get the help they deserve. 


You can learn more at

a collective impact effort led by: Give an Hour

1 Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration, Results from the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health: Mental Health Findings,

 U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (as of 11/24/14).

2 R. C. Kessler, W. T. Chiu, O. Demler, K.R. Merikangas, E. E. Walters. “Prevalence, Severity, and Comorbidity of Twelve-Month DSM-IV Disorders in the National Comorbidity Survey Replication.” Arch. Gen. Psych. June 2005 62(6):617-627.