Are you close to having a mental breakdown?

Rapper Kanye West has dominated headlines this week following his reported mental breakdown. This has brought issues of mental health into the spotlight

Earlier this week, West was reportedly admitted to hospital after he suffered a ‘mental breakdown’. This came after he disappointed fans when he arrived two hours late for a concert and only performed two songs before going on a rant about Beyoncé, Jay Z and Hillary Clinton. The rapper then dropped his mic and walked off the stage.

A day later, West announced that he would be cancelling the rest of his tour and that all tickets would be refunded. It was a few hours after this that he was admitted to hospital. While many have opted to make a mockery of the rapper’s state of mind, mental illness is a serious issue that many of us tend to ignore.

READ MORE: Black women and mental health – are we making enough noise?

“Many tend to pretend that mental illness doesn’t exist. Mental illness is a scary thing to have to deal with and most people treat it the same way they treat difficult concepts like death – just pretend it’s not there and only face it if they absolutely have to. If people would pay as much attention to their mental health as they do to their physical health, things would be a lot better,” says Counselling Psychologist Gregory Eccles.

Sometimes identifying signs of a mental meltdown can be quite difficult. Eccles shares some signs that we should look out for:

  • Interacting with friends and family in a different way, possibly by being more withdrawn and prone to emotional outbursts, for example
  • Being less able to cope with everyday work and/or academic pressures
  • Dysfunctional behaviour in one or more areas of your life

“The longer a person ignores the signs, the more likely they are to have a negative impact on the person’s life, which could then make existing symptoms worse, like developing anxiety about going to work and/or panic attacks,” Eccles explains.

He says that the first way to seek help is by finding someone you can speak to openly to, someone you know won’t judge you.

READ MORE: Is Kanye West on the road to a Britney-style breakdown?

“People should also practise healthy emotional coping mechanisms like healthy anger expression and mindfulness and avoid unhealthy coping mechanisms like bottling up feelings and using substances to deal with emotions,” Eccles says.

He adds that seeing a professional is a very important aspect of dealing with a mental illness, saying that a therapist can help you identify problem emotions, thoughts, behaviours and can help you develop new ways of managing you life.

“It’s a problem when people… are choosing to behave rudely and using mental health as a scapegoat. People with mental health problems have enough to deal with without needing additional stigma as a result of scapegoating,” Eccles says.