How to Support Someone Experiencing Mental Health Challenges

two people holding hands

Understanding Mental Health

Understanding mental health is crucial in fostering a compassionate society. It involves recognizing that mental health concerns are as real and complex as physical illnesses. Mental health challenges can affect one’s emotions, thoughts and behaviors. There are some more common mental health disorders, such as anxiety and depression, but there are also more severe forms, including schizophrenia and bipolar disorders. Mental health challenges can emerge due to various factors including, but not limited to, genetics, environment and life experiences. Decreasing the stigma around mental health is critical. Through education, promoting open discussions and increasing awareness and empathy, the stigma supporting mental health can be dispelled. By decreasing stigma, we can encourage individuals to seek the help they need and support them on their journey toward mental well-being.

Common Signs and Symptoms of Mental Health Disorders

Mental health signs and symptoms are not universal, making it hard to identify. Often, individuals experience signs and symptoms common to mental health concerns. The persistence and effect on the ability to function can indicate whether a mental health disorder is present.

  • Feeling sad or down
  • Confused thinking
  • Reduced ability to concentrate
  • Excessive fears or worries
  • Extreme high and low moods
  • Withdrawal from friends and social activities
  • Low energy or significant tiredness
  • Detachment from reality
  • Inability to cope with daily stressors
  • Trouble understanding or relating to people
  • Problems with substance use
  • Major change in eating habits
  • Sex drive changes
  • Excessive anger
  • Suicidal thinking

Ways to Support Someone Experiencing a Mental Health Challenge

SAMHSA has created a useful article that can help you support your friend or family member who is experiencing mental health challenges. Recognizing the signs of mental health challenges and connecting them to professional help is a critical step. Starting conversations and talking to your friends and family members offers the opportunity to provide information, support and guidance. By learning about mental health challenges, you can improve your recognition of early signs of mental health problems, encourage early treatment prevention and increase understanding and compassion.

If a friend or family member is showing signs of a mental health challenge, you can offer support by:

  • Finding out if the person is getting the care they need.
  • Connecting them to help
  • Expressing your concerns compassionately
  • Reminding them that mental health problems can be treated and there is help available
  • Asking questions, listening and being responsive when discussing mental health challenges
  • Offering to help out with daily tasks
  • Including the person in your plans and continue to invite them if they don’t attend
  • Educating others to decrease stigma and promote awareness about mental health

Destigmatizing and Advocacy

All individuals can play a significant role in advocating for mental health. Advocating for mental health involves raising awareness, reducing stigma and influencing policy to improve the lives of those who experience mental health conditions. Advocacy efforts, no matter how big or small, contribute toward a society supportive of mental health. Here are some ways you can advocate for mental health:

  • Educate yourself and others by learning about mental health and sharing your knowledge with others
  • Share your personal stories if you are comfortable
  • Support others
  • Volunteer with mental health organizations or programs
  • Participate in awareness events
  • Advocate for policy change by contacting your local representative
  • Join advocacy groups


Obtaining information and educating yourself can be very helpful when trying to support someone who is experiencing a mental health issue. Seeking help for a loved one or yourself is not a sign of weakness; it is a sign of strength. If you or someone you know has a mental health, substance use or emotional concern, call Colorado Crisis Services at 844-493-TALK (8255) or text the word TALK to 38255. There are many organizations that can help support mental health.

Mental Health America offers free online screening tests for depression, anxiety, ADHD, PTSD and bipolar disorder for a range of ages in both English and Spanish. Taking an online screening is one of the easiest ways to determine whether or not you are experiencing symptoms of a mental health condition. Mental Health America also has DIY Tools that can help you improve your mental health on your own, as well as resources that help you find mental health treatment and support in your local area and online.

The Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) has a service named “,” which is a confidential, anonymous resource for people seeking treatment for mental health and substance use disorders in the United States. SAMSHA’s 988 Suicide & Crisis Lifeline works to prevent suicide by providing free and confidential support for people in distress. It offers prevention and crisis resources for you or your loved ones. You can call or text 988 24 hours a day for support.

The Trevor Project is the leading suicide prevention and crisis intervention nonprofit organization for LGBTQ+ young people. You can call, text, or chat with a trained counselor 24/7 for support or information.

Centennial Mental Health Center provides compassionate and comprehensive mental health and substance use disorder services to members of our northeastern Colorado Community. We offer client-centric care that can help individuals, families and communities enhance the quality of their lives. Call your local Centennial office, or visit our website to learn more about the help and support we can offer!

Maternal Mental Health

A Comprehensive Solution-Based Approach

May is a month dedicated to both mental health awareness and maternal mental health awareness. Having a month dedicated to maternal mental health awareness provides an opportunity for individuals, communities, healthcare professionals and activists to engage in targeted conversation about the importance of maternal mental health and the urgent need to help perinatal and postpartum individuals experiencing behavioral health challenges. Maternal mortality rates are on the rise in the United States. The maternal mortality rate in the United States has increased by 12.8% from 2019 to 2021. [1] Both suicide and homicide are considered leading causes of death both during pregnancy and the postpartum period. [2]

In Colorado, the leading cause of death for maternal mortality is individuals dying by suicide and or unintentional overdose during pregnancy and the first year after giving birth.[3] Without necessary support and intervention, maternal mental health issues can lead to detrimental long-term outcomes such as impairing parent-infant bonding and limiting a child’s emotional development and ability to learn. As maternal mortality rates are rising, it is dire to address maternal mental health.

Centennial’s Maternal Mental Health Program

Centennial’s Maternal Mental Health Program was developed to address the expressed needs of our rural communities. . The program is dedicated to supporting the mental well-being of perinatal and postpartum individuals, their families and their care teams throughout Northeastern Colorado. Through a comprehensive, solution-based approach, Centennial combines medical expertise, maternal mental health consultation, therapeutic expertise, community engagements and targeted strategies to create an equitable continuum of care for those in need of maternal mental health services.

The Maternal Mental Health Program offers consultation services, which provide outreach to partner agencies and assist families experiencing perinatal and postpartum anxiety, depression and other mood disorders by connecting them to relevant resources that they need in order to feel supported and cared for. The Maternal Mental Health Consultant partners with local hospitals, OB Clinics, Baby Bear Hugs, Nurse-Family Partnership and Early Childhood Councils to provide outreach and cross-system services. The integration with existing community services allows the opportunity for perinatal individuals to receive mental health care and referrals for their specific needs. The program’s seamless referral pathway ensures that individuals receive a timely and coordinated transition from both external and internal services.

The program's clinician provides screening, individual and group therapeutic treatment services to help ensure optimal health outcomes. The screenings effectively identify mental health challenges through the use of evidence-based tools. They allow issues to be identified early and for individuals to receive the proper support, which can lead to better outcomes and improved well-being.

When an individual experiences maternal mental health challenges, it can be overwhelming knowing where to start to seek out information and support, especially with the influx of information on the internet. To ensure that individuals and families receive reliable information and resources, the team developed a mental health support bag, which is given to clients and partner agencies. The maternal mental health support bags include self-care items, baby items a “Mindful MOMents” journal and educational resources.

The “Mindful MOMents” journal was created by the program's consultant and team to help individuals in the perinatal period understand mental health symptoms and provide them with tools and resources. Journaling is known to help improve mental health and overall well-being, as well as help navigate complex feelings. The “Mindful MOMents” journal includes:

  • Letters to the mom and their partner
  • Cards that can be cut out to give to family and friends that indicate they are experiencing postpartum symptoms but are not ready to talk about it yet
  • A self-care plan
  • Journal prompts
  • An activities section with coloring pages, a word search, maze and calendar
  • Feeling faces to help track patterns of their feelings and can be taken to their physician, counselor, or psychiatrist
  • A contact section
  • A directory of resources within Centennial's 10 counties, state, national and international levels

Centennial is committed to improving and promoting the mental well-being of perinatal and postpartum individuals, infants and families by providing specialty support that is culturally and linguistically competent. To learn more about the Center’s Maternal Mental Health please call your local Centennial office.

[1] Katella, “Maternal Mortality IS on the Rise: 8 Things to Know.” Yale Medicine, 2023,

[2] Katella, “Maternal Mortality IS on the Rise: 8 Things to Know.” Yale Medicine, 2023,

[3] Okoloko, “Preventing Maternal Mortality Requires Attention to Mental Health – and the Factors That Lead to Disparities.” Colorado Health Institute, November 8, 2021,

Mental Health Awareness Month - Where to Start

Graphic with black text that says "Mental Health Awareness Month" and green text below that says "Where To Start" on the left and and an graphic on a brain on the right.

Mental Health Awareness Month

Did you know that each year, one in five adults in the United States experiences a mental health challenge?

Mental Health America founded Mental Health Month in 1949.[1] Every May, entities come together to promote awareness and advocate for the mental health and well-being of all individuals. This year Mental Health America’s theme for Mental Health Month is “Where to Start: Mental Health in a Changing World”, which reminds us that dealing with life’s pressures can be overwhelming and everyone deserves to feel supported to seek help when needed. While talking about mental health is becoming more common, it can be hard to know “Where to Start” when it comes to taking care of your mental well-being.

The stigma surrounding mental health often stems from a lack of understanding or fear, which can have a profound impact on mental health. Public stigma, self-stigma, and structural stigma can lead to detrimental effects that can cause worsening symptoms, reduce the likelihood that individuals will seek treatment and impact recovery. Raising awareness of mental health is a powerful tool for decreasing stigma. It helps normalize the conversation, educate the public, encourage empathy and understanding, promote early intervention, reduce self-stigma and foster a supportive community. During the month of May, Centennial is increasing engagement within the Center’s 10 Counties to spread awareness about mental health. Read more to see what Centennial is doing to promote Mental Health Awareness in May!

Mental Health Awareness Month Sweet Treat Therapy

What better way to celebrate Mental Health Awareness Month than to indulge in a sweet treat to help us serve our mission to help individuals, families and communities enhance the quality of their lives?

Centennial has partnered with incredible local bakeries, coffee shops and other sweet treat specialists to raise funds for mental health through Sweet Treat Therapy. In May, local businesses will donate 20% of their profits from a specific sweet treat to raise funds to support evidence-based community trainings throughout the Center’s ten-county catchment area.

  • Bun Appetit – Fort Morgan
  • Colorado Popcorn Company – Sterling
  • Cornerstone Coffee- Akron
  • Farmhouse Market – Yuma
  • Heidi’s Cakes – Holyoke
  • Simpkins Parlour – Sterling
  • Steele Terrain – Sterling

Be Seen, Wear Your Green

Centennial would like to invite you to join us in supporting the visibility of mental health by participating in various events. During the month of May, several entities join Mental Health America’s Light Up Green and Be Seen in Green campaigns to demonstrate their support for mental health. We are inviting you to join Centennial as well as, other collaborative agencies in wearing green on Wednesday’s and lighting your building green during the month of May. Green is the official color for Mental Health Awareness Month and is a powerful symbol that allows individuals to show their support for mental health and well-being in their communities.  Our mission is to help individuals, families and communities enhance the quality of their lives. We envision a future where youth are resilient; families are healthy; communities are thriving; and asking for help is normalized. To learn more about Centennial’s services, visit our website or call your local Centennial office.