When you should check in on a friend with mental illness.

The Road To Mental Wellness > Mental Health > When you should check in on a friend with mental illness.

With a shortage of therapy and an abundance of mental health talk in society, when you should check in on a friend with mental illness.

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I think it’s fair to say that there isn’t a person on this earth who hasn’t experienced mental pain. In fact, it’s estimated that 80% of the population has experienced mental illness at least once in their lifetime.

And out of that 80%, many recover. While this is certainly good news, many still slug through their days, forcing a smile on their faces and a seemingly cheery disposition to match. So, if this is the case, how can friends and family spot the trouble that lies underneath?

Well, truth be told, most days you probably can’t. However, none of us are made of superman-like steel. Therefore, Jill, the bubbly personality in the office will, on occasion, withdraw and “not be herself.”

Similarly, Ivan, the hardest worker on the team, will call in sick over the course of months. Then, be back in full force for months. And while co-workers, bosses and family may not notice, Ivan does in fact, have depression. A mental illness he is not going to talk about, nor will those around him ask. The great deadlock if you will.

A two-way street

So then, is it true that mental illness is invisible? Or is it equally true that those with mental illness aren’t telling us? Maybe it’s both? Whatever the case, I think it’s fair to say that it’s complicated. Often, the M.O. to be silent is justified. For example, the fear of being fired because of one’s depression is a strong motivator to be quiet. I mean, what boss is going to allow you to call in sick every two months for two weeks at a time? Sadly, the answer is none! As uncomfortable as it may be, it puts all parties involved in a tough spot.

Now that’s a strong incentive to stay silent if there ever was one. But maybe we can still help; maybe our co-workers and loved ones alike can support and advocate for us if they only knew the symptoms. Because, yes, there are in fact, symptoms. So, when you should check in on a friend with mental illness it’s going to depend on how adept you are at detecting said symptoms.

Subtle signs you need to check in with someone with mental illness (symptoms)

  1. Withdrawing from social activities or isolating themselves
  2. Being less talkative or communicating less frequently
  3. Changes in their mood, such as appearing more anxious or depressed
  4. Lack of enthusiasm or motivation
  5. Changes in their behavior or habits, such as sleeping more or less
  6. Lack of interest in things they used to enjoy
  7. Difficulty concentrating or appearing forgetful
  8. Unexpected weight loss or gain
  9. Increased use of alcohol or drugs
  10. Making negative or self-deprecating comments

Symptoms of Depression

STOP DEPRESSON SUMMIT - When you should check in on a friend with mental illness.

Jonathan speaking at the 

Jonathan Speaking at the Stop Depression Summit

 On February 23, 2023

His talk was on the ways in which you can take back your life when you have trauma and major depressive disorder

Now, you can watch Jonathan Speak at the Stop Depression Summit – FREE!

I was honored to be part of such a wonderfully resource rich summit with some of the foremost experts in the field.

It’s important to remember that everyone experiences ups and downs in life, but if you notice that a friend’s behavior or mood has significantly changed over a prolonged period of time, it may be worth checking in on them to see how they’re doing.

But how? Are the majority of us equipped enough to even start a conversation with someone who’s exhibiting some significant behavioural changes? I would say, probably not.

To learn these skills, go to If everyone had the skills of a therapist. In this post, I walk you through the basic skills that can help you help others.

Download the audiobook version of the book, The Road To Mental Wellness FREE (CH’s 1 through 5 Here)

Overall, I think this subject is waaay more complex than simply saying “mental illness is invisible.” Furthermore, I think we are doing people a disservice when we splash simple taglines such as this all over the internet.

Why? Well, because trending buzzword’s only superpower is its ability to go viral. In other words, it’s not true, meaningful action. It simply becomes yet another echo chamber online.

Hopefully, the key elements above can help you go beyond the one liners of the internet and learn when you should check in on a friend with mental illness. And finally, a framework for an action plan is more helpful than liking and sharing on social media, a ribbon on a shirt, or a viral narrative online. Let’s expand our efforts and do more for those suffering from mental illness.

Black coloured font that says The road to mental wellness with Jonathan, the author in the right hand corner
Inspiring others through my book, The Road To Mental Wellness

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Jonathan Arenburg

Jonathan Reginald-Nixon Arenburg (Born January 14, 1976) is a Canadian mental health blogger, speaker, and published author. Retired from the fire service and long-term care fields, he has written and self-published an autobiographical account of his life-long battle with anxiety, depression and more recently, post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Titled, The Road To Mental Wellness, he wrote it for what he calls “therapeutic release.” He published it in hopes it would help others going through similar mental health conditions. The sales of The Road To Mental Wellness have been steady selling over 300 copies since its release on October 10, 2021(World Mental Health Day). Arenburg has also been involved in a collaborative publication Called Lemonade Stand Volume III, a book featuring 20 authors who bravely tell their stories of PTSD. All authors where from the military and or emergency services. Published by Joshua Rivedal and Kathleen Myers for the i’Mpossible project, a mental health advocacy organization. Jonathan has also appeared on several mental health podcasts including The Depression Files, A New Dawn, and The Above Ground Podcast Arenburg has also consulted with the Government of Nova Scotia and the Minister of Mental Health and Addictions, the Honorable Brian Comer and Candidates for the New Democratic Party of Canada, on improving the mental health care system in Canada. Additionally, Jonathan was recognized in The Nova Scotia Legislature by the Honorable, Chris Palmer, Kings-North MLA, for his Book, The Road To Mental Wellness, his fight to make the mental health care system better. In addition, Chis acknowledged the support he gives to others.

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