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What is Mental Health?

A state of well-being in which a person realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully and is able to make a contribution to his or her community.

What does it mean to be mentally healthy?

  • Coping in a healthy way to deal with unexpected events
  • A peaceful balance of feeling and functioning well
  • Being physically active
  • Social and emotional well being

Common Warning Signs of mental health conditions:

  • Recent social withdrawal and loss of interest in others.
  • An unusual drop in functioning, especially at school or work, or difficulty performing familiar tasks.
  • Problems with concentration, memory, or logical thought and speech that are hard to explain.
  • Heightened sensitivity to sights, sounds, smells or touch;
  • Dramatic sleep and appetite changes or deterioration in personal hygiene.
  • Rapid or dramatic shifts in feelings or “mood swings.”
  • Avoidance of over-stimulating situations.
  • Loss of initiative or desire to participate in any activity; apathy.
  • A vague feeling of being disconnected from oneself or one’s surroundings; a sense of unreality.
  • Unusual or exaggerated beliefs about personal powers to understand meanings or influence events; illogical or “magical” thinking typical of childhood in an adult.
  • Fear or suspiciousness of others or a strong nervous feeling.
  • Uncharacteristic, peculiar behavior.

When to seek out Psychotherapy

Psychotherapy is the establishment of a therapeutic relationship between you and the therapist. This process is set up in phases; beginning, middle and final phase. Therapy is necessary when someone is experiencing a current or past problem that is affecting their day to day functioning. Therapy is important when these issues cannot be managed without professional guidance.

What works in therapy?

  • Sharing your thoughts and processing your feelings in a safe environment.
  • Taking your therapy seriously.
  • Doing the work both inside and outside of session.

What does not work in therapy?

  • Closing off your thoughts and feelings.
  • Not being honest about your true feelings
  • Not doing the work in your everyday life.
  • Missing more than 3 appointments interrupts the therapy process and can result in termination


It is common for most people to feel sad or depressed at times. These feelings can be a normal reaction to life difficulties and loss. But when feelings of intense sadness -- including feeling helpless, hopeless, and worthless – persist for days or weeks keeping you from functioning normally, your depression may be something more than sadness. Key signs of depression include: Depressed mood; Fatigue or loss of energy; Feelings of worthlessness or guilt; Impaired concentration; An inability to sleep or excessive sleeping; Markedly diminished interest or pleasure in most activities; Recurrent thoughts of suicide; Significant change in weight. The good news is that depression is very treatable.


Is a normal reaction to stress that everyone experiences at times, and can actually be beneficial in some situations. However, for some people anxiety can become overwhelming and excessive. It is common for someone to feel anxious or nervous before taking a test, or making an important decision, but anxiety disorder cause so much distress that it interferes with a person’s ability to lead a normal life. There are a wide variety of anxiety disorders, including post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD), Social anxiety disorder, panic disorder and specific phobias to name a few. Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental disorders experienced by Americans.

Grief and Loss

Grief is a natural emotional response to a significant loss. The intensity of these feelings of loss can vary depending on the significance that this loss represents in an individual’s life. Experiencing grief is a natural reaction that may look different for everyone. Some people may express their grief through crying while others may become more irritable. Yet, others may experience fear, guilt, and disbelief. Likewise, people process their grief at different rates. There is no set timeline to determine the appropriate amount of time in which this grief can be resolved. Thus, people can grief their losses from a few months to over a year.

Loss can be experienced in several ways:

  • Death of a loved one
  • Loss of health
  • End of a Relationship
  • Loss of a job
  • Divorce

Trauma and Stress Related Disorders

Many people, both children and adults, have difficulty coping with the experience of a traumatic or stressful event. Examples of these events include combat, physical, mental and emotional abuse, neglect, care accidents, natural disasters, and many more. Although many people experience negative reactions to these events, some people experience a long-term change that interferes with their daily lives. These reactions can include flashbacks of the event, avoidance of places, people or things that remind a person of the event, sleeping too much, difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep, and many more.


How the body reacts to a stressor, real or imagined, a stimulus that causes stress. Acute stressors affect an organism in the short term; chronic stressors over the longer term. Signs of physical stress can include: headaches, insomnia, sleep disturbance, fatigue, restlessness, indigestion, frequent colds and flu. Behavioral, cognitive and emotional signs of stress include: memory problems, inability to concentrate, poor judgment, seeing only the negative, boredom-apathy, moodiness and/or easily upset.

Healthy Coping

Coping is expending conscious or unconscious effort to solve personal and interpersonal problems, and seeking to master, minimize or tolerate stress and conflict. Ask yourself: Is what I am currently doing working for me?

Am I coping effectively? How do I know if I’m coping in a healthy manner?

  • Coping strategies can be either positive or negative.
  • Positive or adaptive strategies decrease the amount of stress perceived and experienced, while negative or maladaptive strategies diminish symptoms of stress without addressing the real problem.

Maladaptive Coping

  • Blurring of boundaries
  • Avoidance/withdrawal
  • Negative attitude
  • Anger outbursts
  • Alcohol/Drugs
  • Hopelessness
  • Negative self-talk
  • Resentment
  • Violence

Adaptive Coping

  • Realistic expectations-Set realistic goals
  • Planning-Anticipate problems, have a backup plan
  • Reframing-Change the way you look at things
  • Relaxation-Learn relaxation techniques, take time-out for leisure
  • Discuss the problem-Utilize existing social supports to problem solve
  • Do deep breathing
  • Tense and relax muscles
  • Shoulder shrugs
  • Take a walk
  • Listen to music
  • Spend time with a pet, friend, or loved one
  • Engage in a hobby (singing, dancing, cooking, etc)


NAMI Orange County

Conducts free educational programs, meetings and support groups throughout the entire county addressing every aspect of mental health.

(714) 544-8488

College Hospital Costa Mesa
301 Victoria Street
Costa Mesa, CA 92627
(949) 642-2734

Provides inpatient mental health services

Orange County Child Protective Services

(714) 940-1000 or 1-800-207-4464

(24-hour hotline, 7 days a week)

If you would like to discuss or report child abuse.

Orange County Adult Protective Services

(24-hour hotline, 7 days a week)

Adult Protective Services (APS) are directed at preventing or remedying neglect, abuse or exploitation of adults who are unable to protect their own interests because of age or disability.

24-Hr Public Assistance Info Line

Orange County’s Interactive Voice Response (IVR) System provides telephone-based, self-service automation for CalWORKs, Medi-Cal, Food Stamps, and General Relief programs.

714-541-4895 or 949-389-8456

(24-hour hotline, 7 days a week)

Orange County Health Care Agency

(714) 480-6767

Provides outpatient adult mental health services

Orange County Children Youth Services – Costa Mesa

(714) 850-8408

Provides outpatient children and adolescent mental health services

Orange County 211


By dialing 2-11, you reach a free, 24-hour information and referral helpline linking you to thousands of local health and human service programs in Orange County.

Didi Hirsh Suicide Prevention Crisis Hotline

(877) 727-4747

Suicide can be a difficult topic to talk about. However all of our Suicide Prevention Hotline counselors have been through extensive training to talk to you about your concerns in a sensitive manner. They won’t judge your or tell you what do to but instead will listen and try to help you process how you are feeling and brainstorm ways that might help you to feel better. The Suicide Prevention Hotline is a free and confidential telephone service that is open 24-hours a day. Counselors are available to talk about your thoughts of suicide or are concerns about someone who is may be suicidal.