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What are some signs of poor mental health?

If you’re not feeling yourself and you’re worried about your mental health, you’re not alone. Many people experience periods of poor mental health throughout their life.

An estimated 1 in 5 Australians experience a mental illness in any year and nearly one in two experience a mental illness during their lifetime[1].

Poor mental health can affect all aspects of your life, including your relationships, work, health, and general feeling of wellbeing.

If you recognise the signs of poor mental health, it’s important to get help so you can address it as early as possible.


Common signs of poor mental health

The following signs are not a diagnosis, but an indication that you may need to seek support through your GP or health professional.


Feeling anxious

We all feel worried about things throughout our lives. However, worrying more than you usually do, may be a tell-tale poor mental health sign. If your worries are taking over or becoming constant, it could be a sign that you have anxiety.


Mood changes

When you have poor mental health, you sometimes experience a dramatic shift to your mood, for example, you may fluctuate between feeling extremely sad and overly happy.


Withdrawing from people and activities

People who are suffering from poor mental health often withdraw from things they used to enjoy. If you are finding you’re not interested in the things you used to love doing, or you’re isolating yourself from people, it could be an early sign of poor mental health.


Trouble concentrating

If you’re having trouble concentrating or are finding it hard to remember things, it might have something to do with your mental health.


Changes in sleeping

Dramatic changes to your sleep patterns can signal mental health issues. For example, you are sleeping too little and are being kept awake by your thoughts, or you are tired all the time and are sleeping a lot more than usual.


Appetite changes

Significant changes to your eating habits – eating more or lack of appetite – may be a sign of poor mental health.


Substance abuse

People with an alcohol or substance abuse problem are more likely to suffer from mental health problems so it’s important to get help to manage it. Using substances such as drugs or alcohol to cope with stress and difficult situations can also worsen the symptoms of a mental illness.[2]


Unusual thinking  

If you notice ongoing strange thoughts, hallucinations, or believe that friends or family are against you or want to do you harm, it could be a sign that you are developing a mental illness. If this is happening, it’s important to seek help from a health professional.


Feeling hopeless or worthless

If you have thoughts like “Nothing is going right in my life”, “I’m worthless”, “I can’t do anything right”, or even “People would be better off without me,” it could mean you’re experiencing depression or are thinking about suicide. It’s important that you seek help urgently. If it’s an emergency, call for an ambulance by phoning Triple Zero (000).


What should you do if you have symptoms of poor mental health?

People who are experiencing poor mental health may have a combination of these symptoms. If you are concerned about your mental health, it’s important to talk to someone. Some options include:

  • Talking to your GP. They can talk to you about what you’re experiencing and, if needed, connect you with a mental health professional, such as a psychologist.
  • Calling a helpline. If you want to talk to someone right away, our helpline has trusted mental health professionals who can help. Insert helpline info
  • Calling Triple Zero in an emergency. Try to remain calm and speak clearly when speaking to the operator.


Our CAREinMIND counsellors are available 24/7 on 1300 096 269 or click the floating chat button on the right. The service is free for people in north, western and central Melbourne and is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.



[1] Australian Institute of Health and Welfare (2020) Mental health, AIHW, Australian Government.