You are using a browser we no longer support. Current functionality may be reduced and some features may not work properly. For a more optimal experience, please click here for a list of supported browsers.

How to recognize and live well with a mental health condition

GEHA | November 22, 2023

Mental health problems are common, but help is available.

More than one in five adults in the United States live with a mental health condition, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. More than one in five U.S. children between the ages of 13 and 18 have or have had a serious mental illness. You are not alone if you live with a mental health condition or have a family member who needs resources for one.

Trying to tell the difference between what expected behaviors are and what might be the signs of a mental illness isn't always easy. There's no simple test to determine if there is mental illness or if actions and behaviors might be the result of a physical illness or something else. Each mental illness has its own symptoms, but common signs can include:

  • Eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • Pulling away from people or activities
  • Low or no energy
  • Feeling numb or as if nothing matters
  • Unexplained aches and pains
  • Feeling hopeless or helpless
  • Smoking, drinking or using drugs more than usual
  • Feeling unusually forgetful, angry, upset, worried or scared
  • Yelling or fighting with family and friends
  • Severe mood swings
  • Thinking of harming yourself or others
  • Hearing voices or believing things are not true
  • Unable to perform daily tasks
  • Excessive worrying or fear

If you experience any of these symptoms for longer than two weeks, talk with your primary care provider. Bring a list of your medications and write out any questions you may want to ask. Some people find it helpful to have a close friend or relative present to provide support and take notes.

Living with a mental health condition can make everyday events such as work or school, hygiene and socialization feel like a struggle. Here are some tools to help feel better and make coping easier:

Develop (and stay with) a treatment plan. If you start feeling better, don't stop taking medication or going to therapy without consulting a doctor. Work with your health care team to adjust medication or your treatment plan as needed.

Practice self-care through meditation, tai-chi, balanced nutrition and exercise.

Get good sleep. Quality sleep improves brain performance and mood. Not getting enough sleep consistently has been tied to depression, anxiety and other mental health conditions.

Learn about your condition. This not only helps you develop and understand a good treatment plan, but can also help loved ones provide the best support.

Stay connected. Reach out to family and friends during rough patches for help and support.

GEHA medical members have access to MDLIVE's telehealth visits, including behavioral health therapists, who are available via secure video by appointment during normal business hours.

MDLIVE is designed to handle non-emergency medical conditions and behavioral health issues and can often substitute for a doctor's office visit. Telemedicine is not intended to replace your primary care doctor or to be used in life-threatening emergencies. Find more information or activate your account, or call 888.912.1183.

If you or someone you know is in mental health emergency, don't wait for help. Dial 988 for immediate emergency crisis counseling through the Suicide and Crisis Lifeline. For more information or to chat with 988 online, visit

Need help finding an in-network health care provider? Visit the GEHA Find Care website

"What Is Mental Health?", U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, 4 April 2023.
"About Mental Health.", Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 25 April, 2023.
"Tips for Talking with a Health Care Provider About Your Mental Health.", National Institute of Mental Health.
"Warning Signs and Symptoms.", National Alliance on Mental Illness.

The information contained herein is for informational and educational purposes only. This information is not a substitute for professional medical advice and if you have questions regarding a medical condition, regimen, or treatment you should always seek the advice of a qualified health care provider. Never disregard or delay seeking medical advice from a qualified medical professional because of information you have read herein.

This is a brief description of the features of Government Employees Health Association, Inc.'s medical plans. Before making a final decision, please read the GEHA Federal brochures. All benefits are subject to the definitions, limitations and exclusions set forth in the Federal brochures.

Have you attended a webinar?

Every month, GEHA hosts a free webinar designed to offer ways to live a healthier life. Check out our upcoming offerings on aging gracefully, mindfulness and financial well-being. You can view past webinars, too.

View 2024 webinars