How to Recognize When You Need Mental Health Help

Posted: October 20, 2022 | Author: Kate Lyons | Read Time: 6 minutes

Mental HealthYou deserve to feel and perform at your best. And often, recognizing you need help with your mental health and knowing the resources available are big steps toward feeling more like yourself.

As a student at Southern Utah University, several resources are at your fingertips to help you, whether you’re attending in person or online. Counseling and Psychological Services, the Dean of Students' Office, and the Health and Wellness Center are great places to start if you need assistance. The University is committed to your well-being and wants to meet you where you’re at. Depending on your level of need, different resources are available.

How to Recognize When You Need Help

Green Level

If you’re here, you’re okay most days, but there is a slight struggle in feeling your best. Sometimes life is full of small challenges that can build up over time and cause you to feel down. Signs of feeling overwhelmed or having difficulty pulling yourself back up include avoiding people, classes, or activities and withdrawing into yourself. You might have difficulty managing your emotions or mustering the motivation to handle your responsibilities. Maybe you feel like no one cares about you or that you can’t do anything right. You may notice that you’re eating too much or too little and starting to use unhealthy coping mechanisms.

To help yourself during this time, take care of your basic needs – eating regularly, sleeping, staying hydrated, going to bed at a decent time, and doing physical activity when possible. Try going outside in the sun for a bit by sitting or reading outside or going for a short walk. You can also focus on your faith or spirituality if that’s something you practice. Write down your feelings to help process what’s happening. Try creating a daily routine, sign out of social media for a day or two, or practice mindfulness and breathing exercises if those are helpful for you.

Keep in mind that it’s natural to feel a little overwhelmed at times. Remember that you have a choice and can opt out of any responsibility that is debilitating to you mentally, emotionally, or physically (within reason).

Take a look at a simplified list of symptoms for the green level:

  • Avoiding people, classes, activities, and/or events
  • Having a difficult time managing your emotions
  • Feeling a lack of energy or motivation
  • Changing your behavior in significant and negative ways
  • Feeling like no one cares about you or can understand what you’re going through
  • Sleeping or eating too much or too little
  • Starting to use unhealthy coping strategies
  • Feeling worthless or that you can’t do anything right
  • Feeling overwhelmed and beginning to doubt your ability to take care of yourself

Here are some recommended resources based on how you’re feeling if you are in the green level:

Yellow Level

Being at this level means you’re not doing well and need help from an outside source. This could result from a pre-existing mental health diagnosis and the need for additional support. It could also mean you’re finding it difficult to fulfill your responsibilities or that you feel like alcohol and substance abuse are the only answer to what you’re feeling. Another factor could be that you could have an imbalance in your relationships – either disconnecting from friends and family or relying heavily on them for your mental health needs rather than seeking help from a professional. While leaning on your support system is a great resource, there are certain instances where a licensed professional is best equipped to help you.

If you are ready, contact a licensed professional to help you navigate your way to improved mental health. To help yourself until you can speak to someone you trust, try mindfulness, grounding or breathing exercises. Or permit yourself to take a brief break, like taking one day off from work and school and allowing yourself to relax. Accept that you’re dealing with something triggering or stressful and that your feelings are valid.

Take a look at the summarized list of symptoms for the yellow level:

  • Already have a mental health diagnosis
  • Completely neglecting your school, work, or other life responsibilities
  • Frequently expressing anger toward others
  • Using alcohol or drugs excessively
  • Relying on existing relationships to address your mental health needs instead of professional help
  • Thoughts of helplessness or hopelessness
  • Engaging in self-harming behaviors (cutting, burning, bruising)
  • Completely withdrawing from activities that usually bring you joy
  • Disconnecting from your friends and family

Here are some resources you can turn to for help at the yellow level:

  • Mental Health Support Peers: talk to a peer mentor who has a good understanding of mental health-related issues
  • CAPS Let’s Talk: 15-minute conversations with CAPS staff
  • CAPS Triage Appointment: 30-minute assessment with a CAPS counselor
  • CAPS Therapy Groups: Group sessions facilitated by a CAPS counselor
  • CAPS Workshops: Skill-based sessions with other students facilitated by a CAPS counselor
  • Dean of Students Office: Assistance navigating all of the resources at SUU
  • Care Team/Case Management: Receive individualized support as you engage in professional mental health care
  • Find a counselor in the local community: some health insurance covers mental health care
  • TimelyCare Talk Now: Free 24/7 support for all levels of concern
  • TAO Connect: Online workshops and self-guided resources
  • Togetherall: Chat anonymously with peers around the country
  • Huntsman Mental Health Institute Warmline: 833-773-2588 or 801-587-1055

Red Level

If you’re at this level, life has become extremely difficult, and it may feel like you cannot carry on. Maybe you’re having suicidal thoughts or plans of harming yourself or others. You could be taking your frustrations out on others, lying, or expressing yourself violently. Additionally, you could also feel like giving up or that you’re a burden to others. If you’re feeling one or more of these, please do not deal with this on your own. There are resources for you to help get you back to a place where you feel better. You should seek immediate help if you find yourself with plans for harming yourself or others.

Here is a quick overview of symptoms you can experience at the red level:

  • Talking about suicide or dying
  • You are planning on harming yourself or others
  • You are being harmed by others
  • You are taking your frustrations out on others
  • You are harassing or bullying others
  • You are being dishonest
  • You are expressing yourself violently in words or actions
  • You feel the need to carry a weapon
  • You feel like giving up or that there is no hope that things will get better
  • You feel like you are a burden to those around you

On campus or local resources:

Virtual resources:

  • TimelyCare (Talk Now): Free 24/7 support as well as scheduled teletherapy with a counselor
  • SafeUT: 1-833-372-3388 or text chat via the SafeUT app
  • Utah Crisis Line: 800-273-8255 or text "start" to 741-741
  • Utah Domestic Violence Hotline: 800-897-5465
  • The Trevor Project (LGBTQ friendly): 866-488-7386
  • Transgender Suicide Hotline: 877-565-8860
  • Veterans Crisis Line: 800-273-8255, press 1
  • National Sexual Assault Hotline: 800-656-4376


It’s okay that you’re experiencing difficulties – we all feel that way at some point. Regardless of your mental health level, your feelings are valid. Know that it’s possible to overcome challenges, be it mental health or any curveballs that life throws at you. Struggling with your mental health is nothing to be ashamed of. You don’t have to go through this alone, and there are people who can help you, who care about you, and who want you to feel better. Take it one day at a time and know that it gets better.

Tags: Student Life CAPS

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