Annie Lane: Recognizing Mental Health Awareness Week

Published 6:30 am Saturday, October 3, 2020

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Dear Annie: Sunday, Oct. 4, marks the beginning of Mental Health Awareness Week. As someone who has been impacted by a mental illness, I wanted to share the following warning signs of mental illness, courtesy of the National Alliance on Mental Illness.

—Excessive worrying or fear.

—Feeling excessively sad or low.

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—Confused thinking or problems concentrating and learning.

—Extreme mood changes, including uncontrollable “highs” or feelings of euphoria.

—Prolonged or strong feelings of irritability or anger.

—Avoiding friends and social activities.

—Difficulties understanding or relating to other people.

—Changes in sleeping habits or feeling tired and low energy.

—Changes in eating habits such as increased hunger or lack of appetite.

—Changes in sex drive.

—Difficulty perceiving reality (delusions or hallucinations, in which a person experiences and senses things that don’t exist in objective reality).

—Overuse of substances like alcohol or drugs.

—Multiple physical ailments without obvious causes (such as headaches, stomach aches, vague and ongoing “aches and pains”).

—Thinking about suicide.

—Inability to carry out daily activities or handle daily problems and stress.

People can find local resources by calling 1-800-950-NAMI (6264) or emailing Depression impacts me year-round, and I hope that weeks like this can help raise awareness and counter stigma.

— Glad to Be Here

Dear GTBH: I appreciate your letter. One in 5 Americans experience a mental illness, according to the National Alliance on Mental Illness. And that rate is increasing during the pandemic. In May, the Census Bureau found that a third of Americans showed signs of clinical depression and/or anxiety. These illnesses are more common right now; they’re no less serious. If you have any of these symptoms or are feeling deeply lonely, then call the NAMI hotline mentioned above to be connected with resources. And if you have an urgent need for help, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or call 911.

• • •

Dear Annie: A couple wrote to you about whether or not it would be out of line for them to ask that their daughter’s boyfriend get a COVID-19 test before coming to their house for Christmas. You suggested that all of them (the parents and their daughter, along with her boyfriend) get the tests before the visit, not just the boyfriend. I hope you understand that the COVID test result is only good for the moment it is taken. One could be positive five minutes later from the cabbie in the cab they rode in, from anyone at the airport, on the plane, etc. The virus incubates for up to two weeks, so the person can be negative and still have the virus in the body that could then become infectious during Christmas. Whether the boyfriend would then be sick or asymptomatic, he could, either way, give the virus to anyone around him. Options are a 14-day quarantine before traveling; wearing a mask except for eating while at the girlfriend’s relatives; staying elsewhere in quarantine and having limited (mask-wearing) contact with girlfriend’s family. The appropriate choice depends on the vulnerability of the other family members, and what risks they are willing to take to have an outsider in their home and for what periods.

— From a Careful State

Careful State: Yes, that is a big disclaimer that I should have included in that response: A negative COVID-19 test is not carte blanche to go out and socialize. You raise important considerations that this family and all families should take into account.

“Ask Me Anything: A Year of Advice From Dear Annie” is out now! Annie Lane’s debut book — featuring favorite columns on love, friendship, family and etiquette — is available as a paperback and e-book. Visit for more information. Send your questions for Annie Lane to