What to do When Someone You Know May Have a Mental Health Problem

There’s a 25% chance that, at some point in your life, you will be affected by some form of mental health difficulty. This is nothing to be ashamed or embarrassed about, and the most important thing to remember is that you are not alone. Whether talking to a professional, a family member, or a friend, there is always help available to you. But what happens when you notice that a friend may be having mental health difficulties of their own? What should you do? Here are some tips and guidelines so that you can help that friend or loved one as best you can.

Recognize the Signs

The first step is to recognize the signs that someone could be experiencing a mental health issue. Although these may vary depending on the specific mental illness, these signs are the most common:

  • Withdrawal from social life
  • Difficulty functioning in school or work
  • Problems with memory or simply thinking things through
  • Showing signs that they are disconnected from reality
  • Changes in sleeping, eating, and hygiene habits
  • Alcohol or drug abuse
  • Extreme mood swings
  • Conversations about suicide

Some of these symptoms and the possible outcomes can seem scary, but you must remain calm and not let your fears stop you from helping them to get help. Ignoring these signs will not make them go away and will only make this person’s feelings of isolation and lonelieness worse. Even simply asking if there is anything they would like to talk about, and offering an ear to listen, can make a huge difference. There is absolutely no shame in being diagnosed with a mental illness, it is often the first step to a real and lasting recovery.

How to Help

If a family member or a friend is showing any signs of having mental health difficulties, you can help them by offering support in the following ways:

  • Find out if that person is getting the help that they want or need, and if they are not, assist them in finding that help.
  • Let them know that you are concerned about them, and that you are there for them if they need any help.
  • Remind them that mental health problems are nothing to be ashamed of and that help is out there for them.
  • Don’t ignore signs. If they start a conversation about mental health, be supportive and responsive, and reiterate the fact that there is always help out there.
  • Offer to help them with simple everyday tasks to reduce their stress level and lessen their potential feelings of loneliness.
  • Continue to invite them to events and gatherings but do not be overbearing. Assure them that you want them there, but if they aren’t feeling up to attending, that is okay.
  • Educate those around you about mental health problems and never discriminate.
  • Always treat those with mental health problems with compassion, empathy, and respect.

When helping a friend get the help that they need, you may experience some difficulties with your own emotions. This is perfectly normal, and you should not hesitate to talk to someone about these problems for yourself. For information on the mental health services Caminar provides, please visit



What is Depression?

Depression is one of the most common yet misunderstood mental health conditions in the world.  Depression is often mistaken as sadness, but it is much more than that. “Clinical depression is marked by a depressed mood most of the day, particularly in the morning, and a loss of interest in normal activities and relationships — symptoms that are present every day for at least 2 weeks.” -WebMD


Depression is a serious condition believed to be caused by a combination of genetic, biological, environmental, and psychological factors, and it’s not that easy for sufferers to just “get better”.  There are 14.8 million people in the United States who are suffering from this condition, and they aren’t just looking for attention.

What Does Depression Look Like?

A clinically depressed person is likely to be in a solemn mood for a majority of the day, especially early in the morning.  They struggle with fatigue and a general lack of energy, as well as the nagging feeling of worthlessness.  Clinically depressed individuals often lack the ability to focus and have trouble enjoying activities they participate in throughout the day. Other symptoms may come arise, such as weight loss or weight gain, insomnia or hypersomnia or recurrent thoughts of death or suicide. If you or someone you know feels constantly under-stimulated, uninterested and sad, clinical depression may be to blame.

What Causes It?

There are many possible causes of depression and no major medical consensus on what the prime factor is.  While depression does have to do with chemical imbalances, this alone does not explain the complex factors that come into play when it comes to what depression is and where it comes from.

Researchers have hypothesized that depression may be caused by malfunctions of the hippocampus or thalamus, where mood is said to stem from.  A decrease in neurotransmitter activity, or the chemical messages that travel from neuron to neuron, could cause a person’s mood to be altered.

Other factors could contribute to depression such as diet, exercise habits, other medications or drugs.  One thing that researchers agree on is that depression does not likely have a single cause.  The brain is a complex organ which is affected by all kind of factors, both internal and external to the body.  It’s clear the brain has a role, but the primary cause has not yet been established.

Mental illness is hard to understand because you can’t “see” it.  Mentally healthy people often can’t understand why their mentally ill peers can’t seem to get out of their slump.  The truth is, though, that mental health issues are often out of the control of the sufferer and should be treated as any other physical ailment.

What is most important for someone who is dealing with depression is to go out and get treated.  Medication and therapy can play a big role in easing symptoms. If you or someone you know may be depressed, seek professional help. Visit for information regarding the mental health services we provide.


Watch the Highlights Video From Our First Annual Mental Health Symposium

We are pleased to share with you a short highlights video from Caminar’s First Annual Mental Health Symposium. 

Watch the video here


Videos of each speaker’s full presentation are also available here.  We feel the information conveyed in these presentations is worthwhile and makes a valuable contribution to the mental health field.  We hope you can take a few minutes to watch them and please feel free to pass these links on to others.  We plan to host another educational symposium next year during May, Mental Health Awareness Month, and we hope you can join us.

Also, please mark your calendars for our 51st Anniversary as an organization and the 5th Annual “In Concert with Caminar” event at AT&T Park on Friday, November 13th.

Caminar’s First Annual Mental Health Symposium Was a Success

Mental Health Professionals Shared Their Wisdom about New Research, Technology, and the Stigma Associated With Mental Illness

Hillsborough, CA: The evening of May 7th was a memorable one for mental health advocates, friends, staff members, and family members of Caminar who gathered at one of the most picturesque spots on the peninsula, the Carolands Chateau in Hillsborough,California. After touring the chateau and taking in the original client artwork,architecture, and breathtaking views, guests assembled to listen to compelling presentations by mental health professionals from Stanford, UC San Francisco, UC Berkeley and one who has experienced mental illness first hand.

Among the panelists were Stephen Hinshaw, PhD., Manpreet Singh, M.D., M.S., Vikaas Sohal, M.D., PhD., and Brandon Staglin, a leading mental health advocate who was diagnosed with schizophrenia in 1990. Steven Adelsheim, M.D, moderated the event.

Each speaker took a turn at the podium, sharing either personal stories of mental health conditions or the implications of their research and studies in the field. The panelists shared groundbreaking information regarding the scientific and social impacts of mental illness in the community. Despite a wide array of topics presented,there seemed to be a common theme: although we have a long way to go, the apparent increase in public awareness around mental health issues is encouraging. New research has led to discoveries about how the brain works;and advances in technology and medicine have changed the way we diagnose and treat these often debilitating conditions. As one guest mentioned, “It’s great to hear that there are so many other parts of successful treatment than medications alone!”

There were 160 attendees at the sold-out event, and overall feedback was very positive. One guest stated “The panelists were fantastic, and shed light on current studies and researches on mental health.” Another wrote“I felt chills listening to Dr. Hinshaw’s remarks.” Since1 in 4 Americans will experience a mental health condition at some point in their life, chances are that you or someone you know will be affected. While the information that was shared is promising, it does no good if the stigma attached to mental illness prevents people from seeking help. It is Caminar’s goal, with help from community partners, mental health advocates, and professionals in the field, to shed a light on mental health issues and break down barriers to treatment.

“…we are all hungry for information, hungry to know that research holds hope for many, and on the same page about the importance for reducing the stigma of mental illness.” –Symposium guest.

A video recording of this event will be available to view online on our website around June 1st.  If you missed this event, we plan to host another educational symposium next year during May, Mental Health Awareness Month,  and invite you to join us at the next one.



Mental Health Symposium in May- Join Us!

Join us for an educational symposium focused on mental health, research, and the experience of people in our community living with mental illness.  Friends of Caminar contributing to the discussion include:


Stephen Hinshaw, Ph.D.

Professor of Psychology at UC Berkeley and Vice-Chair for the Department of Psychiatry at UC San Francisco.  Dr. Hinshaw has authored over 280 publications and 14 books, including The Mark of Shame: Stigma of Mental Illness where he provides practical strategies for overcoming stigma through enlightened social policies.  He is a leader in the field of developmental psychopathology and his research focuses on clinical interventions, and mental illness stigma, with specialization in ADHD.

Manpreet Singh, M.D., M.S.

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences (Child and Adolescent Psychiatry and Child Development) at Stanford University.  Dr. Singh is currently conducting research in the phenomenology, neurobiology, pharmacology, and genetic aspects of bipolar disorder in children.

Vikaas Sohal, M.D., Ph.D.

Assistant Professor of Psychiatry at UC San Francisco where he conducts pioneering research using optogenetics, a radically new technology, to unravel how neurons connect in circuits, how they behave abnormally in psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia, and the implications of his research for treatment approaches.

Brandon Staglin

A leading mental health advocate, graduate of Dartmouth College, and Board Director of International Mental Health Research Organization (One Mind Institute).  Brandon was diagnosed with Schizophrenia in 1990.  He and his family host an annual Music Festival for Brain Health at the Staglin Family Winery which has raised $157 million to fund brain health research and discoveries.


Steven Adelsheim, M.D.

Clinical Professor of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences at Stanford University.  Dr. Adelsheim is a national leader in developing and implementing early detection and intervention programs for young people, including programs for depression, anxiety, and prodromal symptoms of psychosis.

Space is limited so don’t wait to purchase tickets!

For more information and tickets:


Promoting Positive Mental Health in 2015

The stress and strain of daily life can take a toll on a person’s physical and mental state of being. Maintaining mental health is just as important as maintaining physical health.  It is crucial to learn strategies and activities to help alleviate these stressors in your life. By taking the right steps today, you can keep your good mental health through 2015 and beyond. Here are some activities you can do to keep the mind fresh and active for the good of your mental health.

Take Time Out for You

Focusing too much on work or any single activity can be quite draining after a period of time. So, find ways to take breaks so you can enjoy your hobbies, activities or projects that you enjoy doing. Whether it is taking a walk in the park, playing a game, drawing pictures or just playing with your pets, this is an excellent way to provide yourself with a great mental break.

Exercise & Eat Right

Proper exercise promotes health in all the organs in your body, including the brain. Be sure that you have some type of physical activity that you can engage in daily such as walking, jogging or even dancing. What we put into our bodies can have an effect on the way we feel. Many studies link good eating habits with strong mental health, so be sure to eat proper, balanced meals.

Build Relationships

While it is definitely important to take time out for yourself, it is equally important to have meaningful relationships with others. Whether it is your partner, child, friends or other family members, finding quality time to share positive experiences with them can be beneficial to your mood.

Challenge (But Don’t Overwhelm) Yourself

Set goals, and accomplish them. If you set a large goal, divide that up into smaller parts. Little steps really add up in the long run!

Channel Your Stress

Stress takes both a physical and mental toll, so you will need to know how to deal with stress before it overwhelms you. Take a time out, learn to meditate, exercise, breathe properly, write in a journal or engage in any activity that can break the cycle of stress in your life.

Give Back

Helping others is a very powerful tool in boosting self-esteem. Volunteering at a local non-profit or staying a few extra minutes after class to help a friend with homework will not only positively impact others, it will play a beneficial role in your life as well.

Get Help When You Need It

At some point, all of us need help so don’t be afraid to ask for it. It is during our time of deepest need that getting help may actually save you from making decisions that are not in your best interest. Keep in mind that asking for a little help early may actually save you from asking for more help later.

Please visit for more information on the services we offer.


Joyce Cooling is Donating 50% of the Proceeds From Her New Song to Caminar


Joyce Cooling has a new holiday song out and she’s generously donating 50% of proceeds to Caminar. Please help support Joyce and Caminar by purchasing the song on iTunes or Amazon. Thank you!


Joyce Cooling is a San Francisco-based jazz guitarist, vocalist and songwriter who has recorded seven albums – five of which charted on Billboard magazine. She has to her credit two No. 1 singles, six Top-10 and 13 charting radio singles in all and has garnered multiple music awards including the Gibson Best Jazz Guitarist of the Year and Best New Talent in the Jazziz Reader’s Poll. She was a nominee for the California Music Awards, the Oasis Awards, and the Gavin Contemporary Jazz Artist of the Year.

Cooling has performed with Joe HendersonStan GetzMark MurphyAl Jarreau, and Charlie Byrd among other luminaries. The Christmas Song, with Lee Ritenour, and her original single, It’s Feeling Like Christmas, complete her discography. She’s donating half the proceeds of her new song The Holiday’s On to Caminar.

Source: Wikipedia