It’s time for a radical and immediate change of our understanding of the signs that may mean someone is suffering a mental health disorder. Right now, we need to stop the blaming, shaming, and judgment that are too often our first response to behavior that is frustrating, angering, confusing, or scary. We need to clean the lens through which we look at others’ thoughts, feelings, and behaviors that have been clouded by years of misunderstanding, myths, and lack of information.

Here is your new lens: When you know or see someone whose thoughts, feelings, or behaviors (how signs of mental illness manifest) bother you, take a beat, and then think “I wonder if he/she needs help.” If each of us does this, and shares this idea, this shift – this change of lenses – would create a massive wave of compassion that would save lives.

Mental health disorders are one of the worst public health crises of our time. Second only to the Covid pandemic, and because of the pandemic, mental illness as a public health crisis is soaring. Under normal circumstances, 50% of us will develop a diagnosable mental health disorder in our lifetime. With mental health crises surging during the pandemic, this number must now be an underrepresentation. Fully 50% of young adults alone were suffering an anxiety disorder last June. One if four had seriously considered suicide.

We have no time to waste. We never did. Our young children, adolescents, young adults, parents, and seniors are all in need of our compassionate vigilance. They are relying on US to recognize when their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors might mean they need help. They need us to be their front line in recognizing and responding to their mental health needs. And we can do that.

The I’ve Got You Project online gives everyone access to hundreds of signs that may mean someone is suffering from a mental health disorder and needs your help. It gives many suggestions for how to provide help effectively. It is extensive yet segmented into life stages and risk factors that will help you quickly identify whether someone you care about might be struggling. It is your go-to quick-guide.

Now, you’ll know that your roommate who never does her share of chores, skips classes, and drinks too much might need help. You’ll know that the co-worker who is maltreating you and fighting with colleagues, whose daughter is ill, and marriage is failing may be suffering a mental health crisis.

Knowledge is power. It lights the dark places where misunderstanding breeds mistrust and animosity. I’ve Got You empowers you. Using and sharing the project creates a movement to send stigma where it belongs – to the past. Let’s use it and share it. It’s time – it’s past time – to end the scourge.