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Mental Health

Understanding the Signs and Symptoms of Mental Health Issues

June 24, 2024

In today’s world, the conversation around mental health has gained significant momentum, yet many individuals still struggle to recognise the signs and symptoms within themselves or others. This article aims to provide a comprehensive exploration into understanding these crucial indicators, offering insights into various mental health issues that affect millions worldwide.

Factors that Affect Our Mental Health


Biological factors refer to internal physiological influences that are often not under our control. Examples of biological factors include the genes we inherit as well as medical health conditions.


Mental health conditions may be hereditary. It has been recognised that mental health conditions are most likely to run in families, suggesting strong genetic links.

Medical Health Conditions

Mental health conditions can also result from physical health conditions. When a person has a brain injury, brain defects or a physical health condition that relates to the brain, there is a high risk of developing mental health issues


Psychological factors refer to the mental and emotional aspects that can influence our mental state. An example of a psychological factor is our personality.


A person’s personality may impact their perception of their thoughts and emotions.

People who are more sociable and have higher self-esteem may be more resilient when they are faced with stressors as they would have access to stronger support.


Social factors often refer to the external environmental influences that can affect our mental well-being. Examples of social factors include life events, stressors and traumatic incidents.


Life events and stressors

Social factors such as the death of a loved one, job loss, divorce, financial hardship etc are often associated with mental health issues

Impact of Mental Health Conditions on the Community, Individuals, and their Families

According to findings from the Singapore Mental Health Study 2016:

“One in seven in Singapore has experienced a mental health issue in their lifetime but more than three-quarters did not seek any professional help. Most of them do not seek help due to the stigma associated with mental health conditions”


Mental health conditions can result in significant changes in an individual’s emotion, thinking or behaviour (or even a combination of these). This often leads to significant and persistent challenges in one’s everyday life. Examples include disruption to daily activities (e.g. work, school, social activities) and isolation from family and friends.


Mental health conditions can also have an impact on the families of persons with mental health issues.  Families coping with the changes in the behaviour, thinking and emotions of their loved one can lead to increased stress, helplessness, frustration and anger. This will in turn strain the family relationship. It is important for families to be understanding and supportive towards each other during this challenging period.

ABCS Signs and Symptoms of Mental Health Issues

The signs and symptoms exhibited by persons with mental health issues can be identified broadly via ABCS

It is important to note that these are only examples of common signs and symptoms that could be exhibited by persons with mental health issues.

In some instances, persons with mental health issues may not present with apparent symptoms. Conversely, these symptoms do not directly indicate the presence of mental health issues.

A - Appearance

A person who appears to have poor hygiene or malnourished with poor mobility and preoccupied in their own thoughts may suggest that the person may have some form of mental health issue.

B - Behaviour

A person who exhibits the behaviour of harming self or others, being paranoid, disinhibited and socially isolated, may suggest that the person has a mental health issue.

C - Cognition

A person with a mental health issue may experience cognitive decline. They may have trouble developing a plan, remembering day-to-day functions and often misplace things. There are also other symtomp as follows:

  • Time and Disorientation; can’t differentiate between day and night
  • Unable to Recognise Familiar Places
  • Feeling Lost and Confused
  • Unable to Recognise Family Members
  • Poor Short-Term Memory and Forgetfulness

S - Speech

Signs that a person may have a mental health issue include disorganised speech, gesturing to self, or speaking in agitated manner. Person also experience some other things for example:

  • Disorganised or Delayed Speech
  • Answers are not relevant to the questions
  • Speaking in Agitated Manner
  • Gesturing to self

Supporting Persons Displaying ABCS Symptoms of Mental Health Issues

Respect is the most important approach when supporting someone with or without mental health; treat the person like how you would like to be treated. You can also support in some ways:

Stay calm

Use simple language and be sensitive with words and questions

  • Be respectful and polite
  • Find out their concerns
  • Observe environment for any safety concerns
  • Encourage them to seek help as soon as possible


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