When to Take Action

Don’t wait until it is an emergency, a crisis or life-threatening situation. Mental illness and addictions are treatable at any of the stages described below. Waiting to take action or get help can exact a physical, emotional, and financial toll. Call us at 865-584-9125 or email us at

Stages of Mental Health Conditions

Stage 1

Mild Symptoms and Warning Signs

At Stage 1, a person begins to show symptoms of a mental health condition, but is still able to maintain the ability to function at home, work or school—although perhaps not as easily as before they started to show symptoms. Often there is a sense that something is “not right.”

Stage 2

Symptoms Increase in Frequency and Severity and Interfere with Life Activities and Roles

At Stage 2, it usually becomes obvious that something is wrong. A person’s symptoms may become stronger and last longer or new symptoms may start appearing on top of existing ones, creating something of a snowball effect. Performance at work or school will become more difficult, and a person may have trouble keeping up with family duties, social obligations or personal responsibilities.

Stage 3

Symptoms Worsen with Relapsing and Recurring Episodes Accompanied by Serious Disruption in Life Activities and Roles

At Stage 3, symptoms have continued to increase in severity, and many symptoms are often taking place at the same time. A person may feel as though they are losing control of their life and the ability to fill their roles at home, work or school.

Stage 4

Symptoms are Persistent and Severe and Have Jeopardized One’s Life

By Stage 4, the combination of extreme, prolonged and persistent symptoms and impairment often results in development of other health conditions and has the potential to turn into a crisis event like unemployment, hospitalization, homelessness or even incarceration. In the worst cases, untreated mental illnesses can lead to loss of life an average of 25 years early.

The Mental Health Association offers all services to eligible persons regardless of race, color, national origin or disability.

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