After reading and responding to some of your threads, I have opted to start a thread which provides information for those who are concerned over their own or others' mental health - - and want to take a proactive, and alternative approach (no medications involved).
I am finishing up my first year of graduate work in the child-clinical psyc area, and what I've learned can help others. Below, I share my opinions, and encourage others to do the same. I personally believe we need to find a way to restructure the mental health field so that individuals' seeking help are given the most up-to-date and empirically-based information (safe and effective). This will transfer control from the practitioner to the individual - so that the individual themselves is able to take an active role in their own treatment!
Here are some things I would suggest (I'm about 4 years away from my doctorate (by no means an expert), but I think these are simple bits of knowledge everyone should know):
1. Eat Healthy - eat foods that fuel your body rather than slow it down. Stay away from caffeine if possible. Be aware that foods other than coffee and soft drinks contain caffeine. Stimulants should be avoided - especially "energy drinks" and "weight loss pills".
2. Exercise Regularly - I can't stress this enough, take time for yourself by making your body stronger. It is human nature to exert energy and regular exercise has repeatedly been demonstrated to successful prevent and treat mental illness.
3. Get Adequate Amounts of Sleep - Our "sleep" needs change throughout our lifespan. Try adding hours to your sleep schedule, even if you think you're already getting enough! Also, try training your body to naturally wake up in the morning by using the tool of natural sunlight (open your shades to savor the morning sun). For those suffering from sleep problems: when you can't fall asleep at night, get up! Staying in bed only allows your mind to reel and stress, get up and do something productive (don't watch tv - do something physical that also decreases stress for the next day --like emptying the dishwasher or folding clothes). Use sleep meds as a last resort.
4. Reward Yourself - Each of us have our own struggles, the important thing to note is that resilience can and does happen! If you are having a difficult time and sometimes lose hope, allow yourself to enjoy even small accomplishments. This may mean patting yourself on the back or spending time doing a hobby you really enjoy. GIVE YOURSELF CREDIT, YOU DESERVE IT.
5. Seek Help - Confide in those who are trustworthy. Don't feel ashamed of the way you are feeling, MENTAL ILLNESS IS COMMON (fact!!) and those who I have seen thrive are those who seek help. Furthermore, "help" may come in many forms - - it may be counseling, medications, personal coping strategies, etc. The important piece here is that you need to learn about yourself, your situation, and your goals. Most of us have no clue about who we are and where we are going.
Alright, now it's your turn...let's start a trend to prevent diagnosis and medicinal treatments! (not against them, just think they are over- and mis-used!!!