TAMPA, Fla. — As difficult as mental illness is for people to talk about, Bay Area therapist Justin McClain said it's just as difficult for people to pinpoint. 

Dr. McClain said the complexity of mental illness can make it challenging to help someone, especially if they're not seeking help. That's when Dr. Harold Shinitsky says they rely on family members having the courage to make that call.

“As a loved one, I have to make a decision between, am I willing to live with the potential anger of this person for engaging the authorities, or am I willing to live with the guilt of taking no actions and something horrible happens,” Dr. Shinitsky said. 

Isolation and a sense of hopelessness are just two of the signs that could signal a mental breakdown. 

On an individual level, Dr. McLean offers what he calls a five, four, three, two, one exercise to help control stress. 

1. What are 5 things you can see?

Look for small details such as a pattern on the ceiling, the way light reflects off a surface, or an object you never noticed.

2. What are 4 things you can feel?

Notice the sensation of clothing on your body, the sun on your skin, or the feeling of the chair you are sitting in. Pick up an object and examine its weight, texture, and other physical qualities.

3. What are 3 things you can hear?

Pay special attention to the sounds your mind has tuned out, such as a ticking clock, distant traffic, or trees blowing in the wind.

4. What are 2 things you can smell?

Try to notice smells in the air around you, like an air freshener or freshly mowed grass. You may also look around for something that has a scent, such as a flower, food, or an unlit candle.

5. What is 1 thing you can taste?

Carry gum, candy, or small snacks for this step. Pop one in your mouth and focus your attention closely on the flavors.