Understanding Mental Wellness Distress: Exploring the IN SAD CAGES Framework for Early Indicators

CW Fong
3 min readMay 15

I walked away from yesterday’s Mental Wellness Ambassador Training even more convinced of the challenge we face as a society. The trainer shared two statistics that stuck in my mind: “1 in 3 youths reported facing mental health distress, but only 1 in 10 parents know the signs”.

I therefore feel to successfully address mental wellness issues in our community, we need a widely awareness of the IN SAD CAGES framework. This acronym represents a set of key indicators that may suggest mental wellness distress. By examining these indicators, one can gain insights into a person’s emotional well-being and potential signs of distress. Here is a summary of the IN SAD CAGES framework:

I — Isolation: One of the fundamental signs of mental wellness distress is isolation or withdrawal from social activities and relationships. If an individual consistently avoids social interactions, becomes distant from friends and family, or displays a general disinterest in connecting with others, it may indicate a potential issue.

N — Negative Thoughts: Negative thinking patterns, such as constant self-criticism, persistent pessimism, or a distorted perception of reality, can be indicators of mental distress. If someone frequently experiences negative thoughts and struggles to maintain a positive outlook, it may suggest a need for support.

S — Sleep Disturbances: Sleep disturbances, including insomnia, excessive sleeping, or irregular sleep patterns, can be associated with mental health problems. Changes in sleep duration, quality, or difficulty falling asleep can reflect underlying distress or emotional imbalance.

A — Appetite and Weight Changes: Significant changes in appetite, such as a sudden increase or decrease in food intake, as well as noticeable weight gain or loss, can be indicators of mental wellness distress. Disruptions in eating habits often accompany emotional struggles and can impact physical well-being.

D — Decreased Concentration: Difficulty concentrating, staying focused, or completing tasks may signify mental wellness distress. If someone consistently struggles with maintaining attention, memory recall, or following through on…

CW Fong

I blog therefore I am. Passionate about #Singapore, #Leadership, #PublicRelations, #SocialMedia, #Marketing, and #PersonalDevelopment. Above all, I do no evil