Unfortunately, unlike regular medical care, where you’re encouraged to get an annual physical checkup, mental health care is often treated differently. Many people don’t seek help until a problem develops, but it’s OK to check on your mental health as a preventive measure, just as you would schedule a checkup with your doctor. Below, are some of the common topics you might cover:
Sleep and appetite
Changes in sleep and appetite can be early symptoms of a mental health disorder. Similarly, if medical problems or life changes — a stressful new job, a breakup — disrupt these essential functions, mental health can suffer. While it may feel like a chicken-and-egg scenario to discover whether a life event is causing the mental health issue or vice versa, healthy sleep and appetite are important to overall well-being and, if there are significant changes to either, may indicate a mental health issue.
Mood disorder symptoms
Mood disorder symptoms might include sadness, irritability, loss of interest in usual activities, fatigue or extremely high energy, feelings of hopelessness or helplessness, or even thoughts of hurting yourself for others.
People with anxiety may experience symptoms such as: fear, panic, rapid breathing or heart palpitations. If there is a history of trauma, they may experience intrusive thoughts or nightmares about the trauma or feel constantly on guard. Anxiety can also cause people to engage in repetitive routines and checking behaviours.
Other mental health disorders
Symptoms such as hallucinations, paranoia, confused thinking or memory problems can reflect other disorders of perception or cognitive functioning. These disorders are less common but tend to be more severe and can greatly impact a person’s life — let your provider know if you have these experiences.
Assess your use of alcohol or drugs, including how often and how much you use, and whether you’ve ever had any withdrawal symptoms.
Stressors and coping skills
Things such as work, friends and family, money and spiritual needs are also commonly assessed to identify areas for intervention. Assess your current coping strategies and their effectiveness, so you can make improvements if necessary.
Our medical culture has only begun to turn the corner — to treat mental health as seriously as physical health — it’s just as important to be proactive with your mental health as with your physical.
If you have concerns about any of the above please contact your EAP Assist Counsellor