4 Ways to Check-In On Your Own Mental Health


4 Ways to Check-In On Your Own Mental Health

Anxiety.Clinical Depression.Mental Health
Dr. Stephanie Smith, PsyD
By Dr. Stephanie Smith, PsyD
Sept 10, 2019
4 Ways to Check-In On Your Own Mental Health

How would you describe your mental health?

How often do you slow down and assess the state of your mental health?

Most of us try to be aware of the state of our physical health. We might take vitamins to ensure we get enough nutrients, weigh ourselves on a regular basis, go to the dentist every six months, and keep track of our daily step count on our digital watch. But how many of us keep close tabs on the state of our mental health?

A recent study by the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill found that one in five American adults experience mental illness in a given year. That’s 46.6 million people who suffer from depression, anxiety, or another form of mental illness each and every year.

They also found that one in five American children will experience severe mental illness at some point in their lives. That’s over 20% of our nation’s children who will feel the effects of a mental health disorder in years to come.

So, what can we do to have a good understanding of the state of our own mental health and address any concerns that come up?

Here are four steps to assessing your own state of mental health.

Preparing to Assess Your Mental Health

The first step in evaluating your own mental health is to actually slow down long enough to ask yourself some honest questions — and then answer them. This probably isn’t something you can do while writing emails for work, checking Facebook, or listening to a lecture at school.

Instead, try setting aside a few minutes of quiet, uninterrupted time when you can hear your own thoughts. This could be in your bedroom, in a park, or a quiet space removed from distractions.

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Questions to Ask Yourself

Once you’ve cleared some time in your schedule, ask yourself a few pointed questions to assess your mental health. These questions might include:

  • How would I describe my mood overall?
  • Am I happy? Anxious? Worried? You might find that you need several words to accurately describe your mood.
  • Has my mood changed at all over the last six months to a year? How?
  • Has my level of stress and/or anxiety changed recently? Can I pinpoint why the change occurred?
  • How am I functioning at work? In social relationships? Within my family?
  • Am I able to perform my duties and responsibilities like I always have? Has there been a change in my ability to function in my different roles in life?
  • Do I find pleasure in the things I normally do?
  • Has anything about my thinking changed? Am I having problems with my memory? Confusion? Concentration?
  • Have I experienced suicidal ideation (having thoughts or desires to harm yourself) or homicidal ideation (having thoughts or desires to harm someone else) in the last few months?

How Do You Manage Depressed Mood, Anxiety, or Other Mental Health Struggles?

Depressed mood, high levels of anxiety, and other mental health problems can make it difficult for folks to be successful in all areas of life. Mental illness can make relationships tough to navigate and work hard to manage. In assessing the state of your mental health, be sure to look at the various roles you play (partner, parent, friend, employee) and take note of how you are doing in each of those roles.

Is there anything getting in the way of how well you are performing the tasks in your life? Ask yourself the following questions:

  • What strategies do I use to manage low mood and/or anxiety when they come up?
  • Are these strategies working?
  • Are these strategies healthy (healthy = walking, yoga, reading, playing chess; versus unhealthy = gambling, over-eating, drinking alcohol, using tobacco or other drugs)?

Don’t Be Afraid to Get Help

If you need assistance finding a licensed mental health provider, try asking your:

  • Primary care provider
  • Teacher/local school counselor
  • Health insurance provider — You can also ask about coverage for mental health services
  • Human resources office
  • Trusted friends, family or neighbors

If you are having suicidal thoughts, please call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or go to your nearest emergency room for immediate help.

Dr. Stephanie Smith, PsyD

Dr. Stephanie Smith, PsyD

Dr. Stephanie Smith, PsyD, earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from CU-Boulder, and her master’s and doctoral degrees in clinical psychology from the University of Denver. She has experience working in hospitals, primary care, nursing homes and community mental health settings. She has been the owner and clinical director of her practice in Erie since 2006.

The information on this site is generalized and is not medical advice. It is intended to supplement, not substitute for, the expertise and judgment of your healthcare professional. Always seek the advice of your healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. Never disregard seeking advice or delay in seeking treatment because of something you have read on our site. RxSaver makes no warranty as to the accuracy, reliability or completeness of this information.

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