WHEN WAS YOUR LAST MENTAL HEALTH CHECK UP?
In so many areas of our health, we recognize that prevention is key: we teach our children to wash their hands and brush their teeth, and we make the annual trip to the doctor. So why is the mental health check up not common practice?
The big reason is that too many of us don’t regard mental health as urgent or as consequential as our physical health, or we feel a stigma around seeking professional expertise for mental health wellness.
But don’t let this stop you! Reasons why mental health check ups are important:
Stress is encouraged and normalized in our culture and has serious mental and physical health consequences. Professionals overseeing mental health check-ups can monitor stress levels and make recommendations depending on need.You can establish a baseline of functioning over time with the same therapist. This is particularly helpful in catching illnesses early.
Mental health is similar to physical health in that you can increase strength and resiliency by doing mental workouts (like mindfulness, meditation, learning how to resolve conflict , etc.) Check ups can provide tools and activities that may have a positive impact on your overall wellbeing.
Most of us are carrying unresolved pain from the past. This could be a bullying or weighty experiences in childhood (involving parents, peers, perhaps major arguments with friends). Unresolved pain is like an invisible weight you carry; you may be so accustomed to it that you don’t realize its impact. It can also impact your current relationships in negative ways. Most people who work through “stuck pain” report feeling like a weight has been taken off of them, or that it feels life changing.
Mental pain is the same as physical pain and has lifelong consequences if not treated. Being proactive goes a long way in preventing serious illnesses.
Even if you’re ready to schedule a mental health check up, your insurance provider may not cover it. So then what? I suggest you advocate for this critical, preventative care by:
Talking to your insurance provider and employer to advocate they include this in their services.
Research peer companies/business/organizations that provide more comprehensive mental health coverage, and share this with your employer.
Contact your elected representatives to advocate for better mental health coverage.
Become involved with NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness), an organization that advocates for mental health services.
Talk to your companies about providing more benefits for mental health as they do physical health. Afterall, if you just got in a big fight with your significant other, how great is your work productivity?
Making annual mental health check ups a priority can be life-changing, even life-saving.