How do I know when I should be concerned about myself?

The above question is one we hear often. It can be challenging to determine what are normal, healthy reactions to stressors and when we should be concerned about ourselves.

It can also be easy to miss warning signs. We can become so focused on managing our daily demands and stressors, that we don't stop to check-in with ourselves until it's too late.

If you are dealing with a difficult situation, or feel like you are struggling, that is the perfect time to seek help--even if you are managing. There is an expression in the wellness field, "You might be managing to carry it, but doesn't mean it's not heavy." When we are carrying heavy burdens, it is helpful to have someone who can help share the load. Often, the best time to seek counselling, is before you need it.

There are several good ways to determine if you are at risk. Two of those options are covered below the Mental Health Continuum Model, and self-screening tests. Please note, the information below is intended for educational purposes only. A proper diagnosis can only be obtained through a qualified medical or mental health professional.

The Mental Health Continuum Mode

The Mental Health Commission of Canada and The Working Mind have created a resource based on the Mental Health Continuum Model to help people identify where they are on the continuum. Please see their website for more information. The Continumm Model recognizes that health is dynamic and changes across various situations. Also, there are different indicators that we can use to determine where we are on the continuum.

  • Green or Healthy represents the ideal state of health
  • Yellow or Reacting is the equivalent of a bad day. By doing some self-care or using some of our coping skills, we a move through the challenge and return to green. At this stage, most self-directed approaches, or spending time with family or friends is usually enough to help us manage.
  • We cross into Orange or Injured when our symptoms increase and/or continue for a prolonged period (2-3 weeks). At this stage, our challenges may be visible to others. We may make more mistakes, start to withdraw, or be more short tempered. This stage is a good time to seek professional support.
  • Red or Ill is when the symptoms have become so pronounced that functional limitations are occurring. We struggle to maintain aspects of our daily lives. Different aspects of our lives are negatively impacted.

The chart below was created by Mental Health Commission of Canada and The Working Mind. If you have several responses at (or above) Reacting, you may want to connect with a qualified medical or mental health professional to discuss your concerns.

the mental health continuum model

                                                    Image credit: Mental Health Commission of Canada and The Working Mind

Mental Health Self-Screening Tests

Self-screening tests can help provide insights into what we are experiencing. There are many self-screening tools available. We have listed a few below. As with the Continuum Model above, self-screening tests are not diagnostic tools and should only be used for educational purposes. Proper diagnosis can only be obtained through a qualified medical or mental health expert.

Non-English screening self-tests