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How to Make a Mental Health Checklist

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According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, 4 in 10 U.S. adults actually reported symptoms of anxiety or depressive disorder during the pandemic, which is acutely distressing when you take into account the rate was 1 in 10 the previous year.

And while it’s imperative to seek professional care if you’re truly concerned about your well-being, there are some strategies that we can use to support ourselves when we are struggling. Joining us today is Mihaela Vincze, public health expert for nonprofit Transamerica Institute®, to discuss how we can create a Mental Health Checklist to assist ourselves.

So, to begin, “What is a Mental Health Checklist”?

Mihaela Vincze:

A Mental Health Checklist is a list of strategies or activities that can help provide us with the motivation we need to navigate emotions during difficult times. According to Healthline, creating a list of the ways you like to care for your physical, mental, and emotional health can not only help to overcome challenging times, but can also improve your mental health long term. That being said, this tool is not intended to replace professional mental health care.

Al Waller:

Agreed, anyone who is concerned about their mental health or well-being should seek professional care. Now, what sort of methods or activities might be found in a Mental Health Checklist?

Mihaela Vincze:

These five go-to strategies are a good starting point: exercise, hygiene, meditation, socialization, and hobbies. They can help us cope with negative feelings because they are forms of self-care that can lift us up and break the cycle of negative thinking.

Al Waller:

Those are some great examples. So then, how do we go about creating a Mental Health Checklist?

Mihaela Vincze:

Start by identifying the various habits, activities, or strategies that are helpful for improving your mood or emotions. These strategies are quite personal and vary from person to person.

Al Waller:

That makes perfect sense. So, how would someone tailor their checklist to fit their personal needs?

Mihaela Vincze:

Take time to reflect on your individual experience and note which activities improve or worsen your headspace. If you feel peaceful when cooking, then maybe add a nutritious home-cooked meal to your list. Some people might notice that they tend to struggle with keeping their homes clean and organized when they are struggling mentally. So, perhaps adding small household chores would be helpful. Also, identifying which physical activities you enjoy most is key – whether it is running, walking, yoga, or a team sport, any exercise that you enjoy would be a great addition to your checklist.

Al Waller:

I like that Mihaela, and as mentioned previously, using positive reinforcement as a means of individualizing your personal Mental Health Checklist increases the likelihood of success.

Now, given that these tools are intended only as a way to help lift ourselves up when we’re feeling down, what can listeners do if they have serious concerns over the state of their mental health?

Mihaela Vincze:

It is important that you seek professional care if you are experiencing persistent mental health struggles. The SAMSHA Helpline is available 24/7 and can help provide referrals for treatment. This can be reached at 1-800-662-HELP.

Al Waller:

Well, Mihaela, many thanks to you again for joining us and for sharing these valuable resources and insights. This has been another episode of ClearPath Radio – Your Roadmap to Health & Wealth. I’m your host Al Waller on WYPR, your NPR News Station.

Until the next time– keep it together & thanks for listening.

Clearpath is paid for by The Transamerica Institute.

Al Waller is a long time native of the Baltimore area. He entered the field of Human Resources Management starting as an HR Generalist with PwC (Pricewaterhouse-Coopers). This marked the beginning of a 30 year career that advanced into the management level for locally and globally based corporations. His primary area of expertise has focused on but not limited to: Talent Acquisition /Retention, Employee Relations as well as Training & Development.
Mihaela is a public health expert for nonprofit Transamerica Institute