When to get a mental health screeningMental health · May 21, 2021
What is mental illness?
The most complex organ in the human body is the brain.1 When the brain doesn’t work the way it should, the result can be mental illness, which can interfere with relationships, affect a person’s ability to function on a day-to-day basis and can lead to social isolation.1
Learning about mental health and how to recognize the symptoms of mental illness can help provide an early warning that it is time for a mental health screening. Having your mental health assessed and taking action at an early stage can help reduce the severity of a developing illness and, perhaps, even prevent a major mental illness altogether.2
Recognizing mental illness
The symptoms of mental illness vary depending on the type of mental disorder, but common symptoms include:3
Anger, frustration, irritability
Avoiding social activities
Dramatic mood swings
Excessive fear or worrying
Fatigue and lack of energy
Feelings of guilt or worthlessness
Major changes in personality
Significant changes in eating or sleeping habits
If you or someone you know has experienced any of the symptoms listed above, it may be time to consider a mental health screening.3
What is a mental health screening?
A mental health screening is a way of providing your doctor with a more complete picture of your emotional state.4 It assesses how well you are able to think, reason and remember things. The screening may be done by your family doctor or by a specialist such as a psychiatrist or psychologist or by another qualified professional.
The screening will include questions that will help determine how you think and feel.4 Sometimes screenings also include lab tests such as blood tests or urine tests to help identify possible physical causes for the symptoms.4
If the screening results indicate that there may be a problem, a mental health counsellor can provide support to people experiencing mental or emotional distress.5 There are a number of techniques that these professionals can use to help people manage their emotional and mental health. One of those techniques is known as mindfulness.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a way of thinking about life that focuses on living in the present rather than dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.6 Mindfulness is a type of meditation that helps you focus on what you’re feeling in the moment without trying to analyze it or judge it.7 Practicing mindfulness meditation can help you direct your attention away from problem solving, planning and negative thoughts and help you engage with the world around you.7 The goal of mindfulness is to identify those things that can help you achieve mental peace.6
When help is needed
The nationwide team of healthcare professionals at TELUS Health Care Centres is available to help you understand and assess your mental health.
1. Understanding Mental Illness. Canadian Mental Health Association. Available online at https://toronto.cmha.ca/understanding-mental-illness/
2. Warning Signs of Mental Illness. American Psychiatric Association. Available online at https://www.psychiatry.org/patients-families/warning-signs-of-mental-illness
3. Mental Health Screening. MedlinePlus. Available online at https://medlineplus.gov/lab-tests/mental-health-screening/
4. Mental Health Assessmen. MyHealth.Alberta. Available online at https://myhealth.alberta.ca/health/pages/conditions.aspx?hwid=aa79756&lang=en-ca
5. Leonard J. 2020. How Can Mental Health Counselors Help?. MedicalNewsToday. Available online at https://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/mental-health-counselor
6. Mindfulness. The Greater Good Science Center at the University of California, Berkeley. Available online at https://greatergood.berkeley.edu/topic/mindfulness/definition
7. Mindfulness Exercises. Mayo Clinic. 2020. Available online at https://www.mayoclinic.org/healthy-lifestyle/consumer-health/in-depth/mindfulness-exercises/art-20046356