Taking stock of your mental health

By Nancy Truscott, Parish Nurse

Posted on February 4, 2018

Mental health is that invisible health we all appreciate but how often do we take stock? A friend of mine recently emailed and apologized for her short temper at our New Year’s Eve celebration.  “Huh?”  I replied. “I did not notice.”
But she felt the evening was less enjoyable. She talked about how she was feeling a few weeks earlier. I can appreciate and understand now the stress she was under. It was good to know. I wish I had known then.  
Let’s acknowledge that we do not feel uniformly mentally well. There are peaks and valleys in given days, seasons and transitions. We cannot assume that moments of energy, confidence and even happiness remain stable. We must do the hard work of examining ourselves, our reactions, and our strategies to improve our mental health.  Many of us keep track of the steps we take, our blood sugar level, our appetite, our blood pressure and pulse, but do we monitor our invisible health?
I believe there are habits that we can build. The first thing is to be honest with ourselves, like my friend did. Identify the dip in our health and talk about it to someone who really cares for us. Try to tackle the aggravating stresses in bite size pieces. What can reasonably be done to address them? We have a part to play.  We have some choices. There is always room for improvement. Be realistic though.  Stresses are usually slow in building and they can smoulder. People find different ways to address their mental health issues, some healthy and some not so.  
We must make time to study our invisible mental health. By doing this we are in a position to ask for help if we need it, and we are more tuned into the needs of others, like my friend. Reach out for help if you have concerns. Consult your loved ones and speak to your family doctor. Finally, remember all of your needs in your prayers, invisible and visible.
For mental health assistance, there are numerous resources. Here are a few:
DrugAndAlcoholHelpline.ca | 800-565-8603
MentalHealthHelpline.ca | 866-531-2600
ProblemGamblingHelpline.ca | 888-230-3505 
Kids’ HelpPhone: 800-668-6868
Telehealth Ontario: 866-797-0000
Your family practitioner.