Updated: Oct 23
This is part 1 of a 3 part series on mind and body. It is dedicated to monitoring your mental health now and beyond COVID-19. A healthy body is required for good mental health so part 2 discusses checking your physical health.
Read this series to help understand your current mental health status and start the journey towards optimising your mental health.
Part 1 encourages you to use a Mood tracker app either by using an online self assessment tool or by app. You will also find trusted information resources to help improve and maintain good mental health.
If you are persistently feeling low, distressed, worried or having symptoms you are worried about get some support or speak to someone:
1. You can refer yourself to Improving Access to Psychological Therapies (IAPT) if you live in England.
2. You can find out more about talking therapies and self help therapies (see the information resources section at the end of the article).
3. You can contact a Psychotherapist or counsellor directly.
4. You can speak to your GP.
*If you are feeling suicidal, thinking about harming yourself, distressed or having difficulty coping get urgent help*
If you are pregnant or have had a child within the last year, read our article about Mental Health during the antenatal and postnatal period .
The Mental Health Foundation informs us that "Good mental health is characterised by a person’s ability to fulfil a number of key functions and activities, including:
the ability to learn
the ability to feel, express and manage a range of positive and negative emotions
the ability to form and maintain good relationships with others
the ability to cope with and manage change and uncertainty."
Good mental health is achieved by:
Being in the best physical health possible by having sufficient sleep, undertaking regular but simple physical activity, eating nutritious food, limiting alcohol intake, avoiding recreational drugs and smoking, monitoring for health conditions and treating any health conditions.
Practicing self care.
Using social and spiritual support networks such as friends, family, hobby groups, clubs, religious groups, charities.
Obtaining medical support when required.
People with chronic health conditions are more likely to have a mental health problem as a consequence of living with their condition.
To optimise your mental health it's important to focus on the things you can have more control over and can improve. Set some simple goals that include with just 1 or 2 things you want to do and slowly include them in your daily, monthly or annual routine as required.
You can find helpful guidance from the Mental Health Foundation at the end of this article.
The mental health MOT is not intended for people who are undergoing or receiving treatment for a mental health condition.
Checking your mental health by tracking your mood
You can perform regular basic ‘checks’ of your mood which will help you recognise if there is a persistent downward trend or if you need to seek help and therefore enable you to take early action. Use an online assessment tool or you may prefer to us a mood tracking app on your smartphone.
Mood self-assessment online
This link will connect you to a Mood assessment questionnaire on NHS.UK that will take a few minutes to complete. The outcome of the assessment will guide you on whether any action needs to be taken. There aren't any published recommendations on the frequency that people should take this test. Taking this test at least every month is a decent timeframe.
Using a mood tracker app for self-care
A journal can be used to track your mood. Here are some apps that have been NHS approved or highly rated by Orcha for this purpose:
1. MyPossibleSelf: Mental Health
Cost: Free daily mood tracker, offers in-app Purchases.
My Possible Self is listed on the NHS apps library and has received with a high score of 76% from Orcha. MyPossibleSelf provides content to reduce stress, anxiety and low mood in 8 weeks. You can track your mood daily, understand the signs and symptoms to look out for and find practical steps to look after your own health.
Cost: Free with in-app purchases
Wysa is not listed on the NHS apps library but has received a high score of 96% from Orcha and won the Orcha Best App for Stress award in 2019. At this current time the app has scored 4.8* (out of possible 5*) from 606 ratings on the Apple store and 4.7* (out of 5*) from 44,418 ratings on Google Play. You can track your mood daily, book a session with a professional therapist and access a number of tools for stress, anxiety and depression.
Part 2 in our DIY mental health MOT series will focus on the basic physiological tests including blood tests you can take to rule out conditions that could affect your mood and energy levels.
10 Tips for looking after your Mental Health, Mental Health Foundation
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Photo of sleeping cat is by Kate Stone Matheson on Unsplash.