Mental Health Checklist for Young Professionals
The world is facing a mental health crisis, with a rising number of cases of depression, anxiety, and similar disorders affecting our emotional and psychological wellbeing. Young people are especially vulnerable to the situation, with adolescents and young adults more likely to develop mental health issues.
Because mental issues have become so commonplace, therapists and counselors are working nonstop to help reduce the crisis through new strategies. Part of that effort is raising awareness of these mental health issues, usually through advocacy or creating educational resources for public consumption.
Here are some questions you can ask yourself in order to check your mental health
Do you experience feelings of stress?
Stress is a common human reaction that induces emotional and physical tension. Common causes of stress would be career instability, financial insecurity, social situations, high-pressure situations, times of uncertainty, or drastic changes in one’s personal life.
Emotional stress will typically come with feelings of frustration, nervousness, or anger. Stress acts as a vital indicator that something has gone wrong and requires immediate attention. On a biological level, stress is a fight-or-flight instinct that keeps the mind on alert. If you’re stressed out, there are several steps you can take to manage the problem: healthy eating, exercise, sleep, relaxation, or socialization are common methods of management.
Are you dealing with physical tension?
Stress isn’t just a mental state; it can manifest through physical symptoms such as:
- Body aches and pains.
- Increased heart rate.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- High blood pressure.
- Muscle tension or soreness.
Do you have frequent feelings of anxiety or fearfulness?
Anxiety is an emotional state of fear or dread. Like stress, anxiety is a fight or flight response meant to alert the person to potential danger. Usually, fearful stimuli is something that the person is dreading, such as social interaction or a job change. For the anxious person, the cause of worry is often an event that will happen in the future. It’s common for an anxious person to have feelings of panic, doom, or a lack of control.
Do you have restlessness or trouble sleeping?
Aside from the emotional dread that comes with anxiety, there are some physical symptoms that you should be aware of:
- Restlessness or trouble sleeping
- Avoidance behavior
- Trembling and shaking
- Heavy breathing
- Panic attacks
It’s fairly common for anxious people to avoid situations where the anxiety could worsen, especially if they are prone to panic attacks. Anxiety is strongly related to phobia-related disorders – some develop an irrational fear of something that most people would consider ordinary. Those with an anxiety disorder will excessively worry about doing an activity or interacting with someone. Whatever the root cause of the anxiety, it can be treated through psychotherapy or medication.
Are you experiencing depression or poor self-esteem?
Depression is a serious mental condition that results in chronic feelings of sadness, worthlessness, or hopelessness. It’s often overwhelming, with some developing suicidal thoughts or impulsive behaviors. Aside from having a low mood, depression can become a mental disorder that affects one’s self-esteem and ability to enjoy life. Depression is linked to drastic life changes such as a death in the family or an abusive situation. Other causes include a genetic predisposition or a flawed mood regulatory system in the brain.
Symptoms of depression include the following:
- Feelings of sadness or emptiness.
- A lack of hope or motivation.
- Low self-esteem or self-worth.
- A loss of interest or pleasure in most activities.
- Sleep disturbance.
- A lack of concentration.
- Sudden weight gain or weight loss.
- Poor appetite.
- Suicidal thoughts or ideation.
- Tiredness and fatigue.
If you’re experiencing these symptoms on a regular basis, please find help from a mental health professional.
Do you have a substance abuse problem?
Substance abuse often goes hand-in-hand with mental health issues. Those with a mental illness are likely to turn to drugs or alcohol to self-medicate. Those with an addiction are also likely to develop mental instability from the change in brain chemistry. Addictions often lead to a lack of self-control, a sensation that’s frequently a cause of stress, sadness, and anxiousness.
Here are the common symptoms to look for in addictive behavior:
- Inability to stop consuming drugs or alcohol, even for short periods of time.
- Problems at work or school.
- Poor relationships with friends, family, and colleagues.
- A lack of energy.
- Drastic changes in behavior.
- Bad spending habits.
Do you have a different type of mental disorder?
Symptoms of a disorder will be dependent on what the disorder is; for example, schizophrenia is a type of psychosis where the person experiences hallucinations, delusions, and paranoia. Those with bipolar disorder may display manic mood swings. If you have a family member with a disorder, you should especially be on the lookout for identifiers.
What’s Causing the Crisis?
Mental health issues are caused by a variety of factors, including trauma, abuse, addiction, poverty, environmental stress, extreme life changes, and social isolation.
Researchers have found that increased time on social media can negatively impact mental health, with Instagram users more likely to develop self-image problems, or even eating disorders.
Poor mental health is also strongly linked to poverty; a lack of monetary security or employment can result in fragmented social issues, a lack of rest or offline, and stress from an inability to be self-supporting.
If you or someone you know needs help, first consult with your GP who can direct you to the services that will be right for you.
If you are a business owner or manage staff, you can also check out how to prepare a mental health first aid plan for your workplace.