Here’s a scenario that you may have experienced. You notice that your vision has been a bit blurry recently. Yes, it happens occasionally when you’ve worked on the computer for a long time, or you try to read that novel on your smartphone. But this time the blurriness is more persistent.

What do you do? You’d probably set up an appointment with an opthamologist to get your vision checked.

Here’s another scenario you may have experienced. You notice that you’ve been a bit anxious recently. Yes, it happens occasionally when there’s a crucial deadline at work, or when you drink that extra cup of coffee. But this time the feelings of worry and/or fear are more persistent.

What do you do? Many people would do nothing except hope that the problem goes away.

Exercising with a child

It’s time to Start Treating Mental Health Like We Treat Physical Health

From the stigma that surrounds it, to a lack of understanding of its causes and symptoms, there are many reasons why we don’t seek mental health treatment like we do treatment for physical issues.

But there are also many reasons why you should try to change that. First, there’s the mind-body connection. Many physical issues have their roots in your mental condition. The migraines that you solve with painkillers may be at least partly rooted in a mental health issue. Second, you need to support your mental and physical health for your overall well-being.

Here are just a few ways to start treating your mental health like you do your physical health.

Start prioritizing your mental health treatment like you do your physical health If there’s a physical problem, you get it checked.

If you miss a couple days of work because of the flu, you’d probably visit the doctor for a remedy.

But if you miss a couple days of work because you can’t get out of bed for no apparent reason, you might just call in and tell them you have the flu.

Instead, if there’s a mental or emotional issue that affects your day-to-day life, consider getting help from a mental health professional.

Don’t expect immediate results.

When you go to the doctor for your flu symptoms, you know you’re not going to feel better the moment you start your prescription.

Yet, with a mental health issue, it can be exacerbated because you tried a solution for your anxiety that you found on the internet, but you still feel the same way.

Just like your physical ailments take time to heal, so too will your mental ailments, perhaps even more so due to their complexity.

Support your mental health even if there isn’t an apparent issue.

Every year, you book an appointment for a physical exam. There’s nothing particularly wrong, but you know the importance of early diagnosis and prevention versus waiting until symptoms are apparent and need treatment.

Early diagnosis and and taking preventative steps are at least as valuable for your mental health. Unlike physical issues, mental health symptoms can be difficult to identify. There’s nothing wrong with regularly visiting a psychological therapist who may help you understand an issue that you didn’t realize existed.

Get help when there is an apparent issue, but no apparent cause.

When you feel a twinge in your knee, you know enough to start going easy on it at least until the sensation goes away, even if you’re not sure what caused the twinge.

Again, the triggers of mental health issues are usually not as easily identified as the causes of physical ailments. When you notice you’ve been unduly irritable recently, not only might you do nothing to avoid the triggers, you may not even understand what the triggers are, or that they even exist. After all, you’ve just been in a bad mood recently, right?

Getting help when you notice a change in behaviour can help you better understand the problem, its causes and how to manage it.

Of course, we’re not going to start treating mental health problems more like physical problems overnight. It might even be impossible due to the differences in their nature. But the more we are able to approach and support our mental health with the ease that we do the same for our physical health, the better our overall health will be.

If you would like to learn more, please contact us here at BRCook Psychological Services and schedule an appointment.

Bruce R. Cook

I have been a practicing mental health professional for the past 26 years and I have worked in various public and private practice settings throughout the GTA and Ontario. The populations that I work with are adults 18-64 and I have extensive experience working with both individuals on various presenting problems, and also as a couples’ therapist.

I am a certified solution-focused therapist, and I integrate a number of theoretical orientations into my practice including cognitive-behavioural, humanistic, psychodynamic, reality focused therapy. In essence, my experience and style have been dynamically moved into an eclectic approach that best seems to fit the client and their personal needs.
Bruce R. Cook