The COVID-19 pandemic has triggered a worldwide health and economic crisis. Beyond physical safety and finances, the pandemic also affects the emotional and psychological well-being of some individuals, leading to a number of cases of mental health concerns.
The importance of assessing one’s mental health is stressed during the #YouMatter online forum of Araneta City during the World Mental Health Day (October 10). The forum highlighted the need to identify and understand whether an individual is already in need of professional help.
In the forum, psychologist Riyan Portuguez (from the Psychological Association of the Philippines, LGBT Psychology Special Interest Group) presented a Mental Health Spectrum that serves as a guide in assessing one’s mental disposition.
Here’s how to use the Mental Health Spectrum: start by asking yourself or your loved ones “How am I/ How are you?”
1. Healthy State
You fall under HEALTHY if you have normal mood fluctuations. Your mood fluctuations do not last long and do not affect your ability to be productive.
You have normal sleeping pattern, but few sleep difficulties may manifest especially if in adjustment period – which is normal due to adapting to the quarantine. But even with difficulty in sleeping, you feel relaxed and refreshed when you wake up.
When it comes to motivation, you still have the energy to be productive at work and in doing house chores. There is consistency to the quality of your outputs and you feel satisfied with what you are doing.
A healthy person can still be able to give time and effort to do self-care activities and still eager to socialize to others.
To keep in this state, maintain a healthy lifestyle and have a healthy diet. Manage your problems step by step in order to avoid being overwhelmed. Focus on the task at hand and to those things that you can control. It is also important to identify and nurture your support systems in this time of pandemic. It’s great that you can have someone to talk to and relate to when in crisis.
2. Coping State
You fall under COPING when you feel a transition from normal mood fluctuations to nervousness, and an increased irritability and sadness. These moods are easily triggered, overwhelming you with distress.
You may feel tired along with mild headaches and body pains. The feeling of tiredness and pain can be tolerable, but can affect your usual routine. You can also experience trouble in sleeping.
You may have decreased motivation to do self-care activities, and are less socially active. There is evident procrastination and less consistency in your work productivity. There is a manageable difficulty in concentration and focus.
WHAT TO DO: Help yourself get back in shape and adjust: try to get adequate sleep, eat healthy food, and exercise. Identify and reduce your stressors to avoid conflict and negative situations. Always engage in positive coping strategies and activities. Don’t push yourself too hard by recognizing your strengths and weaknesses.
3. Struggling State
You fall under STRUGGLING when normal mood fluctuations become aggravated, resulting to anxiety, anger, pervasive sadness and hopelessness.
You may experience restlessness even with enough amount of sleep. In most cases, you may experience waking up from time to time, depriving you of enough rest.
Lack of sleep can weaken your body and immune system, making you more prone to sickness and fatigue. Body pains and aches are more recurring, affecting your ability to do daily routines.
Productivity is also affected as you lose focus and motivation. Work and self-care activities are more burdensome. You have a hard time meeting deadlines and keeping up with your goals/objectives.
In this state, you intend to do avoid social activities. Worse, you may withdraw from communicating with their loved ones and friends.
WHAT TO DO: Identify and understand your own signs of distress. Don’t hesitate to talk to someone you trust, talk to family and friends. Seek social support instead of withdrawing. Don’t be afraid to seek help.
4. Unwell State
You fall under UNWELL when aggravated moods have turned to worst. Moods have elevated and are prolonged for more than two weeks. You may experience excessive anxiety and/or always in a depressed mood. You may also get easily enraged and taunted.
In this state, you may find it extremely difficult to sleep or stay asleep, resulting in exhaustion and many physical illnesses. This exhaustion disables you to do work properly or hinders you from doing your routines. There is an evident poor performance and quality of work. Absenteeism is also more usual.
In this state, you tend to isolate yourself from the world. There is disinterest and avoidance from social events.
WHAT TO DO: Seek consultation. Strictly follow the prescriptions of your health care provider. Be sure to regain your physical and mental health.
According to Ms. Portuguez, it is possible for one to experience signs from more than one state at the same time. To identify in which proper spectrum you or your loved ones are, find the state where you/your love ones manifest the most signs.
She advised people under Coping and Struggling states to immediately seek help from a professional medical practitioner for early prevention of more serious mental health conditions.
The online forum is in partnership with Bininibining Pilipinas and Samahan ng mga Pilipina para sa Reporma at Kaunlaran (SPARK!) with the aim to raise awareness on the importance of mental health in this pandemic. To watch the whole forum, click this link: https://www.facebook.com/118850004031/videos/371990740848537