The Importance of Routine Emotional Health Checks

Slowly we have moved out of the era when emotional and mental problems were viewed as a weakness, and when those who suffered from them were stigmatised. In fact, to our credit we now live in an emotional age. A time where displays of emotion, whether positive or negative can be expressed, both in public and in private and be received with at least some understanding. Unfortunately though, it is only spur of the moment displays of feelings, such as crying openly when something sad happens that are understood and socially acceptable. Society still lacks and understanding of the deeper issues that affect individual emotional health, and it is often not until things go too far and become a full blown crisis that a helpful response is given. That is why we must all begin to recognise that preventative ethos of care can also apply to psychological health as well.

Periodically we go to the dentist for a check-up, to ensure that our teeth stay in optimum condition. From time to time we may also wish to, or be required to take part in a medical examination for various reasons. How often though do we have our emotional health checked? For most people, the answer to this question would be rarely or never, and even then only when we feel like we have a problem; such as feeling overly anxious or depressed home depot health check. That is because a given situation has gone too far, and we feel that we need relief, like when we go to the dentist with toothache or a physician with any general acute medical problem. Emotional problems produce the same onset of pain that the aforementioned scenarios do, and like a cavity in a tooth can be prevented by regular dental exams so to can emotional crisis and events by effective pre-emotional event screening.

At this point, it is important to distinguish between chronic and acute onset emotional problems. An acute problem with emotional issues is often caused by a recent unwanted change or loss, such as becoming unemployed or losing a loved one. Chronic emotional problems may stem from and acute event, but are more complex in nature; often with multiple issues as factors. The aim of pre-emotional event screening then is not to prevent acute problems, but it is to address continuing issues a person has, and hopefully help them to resolve them before they progress into the disorder stage. For example, continued anxiety surrounding job status may progress into anxiety about other life issues, and from there into generalised anxiety disorder.

A need then exists for an effective form of pre-event screening. We are not talking about a mental state examination here or specific psychological testing. Both of these are undertaken for various purposes and in various settings already. In fact, such testing is too simplistic and not in depth, or more importantly individually specific enough for our purposes. Though admittedly specifically tailored psychological tests do have their uses, such as in student and pre-employment aptitude testing; what we require is a method of screening which can be altered for each individual case. Just as the details of a medical examination with a general practitioner are not rigidly determined, so neither is our screening process, the only determining factor is the individual needs of the client.

The form of which such a screening process should take is the next concern. The model for this though already exists in the shape of person centred counselling, in which the specific questions asked are determined solely on the issues the client is facing, and their response to the interviewer’s enquiries. By using the person centred approach, which does not rely on set questions or a diagnostic process we are able to shape our screening to the specific needs of the client and the individual issues that they have.

Implementation of this screening should not merely be provided as a place for clients to come when they have a problem though. Individuals should in fact be encouraged to come for screening when they feel “ok” or “all is good”, as at that moment in time their general level of emotional feeling is positive, and so we can work with their awareness in order to help them recognise any issues that may become a problem in the future. This is important, as many concerns, fears and thoughts are held in our subconscious until we are made aware of them through a facilitation process of some kind. Unfortunately awareness often does not come about in individuals who fell “good” until something negative happens, which with pre-event screening could have otherwise been avoided.

The question remains in which setting screening should take place. At this stage of human existence, despite the progress we have made up to this point, it sadly remains out of the question to expect people to self-refer to emotional health services in the same way that they would to other health professionals. Avenues for the implementation of our screening do exist though; the most important of these is implementation through organizations. Specifically in education and employment, many educational institutions already provide counselling services on staff. Furthermore, many companies in the post-modern economy have also recognised the use of organizational consultants in order to streamline their operations. Many of these consultants are actually trained as emotional health professionals. The point is that if screening services were provided in house in the same way, the access and attitudes toward emotional health check-ups would be improved. The benefit for the economy is that improved emotional awareness of individuals improves productivity. If our previously outlined person-centred counselling is paired with solution focussed individual action planning then pre=emotional event screening becomes an attractive concept for companies, as talking meets action. Individuals without emotional burdens are better workers.