By Bianca Chan

Talking about mental health naturally comes with its own stigmas and elephants in rooms. It can be uncomfortable, nerve-racking, and – hey, I’ll say it – can sound like you’re dealing with some serious disease at the far end of the mental spectrum that you “definitely don’t have because you’re happy and don’t suffer from poor mental health.” If this is you – great! But don’t you still want to see where your mental health stands?

Mental Health Word Cloud

When you are struggling or stressed out of your wits, it can be difficult to take a step back, check in with yourself, and see how you’re doing. However, it’s important to take some time to reflect and determine how mentally fit you are.

Characteristics of mental health

Mental Health Green Ribbon

This green ribbon represents mental health awareness.

The Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) suggests that that the different aspects of your life that best determine the wellbeing of your mental health include your ability to enjoy life; your degree of resilience; how balanced your life is; your ability to step back and realize what’s best for yourself; and finally, how flexible you are.

While we have scales and endurance tests to measure our physical health, assessing our mental health is not as simple. Luckily, the CMHA created a mental health meter to help you reflect on your strengths and identify areas where your level of mental fitness can be improved.

The first step in assessing your mental health is being honest. When you are reflecting, it is crucial that you have a truthful conversation with yourself.

Carleton’s Health and Counselling Services

Another avenue for support is Carleton’s Health and Counselling Services (HCS). Carleton students can access HCS in person, over the phone and online. Its mandate is to provide a caring and supporting environment to enhance the educational process and influence student success. By doing this, HSC hopes to remove or modify health-related barriers to learning, including stress, anxiety, empowerment and other elements of mental well-being.

HCS is open on weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. for medical appointments and counselling. Students can self-refer to counselling, which means you do not need a doctor’s referral to go in for a counselling session. Short term counselling is available to students living off-campus and to international students as well.

Additionally, HCS has created an online resource library that features a variety of categories, including:

  • Mental health;
  • Sexual health;
  • Physical activity;
  • Nutrition;
  • Drugs and alcohol;
  • General health.

Within the mental health subsection, there are links to several useful websites ranging in topic from Adult Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) to grief and loss support. The website also provides links to a variety of apps, including HealthyMinds. Don’t need an app? Take a few minutes to watch one of the videos about achieving happiness, mindfulness or controlling stress to make it helpful.

Sometimes you just need to talk to somebody. If you do, HCS suggests you call Good2Talk for 24/7, free, confidential, professional counselling and information about mental health, addictions and well-being. They can be reached anytime at 1-866-925-5454.

Remember, the information provided in this article is not a substitute for professional advice. If you feel that you may need advice, consult a qualified health care professional.