By Cynthia Hovis, MSW, LCSW
We as a society are aware of the need to be preventive with many aspects of our health. We know that we should be going to the primary care physician minimally once a year for a check-up. We go to the dentist every six months to prevent tooth decay. But when it comes to our mental health, we tend to reject the idea of professional help as only necessary for “really bad” problems.
It is this idea and stigma around mental health that can create greater issues that could have been prevented -- if only we had reached out for support.
If we are willing to seek support when stressed or anxious or going through a difficult season of life, these moments can potentially offer us greater understanding and less painful processing of the situation than when we try to suffer through it or “tough it out.”
Think of counseling as a tool. If you need a screwdriver, would you first try to use a hammer, a fork and a pen before going to get a screwdriver? Probably not, and if so, probably without much success and a great deal more frustration.
Think of all the things in our lives that we maintain, like our equipment and vehicles. Why don’t we maintain our own mental health the same way?
That is where the annual mental health check-up comes in. First responders, police, fire departments, military personnel and medical staff started the practice in recent years, but it is appropriate for anyone. The idea is that you have a counselor to check in with once a year even if nothing is wrong, to get unbiased feedback and to gain new tools or coping strategies. It is useful for goal setting and planning and to make sure you are taking a healthy approach to your life and your relationships.
When things are going well, we get by just fine, but those are the times to bolster your health and well-being so that you have resources and tools to enhance your resiliency. BJC EAP is a great resource for this.
BJC EAP is encouraging all employees to consider making an appointment for an annual mental health check-up. It is completely confidential and completely voluntary. Just like going to the dentist or the doctor, waiting until something hurts is far more costly to your health and well-being than regular ongoing maintenance.
Schedule your mental health check-up with BJC EAP by calling 314.747.7490.