The Mental Health Continuum Model: Its Meaning and Implications on Daily Life
Are you the type of person who puts their personal problems on the back burner because, “it’s not that urgent,” but deep inside, you know it’s important? Well, it’s a normal thought and a usual response. But we definitely want to remind you that those personal problems that seem like they’re not such a big deal will eventually compound and make things worse for you. We do not want that. You can definitely seek counsel no matter the size of your problem. People may have learned concepts through dichotomous thinking, but as we get older, we realize that concepts are not purely black and white, yes or no, good or bad, and healthy or ill; there will always be in-betweens. Hence, it is necessary to know about gray areas of health, specifically the mental health continuum, not only for the sake of seeking help but also providing the right services to clients.
What is the Mental Health Continuum Model?
The Mental Health Continuum Model (BMC Psychology, 2020)
The mental health continuum views mental health as a spectrum rather than a binary. It comprises four main elements, namely healthy, reacting, injured, and ill. The ones under healthy experience their baseline emotions and sensations, and most likely do not have triggering stimuli. Those who are reacting may be facing challenges in their lives, and manage to react in a usual way. Those who are injured and ill need mental health care the most and possibly medications since therapy may not be enough for what they are experiencing (Chen et al., 2020).
What Does the Mental Health Continuum Imply?
The model covers a wide range of feelings, signs, and symptoms one may have in regards to their mental health and well-being. Mental health is not black and white wherein we are either mentally healthy or unhealthy (Delphis, 2020). We can feel different symptoms like stress, sadness, anxiety, fatigue and more, and these can change in number and degree as we go through different experiences. We can feel extremely tired and sad one day and perfectly fine the next, or these symptoms can persist for weeks or even months. People need different kinds and levels of support depending on their mental health needs to stay mentally healthy.
However, mental health care is not just for those who are mentally ill. Every one of us can fall under the spectrum and even slide up or down the continuum. Just like how a person can go from “ill” to “healthy”, a person can just as quickly go from “healthy” to “ill” (Chosen Hill School & Sixth Form, n.d.). This transition from “healthy” to “ill” can be prevented if we continuously take care of our mental well-being even if we are doing fine. Even if we are mentally healthy or in the reacting stage, we can still enrich our support systems so we can improve our quality of life. We don’t have to wait until we’re injured or ill to value our mental health and take care of ourselves. No matter where we are on the continuum, our mental health is equally important and deserves to be cared for, and the proper measures should be taken to ensure that we all reach and maintain the “healthy” stage.
Everyone is their own person. We may encounter similar problems but we will never deal with them the same way. One solution might work well for one person but might not work so well for others. It’s sometimes frustrating when a person just tells us how they’d deal with our problem without even trying to understand our point of view. It’s a lot more frustrating if they say ‘that’s no big deal’ to your problem. That’s why it’s important to know where the other person is coming from and give them advice in a way that doesn’t make them feel invalidated in regards to their problem. All of us have our unique strengths and weaknesses. So it isn’t right for us to say some problems are trivial compared to others. We wouldn’t like it if someone else were to invalidate our struggles. We need to respect each other’s circumstances and treat their problems how we’d treat our own. We shouldn’t see others ‘having it easy’ compared to us; because we’re not them.
That being said, we also shouldn’t invalidate ourselves; thinking that people have it worse than you. Our problems still matter and should be addressed; regardless of how much you’d like to put others before you. Everyone deserves an equal amount of care for their problems; especially people in mental health care. Just because it’s their job to help others; it doesn’t mean they’re able to cope by themselves.
Each individual is going through something, and their situations shouldn’t be quantified based on how drastic or minor it may seem to others. Being aware of the Mental Health Continuum will create an understanding on what goes on on each stage. However, it is also a caution that it is possible that even a healthy, fully-functioning individual can be moved to the other side of the continuum, the ill stage.
As the saying goes, “prevention is always better than cure”. When it comes to our mental health, it is important to give as much attention and importance to what we are feeling at the moment rather than sweeping it under the rug which can have its own consequences in the long run. Take this as a reminder to always check on your mental well-being. What you are going through will always matter thus, take time to reflect on your emotions and feelings. You owe it to yourself to check up on your well-being even during high moments of your life.
We at Fidecita wish you the best on your mental health endeavors. Click here to know more about Fidecita’s Mental Health Care services.
Chen, SP., Chang, WP. & Stuart, H. Self-reflection and screening mental health on Canadian campuses: validation of the mental health continuum model. BMC Psychology 8, 76 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40359-020-00446-w
Chosen Hill School & Sixth Form. (n.d.). Mental Health Continuum - Recognising the signs. https://chosenhillschool.co.uk/home/parents-and-students/mental-wellbeing/mental-health-continuum-recognising-the-signs
Delphis. (2020, June 30). The Mental Health Continuum is a better model for mental health. https://delphis.org.uk/mental-health/continuum-mental-health/