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Q: How can I do a mental health self-check?

Everybody gets upset or irritable sometimes, so it can be hard to know when a bad mood is a sign of a problem and when it’s just a normal response to stress. That’s why it can be helpful to do a mental health self-check from time to time. While a self-check isn’t a diagnostic tool, it can give you an idea of how you are doing mentally, and when it might be time to seek extra support.

First, how is your overall mood? How are things going at work? Are you eating normally, staying physically active, and getting consistent sleep? How are your relationships with family and friends? Are you using alcohol or other substances?

If you feel sad, hopeless, anxious, angry, or worthless most of the time, that’s a sign that it’s time to take care of your mental health. Other “yellow flags” include difficulty concentrating, trouble making decisions, and dealing with frequent unwanted thoughts.

Having trouble at work or school, withdrawing from family and friends, and having difficulty controlling your substance use are also warning signs. Finally, if you’re having sleep problems, feel tired all the time, and are undereating or overeating, that’s also a sign to get help.

If you are having panic attacks or suicidal thoughts or feel like your behavior is out of control, it’s time to get help. Call 911 if you feel you are a danger to yourself or others. Or, if you are in crisis, call the Hawaii Crisis Hotline at (800) 753-6879, or text 741741 to talk to a trained mental health responder 24/7.

If you are struggling with your mental health, you are not alone. Around one in five Americans experienced a mental health issue in 2021. The good news is that help is available. Talk with your doctor about getting a referral to a mental health professional who can help you get back on track.

While National Suicide Prevention Awareness Month takes place just once a year every September, lets make it a habit to check in with ourselves and our mental health on a more consistent basis, whether daily, weekly or monthly.

Fatima M. Imara, MD

Psychiatry, Behavioral Health

Maui Memorial Medical Center
221 Mahalani St
Wailuku, HI 96793