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The continuum in Mental Health and Safety do you know and talk about the risks!

This model can help you recognize that mental and physical health occur on a continuum and that movement can happen between the different categories. The model categorizes symptoms for good to poor mental and physical health on a four color continuum: green (healthy), yellow (reacting), orange (injured) and red (ill). It lists some of the behaviors associated with each part of the continuum, from healthy adaptive coping (green), through mild and limited distress or disruption in normal function (yellow), to more severe, persistent injury or impairment (orange) and clinical illnesses and disorders that require more concentrated medical care (red). When you or someone you care about is moving towards orange, it is important to seek help early.

When you look at the matrix of risk we see a quick snap shot in time of where we are and where we maybe going

  • Allows individuals to identify indicators of declining or poor mental health in themselves and others (without diagnostic labels and their associated stigma)
  • Stresses that individuals can move along the continuum; if one ends up in the red “ill” phase, he or she can move back towards the green “healthy” phase
  • Teaches the appropriate actions one can take for themselves and for others at each point along the continuum
  • Some of the strategies contained in the program are Cognitive Behaviour Theory-based techniques that help individuals cope with stress and improve their mental health. They include positive self-talk, visualization, diaphragmatic breathing, and proper goal setting.

Feelings of stress are a normal part of life. Stress is what gets us up in the morning and keeps us moving forward. Many workers report feelings of stress before big events such as an exam regarding qualifications , a work presentation, a job interview, a new job, a wedding or party, or in times of financial worries. Stress helps keep us awake and on our toes, ready for action.

But sometimes, too much stress can leave a person feeling anxious, on edge, worried. It can also give rise to other symptoms such as headaches, stomach upsets, back pain, trouble sleeping, and trouble concentrating on a task. Stress can even cause some health problems.

The reasons can vary from individual to individual. Sometimes too much stress can lead to mental health issues where our ability to complete life daily activities becomes compromised.

We all have coping strategies that help us manage our stress and stay in balance. But sometimes, when there is too much stress we can be out of balance. When anyone is stressed, it’s easy to eliminate some of the items that help us stay in balance and managing stress.

Signs of too much stress:

·        Irritability

·        Anger

·        Reduced concentration

·        Difficulty with memory and organization

·        Anxiety

·        Undue anger

·        Physical problems such as insomnia, stomach problems, headaches

·        Poor judgment

·        Moodiness

·        Isolating from others

Fellow classmates and friends are in unique positions to both mitigate stressors in the environment while also reacting to others in obvious stress. When performance or behaviour is a cause for concern, suggest that the person talk things over with a department or work place counsellor or advisor or someone else they trust. Showing you understand and care can be very helpful.

·        the provision of psychological support”.

Anxiety Disorders

Any of us feel some type of anxiety during certain situations. The anxious feelings may be caused by a combination of life events such as exams, a traumatic event, personal loss, and ∕ or biological factors such as health problems. If these feelings persist or are intense enough to interfere with activities, a person may have an anxiety disorder. This condition can affect activities of life such as relationships with family, friends, and many academic tasks.

For some people, the anxiety is triggered by brain chemistry and can run in families. In others, certain medical conditions such as anemia and thyroid problems can also cause anxiety. Conditions are further affected by some medications, alcohol, drugs and caffeine.

Anxiety disorders are the most common of all mental health problems and are found in about 1 in 10 people. Anxiety disorders can be classed as panic disorder, phobia, social phobia, specific phobia, post-traumatic stress disorder, obsessive-compulsive disorder and generalized anxiety disorder. They can come on suddenly as a result of an event in the past or be triggered by a current event. Some form of anxiety is reported by many workers. Though they may not have an anxiety disorder, the situations they may find themselves in can cause intense symptoms that can interfere with postsecondary studies, placements and life in general.

Anxiety disorders can be treated. The main approaches are drug therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy or a combination of both. Many people find that meditation and breathing exercises help to control the feelings associated with anxiety. Eating properly, avoiding caffeine, and exercising regularly such as taking a walk all help in addition to the therapies. Often support groups also help manage the impact.

For workers experiencing anxiety but not a disorder, a supportive environment can help keep them in balance. Supportive staff, availability of counselling or advising supports and a college environment that provides services and a balance of assistance is helpful. Often workers can get past their feelings of anxiety with the right environment. Friends who understand and support them can help ensure they seek the help they may benefit from.

Depression (Mood Disorder)

Many people may feel depressed at different times in response to life’s difficulties. But a mood disorder, most commonly called depression, is more than an occasional feeling of being down. Depression is the effort of managing feelings of severe despair for an extended period of time. People in depression have difficulty understanding that there will be a change or help for their situation.

Depression affects every part of a life including academic activities, physical health, social life, work and health in general. People who are experiencing major depression may have some of the following symptoms:

·        Lack of energy

·        Withdrawal from social activities

·        Appetite loss, or overeating

·        Missing class, events, appointments

·        Difficulty sleeping, always tired

·        Physical problems such as pain, headaches, digestive problems that don’t go away even with treatment

·        Forgetfulness, inability to concentrate

·        Lack of interest in pleasurable activities

·        Feelings of sadness, hopelessness or helplessness

·        Sometimes thoughts of suicide

Major depression is disabling and prevents a person from normal functioning. People may have only one episode in their lifetime, while others may have many episodes. There are various types of depression, some caused by chemical imbalances such as seasonal affective disorder, postpartum depression, and psychotic depression. Sometimes the depression starts out as a minor depression for about two weeks and without help, this could develop into a major depressive disorder.

Depression may be caused by a combination of factors, genetic, biological, environmental and psychological. There is help and treatment for this disorder. There are new medications available to help regulate the chemical imbalances causing the depression. Psychotherapies are also important in treating depression.

Often others in the life of a person are the first to notice if a person is depressed; friends, family, teachers all may notice that there are changes. Reaching out a helping hand to discuss any problem is a good first step. Just knowing that someone recognizes and is concerned enough to say something can be a big help.

Eating Disorders

When a person is obsessed with limiting the intake of food to the point of starvation (anorexia), or eating excessive amounts at one time (binge), or purging after eating (bulimia), or even exercising compulsively (anorexia athletic), he or she may have an eating disorder.

People who have eating disorders may be having difficulty with their self-esteem or body image. They may feel that they have some control over their lives by controlling what they eat. While dieting and food intake can be valid decisions at certain times, if taken to excess they could cause serious physical and mental damage.

Eating disorders are more often found in adolescents between the ages of 15-25 though anyone could be affected. Sometimes being away from home such as at college can trigger this response to a need to feel accepted.

Psychosis

These are complex biochemical brain disorders that often first appear in young adulthood.. Sometimes people experience delusions, hallucinations, hear voices and have feelings of confusion. Only a qualified practitioner can help find the right diagnosis and treatment options.

Often there are clear signs when a person is in an episode that is apparent to teachers, classmates, friends, family and even the general public.

Signs may include:

·        Withdrawal from friends and family

·        Depression

·        Tiredness

·        Sleep disturbances

·        Anxiety and/or suspiciousness

·        Mood swings (extreme happiness to anger)

·        Reduced ability to focus and feelings of disorientation

·        A dislike to being touched by anyone

·        An extreme sensitivity to noise, light, colours, textures.

During an episode symptoms may include:

·        Increased confusion

·        Delusions

·        Hallucinations

·        Altered emotions

·        Behavioural changes

It is important to understand that when in remission a person may behave relatively normally and can function in society.

Symptoms start slowly usually in adulthood. Early warning signs may include:

·        Lack of motivation

·        Social withdrawal

·        Confused thinking

·        Inability to relax

More serious symptoms may include:

·        Personal appearance deteriorates

·        Loss of interest in projects or work or social events

·        Unusual perceptions

·        Sudden excesses

·        Difficulty understanding words in context

·        Hearing voices or seeing people or things that aren’t there

·        Mood swings

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