The Mental Health Continuum Model is a valuable framework for understanding and monitoring one's mental well-being. This short article will review each component of the model, and then outline 4 ways first responders and public safety personnel can utilize it as a means to monitor mental well-being.
The Model Consists of 4 Colour-Coded Zones:
🟢 GREEN: a state of optimal mental health; there’s no significant distress
🟡 YELLOW: early warning signs; when these symptoms and stressors emerge, they indicate the need for self-care and attention. For example, feelings of unease, anxiety, and irritability
🟠 ORANGE: functional impairment is more evident with symptoms that affect daily life. For example, sleep disturbances, difficulty regulating emotion, difficulty concentrating, or social withdrawal
🔴 RED: a state of emotional crisis. When things become overwhelming, it's crucial to seek assistance from professionals or support systems
4 Ways to Apply The Model in Your Daily Life:
1️⃣ Self-awareness: Routinely check in with yourself. Are you in the GREEN, YELLOW, or beyond? Self-awareness fosters recognition of the early signs of stress, anxiety, or trauma, even before symptoms escalate.
2️⃣ Early intervention: At the YELLOW stage, take action! This might involve reaching out to a peer support network, speaking with a mental health clinician, and practising self-care techniques like mindfulness or exercise.
3️⃣ Normalize self-care: Know that seeking help is a sign of strength and courage, not weakness. When we embrace this perspective, we make it more acceptable to seek assistance and take breaks when needed, feeling supported rather than stigmatized.
4️⃣ Support network: Forge connections with colleagues and where it is safe to do so, share what you are experiencing. Doing so can strengthen your support network - a network that is instrumental in offering assistance and promoting a culture of understanding and empathy within your profession. Isolating self is a symptom of being overwhelmed - notice this behaviour as a sign that something needs to change and seek assistance when necessary.
This model encourages self-awareness and proactive steps to maintain one's mental health, offering a practical guide for individuals to recognize and address their mental state effectively. Let this model empower you to proactively manage your mental health, to recognize and address the earliest signs of distress. Use it to promote a culture of mental health awareness and self-care, because ultimately, that will contribute to your overall well-being and resilience.
Mental Health Continuum Model credit: The Mental Health Commisson of Canada
First Responder Health Training, Emergency Worker Health
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Susan Guttridge is a trauma-informed Master level Counsellor with the clinical designation of Canadian Certified Counsellor (CCPA). She has 20+ years experience providing individual and group therapy.