Personal Goals for Mental Health
What is Mental Health Goal Setting?
Mental health goal setting is the process of thinking about and planning your future either coping with or eliminating the mental health issue currently hindering your ability to lead a successful life.
Setting mental health goals also helps motivate you to move forward without becoming overwhelmed and feeling as though no progress is being made.
It is possible to realistically cope with depression, anxiety disorders and other mental health issues by learning how to set personal goals for mental health.
Why is Mental Health Goal Setting Important?
The process of setting personal goals for mental health help you determine if the therapy and therapist, counselor, psychologist or psychiatrist is beneficial in helping you reach your goals.
Good therapists, counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists want to help you live a better life. When you know specifically what you want to achieve, you can better tell who will help you achieve your goals.
You will also quickly spot if the treatments will be a waste of your time by moving you in a direction you aren't interested in going. One of the most common occurrences in the treatment process occurs when the patient doesn't have clear goals to achieve and accepts treatments which are not helpful and in fact may become dangerous.
Even with clear goals, many treatment providers end up pressuring you to accept treatments which do not lead to the mental health goals you have. This happens because trust in yourself and in achieving your goal is lacking. This is why having a clear plan is very important from the beginning.
There are instances when setting mental health goals feels completely impossible, then the goal simply becomes being able to set a mental health goal.
As you get into the habit of setting and then achieving your personal mental health goals you will find treatment moves more consistently and your self-confidence builds much more quickly.
How to Set Mental Health Goals
There are 7 steps to take when setting your personal mental health goals. Most good treatment providers will help you through these steps. A full example is provided after the list of steps.
1. Understanding the problem. Take some time and identify all the areas in which you believe problem troubles you. Make a list of the issues and emotions that come up. Make sure before doing this though that you are not hungry, angry, lonely or tired. If you are it will be more difficult to clearly identify the problems and you may find yourself more defensive and avoiding the actual emotions and the problems.
This step can be done with a trusted friend, just make sure to let them know you are not looking for answers, only that you are working on identifying the problem and when or where it shows up in your life.
2. Breaking the problem down. Break the list of problems down into smaller more manageable problems. Then from each of those smaller manageable problems you can figure out the goal you would like to reach for each individual problem.
3. Figuring out the goals. This is where you actually figure out where you would like to be emotionally, mentally or physically after dealing with each of the smaller problems identified in Step 2. This is the most important part and it is also the part which will change the most after you begin working on achieving your personal mental health goals.
4. Creating a measurement. Next create a concrete measurement so you will know when you've met the goal you set for the problem. A concrete measurement is something you can feel, see, touch or acknowledge as being true. Progress can be measured daily, weekly, monthly, or even yearly.
5. Educating yourself. There are as many types of problems as there are solutions to problems. It is here that good treatment providers can offer resources to help you learn about the different solutions available.
6. Choosing your solution. Once you've learned about available solutions, make a decision about which solution you will aim for. Measure your progress on a daily, weekly or monthly basis depending on how small or large the goal is. You are almost ready to take action but there is one more step.
7. Writing down your plan. Now is the time to sit down and put everything that you've discovered in the above 6 steps all into one simple document either on paper or in a computer file. This will keep deadlines in one place and help keep you moving towards your achieving your mental health goals. Writing separate plans for each manageable problem, goal, measurement and solution will help you stay focused.
This may feel like a lot to do to make sure you have the best mental health plan possible. It is worth it because it creates accountability for you and your mental health care provider.
Example of a Mental Health Plan
Joanne* has identified her problem as depression and grief. Breaking the two problems into smaller manageable problems, she identifies insomnia, fatigue and trouble concentrating and staying organized.
She begins working on the problem of insomnia. Her goal is to increase the number of hours she sleeps per night to 6 or more. Currently she sleeps less than 4 hours per night. She sets a daily measurement.
Joanne goes on to identify several solutions including, working out two or three hours before bedtime, eating dinner two hours before bedtime and creating a bedtime ritual to include journaling, reading (no thrillers or suspense novels) and meditation one hour before bedtime.
After beginning the exercise program, Joanne notes that she sleeps 45 minutes more on nights that she exercises. After tracking her progress for three weeks Joanne notes that exercising, reading, journaling and meditating have increased her sleep by just under 2 hours. She also noted that eating earlier did not change the number of hours she slept.
From this Joanne will continue to exercise, read, journal and meditate before bed. She will look for some new solutions as well.
Joanne visits her family physician to make sure there are no medical reasons for her insomnia and when she visits her therapist she asks for information on other solutions she might try.
Joanne's mental health plan is helping her with her issues one at a time and the plan is also helping her therapist to assist Joanne in overcoming these issues.
There are no issues which can't be handled with good mental health plan, although depending on the severity of the issue or issues, the plan may not be as easy to break down as the one above.
Even if you relapse or become frustrated by your progress, revisiting the plan will help get you clear and back on the right track again. That's why having the written plan is so important.
If you are suffering from depression, panic & anxiety attacks or other mental health issues, it is always important to seek competent mental health assistance.
Setting personal goals for mental health will always help you get the best treatment for your problems. There is nothing wrong with seeking assistance.
*The name has been changed.
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