Feeling Stuck? Make a Mental Health Action Plan

18 Sep 2017

Tag: PTSD , Depression , Addiction

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What’s holding you back from getting well and living the best version of your life? Writing a Mental Health Action Plan can help you figure it out. 

If you’re struggling with depression, addictions, PTSD, low self-esteem or other unwanted mental-health problems, are you doing everything you could to get better and have an amazing life?

Honestly, are you doing much of anything?
I’ve spent some time in 12 step groups, one-to-one therapy, group therapy, and even in online Facebook “support groups” and there seems to be a disturbing trend. Lots of people are complaining about all the bad stuff going on in their lives without really taking any action to make it all better.

I remember (it seems like a lifetime ago) sitting in a support group and listening to the same guy in the back corner talk about the exact same problems every single week for two years. He refused to step up and do the things he needed to do to make important changes and move forward with his life.

And in Facebook Groups this problems seems more rampant than ever-

“I’m so tired of feeling depressed and alone,” says the Facebook mental health group member who hasn’t taken any action to leave their apartment in the last three days.

“I hate being a drug addict. It’s draining away my life,” says another who hasn’t bothered to go to a 12 step meeting and is still calling a bunch of dope-fiends that they get high with their “friends.”

Another all-too-common problem in 12 step meetings and even in group therapy is that the focus is always on what’s going wrong, how we should behave instead, and what our problems are.

Wouldn’t it be refreshing if instead the focus was on how we can make our lives better and what goals and actions we can take today to make it happen? 
Get started right now by making what’s called a Mental Health Action Plan.

This plan is simply a list of what the problems are what exactly can be done to move towards fixing them. This gives you a clear layout of the things you need to do to get better and also can serve to show you when you’re veering off course.

Here is a partial list of things you may want to write about in your Mental Health Action Plan.  You can add anything else you think may be missing:
  • First, what’s the problem that you want to change?
  • What are your goals and how would you like things to be different?
  • What could you start doing to help yourself fix this problem?
  • What’s missing in your approach to addressing this?
  • Is there anyone in particular that you need to contact to make this process move forward?
  • Are you taking care good of yourself?
  • Should you go to therapy? Or get on medication? Or start EMDR (EMDR is a type of brain modification therapy) treatments?
  • And also, what are you doing now that you should start to avoid?

Here are some examples:
  • If you’re struggling with addiction, are you going to 12 Step Meetings and counselling?
  • If you’re depressed, have you seen a doctor or started taking meds?
  • If you have trauma and PTSD symptoms are you in CBT (cognitive behavioral) therapy or attending support groups?
  • And if you can’t make it in person are you at least doing EMDR Therapy (that’s what this very website is all about) , CBT sessions, Skype 12 step meetings, or counselling online?

To get this process started take out a piece of paper and ask yourself, what exactly is the problem? And what’s the one thing you should be doing differently?
Try using a pen or pencil. Taking the extra time to write things down by hand is shown to be especially helpful.

"When we write by hand, we have to coordinate verbal and fine movement systems," Dr. Helen Macpherson of the Institute for Physical Activity and Nutrition (IPAN) at Deakin University said. "And when we learn new information, for example at school or in a university lecture, we don’t write verbatim, which means we have to create our own summaries and concepts."

No disrespect is meant to anyone, but it seems like being a victim is now the ultimate currency. And that needs to stop. Your life is yours to make into whatever you want. You may try and fail but at least you tried.

That’s a whole lot better than just complaining online.

So please share. What’s missing for you to be 100% well and happy? What steps do you need to take to deal with your mental health or addiction issues and live a happy and fulling life? And why aren’t you already doing it?

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