Health Care Decision Aid: Your Mind and Your Body

Half of all adults will struggle with a mental health problem in their lifetime.

Prioritizing your brain health is as important as prioritizing your body health. This worksheet provides a set of questions to help you get started.

Keep scrolling for the web-friendly version of the same questions and facts.

 

Here’s a web-friendly version of the questions from this worksheet:

46% percent of people say that they won’t bring up a problem if their provider doesn’t ask.

59% of people are afraid of how their providers would respond if they had a mental health condition.

63% of adults didn’t know how to bring up mental health or how to explain what they were feeling.

It’s ok and normal to feel nervous about talking about your problems. But reaching out for help is the right next step. How will getting help and talking about these concerns make a big difference in your life?

64% of adults didn’t know if mental health concerns were enough of a problem to mention. For example, if they should wait to see if things got worse.

How do these symptoms get in the way of doing things you want to do? OR What would you do if you didn’t have these symptoms?

67% reported they were afraid to talk about mental health concerns or admit that there was a problem.

69% were nervous about what would happen if they were diagnosed with a mental health condition. The fear was higher for individuals with other health problems. Additionally, 79% of adults were nervous about what would happen if they were diagnosed with a mental health condition.

72% also feel like they already had enough to deal with and didn’t feel like they had the time or energy to deal with a mental illness/another illness.

Having multiple health problems is emotionally taxing. Venting about those fears can help. Journal out your concerns. What have you been going through in life with your physical health problem or other life problems? What does it mean to you to have mental health concerns? What is scary about this situation? What is scary or difficult about not making the choice to get help?

Remember – you are not alone. Many people are likely to feel the fears and concerns you’re expressing.

There are things we can do that help both our physical problems and our mental health problems. These strategies include reducing our stress, increasing positive relationships, and recommitting to healthy habits (like eating and exercise). What are a few things you can start to do that can help alleviate physical and mental health problems?

57% didn’t know who they should talk to about their mental health concerns.

Who are some people in your life, like your family and friends, who you can talk to about your concerns?

Which of your providers would be helpful to discuss this with from a treatment perspective?

63% of adults didn’t know how to bring up mental health or how to explain what they were feeling.

Thinking through your symptoms and/or experiences, which ones do you think are most important to talk about with your provider? For example, many people feel like heart palpitations, low energy, or sleep issues are common symptoms for both physical and mental health problems. Doctors also like to know how much these symptoms cause distress and impairment. List your symptoms you want to discuss and rate each symptom from 1-10 based upon how much distress that symptom causes you.

What are my options?

It’s normal to feel fear and ambivalence about addressing your issues. When and how to get help is up to you. You can choose to wait, try therapy, or try medications.

Let’s take a closer look at each option:

Watchful Waiting

  • How does this work? This means no active treatment; you may visit your clinician more frequently to monitor your symptoms, compare options and discuss your lifestyle, current support and coping strategies.
  • Will this work? 23 out of 100 people recover in 3 months by visiting a clinician without receiving an active treatment. 53 out of 100 people recover in a year without receiving an active treatment.
  • What are the risks? The risks of watchful waiting are that your symptoms may continue or get worse.
  • How much does this cost? Cost will depend on the type and frequency of visits to your clinician. Work with your clinician and/or insurance company to determine your costs.

Talk Therapy

  • How does this work? Therapy works by helping you solve problems and clarify your thoughts. This is typically a weekly 30-60 minute session. In person: Working with a therapist. On a computer: Using a program on your own or with support from your clinician by email or phone.
  • Will this work? In addition to the 23 people who recover without treatment, another 14 out of 100 people recover in 2 months by using talk therapy. Treatment usually lasts 8 to 10 weeks, but can last longer. Computer programs are more effective with regular clinic check-ins.
  • What are the risks? The risks of talk therapy are that it can cause discomfort, anxiety, and/or stress.
  • How much does this cost? In person: Prices will vary. Work with your clinician and/or insurance company to determine your costs.
    On a computer: “MoodGym” is an example of an online program that you can access for free at www.moodgym.com.au

Medication

  • How does this work? A variety of medications are available for different mental health conditions.
  • Will this work? Every medication is different. In addition to the 23 people who recover without treatment, another 17 out of 100 people recover in 1 month by using SSRI medication for depression. Treatment usually lasts 6 to 12 months. You should talk to your clinician if you are thinking about stopping medication.
  • What are the risks? The risks of medication are that it can cause side effects like nausea, diarrhea, and drowsiness, which affect up to 17 in 100. Sexual problems affect up to 13 in 100. Sweating, shaking, difficulty sleeping, and dry mouth are less common.
  • How much does this cost? Without insurance: Prices vary by pharmacy. In general fluoxetine, citalopram, and paroxetine cost less than $5 for a 30-day supply. Sertraline usually costs less than $40 and escitalopram less than $130 for a 30-day supply. With insurance: Prices vary by plans.

Combing therapy and medication:

  • Will this work? In addition to the 23 people who recover without treatment, another 26 in 100 people recover with a combination of SSRIs and talk therapy.

Is there anything else I can do?

Resources may also be available in your workplace, community, or online. Exercise, healthy eating, and visiting with friends can reduce symptoms.

Next steps

If you’re thinking about Watchful Waiting…

  1. Think through how long you’d like to wait and reevaluate next steps.
  2. How will you know if things got better?
  3. How will you know if things got worse?
  4. What will you do next if watchful waiting doesn’t work?

If you’re thinking about Talk Therapy…

  1. Have you been to therapy before? If yes, what did you like about it? If no, what do you want to get out of therapy?
  2. What characteristics would be important for you in a therapist?

If you’re thinking about Medication…

  1. What medications are you taking now (for both physical and mental health)?
  2. Do you know what mental health medications your family has taken in the past that might work for you?