Have you ever heard of the Mental Health Continuum? That’s a bit of a mouth full and I’ll admit that I had no idea what it was until we incorporated it into our application. Let’s go through a quick run down of what is the Mental Health Continuum and just how important it is.
The Mental Health Continuum
The Mental Health Continuum is a scale used by CAF to identify early signs of mental health concerns, that can be effectively treated. “This model recognizes the spectrum of health concerns, be they mental or physical, that may impact CAF members during their careers.” (http://www.forces.gc.ca/)
What’s really helpful is the fact that it’s four options, which eliminates having to distinguish different feelings that aren’t necessary comfortable to share out loud. It’s easier to just say that today, I’m “reacting” and have it being understood correctly. I know that for me personally, it saves a lot of confusion in my mind.
Another important thing about the Mental Health Continuum is that there is a place for everyone on it, regardless the state of mental health or mental illness. This reduces stigma significantly because everyone fits in. As the picture above indicates, there’s a back and forth motion that signifying change. This mean that anyone who is “healthy” can have times in their life when they are “reacting” and those who are “injured” have the ability to be “healthy”.
In an article published by European Psychiatry in 2016, they found that stigma is significantly reduced with the help of the Mental Health Continuum. They took in over a thousand participants and found that with the continuum and information provided along side it they were able to drop their stigma about mental illness more effectively. They were given a user story surrounding Anne, a young woman who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia. Participants were able to find common ground with Anne and one particular line that struck me as the perfect way to sum up the success of the study is many participants said, “we’re all a little like Anne at some time or another”.
People were generally less likely to think that Anne should be completely separated from their mental health because of her mental illness. Using this Mental Health continuum to explain mood is a key step that our app is now taking to reduce stigma amongst those with mental illness and help increase the ability to talk about it easier.