Almost everyone has a dentist, because everyone has teeth. Whether or not someone has ever had a cavity they still have most likely been to the dentist. Even the owner of the most perfect pair of teeth still goes to the dentist occasionally to have their teeth checked and monitored in case a problem does show up. Our society is especially big on monitoring children’s teeth because children are less likely to notice a problem and are less likely to know what to do about this problem. Most importantly, the earlier we catch when something is wrong, the more effective treatment is likely to be.
So why doesn’t everyone have a therapist or other mental health provider? Let’s go through this again.
Everyone has mental health. Whether or not someone has ever had a mental health problem shouldn’t they have most likely visited a mental health professional? Even the owner of the most perfect mental health should still go to a mental health professional occasionally to have their mental health checked and monitored in case our problem does show up. Shouldn’t we be especially big on monitoring children’s mental health because children are less likely to understand a problem and are less likely to know what to do about this problem. Most importantly, the early we catch when something is wrong, the more effective treatment is likely to be.
This contrast has been something I’ve thought about a lot. It goes well beyond just visiting the dentist. Many children have physical checkups several times in their childhood. I remember even having my eyes, ears, and back checked at school, but we never had mental health “checks” through school. Our mental health is extraordinary important, and just as important as all of these other aspects of our health, but it seems to be getting the short end of the stick. There are so many possible benefits if we would start including mental health checkups on our yearly to do list.
Here are the top 3 benefits of mental health checkups, especially for children:
1. Mental health problems would be caught earlier, treatment could begin closer to onset of symptoms, and treatment is likely to be more successful. What if we waited ten years to check for cavities?
2. If everyone has visited a mental health professional at least once, going to therapy for more long-term treatment would be far less stigmatized. No one lies about having to go to the dentist because they are scared about what others will think.
3. We will be more likely to seek help when we need and deserve help. If a problem arises and someone has already met with a mental health professional at least once, the whole process of making an appointment becomes much less frightening and much smoother. Can you imagine having to go to the dentist for the first time in your 30s? Scary!
I first heard this idea about mental health checkups from a Howie Mendel interview and since then I have begun to run with it. The benefits that could come out of this change in how we treat our mental health are endless. My children will definitely visit a therapist or psychologist from time to time. Think it over and I would love to hear what you think.
Note: I grew up in and live in America. I realize this may be drastically different in countries with different health care systems. I’d still love to hear your opinion, and ideas on how this could be applied to other countries.