We all feel differently on a day-to-day basis. Most of us self-assess, in our own way, how we are doing weekly, monthly, with friends, family members, and sometimes, in our own inner dialogues. This article is designed to help readers track their own Mental Status and complete a Self-Administered Mental Status Exam (MSE) to more effectively keep track of their recovery from their Mental Health diagnosis. AS the article unfolds, I will recommend how to utilize these indicators to effectively map out your recovery in practical real life terms. As always, please discuss the tools used in this blog with your therapist and psychiatrist before implementing them in your living environment.
General Appearance is an excellent start to tracking your own Mental Status. While we all dress differently, day-to-day, hygiene, neatness of appearance, and other factors play in to how you present yourself to others, is a solid marker of your capacity to self-manage and control the impact of how your symptoms effect how you present to others and care for the self. Next Mood &Affect is especially important for those carrying diagnosis that disrupts just that, the regulation of your mood and how others perceive your mood during interpersonal communication and interactions with others socially, at work, and with family. In addition to understanding your emotions with greater sophistication, how others perceive your moods from day-to-day is important to be mindful of because when we know how others perceive us, we sometimes are more inspired to cultivate the strength to regulate further when you are feeling de-regulated.
More complex indicators of Mental Status like Speech, Thought Process, and Fund of Knowledge, are critical markers for learning how your diagnosis is impacting your capacity to speak, access language, utilize your learned knowledge to complete daily tasks. Generally, I recommend self-monitoring your day-to-day interactions with the usual participants in your interpersonal life. Are you nervous when speaking to them? Are you thinking one thing but saying another? Are your words jumbled? OR are you speaking normally to the people you normally engage in conversation? In terms of communicating, are your thoughts clear or are they more circular in nature (e.g. its hard to get to the point across, your thoughts don’t seem to connect—lots of non-non sequiturs—and capacity to provide context) Ultimately, how is your capacity to access your learned knowledge? Can you remember things as they happened? All of these questions are important to track your cognition for disorders that impact your thought process (i.e. Symptoms including psychosis and thought disorders) . Knowing how symptoms are effecting these indicators, weekly, monthly, will clue you in on your success managing your disorder and reveal if you need to cultivate more effective maintenance techniques to stay at your baseline, survive, and thrive.
Finally, Orientation, Insight and Judgment are crucial for the most basic functions of life. In terms of Orientation, do you know where and when you are? Start and go from there. How aware are you of your surroundings? Are you running into traffic or crossing at the cross-walk. This feeds into insight and judgment. How is your decision making skills? Are you making the right choices? These are important markers for feeling comfortable with your capacity to manage life functions safely and without incident. If symptoms are effecting your insight and judgment you are probably experiencing issues with the law or problems at work, and even, engaging in risky behaviors like drug abuse and others choices putting you at great risk of harm to yourself and others.
Ultimately, daily changes in your Mental Status could mean just about anything clinically with th exception of traumatic events that hopefully never happen or will happen too infrequently to tack trends. But general trends over weeks and months are more important to pay attention to and could mean that you may need to adjust your self-management techniques or be more mindful of new symptoms evolving from your diagnosis. As always, planning and practice are essential. Remembering that set-backs in executing these skills are learning moments in your recovery. Problem solve what works,what doesn’t, and move forward in your life, ALL(ways).