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COLUMN: Check in on your mental health this week with online tool

Taking care of our mental health is like taking care of a car. Our mental health needs routine maintenance and attention throughout the year in order to run properly.

When purchasing a car, we know that even if we buy a brand new vehicle, we are signing up to do regularly scheduled maintenance. Whether we drive a beloved beater or a shiny 2022 pickup, there’s a host of things we do for our wheels to run properly. 

Oil changes, tire changes, car washes, the odd light replacement. Gas fill ups, checking the air filter, topping up the coolants, vacuuming the interior, checking under the hood. The list goes on. Anyone who’s delayed needed car maintenance knows what a headache this can cause.

Taking care of our mental health is like taking care of a car. Our mental health needs routine maintenance and attention throughout the year in order to run properly.

Yet, unfortunately, so many of us don’t take the time to check in on our mental health, let alone regularly maintain it. I see this firsthand as a counsellor with Counselling Alberta working with clients across the province.

When we notice that something doesn’t feel right, it’s so easy to put it off. We distract ourselves with hobbies, friends, work, doom scrolling, even alcohol or drugs. But, at the end of the day, the problem is still there.

And, just like ignoring the check engine light on your vehicle, when we ignore our mental health, our problems can become worse. Over time, inaction can damage our relationships, self-esteem and overall well-being.

Our vehicles come with manuals and their blinking lights let us know when there are issues. But there’s no manual for our brains and mental health. So, where do we start?

Until Oct. 16, I encourage you to visit and do a quick online depression screening test as part of the annual National Depression Screening Day initiative.

Taking three minutes out of your day to do this anonymous quiz is a simple, manageable first step that could change your life. Think of it as routine as looking under the hood of your vehicle and quicker than a car wash.  

We’ve been offering this service every October for 16 years now, and I can tell you it truly does change lives. We focus on depression because it’s both shockingly prevalent and treatable.

Rates of depression have increased among Canadians since the beginning of the pandemic. One in five people will become depressed at some point in their lives. Depression is the leading cause of suffering and disability worldwide. Yet, effective and reliable treatment exists.

You can feel better. Just like a flat tire or a leaky transmission, the sooner you acknowledge the issue and get help, the better and faster you’ll see results.

The last nearly three years of living through a global pandemic have taken a toll on us all and in the same way you’d check in on your vehicle after a big hail storm, you should be checking in on your mental health.

So please visit and take that first and simple step to check in on your mental health. Think of it as routine annual maintenance that will help you run properly.

Che Burnett is a counsellor at Counselling Alberta, a new division of the Calgary Counselling Centre, that provides effective and affordable online counselling to all Albertans

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