COVID-19 has resulted in unprecedented impacts on mental health and emotional wellbeing in Australia. According to studies*, 30% of the population have displayed clinical signs of anxiety, depression, or both since the pandemic commenced. It is now more important than ever to assess your mental health so that you can proactively improve your wellbeing.
Self-assessments are a practical and cost-effective way to gain a baseline understanding of your mental health. The structure of a self-assessment typically follows an in-person consultation by a psychologist, whereby a patient will answer a series of questions that can help to identify mental health symptoms. The patient then ranks their responses based on frequency to obtain an overall health score, that presents the prevalence and severity of symptoms.
The ease in which patients can access self-assessments online has resulted in a surge in popularity, however, Concierge Doctors advise that the findings should not be utilized as a formal diagnosis. Assessments are useful for providing initial insights that can encourage patients to seek further understanding of mental illness and practical steps to mitigate symptoms. This is particularly important for patients who have never received formal assessment or treatment for mental health.
Living in a world with so many external pressures like COVID-19 and climate change, we tend to put self-care on the back-burner until symptoms develop. Dr. Zac admits, “I am guilty of not practicing what I preach, which is why I find it so important to have these conversations as often as possible.”
Pros and Cons of Self Assessments
Concierge Doctors Medical Director Dr Zac Turner explains that “self-assessments are a convenient first step for deciding whether or not to seek further help. Taking self-assessments can encourage more people to schedule appointments with a GP or psychologist, which is a positive thing. They bring awareness to our mental health and distinguish a baseline that can identify if changes occur during treatments like taking medications, counseling, and cognitive behavior therapy (CBT).”
However, Dr. Zac expresses his concerns about using self-assessments as a formal diagnosis rather than a healthy exercise. “Although these tests are useful, they fail to provide enough background information to diagnose accurately, which can cause a misdiagnosis if solely completed online. For example, without a full picture, someone struggling to sleep may think they suffer from a sleep disorder. But, with more context, a practitioner could detect underlying hormonal problems or anxiety that causes sleep deprivation.”
To help you understand how to effectively utilize online self-assessments, Dr Zac Turner investigated some of the most popular resources available today.
The UK’s National Health Service provides a self-assessment for depression and mood that is a great baseline questionnaire for self-evaluation. The assessment asks questions based on the frequency that a feeling occurs, ranging from ‘not at all’ to ‘nearly every day.’
While focusing on crucial areas that are usually impacted by depression and anxiety, the assessment asks subjects about their sleep, energy, appetite, and concentration — all of which are vital for an accurate diagnosis. Taking the time to reflect on each question allows for honest responses that can highlight changes in our daily routine.
There are several other online self-assessments that Dr. Zac recommends to his patients before scheduling an appointment that can offer practitioners more context to situational triggers. Beyond Blue’s Mind Test (for men) is an honest assessment that covers sleep, anger, drug, and alcohol use—geared towards men who might need someone to talk to but struggle discussing their mental health. Better Health is another fantastic resource that covers a complete overview of self-assessments, directing people to appropriate specialists depending on their symptoms.
Accessing Help with Concierge Doctors
At Concierge Doctors, we are serious about increasing awareness of mental illness in Australia. As a leader in Australian telehealth, we offer a complete range of medical practitioners available to schedule for same-day appointments. If you are currently suffering from feelings of anxiety or depression or would like to speak with someone to learn more information, please visit our website to book a consultation or chat with one of our representatives.