Is this as good as it gets?
Have you ever felt that way in your mental health recovery? You are making progress, you are using the tools in your toolbox, but you feel like this might be the best it will be. If you have this feeling, it’s time for you to complete a mental health progress report.
I learned about mental health progress reports at one of my therapy sessions when I was trying to explain this feeling of indifference. I was definitely making progress; I was using the tools in my toolbox when I needed them, I incorporated mindfulness into my routine and my emotions had started to level out. I didn’t have the extreme highs or lows in mood shifts as often and when they came I can apply the strategies I have been taught to manage my mental health. But I still felt very apathetic. So, was this is as good as it gets?
That’s when my therapist said, “it’s time to do a progress report.”
What is a mental health progress report?
A mental health progress report is a form of progress monitoring. Think of it as a report card of your mental health recovery. It is a tool that continually assesses your response to treatment, tools, and strategies. It is intended to be used regularly during the course of treatment and recovery. Essentially a mental health progress report is a form of self-reflection.
Why is a mental health progress report important?
The purpose of a mental health progress report is to give yourself credit! Progress monitoring has been proven to increase success for people recovering from mental illness because it introduces proven evidence of recovery and routine practice. Progress notes also pinpoint your progress or lack of progress on specified goals and objectives. They help to recognize signs, symptoms, triggers, and levels of functioning in certain areas.
Mental health progress reports also start to identify areas that you may need more treatment, tools or strategies to continue with recovery. This is helpful because it allows you to focus on mastering a new strategy or tool for your mental health toolbox.
How to complete a Mental Health Progress Report:
I have included a printable progress report here for you to download. You may also make your own to meet your specific needs since recovery looks different for everyone.
I often copy my progress report into my bullet journal so I can look at it and remind myself of my accomplishments. You can hang yours on a bulletin board or keep it somewhere easily accessible as a reminder of your hard work!
This progress report is divided into 7 sections: Physical, Intellectual, Emotional, Social, Behavioural, Creative, and Spiritual. Some of your responses will overlap categories and that’s ok. We can use the same tool for different fixes.
Physically what have you done to improve your mental state? This includes your nutrition, sleep, exercise, movement, breathing techniques, and self-care.
Have you started any movement in your routine? Have you practiced deep breathing? Do you meditate or practice mindfulness? Are you keeping up with your personal hygiene?
- I have started stretching in the morning and am taking a yoga class
- I have started meditating – that trains the brain and helps to feel calmer and in control. Works on breathing techniques too.
- Increased self-care – showering more regularly, putting clothes on (not just jammies)
- Reached out for help – Doctor/Meds/Therapy/Groups
- Drinking more water
- Work On ~ Be conscious of what your eating; Need more physical activity
What are you doing to work your brain? This can include things that involve learning, reading, creating, memorizing, etc.
Have you taken any classes or learned a new skill? Do you have a hobby that you do regularly? Be sure to remember what you have already accomplished (schooling, training).
- Already accomplished (2 university degrees; training in other forms)
- Taking webinars and doing research on interests
- Committed to anxiety group and therapy
- Reading more – both personally and professionally
- Feeling more curious
- Work On ~ Increasing skill building
What are you doing to improve your focus and concentration? This can include hobbies, crafting, creating, projects, etc. Being creative decreases cortisol levels (stress hormone).
What brings you joy and the sense of accomplishment? Is there an activity or interest that you do for pleasure or relaxation?
- Increased interest in reading and learning
- Increased concentration
- Bullet journal
- Writing/blog – emotional & creative
- Crafts/projects (puzzles, painting)
What are you doing to improve your social bonds with friends and family? This includes communication, social outings, attending parties and events, etc.
Are you initiating phone calls/texting/emails? Are you saying yes to invites? Are you setting appropriate boundaries for yourself and others?
- Bonded more with my cat
- Conversations with others (texting)
- Spending more time with family
- Starting to let people in
- Work On ~ need to leave the house more (ex: go work at a coffee shop)
What are you doing to help learn what your feelings are telling you? This could include affirmations, meditations, mindfulness, breathing techniques, journaling, etc.
Are you able to identify and name your feelings? Are you listening to your feelings? Are you catching and changing intrusive thoughts?
- More assertive/firmer boundaries/self-trust
- Meditating and breathing
- Journaling/writing – diffuses the emotions; can think rationally or from a different perspective
- More acknowledging there are NO bad emotions
- More attention to emotions – less reactive
- Positive self-talk
- Work On ~ reflecting on emotions; catching intrusive thoughts
Are your behaviours changing to help you cope? This can include creating a healthy routine, self-care, sleep habits, being more social, etc.
Have you created a healthy morning routine? Have you created a healthy sleep routine? Are you increasing self-care time?
- Had people over – planned parties
- More spontaneous
- Got a cat
- Increased self-care
- Reached out for help – Doctor/Meds/Therapy/Groups
- Work On ~ adding in healthier foods
What are you doing to help your soul? This does not need to refer to religion – but it can. This can include religious practices, mindfulness, self-esteem, etc.
What are you doing to feel more at peace? Are you practicing self-compassion? Are you increasing your confidence and self-esteem? What are you doing to help you live your best life?
- Starting to find my way
- Finding things I enjoy doing
- Opening up
- Using sleep manifestations
- Work On ~ finding peace with loving detachment
Stop using qualifier sentences!
I know it is hard to think of or talk positively about yourself when you are feeling very far from a success. It can also be hard to actually see any of the things you are doing better, no matter how small.
When I was going through these things with my therapist, almost every one of my responses was qualified with “yes, but…”
Yes, I have been meditating, but I haven’t’ for a few days.
Yes, I have been writing in a journal, but I do it to not lose control.
Yes, I have been talking and texting more, but I don’t initiate it often.
See all the qualifiers – they aren’t necessary. “Yes, but…” is a way of agreeing and not agreeing. It is a power of resistance. The ‘but’s’ don’t diminish the success that you have already accomplished.
QUIT the yes, but…
Yes, I have been meditating.
Yes, I have been writing my feelings and thoughts down more.
Yes, I have been texting people more.
How often should you complete a mental health progress report?
This is completely up to you. You may want to do a progress report after every therapy/doctors appointment. You may want to make it a monthly routine to track your progress. You may want to complete a progress report when you find yourself plateauing in your recovery.
Mental health progress reports are a wonderful tool to track and measure your progress. It helps to list all your strategies and tools in one place and allows you to give yourself credit for all the hard work you are doing in your recovery (no matter how small). Be proud of yourself!
Did you find this helpful? Will you start to incorporate mental health progress reports in your treatment and recovery?
~ Lacey ~