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With the end of 2020 fast approaching, you might be considering creating mental health goals that involve planning and taking positive action. Paula Berry, Deputy Head of Clinical Operations at Claimont, provides some actionable tips for mental health goal setting below.   

What Are Mental Health Goals?

Mental health goals are essentially the object of a person’s ambition and the efforts taken to benefit their mental health. Everyone around you is on a journey with their mental health and, although some suffer more than others, everyone’s journey is equally as important. A way in which we can aim to improve our mental health is by setting mental health smart goals.

Goal setting for mental health allows us to identify the challenges we have faced and tracks the success of our daily efforts over the short- and long-term. Taking small steps towards achieving our goals can help replenish confidence within oneself and reinstall a positive mindset that things are heading in the right direction.

A mental health goal could to you be anything, for example, you could be looking to decrease your current level of anxiety. Therefore, a relevant goal would be to feel more confident in your own skin over the next three months. But the question is, how do you set and achieve your mental health goal? 

How to Set 2021 Mental Health Goals 

When it comes to setting mental health goals, the goals should follow the SMART process. But what does this mean? SMART is an acronym that guides your goals to improve mental health by providing increased clarity, focus and motivation to achieve it. When setting a SMART mental health goal, ensure each goal follows this simple structure to increase your chances of success. 

  • SPECIFIC: Goals to improve mental health should be clear and specific. It should be crystal clear what you are trying to accomplish so you can directly focus your efforts on this. Once you have set your goal, you can then implement activities into your daily routine that will contribute to you successfully achieving your chosen mental wellbeing goals. 
  • MEASURABLE: It is also important to have measurable mental health goals. This makes it easy to reflect on the success of your progress. Being able to measure your goals also helps you stay motivated as you work towards your target. 
  • ACHIEVABLE: Probably the most important aspect of SMART goal setting for mental health. If you set yourself an unrealistic and unachievable goal, this could knock you back further if you were unsuccessful in completing the goal. Small steps forward are the best way to approach mental health – look to challenge and improve yourself without overextending your natural abilities.  
  • RELEVANT: Make sure the goal you are setting is relevant to improving your mental health. If you set yourself a goal that is not aligned with the direction you want to head, this could consume valuable time and repay your efforts with little reward. Find what is best for you and ensure that it directly relates to what YOU are trying to achieve.  
  • TIMED: Every goal needs a target date, so you have a deadline to focus on and work towards. If your goal lacks unrealistic timing you are less likely to succeed, so be realistic when setting time-related targets. Mental health goals are often long-term recovery processes. If something could take you four months to achieve, set mini targets in between to measure progress. Being able to see incremental results throughout the process is a great tool for motivation. 

Benefits of Setting 2021 Mental Health Goals

  • Gives structure to the plan of achieving your goals
  • A clear plan of action
  • Breaks down the goals into individual elements making it easier to overcome
  • Develop specific goals that will improve your mental wellbeing
  • Focused, attainable and meaningful goals
  • Boosts motivation to achieve the goals
  • Helps gain the support you need
  • Gives a clear identity of who you are and who you want to be

Goal setting for mental health gives a structure to the plan of achieving your goals. It is key that you break down the goals into individual elements to focus on what you must overcome. What is the goal? Why should you do it? What are the benefits? Where do you start? 

It is important to ask yourself questions in every stage of the SMART process to fully comprehend the strategy of the SMART mental health goal you are setting. When you use SMART goals you can develop focused, attainable and meaningful goals to improve mental health. This also helps develop a plan of action, boost motivation and gain the support needed to meet the mental health goals you have set yourself. 

Setting mental health goals give you long-term vision and short-term motivation to achieve them. 

Just think about your future, who do you want to be? It is a simple and effective strategy for putting your visualisations into reality. It is also a great way of proactively organising your time and resources to ensure you are doing the best you can to make the most of your life. 

Examples of Mental Health Goals

Let’s put the theory into practice. As an example, Jim sets himself a mental health SMART goal to improve his life. This goal could be as follows: 

  • SPECIFIC: Jim wants to decrease anxiety levels whilst at work and feel more comfortable and confident around others. 
  • MEASURABLE: Jim could create a daily diary to regularly measure how he feels. He could rate how he is feeling out of ten, with additional comments to measure his progress over the short- and long-term. 
  • ACHIEVABLE: Jim wants to feel less anxious most days, which is highly achievable and realistic. 
  • RELEVANT: If anxiety is having a negative effect on Jim’s life, this goal is highly relevant for improving his overall happiness. A happy Jim in the workplace is a great place to start for improving his overall mental wellbeing. 
  • TIMED: This could be achievable over a three-month period. To stay on top of the mental health SMART goal, mini-deadlines could be set, such as decreasing his anxiety rating by 2 points every month. 

So, what does Jim do next? It all depends on how he is feeling on the inside. This is where Jim would ask himself questions. For example, where does the anxiety derive from? What can I do to improve this? It could be that he is lacking confidence due to his physical appearance and he feels unloved. 

Mental health goal setting for Jim, in this case, could be to begin eating healthily and regularly exercising to boost natural endorphins and the body’s ‘feel-good’ factor. Perhaps this method is not suitable for him… instead, he could buy some new clothes and get a haircut to improve his appearance and boost his confidence. Little steps forward can have a huge overall impact. It’s all about moving in the right direction and gaining positive forward momentum through mental health goal setting.

Starting to set and manage your own mental health goals can be tough. If you need help getting started, or need help beyond setting yourself goals, speak to Claimont today to see how we can help you. The first step is to simply talk to a member of our team, so we can consider the next suitable actions to improve your overall health and mental wellbeing.