The Mental Health Continuum Model (MHCM)

Mental health, like physical health, exists on a continuum. It is a dynamic changing state that can deteriorate or improve given the right set of circumstances. Therefore, mental health concerns, if identified and treated early, have the potential to be temporary and reversible.

The mental health continuum model, developed in collaboration with the United States Marine Corps (USMC) in 2008, promotes awareness of mental health indicators in self and others, early recognition of distress, management strategies and prevention. This model goes from healthy adaptive coping (green), through mild and reversible distress or functional impairment (yellow), to more severe, persistent injury or impairment (orange), to clinical illnesses and disorders requiring more concentrated medical care (red). The arrows under the four color blocks denote movement in both directions is possible, thus indicating that there is always the possibility for a return to full health and functioning.

The mental health continuum model is designed to help identify specific changes in health and performance in six different domains: mood, attitude and performance, sleep, physical health, social well-being, and substance use/gambling/gaming issues.

The Mental Health Continuum Model
Text equivalent
  Healthy Reacting Injured Ill
Mood Normal mood fluctuations
Calm & takes things in stride
Irritable/ Impatient
Sadness/ Overwhelmed
Pervasively sad/ Hopeless
Angry outbursts/ aggression
Excessive anxiety/ Panic
Depressed/ Suicidal thoughts
Attitude & Performance Good sense of humour
Performing well
In control mentally
Displaced sarcasm
Negative attitude
Poor performance/ Workaholic
Poor concentration
Poor decision-making
Overt insubordination
Can't perform duties, control behaviour or concentration
Sleep Normal sleep patterns
Few sleep difficulties
Trouble sleeping
Intrusive thoughts
Restless disturbed sleep
Recurrent images
Recurrent nightmares
Can't fall asleep or stay asleep
Sleeping too much or too little
Physical Health Physically well
Good energy level
Muscle tension
Low energy
Increased aches and pains
Increased fatigue
Physical illnesses
Constant fatique
Social Well-being Physically and socially active Decreased social activity
Reduced socializing
Not going out or answering phone
Substance Use & Gaming No or low risk use of alcohol/ cannabis/ gambling/ gaming Alcohol/ cannabis/ gambling/ gaming increasingly used to relieve tension/ cope with stress Difficulties limiting use of alcohol/ cannabis/ gambling/ gaming Unable to control use of alcohol/ cannabis/ gambling/ gaming

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