Kutcher’s fascination with psychology and the human brain began in high school. She followed that fascination to Walsh University, where she earned her undergraduate degree and then a master’s degree in counseling and human development.
Counseling was a natural fit, Kutcher said.
In her almost 10 years in the field, Kutcher has worked with a variety of populations, including adolescents, adults with mental health diagnosis and those with developmental disabilities. At StarkMHAR, Kutcher acts as the organization’s clients rights officer and works to make the organization more trauma informed. She also serves with multiple community collaboratives that tackle issues such as mental illness, trauma and resiliency, development disabilities and human trafficking.
It’s important to take care of your own mental health, and there are plenty of ways to do so, Kutcher said.
Here are some of her suggestions.
1. Pay attention to your physical health. Keep up with regular checkups and preventative care, Kutcher said. “We know physical health plays a huge role in affecting mental health and vice-versa.”
Physical symptoms can sometimes be the first clue toward a mental health diagnosis, she said.
If you’ve noticed a change in sleeping or eating habits or if your energy levels are out-of-whack, it might be time to see your doctor.
“Those may be things people notice first, and once it’s looked into a little more, you realize it may be part of something bigger,” she said.
It’s vital to take care of your body, she said.
Ask yourself: Are you getting enough sleep? Is it good sleep? Pay attention to diet and exercise by doing things such as eating a balanced diet and taking an actual lunch break instead of grazing at your desk.
Get up and talk a walk at lunch, she suggested.
“In one form or another, getting that exercise has such a great impact on mental health.”
2. Take care of yourself. Don’t ignore your mental and emotional needs, Kutcher said.
Figure out what you need to do at the start or end of every day to unwind, and make whatever that is a priority.
“Be mindful of what you need and make time for it. Give yourself permission to have time for it,” she said. “Really, it’s OK to take care of your needs.”
Be aware of whatever it is you need, but maybe aren’t getting, day to day. It could be spending more time with friends and family. Or having time to pursue a personal hobby or interest. But whatever it is that you’re seeking or longing for, be sure to incorporate that into your schedule, Kutcher said.
It’s also important to remember your spiritual needs, she said. “Especially in recovery, the role of faith and spirituality is so impactful.”
Practicing self-care isn’t selfish.
3. Don’t be afraid to seek help. If you notice something going on with your mental health, don’t be afraid to ask for help.
StarkMHAR has an online assessment tool—screening.mentalhealthscreening.org/starkMHAR—that asks you to answer a few questions. The online tool can’t diagnosis a mental illness, but it can give you an idea if what you’re experiencing isn’t OK, Kutcher said.
The online tool is a good place to start, she said. And it provides links to StarkMHAR resources, so if you have concerns, you can take the next step.
“Recovery is possible,” Kutcher said.
StarkMHAR is working to reduce the stigma around mental illness, which can prevent people from seeking care when they need it.
You can’t be afraid to reach out, she said. “Giving yourself that permission is so critical.”