A Healthy Mind Leads to a Healthy Life
“No limit is placed on you; only the limits of your mind. Free your mind and know that your possibilities are truly unlimited!” – Harriet Tubman Wright
May is National Mental Health Awareness Month. The theme for 2018 is #CureStigma. According to the National Alliance on Mental Health, NAMI, one in 5 Americans is affected by mental health conditions. Stigma is toxic to their mental health because it creates an environment of shame, fear, silence that prevents many people from seeking help and treatment. However, stigma is 100% curable with compassion, empathy and understanding.
- How do you define mental health?
- What is your response to the term mental illness?
- Do you have family members or friends who contend with mental health challenges?
There are several definitions of mental health. 1) Mental health refers to our cognitive, behavioral and emotional wellbeing – it is all about how we think, feel and behave. Mental health affects daily life, relationships and physical health. It includes a person’s ability to enjoy life – attain a balance between life activities and efforts to achieve psychological resilience. And the definition that I prefer: 2) Mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her community. (World Health Organization)
- What keeps you functioning optimally in body, mind and spirit?
Mental Health Challenges
Many factors contribute to mental health challenges:
- Biological such as genes, brain chemistry or nutrition
- Hormonal changes
- Trauma or abuse
- Environmental factors
- Grief and bereavement
- Life-threatening illness
- Stress (finances, work, relationships)
Note that stress is very common with the most negative effect on your well-being. You’ve been impacted by one or more of these factors at some point in your life. The degree to which you navigate, cope with or overcome these factors influences your overall health and well-being. And whenever you’re unable to effectively handle these challenges; feel angry, depressed, irritable, anxious for a prolonged time, or even suicidal, you can seek support from a friend, counselor, spiritual advisor, health practitioner or doctor. The key is to release any sense of shame, fear or resistance and get help! In my own life, I’ve experienced bouts of depression that have led to hospitalization, out-patient care, prescribed drugs and therapy. Fortunately, I’ve successfully moved through these periods of depression with the loving, non-judgmental, practical support of my birth family, church family and village family. Working with a few sensitive, skilled talk therapists has helped, plus taking prescribed anti-depressants on a short-term basis. Compassionate staff who encouraged me to play with arts and crafts; creative activities was also beneficial. Over time, I’ve learned that spirituality, creativity, community, service, growth and freedom are essential to my health and well-being in body, mind and spirit. The perception of mental illness and the stigma against people with mental health conditions won’t change unless we each act to change it. This is one reason I’m using National Mental Health Awareness Month to share the fact that throughout my adulthood, I’ve dealt with mental health challenges and feel grateful to have received appropriate support, even when I was initially kicking and screaming about it…
“You can take refuge in depression without allowing it to become your residence.” – Harriet Tubman Wright
I hope the insights and information are helpful and welcome your feedback! Please see a list of related resources below: Releasing Stress, Creating Serenity A BodyMindSpirit Self-Care Primer for Busy Women, by Harriet Tubman Wright at: NAMI, the National Alliance on Mental Illness, is the nation’s largest grassroots mental health organization dedicated to building better lives for the millions of Americans affected by mental illness. https://www.mentalhealth.gov/basics/what-is-mental-health http://canwetalk.ca/about-mental-illness/factors-affecting-mental-health/ https://www.mindmatters.edu.au/about-mindmatters/news/article/2017/09/15/factors-affecting-womens-mental-health https://www.nami.org/Find-Support/Diverse-Communities/African-American-Mental-Health