May is Mental Health month. All month I will be highlighting various mental health topics which have touched my life or the lives around me.
Why? Because mental health is a spiritual issue. Our mental health:
- is a way into a deeper spiritual life and relationship with God – as it is our place of reference from which we perceive and live in the world and can become who God has created us to be.
- can be a barrier to an honest relationship with God, when we or others ignore or make it worse.
- can be a darkness in which God provides us with a light to either heal or manage our lives.
- has a direct impact on our physical health, both of which impacts our daily life in positive and negative ways on our spiritual journeys.
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.” It is estimated that only about 17% of U.S. adults are considered to be in a state of optimal mental health. There is emerging evidence that positive mental health is associated with improved health outcomes. (Source: CDC Mental Health Basics)
Are you or someone you know dealing with mental health issues? Unlike a broken arm or heart arrhythmia, mental health issues are often hidden. They are dismissed as someone’s personality, preferences, laziness, meanness, or a million other things. Here are a few generalized indicators that you or someone you know is likely dealing with a mental health issue (not all have to apply):
- You feel as if you aren’t normal. You think something is wrong with how you think or feel, but don’t know what it is.
- When faced with a new situation or one that has been stressful in the past, you either become more demanding, insistent, and talk louder, or you avoid, reluctantly give-in, and recede into the background.
- You often tell others what to do, and/or tell them how to do something better or different.
- Multiple people in different parts of your life have minimal interaction with you, ignore you, and/or seem to always fight against whatever you do/think, even if you have a core group of friends/family who you get along well with.
- You have a habit of either quitting or being fired from jobs due to personality conflicts.
- When you feel sad, happy, disappointed or have another particular feeling, you have to do something. In other words, a feeling triggers a response that you have to do in order to feel better or normal. (Some examples: drink a bottle of wine, a shopping spree at Target or Goodwill, yell or hit someone, eat a particular food, etc.)
- You keep doing the same things that helped you be happy as a kid, but as an adult they cause problems.
- You have chronic physical issues, such as back or shoulder pain, migraines, stomach pain, and colds, flu and/or other infections.
These are a very limited list of indicators that you or someone you know may have mental health issues. Just because you or someone else has a health issue within the mysterious workings of our brains, doesn’t mean it makes us any less of a person than having a health issue with another part of our body. Yet, we keep denying it in ourselves and others…we see the person as bad or wrong, rather than having an issue that can and should be dealt with.
Join me this month as I discuss various mental health issues and provide additional resources on the topics. Let me know if there is a particular resource or topic you find important.
For more general information regarding mental health, click here: CDC
For more information regarding overcoming anxiety, join us on May 18th in Victoria, MN as Author Jan Dunlap discusses with us the connections between our spiritual journeys, animals, and mental health.
Gracious God, You created us as amazing and unique individuals. Yet as our bodies have difficulties, so do our minds. Lord, help us be open and honest about mental health, and most importantly, help us to see each individuals as Your Child, not their issue. Amen.