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A dose of inspiration

"Though no one can go back and make a brand new start, anyone can start from now and make a brand new ending." - Carl Bard

"We tend to forget that happiness doesn't come as a result of getting something that we don't have, but rather of recognizing and appreciating what we do have. " - Frederick Keonig

"Stress is the trash of modern life- we all generate it but if you don't dispose of it properly, it will pile up and overtake your life." -Terri Guillemets

Sunday, August 8, 2010

MENTAL health- Big Bad Word or Just a Part of All of Us?

When we hear the word "health" we rarely think about our mental health and emotional well- being. We think of eating healthy in order to avoid being overweight, which we know can cause such health problems as diabetes, heart attacks, and high cholesterol. We think of going to the doctor when we have a fever and have been feeling sick for days. We think of getting checked out if we find an odd lump or notice something different about our bodies. Are we ashamed to go to the doctor to make sure everything is okay? Are we afraid to get antibiotics if we have an infection that needs to be fought off with medication? No, for the most part, when you are talking about the health of Americans, it is not an embarrassing or unacceptable practice to see a medical doctor for our health needs. It has become "normal" customary practice to see doctors regularly for check-ups and especially to see a doctor when something is different in our bodies. When it comes to our mental and emotional well-being, however, it seems to be an entirely different story.

We know that there are connections between the mind and body and I think it would be difficult for anyone to argue the fact that this connection exists. I'm sure if I tried searching for a person who did not ever have the experience of feeling the effects of their thoughts inside their body, it would be impossible to find such a person. For example, have you ever thought about something that you were nervous about, such as doing a presentation in front of a class, or going to the dentist, and you got a stomach ache? Or someone tells you a graphic story about someone they know breaking their leg and seeing the bone pop out of the skin and you start to feel queasy? Or you were worried about approaching your boss for a promotion and felt really anxious, but then you gave yourself a pep talk and convinced yourself that it was going to be okay because you deserved this promotion, and then suddenly realized you weren't afraid anymore? These are all examples of times when you experienced the connection between your mind and your body. So if we know that there is a connection between your thoughts and feelings and the resulting reactions in your body, then how can we say that this connection does not effect your health? And if the connections between your mental health and physical health are connected, then why is there such a stigma against going to get help for mental health concerns? It seems that it should be a regular part of our health check-up and seeing a mental health professional should be a part of our regular routine of self-care. Our mind is connected to our bodies in a way that cannot be separated and neither can survive without the other.

Now you may be asking, how do I know when I need to see a mental health professional(meaning a Psychologist, Marriage and Family Therapist, Social Worker, Counselor, etc.)? It's not like you can take your temperature to find out if you're depressed. Or take a urine test to find out how anxious you are. Understanding and monitoring your mental health is not as straightforward as keeping tabs on your physical health. This is also a topic that can (and probably will be very soon!) an entire blog entry of its own. To explain briefly, changes in your behavior, thoughts, mood, interests, eating or sleeping habits, and relationships with others are good places to start in terms of looking for signs of problems developing within yourself in a mental capacity. The point here is that we need to get to the point where it is acceptable and completely normal to understand our mental health, be able to talk about it, and take care of it.

Why do you think people are afraid to speak freely and openly about their mental health, when it really boils down to being just one part of themselves?

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