by Angie Harvey
When you see the word “health” I am sure that you, like most Americans, like most people think, of medical health. Mental health does not usually cross our minds although it is the corner stone of who we are as humans. We are living in an ever changing world. Feeling “OK,” which is not an emotion has become the new depressed and that being said I suggest we immediately consider our mental health as an area that requires as much – if not more care and consideration as our physical health.
I have spent the last fifteen years and I’ll spend the next fifty on my soap box attempting to get anyone who will listen to understand, accept, and believe the facts regarding the importance of mental wellness. Mental health is the foundation of your physical, dental, spiritual, financial and emotional relationships. The definition of health according to Merriam Webster is, “The general condition of a person‘s mind, body and spirit, usually meaning to be free from illness, injury or pain.” The later part of this definition is essential as it relates to our mental health: a mind free from illness, injury, or pain. What I am asking you to consider is that your mental health is not just an enhancement but the primary and most instrumental component needed to promote flourishing conditions in any other area of your life.
I know that it will take some convincing for most of us to wrap our brain around this concept. Never fear, I have come prepared and equipped with knowledge. However in order for you to take this journey with me, you will need to be open. Yes, I am asking you to proceed without confining barriers and to adjust your mind to allow the passage of any information to be received. Oh, and I’m going to also need you to be willing to be exposed and vulnerable to attacks (of your thoughts) and questions (of your current beliefs). Got it? Alright, let’s GROW!!
Imagine this: You get the results from your annual physical (which you should get annually) and the result from a particular test that comes back is unfavorable. Where does this information go first? Your brain. This is where you mentally begin teetering close to the deep end or attempt to understand what has taken place. No matter the circumstance, in order to prepare yourself in a rational way you have to be mentally healthy. At the moment when your mind is racing and you feed yourself a million negative conclusions, there is not any amount of money that can help. Your partner cannot reassure you enough and your mother/father cannot comfort you enough because you have concluded that the outcome is not going to be okay. Even if you have a strong spiritual base, often times you find that you have to mentally steer yourself towards your beliefs in order to be comforted by your faith. Do you see where I’m growing with this?! Our ability to use our mental powers (no, not the ones that can move objects) is what grounds us, keeps us afloat and/or keeps us soaring through and around cloud nine, and prevents us from landing in dysfunction. This is the reason why it is so important to foster great mental health.
What baffles me is that if we fall and need stitches we GO to the doctor. If we break a manicured or polished nail, we GO see our manicurist. If we chip a tooth, we GO to the dentist. If we fall down spiritually, we GO to church. If we lose money in the stock market, we GO to see our financial planner. But if we struggle mentally and emotionally, we do not GO anywhere. This, my people, is the problem, and if misery loves company, then we are giving it in abundance. I do not believe that we don’t care about our mental health; it’s just not the popular thing to do nor is it the “thing” that folks talk about. Even though we meet and greet one another with, “How are you?” we often continue on when we received no response or an unfavorable one. We make the assumption that if you are up walking and talking, then you must at least be okay. We would quickly give greater consideration to someone who was sick or in the hospital. People, be clear that there are more mentally unhealthy people walking amongst us than there are physically sick people in hospitals. Yes, I see mentally unhealthy people every day, and most of them don’t even know they are mentally unhealthy.
I know. I know. You want a ‘fix it tool.” You’re in luck! I have just the thing you need. It’s called mental movement. It is not the latest gimmick or some new equipment. It is simply something that we usually have refuse to fully embrace. Mental movement is the act of changing the position that is carried out in the mind. In order to exercise this power, you have to keep your mind healthy; fit and free from ongoing despair. Whether or not this is completely possible has always been the obstacle. Achieving mental movement takes work, requires the desire to be of a healthy mind and a willingness to subscribe to the other side of impossibility. I already know your next question: “How?” Well, if you’re like the other 95 percent of Americans, then your mind is cluttered with yesterday, tomorrow, back then, today, and “stuff.” There are different issues, situations and circumstances we have not resolved or accepted (there IS a difference) that hinders our ability to mentally GROW away from death and dive into life. We have personality challenges that consciously we decline to address or change, and there are often words left unsaid -not to mention the questions left unanswered. These things add to the chaos of our unhealthy minds. The confusing clutter can leave your mind mentally exhausted and unable to take on new challenges. Thus, this clutter limits GROWTH potential. Anything you do not maintain and nurture is eventually going to stop working for you. The bottom line is if it isn’t GROWING, it’s dead. Get it?
Believe it or not your mind is more fragile than your body. If left unhealthy for too long it can actually cause you more damage in the long run. My advice is, just as you do your body, you should do your mind. So, get your mind in shape. You have to recognize the importance of a healthy mind and continually seek positive change and growth like it was a sale at Macy’s. I have a few suggestions for how you can make this your reality. I hope you’re still open.
To start, find, create, and develop a relationship with a counselor/therapist/life coach. I know this suggestion has typically been taboo, especially in the African American community, but it works. Processing information with a professional or confidant is essential to GROWING UP. You just have to be ready. It does not mean you have to be in crisis, but just like with your physical health, being proactive and practicing prevention will keep you operating at your mental prime. That’s right – get help before you find yourself yelling for, “HELP!”
Do some research. Self-help books are a great place to start. I know what many of you are saying: “I watch Oprah and I own all of Wayne Dyer’s books.” My people, it is not enough to watch it or have it and read it. You have to implement the key concepts suggested. I call it, applying the paint. We go out and get the paint but never put it on the wall. Well, your room will never change colors until you get out the brush and put the paint on the wall. You have to apply the knowledge of the circumstance of your world never changes.
Do not be afraid to do a self-inventory. This is where you take an inventory of what you have, what you need, what you have too much of, and what you don’t have enough of. I highly recommend asking a few people that you know can and will be honest to answering key questions regarding your mental strengths and weaknesses. Now don’t go soliciting advice from your cousin who has been calling you crazy since you were seven. Ask those who you believe have your best interest – GROWTH – in mind and won’t back down because it isn’t easy or they may hurt your feelings. When you collect this information, you can then begin to bring your A Game: being AWARE, being able to ACKNOWLEDGE, ACCEPT, take ACTION, and perform ongoing AFTERCARE.
Seek GROWTH from other sources. I encourage you all to GROW with the help of my website www.angieharveyspeaks.com and review the numerous GROWTH services and opportunities. You can also find GROWTH on all of my social media sites including YouTube.com/angieharveyonline and facebook.com/angieharveyonline. What? This wasn’t a good time for a shameless plug? Okay. Okay. There are many other conventional and unconventional professionals, organizations and foundations that exist whose sole purpose is helping individuals operate in mental wellness and I guess you can use them too.
I hope that the visionary in you can see how important your mental health is and how keeping your mind healthy can be of great benefit to you. My people, the NAACP has it right when they say “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” GROW ahead and salvage yours. It’s never too late.