TAKING CHARGE OF YOUR MENTAL HEALTH
We are in our 20th month of the Covid virus. That is over a year and a half of living under fear, uncertainty, grief, job losses or changes, rapid changes, environments that were out of our control, and sometimes constant stress, on a global scale. While we have had some relief, Covid is not gone yet. The human mind was never designed to operate under conditions of such extended adversity without negative repercussions. So, I would say that the mental health of everyone in this room and perhaps everyone throughout the world has been challenged and affected, to a lesser or greater degree, by the phenomenon that we have experienced. There’s no way that it could not have been affected. When we think of mental health and mental illness, we often think of mainly the very serious, diagnosable disorders that millions of people suffer with. These conditions have been amplified by the events of the past 19 months. We are not only concerned with those issues now, but the mental health and wellness of every person.
Mental illness and mental health or not opposites: you can be mentally healthy and still have down days and you can live with a mental illness and still have good days. Mental wellness comes from feeling good and functioning in a healthy way which can be worked on by developing a positive mindset, sleep patterns, and building self-esteem. (Business Insider, 2021) Mental health is more than just the absence of mental illness. When poor mental health or distress has a sustained negative impact on someone’s ability to work, have meaningful relationships, and fulfill day-to-day tasks, extra support is usually needed.
All of us here have made it to this present point one way or another. But there may still be residual feelings of anxiety, depression or unrest that need to be dealt with to make our quality of life even better. With all of the things that we have not been able to control over the past year and a half, we CAN take charge of our own mental health. Many times, the members of the Beautiful Minds Coalition have reviewed different ways to make yourself feel better or to improve your mood— exercise, walking, meditation, relaxation exercises, hobbies, and maintaining a support network. But many people may decide that they now need professional help to deal with these issues. This chart from NAMI gives some very good ways to take charge of your mental health. Many times, a person may feel apprehensive about making an appointment with a counselor or therapist, but this information describes what to expect when considering talking with a specialist. In addition, tips for generally living well are listed at the bottom of the chart.
Very soon we will have another resource available in our congregation, either as a participant or as a seeker. That is the Bridges to Care San Antonio program which is a lay ministry that trains congregational members to walk supportively alongside someone who may be having mental health or emotional issues. We would love to have as many of our congregants participate as possible. You certainly do not have to be a mental health professional. The persons who will be acting as the Wellness Champions will be trained by the NAMI organization and will be compassionate, concerned listeners for those who have problems they would like to discuss. So, when that is available, it will be a very valuable resource in our congregation and in many other congregations across San Antonio. Mr. Michael McMains is contact person for Bridges to Care. And even if you feel that your mental health issue is minimal, there is never a stigma about asking for help, professional or otherwise. We seek medical intervention and help if we have a medical problem, so it is no different if we have an emotional problem to seek help. These are ways in which we take charge of our mental health, and after what we have all been through, we could probably all use some empathetic listening ears. If you would like to contact a professional, please check with your insurance company or check with any of the Beautiful Minds Coalition members here at Covenant. It is all confidential. If your quality of life is not as you would like it to be, please reach out.