Mental Health Crisis, A Global Challenge

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As I sat looking at the screen, I knew what I wanted to write about.  I struggled with the title to frame my direction, and everything I came up with sounded like a news headline. As you can see, I ended with a “headline-like” phrase mental health crisis.  My goal in sharing some of my thoughts is to stimulate your thinking about how mentally healthy you are, and for you to use those thoughts perhaps make some changes.

Words Matter

The words we use frame the situation and how we respond to it. Let’s look at the words I used in my title.

“Thoughts.” I have thoughts that I am going to share. I don’t have all the answers, but I do have some thoughts – thoughts that I think/hope can be helpful to you.

I chose “a” mental health crisis not “the” mental health crisis – which implies there might be more than one. I considered using the word “your” – and while that might have been more powerful, it might have kept you from reading. (Feel free to replace the “a” with “your” in your mind if you wish.) I’m thinking about how our overall mental health might be compromised today, and how that is impacting our ability to thrive at work and in the rest of our lives.

“Crisis.” If we believe we face a mental health crisis, we will think and respond differently than if we see it as a situation or event.  Labeling it a crisis certainly creates a mental sense of urgency, yet when many things are labelled as a crisis, at some point we can become numb to, or disassociate from them. While I don’t want us to disassociate from this, I chose a strong word on purpose. Because what we are facing collectively, and very possibly personally, is too important to ignore.

How do you feel about the words I chose?

A New Frame

I believe a better frame for our thinking about this crisis/situation is this:  Creating greater mental and emotional fitness.

There are two important differences in this frame:

  • Mental and emotional – our mental condition and our emotional condition are connected.  And while we are talking about our mental health, I believe we will be more accurate and effective when we consider our emotions as well.
  • Fitness vs health. To be fit means we are better able to perform or succeed.  In the physical realm, you know someone who was fit who got sick. Yes there is much we can do to improve the odds we will be healthy, but good genetics or luck can leave us healthy.  Fitness comes by our choices and practices. For that reason, I like the frame of fitness as more proactive than health.

How would you frame this for yourself?

Acknowledgment

I know that you, or someone you know is:

  • Lonely
  • Hurting
  • Scared
  • Frustrated
  • Anxious
  • Overwhelmed

When we experience change and uncertainty these feeling are natural and a part of being a human. But when they are amplified, they can keep us from being mentally and emotionally fit. The first step to addressing these thoughts/feelings is acknowledge them.  If you are feeling them, you are not alone.  If you aren’t, know that someone you around you is.

When I look down and can’t see past my belly, I can acknowledge I might need to lose some weight and get more fit. Similarly, when we acknowledge how we are feeling we have the necessary awareness to make a choice to get more mentally and emotionally fit.

What are you feeling now?

Start Local

The media can trumpet a mental health crisis, and they may be right. But if we are already anxious and scared, thinking globally will only make it worse. Here is what matters:

  • Working on your mental and emotional fitness. Doing things to feel better, get recharged and refocused will help you become more fit.
  • Helping others. Recognize others might be struggling. Listen more. Be more attentive.  But do that after you make sure you take care of yourself first. You can’t give your best to others if you aren’t at your best (or moving in that direction) yourself.
  • Getting more help. People hire personal trainers to help with their physical fitness (even those who are already in great shape). You might need professional help, and if you think you might, your inner voice already knows you do.  If you sense you need help, get it. If you want to get even more fit, go for it.

Where will you start?

I don’t need to sell you on the value and importance of being mentally and emotionally fit. I hope that my thoughts will prompt you to think more about it too.  More than thinking though, I hope your thoughts lead to taking some action for yourself and others.

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