Maintaining one’s mental health in a troubling world

“The only thing we have to fear is fear itself”

President Franklin Roosevelt, Inaugural Speech, 1932

When President elect Roosevelt made this infamous statement in 1932, our nation was in the throes of the Great Depression.

The crash of the stock market and economic losses left everyone in a state of panic and despair; from the very rich to the very poor, and unlike anything that had ever been experienced in our society; and lasting for many years.

Unfortunately it took a World War to get our nation out of the Great Depression, yet on the positive side it spawned a generation of great peoples, those that were able to overcome those harsh and terrible times, and made positive choices for their families, selves, and society; that’s why we call them the Greatest Generation…and a mentally healthy nation.

I am re-printing this article to you this day, not only in solemn recognition of those massacred in the recent attacks in Orlando on our Citizenry, but as a reminder to all of us that we need not live in fear, but must carry on in leading the good fight on our journey of life.

In contemporary society we face many, many problems spawned by new generations.

Terroristic threats and actions in our schools and public facilities, abductions, our countries economic debts, downsizing of our nation’s military in times of dire threats, rampant alcohol and other drug abuse, violence on our nations bordering country, our seemingly never ending war in the Middle East, etc.; all unhealthy contributors toward our nations mental health.

Yet we will overcome and continue to push forward with resiliency and determination…with faith and hope that things will indeed get better.

How does one maintain good mental health in the face of all the negative things going on in our society? How do we deal with, and overcome, our anxieties and fears? How do we overcome the anxious and depressive feelings incurred when watching the news on TV or reading about it in our daily newspapers and on the internet?

As I have often written about in my articles, life’s journey is not easy, for anyone. Life is demanding and we often grow weary and tired. The demands placed on us in contemporary society; family, work, personal aims and goals; and yes, even our nation’s woes; all have “speed bumps” along the way. The speed bumps, or barriers, give us three choices; to climb over, go around, or become unwilling to attempt the first two choices.

Unfortunately, in the work of my chosen profession of counseling, I have most often encountered individuals that were unwilling or unable to delve into the positive choices to exact change…they have lost hope and faith. By the same token, there are many who take action to exact change.

We need only to read this newspaper to give us a picture of all the positive things going on with people in our community; pictures and articles of our youth and aged with their remarkable feats and stories, etc. They remain mentally healthy due to their activities of mind and body.

How do we, as individuals, help ourselves and our communities stay mentally healthy? Let me suggest the following steps to you:

Remain Politically Active: So often I encounter individuals who tell me, “I do not get involved with politics!” Or, “My vote doesn’t count any way!” Let me remind you that whether you like it or not, by the very nature of you being a citizen you are already in politics. Remember that once the election of a President was decided by just one vote. Although not mandatory, it is a citizen’s obligation to vote. Don’t gripe and moan about your community, State, or nations elected officials if you do not vote and let them know your concerns. Yes, there is such a thing as a society’s mental health. Help our communities and our nation maintain good mental health by involving yourself…attend city council open meetings, write or call your elected officials, etc; they are there to hear your concerns .

Get Out of Yourself: For parents this means having the needs of your children come first before self, and we need to teach them to be responsible for their actions. It also it means to help your other relatives and friends when they are in need. It also means to find ways that you can help your community. Each of us have talents, treasure, and time that we can voluntarily share with others no matter what our station in life.

Take care of yourself: It is very difficult to take care or share with others when our own health is threatened. Be physically healthy by eating properly, exercising, etc. Exercise your mind by reading, doing puzzles, or through other means. If you need help with your physical or mental health insure you reach out for help.

Your Life’s Journey is determined by the choices you make: No matter what our station in life, no matter our creed or religious tenets, no matter our ethnicity, no matter whether we are young or aged, no matter whether we are affluent or just making ends meet, whether we have a physical or mental disability; we all are capable of making choices…whether they be “good” or “bad” choices concerning our thoughts and actions; and above all are indeed responsible for our own thoughts and actions.

We begin learning this during early childhood, and are continually reminded of this by parental figures throughout our life. Don’t play the “blame game”…our choices are ours alone, and we need to “own” them.

Have a life journey of faith and hope: As with the Greatest Generation, we must have faith in a belief system that the journey will be met with confidence and trust in relationships, and faith that a higher power will provide guidance; and hope that the journey, even though there be hills and valleys to overcome, that everything will turn out okay. Many have found solace in that…learning about the resiliency of the human spirit and a belief in a higher power. These values strike at the heart of our ability to get through even the direst problems we may encounter; they are being able to live in faith and hope, not just to see them as nice words; they are essential to our having good mental health.

No my friends, we need not live in fear. Each person’s life journey, the entire life journey, is most important. Our everyday life of compassion, sharing in work and rejoicing with others is what life is all about. Thinking of “pie in the sky by and by” is inadequate. Even amid the speed bumps and the rough places in life, we need to look for life’s bright things.

Until next time, Stay Healthy my Friends!