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Spring Remix

keesto | 5/10/2013, 11:38 a.m.
By Eric D. Griggs, M.D. Data News Weekly Columnist In observance of May being Mental...
Spring Remix

By Eric D. Griggs, M.D.

Data News Weekly Columnist

In observance of May being Mental Health Month, I felt it most fitting to revisit a previous article about Mental Health. Mental Health and mental illness are often times under -addressed and under-appreciated in our society. In today's stressful world, distinguishing between the two is critical. Please read, relax and enjoy:

Take an Aspirin

Don't we all wish it was that simple? A simple pill to take to make all of our headaches go away. Car issues, money problems, problems on the job- the whole gamut. If only there was a simple solution to make them disappear, or at the very least, help us to be stress-free. Sadly, life is not that simple. There are no magic pills. We are forced daily to not only deal with the stresses of life, but even worse, because of societal perceptions, internalize our stresses. Phrases such as: "Suck it up", "Just deal with it", or more commonly, "I'm fine" has become the expected phrases when stressful situations arise when actually, nothing could be further from the truth. We live in a world where the line between Mental "Health" and Mental "Illness" has become so blurred that both have become taboo, particularly in the African-American community. Get the facts.

Let's start with the definitions.

Mental Health is defined as:

The psychological state of someone who is functioning at a satisfactory level of emotional and behavioral adjustment

(wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn)

Mental Illness is defined as:

Any disease of the mind; the psychological state of someone who has emotional or behavioral problems serious enough to require psychiatric intervention

(wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn)

The line between the two, as interpreted above, is abundantly clear. Mental Health refers to a person's overall well-being and ability to respond and adapt to the occurrences in their environment, much like that of physical health. Accordingly, Mental Illness is what occurs in the presence of pathology. It is a medical condition and often times, intervention is required. In order to overcome the stigma of Mental Health, people need to understand the parallels between mental well-being and physical well- being.

When it comes to our bodies, there are multiple campaigns out there to encourage us to get fit and exercise for at least 30 minutes a day. Millions of dollars are spent encouraging us to eat right and "just move" as preventative measures to avoid physical ailments such as Diabetes, Hypertension, and Cancer to name a few. However, much less common are the campaigns to motivate us to maintain and sharpen our mental well-being, effectively keeping the subject "taboo." We are much less likely to discuss mental and emotional issues in our lives for fear of being labeled as "crazy" or "unstable." The sad reality is that this propensity of avoidance only potentiates the problem and leads further down the road to Mental Pathology and further from Mental Health.

The key to sound Mental Health can be found in three areas: Stress Management, Enjoyment of Life, and a Healthy Attitude. Here are a few tips.

  1. Don't let your emotions get "bottled up" inside. Appropriately share your feelings with others.
  2. Learn to manage your time efficiently.
  3. Avoid unnecessary arguments or quarrels.
  4. Balance work and play.
  5. He who laughs, lasts. Improve your laugh life.
  6. Live a healthy lifestyle (i.e., eat well, exercise, and get sufficient sleep).
  7. Set realistic goals for yourself.
  8. Be flexible in dealing with people and events
  9. Forgive yourself for mistakes.
  10. See the "positive" in events.

(http://studenthealth.uaa.alaska.edu/YourMentalHealth/SecIj.htm)

Prescription for the Week: Take time out to talk to a friend. Remember, sharing your headache story could be someone else's aspirin. And as always, remember...Get Checked. Get Fit. Get MOVING!