May is “Mental Health" month, it actually has been since 1949.
I didn’t know that.
It’s a little hard to keep track of which month is which these days since May is also Asthma and Allergy Awareness Month, Better Sleep Month, Employee Health and Fitness Month, Healthy Vision Month/UV Safety, National Mental Health Month, National Physical Fitness and Sports Month.
Anyway, Mental Health America, founded in 1909, is the country's oldest and largest nonprofit organization addressing all aspects of mental health and mental illness. Their website this month gives some startling statistics, and then some good news.
The startling stats: “1 in 4 American adults live with a diagnosable, treatable mental health condition.”
The good news: “They can go on to live full and productive lives.”
Good news about a national health dilemma is always welcome, but the good news statement begs the question, How do the almost 80 million among us with mental health conditions go on to live full and productive lives? The answer is probably as varied as the individual mental health challenges themselves.
The Mental Health Association website also offers an interesting resource called the “Do More for 1in4 Toolkit." A quick scan of the toolkit shows that it breaks down mental health conditions into categories and then offers lots of practical advice.
Being a proponent and beneficiary of spiritually-based health solutions, I was hoping to find some ideas along those lines in the “toolkit” and was disappointed to come up empty. This is understandable since spirituality is so often thought to be the exclusive domain of religion. And publicly funded health resources tend to shy away from any kind of religious endorsement. Rightfully so.
But do you have to sign up for a particular religion to tap into spiritual resources for better health? I don’t think so. In today’s world of readily available online information, health advice and spiritual resources are available to anyone, religious or not.
One of my favorites is a free award winning iPhone app called “Daily Lift” which offers two minutes of daily spiritual inspiration from experienced Christian healers. You don’t have to embrace any particular religion to listen and benefit. Another helpful health app is Healing Words Pro, which offers daily scriptures, testimonies, videos and prayer circles, all for $.99.
We are a nation of open-minded seekers; and a lot of the seeking has a spiritual core. According to the Pew Research Center, over 58 percent of us pray daily, and 80 percent of Internet users look online for health information. Many of those people are finding permanent solutions to mental darkness and confusion without drugs or psychiatric treatment.
So whatever health month it happens to be, there are always spiritual solutions available. And although core religious beliefs are immensely helpful for some, myself included, they’re not a requirement. An open-minded and healthy search for truth is all it takes to get started.