J & J's Gibberish J and J Gibberish: Mental Health? Trash the Term. Think about Being Mentally Healthy

J and J Gibberish: Mental Health? Trash the Term. Think about Being Mentally Healthy

J and J Gibberish: Mental Health? Trash the Term. Think about Being Mentally Healthy

Photo credit: Jennifer Hartley 


This week is the Canadian Mental Health Association’s Mental Health Week. Yay!

So much has been done to raise awareness over the years. There is absolutely no question that the discussion around mental health has increased over the last few years, even since I began my journey with Jacob into the whirlwind world of severe mental illness.  

That is absolutely a wonderful thing. Initiatives like Bell Let’s Talk, celebrities talking about their challenges with mental health, more talk about it in schools, normalizing mental health challenges is important.  It is discussed at all levels of government now and Members of Parliament, such as James Maloney, MP and Lloyd Longfield, MP both had mental health forums in the last two weeks.

For its part, the CMHA has been organizing mental health week for the last 66 years. The CMHA is also celebrating its 100th anniversary this year. 

It is wonderful that people feel more at liberty to talk about their challenges but in this whole debate, the families, the people around those with challenges, the friends, relatives, siblings, parents, kids, all of those watching, they get forgotten in the discussion.  What about them? (Actually, on that topic, next week’s Gibberish will delve into that.  James Maloney, MP had a forum on this topic two weeks ago and the discussion was fascinating.)

The bottom line is mental health is something everyone should think about in terms of themselves.

Maybe, just maybe, when you hear the term you probably automatically think of illness when in fact, mental health is just part of you are.  While stigma exists around “mental illness”, I would venture to say the term mental health alone stirs up negative responses.

So this week, I would like to propose we think of mental health in a positive light and think of all the benefits of being mentally healthy.

In fact, it is so awesome that this year, the CMHA is focusing on EVERYONE’S mental health because everyone has it, just like we all have physical health.  Actually, think of one being part of the other.

So what exactly would being mentally healthy look like?

Some people think it is about being happy all the time. It isn’t.

It is about feeling good about who you are, having balance in your life, and managing life’s highs and lows.  Do you do yoga?  That promotes being mentally healthy, exercise, eating right all the stuff you do for physical health helps being mentally healthy too.  Go outside and walk in nature.  That promotes being mentally healthy.  Sit on a patio and have a pint with friends.  That promotes being mentally healthy as you catch up with friends and feel good. Read a book, actually anything you do to help relax promotes being mentally healthy and when you feel that calm, you feel like you can cope with all that life throws our way.

When you look at it in those terms, focusing on being mentally healthy feels more positive.

Self-care, yoga, listen to music (or play), walking, being in nature, being by the water, connecting with a friend, watch a movie.  Sit down and write a list of everything you do that makes you feel good and balanced.  Guess what?  That is being mentally healthy.

I am not trying to minimize the crap that mental illness can cause.  As anyone who reads J and J Gibberish with regularity can attest, I live with it every day with my son and I know all about the horrors of what it can be like.  But all that stuff affects me too and those around Jacob and while we don’t have mental illness, his challenges affect us all. 

So when I feel like my tank is empty, that I can’t cope, that I feel overwhelmed I take a time out and focus on being mentally healthy myself.  It is a positive experience and one that refills my bucket with all the good coping mechanisms.

Focusing on feeling good about you is what being mentally healthy is all about and having tools to cope with crap too.  There is no question on that but there is more to mental health that dealing with challenges.  Focusing in being mentally healthy can enrich your life. Try it.  Be kind to yourself.

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