Maybe If We Change The Name…
Mental Health… the term brings about a variety of thoughts and perceptions and unfortunately not all of them are positive. I suppose it makes some sense, as far too frequently the news shares another story of someone terrorizing a school or place of business or even worship. Usually the crimes baffle most of us with their senselessness and almost always the person responsible is described as crazy or mentally unbalanced or a lunatic. So because of the extreme, many have a misconception of the reality.
Maybe we should change the term to “Mental Wellness”… or “Healthy Minds”. We must do whatever it takes to make people truly understand that proper mental health is the key to nearly all of the serious issues we deal with on a daily basis. It can help prevent many violent crimes, bullying, relationship issues and so much more.
Of course the truth is we all have mental health issues. From the way we feel about ourselves to the way we see the world to the way we deal with life’s journey, each and every one of our brains has potential for unhealthy thoughts and reactions.
The good news is that there is help available. For some that help means simply talking to a friend or a therapist, on occasion, to allow us to put things in perspective in our lives; for others it means a regimen of therapeutic drugs to help balance chemicals in the brain; for others it means being hospitalized for continuous treatment and all of us fall into the mix somewhere.
As a child advocate, I understand the incredible effect that mental health has on keeping children safe. It’s the healthy, well-balanced and empowered mental health of the child that enables good decisions. It’s the healthy, well-balanced and empowered mental health of the adult that allows them to deal with life’s issues in a manner that provides a positive influence as their children develop and grow. It is the mental health deficiencies that cause a seemingly “normal” person to have desires to sexually assault a child. It can also be the struggling emotional health of a child that can make them easier for a pedophile to groom for sexual abuse.
To truly change things, we must start by getting rid of the unfortunate, sometimes negative attitude that the term “Mental Health” tends to generate. Healthy minds should be the ultimate goal for us all and that means getting to a point where seeking assistance is recognized as normal and even encouraged.
For most children, developing into healthy, well-adjusted and successful adults is built on a foundation that creates an atmosphere that supports proper mental health development. Mental wellness includes confidence that can be assertive without being aggressive, it requires an understanding and respect of personal boundaries, it must be linked to empathy and kindness and it absolutely must be available to all.
We can give kids that solid foundation and we can provide qualified assistance throughout their lives. Yes, it will cost money. But when you think about the outcomes, not only would the economic savings be positive, the life changing emotional influence that such support would provide would be phenomenal and would totally change the world in which we live.
The Centers for Disease Control reports that when you look at all of the reported cases of childhood sexual abuse during a year and take into consideration the lifetime of negative effects on the victims, the monetary cost of that abuse will add up to $124 billion. And the cycle repeats itself each year! Imagine the impact that money would have if we put it toward the early building and supporting of mental wellness.