Raising Healthy Minds

12/16/2012

With horrific tragedies involving guns, it’s so easy to collapse into a reactive state, complete with desires to melt all guns down. I can relate to that! I have a deep-seated desire for peace. But reality wakes me up with a slap in the face like a glassful of icy water. Without intending to put too fine of a point on it, guns are not the problem. Mental health, or the lack thereof, is the problem. And when we really look at mental health issues we will keep coming back to family support, children’s care, medical support and the requirement for individuals to obtain quality counseling, and if needed, to remain on stabilizing medication.

diff perspective kitten peace flashIn the weeks leading up to December 25th I always indulge in replaying my favorite movies. Tonight I watched Disney’s clever rendition of Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, starring the voice talent of Jim Carrey. I find this version to be a frighteningly honest portrayal of the writer’s intentions, how the story entails a horrifying warning about the prospect of burning in hell. As we see the antagonist travel back in time to his Christmas past, and view him sitting alone in a deserted boarding school, quietly singing for a moment until he sadly stops, feeling utterly rejected and heart-broken, I feel Dickens was making an important point: The needless pain and suffering endured in his childhood helped create the man we see who is so full of hate and spite that his presence literally stops playing and singing in the streets. Scrooge’s character was built upon the pain and hurt of rejection in his childhood.

mother teresaCan we help prevent the agony of suicidal, lost souls from taking innocent lives with them? Well that is the 100-Million-Dollar question, isn’t it? I wish I had a perfect answer. This post is my humble declaration that I feel we can do something, by acknowledging the very real need to address mental health issues from early childhood and beyond. We need to understand the importance of helping individuals we know of to maintain their medication schedule.

Tragic events aren’t always about guns. Last spring a man named Raymond Taavel, while attempting to save another, was beaten to death by Andre Denny. Hours earlier, Denny, who was agitated and known to be off his meds for schizophrenia, was still released by an overworked medical facility in Halifax. He later admitted to waiting in an all-night coffee shop where he could view the coming’s and going’s of a local gay establishment. The fact that Denny watched, waited, and stepped out, grabbing Taavel and a friend simply for where they were coming out of is terrifying to me. Could someone kill me for being too tall? White? Overweight? In the wrong neighbourhood? Having a gay best friend? Denny beat a man to death for his own personal issues around something not right in his mind, because he was off his meds and released to the streets. I’m citing this example because I feel that mental health is the real issue to be addressed. I believe it’s not only an issue of gun control.

Can we help heal the mental health issues that lay hidden all around us? I believe we can. Especially by beginning to speak out about it. Let’s all help it to not be ‘hidden’. Let’s all help by releasing any preconceived ideas about mental health issues. Let’s become part of the solution by opening our understanding of those who have chemical imbalances in the brain. Why is mental health considered different from diabetes which requires daily monitoring and medication? The fact that there is ANY stigma attached to this makes me want to laugh, except that I’d sooner cry. While I’m not saying there are any connections, living in a world full of artificial flavoring and additives in our food, chemicals in the air we breathe in our homes, exhaust on the streets, not to mention the stresses children endure from the very act of going to school and finding their way through the cliques and assignments, is staggering. If we really think about it, we need to be thankful that there are not more people needing medication to help correct the chemical imbalances in their brain.

keep head up - God givesWe can all do something to help. By sharing about the times we’ve felt overwhelmed and how seeking counseling is a testament of inner strength, not weakness. We can speak up and tell someone in the medical profession if we are worried about a friend or relative who has changed lately, and may be exhibiting signs of severe depression or suicidal thoughts. We can choose to bravely be uncomfortable and address something that is worrying our mind, rather than choosing to ignore a problem with the belief that it will ‘go away’.

There is always something that can be done. I believe this in every fiber of my being. Well actually I think it’s wired in to my own sense of well-being and mental health, because if I fully collapsed into fear and horror of the things happening in the world today, I simply could not get out of bed. So I choose to focus on hope. I have to. I focus on what CAN be done. I do it for my mental health.

How about you?

24 responses to Raising Healthy Minds

  1. 

    Very interesting post. I think as far as mental health goes another issue is that research is still in its infancy. It is also the case that care and support is simply not on offer.

  2. 

    i agree with every single word you have written. beautiful!

    • 

      Liz, your support means a lot! This is certainly a controversial topic, and I know that it’s not so simple – but as I said, I have to hang on to hope, of what can be done. Thanks so much for your kind encouragement 🙂

  3. 
    kamikazewarrior 12/16/2012 at 3:32 am

    • 

      Thank you so much for sharing this amazing song by the Beatles, covered in the movie Across The Universe. These words are always a powerful reminder that, indeed, all we need is love. Thanks again for sharing 🙂

  4. 

    You are so right. All of this news can be overwhelming. Based on a lesson I learned years ago, I choose to believe that most people are basically good. It keeps my head above water.

    • 

      Thanks for your kind words of understanding and support. While I certainly never confess to know any answers to such overwhelming and complicated issues, I do know that I have to focus on the good, and what can be done, as it’s the only thing that keeps my head above water as you put it. Thank you again.

  5. 

    Thank you Gina for a very timely, moving, and though-provoking post. There is something in the minds of these violent people that snaps. They don”t have the safety switch that most of us have that kicks in to prevent us from doing something horrific. Guns are not the problem per se, i hear you, but I do believe that if they were not as readily available, the murder rate would go down. My post may interest you
    http://servingothersblog.com/2012/12/16/guns-part-10/

    Jonathan

    • 

      Jonathan, thank you very much for your supportive understanding of my post as it’s been a really tough one to write. It’s such a complicated issue, yet I do agree that the murder rate would drop if we could prevent handguns from being so accessible. But then I wonder, what can I do about that? While speaking out is a valid start, is there more that we can do to help stop the illegal trade of guns? Since I am not in law enforcement, I feel rather helpless on that front. In contemplating what I can do, I return to supporting educators, parents, neighbors and communities in helping to raise healthy and well-adjusted individuals. And as blogger ‘sharechair’ puts it, I choose to believe that most people are basically good. It helps me focus on what I can do. Thanks again for your great comment and link to your recent post. May we all have peace.
      Namaste. ~Gina

  6. 

    Wat an amazing post. Thanks for sharing.
    Peace and love..

    Namasté, Summer

  7. 

    Thanks for a great post. I too do not believe that gun control will take care of all our ills, although tightening the law seemed to be in order. Why do we turn from those different from us or stick our heads in the sand? It is time that those who have someone in need of mental health care in this lives do everything in their power to make it happen. This would be a huge step in the right direction.

    • 

      Your wonderfully kind support means a lot to me. I do believe that even beginning the discussion about mental health and removing the stigma is definitely a huge step in the right direction. Thank you so much LuAnn, for visiting and taking the time to share your heartfelt comments. It makes a big difference to me!
      Hugs of gratitude, Gina

      • 

        Although I did not stay in the mental health field all the while I worked, my education is in this field and that is where I began my career. I believe we no longer can turn our backs on others who are different from us, who desperately need help, or history will continue to repeat itself. Certainly not an easy topic to tackle.

        • 

          Thank you for this wonderful comment! During my 25 year career as an Administrator and Office Manager, I worked for about 1/3 of that time with a forward-thinking organization assisting people with developmental disabilities to more fully enjoy their lives through encouraging a sense of fulfillment in pursuing their interests with volunteering, work, and relationships. You may enjoy this earlier post of mine: https://professionsforpeace.com/2012/11/15/raising-children-for-peace/ I fully believe that we must not turn our backs on ‘differentness’ or otherness. By being around those who at first appear different from us, we learn how much the same we all really are. Thanks again for sharing your comments 🙂 With gratitude, Gina

  8. 

    Your supportive and kind comment here means the world to me! I do feel we all can help by shifting our focus towards what CAN be done. I believe that means beginning with ourselves. And the children. Embracing and nourishing well balanced mental health in us all. Again, you and your comments are dearly appreciated! Big happy hugs, xo 🙂 Gina

  9. 

    I “know” research…I live it, as a psychotherapist and working in a university setting. But what I “know” and regard “more” as “truth” is the truth that rises up within me — the truth that no matter what happens or what this or that study says, something in me reaches for hope. Something within us reaches. Something within us gets up – however long we have been down – brushes ourselves off and takes some action. I’m not talking about frantic or fear-driven action. I’m talking about how a wisdom from within us says, “Get up.” We get up and we just start doing “the next right thing.” I don’t have the answers to a GLOBAL challenge for more peace and compassion and kindness in the world. I just know that stirring within me to get up, dry my tears, and go and talk gently with the next person I encounter, smile softly at another mom at the grocery store juggling kiddos and carts, sit down on the floor and play with my kiddos when I know I have tons of work to do… Sweet love to you, Gina. Lisa

    • 

      Thank you Lisa for your generous love you share in the world. My 25-yr old son and I were talking today about focusing on HOPE and the concept of what CAN be done, and he commented that the kindness, smiles, and sense of community we build around us daily add to the energy of goodness in the world. We were discussing the larger picture and found we kept coming back to building community, and reaching out to others, strangers, neighbors, clerks in stores, everyone we encounter and to do what we can with gentle eye contact, a held door with a smile, a package we might help reach or carry to someone’s car, a compliment to a frazzled cashier… knowing that ripples are more far-reaching than we may see. Yes… Hope. As you put it so well, we must rise up, brush off the tears, and continue believing that every good deed and every lonely neighbor noticed and a warm ‘hello’ shared with indeed does makes a difference. YOU make a difference in my world Lisa.
      Much appreciation and love to you, sweet sister of spirit. Love, Gina

  10. 

    Thank you for the positive words and amazing video. I have been in leadership for 35 years. I learn to be positive in words and action. Old and wisest saying. “Listen, listen with your heart and mind. Think before you speak. Understand and reason before speaking or reaction. Kind words can keep doors open. Negative words and action close all doors.”

    • 

      Thank you John for this wonderful comment. Yes that is so true, to keep doors open by remaining positive in words and action. Thank you for sharing your kindness and wisdom in the world. Namaste. ~Gina

  11. 

    Peace, non-violence, concern for others, kindness . . . all of our values and our ability to behave virtuously depend, as you rightly say, on mental health and on overall wellbeing. We’ve been thinking a lot lately about this, and also about emotional health, and the connection of these essential elements of our lives with empathy and social ‘intelligence’. Parents and teachers carry a huge responsibility to ensure that children grow up with proper values, with emotional literacy, with social skills, and with good mental and physical health. But society carries an even bigger responsibility to ensure that parents and teachers are properly supported in their efforts. This means supported financially to ensure that schools are well staffed and resourced, and to ensure that no child lives in poverty. Even more importantly society needs to think carefully about whether schools’ priorities should be with ‘standards’ and high achievement in examinations, regardless of causing pressure and stress, or with the holistic and all-round development of children’s hearts, minds and attitudes – towards themselves and to others. Do we want them to be competitors, winners or losers, or cooperators? Do we want them to be individual strivers, or carers and collaborators? Are they enabled to see there’s value in both independence and interdependence? Do they see the world as a place full of duality – of opposites and opposition – or a place where there’s Oneness and connectedness? Unless we educate for spiritual intelligence, social intelligence and personal intelligence – as well as for intellect and academic achievement – then we have no chance of ridding society of mental and emotional sickness, violence, selfishness, hatred and aggression. The best of our schools and homes are already havens of peace and togetherness, of learning and understanding, so we know this can be done. The question is whether we care enough to make sure that every home and every school offers these things to all children.
    Thank you Gina for all your stimulating and enjoyable posts, and thank you for your continuing interest in 3Di. Wishing you and your family a wonderful Christmas season.
    G

    • 

      Gary, your wonderfully welcomed visit means so much. Thank you!
      In writing this post I was thinking of the important work you and Clare and your team are doing. Indeed, all enlightened educators. I feel that raising healthy, well-adjusted children is so essential to the future that I long for a world with MORE teachers, more funding, and more community for assisting parents.
      If more of the population became charged up about the importance of raising happy children, I believe more of us would step up to work together. Perhaps it is an overworked cliché, but I feel it is a FACT that it takes a village to raise a child. Parents AND educators need a well-deserved break on a regular basis, and I support any and all services that help parents have a break, and educators to be able to return to their incredibly important work refreshed and revived. Anyone who mentions the ‘breaks’ teachers get within earshot of me need to be forewarned! In my opinion teachers, and parents of young ones, deserve and need breaks to have quiet time to do something other… to garden, travel, cook, meditate, and NOT be responsible, for a time, for the sculpting of the educations and personalities of young ones. Let them (us!) have a break while other qualified and loving individuals step up and take a turn. Let our future include more funding for this! Let us allow primary caregivers and educators to have a sincere break from the serious responsibility of guiding the next generation so that they may return feeling renewed and energized about their important work. Let us all claim our responsibility in the ‘village’ whether we are parents, teachers, grandparents, godparents, aunts, uncles, daycare workers, or neighbours. Let’s all step forward in doing all we can to help raise a full generation of caring, compassionate, and emotionally educated individuals.
      I salute you Gary, in all that you do.
      Namaste. ~Gina