GUEST COLUMN: Mindfulness during Mental Health Awareness Month and beyond

Published 8:00 am Friday, May 27, 2022

Dr. Walter Frazier, LPC, NCC | Guest Columnist

The month of May is Mental Health Awareness Month, and we all should be aware of what it means to be mentally healthy.

First, we need to remember that we all have mental health, and I do not mean that everybody has a problem. What I mean is mental health is more like physical health. Like a heartbeat, breathing, and eating relate to our physical health, our mental health involves our moods, thoughts and relationship dynamics we experience every day.

Sign up for The Vicksburg Post's free newsletter

Receive daily headlines and obituaries

Over the years when I speak to groups about the Grace Christian Counseling Center, often I am asked, “How is business going?” Then the person pauses realizing that hoping I have a lot of business may be the opposite of what we really want. But providing mental health services is not like running a jail, something we wish one day we will not have to do anymore because there is no more crime in our community.

Rather, helping people with their mental health is something that is much more than working with people with serious psychological and emotional problems.

We impact our mental healthiness by the ways we relate to our families, friends and community. We build our mental resources by remaining connected to others.

We also improve our mental healthiness by focusing on solutions rather than problems. It can be easy to become stuck in a rut by focusing upon the negatives in our life; we have to remember how we have succeeded in solving past problems, accomplished goals and overcome adversity.

Good mental health results from capitalizing on our strengths, employing good prevention strategies and exercising helpful routines and practices. It sounds a lot like those suggestions our doctor tells us when it comes to maintaining our physical health, right?

And reaching out to a counselor, whether it be a school counselor, a mental health counselor or a pastoral counselor, can be an important strategy for maintaining our mental health in tough times. Mental health is a state of being, something that is ongoing throughout our lifetime. Our mental health involves the resources we use to manage the day-to-day stressors, our relationships, our careers and our outlook on life.

Like our physical health, being mentally healthy cannot be taken for granted. Seeking mental health services for help during a difficult time in life can be just as important as going to the medical clinic to get help with joint pain or seeking treatment for the flu. Unfortunately, most people do not seek help when they experience relationship conflicts, job dissatisfaction, depressed mood or too much stress. Why is this?

Most people avoid help out of fear that doing so means they have failed, are crazy or lack personal fortitude. This is called mental health stigma, a negative stereotype that has too long interfered with seeking assistance in a time of need.

So, Mental Health Awareness Month is a time for us to remember that we can make choices that strengthen our psychological endurance, improve our overall well-being and accomplish our dreams by recognizing that our emotions, social connections and mental wellbeing can be impacted by actively engaging our mental health. We can take action by talking to someone else, a friend, a counselor, a pastor or a family member. We can practice good mental hygiene by getting good rest, remembering our successes and maintaining our connections with others.

At the Grace Christian Counseling Center, we specialize in helping people tap into their mental strengths, utilizing effective prevention strategies and focusing on solutions for life challenges. During this month, we have conducted a campaign to raise awareness. We have also been seeking donations as part of a two-to-one match pledge from a generous donor committed to tripling the money our non-profit counseling center uses to supplement fees for underinsured or uninsured clients. We want to break down the barriers to access to great mental health care, and this month has been an opportunity for everyone to make a difference for themselves and others.

The Grace Christian Counseling Center can be reached by calling 601-831-6788 or going to our website at http://www.gracemississippi.com. Donations may be made by phone or through our website. Your dollars count, and with this campaign, they can be tripled to make three times the difference.