Love.. is the Lifeblood of Mental Health

Have you ever felt like you were just hanging on?

When was the last time you faced a challenge so significant in your life that you were forced to ask for help?  Did you hesitate before you asked for assistance?  

Was the help you needed provided?   

If you are fortunate enough to have a healthy and vast support system with family and friends who provide unconditional love to you -then you most likely received the assistance you needed.  You would have experienced what I like to call the lifeblood of good mental health.

In the mental health field there is a great need for unconditional positive regard to be provided by not only care providers but by all who surround the client in his/her daily life.  Unfortunately, the diagnosis of an illness in mental health is not always received without judgment by one’s community, friends and oftentimes family. Why does a medical illness like diabetes seem more acceptable than depression or PTSD?  Some of this stems from a stigma in our society towards mental illness.

What is a stigma?  According to Webster’s Dictionary a stigma is defined as, “a set of negative and often unfair beliefs that a society or group of people have about something”.  

Stigma about mental health can be pervasive.  It is like a cancer of the mind.  Stigma can be silent, stealthy and suck the lifeblood out of those whom we care about. It not only hurts our loved ones, but just as any negative thinking does…it hurts ourselves. There is good news though; thoughts are changing in this matter.  Stigma about mental health is slowly being stamped out….and it should be. 

Many mental illnesses are often very poorly understood and so there are myths and misunderstandings about their causes, their cures and those who are affected by them.  There is much blame.  “Just get over it” is a common phrase that many clients have heard.  “You were fine yesterday, what’s the matter today”? Or, one of the worst comments: “It’s all in your head”.

Consider this; no one operates in a vacuum.    We are all interconnected and therefore just as responsible for the outcomes of the sick as those who have been diagnosed with an illness themselves.  I ask you to think about the stigma in mental health and make a change. 

Consider a golden formula -with love as a primary ingredient:

A golden formula for mental health includes a variety factors such as: a loving and unconditional positive support system, compassion,spirituality, medication compliance, exercise, positive attitude (by client, family, friends and caregivers), education and stable home life.  Regular visits to doctors and management of all illness (medical and psychological) are necessary components.  Good food and comforting words are essential to this formula.

I like to think that those in the healthcare field are motivated by a desire to help their fellow man. In this pursuit the element of love would be a ribbon running through everything they do and be evident in the work they perform.  Likewise with family and friends who have so much to lose should their loved one deteriorate, love would be first and foremost in their support (and in their hearts).

Let’s make it happen.

Love, is truly the lifeblood of good mental health.  

Not only for those who ask for help… but also for those who provide it.   

Treasure the love you receive above all. It will survive long after your gold and good health have vanished. -- Og Mandino

Karen Baluch is a Counselor at Signature Health in Ashtabula, wife, mother of four and ardent believer in the power of positive thought
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