Mental health is essential to happiness, fulfillment
The landscape of health care in America has changed, most notably with the rollout of socalled Obamacare. Regardless of your position on these changes, it is probably safe to assume that your health is important to you.
We all worry at times about our physical health, but what about mental health? Does your mental health matter to you?
Many people ignore the question, assuring themselves and others that they are not “crazy.” Working on one’s mental health, however, does not imply that a person is mentally ill or “crazy.” Two points are important to understand here: (1) having a diagnosed mental illness doesn’t mean that a person is crazy, and at the same time, (2) not having a diagnosed mental illness doesn’t mean that a person is mentally healthy.
Mental health is more than just the absence of mental illness. Mental health entails many of the basic qualities that are essential to happiness and fulfillment in life, such as self-esteem and the healthy expression of emotion. It involves the ability to make good decisions, to effectively cope with short- and long-term stress, and to be successful in relationships. Good mental health is necessary for a person to control his or her eating and alcohol use in healthy ways. Having struggles in any of these areas does not make a person mentally ill; such problems simply illustrate that one’s mental health is out of balance, and that effective treatment will allow them to live a happier, healthier, and more gratifying life.
While most people today no longer see a stigma attached to seeking mental health treatment, some are still resistant. They think that psychologists only treat severe mental illness. As a psychologist, I am indeed trained to treat many varieties of mental illness, and am sometimes called upon to do so. Much of my workday, however, is spent treating fairly common issues such as marriage and family conflict, bereavement, difficulty adjusting to new life circumstances (such as medical problems and retirement) and stress.
Professionals such as me are mental health providers — we are trained to promote mental health, even when mental illness is not the problem. Your mental health should be a priority — just like your physical health — so remember that licensed mental-health professionals are available when a life issue starts to come between you and happiness, success, and the life you want. Daniel Goldman, Ph. D., is a licensed psychologist. If you think you have a problem, pick up the phone and call today. You’ll feel better tomorrow.