It all began with a simple question, “What is mental health?” Several years ago, a small group of mental health counselors were chatting during a break in the conference we were attending. Since mental health counseling was our profession, the question was a fair one. But the answers offered seemed inadequate. They all described behaviors, qualities and/or characteristics that would result from someone having healthy mental health, but none answered the original question.
I remained silent myself, unable to formulate a satisfactory answer. I was reminded of a bright young grammar school student who once asked his teacher, “What is gravity?” He was not satisfied with the teacher’s answer which consisted of an accurate description of what gravity does, but not what it is. The same, I thought, is true of mental health. It’s easy to recognize, but difficult to define.
My inability to answer the question really bugged me. Here I was a licensed mental health counselor unable to define the very core of my profession! Unacceptable! So I set about finding an answer, which turned out to be a not so easy task.
It was soon apparent that mental health was far more than simply the absence of mental illness. So, a definition like, “One who is not mentally ill is mentally healthy.” was ridiculous.
More questions crowded my mind. Why does the quality of mental health vary from one person to another? Can an individual improve his/her mental health? If so, how? What barriers exist that keep one from improving their mental health? Is mental health a single entity, or does it have a number of components, each with a quality of its own?
The answers were slow in coming, but as they emerged, I began to incorporate them into my clinical practice. The results were encouraging as clients showed improvement more rapidly and more effectively than ever before. Then it dawned on me that these concepts would be useful for anyone in their daily life and far beyond the clinician’s office. No need to pay for something so basic as healthy mental health, especially in the absence of mental illness.
What better way to reach someone interested in improving their mental health than the Internet? Ah, the marvels of modern technology! So this website was born setting out the basic concepts in full but lacking in details that would further develop the ideas. No website could possibly do justice to all that needed to be said. Thus came to be published Pathways to Mental Health and Anxiety Management, a paperback from Amazon and on Kindle as an eBook.
So the concepts were out there both in print and on the Internet, but they were static in that once published, there was no way to interact, to respond to comments, questions or concerns or to throw out fresh ideas on how to make use of the concepts, provide more details about applications and provide a place for interactions with anyone interested. Okay, to solve this problem, a blog would be useful. So now we have this website www.mentalhealthstrength.com.
Although the responses were uniformly positive, the process was still passive: just waiting for people to buy the book or drop by the websites. Something more was needed to become proactive in finding others, not only to improve their own mental health but also to use their expertise in getting the concepts across to others. A nonprofit corporation would do nicely.
It took a year and a half to get Initiative for Mental Health Awareness, Inc. legally incorporated in Florida, Internal Revenue Service approval as a 501(c)(3) corporation (contributions are tax-deductible) and registration with the Florida Department Of Consumer Affairs as an organization accepting charitable donations. The new corporation, nicknamed I4MHA, Inc. explains its goals, purposes and objectives here.
It is truly a new beginning. A beginning rich with opportunities for learning, growing, developing and enriching lives through mental health awareness.
YouTube channel: Choose Mental Health
Facebook: Choose Mental Health