OPINION – Wellness — it’s essential to living a full and productive life. We may have different ideas about what wellness means, but it involves a set of skills and strategies that prevent the onset or shorten the duration of illness and promote recovery and well-being. It’s about keeping healthy as well as getting healthy.
Pathways to Wellness — this year’s theme of May which was Mental Health Month — calls attention to strategies and approaches that help all Americans achieve wellness and good mental and overall health.
Wellness is more than an absence of disease. It involves complete general, mental and social well-being, and mental health is an essential component of overall health and well-being. The fact is, our overall well-being is tied to the balance that exists between our emotional, physical, spiritual and mental health.
Whatever our situation, we are all at risk of stress given the demands of daily life and the challenges it brings — at home, at work and in life. Steps that build and maintain well-being and help us all achieve wellness involve a balanced diet, regular exercise, enough sleep, a sense of self-worth, development of coping skills that promote resiliency, emotional awareness, and connections to family, friends and the community.
These steps should be complemented by taking stock of one’s well-being through regular mental health checkups. Just as we check our blood pressure and get cancer screenings, it’s a good idea to take periodic reading of our emotional well-being.
One recent study said everyone should get their mental health checked as often as they get a physical, and many doctors routinely screen for mental health, which typically include a series of questions about lifestyle, eating and drinking habits and mental wellness. But a checkup doesn’t necessarily require a special trip to the doctor. There are also online screening tools you can use. While conditions like depression are common — roughly one in five Americans have a mental health condition — they are extremely treatable.
Fully embracing the concept of wellness not only improves health in the mind, body and spirit, but also maximizes one’s potential to lead a full and productive life.
Using strategies that promote resiliency and strengthen mental health and prevent mental health and substance use conditions lead to improved general health and a healthier society: greater academic achievement by our children, a more productive economy, and families that stay together.
Mental Health America of California is spreading the word about why pathways to wellness are so important. For more information visit www.mhac.org.
By Sandra Poole
Sandra O. Poole, MPA is the Associate Director for G.O.A.L.S. (Greater Options and Assistance For Lifelong Success) for Women, Incorporated. G.O.A.L.S. is a nonprofit education and counseling center whose mission is to ensure that no and low-income, at-risk African-Americans have access to free or low-cost culturally-appropriate mental health, behavioral health and primary care health. Ms. Poole is also the Owner/CEO of Sandra Olivia Poole Consulting providing consulting services to non-profit organizations in the areas of organizational development and grant management. As a Policy Analyst and Advocate with 30 years of local and state government experience, Sandra advocates for statewide policies that reduce mental health disparities and for the empowerment of underserved communities of color. Sandra can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.