Mental health services help many people improve their lives. For some such services make the difference between life and death. For others they make the difference between feeling alive and not.
Some people who would benefit from mental health services hesitate (or never obtain help) because of the stigma some people associate with obtaining mental health services. Many highly functioning people have obtained mental health services and don’t hesitate to do so whenever they feel it would be helpful. I worked for a Vice President in the 1980’s who shared that she sought counseling every time she changed jobs because it helped make the transition easier for her.
We can move past that today.
There is another way to look at mental health services and it is a healthier viewpoint for all of society–not just those who need services. Today our society (parents, teachers, and other influencers) model unhealthy habits of thought and we adopt those habits as children. When we encounter adversities as children or adults our habits of thought are only as good as we know how to make them. Now that science knows which habits of thought lead to better outcomes (resilience, happiness, better physical, mental and behavioral health, better relationships and higher levels of success) all children should be taught how to use those habits of thought.
Seeking mental health services simply means that your life failed to provide you with the habits of thought that will allow you to deal with your situation alone. There is absolutely no shame in that nor is there anything wrong with you. You simply need more information and mental health services is a way to obtain the information you need.
It’s really no different than checking safety ratings by Consumer Reports before buying a car when your car is no longer serving your needs. You want to make sure you get one that will work well. If your habits of thought aren’t serving you well, you want to learn about habits of thought that will serve you better. It’s wise to do so.
In the larger picture, now that we know (via science) the types of thinking that lead to success, teaching ALL children how to use them should be a high priority of every school.
Healthy habits of thought don’t involve telling someone what to think. Learning healthy ways of thinking creates psychological flexibility so an individual can adopt the habit of thought best suited to the unique circumstances of their life on a moment-by-moment basis.
Your life can be wonderful and feel wonderful.
The research demonstrating that even children exposed to the worse sort of childhoods can have good lives inspired me to write Our Children Live in a War Zone: Use the Power of Resilience to Improve Their Lives, Applied Positive Psychology 2.1 so parents and teachers can learn healthy habits of thought that they can then teach to the children in their lives.
There is a Southern saying, “If mama ain’t happy, no one is.” When Mom learns to be happy, the whole family is happier and she is empowered to teach her children how have happier lives. Other research shows we are better to everyone (even strangers) when we are happier.
Can you imagine a world filled with happier people? I think that would be better, do you? It is the world I want for my grandchildren. What world do you want for yours?