Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Mental health challenges

Mental Notes with Hilary Valdez: Mental health challenges

by Hilary Valdez
Stripes Okinawa

Ever wonder what people are thinking? I do, especially if I’m in a sour mood. What are they smiling at? Some people look so happy and carefree. “You cannot have a positive life and a negative mind,” according to author Joyce Meyer. But how does a person accomplish that? According to website Ingenta Connect, as urbanization increases around the world, “challenges to mental health in urban areas include loneliness, violence, high crime rates, homelessness, noise and other pollutants, traffic accidents, and lack of mental health services.” Goodness, that sounds gloomy! Then add drug and alcohol abuse — illicit drug use can trigger a manic episode - bipolar disorder,  or an episode of psychosis. Now that’s grim.

There are a lot of life challenges to navigate on the road of life. Yet challenges can be conquered. Mental health challenges can affect anyone regardless of race, gender, financial wealth, education, religion, age, intelligence, position in life or rank. The National Institute on Mental Health argues that these challenges are disorders of brain circuits. Furthermore, The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), finds that stress, illnesses and trauma can trigger genetically-predisposed mental health challenges.

“With a combination of pharmacological and psychosocial treatments and support, 70 – 90 percent of people with a serious mental illness, can have a significant reduction of symptoms and improved quality of life. We are all unique individuals, and a person can recover from a mental health challenge regardless of what disorder they have, when it began, or how long they’ve had it,” the National Empowerment Center said. Now that sounds hopeful. But what are the steps toward improving mental health? Immediately, you can control having a healthy body, by eating a healthy diet, exercising, walking, reducing stress, and being optimistic.

Then there are the 4 C's of mental health. The 4C's framework is scientifically valid and reliable and based on measuring key components of mental toughness - Control, Commitment, Challenge and Confidence. Mental fitness is hard work, but there is a difference between “recovery” and “cure.” I like the term healing, but the concept of mental health recovery focuses on empowering individuals to regain control over their lives and emotions while providing a person with the tools to manage their mental health challenges in healthy ways. Healing takes time. Be easy on yourself. Don’t get the “hurry ups.” Just be willing to embrace the journey of life and trust that everything that happens to you, happens for a reason. This is where hunting for the good stuff comes into play.

Everyone’s experience and life journey is different. Don’t focus on all the smiling and happy faces with clean white teeth. Focus on your internal world and develop a personalized approach that suits you. Focus on social recovery. And what if you limp along for a while, so what? You’ve been wounded and on a journey of recovery and mental stability. Your mission is to build a meaningful life based upon your own desires and expectations. Focus on your life goals. What makes you happy? Focus on your strengths and wellness. “To be in optimal mental health is essential for optimal functioning as well as for productivity for any person,” according to the National Library of Medicine. The first stage of recovery begins by realizing that there is a problem. Use the H.O.W. method: Honest with your feelings; Open to Feedback; and a Willingness to change. This can lead to the realization that there is something going on in your head that isn’t healthy. Once again: “Fear-ward!”

Hilary Valdez is a freelancer living in Tokyo, Japan. He is an experienced Mental Health professional and Resiliency Trainer. Valdez is a former Marine and has worked with the military most of his career and most recently worked at Camp Zama as a Master Resiliency Trainer. Valdez now has a private practice and publishes books on social and psychological issues. His books are available on Amazon and for Kindle. Learn more about Valdez and contact him at his website or email. Follow his YouTube channel Hilary’s Quick Talk for more insights.

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