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Wednesday, September 19,2012

Do something to brighten the day of someone who’s mentally ill

To the Editor:

As the time approaches for this year's Walk the Walk for Mental Health (Oct. 20), I continue to ponder – just what is "mental health"? Is it a healthy or coherent state of mind? Or is it feeling good despite adverse circumstances?

For whom is such a state or condition possible? I think that these questions would make one of the university's philosophy classes quite interesting for a semester or two. Is becoming "mentally healthy" really a spiritual journey? Is it about recovering something once lost? Many say that mental health is a complex balance of many things – balance between rest and activity, healthy neurologically, physically and socially, etc.

Or maybe we could think of mental health as something as simple as "happiness"? And if we do, then how do we get there? How do we achieve "happiness"? We often, in our modern-day world, take something so simple and make it so complex, don't we?

I want to issue a challenge to you this year, whether or not you attend the walk – think of someone you know who may be mentally ill, and do something to make that person happy. If you are not sure that you know someone who is ill, just think of someone who may be suffering in some way. Try to make them happy. Plan it. Go out of your way to do it. Find out something that makes them happy and provide it. Don't think about changing that person or stabilizing them or medicating them. Clear out your ideas of "who you would like them to be." Just make them happy. Support something that they value or enjoy. Make it so the person understands that you are caring and supportive, that you want them to be happy!

Even if Philosophy 101 concludes that mental health is a complexity of many areas of life, if we think of it as "happiness" or "healthiness," it can become so sweetly simple.

Pete Wuscher


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