If there’s one thing I love about my people, Black people, it’s that we are a resilient bunch! We’ve lived through so much tragedy and adversity, and yet we keep showing up and most of the time showing out! Here’s the problem. I get worried about those of you who do keep showing up, but you’ve got so much pain behind your smiles. You know what I’m talking about. You put on a brave face for 10 to 12 hours a day, but when you shut down for the night and you’re alone with your own thoughts, you are so tired and worn down you really don’t know how you’re going to do it all over again tomorrow. Whether you are stressed at work, worried about your family, or trying to make a dollar out of 15 cents, I want you to know you are a not alone. I’m a counselor, and I feel comfortable in saying, “Please take your turn on the couch.”
May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Allow me to welcome you to a month of conversations about the importance of evaluating and monitoring your mental health. When I say “mental health” what do you think about? Do you think something has to be wrong? Do you think it means someone is “crazy” or “messed up”? Well, that’s not what it means at all. The Merriam-Webster definition of mental health is defined as “a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well-being.” To put it simply, mental health is how you think and feel about your own life. It is that simple. If you think about physical health, it’s recommended that a person be seen at least once year for a general evaluation. At that appointment, the physician will ask questions about how things have gone over the year, probably order some basic blood work and then make a recommendation of how often you should come back to check in. Some people will be told everything is fine, and they can return next year. Others may hear there is something that needs to be monitored, so coming in once every two to three months would be good. Still, others may have to have rehabilitation, a procedure or a significant intervention like chemotherapy or radiation. Mental health is much the same. As therapists we recommend everyone take their turn on the proverbial “couch” and come in once a year for that checkup. You may be told that you are right on track, and you can return next year. You may get the recommendation of checking in maybe monthly, or you might need a weekly frequency. You may even need something more significant. Let me guess — you don’t like doctors. Think about it this way. You have a beautiful brand new car, your dream car. Would you ever consider not getting a car wash, not getting a tune-up, not changing the oil or driving with flat tires? No, obviously you wouldn’t because that car is essential in getting you from place to place. It’s much the same for your mental health. Your mental health is directly connected to your physical health, your relationships, your work and your overall satisfaction with your own life.
If you are showing up every day, but your “show out” is gone, and you need the skills to get your second wind, counseling just might be the thing for you. For your free and private emotional checkup, visit my website at thewellcounselinggroup.com and click the link for emotional checkup. While you are there, feel free to look at the profiles of the counselors at The Well. We have been serving people in Indianapolis since 2011.
Elizabeth C. White, has a Master of Arts and is a licensed mental health counselor and licensed clinical addiction counselor. She is the founder of The Well Counseling and Consulting Group and the team clinician for the Indianapolis Colts. For more information, visit thewellcounselinggroup.com, or call 317-471-8996.