Doug and Lynn Nodland

Doug and Lynn Nodland

How are you? This is a common question that people often ask each other. The answer that often comes back is, ‘Fine, thank you.’

But is that always the case? Sometimes not. People have a tendency to hide their feelings from others unless they know them well and trust them. This week, several things got us thinking about the subject of mental health.

Every year, May is designated as National Mental Health Month. It’s a time to recognize people who deal with mental and behavioral health concerns and the people who support them. When someone in a family is dealing with mental health, the whole family often is impacted. The pandemic has also exacerbated mental health concerns.

Recently you may have been shocked when Wynonna Judd announced the death of her mother, Naomi Judd. We later learned it was as a result of suicide. Naomi Judd, was a beloved, Grammy award-winning country music star. She had suffered from mental illness for many years. She even wrote a book, “River of Time: My Descent into Depression and How I Emerged with Hope.”

Ironically, Naomi was to be inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame in a few days. Wynonna, commenting on the disparity between her mother’s outward success and inward mental health battles, said, “That is the level of catastrophe of what was going on inside her, because the barrier between the regard in which they (her fans) held her couldn’t penetrate into her heart, and the lie the disease told her was so convincing.”

Indeed, Naomi’s death was a tragic ending and everyone hopes that people will learn from this and find ways to stay safe when they are feeling so low. The problem is that when someone is in a deep depression, they feel they will never feel better.

We hope you never feel that depressed. If you do, know that there is help available with hospitals, professionals, faith communities and clinics. Also, one can always call The Suicide Prevention Hotline at 800-273-8255 which is available 24 hours a day. The hotline has people who can communicate in several languages, if needed. Another resource is www.NAMI.org which is the National Association on Mental Illness.

People with mental illness challenges are definitely not alone. It is estimated that 1 in 5 people are affected with mental illness in the United States. The good news is that many people learn to manage or overcome their illnesses to lead satisfying lives.

Also, this past weekend we watched a successful businessman presenting on an Internet live stream program. He shared that he woke up crying because he felt scared when he thought about the tremendous challenges he faced. It was good to see someone share their humanness and be vulnerable. We all can feel scared and we all have cried.

When emotions are not shared, it’s easy for them to get bottled up, which can contribute to anxiety and sadness. There’s certainly a lot of anxiety which resulted from the stresses of the last couple of years. If your emotional state could benefit from some help, we encourage you to reach out and get help.

Sometimes people confuse the terms mental health and behavioral health. Behavioral health is a general term that includes mental health and looks at how lifestyle habits impact both physical and mental health. Often behavioral health disorders contribute to mental health illnesses. Getting back to the basics of good diet, adequate sleep, exercise and positive relationships can be helpful. Also, avoiding substance abuse is important because substance abuse simply drowns the original problem so it continues longer and becomes a greater problem.

Because the purpose of National Mental Health Month is to draw attention to mental health, what can we all do to help this cause? More education and talking openly about how emotions can be affected by genetics, lifestyle and environment is helpful.

Speaking to groups or posting on social media is a way to reach many people. You can share your story, post resources and encourage others to do the same. You can also tell others about the peer-led and family support groups along with other resources on the www.NAMI.org website.

When you get help as needed and take good care of your mental health, you can be an example for others. Also, reaching out to others can make a difference. Who could benefit from a phone call or a visit? We all can make a difference!

What about you? Make every day mental health day, so when someone asks you how you are doing, you can honestly say, ‘I’m fine’ or even ‘I’m terrific’ and mean it from the bottom of your heart.

Chanhassen residents Doug and Lynn Nodland are success coaches and owners of The Balance Center. Doug and Lynn can be contacted at WeCare@SharingLifesLessons.com. More information and videos at http://SharingLifesLessons.com.