The Journey to Optimal Mental Health

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July is Bebe Moore Campbell National Minority Mental Health Awareness Month.  It is imperative that we promote mental health awareness, education, treatment and eradication in minority communities.  Disparities in treatment often are attributed to cultural, economic, religious, and social  factors.  Awareness about mental health is at the root of solutions, actions that lead to de-stigmatization, recognition, treatment, and healing.

I live with a chronic, sometimes disabling, mental illness.  Daily... sometimes moment by moment, I am in pursuit of optimal mental health.  This pursuit is connected to my ability to achieve physical, emotional and spiritual wellbeing.  I experience this pursuit as a process, a journey, a walk.

The fact is that we all are affected by mental illness.  Sources of awareness vary:
  • personal experience, 
  • illness among relatives and friends, 
  • buzz about "celebrities",
  • rumors about co-workers and neighbors,
  • encounters with the  stranger decked out in a hat, coat and gloves on a steaming hot day, standing on a corner, at a gas station or in the middle of a street, punctuating his passionate speech with broad gestures, 
  • studies in psychology or release of new research/survey findings
  • senseless deaths
As if drawn by some magnetic energy, last night I picked up the book Pyramids of Power!  An Ancient African Centered approach to Optimal Health (Pyramids), by the late John T. Chissell, M.D. published in 1993.  Pyramids  rests among my sacred writings.

I began to turn the worn pages looking for his advice on "mental illness".  Although I found no explicit directive, I discovered many inferences. Dr. Chissell defined optimal health as "the best possible emotional, intellectual, physical, spiritual and socio-economic aliveness that we can attain."(p. xxii).  Below are nuggets of the wisdom teachings folded into this seminal work that I believe are stepping stones on the journey to optimal mental health.

 Optimal mental health is 
  • Individualized.
  • Integrative.
  • Achieved through positive life force choices.
  • Strengthened by a spiritual foundation.
  • Demanding - discipline is required.
  • A matter of balance.
  • Possible. 
Mental illness is a biologically-based brain disorder.  There is no shame.  Let this Month be an opportunity... an opportunity to shed light, to engage,  to learn, to comfort and to love optimally.  

Share events, favorite books and blogs devoted to uplifting mental health among minorities.

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