By Rick Moore
Most new cars have gauges to diagnose the smallest of potential problems. Warnings appear on the dashboard. Some vehicles actually send a message to cell phones and computers when it is time to take a car in for service. Even the tire pressure can be revealed by sensors which relay a warning message to a specific display. Of course, you don’t have to pay attention to the gauges. Maybe the manufacturer is being overly cautious, or maybe the gauges are wrong. Or maybe, if you ignore the gauges you will encounter a major breakdown.
Thanks in part to the invention of the smart watch, a person can know more about their physical health now than a day of testing in the hospital would have revealed just a few decades ago. Yet, with more early warnings systems than ever before, the average American is less healthy today. Labels on the packaging of food often describe how much fat, how many calories, and even the exact ingredients found within. Still, the average American has a worse diet now than two decades ago. Free videos on the web describe how to lose weight. Exercise videos, health clubs and even personal trainers are easier to find than ever. Even so, many tend to eat worse and exercise less each and every year.
While driving to Fort Walton Beach on Highway 98 to get an oil change and reset the dashboard indicator, there was a large banner promoting “Mental Health Month.” That banner beckoned an important question; what gauges are there to determine mental health problems? Do you know how to read the signs of mental health issues? These issues can go undetected for so long that they become major problems down the road. It also appears mental health issues are often misdiagnosed. In churches, with much prayer and a high level of spiritual discernment, there is often a lack of understanding as to the challenges people face. Just like an auto mechanic scratching his head, at times it seems even the medical professionals are guessing what to do. Why does it appear so difficult to understand mental health and what are the gauges one should evaluate?
Fortunately, there are some wonderful tools to help everyone understand themselves. Tests such as Meyers-Briggs can help point out personality types. Visits to a counselor or psychiatrist can be very revealing. Prayer and meditation often serve as paths to self awareness. Much like the gauges in our vehicles, once you know what the issues are you can take appropriate actions. Some actions needed are matters of prevention, and some are corrective measures. During a prayer vigil after a tragic Colorado school shooting, students began to chant, “Mental health, mental health.” If only the clock could be turned back and intervention could have been given, those students would have found a way to make a difference. Recently several NBA basketball players have recorded public service announcements sharing their personal battles with mental health issues; that goes a long way to removing the stigma for those who want to ask for help but are ashamed.
Some people are embarrassed to ask for professional help, or they have a wide range of obstacles which causes them to postpone the help they desperately need. Perhaps they are afraid they will be labeled as someone with a mental health issue. Perhaps they think their issues are somewhat normal and do not rise to such a level as to be considered a mental health problem. Perhaps they think they don’t have the finances or the time to get professional help. If you or someone you love falls into one of these categories, please remember this: you are much more important than any vehicle on planet earth and you deserve to be serviced. If you are struggling with mental health issues, please reach out for help.