Mental Health Is More Than Mental Illness

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Today I am joining many other bloggers around the world in support of the American Psychological Association’s Mental Health Blog Day #MHBlogDay.   Here’s a bit about why recognizing and talking about mental health in May (and every month, really) is so crucial:

Congress designated May as Mental Health Month in 1949 to illustrate the importance of mental health issues to the overall health and well-being of American citizens. Each year, bloggers will join APA  for a Mental Health Month Blog Day to educate the public about mental health, decrease stigma about mental illness, and discuss strategies for making lasting lifestyle and behavior changes that promote overall health and wellness.
“Mental health” does not mean “mental illness.”  While understanding mental illness is important, a well-rounded understanding of mental health also includes things like parenting, dating, friendships, aging, healthy eating and exercise, financial planning, spirituality, work-life balance and happiness – among many, many other parts of life.  In this way, everyone should be participating in Mental Health Blog Day, because it’s something we can all relate to.
Add your voice to the event or check out what other people are talking about over at APA.

Happiness: Easier to Find Than We Think?

I am writing this post as part of The American Psychological Association’s Mental Health Blog Day. #MHBlogDay

I'm Blogging for Mental Health.

Sometimes it can feel as if true happiness is elusive.  Between the stresses of work, relationships, parenting, money and all the other goings on in the world, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed, sad, angry and just plain fed up.  I’m not questioning the reality of the stressors listed above, and I’m certainly not doubting the very real effects of mental illness on mood.  However, I do think we – at least sometimes – tend to make happiness more complicated than it has to be.

I have dedicated the month of May as The Picture of Happiness Month on this blog.  I have invited women from all parts of my life to share a picture of what makes them happy.  The catch? The pictures can’t include family, pets or lovers.  What I’ve discovered (about halfway through the month) is that just as we all look different and choose different paths for our lives, the things that bring us happiness are different too.

True, lasting happiness and contentment might be elusive for many of us; but momentary joy and pleasure are within almost everyone’s reach.

Take a look at some Pictures of Happiness:

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Screen shot 2014-05-13 at 6.01.04 PMScreen shot 2014-05-14 at 8.44.35 AMWant to see more Pictures of Happiness? Follow along on Dr Stephanie this month, or check it out on Facebook or Twitter.


Mental Health Blog Day Update

Yesterday was APA’s Mental Health Blog Day.  They did a great job of rounding up some great bloggers to dedicate posts to mental health.  Some of the bloggers are health writers, some not – but either way there was some great information shared! Check it out:

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Some of my faves:

How clever are these blog titles? I just love discovering new, creative and entertaining bloggers.  For a full list of Mental Health Blog Day participants click here.

Oh! And you can see my contribution to the party here: Mental Health Isn’t All Sadness and Worry; Doom and Gloom

Mental Health Isn’t All Sadness and Worry; Doom and Gloom

I'm Blogging for Mental Health.

Today is Mental Health Blog Day over at the American Psychological Association (APA).  APA is rounding up lots of terrific blog posts and articles all about mental health.  This is a great place to learn more about diagnosis, treatment, resources, and what it is like to live with a mental illness.  All of this information is useful and necessary, but I think sometimes we forget that mental health can be fun – and funny – too.

For example, the blog Hyperbole and a Half has recently dealt with the issue of debilitating depression.  Yes, this is a serious topic.  And yes, it is tough to read the author’s description of her extremely low mood and long periods of helplessness and hopelessness.  But, the post is also pretty light-hearted and even funny in some sections.

Mental health and humor are two things that can be tough to combine, but there are places where the combination can be found: the TV show Monk, any of David Sedaris’ books, Chato Stewart’s mental health humor cartoons.

Creating mental health can be a good time – and it doesn’t always entail lying on a couch blaming your mother for your unhappy marriage, or taking a handful of pills everyday.  While therapy and psychiatric medication may be a piece of mental health care for some of us; many of us can find it on our own.  Gardening, baking, collecting gnomes, reading mysteries, brewing beer, playing chess in the park – these can all be ways to create and maintain good mental health.

How do you have fun while working on your mental health?







Motherhood: Knowing How to Pick Your Battles

Welcome to Moms’ Month on Dr. Stephanie! This month I will be featuring guest posts from some awesome moms around the country.  They will be sharing tips, tricks, and funny stories about motherhood.  This will be a fun celebration – thanks for joining us!  Today’s author is Jinnie Smith.  Welcome, Jinnie!

My name is Jinnie Smith.  I am the mother of Hannah, 30 and Megan, 27. BA in Political Science from University of Minnesota; Juris Doctorate from Indiana University School of Law, Indianapolis. Lived in Minnesota for 25 years where I froze every winter but look younger than I am as a result. I have lived in Indianapolis since 1997, where I am an Elder and currently serving as a Deacon at Northminster Presbyterian Church, Indianapolis.

Being Hannah and Megan’s mom crystalizes the word ‘joy’ for me.  The memories of their growing up years are filled with humor, frustration, and the astonishing moments when they say or do something that knocks your socks off. Hannah, with tears streaming down her face, talking about a doll she found during clean-up in the aftermath of a hurricane.  A phone call on my birthday from Megan and the youth group on a work trip in New Mexico. They all sang “Happy Birthday” together on the phone.

The best thing about being their mom right now is seeing the remarkable young women they have become. They are strong, intelligent and beautiful. Hannah campaigned actively for Obama in 2008 in some of the worst neighborhoods of Detroit. Megan is an outspoken advocate for LGBT rights, especially in our church. They are also 2 of the funniest people I have ever known.

When my husband was ill and dying, they both came home periodically and stayed for a week. I remember watching Hannah help Ron walk into the kitchen and teasing him about wanting to hold her hand. And Megan sobbing at his bedside when he was dying. He was in a coma and she thought no one was watching.

I have 2 pieces of advice that served me well as a mom.

1. Catch them being good! Acknowledge their positive behavior. Take advantage of teachable moments and help them learn from their poor decisions.

2. Pick your battles and be sure the ones you pick are the ones you have to win. If it is not morally, physically or legally threatening it might not be worth fighting about. I used to sit and watch MTV with the girls rather than forbidding it. I also commented on the videos and it paid off later in their words and actions. Megan told a boyfriend there was nothing funny about saying he was going to kick her butt. She sent him home. He later apologized.

Mental Health Blog Party Badge