Mental Health Awareness Month: What *Is* Good Mental Health? 

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Nicole Urdang, Licensed Mental Health Counselor in Buffalo, NY

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. But what does it really mean to have good mental health? Over the past 45 years of being a holistic psychotherapist, my views have changed. I would like to share my views with you. 

Note on Trauma: A Note about the Effects

I am aware that most people have suffered trauma. There are many possible sources of trauma — physical abuse, emotional abuse or constant shaming, sexual abuse, neglect, health issues, financial hardship, war, addiction, bullying, discrimination, job loss, or anything else that left you wanting to avoid life. Trauma can lead to intrusive conditions, such as flashbacks and hyperarousal of the nervous system. ACEs studyIt can also indicate emotional difficulties. As someone who has spent decades listening to people from all walks of life, I know soothing our pain, both individually and collectively, requires compassion — for ourselves and compassion for every other being. There are many practices that can help us rewire our brains so kindness becomes more of a default. If not, it is at least an option. 

What Mental Health Is and Isn’t

To me, good mental health isn’t feeling happy 24/7. It’s feeling everything, even the unpleasant or scary emotions that we think might derail us, and keeping on. Great therapy can help you create a safe space within yourself and give the tools and resources you need to bounce back quicker. You can still get triggered, feel angry, irritable, or react quickly to situations. It’s resilience. If you’re reading this, you have survived everything that ever happened to you, no matter how hard it might have been. The fact that you’re still here means you’re resilient.

Psychotherapy can help you get there

Psychotherapy can be a wonderful experience, I believe. It can be scary, intimidating, overwhelming and heart-wrenching at times, but it can also be very joyful. Who better to discover and make friends with than your sweet self?

Nothing is better than sharing your burdens with someone else in a safe, confidential space. It allows you and your loved ones to work through any difficult emotions without fear. 

9 Ways Therapy Can Help You Maintain Good Mental Health 

Here are some therapeutic methods that can help you gain self-acceptance, resilience, and growth.

1. Begin or intensify a journey to self-discovery.

2. Teach you how to manage your emotions and moods.

3. This perspective is different.

4. This allows you to see the humor even in situations that can be depressing, guilt-inducing or anxiety-provoking.

5. Encourages self-compassion and less self criticism, leading to greater patience with yourself and gentleness.

6. You have many options that you might not have thought of, which increases your flexibility in thinking and acting.

7. It will help you develop assertiveness skills that allow for greater self-expression and better boundary setting, which will help you get rid of old codependent patterns.

8. This book helps you understand how self-inquiry leads towards self-knowledge and, ultimately, self-expression and self appreciation.

9. This allows you to feel truly heard and seen.

Transformation is a long-term game

You will feel more at ease with yourself and others as you learn new ways of feeling, thinking, and dealing with life through the therapeutic process. Your self-compassion will make it easier to feel compassion for others who are in need. This is hard work and slow work. The practice of working with a therapist, or alone, requires patience and tolerance. This is how growth usually happens: two steps forward, one and a half back. It is a much more enjoyable, even joyful, process when a good therapist provides support, validation, listening skills, listening skills, and guidance.

Are you ready to seek the guidance of a therapist for your mental health? To find the perfect match, check out the profiles for therapists in your area. 

© Copyright 2021 All rights reserved. Nicole Urdang (Licensed Mental Health Counselor), MS, NCC and DHM in Buffalo, NY granted permission to publish

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