Isabel Kirk, MA, LPC

Isabel Kirk is a bilingual mental health counselor psychotherapist offering individual and group services in the Washington DC metropolitan area and distance counseling (online and phone).

For her complete profile, visit: Isabel Kirk

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    May is Mental Health Month!

    May is Mental Health month so it can’t pass without addressing it. However, I am not going to talk here about mental disorders or how to bring more awareness to the ongoing struggles of people suffering from them. I would like for us to focus on what Mental Health is, its definition. According to the Webster dictionary Mental Health is “the condition of being sound mentally and emotionally that is characterized by the absence of mental disorder (as neurosis or psychosis) and by adequate adjustment especially as reflected in feeling comfortable about oneself, positive feelings about others, and ability to meet the demands of life.”

    I also like the World Health Organization’s definition: “Mental health is not just the absence of mental disorder. It is defined as a state of well-being in which every individual realizes his or her own potential, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to her or his community.”

    Exactly. Mental Health is not just the absence of a mental disorder, but the capacity of an individual to reach his/her full potencial. It is not about being ok or fine is about being happy.  However, there is a still a negative stigma about the word and people tend to still feel embarrassed or keep it as a secret when look for mental health help. We can share information about a dentist or a family doctor because it is ok to take care of our physical health, but we still don’t feel comfortable taking care of our emotional and mental health. We are in the 21st century, and even though people joke and refer to going to therapy as something fashionable or for the elite, the reality is that life stressors are more every day, relationships suffer from lack of time to connect, and therefore more problems arise because we are not at an ease state, therefore, dis-eases arise. Are we supposed to be ok and keep dealing with new challenges as they present but with fewer resources? It is not possible.

    There are a few things you can do. This month try to do something for yourself to keep or improve a healthy mental state:

    • Spend time daily, face-to-face, with people you like. No matter how much time you devote to improving your mental and emotional health, you will still need the company of others to feel and be your best. Humans are social creatures with emotional needs for relationships and positive connections to others. We’re not meant to survive, let alone thrive, in isolation. Our social brains crave companionship—even when experience has made us shy and distrustful of others. Make spending time with people you enjoy a priority. Choose friends, neighbors, colleagues, and family members who are upbeat, positive, and interested in you. Take time to inquire about people you meet during the day that you like.

    • Engage in meaningful, creative work. Do things that challenge your creativity and make you feel productive, whether or not you get paid for it – things like gardening, drawing, writing, playing an instrument, or building something in your workshop.

    • Make leisure time a priority. Do things for no other reason than that it feels good to do them. Watch movie, take a walk on the beach, listen to music, read a good book, or talk to a friend.. Play is an emotional and mental health necessity.

    • Make time for contemplation and appreciation. Think about the things you’re grateful for. Mediate, pray, enjoy the sunset, or simply take a moment to pay attention to what is good, positive, and beautiful as you go about your day.

    • Be true to yourself. Try to get in touch with what really makes you happy regardless of societal or family rules or believes. The more you are honest to yourself and follow your inner self the healthier you would be.

    Ah…and don’t forget, you can also help by talking about the topic with friends and family and see what they think. Raising awareness and educating about the importance of mental health is a great way of connecting.

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