What does it mean to have “mental health awareness.” In this month of Mental Health Awareness, the month isn’t just asking that we’re aware of mental illness. It also asks that we are aware of mental health. 

The National Alliance on Mental Health (NAMI) says that this is the month to “fight stigma, provide support, educate the public and advocate for policies that support people with mental illness and their families.” From women’s mental health to family mental health, this is the month to arm yourself with all the tools available to help gain a better understanding of how far-reaching mental illness can affect families and individuals. And, it is time for you to focus on your mental and emotional health. 

What is Mental Health?

As I said in another post, mental health is the culmination of physical and emotional health. Meaning, what you do with your body (thoughts) and how you manage your emotions (mind) is the crossroads of mental health. Talking, walking, reading, writing, speaking, remembering – all of these actions are controlled by your brain and body working in unison. However, the mind governs your entire bodily system, soul, and intellect.

To really have excellent mental and emotional health, you have to be willing to examine life from multiple perspectives. Being healthy means knowing yourself, right? So you have to understand how you feel, why you feel it, what you think, why you believe it, and what to do about things you don’t want to feel or think. But, you also have to have a pulse on what others think and feel, too. This is not only a sign of good emotional intelligence but also your ability to have positive perspective-taking. Plus, studies show that those who don’t have good perspective-taking are more depressed, decreasing overall wellbeing.

In many ways, mental illness is the disconnect between brain and body awareness. It’s when you’ve lost a sense of who you are at your core; that you’ve someone forgotten who you are as a true self.

The Problem with Mental Health Care

The problem with the current mental health care model is that depending on who you visit for treatment, enlightenment, and counsel, you may not be encouraged to nurture all angles of nurturing the self. Tending the garden of self – self-awareness, self-perception, self-identity, self-knowledge, self-esteem – requires more in-depth self-commitment.

In the new mental health care model, I’m urging you to examine your physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual self. Turn into yourself, gain insight and awareness of what you think, feel, and do. This new appreciation of self, and what the “self” even is, requires you to engage in meta-awareness. That is, becoming aware of what you’re aware of.

Who is the Self, Anyway?

The self has many definitions, depending on which text you read. It can be described from many different bodies of knowledge – psychology, neuroscience, metaphysical, and even religion. The self has been described as our mind, soul, a subjective being, reason, God, thinking being, and human being. The consensus within these varying works is that the self is the culmination of body and brain, and everything in between. The body and brain make up the “mind.” The mind encompasses our essence, which is the true self. Your external self goes to get a pedicure. Your true self observes you getting a pedicure, reflecting upon it.

The true self is the knower of feelings, actions, and things. It is an active participant, able to reflect and think about what is known. The true self is the knower of what is capable of being known. The self is “I.” Therefore, “me” is a culmination of all external thoughts, feelings, and actions. “I” am capable of examining and knowing “me.” Human beings are different from objects and things because they are capable of being known, whereas the human being has the unique capability of being the knower.

Your true self is meaningful because of its interpretation and relation to all known things in the external world. The true self does not create the outer world, but can itself be transformed by it. The self is an active participant in the evolution of knowing and has a subjective reality, whereas the external world is a passive object that can be observed and known.

Good mental health requires that you be tuned into your self. For that, you must nurture the Eight Acts of Self-Love in the new mental health care model.