Preventive maintenance for the mind.

I envision a mental-health center, but like the Y. Not a hospital – not a place where you go when you are sick – but a place where you go to get strong. I want it to be a cultural norm that people go “work out” at a place that strengthens their spirit.

There are too many young boys who are killing people. There are too many people killing themselves, either fast or slow. There are too many people suffering in silence, “faking it” and not “making it”.

We need to take away the stigma of mental health. It is for everybody. It isn’t shameful to get help. It is bad to need help and not get it.

We all need help.

If we make it so it is a cultural norm that people seek to prevent problems, then we will save a lot of lives. And when I say “save lives” I don’t just mean from suicide and murder. I mean people will have lives worth living. There is a difference between “living” and “being alive”.

Here are some of my rough sketches.

A place where you can learn at your own pace or follow an assigned course.

Where you pay based on your ability to pay, or it is free.

People will learn that mind, body, and spirit are all connected. So, in a way, it is an extension of the Y, but has more things.

People can learn how to shop for healthy food choices and how to cook them.

People can learn how to exercise – how to find one that they like and can do – and will do.

They will get support for when (not if) they “fall off the wagon”.

Spiritual direction.

Group and one-on-one counseling offered.

Help each person find their unique gifts and talents and learn how to use them.

Job counseling – finding the right job to fit you.

Healthy approach to grief and death. Learn to understand that grief can accompany any loss – divorce, move, job loss.

How to deal with emotions, both good and bad. Healthy ways to process feelings.

Art and music as a way of life. Journaling classes.

People need to learn how to recover their spirits and build them up. Our souls, our spirits are like flames. If we let them die down, we are done for.

How to establish and maintain healthy boundaries. Classes on codependence.

It will have AA and NA meetings – but for everybody and everything. We all self-medicate with something. We are all trying to get away from our pain with something. Nobody is immune to addiction.

Faith is healing too- there will be interfaith, nondenominational gatherings to celebrate and connect with the Divine/Creator/Spirit/God.

There are some agencies in Nashville that do some of these things. I suspect there are similar places in your own town. Perhaps a stop-gap would be to create a resource directory so people can access these, or at least know that they exist.

This isn’t just my calling. This is for all of us. If you are reading this, you are being called to it as well. We have to make mental health something that everybody works on. We have to remove the stigma about getting help. The well-being of our families, our friends, our neighborhood, and our world depends on it. How many more people have to die, either at their own hands or the hands of strangers, before we act?