The essential ingredients for youth mental health
Although never diagnosed, a psychologist would probably have called me depressed.
However, along the rugged path to recovering my childhood inner contentment I found that spiritual activities like prayer, research into some of the world’s most meaningful spiritual writings and participating in church were keeping me sane, mentally motivated, and connected to others in a nurturing environment.
The refocus on unselfish activities gave me a feeling of self-worth again and also contributed to a hopefulness that things would get better. In time, it opened up previously unknown pathways to fulfillment.
Rather than restricting me or quashing my critical thinking, my adolescent research into the spiritual nature of mental and physical health made me realise that what I needed all along was to put into daily practice a growing understanding of my radically awesome relationship to the Divine Being.
To the degree that I acknowledged it, I found that I could actually experience divine Love expressing kindness and unselfishness in me; the divine Mind reflecting intelligence and wisdom in me; the divine Life demonstrating health and wellbeing in me; and so on (ideas from Science and Health by Mary Baker Eddy).
Things started to go right for me again. You could say that I saw “the wilderness and desert begin to blossom as the rose”, an image so beautifully depicted in the Bible.
Perhaps not surprisingly, I ended up more consistently in the right head space with a much better view of myself – and was probably a lot more likeable, as well!
A 2008 study published in Australian Family Physician and written by Dr Craig Hassed, Faculty of Medicine at Monash University in Melbourne, reported that “Spirituality is an important determinant of physical, emotional and social health...”
When commenting on escalating trends in youth mental illness his study suggests that “there may be too little attention being given to the ‘protective factors’ against mental illness, of which, particularly for adolescents, are connectedness and having a spiritual or religious dimension to one’s life” (Hassed, The role of spirituality in medicine, 2008).
It’s heartening to learn that spirituality is acknowledged as central to youth mental health by a growing number of psychologists.
It seems to me that clinicians need to speak to the community more about the benefits of spirituality in the treatment of anxiety and depression, and not just in young people, but for everyone.
A spiritual dimension to life will undoubtedly assist you, whether you’re young or old, as you seek (and find) a better, healthier and happier you. That would be the real you!
Kay Stroud writes about consciousness, health and spirituality. For more information on the trends mentioned in this article or about Christian Science visit www.health4thinkers.com