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What Penguins Can Teach Us About Service

I recently spoke with a group of women about “work as worship.” As it turns out, the majority of the Greek and Hebrew words in the Bible we translate as “worship” originally meant things like “to serve, to minister to” or “worship, work, and serve” as one simultaneous concept. While we tend to separate worship from work, the original concept was much more closely tied together.

So, if worship and work are meant to be tied together, what does that mean in terms of practical application? Of course, we can be more intentional with our vocational work. We can invite Jesus with us into the boardroom, classroom, office, or hospital. And, we can be more intentional about asking Him how He would use us in unpaid service. But, paid or unpaid, what exactly are we supposed to do? What jobs are “ours?”

One of the ways to evaluate these questions is to consider our individual designs. We are not replicated robots. We are uniquely designed in terms of our personalities, gifts, talents, temperaments, and more. If “we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time for us to do” (Eph. 2:10) then it stands to reason that our individual “workmanship” might have something to do with our work.

One illustration I’ll provide is a personal, ridiculous story. Years ago, when my children were much younger, our church asked for VBS volunteers. Out of guilt (which is where a lot of not fantastic decisions come from), I signed up. A week later, I found myself with elementary school teachers and sweet grandmothers, blood pressure rising steadily because a bunch of little kids tends to stress me out. I remember the coordinator’s joy as she announced, “I needed 60 volunteers and God provided abundantly. We have 61!” I knew at that moment at least one of us was not called to be there. Yes, I served that week, and I’ve served in other VBS too, but I’ve realized it’s not in the center of my design.

Of course, there are certainly times when God calls His people to work in hard, unfamiliar, or uncomfortable spaces. And, there are times when we are simply needed and we serve for that reason. But, this type of work is not more holy than the times when He calls us to something that fits within our design, gifts, and desire to serve people or a project that truly touches our hearts. Sometimes the work just “fits.” This difference is something I love to illustrate with penguins.

Anne Rulo What Penguins Can Teach Us About Service

When a penguin is on land, it is not any less of a penguin. It does important stuff on land. But, it’s also awkward. They waddle and toddle and sometimes even fall over because their design is not most suited for land. It’s suited for water. Penguins in the water are exceptional. They are fast, efficient, agile, and productive. It is in the water where you can see how a penguin’s design really thrives, a less awkward version of how it works on land.

As you consider what God may have for you in terms of “work as worship”, maybe it is an awkward, uncomfortable, “on land” kind of assignment. But, I bet there is also some stuff He has for you that is smack dab in the center of how He has uniquely designed you. Something(s) where you think, “Yes, I love serving people in this way and I’m good at it!”

“Work as worship” is one of the most satisfying things we can do in faith. Sometimes, it’s in ways that feel awkward. But, sometimes it is in ways that feel so sweet to our “workmanship.” It is this very type of evaluation that has brought me to write these past four years. And, while writing is not always easy, I really love it and I hope it has blessed you. Likewise, I hope you are drawn to your own incredible journey in your “work as worship” as well.

Photo by Joshua Ryder on Unsplash, used with permission

God is in the Fire

Sometimes we just need the comfort of His nearness, no matter how hard things get. Thanks to The Glorious Table for the ongoing opportunity to write for you 🥰 See the preview below or link here for the full post.

This summer, I am enjoying something new. For years, my husband and I discussed having an outdoor gathering space. In previous locations, it never came to fruition. But now that we live on a bit of land and staying out at night to look at the stars is a common occurrence, we followed through.

The particular fire pit we picked out is round with a crosshatch design which makes a pattern play on the ground. There’s just something about the way fire makes objects and imaginings come to life. That’s probably why, on one of the first nights, my mind went to a fire-related story from the Bible—the story of Meshach, Shadrach, and Abednego, the men who survived being tossed into an inferno.

What got these young Jewish men thrown into “the blazing furnace” was ancient civil disobedience. King Nebuchadnezzar, the ruler of Babylon, set up a golden idol. He proclaimed that everyone was required to “fall down and worship the image of gold that [he had] set up. Whoever does not fall down and worship will immediately be thrown into a blazing furnace” (Dan. 3:5-6 NIV).

Anne Rulo God is in the Fire The Glorious Table

Despite the threat of death, the response of the three young men was incredible. They said:

“King Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to deliver us from it, and he will deliver us from Your Majesty’s hand. But even if he does not, we want you to know, Your Majesty, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up.” (Dan. 3:16-18 NIV, emphasis added)

King Nebuchadnezzar was so upset that he ordered the fire to be heated seven times hotter, bound the men, and threw them in. And then, an amazing (and I think incredibly comforting) miracle occurred:

Then King Nebuchadnezzar leaped to his feet in amazement and asked his advisers, “Weren’t there three men that we tied up and threw into the fire?” They replied, “Certainly, Your Majesty.” He said, “Look! I see four men walking around in the fire, unbound and unharmed, and the fourth looks like a son of the gods.” (Dan. 3:24-26 NIV)

Three men were thrown in but four were “walking around in the fire.” So, who was the fourth man? Many believe it was a pre-incarnate Christ or, at least, a divine figure provided as a help, witness, and support. No matter who it was, the way these men responded and how God responded have some wonderful takeaways for us:

  1. No matter the severity of our circumstances or potential consequences, facing them in faith and allegiance to God is always our best choice.

  2. Facing a difficult circumstance in faith does not mean feeling sure that you will be “saved” from a daunting outcome. As an example, people who face cancer in faith and die are not less righteous or holy than those who survive. As the men said, “the God we serve is able to deliver us from it . . . but even if he does not . . . we will not serve your gods.”

  3. We can be sure that whether we are spared from our fiery trial or not, God is in the fire with us. He does not leave his people to suffer alone. Even in our most awful experiences, when our very lives are on the line, he is near and attends to us.

To finish the full post link to The Glorious Table here.

Important Connections Between Sleep & Mental Health

Writing over at Partners in Prevention about sleep and mental health! I hope this information helps you get some healthy zzz’s that support a healthy mind! Please see a preview below or link to the full post here.

Sleep is a daily, foundational part of our health routine, and yet, so many people struggle to get the right kind and amount, of consistent, uninterrupted snooze hours.

We understand the impact poor sleep has on our physical health. We can literally feel it when we wake up and still feel tired, sluggish, have trouble staying awake driving or in meetings, etc. But how does sleep impact our mental health? What impact does poor sleep have on our psychological, emotional, and social well-being? These are the questions we are exploring today.

How Much Sleep are We Supposed to Get?

Sleep research is fascinating and provides us with all kinds of information about how our brains work and develop. As we age, our sleep needs change. As infants, we start with needing 12 to 16 hours of sleep per 24 hours, 8 to 10 hours as teenagers, and 7 to 9 as adults. Then, even within these needed hours, you may sometimes need more if your sleep quality is poor, you haven’t had enough rest lately, or have a medical condition that affects your sleep pattern.

Rumpled blanket on a bed in front of a window

What Works Against Healthy Sleep Patterns?

How much sleep we get is just as important as the quality of sleep. And, while some people do not get enough sleep because they “just don’t go to bed”, others may be frustrated because while they are trying to get enough sleep, they don’t seem to be able to. There are many things that can work against a healthy sleep pattern:

  • Medical conditions such as chronic pain, eczema/psoriasis, neurological and musculoskeletal disorders, cardiovascular disease, pregnancy (78% of women have trouble sleeping at some point), and chronic pain can all create restless or interrupted sleep.
  • Irregular sleep and wake hours work against our body’s “circadian rhythm.” This is part of the body’s 24-hour internal clock with times that feel most “natural” to sleep and wake. If we can sync our sleep habits to that rhythm, we are more likely to get healthy sleep.
  • Stress and mental illness are definite sleep stealers. Healthy sleep is about getting our brain to rest and settle into the correct patterns to go in and out of regular sleep cycles. Sleep, mental illness, medication, and even alcohol can make us sleep too “light”, too “deep”, or cycle too rapidly to get healthy sleep.
  • Breathing concerns related to allergies, asthma, and sleep apnea can interrupt the breathing needed to keep us sleeping safely. If you sleep all night but still often wake up tired consult a medical professional. It may be that your sleep is being interrupted by breathing issues.
  • Sleep patterns change as we age. While older adults still need 7-9 hours of sleep, it can be harder to go to sleep or stay asleep.
Stack of books with a person behind it with their head down and elbows bent out

How Does Sleep Impact Mental Health?

So, why does all this information about how much sleep and interrupted sleep matter?…

To finish the rest of the post link here to Partners in Prevention!

12 Movies About Mental Health for Your Summer

Writing over at Partners in Prevention about some awesome mental health movies to watch this summer. Definitely some of my favorites on this list!

Depending on how you count, there are either twelve or thirteen weeks throughout June, July, and August. Partners in Prevention thought it might be fun to provide a list that would allow you to watch at least one excellent movie each week that would not only be enjoyable, but also serve to increase our understanding, compassion, and mental health awareness. Without further ado (but with a quick reminder to permit yourself to say “no thanks” if it is too much or triggering) here are twelve awesome mental health movies for your summer!

Inside Out: These movies are in no particular order but I put my favorite first. As a mental health professional, I believe this movie should be on the standard curriculum for any counselor-in-training. The cast members are personifications of emotions living in the mind of a preteen girl, helping her (and each other) navigate the challenges of internal and physical transitions as she moves. It is delightful and incredibly well researched in terms of emotional intelligence, brain function, and memory.

Patch Adams: Gosh, this one is wonderful too, albeit more intense than the cartoon above. It feels even more poignant to enjoy the incredible talents of Robin Williams, knowing that his own life later ended by suicide. He is hysterically funny, touching, and powerful in this role that pushes the envelope on the boundaries of medical care, compassion, and humor.

Silver Linings Playbook: When I worked as a counselor at a college, we got permission to play this movie as part of a mental health movie lineup. It is a great story about what it can look like to have bipolar disorder, both treated and left untreated. Plus, there’s a love story interwoven with a passion for American football. Sounds like summer to me!

A Beautiful Mind: This movie captured my affection years ago. I was touched to see something as uncommonly portrayed as schizophrenia be told in such a raw, and hopeful, way. Yes, you see the main character, his family, and his career struggle. But, you also see them find a way forward. Even better? It’s based on the story of a real person, Nobel Laureate, John Nash.

Matchstick Men: If you are into heist movies, this one may be intriguing. Nicholas Cage stars as a con artist trying to steal a lot of money. All the while, his character also has to manage difficulties with obsessive-compulsive disorder, agoraphobia, and panic attacks.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story: I haven’t seen this one but I am extremely intrigued by the storyline. It is a comedy set inside a psychiatric ward and it is one of the recommendations made by NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Health). Hospitals are supposed to be a place of healing, not fear, and it sounds like maybe this film gets it right!

Click here for the other six movies!

Waiting on God’s Timing

Writing over at The Glorious Table today about how patient David was sometimes, and that he really struggled other times. Waiting on God’s timing isn’t often easy but is always worth it. Read below for a preview or link to the full post here.

When we look toward some of the Bible’s most recognizable characters, David really stands out on the ol’ Sunday school felt board. I mean, he’s got the whole shepherd thing going (1 Sam. 17:34-36), the slingshot that takes out Goliath (1 Sam. 17:50), and many times he made a heck of a king (minus the whole Bathsheba/Uriah debacle, but we’ll get to that later in 2 Sam. 11).

On the front end, David is a picture of incredible humility and patience. I’m guessing that being the youngest of eight brothers means he didn’t always get to do what he wanted. Considering that his father, Jesse, offers all of David’s brothers to Samuel for anointing and doesn’t even David in the lineup (1 Sam. 16:5-13) as well as his brother’s elitist attitude toward him (“Who do you think you are leaving the sheep?,” (1 Sam. 17:28) it seems that David was not exactly the most esteemed member of the family.

Despite the disregard David is shown by his fellow men, God chooses the young shepherd to be king over Israel. Considering what David’s life has been like up to this point, his anointing certainly had the potential to be pretty heady for a young man.

This is why it is so incredible that for years after his anointing, David remains inexplicably loyal to Saul, the established king, even when the guy tries to murder him! Then, after Saul dies, David still doesn’t hurry the process, instead waiting for Saul’s son Ish-Bosheth to get out of the way as well (2 Sam. 2:10). Finally, after “the war between the house of Saul and the house of David lasted a long time” (2 Sam. 3:1 NIV), David becomes king of Israel at age thirty (2 Sam. 5:4), at least fifteen years after he was first promised the crown. Incredible.

a turquoise Bible on a dark wooden table

I can’t imagine what it would have been like to be so patient–not to mention so mistreated—while waiting for something that you-know-that-you-know-that-you-know is yours to claim.

Sadly, David’s Patience Waned as an Adult

Because David displays such incredible patience and integrity during his adolescence and early adulthood (not exactly years that are known for restraint), we might expect him to display even greater integrity as he ages. Unfortunately, that’s not how it plays out, and the history of David’s reign is marked by a major character stain: his affair with Bathsheba.

The details of the story may be familiar. While David’s troops are out fighting for the kingdom, David is hanging out at home and notices the beautiful Bathsheba bathing on a nearby balcony. David calls for her and sleeps with her, resulting in a pregnancy. Not wanting to be caught in his misdeeds, David then does some military order shuffling that ends with Bathsheba’s husband dead on the battlefield and Bathsheba being taken into David’s household as his wife (2 Sam. 11).

While it’s easy to get distracted by the salacious details of the story, what we want to focus on here is the drastic change in David’s character. Unlike the years he waited to become king, with all its discomfort and difficulty, he displays neither patience nor integrity here. He sees Bathsheba. He wants what he wants when he wants it. He sacrifices his integrity and the life of another to cover his indiscretions.

What can we take away from watching this drastic change from a patient, trusting young man to an impatient, occasionally reckless adult?

We need to trust, wait, and ask about God’s timing. No matter what the answer is.

To finish reading the full post link here.

Important Connections Between Exercise & Mental Health

Writing over at Missouri Partners in Prevention about the connection between exercise and our mental/emotional health! See below for a preview or link to the full article here.

June is a fantastic month. It is the host to many weddings, outdoor events, and summer nights before things get too sweltering in July and August. For this reason, June is also a great month to talk about exercise. Given how comfortable it is outside, maybe we’ll all get a few more steps in!

The connection between mental health and exercise is long-established and personally experienced by so many who “just feel better” when they have gotten outside, to the gym, or even a video or yoga session in their own home. But how much exercise makes a difference? What kind of exercise do we need? How exactly does it affect our mental health in a positive way? We will explore these questions today.

How Much Exercise Improves Our Mental Health?

Many people are keen to improve their mental health, but they want to know exactly how much exercise is supposed to make a difference. In a recent comparison of fifteen studies, the researchers concluded it is often not as much as you might think.

For adults, the public health recommendation for exercise is at least 2 hours and 30 minutes to 5 hours a week of moderate-intensity exercise or just over an hour to 2 hours and 30 minutes of moderate to intense exercise (health.gov). However, it is important to note that even accomplishing the lower end of that recommendation was connected to a lower risk of depression than those who did not exercise. In fact, not moving at all was associated with an increased risk of depression of 18-25%. The recommendation for beginning an exercise routine is to begin with five or ten-minute walks.

Woman outside kneeling down on one knee and tying the shoelaces on a tennis shoe

What Kind of Exercise Improves Our Mental Health?

As offered above, several hours of moderate-intensity or around an hour or two of more intense aerobic exercise has been connected to a lower risk of depression. But, are there other kinds of exercise that can improve our mental health? Any exercise can have benefits but yoga, often paired with meditation practices, are a frequent recommendation for people suffering from mental health concerns. No matter what type of exercise someone chooses (cardiovascular, strength training, balance, or flexibility) there are benefits to movement of any kind and pursuing activities we enjoy.

Man who uses a wheelchair playing basketball

How Does Exercise Improve Our Mental Health?

To finish the full post and see the answer to the above question, link here.

Why Feeling Pain is Important

Years ago, I saw a documentary about a little girl who could not feel pain. She was adorable and did many of the same things as other children but, she almost never cried. Her parents became concerned because she kept getting hurt but did not stop or seek comfort or care when she was injured.

As it turns out, this little gal had a rare disease called CIPA (congenital insensitivity to pain and anhydrosis). It affects the body by making people unable to sense temperature, pain, or the ability to sweat. Since these kiddos don’t feel anything or have the ability to regulate their temperature, they can end up in some really dangerous situations. As you might imagine, it’s hard to know what pain needs your attention if you can’t feel it to begin with.

Since I’m not a doctor but a mental health professional, you might be able to guess where I am going with this today. Our emotional protection system is designed in many ways like our physical protection system. However, because emotions can feel more subjective, sometimes we ignore or fight against this important information. So, to help us give our emotional system the attention it deserves, below are some tips to help us tune in, understand, and appreciate it.

5 Tips for Engaging with Painful Emotions

  1. Painful emotions usually have a purpose. Sometimes we know why and sometimes we don’t. Regardless, they’re asking for our attention. If you are feeling sad, scared, anxious, unsettled, or anything else uncomfortable, your body is trying to tell you something. Listen.

  2. One of the best ways to listen to uncomfortable emotions is from a neutral mindset, almost like a detective. Instead of judging the emotion as “bad” or pushing it away, treat it as information. “What is this feeling trying to tell me?” “What has been going on that might have me feeling this way?” “How can I observe this rather than let it take over/control?” “When have I felt this way before?” (See a great process for doing this here.)

  3. As mentioned, painful emotions usually have a purpose. However, some people do experience painful emotions that are unfounded (generalized anxiety is a good example). In these cases, sometimes you can move into a more peaceful space via self-compassion and focusing on what is true. However, if painful feelings keep up with no obvious cause, you may need therapy or medication to figure things out. There’s no shame in that. Brains sometimes need intervention to run right, just like the rest of our bodies.

  4. If you were physically sick or injured, a doctor would give you recommendations for medicine, rehab, rest, etc. The same is true for experiences with emotional pain. If you suffer from PTSD, anxiety, or depression, or have gone through a difficult experience, I’d tell you to avoid your “triggers” and take good care of yourself. That may mean setting boundaries around your sleep, activities, workload, or even the company you keep. If you want to heal and/or maintain your health, you have to do what’s necessary to let that process take place.

  5. Lastly, feeling painful emotions is normal and necessary sometimes. It’s the way our brains and bodies were designed to grieve, stay safe, address fears, etc. When we give our emotions permission to be felt, they often resolve in time. Reminding ourselves that painful emotions are not bad or permanent can help us accept them for their intended purpose and then let them go when they’ve done their job.

The baby we talked about at the beginning of this post kept getting more and more injured because she couldn’t feel the pain that was designed to help keep her safe. Similarly, please know that your emotions, even the painful ones, are gifts designed with information to help keep us safe, healthy, and connected to ourselves and others.

Photo by Diana Polekhina on Unsplash, used with permission

Children: Paving the Way Forward vs. Praying the Way Forward

Exactly one year ago, I shared the story below. It’s about a moment where I had to choose between paving the way forward for my kid or “just” praying. Sure, one sounds holier. It’s also much harder sometimes. Fast-forward to last week as people we love now know our son’s name, greet him with a smile, and call him a friend. Life is hard sometimes but God is so good, especially when we give Him time to work His way. We don’t always get a follow-up on how stories turn out, but I wanted to share this one. I hope it encourages you.

(June 2021) The other day I passed my son in the school cafeteria. Unlike his usual involved and chatty self, he was sitting on one of those round plastic seats far from the other kids. He was trying to look like he had it all together but, I’m his Mom. And, he’s not so fantastic at hiding his feelings 😉 I sat down and asked quietly, “What’s going on buddy?” He leaned in. “I just don’t know anybody Mom. I don’t have any friends here.”

Ugh, cue internal heartbreak. Poor kid. We are moving and this scene was from one of his first summer encounters with the other boys his age. The kids he doesn’t know yet. After leaving a bunch of friends he loved in our old place. I hate it for him.

The part of me that wanted to fix it rose up quickly. It’s the part of me that wanted to start moving the pieces, picking the people, and manufacturing situations so he would feel better as quickly as possible. It’s the part of us that gets labeled “Mama Bear” and I’ll admit, sometimes, she’s needed.

But, this time she wasn’t. And I knew it. As much as I wanted to intervene, I knew that on this day, in this circumstance, my job was not to pave the way for my kid but to pray the way for him. I gave him a hug, a strategy or two for meeting new folks, and walked away with my heart in a puddle. It wasn’t the first time and, I’m certain it won’t be the last.

Like when he walked into preschool.

And when we moved last time.

And when he was scared to try a new thing.

Like when he’ll go to high school.

And when he chooses the girl.

And when he’ll drive off to college.

Anne Rulo Children: Paving the Way Forward vs. Praying the Way Forward

Parenting is the most challenging exercise I know in learning when to tie our own hands in prayer so we can loosen and equip theirs.

Onward and forward my son, as you forge your own path. Nothing I could ever do for you will ever compare with what God can do. My goodness, how I love you.

I’ll pray your way forward.

#parenting #momlife #dadlife #trust #moving #prayer #prayingforkids

Photo by Ben White on Unsplash, used with permission

When Jesus Knocks

Writing over at The Glorious Table today about my nostalgia for knocking on my friend’s doors as a kid, asking if “so-and-so” could play. We don’t knock on people’s doors like we used to, but Jesus still knocks on ours. I’m so glad. Read on for a preview below or click here for the full post.

I think I may have thrived in another era. Not to say that I’m doing poorly in this one, but I do carry a bit of nostalgia for some social constructs of decades past. As an example, one of the things I loved as a child of the  ’80s, which has since faded, is the normalcy of showing up at someone’s front door unannounced.

As a kid, the only thing I had to wait for before I knocked on a friend’s door was for it to be at least nine o’clock in the morning. An early riser most of my life, I had friends (more likely my friends’ parents) who were less than thrilled if I showed up to play before they were even out of bed—or out of their pajamas. But once it was normal hours for the world, it was an acceptable routine for me and the other neighborhood kids to show up and ask if so-and-so could play.

Changes such as these have fueled my interest in the increasing social phenomenon of isolation. While more recent narratives point to the increase in technology as the culprit, books like Bowling Alone by Robert Putnamsuggest American social life began to shift as early as the 1960s. In the decades since, we have become less likely to be involved in civic life, either through organizations or activities, which he suggests is to our detriment. Pairing this research with his commentary on “the disappearing front porch” tied to gun violence, interior comforts, and reduction of sharing resources and experiences, makes me long for the days when we shared our lives more fully and spontaneously than we do today.

Why all the waxing poetic about days gone by? The other day, I ran across Revelation 3:20, and it struck me as inviting. Anything inviting with Jesus attached just seems like it deserves a reflection.

Here’s the verse:

“Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me” (NIV).

a turquoise door open to the outside

Now, before we get into what the verse says, I thought we’d spend a little time focused on what it does not say. Sometimes, this can give us as much insight as anything else. Here are a few examples:

  1. It does not say, “Here I am! I stand at the door pounding until you open it. I will get you to open this door against your will.” Jesus may show up at our door, but he does not bust his way in. He is a deeply loving but also free-will-supporting neighbor. He wants to be involved in our lives, but we have to open the door and let him in.
  2. It does not say, “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, they will be subsequently read a list of rules as well as a review of their good and bad marks in my ledger. Good times for all.” No. Of course, we know Jesus receives us with grace. However, our hearts sometimes still fear criticism. Remember, it is safe to open the door to Jesus.
  3. Finally, it does not say…

Finish the full post here at The Glorious Table!

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

Enjoyed writing a 40,000 flyover about mental health for this month’s mental health awareness. See below for a preview or read the full post here. Thanks to Missouri Partners in Prevention for the opportunity to continue to write with you!

2 people sitting in separate chairs talking, as if in a therapy session

Year after year, the culture improves in awareness, advocacy, and accessibility of mental health knowledge and services. In that same breath, we also acknowledge that great strides are needed. Concerns related to insurance, availability of providers, and a lack of health equity mean we have much work to do. Despite these challenges, we wanted to take some time to provide some broad-stroke information about mental health that will remind us all how important this month of awareness is and how we can be a part of the solution.

General Mental Health Information

Young Black woman walking outside with headphones in, holding a folder and looking down at her phone

Mental Health Statistics

It is hard to offer confident mental health statistics. The reasons for this are many. Mental health care is still, in some ways, a developing field with a complicated history. Many mental health disorders used to be criminalized or used as grounds for removing people from society. And, while brain mapping, chemical studies, and blood samples can tell us some things about a person’s mental health experience, much of what we know still comes down to someone’s described experience.

For this reason, as much as mental health disorders are physical health experiences that can improve with therapy and/or medication, it is harder to point to a test number or result as a guide for treatment. Scientists are working hard to find more concrete ways to understand mental health disorders, so providers have increased ways to be more accurate and effective with treatment and medication. And, of course, many people who are suffering don’t (or can’t) seek treatment. All of this means that it’s just not as easy to say how many people have a mental health disorder as it is to pinpoint a number for a physical illness.

With these parameters in mind, the National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) cites that 1 out of every 5 people, or 20% of the population experiences a mental illness. Other organizations offer numbers closer to 1 out of every 4 or 25% of the population. Some other commonly cited statistics are:

  • The symptoms of many mental health disorders often first appear in someone’s late teens or early 20s although they can occur outside of this range. It is important to remember that experiences such as trauma can bring on mental challenges at any age.
  • People can have co-occurring disorders (i.e., depression and anxiety) that require support for both concerns.
  • Depression and anxiety are the most commonly experienced mental health disorders.
  • Suicide is often connected to the mental health diagnosis of depression and/or substance abuse disorder. Men are more likely to die by suicide while women are more likely to attempt it. The discrepancy is typically associated with the difference in the lethality of the method.
  • We have barely scratched the surface. There are hundreds of classified forms of mental disorders in the DSM-5.
Group of people sitting in chairs in a circle talking

What Part Can We Play in Mental Health Care?

To finish the full post link here