May is Mental Health Month

Who knew?

It was five years ago that Drew and I stepped into an office at Friends University to see a counselor. We went for six months; being seen as a couple one week and then as individuals for the next two weeks. There wasn’t anything actually wrong but life was full and there were cracks. Being five years married, we were seeing 30 year marriages break apart. Plus we knew there were some things in our young marriage we wanted to pay attention to, learn to label, lean into, and heal. Plus, I was overwhelmed as student, YL staff person, and potty-training mom. Drew came along for the ride at first personally, and then ended up changing careers by the time all her questions were asked and explored!

Our therapist gave little information but tons of insight. She asked us the questions we couldn’t come up with to ask each other. She revealed layers and gave language to emotions.

Reading Wild a few weeks ago, I read the part where Cheryl sat with therapist. Their interaction typifies the productiveness of personal therapy.

Cheryl: I’m like a guy sexually.

Therapist: What are guys like?

Cheryl: You know, detached.

Therapist: So who detached from you?

Cheryl: Oh… is this where I’m supposed to talk about my dad?

Boom. He took her from a superficial and vague statement, to a deep and poignant, truth searing reveal of deeper issues.

So it was with us in 2010, we learned how to reveal what was under the surface and gained the tools to work differently next time.

May is mental health month.  Simply because my sister works in mental health and cares about my kids growing up healthy, I ended up with a packet of excellent resources on mental health for kids/teens.

(May is also super-storm month in Missouri- as I type, the wind and rain whirl outside the window once again. Will my garden survive?! I digress…)

Back to mental health.

A few of the nuggets, written especially for teens but helpful to all of us:

1. Have Self-Respect

  • Self-respect says: I am aware of my strengths and weaknesses, I accept myself as I am right now with imperfections, I’m entitled to be treated with respect by myself and others just because I’m a human being.

2. Build a Gratitude Habit

  • Feeling grateful on a regular basis can have a big effect on our lives- it creates loving bonds, increases good moods, helps brain function.  
  • Gratitude open us up to see more possibilities and take in more information
  • Gratitude can boost our ability to develop skills, learn, and make good decisions
  • People who feel gratitude more often, are stressed and depressed less often.
  • Gratitude can lead to positive actions: when we stop to feel grateful, we often extend kindness to someone else.

3. Explore and Pursue Positive Emotions

  • The packet includes a worksheet for thinking of ways and times you might feel 10 positive emotions. 

4. Find Healthy Ways to Deal with Less than Positive Emotions/COPE
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  • Feeling sad? Go to a mirror. Make silly noises and faces.
  • Feeling angry? Stomp your feet or jump in puddles, rip up paper, scream into a pillow, hit and kick a punching bag, shake your whole body and yell.
  • Feeling depressed? Go outside. Stop and smell the roses…or other flowers. Studies show that being in nature is a mood booster.
  • Stay proactive about being positive!
  1. On a daily basis, tell yourself that positive things will happen that day and in the future.
  2. Creative expression is really important and can convey how you are feeling: write a poem or journal entry, draw, paint, scribble, play an instrument, sing, dance.
  3. Hold, cuddle and hug your family daily.

*most resources here can be found on and Here is the coping skills worksheet.

Drew and I learned about empathy, emotions, and entering in. We learned how to walk the rotation of the same fight we continually come back to with softer steps.

We hope our kids can grow up feeling secure in their identity in Christ, carry self-respect, and be a force for good and hope in their small little worlds now, and the great big world as they grow.

With 11 more days,Happy Mental Health Month. How might you celebrate?


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