Self-help techniques examined

This is the introduction to a four-part series by John Hartsock on mental health, which will run on the Saturday-Sunday Life section covers in May. At left is the first part of the series.

By John Hartsock


A variety of factors can influence any person’s state of mental well-being.

There are the hereditary, biochemical, and personality factors, which may be of utmost importance.

There is also the tremendous influence of environment and learned behavior, as well as a person’s own individual coping and problem-solving skills.

And certain life crises, like the current COVID-19 pandemic that has been ravaging the world for the past two months, has, and will, undoubtedly have a tremendous impact on the mental health of nearly everybody on this planet.

While professional intervention is almost always necessary for the treatment of severe mental-health problems, and often advisable for those that are even moderately impairing, people can also contribute to their own wellness by the attitudes, ambitions and choices that they make in their everyday lives.

For the fourth straight year, the Mirror is acknowledging the national Mental Health Month of May and continuing to examine attitudes and behaviors that can contribute to mental well-being.

This month’s series — which runs over four consecutive Saturday/Sunday print editions — kicks off today with an examination about the importance of purpose.

Discerning a valuable purpose for one’s life and activities can go a long way toward establishing and reaching goals, maintaining self-esteem and fostering a much-needed sense of direction.

Even people who face significant obstacles and roadblocks can thrive if they maintain a sense of purpose.

The second article, which will run in the Saturday-Sunday, May 9-10 print edition, will center around the benefit of developing a day-by-day sense of gratitude for the blessings that almost any person can identify in their lives, and the third article, which will run in the May 16-17 print edition, will examine the importance of how successfully negotiating the effects of change positively impacts well-being.

The final article, set for the May 23-24 print edition, will explore how appropriately managing anger is essential to maintaining mental health and getting along in the world.

(John Hartsock can be reached at jhartsock@altoonamirror.com)


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