Happy Mental Health Awareness Month!

Derrick Cline, Spring Lake Ranch Clinician

yellow flowers against a bright summer sun

In honor of the 75th celebration of Mental Health Awareness Month, I wanted to chit-chat about how we talk about “mental health.” A lot of us think good mental health equals lack of psychiatric diagnosis, and thus, poor mental health is the presence of a condition (anxiety, depression, schizophrenia, etc.). That makes sense, right? But what that means is that if I am diagnosed at any point in my life, I can just go ahead and throw out the idea of being mentally healthy. Harsh, yeah?

BOOM. Hear that? That’s the sound of us blowing up that paradigm. What if we talked about mental health in terms of mental wellness? Mental Illness (or poor mental health) becomes a lack of mental wellness instead of a scarlet letter in a chart. Now our job is easier. Get rid of a diagnosis: tough. Figure out what makes us well: a bit easier.

But Derrick, what is “wellness”?

“Wellness” is one of those fun buzzwords that sometimes loses its meaning. It sounds like one of those words you throw in a job title or on your Psychology Today profile to sound cooler. I’m not just a therapist; I’m a WELLNESS GUIDE. But here on the Ranch, we practice what we preach. Our treatment focus for our folks isn’t: “Welcome to Spring Lake Ranch! How do we fix your diagnosis?” We want to learn more about what “wellness” looks like to each individual resident that walks in our door (or in our barn). We focus on the following Domains of Wellness:

  • Emotional Wellness
  • Social Wellness
  • Occupational Wellness
  • Physical Wellness
  • Intellectual Wellness
  • Spiritual Wellness
  • Wellness in Recovery
  • Financial Wellness
  • Environmental Wellness

We want to ask each resident: “What does it look like when you are occupationally well?” We want to 1. assess and 2. plan to give our ranchers the tools that they need to keep themselves well.

You know the cool thing about this? I’ll let you in on a secret. You don’t have to have a psychiatric condition in order to think this way. Seriously! I want you (you right now, who are reading this!) to take some time and write out those domains. Do some digging. Think about “What does Social Wellness look like for me?” Sleep on it. Go talk to your loved ones, your family, your therapist (I hear those folks are helpful).

Now you’re ready for step 2. What do I need to do to make/keep myself well in these categories? Congratulations, you’ve got a good guide for working on your own mental health. Nay. Your mental WELLNESS.

So as you celebrate this Mental Health Awareness Month, try and shift your view of what “mental illness” looks like.

P.S. – I’m billing this blog post to you as a therapy hour. I don’t take insurance and my Venmo is {REDACTED BY SPRING LAKE RANCH ADMINISTRATION}. Thanks and be well!

CARF Accredited: Spring Lake Ranch programs are CARF accredited. The CARF accreditation signals our commitment to continually improving services, encouraging feedback, and serving the community.

Spring Lake Ranch is a member of the American Residential Treatment Association (ARTA). ARTA members are dedicated to providing extraordinary care to adults with mental illness.