Mental Health and Spending

One day, I was sitting in a circle group with people in a class I was taking.  It was similar to the Alcohol Anonymous set-up like you see in the movies.  We had to introduce ourselves, so I said hello and the group replied, “Hi Louis” and I began saying whatever was on my mind.  After I spoke, the person that spoke next became very emotional.  To say the least, there were tears.  The tears continued person after person until one participant, incredibly dried eyed, change the mood from poignant to being pissed about the horrible up bringing of children.  I was thankful for the “fun snatcher” because one more heartstring-tugging story and I would have joined the crying.  Before the circle exercise, the people around me looked okay.  They had looked okay for two years.  After the circle exercise, I was reminded that we all have something going on in our lives, that maybe, we should talk about.

 So, let’s talk about maintaining positive mental health. Mental health includes our emotional, psychological, and social well-being. It affects how we think, feel,and act. It also helps determine how we handle stress, relate to others, andmake choices. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood (US Department of Public Health, 2017).  During the circle meeting, it was clear thatsome of my classmates were struggling to maintain good mental health.  Mental health in context excludes the person that walks in the snow wearing nothing but his or her underwear.  I am referring to the common case of low mental health that we all experience brought on by stress, family changes, our jobs, and other life experiences.  We face, our children face daily experiences that were nonexistent twenty years ago.  “Research shows that 1 in 5 children have a mental health problem and would benefit from receiving help from a professional” (Ottawa, 2012).  Over 44 million American adults have a mental health condition (MHA, 2018). 

When we are at our mental lows our rational thinking can be impacted. Our behaviors can change.  Our “spending habits” can change.  The first step to financial control is to develop the mental state that supports financial freedom.  We can’t establish the necessary mental state to manage our financial affairs, get our heads right, if we are suffering from low mental health. We will want something, and our mind will tell us it is okay, what will it hurt if you buy it, everything else is already going bad. We believe that the one more thing will not hurt, but it does. So, to establish the positive mental health needed to establish financial freedom and make decisions in our best interest it is necessary to consider that we may be in a state of low mental health. It is possible to pull ourselves out of a level of low mental health.  There are the obvious approaches. We can seek help.  I remember one morning standing in front of a school when I heard a young lady, a student, talking to someone on her cell phone. She was sharing that she had an appointment with her therapist.  She and her family accepted that she needed the help and got it.  There are the other suggestions that we often hear about that will help us like exercising, taking time for ourselves, getting enough sleep, and finding a positive social-support group.  I recommend that you identify what you can change and work to change it. I also recommend that you research mental health (depression & stress) if you think that you or your child(ren) are experiencing a low moment.  The condition is very common.  We all have or will experience a challenging moment in our lives.  To establish financial freedom, we have to be in a state of positive mental health.  A positive state is required to be able to say no to our inner desires to buy something when we should not buy it.  It is needed when we reach that moment when we are breaking away from old habits that landed us in high debt or lead us to be unwilling, but active participants in consumer spending. 

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