As a child, I dropped a glass milk bottle on my bare toe. I could easily have slipped into panic or fear, but I didn’t. My family was at the lunch table and my father jumped up, put one hand on the smashed toe and the other on my shoulder. The love expressed in the room stopped the fear that might have ensued. My thought calmed and the pain ceased. The day went on normally.
The presence of love at that moment definitely affected my mental wellness, to say nothing of my physical condition. It is worth considering how such loving acts counter physical and mental disturbance and restore mental wellness of those around us, both within our view and outside of it.
January is Mental Wellness Month, which suggests we might reflect on what we can do to aid others who may feel that circumstances have “dropped a bottle on their bare toe”. They, like all of us, can benefit from an embrace of compassion, if not directly, then figuratively. We know when we have the support of family, even if we are far from home. That sort of love is felt and it gives us peace of mind, solid comfort.
There are many dedicated professionals and volunteers working to bring comfort and health of thought to others who are not in the embrace of their formal families. I was speaking to the head social worker at a state home for adults, who need support due to mental challenges. I was encouraged to learn that there are measures taken to place a “hand over the toe”, if you will, and to provide an atmosphere of loving support for the patients living there.
The professional staff, indeed, are like family in many ways. They play music, sing together, maintain a self-advocacy group for those ready for fuller communication, and develop skills that enable each individual to reach her or his capacity to integrate as much as possible into the community.
This compassionate work is augmented by a volunteer program, where members of the community may serve as surrogate family for individuals. This furthers social integration and creates a sense of normalcy, aiding in mental awareness and self worth for the individual needing that. This activity can lead to mutual mental wellness, for the volunteer as well as for the client in the home. Unselfish acts lead to healthier thoughts.
We have seen these unselfish actions and their good outcomes throughout history. Certainly it was evidenced in Scripture, as Christ Jesus gave two commands, to love God and to love mankind.* His love for others was often repeated in healing, in feeding multitudes, and in befriending the less advantaged. We can do the same and find mental wellness for ourselves by aiding in the mental wellness of others…”blessed is that man who seeth his brother’s need and supplieth it, seeking his own in another’s good”**.
*The Bible, Matt. 22:37-40
**Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures, p. 518, Mary Baker Eddy
***[This article was published January 29, 2014 in the Arizona Silver Belt newspaper, print edition.]