Clara Hughes, an athlete for all seasons – celebrated Olympic medalist in both Summer and Winter Games – sees her success as more than earning medals; she is a passionate advocate for mental health. As one who struggled successfully through a period of deep depression, she is using her national bike tour, Clara’s Big Ride, to increase awareness of mental health issues, especially depression, and spread the word that help is available and recovery is possible.
Can one path to mental health be a discovery – or rediscovery – of the original source of our health and mental well-being? Is there something more, described by a nineteenth century author and healer, as the ‘calm, strong currents of true spirituality….which must deepen human experience’ that can give us a different perspective on this journey?
Recent studies reveal alarming trends in Canada about the growing incidence of depression and anxiety among all age groups and income levels. Modern life has become more hectic and stressful than ever before.
Medications like anti-depressants don’t always work and can have side effects. One non-medical antidote to lift above the gloom is to ensure he/she feels listened to and valued. Some ways to administer this antidote:
- Listen: suspend all judgment and give your undivided attention to the person speaking to you
- See: see the whole person – don’t lose sight of their positive qualities
- Give: of your heart; be open and loving
- Forgive: help the person to let go of past painful events
These are good mental strengths to develop, but can a growing sense of one’s spirituality also deepen our human experience and keep depression at bay? According to research, the answer is ‘yes’.
‘If you’re not in touch with your spiritual side, here’s a good reason to start: it may hold benefits to your mental health’ says Dan Cohen, co-author of new research from the University of Missouri. ‘Spirituality in general is linked with greater mental health; people reduce their sense of self and feel a greater sense of oneness and connectedness with the rest of the universe’.
In most spiritual practices increased mental well being is tied to keeping one’s thought focused on, and trusting, a higher power. In Isaiah we read “Thou wilt keep him in perfect peace whose mind is stayed on thee.” This is the discovery – or rediscovery – of our relationship with a loving Creator, which can help us enrich our sense of oneness and completeness, of being cared for and loved.
Depression can be alleviated and healed by such a deepening of the human experience. These deep currents of connectedness can bring limitless health benefits.
May Clara’s Big Ride raise the awareness of such possibilities and bring a message of hope and strength to Canadian communities.