The Key to Emotional Wellness
George Preston, in his little book, The Substance of Mental Health, (Rinehart, p. 112) says the essential quality for mental health is to live (1) within the limits of one’s bodily equipment, (2) with other human beings, (3) happily, (4) productively, and (5) without being a nuisance. A widely circulated pamphlet published by the National Association for Mental Health (New York, N.Y. 10019) is titled, “Mental Health Is . . . 1 2 3.” People with good mental health, the pamphlet says, feel comfortable about themselves, feel right around other people, and are able to meet the demands of life. It adds that mentally healthy people are good friends, good workers, good mates, good parents, and good citizens. The Bible gives us a comparable picture of a Christian who draws his strength from God:
The fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control (Gal. 5:22-23).
Since you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit in sincere love of the brethren, love one another fervently with a pure heart (1 Peter 1:22).
Distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality (Rom. 12:13).
Fulfill my joy by being like-minded, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind (Phil. 2:2).
The Uneasy Generation
Interacting with friends, workers, mates, and children will reveal the inner workings of a person. Being irritable can cause bodily aches and pains, tiredness, nervousness. The mind can become weighed down by burdens. Granted, the irritants may be small, vague ones. All a person may say is, “I’m anxious, afraid.” Maybe he can’t tell you any particular thing that is bothering him. But he knows something is, and once in a while one particular sore will fester till it breaks open.
This vague uneasiness typifies our society today. Here and there are noticeable spots showing that all is not well in our makeup. The crime rate is growing; juvenile delinquency is increasing; racial violence and dangerous international tension are heightening. Half of our hospital beds are said to be occupied by persons having mental or emotional difficulties. But these are only the bulges of a weak inner tube. More trouble spots will likely be revealed in days to come.
Record rates are being run up in divorce, drug addiction, and alcoholism. I wrote this paragraph in 1965. What has happened since then? Look at some statistics which are undoubtedly even more startling today than when they were compiled. According to the National Center for Health, in 1979 there were 1.18 million divorces granted–three times more than the 395,000 granted in 1959. The center estimates that 1.18 million children under 18 had parents who were involved in a divorce in 1979 compared to 562,000 children in 1963.
On March 3, 1983, I was startled by reading in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that 45 percent of the 1981 births in that city were to unwed mothers. In 1980, births out of wedlock in Baltimore totaled 57 percent; Chicago, 45 percent; and Detroit, 43 percent.
The First Statistical Compendium on Alcohol and Health, published in February 1981 by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, gives us some chilling data on alcohol consumption. In 1975, there were about 7.5 million alcoholics in the United States. In 1970, our Veterans Administration hospitals discharged 53,396 or 7.7 percent of all patients whose principal diagnosis was alcoholism. By 1977, the number of alcoholics had climbed to 101,342 or 10.8 percent of all discharges. In 1977, approximately 50 percent of all murders, sexual assaults, and robberies were alcohol related. In 1975, 50,000 people died in car accidents; 35 to 64 percent of the drivers in those fatal accidents had been drinking. There were 1.5 million people injured in alcohol-related accidents.
In 1978, 2.60 gallons of spirits, 2.51 gallons of wine, and 29.78 gallons of beer were consumed for each person above legal drinking age (18 and older). Eleven percent or 17.8 million people 18 or older are heavy drinkers–meaning two or more drinks a day.
The economic costs of our alcohol consumption are frightening:
|Costs of Alcohol Consumption|
|Loss of production||$19.64 billion|
|Health and medical||$12.74 billion|
|Car accidents||$ 5.14 billion|
|Violent crime||$ 2.86 billion|
|Fire loss||$ .43 billion|
|Social responses||$ 1.94 billion|
There is also the growing dependence on addicting drugs. Senator Dan Quayle (R-Indiana) reported these findings of the Labor and Human Resources Committee. From 3 to 7 percent of the employed population use some form of illicit drug, ranging from marijuana to heroin, on a daily basis. Marijuana appears to be the principal substance of use and accounts for 90 percent of current users. Amphetamines are used 34 percent of the time; barbiturates, 21 percent; and heroin, 5 percent.
Employees with a drinking or drug problem are absent 16 times more than the average employee, have an accident rate four times greater, use a third more sickness benefits, and have five times more compensation claims while on the job (American Psychologist, April 1983, p. 455).