6 Reasons Why You Should Take Your Mental Health Seriously

By Stan Popovich

Many people underestimate the impact that mental illness can have on an individual or family. It can be difficult to admit that you have a mental health problem in your life. Secondly, it can be just as difficult in getting the people you know to understand your situation without making any kinds of judgments.

As a result, many people do not say anything and hope that their mental health issues just goes away, which usually is not the case.

So, here are 6 reasons why you should take your mental health very seriously!

1. Your situation may not improve: Your anxieties and fears can be extremely difficult to manage and more than likely you will need some help. Just as you talk to your doctor about your regular health, you should not be embarrassed in seeking help for your mental health. If left untreated, your anxieties, fears, and depression could get worse.

2. Drugs and alcohol just makes things worse: Drugs and alcohol can make your problems even more complicated. Drowning yourself in your career and job doesn’t work either in the long run. Many people have said that drugs and alcohol will only add more misery to your situation. Be smart and learn how to cope with your mental health issues by talking to a qualified professional.

3. Avoiding your problems does not work:  Eventually, you will have to confront your fears and mental health issues. Save yourself the time and heartache and confront your problems now rather than later. You will save months or even years of suffering by getting help right away. The sooner you get assistance the faster you will start getting some relief.

4.  Many people struggle nowadays: Everyone deals with fear, stress, and anxiety in one’s life whether your friends and others care to admit it. In addition, do not be embarrassed that you are getting help. We all learn new things from others on a daily basis and learning how to manage your anxieties is no different. In addition, your goal is to get your life back on track and not to get everyone’s approval. If people start asking you questions, just say your dealing with stress and leave it at that. Most people can relate to dealing with stress and will more than likely stop bothering you.

5. You have a variety of options: There are many mental health support groups, organizations, and counselors in your area that can help get your life back on track. Talk to your doctor to get more details on where you can go for some assistance. Help is available but you must be willing to make the choice of getting better. Remember that every problem has a solution. You just have to make the effort to find the answers.

6. Do not make the mistake of doing nothing: There are many people who struggled with anxiety and addiction, and they tried to ignore their problems. As a result, some of these people struggled on a daily basis and eventually they became very distant and unresponsive. Many of them lost their lives. Do not let this happen to you!

Stan is the author of “A Layman’s Guide to Managing Fear” which covers a variety of techniques that can drastically improve your mental health. For more information, please visit Stan’s website at http://www.managingfear.com

Developing an Attitude of Gratitude

Mike Jacquart

“When we fail to notice the positive, our brains naturally emphasize the negative.”

I ran across this statement in an article in Time magazine. I read it. Then I re-read it. Then I thought about it. BINGO. What a perfect post for Thanksgiving! Why do we need to have a holiday each year to remind us to be thankful for all of the good things in our lives? Shouldn’t that just come naturally? Sometimes it does, sure.

Unfortunately, studies reveal that negative emotions involve more thinking, and that information is processed more thoroughly than positive ones. “Thus, we tend to ruminate more about unpleasant words – and use stronger words to describe them – than happy ones,” states Professor Clifford Nass, co-author of The Man Who Lied to His Laptop: What Machines Teach Us About Human Relationships.

But as anyone knows who has read Pastor Brad Hoefs’ landmark book, Fresh Hope: Living Well in Spite of a Mental Health Diagnosis, or attended a Fresh Hope support group, all is not lost.

Far from it. But don’t pay attention to what society says. Our affluence as Americans too often drowns out the everyday blessings in our lives – like food and shelter –that poor people in Third World countries would love to have. The upcoming Thanksgiving holiday provides a perfect opportunity to change thoughts of selfishness to ones of appreciation.

Contemplating “wants” versus “needs” is a big help for me in this regard. We “want” a new car. We “need” transportation. We “want” a newer, larger house. We “need” a roof over our heads. We “want” a kitchen as nice as the one neighbor Bob just redid. We “need” food in whatever kitchen we do have.

You get the idea.

What would our world be like if we paid more attention to “needs” instead of “wants,” than the associated negativity that comes much more easily to us?

Being thankful isn’t a one-day thing, it’s a lifestyle. I’m going to give it a try. What about you?

Mike Jacquart is the author of Climbing out of Darkness: A Personal Journey into Mental Wellness. For more information, contact Mike at madjac@tds.net

How To Live A Life Of Heroic Disgrace: Drop the Mic

By Scott Box

Yesterday during church, the microphone in front of the kick drum fell off the stage. I want to be clear: the microphone was turned on in the sound system and crashed onto a polished concrete floor while a couple hundred people were singing. Specifically, I was the one leading the singing at Shiloh Ranch Church in Powell Butte, Oregon. And I was the one who knocked the microphone off the platform—whoopsies and grrrrrrr.

You see, occasionally, I’ll put a kick drum in front of me to play while singing and strumming the guitar at the same time. To non-musicians, that might sound like a fantastic feat. I suppose it is a cool parlor trick at some level. Still, in my experience, each time I finish the song I am playing with the kick drum, I am deeply relieved that I didn’t train wreck the music, become a terrible distraction or fall over because I lost my balance—the leg I’m leaning against always gets terribly shaky toward the end of the song.

Additionally, when an unforeseen distraction occurs as I’m stretched to my musical limit—like the microphone incident—I have a minimal threshold to address the distraction with grace. Yesterday, I suspect the “sonic boom” that bounced around the sanctuary startled everyone except older folks who had turned their hearing aids off. And wow, did it scare me! I hadn’t anticipated the mic would rattle off the platform. And there was no way to hide what had happened. People’s eyes could see the problem, and the ringing in their ears left no doubt. The good news was that I quickly processed the culprit of the loud bang and continued to lead the worship song without stopping. But I did send a loud, goofy giggle of recognition through my microphone. By God’s grace, I held it together enough not to blurt out my historical go-to, “&$#@!!!”—cough—that would have provided an additional and memorable distraction. Further, no one fainted in fright or died of a heart attack from the loud noise, so this was a win. 

I realize it may not land with everyone, but being diagnosed with bipolar disorder was a bit like a drum mic doing a face plant onto a concrete floor in front of a big crowd of people who were at least partially focused on me (a reality of being a person up on a platform, even in a church). My diagnosis took a year, but it came on the heels of a few public expressions of symptomatic behavior. Regardless, the reality of the life changes and maturity I would have to achieve hit my wife, Kariann, and me hard. Think about your experience with your mental diagnosis, your family member’s or your friend’s. Diagnosis or bad behavior generally occurs at inopportune times. There are exceptions, but even things done in private are eventually exposed publicly, which often results in (significant) discomfort and embarrassment. Sure, we know that people aren’t thinking about us always. They’re thinking about themselves, mostly. But people are drawn to drama. In my experience, when I provided the bipolar drama, others had no problem looking out from behind their curtains to take a peek at my life before going back to thinking about themselves. It’s the nature of the mic drop—it gets people’s attention. That’s normal. When there’s a big freakin’ “boom,” I look, too. I understand.

So years ago, when the bipolar “microphone hit the ground” in my life, I knew I gave a community of people I wanted to impress a look into an area I thought made me weak and dirty. And while that is partially true, it’s not the complete truth. My bipolar disorder has made me strong. Managing bipolar has made my marriage better, not worse because bipolar disorder has drawn me (and my wife, Kariann) into desperate dependence on Jesus Christ. In this way, learning how to become healthy and manage bipolar disorder in private has proven to have very public results. And this is a glorious thing, in my opinion. So rather than pretend like others can’t see or don’t care about our bipolar adventures, Kariann and I decided to put our lives on display, not because we are perfect, but because Jesus has made us healthy despite not healing me. And that’s the point. 

Even after the “bipolar mic” dived into my life, we didn’t give up on each other—I’m so thankful Kariann didn’t give on on me or her faithfulness to Jesus. The song of our life has continued. We keep playing the drum and singing the lyrics. And the beat goes on. Yes, there have been plenty of frustrated cussing and questioning God moments over the years, but there has been so much more laughing, love, joy, and peace; so much Jesus. I look forward to sharing more about the Box family’s journey in the months ahead. 

In the meantime, I’ll leave you with this. Yesterday, after the microphone hit the ground, my friend, Shiloh Ranch’s lead pastor, Joe Pearson, rushed to the platform, lifted and repositioned the mic. Immediately, the sanctuary was filled with the rich, low-end sound of the kick drum again. I thank God Joe wasn’t afraid of being associated with me anymore because I dropped the mic. I thank God that Joe wasn’t nervous about stepping out in front of many people to help me. Joe was willing to help set things right even after an event that would make a great video on the “Worship Fails” YouTube channel. And that’s a good friend. That’s a good church. That’s the heartbeat of the life of salvation and restoration. And, yep, we get to do it together. We must.

Kariann was the primary person who helped me understand that God intended to put our journey to health on display. But there have been many others, too. In this ministry application, I do not have to imagine the extraordinary community and friendships a person will build in the Fresh Hope network. Because Jesus is in charge of the whole enterprise, we can expect our relationships with one another within Fresh Hope to be like pastor Joe was to me yesterday at Shiloh Ranch Church, like Kariann has been to me for twenty-five years of marriage and like Jesus has always been. Expect the exceptional. Expect the miraculous. Expect Jesus to save the day every day. Then, tell your story to tell Jesus’ story. Figurative, “mic drop.” —S


Scott and Kariann Box live in Redmond, Oregon. Scott serves as Pastor of Development at Shiloh Ranch Church and has been a worship leader for over twenty-five years. Kariann works as a Realtor in Central Oregon and supports Scott’s…creative spirit. They have two children, a one-hundred-pound Labradoodle and a four-pound Shih Tzu without teeth. Scott is the author of HEROIC DISGRACE: Order out of chaos. Hope out of fear. ― A Worship Hero Story 

How to let go

by María Elena Rivas

My son’s story is too long to tell in a blog.

It is almost 18 years of living with the joys and sorrows, victories and defeats. Now he is about to turn 18 and he will be legally independent. His mental health diagnosis is right in the middle: it doesn’t make him unable to make his own decisions but it doesn’t make him always able to make the right decisions either.

I know every parent’s life is a constant struggle to learn when to let go, but for parents with children with a disability or mental illness, the struggle is much more difficult. It’s scary to let go of a child you’ve seen fall a hundred times. You can’t imagine what can happen when he’s no longer around.

The last few years of trying to survive his adolescence had left me weary, so I decided to seek the help of a therapist friend. From the beginning her advice was: “You have to release him into the Lord’s hands”.

I couldn’t do it.

It was like when my father-in-law couldn’t lie in bed after his stroke. He wanted to do it but some neurons just couldn’t connect to give the command to his body, so my mother-in-law had to help him. The same thing happened to me. There were neurons in my heart that could not connect and I could not open my hands. I felt like I couldn’t get my hands on the abundant life Jesus promised, so I decided to ask the Lord for a miracle. I wrote this prayer in my journal:

“Lord, connect those neurons in my heart that do not allow me to let go of my son. My heart needs rest, but I can’t seem to get my soul into a position of rest. Give me the faith to believe that you are in control of everything. If not one little bird falls without your consent, help me to understand that you will never forsake my son.”

Months have passed and I have begun to feel a small improvement. My hands have begun to open little by little. I know I have a long way to go and I know that the battle of faith will continue for a lifetime, but I have begun to feel more peace in the midst of difficult circumstances.

I don’t know if you are in a similar situation to mine. There are thousands of things that are out of your control as your child grows up and goes their own way. Your role as a parent is changing and that may fill you with fear.

Ask the Lord to help you let go.

Remember that your child will never be alone. He has a heavenly Father who loves him much more than you do and will never leave him. He is worthy of all your trust.

If you would like to learn more about the resources Fresh Hope and Key Ministry offer to parents of children with disability or mental health diagnosis, feel free to reach out to maria@freshhope.us

What is a Hope Coach?

by Peggy Rice, Hope Coach Trainer

As I mentioned in my last blog post , a Hope Coach is someone who helps a person move from “stuck” to “unstuck,” from hopelessness to hope.  A Hope Coach is trained to listen to the Hope Seeker’s story, ask good questions, and help the Hope Seeker find a way to move forward in the situation.

A Hope Coach is a peer, not a counselor or therapist. She (or he) won’t be giving advice. She won’t be problem solving, but will help the Hope Seeker do their own problem solving, find their own solutions.  A Hope Coach will listen, because we believe the once a person’s pain is simply heard – listened to – the Seeker may begin to see a way forward, see the next steps to take.

A Hope Coach is trained and certified to:

  • Be an exceptional listener. As they minister to people who are hurting and feeling hopeless, they ask key questions and respond with compassion.
  • Help others process the pain of what they are going through – helping people process the honest emotions of painful situations.
  • Speak faith-based hope into the situation – into the other’s feelings of hopelessness.

A Hope Coach is a compassionate listener in a short-term relationship, meeting 2-5 times with a Hope Seeker, who is stuck in pain and cannot see a way forward. The Hope Coach is trained to be a good listener, helping the Hope Seeker process their honest emotions and pain, while offering the assurance of hope that will overcome and work for the Hope Seeker’s good. The Hope Coach brings the power of hope through listening and caring questions, and through their compassionate presence. Sometimes, a Hope Seeker just needs to share their story with someone who will listen! A Hope Coach might share part of their own story to help illustrate from their own personal experience.

A Hope Coach completes an 8-hour training offered by Fresh Hope, complete with quizzes and a Practicum. In this process, they learn good questions to ask at each phase of the Hope Coaching Process. Questions like:

  • What’s been the hardest part of the situation?
  • How does this make you feel?
  • What parts of this situation can you control?
  • How can you take charge of these things to begin to move forward?
  • Where do you see this situation in 3 months? 6 months?
  • What would be your” next first” step?

Questions like these allow the Hope Seeker to move from processing the pain to beginning to move forward. The Hope Coach is with them to guide them along the way.

So: who can be a Hope Coach? Someone who is a compassionate listener, a caring individual, and willing to go through the training offered by Fresh Hope.

If this interests you, you can find more information, including details on finding a Hope Coach, or becoming a Hope Coach, at freshhope.us.

(Sections of this blog post are from the booklet Hope Coach Training, a Ministry of Fresh Hope, by Pastor Brad Hoefs and Chaplain Joy Stevens, 2020)