May 2017 is Mental Health Month

Since 1949 Mental Health America (MHA) and their affiliate network have reached millions, spreading the word and removing the stigma and misconceptions surrounding mental health issues.

The often quoted statistic we are all familiar with is that 1 in 5 Americans experience mental health issues. However accurate that number may or may not be, it’s a little misleading. We’re not all schizophrenic, which is the inference Joe Public puts on it.

The very broad phrase ‘mental health’, actually covers a huge and varied range of behavioral health issues. Eating disorders, addictions of all types, ADHD and anxiety disorder. All these and many more fall under the catch-all umbrella of ‘mental health’. So, now that we acknowledge that the scope of mental health issues covers a far wider demographic than we perhaps first thought, perhaps that 1 in 5 statistic is a little less frightening. A little easier to digest. And that’s good, because the first step to addressing any problem is to understand it.

This year, the theme for May is Mental Health Month is ‘Risky Business’. I’ll let the MHA speak for themselves in this quote, taken verbatim from their web site:

“We believe it’s important to educate people about habits and behaviors that increase the risk of developing or exacerbating mental illnesses, or could be signs of mental health problems themselves. These include risk factors such as risky sex, prescription drug misuse, internet addiction, excessive spending, marijuana use, and troublesome exercise patterns. We hope the tools and resources that we’ve put together help individuals and communities to raise awareness of the risks that these types of behaviors present – especially to young people – and help people who may be struggling to detect early warning signs and seek help early, before Stage 4.” – end quote.

As individuals, we may ourselves be struggling with inner demons that, if we are ready to accept it, we could use some help with. Most of us probably know others that could use some of that same help, if they are ready to accept it.

Available through the MHA web site is a toolkit which allows individuals and organizations to learn more about a range of common mental health issues, and to become involved in activities that will provide some of that help.

If this is a cause you feel you would like to contribute toward, we encourage you to review this site and information materials. Whether for yourself or for another, any journey starts with a single step. Step one: Understand the issue.

Star Wars Week: May the fourth, fifth and sixth be with you

Star Wars: May The FifthI had a few minutes to spare during a coffee break earlier this week, so gyst4fun (ahem) to celebrate Star Wars week I took my corporate head shot and turned it into a humorous May the Fourth image of myself with Princess Leia style hair. As one of my friends said, ‘You have great buns, man’.

IStar Wars: May The Fifth also made a quick Revenge of the Sith (Fifth, of course). Both were just 10 minutes of  silliness.

To finish out Star Wars week, I spent an hour this morning to complete the trilogy, and finish with the image below: Return Of The Sith.

Saturdays are great. I can go at my own pace and take some time. One hour, 25 individual layers and many tweaks later, I had taken my corporate head shot and turned myself into a Sith Lord, complete with Imperial Stormtroopers and exploding Tie-fighters. Not bad for an hours work.

OK, you caught me: That’s a bath robe. But in my defence, I wasn’t actually the one wearing it. And that lightsaber I’m wielding so casually is made from three separate layers. Looks good, eh? All the lighting effects are done by hand. All in all, I’m pretty pleased with the way this looks.

It’s good, but not perfect. I know that. It’s not meant to be. This was a way to pass an hour on a rainy Saturday morning. If I wanted to spend another hour on it I could have perfected it, but that would have defeated the purpose: To have fun. And it was fun.

If you want a closer look at any of these images, right-click them and Open Image In New Tab (or whatever version your browser offers) to see them in full screen goodness. I hope they are as much fun for you to see as they were for me to make. Enjoy.

May the Force be with you.

Star Wars: Return Of The Sixth