By Cynthia Bond Hopson, Ph.D.

May is one of my favorite months and here’s why. It’s almost midyear, we get
April-inspired flowers, we celebrate our heroes who’ve given the ultimate
measure, most school sessions end, and soon summer will be in full swing.

With all this excitement it’s easy to forget the serious stuff this month—national stroke, skin cancer, and mental health awareness, military appreciation, a focus on better sleep, hearing, and speech, and as the 70s soul group Sly and the Family Stone sang “and so on and so on, and scooby dooby dooby.”

There’s enough to make you tired just thinking about all the things to
celebrate and be aware of, yet May is the perfect time to make a concerted
effort to pay attention. I’m convinced if we start at the beginning with our
mental health, everything else falls into place.

Crime, politics, severe weather, climate control, war, mass shootings, debt
ceilings, recessions, Fentanyl, inflation—if it would help, we could throw up
both hands and leave the misery to folks we pay to solve these challenges,
however, we know that we are our brothers and sisters’ keeper. What affects
them affects us and sharing the burden makes the load easier to carry.

With so much weighing on our hearts and minds, it is critical that we pause
and see what condition our condition is in. Think about it. If we’re mentally fit,
we pay attention to our health, thus preventing stress-related illnesses like
hypertension and stroke.

We take time to eat properly and get regular checkups so one little thing
doesn’t lead into two or three big things. We protect our skin from the sun. We
get enough sleep and stave off other diseases that come when we forget that
our job isn’t creating the universe.

I pray we come to a place in this world where we value and support good
mental health like we support research on the other maladies that plague us.
It is true that when our minds are not right, nothing else works properly. Like
at the airports, when we see something or someone who may be having a
problem, we must do something other than whisper or go about our business.

News reports continue to tell us our veterans and military families are
suffering and struggling. In the land of the free and the home of the brave,
those words should never show up in the same sentence. In our all-volunteer
military, young people keep showing up to serve—serve being the operative
word here. In study after study researchers tell us that post-traumatic stress
syndrome is plaguing our veterans, and considering the problem areas they
frequented, it’s easy to see how they might have re-adjustment and coping

We must do more to appreciate those who serve and their families. Saying
thank you to those in uniform or who are wearing paraphernalia is well and
good, but we must advocate to our elected officials, intervene when and where
we can, and pay closer attention.

Our military families’ sacrifice is great—missed holidays and events, frequent
moves, and deployments—and every day, they do what must be done to
support our heroes. This Memorial Day, let us be thankful and remember that
all gave some, but some gave all, and we live in peace because of it.

This month care for and get your hearing checked to protect the beautiful
sounds that grace our ears daily—the sweet song of the birds, the gentle rain,
laughter of happy children, wisdom of the elders—and then rejoice at simply
being alive to enjoy another amazing May day.