Gratitude and How it Can Improve Your Mental Health

Bernadette Joy Graham,
Licensed Mental Health Therapist

A Mental Health Moment

By Bernadette Joy Graham, MA, LPCC, CCHt, Licensed Mental Health Therapist
The Truth Contributor

Many of us carry a memory of our mothers or grandmothers saying something on the lines of “If you want to cry, I’ll give you something to cry about.”  I certainly remember those words but I did not repeat them in quite the same way to my own children but with same message.

We all only know what we know as we are all in our own worlds and what happens in the worlds of others will never affect us the same.  Case in point, have you ever tried to tell someone about an experience you had and while it may have felt cathartic to share your story, there is nothing you could say that could truly put them in your shoes and your emotions?  On another note, has someone ever told you a story and, either in your thought or out loud, it was a relief it was not your experience?

Gratitude is a word most of us don’t learn until adulthood.  Our mothers and grandmothers were trying to teach us about being grateful for what we have instead of complaining about what we lack but children lack the maturity by nature to understand gratitude.

As we grow into adults and have to work for what we have we come to appreciate more of what we have but even then, we often compare ourselves to others or think we should be farther in our lives than we are.  Depression and anxiety have been shown to involve lack of gratitude.

We have what we have and continue to be unhappy, it’s never enough and it can begin to affect other areas of our lives going into our relationships, work life and physical health.  I would not diagnose anyone with depression if they expressed themselves as purely feeling unhappy nor would I diagnose anyone with anxiety if they expressed unhappiness due to not accomplishing more at this point in their lives.

When people seek counseling, it is often due to something they don’t have or something they lost.  People, employment, homes, income level and more.  I get it as it is quite normal to feel like this at some point in your life and a very valid issue to come in for therapy.  The cure is plain and simple gratitude.  When you can learn to look at your life from the perspective of what you have instead of what you don’t it looks and feels different.

According to research on gratitude, it is so effective, it can change our brains…for the better.  Gratitude can be started in early childhood by pointing this out to children on small things but quite difficult due to the world in which we live with expensive labels, tags on clothes and shoes and relating a lot of unrealistic wishes by kids to skip college or further education to get into the rap game or NFL.

Take a mental health moment and think about your gratitude…do you practice it?  If you don’t, this is what you are missing out on:  Improved emotions and cutting toxic feelings out of your life, help you to become more optimistic, improve social bonds and even physical health.  Now how you practice gratitude is completely up to you. You can practice it alone with self-reflection, you can share it with people you care about (especially while they are still here with us), and writing about your gratitude even if it’s just a list.  Try it, because many of you may be saying right now you have nothing to be grateful for.  If you are able to read this article, you should be grateful for the gift of sight and knowledge to read, a lot of folks don’t even have that.  If you have a cell phone, be grateful for having people to call or to call you.  The next time you find yourself feeling down about what you don’t have switch your thoughts to what you do have and what you could be lacking such as health, family, a home, a job, a car, even both arms and legs and the fact that you simply woke up today.

This is surely not about not striving for more or wanting to improve your life and gain, we should all strive for improvement but do not allow your efforts to lead you down a road to sadness, bitterness, anger….like your grandmother said, if you want to cry there are plenty of things you can be given to cry about or should I say taken away.  I’m grateful for everyone reading these words on this paper and the knowledge I hold to share these words with you…..please continue to read The Truth and thank you!



Bernadette Graham is a Licensed Professional Mental Health Counselor, and Certified Grief Recovery Specialist. She is also a Certified Clinical Hypnotherapist. Provide feedback or reach out at  For appointment information please call 419.409.4929  (Appointments available on Tuesdays and Fridays only). Office location is 3454 Oak Alley Ct. Suite 300 Toledo, OH 43606  Available for team building, employee empowerment in motivation and better understanding mental health in the work place.  Accepting new clients ages 13 and older.