Vince Mercuri: Healing body, mind & spirit
Over 150 years ago, the seeds of a philosophy of healing were planted.
In 1865, three Franciscan Sisters came to Pittsburgh from Buffalo looking for funds for their ministry. They opened a 15-bed hospital in a frame house to aid German immigrants in Lawrenceville. Over the years, the hospital grew in scope and capacity while continuing to promote its primary mission of treating people regardless of their ability to pay.
At the heart of this mission, carried on by the Franciscan Sisters of Mt. Alvernia in Millvale, was the sisters’ life purpose to provide treatment that encompassed healing body, mind and spirit. This holistic approach to treatment was the foundation of the hospital’s values and was evident not only in patient care but in employee relations as well.
The wisdom of these early health care pioneers rings even louder in the social condition of our culture today. Prescriptions for depression, anxiety and other mood disorders are prescribed at alarming rates. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States, ranking second for young people ages 10-34 worldwide. Drug misuse continues to rise nationwide, spreading its destruction on our families. Divorce increases the stress in daily family life and has financial, emotional, behavioral, physical and spiritual consequences. Obesity, poor diet and lack of exercise continue to concern medical professionals. Attendance and participation in religious and church activities are in decline. A revealing dynamic is that the largest group of people who do not acknowledge the importance of spirituality in their lives is 20- to 40-year-olds. This is the same age group with high rates of anxiety/depression, drug misuse and suicide.
The mounting evidence is clear: The trends of our American lifestyle are having a profoundly negative impact on the health of our collective body, mind and spirit. The challenge for each of us is the balancing of these three pillars of wellness so that we may live more productive, fulfilling and healthier lives.
A critical first step to attaining overall wellness is an honest appraisal of your current state. What is the true condition of your body, mind and spirit?
Next, it is important to recognize that you are able to change and improve. Developing a plan and being intentional is vital to achieving a better outcome, while also recognizing that no one is perfect and that there will be peaks and valleys along the way. A defined course of action will allow you to better manage life’s stressors.
The key to this philosophy on healing the body, mind and spirit is making this a lifestyle priority and recognizing that each component is interrelated. How we manage and care for each of these areas individually and as a whole will have significant short- and long-term implications for our overall well-being.
Long ago, the Sisters of St. Francis recognized the importance of a three-pronged approach to a healthier life. Their wisdom, foresight and inspiration to attend to body, mind and spirit is a slogan we should all embrace and live by.
Vince Mercuri, executive director of the Open Door Alcohol/Drug Treatment Center and Crisis Intervention Program in Indiana, Pa., is a member of the Valley News Dispatch Editorial Board.