The Importance of Being Mentally Awake

The SCOUTStrong commitment of the BSA marks a new milestone in our commitment to total fitness of all participants in BSA programs.  We have long identified and incorporated components of being “physically strong” to enhance individual physical fitness and functioning.  With recognition of importance of being “mentally awake,” we are expanding our awareness of mental and emotional fitness as equally important in achieving success and satisfaction in life.  Toward that end, the Mental Health Taskforce of the National Health & Safety Committee, has identified a number of goals:

  1. Expand awareness of mind, emotions and mental health in BSA program and activities.
  2. Enlighten BSA personnel – professional and volunteer – how to integrate emotional and mental fitness concepts into the overall BSA commitment to youth fitness.
  3. Collaborate with Youth Protection and other relevant BSA programs.
  4. Incorporate appropriate emotional and mental health concepts into BSA advancement, including requirements for emotional fitness in rank advancement and merit badges.
  5.  Develop a practical guide for leaders and scouts to promote mental health and wellness, organized according to principles of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention: 
    • Primary prevention seeks to promote good mental health, through programs to enhance resilience and how to cope with stress.
    • Secondary prevention focuses on keeping crises from occurring.
    • Tertiary prevention addresses dealing with crises.

It has been my privilege to help initiate this project, addressing fitness, prevention and response to crises. As one Scouter shared with me, “Of all the injuries from the dozens of campouts that I have attended, the hardest to ‘mend’ were the emotional issues.”  How to recognize and what to do about these issues are part of this program.

W. Walter Menninger, M.D.