by Nicholl Hardwick
Content warning: article discusses mental health, depression and anxiety.
The mind has been described as ‘the element of a person that enables them to be aware of the world and their experiences, to think, and to feel; the faculty of consciousness and thought’ The mind controls the ways in which we relate to the world outside of our own heads, or in other words, the way we connect with reality
A state of ‘good mental health’ is when an individual is able to not only psychologically manage, but also thrive in the world around them. We live in an increasingly complex society with unique pressures, therefore, good mental health means that an individual is able to understand society cognitively and respond appropriately to everyday situations with the expected level of emotion, concentration and understanding.
However, this is where it becomes tricky. What society expects from us and what society tells us are two very different things.
All of which means that although, yes, society may now be talking about mental health more loudly and yes, it is becoming a much less taboo subject, this isn’t necessarily materialising into the revolutionised discourse and action that our world is trying to make us believe.
our institutions are shedding light on this issue and labelling it freely and without difficulty, but are yet still doing very little to firmly tackle it
Mental Health is subjective, and effects each one of us differently and isn’t down to simple hormonal imbalances or interrupted childhoods. ‘Poor’ mental health can sometimes just simply exist because life is stressful and societal pressures are real. Speaking from the perspective of not only a woman, but a young person, a student, and one of those who is continuously labelled as part of ‘the lost generation’, I have never suffered from a life changing tragedy or chemical imbalance, but I have still been severely effected by Anxiety and Depression.
By no means is this a melodramatic ode to my experiences in life, I know I am not alone in this, I am no different to so many who have had their worlds turned upside down through mental health disorders and societal pressures. But what disturbs me the most about this ever prevalent problem – especially in the younger generation) – is how our institutions are shedding light on this issue and labelling it freely and without difficulty, but are still doing very little to firmly tackle it. Continuously they are failing to take any responsibility or employ new practices or support systems which allow people to deal with life more easily and with a sense of personal control.
Instead, funding for mental health has been cut drastically, which has led to less councilors and mental health experts being readily available and employed, less real information about mental health being available and less feet on the ground helping people on a personal level. We can label things all we want but unless there is a real affirmative practice which allows people space to interact with their disorder and understand that it is ok, then this process of discovery between body and mind will never be realized and things will never improve.
Education systems, the government, our work places and the media, all need to step up
I’m not saying that we are a simple product of our times, but our societal environment and its contradiction of doctrines contribute to our mental health and our ability to connect appropriately with it. Until our institutions acknowledge truly what mental health illnesses consists off and stop simply labelling it and then moving on to discard it, the wellbeing of people will diminish and develop into a manifestation of unresolved and misunderstood feelings.
There are programs such as Headpsace and developments around techniques such as Mindfullness which engages with meditation, but this is not something which is acknowledged and used by the institutions around us. Education systems, the government, our work places and the media, all need to step up and make an effort to discover the importance of ‘good’ mental health and the pivotal need for it to be a priority in our society. Of course this goes hand in hand with the way our institutions are run in the first place. In many cases, the negative impacts of inequality and injustice contribute enormously to our mental health, and this paired with the already unsatisfactory attitude our institutions have towards mental health creates a truly vicious cycle.
It may seem as if I am simply pointing out all of these problems within our societal attitudes and treatments towards mental health yet offering no solutions, but it is imperative that those reading this get a very general overview of some of the problems facing those who suffer from mental health problems. The sheer scope of causations when it comes to mental health issues in our society today is never ending and if I was to list the many things that need to be done in order to tackle this problem then this article would be never ending. But to just name a few, in order to get his ball rolling, here we go:
- Plus progressively open discussions by our government with the mental health institutions around us. What’s working, what isn’t? How would ‘good mental health’ increase the success and happiness of the people? How much funding is needed to allow our mental health nurses and councilors the ability to give the satisfactory level of care?
- The re-education of mental health in our schools. Teaching children from a very young age about the actual facts about mental well-being and coping strategies that they themselves could use as a way of understanding their body and mind a well as interacting with the societal pressures around them. Introducing mindfulness and mediation, not as something which is abstract and hippy, but as something which simply allows time for yourself.
- Some form of therapy whether it be Art therapy, CBT, Counselling, Group therapy etc. should be available to all from a young age. This would allow us to see how imperative and completely natural it should be for us to connect with our sense of self and well-being.
This need for effective change, so we as people can thrive more happily, is essential. Our governments must take responsibility for the mistreatment of its citizens on numerous levels.
Featured image via pixabay; CC0 Public Domain
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