Thoughts about mental health
The mental health and vision analogy
- The analogy of mental health and vision is a great one.
- We generally don’t ostracize people for wearing glasses or contacts, and we generally don’t beat ourselves up for not having perfect vision.
- When our imperfect vision becomes disruptive or dangerous, we do something about it.
- We need to get to the same place with regards to mental health.
- We shouldn’t ostracize people for struggling with mental health issues, and we shouldn’t beat ourselves up for not having perfect mental health.
- When our mental health issues become disruptive or dangerous, we should do something about them.
- There is still a ton of stigma around mental health issues.
- There is a generational divide around mental health.
- Those who say people struggling with mental health issues should “just suck it up” are wrong and can cause real harm.
- Breaking down the stigma around mental health is an urgent and important societal mission.
- Talking openly and honestly about mental health can literally save peoples’ lives.
- Workplaces, homes, and communities must foster environments where people feel like they can safely discuss mental health.
The mind/body connection
- Reminder to anyone who says “It’s all in your head”: your head is part of your body.
- Your mind influences and impacts your body. Your body influences and impacts your mind.
- Stress can cause and/or contribute to acute, detrimental physiological problems.
- Traumatic events can dramatically alter peoples’ mental and physical health.
- Grief can impact peoples’ mental and physical health.
- Improving sleep improves physical and mental health.
- Regular exercise improves physical and mental health.
- A good diet improves physical and mental health.
- Reducing or eliminating bad lifestyle habits improves physical and mental health.
- Though this is changing, some in the medical field unfortunately don’t approach health problems in a holistic way.
- Consider how your physical health influences and impacts your mental health.
- Consider how your mental health influences and impacts your physical health.
- Human beings are social creatures.
- You are not alone.
- Trying to power through mental health issues alone isn’t a good strategy.
- You have people in your life who care about you and want you to be healthy, happy, and safe.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to friends, family, or even strangers if you’re struggling with your mental health.
- Trust that people who care about you want to help you, not judge you.
- There are many formal support groups and resources that can help you navigate mental health issues.
- Notice when friends, loved ones, and even casual acquaintances seem off, down, or are exhibiting alarming behavior.
- Don’t be afraid to reach out to them. Even simple gestures or casual conversations can really help someone struggling with mental health issues.
- Talking about your own mental health in a healthy way can break down stigma, encourage others to open up, and even encourage people to seek help.
- Don’t forget to tell the people you love that you love them.
- Mental health issues affect not only the individual, but all of the people in the person’s life.
- It’s important for those close to someone suffering from mental health issues to seek support and have healthy outlets.
- Therapy can be very helpful at identifying and working through problems with a skilled, trained professional.
- Even the healthiest minds can benefit from therapy.
- Rapport between a patient and a therapist is absolutely critical.
- Finding the right therapist is like dating; don’t write off the entire concept based on a bad experience.
- Talk therapy is only one type of therapy; there are myriad others that might be worth exploring.
- Cognitive behavioral therapy can help people identify and overcome unhealthy thought patterns.
- More therapists and mental health professionals are desperately needed.
- A better diversity of therapists and mental health professionals is desperately needed in order to properly serve the diversity of populations and lived experiences.
Meditation and mindfulness
- Nothing is permanent.
- Like waves in the ocean, emotions come in and then recede.
- Mindfulness involves focusing attention on the present moment while acknowledging and accepting thoughts and feelings.
- Fighting thoughts and feelings can lead to suffering. It’s possible to simply notice thoughts and feelings.
- Meditation can help cultivate mindfulness.
- Cultivating mindfulness can alleviate suffering and improve mental health.
- No one wants to be on medication. It’s natural to want to err on the side of dealing with things naturally.
- It’s good to explore treatments and therapies other than medicine.
- But sometimes we need medicine.
- Medication can help adjust brain chemistry in order to see more clearly, similar to how eyeglasses or contacts help people with imperfect vision see more clearly.
- It’s ok to be nervous, skeptical, or apprehensive around taking medication.
- While some people need to take medication in perpetuity, many people are prescribed medication on a short-term basis.
- There are many different kinds of mental health issues, and there are many kinds of medications.
- Every mind and body is different. Some medications may not be effective at all, while some might be more effective than the others.
- Medication should be regularly monitored and adjusted as needed under the guidance of a professional.
- Many concerns around pharmaceutical companies’ incentives and business models are valid. That’s a separate conversation than whether or not medication can help people with mental health issues.
- Brains develop neural pathways for thought patterns that can grow deeper over time.
- Sometimes deep neural pathways can form around unhealthy thought patterns.
- Psychedelics can help the brain “jump the tracks” out of those well-worn neural pathways and view the self and the world in a different, healthier way.
- Psychedelics should be done in a therapeutic setting under the supervision of a professional.
- While the psychedelic experience itself is potent, many of the therapeutic benefits come from the subsequent integration work done with a professional.
- Psychedelic therapy should be legalized.
The big picture
- The world has suffered through a global pandemic for the last several years.
- The pandemic isolated people from one another and forced everyone to behave in ways that go against basic human nature.
- This led to collective suffering.
- While everyone’s suffering is different, it’s important to recognize that everyone suffered.
- It’s important to recognize that shared suffering continues to impact society today.
- Given that context, it’s absolutely critical and urgent to have an ongoing, worldwide conversation about mental health.
- There is so much overlap between mental health and other critical societal issues like poverty, injustice, political polarization, violence, child welfare, education, etc, etc.
- Improving the world’s mental health would almost certainly lead to improvements in many other aspects of society.
- Governments, organizations, and communities should prioritize mental health care.
- Governments, organizations, and communities should fund mental health care initiatives.
- Governments, organizations, and communities should build and evolve infrastructure around mental health care.
- Citizens should demand that governments, organizations, and communities prioritize mental health care.
Note: I am not a mental health professional, so take all of this with a grain of salt. Please take good care of your mental health and care about those around you.