Everyone seems to be talking about mental health these days, and what we should do about it. Many of us have personal experience, whether our own or that of a loved one, of mental distress—we are human, after all. No one said that life would always be smooth and happy.
Yet mental ill-health does not have to take over our lives. Our minds are incredibly powerful—we can change the way we think, and how we live our lives, by changing our thinking.
But how? What are some of the main barriers to overcoming mental ill-health?
And how can we fix them?
The lack of knowledge
Today, many people assume that mental ill-health is solely biological: this person has a chemical imbalance, for example, so they behave in this way.
Notwithstanding the lack of conclusive scientific evidence for the chemical imbalance theory, many people still tend to medicalize the human condition by locating the cause of mental distress inside the person’s brain rather than as part of that individual’s unique life story.
It is not so much about trying to help someone deal with what is going on in their life as it is numbing their symptoms, which leads people to overlook the root cause of the distress. The actual cause or causes (such as abuse or poverty) of the person’s mental anguish is often left to fester, causing more damage in the long run, alongside the negative side-effects of psychotropic drugs, which include sexual dysfunction and suicide.
We need to stop seeing people as biological machines that are broken, and start seeing people as human beings that have unique experiences, which result in unique reactions to those experiences. This is incredibly important if we want to start helping people who are going through incredibly difficult times. The first step to overcoming mental ill-health is to focus on someone’s story, not just their biology.
How can you do this?
Practice listening to others in a nonjudgmental, loving, and supportive way as often as you can. In fact, make this your modus operandi: look at the person and just listen until they finish, then ask, “How can I help you? What do you need?”
Try to understand what they have been through, and always assume the best first. Create positive energy, or “loveness.”