Thomas Insel shares some thoughts from his upcoming book, and I think his insights are interesting here, because hecame from the scientific community where he saw so much research and progress, but then didn’t see that same progress when he left the NIMH and went back to society. He saw that a lot of the treatments based on solid research worked, but it was all the other stuff that was missing. In his words:
“During my travels, I also heard a recurring narrative of healing: Current treatments work; mental illness is not a life sentence; people can recover. I witnessed programs, practitioners, and individuals working toward recovery, which is more than just a reduction in symptoms; it’s a return to a full and meaningful life. Or, as a very wise psychiatrist working in Los Angeles’s Skid Row defined recovery for me, “people, place, and purpose.” In other words, finding people for support, having a place or sanctuary to heal, and discovering a purpose or mission.”
Later he states the reality very simply:
“The U.S. does not currently have a system that can help Americans heal and recover.”
We actually know the things that can offer hope, we just don’t have a system that can deliver them. Our system is broken, the medical community can offer medicine and some limited treatment options but the day-to-day support and the work to reach a state of something more than symptom reduction doesn’t actually exist for most people.
This has to change. Go read more of what he has to say, I think for many of you it will seem familiar, but maybe provide some hope that we are not alone in seeing it.
Now if we can just find enough of us to care enough to fix it. We should all want to, mental health issues will happen to someone we all know and care about, eventually. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to offer a system that does not involve homelessness and prison time for far too many?