Sharing – I’m a psychologist – and I believe we’ve been told devastating lies about mental health
Dr. Ashan writes some interesting things in the article below that you should go read, but maybe none more so than this paragraph:
“As a clinical psychologist who has been working in NHS services for a decade, I’ve seen first hand how we are failing people by locating their problems within them as some kind of mental disorder or psychological issue, and thereby depoliticising their distress. Will six sessions of CBT, designed to target “unhelpful” thinking styles, really be effective for someone who doesn’t know how they’re going to feed their family for another week? Antidepressants aren’t going to eradicate the relentless racial trauma a black man is surviving in a hostile workplace, and branding people who are enduring sexual violence with a psychiatric disorder (in a world where two women a week are murdered in their own home) does nothing to keep them safe. Unsurprisingly, mindfulness isn’t helping children who are navigating poverty, peer pressure and competitive exam-driven school conditions, where bullying and social media harm are rife.”
Of course, he’s right. What he sees in the UK is the same thing I see from my “much less qualified but simply paying attention” seat in the US, and I’m sure many of you see where you live as well. Our current mental health resources are designed to help “fix” something wrong with us. I can’t say they even do that well, but at least that is the plan, and that plan makes sense for many mental health struggles.
It is only part of the picture, though. In all seriousness, how would the 6-8 therapist sessions a good insurance plan covers help someone escaping domestic abuse or trying to feed a family on a minimum wage job? How is the teenager being abused at home, bullied at school, and overwhelmed by the bleakness of what the world might look like when they are an adult supposed to find hope in one crisis text line conversation?
How will we provide hope and connection to people without first understanding their world and how they navigate it every day?
If we are truly going to fix our mental health system and make a dent in the current state of mental health across the world, I genuinely believe we need a ton more resources than we currently have, and I also believe we need to address the environment in which people are trying to take care of their mental health.
Sometimes, it’s not the person whose thinking is broken. It’s the society they live in.