Post No.: 0028
Good mental health is arguably not merely about the absence of a mental illness. Likewise, people with certain mental illnesses can live productive and satisfying lives (but do be aware that how a person seems like on the outside/in public to others may not be how they really feel on the inside/in private i.e. some sufferers of mental illnesses can hide them too well from others). Good mental health is arguably achieved when one realises one’s own potential, can cope with the everyday stresses of life, can work productively and is able to make a contribution to the community; and a mental illness/disorder is when one has a combination of abnormal thoughts, emotions, behaviours and/or relationships with others.
Hence having good mental health is arguably not the direct opposite of having a mental illness because if the environment, society or culture can accommodate everyone despite their abnormal thoughts, behaviours, etc. (e.g. schizophrenia, dissociative identity disorder, even psychopathy) then everyone can reach their potential, be productive and contribute to the community regardless of whether they have a mental illness, learning disability or personality disorder diagnosis or not. People can have mental disorders and have good mental health simultaneously if these people speak out and speak up about their problems, and if the wider culture and society incorporates solutions for them.
And the more people who come forward about their mental health issues – the more will be invested in accommodating for them. It’s like there are enough left-handed golfers to warrant manufacturers accommodating for these people, hence left-handedness is not counted towards one’s handicap in golf! Or it’s like Britain doesn’t experience many days of heavy snow so often suffers badly when it does snow heavily because it doesn’t seem worth investing in extensive snow preparations for just these few heavy snow days per whenever; whereas countries that receive much more snow than Britain cope fine because there are enough snowy days for them to decide to invest adequately in accommodating for these days of snow.
So if something is sufficiently accommodated for in the culture and environment then it will no longer be perceived as a ‘problem’ anymore – and in principle, it could be the same with mental health issues. Accommodate for something enough and it’ll no longer be a problem or issue. But for societies to feel that something is worth accommodating for, a society must recognise that there is a large enough need, demand or market for it. Surely at least a sixth of the population with a mental health problem at any one time, or a quarter of the population who’ll suffer from a mental health problem at least once in their lifetimes (in the UK at least) is a large enough need or market?! So please be counted – don’t keep it private or silent. Woof!
It’s like women shouldn’t be stoic and try to put up with urinating in urinals designed only for men! It also seems to be the case that enough people need to speak out and speak up first before others will take women’s demands to not be sexually harassed seriously enough. Women don’t need to change – the culture and environment around them needs to change. So mental health sufferers shouldn’t be stoic and try to put up with operating in a world designed mainly for ‘normals’ (whatever ‘normal’ means) either – the culture and environment around them needs to change.
(I’ve not stood up to be counted in the past but I’ve started to now via this blog. This post extends the call from Post No.: 0005 to stand up for mental health. If you’re a silent sufferer then I hope you’ll stand up and speak out with us too. And if you’re a ‘normal’ or ‘neurotypical’ person then I hope you are supportive of fostering a more understanding culture too.)