A quick glance at Twitter reveals that most of the tagged tweets talk about ending stigma, the reality of suffering, and the importance of getting help. I expected as much.
I think it’s wonderful that we’re talking about mental health, or mental well-being, as it affects every single person. But I wish that the conversation would go deeper and not get stuck on intervention.
(I feel like the Grinch who stole Christmas every time I bring this up.)
Here’s what I would like to highlight on World Mental Health Day, because it’s what I think about all the time, and I don’t know what else to do but to shout it from the rooftops.
Fact #1: People in more economically equal countries have better mental health outcomes. On the flip side, people in unequal countries (or US states, for that matter), suffer more mental distress. (Watch this TED Talk to learn more.)
Fact #2: Adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) are a predictor of mental (and physical) health outcomes. I.e., people who experience more trauma are more likely to suffer mental distress. A person’s resilience can counteract trauma and lead to better outcomes.
Fact #3: According to a 2014 report, half of the nation’s children have suffered trauma. The most common traumatic experience for children is financial hardship—i.e. poverty.
Take a moment to let that sink in.
If we want to launch a serious all-in campaign to promote mental well-being in this country—and in the world—we need to start here. We need to start by declaring that all people are equal, no matter what their gender, race, income, physical and mental abilities, education, sexual orientation, and religion.
We need to get political. We must demand from our elected officials an end to stigma-inducing welfare programs and the creation of universal social services that benefit all people. We must demand living wages, a truly progressive tax system, and an end to corporate welfare and power.
This is how we will create the conditions for optimized mental health.
Of course, people will still suffer mental distress—it’s part of being human. But as a society, we will be better equipped then to intervene and promote mental well-being for all people.
Let’s get real about mental health. It is a social justice issue.
Her Lost Year
The holidays are just around the corner. Consider giving the gift of hope with Her Lost Year. Peace to you.