The politics of madness

Political choices are causing mental health problems. This isn’t going to be a properly referenced article, but everything I’m talking about is out there in the public domain and easy to find if you want to poke about.

A great deal of psychological distress is caused not by something going on inside the sufferer, but by external things. We tend to place the blame on the sufferer, and most interventions focus on what the sufferer can do to sort themselves out, not what needs changing to make their lives bearable.

Twenty years ago when I studied psychology at college it was known that stress causes mental health problems. It was also known that your ability to resolve the problem is the major factor in how much stress you feel. Powerful people with great responsibilities do not feel anything like as much stress as poor people with no control over their lives.

Political choices are increasing poverty and insecurity. Zero hour contracts, precarious renting arrangements, threats to the NHS, to families and business and local environments all piles stress onto people who can do nothing to resolve the problems. The actions of our politicians are increasing mental health problems.

At the same time, funding for mental health care is abysmal, and the system that should take care of anyone too sick to work is such a nightmare that getting into it is likely to cause a person significant mental distress and lead them into anxiety and depression.

To be well, people need to feel reasonably secure and passably in control of their lives.

Poor diet has a negative impact on mental health. You can look at prison research into increasing vitamins in the diet and how that changed things for people. You can look at anything at all about brain chemistry. A person needs protein to build serotonin, and this chemical is key to feeling ok. Anyone on an impoverished diet will have impoverished body chemistry, with consequences for their mental health. That would be everyone depending on foodbanks.

Exhaustion, sleep deprivation, lack of rest and lack of fresh air and exercise all impact on mental health. Everyone I know is tired. We know we collectively have a sleep shortage problem. Noise pollution deprives us of quiet and traffic deprives us of clean air to breathe. Traffic deprives us of safe places to walk. Anything making our bodies ill will also impair our mental health because it’s all one system.

The trouble is, most of us are just statistics. There are more people than our government feels it needs, and so we are a disposable commodity, easily replaced. Why waste money taking care of people when you can throw them away and get new ones? It is, quite simply, the politics of madness, devoid of kindness and humanity. We are being normalised to it, and told any other way of being is naive and unrealistic. We are told all the things hurting us are in our interests – because it all comes down to money and growth.

All the while, the people pedalling this, who have to recast failure as success, the well meaning as traitors, the good as the enemy, the vulnerable as villains, are slowly driving themselves round the bend with cognitive dissonance.


About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, wife to the most amazing artist -Tom Brown. Drinker of coffee, maker of puddings. Exploring life as a Pagan, seeking good and meaningful ways to be, struggling with mental health issues and worried about many things. View all posts by Nimue Brown

12 responses to “The politics of madness

  • Tracy Kruse

    I wish I had a brrom to chase them around that bend faster!

  • Robin

    a system dying on its crooked legs, recently it has come back to me that Stroud is meant to be a transition town, but the real spirit of this ‘transition’ which happening in our time is completely lost to most politicians but the ‘transition’ though is importantly being picked up in small places, among the corners not scoured by the system for every drop of life we have left. I rather prefer the word metamorphosis since it implies a fundamental reshaping of everything in the cultural/social/political body of the system, and the rebirth of the world like a butterfly.

  • Kaylee

    What you said is true of the US as well. When did we stop caring about people?

  • Christopher Blackwell

    You start caring, by caring for people in your own life. Caring will never happen if you wait for it to happen. Same goes fr any other social change that you want.You have to launch in own life, show that it is possible, and make it happen we are the only saviors that we have. If not us, then who?

  • katherinejlegry

    Hi… it’s up to you to challenge the “conceptual” problems. You do not have to become a statistic. You can choose to give up and allow them to define you or you can keep growing and fighting for your own inner fortitude in the face of adversity. What was the Buddha? He saw suffering all around he could not solve or save. Was he a failure? No.
    he succeeded thru compassion.
    You can too.

    • Nimue Brown

      Important to do what we can, avoiding the tyranny of positivity, which is always hardest on those who are most stuck and in trouble.

      • katherinejlegry

        Hi Nimue… thanks for your reply. The Buddha has nothing to do with “positivity” so not sure what you are getting at.
        The Buddha was all action and about the task at hand in the face of suffering. He gave up the money…
        so…Care to expand on your comment?
        “to do what we can” is to promote solutions and problem solving and teach coping skills… right? No mater what is happening. It has no promise of success. Gandhi never promised a rose garden…
        I am a realist not an optimist. So wtf does yer reply mean?

  • volitionalpolitico

    I don’t agree with everything you have said here but you provide some interesting thoughts about the impact of government decisions on mental health. Well worth the read!

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