Mental Health Awareness

It’s Mental Health Awareness Week. One of the things I wish to make people particularly aware of, is that for many people, mental health problems are not some kind of tragic accident. There are people for whom wonky brain chemistry is to blame, but for many of us, mental health problems have causes.

Trauma causes mental health problems. This should be pretty obvious. Consider (or look up) the figures for domestic abuse, and sexual violence. Have a look at some of the definitions of borderline personality disorders and ask how those might relate to traumatic experience.

Work stress causes mental health problems. You can’t run people like machines and expect them not to break down. Inhuman work practices (Amazon, I am looking at you) destroy mental health.

Poverty causes mental health problems. Firstly because poverty and insecurity are immensely stressful. Secondly because if you are poor, you’ll have less access to resources that might help you. There will be no money for sport and fitness – activity often being recommended to help with mental health problems. You’re less likely to have a garden or to be able to access green space. Your poverty diet will undermine your physical and mental health. You may be socially isolated as a consequence of poverty. In societies that punish poverty, your self esteem and confidence will be harmed by the stigma of being poor.

If you are disabled, your long term condition may well also be undermining your mental health. Further, being physically disabled radically increases your chances of being in poverty, see above.

We have seat belts and safety rails, lifeguards, firemen, laws about smoking, workplace health and safety to reduce accidents. We take the protection of bodily wellbeing reasonably seriously. We don’t have the same attitude to mental health. We treat it like an individual problem, and not like something that could be damaged by the crimes and negligence of others.  We treat poverty as a personal failing, not a societal one.

Please be aware that mental health problems are not tragic accidents suffered by the unfortunate few. It’s not weakness, or lack of resilience. Unless we take stress and poverty seriously, we’re going to make ourselves ill. Until we deal with abuse in our societies, we will make people ill. When we shame people for being poor, we promote poor mental health.

About Nimue Brown

Druid, author, dreamer, folk enthusiast, parent, polyamourous animist, ant-fash, anti-capitalist, bisexual steampunk. 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

7 responses to “Mental Health Awareness

  • nirajshah2003

    This is so true that we treat mental health as an individual problem rather than a societal problem. This was an interesting read, so thanks for sharing!

    Feel free to read some of my blogs 🙂

  • MariaTeresa

    Thank you for writing such an insightful and thoughtful post on society’s perception of mental health. The more awareness and true care we give to this issue the more we erase its stigma and help one another to heal.

  • Yvonne Aburrow

    And I would add to this list the trauma caused by systemic and interpersonal racism. I was just reading in The Guardian this morning some articles about the ongoing persecution of the Windrush generation by the UK Home Office, and also an EU citizen who was trying to visit family in the UK and got banged up in Yarl’s Wood immigration detention centre. The persecution of the Windrush generation has actually been going on for decades on and off, and has significantly blighted people’s lives. Systemic racism in all its forms must have a huge impact on people’s mental health.

    I completely agree that people ignore the collective and systemic aspects of mental health— it’s very much in the interests of capitalism and the status quo to blame these issues on the individual and not the system.

  • eberis

    I want you to know the first advent of cannabis for mental health non preposition is showing up with CBD testing for veterans who suffer from ptsd and can take a break from we say flight time of the issue of work at Agilent , etc.
    all I meant is good luck with your sense of awareness and activism . Pax

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