“No tree, it is said, can grow to heaven unless its roots reach down to hell.”
― C.G. Jung
Having worked with people who are seen to have ‘ mental health ‘ difficulties over many years there are many different things one comes to realise about people. Especially as I seem to have some degree of empathic traits I am often able to see / feel the whole story of individual clients. A brief summary follows ( please bear in mind, this reflects on my experience and is not meant as a truism for everyone and every situation).
– ‘ mental illness and subsequent diagnoses often have the unfortunate effect of putting peoples experiences into boxes. This itself can be disempowering to individuals who are already feeling disempowered. When a person presents with seemingly a mental health problem their reasons for it are usually multifactorial and unique to that individual ( unless caused by physical trauma or physiological pathology). We all have strengths and weaknesses and each one of us manifests our psychological distress in our own way. Some are predisposed to a lowering of mood, some towards addictive behaviour, some towards expressing high anxiety. The ability to cope and / or resolve these symptoms needs a very holistic and long term approach to these problems.
– Frustratingly I feel many mental health problems stem from Western societies monoculture and Cartesian mindset. Not all by any means but many clients with seemingly mental health issues have had problems or issues during their formative years. I often see clearly the child in the adult still struggling to adjust to adult life and its related expectations whilst still trying to deal with deficits in their repertoire of skills due to problems early on in their life.
– Having spent much time with these people it is clear many are ‘ sensitive ‘ and empathic individuals. This has lead some to be quite vulnerable yet many triumph and either overcome or come to terms with their problems. They often become wounded healers to others.
It is interesting to note that people with similar mental health difficulties in developing countries have a better prognosis ( future outcome) according to some research than those in western society. One theory is that it may be because the problems and difficulties they may manifest are recognised by the extended family and they are supported in a way that helps them to live their life still within the family unit.
I think as a society we need to concentrate on giving our children as supportive and loving environment as possible. If mental health problems occur then it is vitally important that these are identified and resolved early on in the child’s life. Unfortunately the importance of this does not seem to be taken on by many of our politicians.