No one likes to be analysed in such an intensive way, even if it is for our own well being. The process can and often does encourage us to blurt out everything and dwell on our nastiest memories and worst behaviours and this can result in new bad habits forming; much depends on how experienced the mental health practitioners are. If we are not careful we can become addicts to being ill as it is often easier than fighting the stigma, ignorance and prejudice of the rest of society.
Luckily the days of ending up in a mental health hospital on anyone's hearsay are gone in the UK. It now takes three people to agree on any one person needing hospitalisation under the Mental Health Act of 1983. All have to be highly qualified. Once in hospital, it is likely to take a team of four or more people to get one patient well enough to return home. They usually include a psychiatrist, a GP (doctor), a psychologist, a Community Psychiatric Nurse and a Social Worker. Other medical staff can include nursing staff in the hospital and a variety of therapists or counsellors. All of them can seem as if they are the enemy with their prying questions which often get repeated by way of checking up on your progress.
Unfortunately there are still old school thinkers about among medical staff, but they are steadily decreasing in number thanks to brave sufferers that refuse to be spoken to as if they are already lobotomised. In all cases staff and patients must be able to 'click' for any treatment to work. Staff cannot help those that 'confess' what they are thinking, feeling or doing that might be at the root of the suffering. No one can, but much relies upon staff listening carefully and thoroughly to what any patient finds so distressing. It is interesting to note that the mentally ill are seldom unable to function at something. However, while we continue to live in a world where the mentally ill are largely unwelcome, few are given the chance to function in society at all.
According the latest thinking among the good guys and gals of psychiatry (i.e. those that actually listen and work with the mentally ill and not dictate to them), everyone is suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder and everyone is on the autistic scale too. It is just a matter of to what level and over what that can herald problems. One the best ways to illustrate this is to look at what we spend our money on.
This little piggy is money
People who do not have money or very little of it do not have those “cheer up” options. They will also seldom have much in the way of connections to support them by way of family, friends, neighbours or colleagues at work or indeed information with regard to support services which are already stretched. Hence we have all manner of charities and community initiatives to try to save those that would otherwise fall through the nets like a kind of holding pen for when professional support is freed up. It is debatable if it is enough while we remain in a recession especially when so many services have been whittled down to only offer crisis services. All support is also utterly pointless if people’s trust in the system has been betrayed, or if people do not or will not share what troubles them. In a recession, retail therapy is a high risk game to play if you do not stick to a manageable budget.
This bigger piggy is power
It has been proved and is proving to work. Joseph Rowntree (look him up on Wikipedia) in the 19th century proved it by not only providing its labour force work, but also homes, education and access to basic health care.
This biggest piggy it the hardest piggy of all - relationships
As individuals all of us have a degree of responsibility to correct our own and group behaviours. None of us can do it alone, but together we might be able to make a far happier and fairer world. How and where do we even begin to start? Who and what do we start with?
We start by acknowledging our most basic of instincts is to survive as a species. In order to survive most of us are governed my the desire to have sex and sexual relationships can be the trickiest of all to get just right. Sexual relationships are so complicated that it warrants a separate article. Here though it is enough to note that impressing the person who is the target of our dreams often leads us to shop 'til we drop or push ourselves career wise. Some argue that having many sexual partners is the only way they can be happy, however while that may be fine for them it is seldom fine for all their sexual partners. Promiscuity often causes many long term damage.
To get any relationship right requires consideration, communication that is clear and up to date and acknowledgement of everyone's right to be themselves. This applies within our social and work circles and most of all in our relationships with our families.
When it comes to relationships is it less a question of “Is it something you can change in that person”, more a question of "Am I being fair to that person?" when tensions run high. Then we need to think about “Do I want to do something about it, yes or no?” Therein lies the key. Do we? For without that desire to consider other people's needs and change for the better nothing can ever change for the better.
This is at the crux of mental health as no medical team on this planet can change anyone. We have to be resolute in wanting to ditch what makes us unhappy in the first place that is within ourselves rather than enter into blaming everyone else. If others are that damaging to you - leave. Get support to do so if you need to.
Next is to identify in precise and minute detail what it is that we want to change about ourselves, then what to and only afterwards comes the how, who to seek support from, when and so on. This process is the same whether we are trying to overcome difficulties in any type of relationship or emotional distress.
We will never stand a cat in hell’s chance to get the formula right while we are bickering and competing for attention or being in anyway emotional. We need to don our thinking hats first, however, often we need another outlet for our emotions first before our thinking hat can sit comfortably without pinching or giving us a headache.
We need to communicate, calmly, clearly and coherently which sadly is not usually the domain of people who are desperate for help, but the first step toward helping anyone recover is to listen first to what isn’t or hasn’t worked isn’t it? That way we identify exactly what it is that needs sorting. When we are mentally well we are all capable of this. When we are concerned for others we do this whether we are well or not, so it follows that we could be doing this more of the time when we are ill. That little bit of difference can in the long run make the biggest difference of all.
“Where there’s a will there’s a way.”
There is no person or section of society that is without risk to their mental well being. The latest thinking in mental health circles is that "We are all potentially a car crash waiting to happen.” To put it another way – life’s a lottery and instead of thinking why me, what we should be thinking is why shouldn’t it be me that suffers next? What am I doing to prevent this happening to me or my loved ones? We already do this with regard to many physical ailments, diseases and illnesses, but seldom stop to think about what we can do to prevent the most important organ in our bodies - our brains.
Our brains define who we are and they are the control centre for everything else. If we can master it to adopt a helpful attitude to combat whatever life may throw at us, then wouldn't we also be equipping ourselves to overcome whatever we perceive to be the worst happening?