In a world that values branding we’ve not really figured out mental health.
Mental health should be a celebration. We only need to change the brand, to paint it in bright and positive colours, to make it fun and vibrant for there to be real positive change in people’s attitudes.
As it stands today it’s grey and blue. Cold, clinical and unapproachable.
It takes a lot of effort to shake off the effects of the dark and bleak imagery, or the fact we also have to deal with the ‘stigma’ when it’s just a part of being human in a world which no longer has the right structures to secure our spiritual wellbeing.
For someone who is healing from mental and emotional pain, the main skill you learn is compassion for yourself, radical self love. This love we speak of but often don’t feel is the opposite of fear, the opposite of anxiety.
But with so little to encourage this teaching in every day life, and with the media pushing the sadness and hung heads in black and white photography of those ‘suffering’ from mental health problems, we focus even further on bleakness and hopelessness, the opposite of what good mental heath should be.
Mental health is a celebration of humanity. Those who are struck down with this ‘illness’ are really the initiated, the lucky few who get to understand what makes us human. In an age where emotions are becoming much more significant for our future, where jobs which don’t require emotions are being replaced by machines, this is the most important movement of modern times. Whether you see it as enlightenment or not, it is truly remarkable.
For at the root of everything is love and empathy, compassion, everything that spirituality in the very wide sense of the word ‘spirit’ teaches us to create wellbeing in our communities – another concept which has changed drastically.
In indigenous cultures mental health disorders singled you out as someone special, as a shaman to help heal the tribe, the wounded healer, which is a concept that all students of psychology are familiar with, for to heal others you must first heal yourself.
Sensitivity and mental health are linked with artists, those who are able to manifest works from their deeply felt emotions. If we just approach mental health with love we can transform it into something beautiful.
Our medical view of death is also too bleak. We know nothing about what happens so we decide to emphasis that nothingness as though it’s something to be fearful of. Why have we chosen that negative outlook? For the same reason we choose the negativity around breaking stigma and how badly the government handle mental health problems. Because our main way of reacting is through fear, not love.
Sometimes it seems that reading about mental health gives you even more mental health problems! First of all, there are so many things you can’t do for fear of offending, and so few options to offer for the very same reason.
Mental health was compared to feminism in Vice last week and it paints a bleak picture. Now brands are taking part, embracing the word stigma, the stark blue and white branding of the Mind logo, sadness and struggling to talk about feelings with not much done on behalf of the government, but all of this misses the point.
If we changed our perception of mental health to something enjoyable and special it would change its workings too.
You suffer from mental health problems? Congratulations! You’ve won the humanities jackpot. You are about to transform through a deep understanding of who you are, how to love, of what existence is about. You now have the chance to heal. You will no longer numb through busy-ness, through addiction, through ignoring your feelings, because to heal you have no choice but to face them.
You are about to become one with spirit, a journey which ends in a deep understanding of life, the force that runs through us and binds us all together. You will begin to relate to people in ways you couldn’t imagine possible.
The mental health crisis is beautiful. It is bringing more people towards empathy, new ways of healing, towards love and understanding. To a depth of knowledge of humanity we just couldn’t reach without pain. Yes, mental health is something to be celebrated. The struggles we face are a gift that won’t just improve our minds but our future.
By Gemma Rowbotham