mental health and spirituality ivory magazine

Mental health and spirituality: The missing link

In Mental Health, Spirituality by IVORY Magazine

Mental health is enough to drive a person crazy, except you can’t say crazy, it’s way too offensive. CBT, psychoanalytic psychotherapy, we talk about our emotional well being as though it’s a blistering, cancerous lump.

With groundbreaking national campaigns encouraging us to open up about our problems it’s finally ‘time to talk’ about why we’re so damaged, but at best it’s not solving anything, and at worst it’s encouraging the vulnerable to open up about highly-stigmatised subjects without the support networks needed to keep them safe.

New research suggests spirituality may offer benefits for people with mental health issues, but unsurprisingly most people encounter barriers when reaching out for this help, mainly because they feel their spiritual needs are not appropriate to discuss and that it’s difficult to find a community where they feel comfortable and accepted.

We need to stop medicalising our emotional problems and realise they’re symptoms of spiritual unease. Of feeling uncomfortable in the society we’ve been born into. Spiritual thought helps us realise we are all faulty and that is what makes us so perfect, and perhaps science is adding to the problem because the real stigma surrounds belief in a higher power, rather than in admitting we have poor mental health.

Basing society around a higher power helped keep us sane but it’s now deeply questionable and often more stigmatised than admitting you have depression, because no rational, results-based man would believe in something so improvable. I use ‘man’ in the general sense of the word of course.

The public school system which educated our leaders was perhaps the most damaging establishment yet to our mental health. In my opinion more so than the church, which although damaged by the patriarchy was at least based on moral values and spiritual discipline. Our schools taught people to rule and destroy, not to manage humanity. As members of an old boys club who feel frightened to death around ideas based on empathy, intuition and the complex layers of emotions, they fail to see the subtleties of life. ‘Burn the witch!’ they subconsciously cry, whilst they burn down any questioning and enquiring mind that looks outside the box.

Things haven’t changed much in schools today. The system is still flawed. Constant pressure of examinations, no lessons in empathy and all at an age when our emotional resilience is created. The discipline and rules are applied with the same intensity to every student, no matter what their emotional make up.

This feeds into our current coping mechanisms. Make more money, keep busy, work hard, play hard. Fill that painful void within you. This lack of faith keeps feeding the hungry ghost. Food, sex, power, money, mind altering substances. In addition there is a crisis of inequality and good reasons to believe that this causes emotional problems for both the well-off and the disadvantaged. Hedonism and materialism leads only to more comedowns and sorrow.

This is the age of anxiety, with an increase in reported anxiety disorders of 1200% since 1980, according to this study. We’re pretty much scared of everything and it’s become biological. Everything is easier so our chemical fear threshold has declined, meaning we’re just as terrified of public speaking as getting eaten by a lion. This isn’t helped by continuous media scaremongering. Many of us are addicted to the sidebar of shame on the MailOnline, but when you stop to think about it, news is basically a summary of the scariest things of the day.

Today, if we see someone in trouble we watch them self destruct, film it for our feeds and spout our reactions on Twitter. It’s a strange online community we live in when we’re so connected yet so detached, so mistrusting of others. One man carries out an act of hate and the whole world reacts in fear depending on how the media decide to spin it.

We’d do well to look back to our ancestors. Spirituality was the most important part of life. In Ancient Greece hospitality was so important it had its own religious name, Xenia. The bonds between humans were very physical and very important. Today our communities are small family units and even they have become unstable. Divorce rates are at an all time high. There’s no reason to stay in a marriage if you run into problems because you can just swipe right and create a new one. Parents are at work and their parents are in nursing homes. Everything is so fragmented.

The description of community care, according to Mind, makes me tremble with fear… just imagine how it makes someone going through a psychotic episode feel?

“If social services know that you may need services they should offer to assess you without you having to ask – they have a legal duty. If your GP or CMHT believes that your mental health needs are not serious enough to require the Care Programme Approach, you may still have a right to an assessment of your community care needs.”

I mean, come on! Let’s get out of the clinic. Where is the fucking love?!

There is no clear emergence into adulthood. No true rites of passage. These were so important in ancient days they were almost life or death. They changed you into an adult. We have weddings, bar mitzvahs, and are carted off for freshers week, booze fuelled and spiritually void. In some indigenous cultures they ingest psychedelic plants, go on a walkabout, or do something with deep spiritual lessons and support. Today we get wasted and post it on social media.

We go to university. We get married. These are the milestones of our lives but marriage is rarely a spiritual affair just an excuse for a more extravagant booze up than your friend’s, and university, at least for most people I know, is certainly not a time for emotional development unless that means taking a load of drugs or crawling into lectures still drunk then freestyling an essay a term.

Imagine if the same campaigning by Mind charity had a spiritual slant and was structured by real, empathetic spiritual healers. Not the Royal Trio, as caring as they seem, or the medics who are used to handling humans as piles of flesh and bones, but people who have worked through the many layers of human emotion, placing them in a real position to heal others. In indigenous cultures we’d call them shamans and it was through the experience of psychosis and recovering from that experience that constitutes the guidelines for becoming one.

Spirituality has been proven to strengthen the brain.  Humans need it. We fucking need it! Religion was there for a reason but the patriarchy destroyed it. The same people who educated Richard Dawkins, who infiltrated the churches, who burnt the old temples to establish their own. Now we have no moral compass. Instead we have freedom to do what we want, to destroy what we want. There’s no spiritual discipline because, well, why would there be? It’s all a load of bollocks, right?

Wrong! Listen up all you ‘sufferers of ill mental health’. You do not have bipolar, anxiety or depression, you are unconsciously fucked off with an unfair world. You are awakening. Modern life is rocking you to your very core. If you’re feeling you can’t cope then congratulations, you are part of the uprising who will drive humanity into the next phase, so leave the medics and the naysayers behind, the workaholics, the money chasers, the people who put their greed above humanity. Be brave and help push your fellow pioneers into the new world, help pluck the heads of humanity from the sand.

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IVORY MagazineMental health and spirituality: The missing link